MOON KNIGHT: MONSTERS, AND MADNESS #1

15/10/2019 – By Sam Watson-Tayler

PAGE ONE

Panel 1: Establishing shot of Spector Manor. It’s a dark night, the rain is intense, and the trees are straining against the wind. There are no lights on.

Panel 2: We see the gutters running around the roof, they are heavily overflowing with rain. An owl flies over the crescent moon, a watcher over the protector of midnight travellers.

Panel 3: Marc Spector lies with the right side of his head against his pillow, the light of the moon and the lights on the road illuminating the middle of his face from between his slightly open curtains.

Panel 4: Marc’s eyes flutter open at the sound of the voice of his god.

  1. KHONSHU (from off-panel): Wake up, my child. There is work to be done under my light

PAGE TWO

Panel 1: Marc turns and sees Khonshu holding a cup of tea, despite having a bird skull for a head, sitting with his legs crossed in a chair next to Marc’s bed. On Marc’s bedside table we see several medicine bottles with the name SPECTOR, MARC on them and a glass of water.

Panel 2: We see a bird’s eye view of Marc’s hand reaching for his medication bottles.

Panel 3: The same shot, but Khonshu’s hand stops Marc’s.

Panel 4: Marc is sitting up; his brows are furrowed, and he has a scared frown on his face. We see out of the window behind him and there is nothing of note.

  1. KHONSHU (from off-panel): There are monsters here. They have come to destroy this world as they always do. The Avengers, the sorcerers, do not expect them to help.

PAGE THREE

Panel 1: Marc looks over to the walk-in closet.

  1. KHONSHU (from off-panel): There is only one who can push them back.

Panel 2: Marc walks towards the closet, reaching for it.

  1. KHONESU (from off-panel): My knight of vengeance.

Panel 3: We see Marc from behind as he opens the closet. We see the various Moon Knight outfits from over the years.

  1. KHONSHU (from off-panel): My greatest warrior.

PAGES FOUR AND FIVE

Two-page spread of Marc in full Moon Knight supernatural armour, as he pulls the bird skull mask on. He has an enchanted sword at his left hip.

  1. KHONSHU (from off-panel): The Moon Knight.

PAGE SIX

Panel 1: Moon Knight turns toward the window and through it we see a humanoid monster, with five octopi as a head and the heads of several massive predatory animals making up most of the rest of its body, things like crocodiles, tigers, lions, sharks, etc.. Moon Knight is about the size of a sparrow compared to the beast.

Panel 2: We see the mansion from the outside and from the right. Moon Knight smashes through the window shoulder-first like an American football player. The many mouths that make up the monster are open; it wishes to devourer Moon Knight.

Panel 3: Moon Knight punches the monster full strength in one of its faces.

PAGE SEVEN

Panel 1: Moon Knight lands on his feet, his knees almost buckling from the landing.

Panel 2: Worm’s eye view of the monster as it looks down at Moon Knight, black tar like goo drools form its mouth as its infinitely dark, empty sets of eyes all focus on Moon Knight.

Panel 3: Bird’s eye view of Moon Knight as he looks up at the monster and gives it the finger with his right hand, while his left holds the sword’s sheath.

Panel 4: We see the scene from the left as Moon Knight jumps towards the reader, just narrowly avoiding the monster’s massive foot coming down where he was standing. Despite the size and presumed weight of the beast no damage is done to the grass. Moon Knight is drawing the sword with his right hand as he jumps.

Panel 5: Bird’s eye view of Moon Knight with his sword drawn jumping towards the drooling, screaming heads of monsters and predators. The sword glows hauntingly white, a cloud of energy surrounding it, appearing to be smoke, as it rises it turns into furious skulls. Moon Knight is fearless, either through bravery, stupidity, or an innate suspicion of everything his mind shows him.

Panel 6: With one slash Moon Knight takes off three of the hundreds of heads that make up the monster’s leg.

PAGE EIGHT

Panel 1: The creature reaches down, enraged, and hungry reaches down towards Moon Knight, fully intent on killing and devouring him.

Panel 2: Moon Knight is taken in the creature’s fist, the many mouths biting into him, yet not drawing blood.

Panel 3: Moon Knight retaliates by forcing his sword into a wolf head that’s biting him, black blood going everywhere, all over his white superhero suit.

PAGE NINE

Panel 1: The monster, in pain, lets go of Moon Knight and he jumps towards its head.

Panel 2: We look at Moon Knight from over the monster’s shoulder as he comes down towards it, his sword held high the blade going downwards towards it face.

Panel 3: Moon Knight plunges the sword deep into his eye, the reader can barely tell where the eye ends and the black thick blood begins. It covers even more of the Moon Knight suit.

Panel 4: Moon Knight puts his feet against one of the monster’s five squid faces that make up its head.

Panel 5: Moon Knight jumps away from the monster as the energy around the blade extends it to be several times longer than Moon Knight’s own height.

PAGE TEN

Full page spread of Moon Knight decapitating the monster with one slash.

PAGE ELEVEN

Panel 1: We see Moon Knight from behind as he lands on his feet once again, the monster falls to its knees in the background as its black blood mixes with the actual rain, coming down on Moon Knight.

Panel 2: As the mixed rain continues as Moon Knight sheathes his sword.

Panel 3: Point of view shot as Moon Knight looks at his own black, blood-soaked palms.

Panel 4: Point of view shot of Moon Knight’s hands now balled into fists.

PAGE TWELVE

Panel 1: We see Moon Knight from side on from the waist up, this continues for each panel on this page as he walks back into his mansion.

Panel 2: Moon Knight walks through the kitchen.

Panel 3: Moon Knight climbs the stairs.

Panel 4: Moon Knight opens the bedroom door.

PAGE THIRTEEN
Panel 1:
Moon Knight takes off all the armour.

Panel 2: Marc Spector, now wearing only his underwear, walks over to his bedside table, the chair where Khnoshu earlier sat is now empty.

Panel 3: Marc grabs one of the bottles with his name on it with his right hand.

PAGE FOURTEEN

Panel 1: Point of view shot of Marc opening the bottle with his left hand.

Panel 2: Point of view shot of Marc shaking two of the pills out of the bottle into his left hand.

Panel 3: Close up of marc throwing the pills into his mouth.

Panel 4: Close up of Marc taking a sip of water.

Panel 5: Marc collapses to his bed.

PAGE FOURTEEN

Panel 1: Bird’s eye view of Marc as he wakes up the next morning.

Panel 2: Marc sits up, running his hands over his face.

Panel 3: Marc walks over to what’s left of his window.

Panel 4: We see out through the hole where the window used to be and see no sight of the monster, just nice unharmed grass and not a drop of blood to be seen.

Panel 5: We see the Moon Knight armor on the floor, completely immaculately clean. No damage, no blood, nothing.

Panel 6: Marc runs his hand through his hair in anger and concern as he realizes what may well have really happened.

Marc: Goddammit.

 

Exegesis.

 

 

I waffled a lot on what I was going to do for this project and I did come up with some fairly good ideas, but eventually, I decided that I would be able to come up with the best work I could do with a script. Initially I wanted to do a combination of Moon Knight and Lovecraftian horror, but eventually, that somewhat gave way to what I eventually did do. More on that later.

While I had, at first, considered doing a collective journey, I concluded that there just wasn’t enough space in the word count for that. See when you have a focus on more than one character you need more words in order to give them a satisfactory degree of attention. As such, I decided to go for the hero’s journey with a very minimal number of characters. Moon Knight, Khonshu and a monster to fight, because you need one.

With regards to the hero’s journey, in this case, I shook up the order of events just a tad, and far from used all of them. But the ones I used I feel are some of the most important, especially in a shorter story.

The call to adventure and meeting the mentor: Because that Marc already knows Khonshu, saying “meeting the mentor” is a little bit inaccurate, but I think it counts given that Khonshu is there to tell him what to do and in this case tells him to slay the beast.

Refusing the call: Marc, suspicious of what he’s saying due to his mental health issues in the comics, reaches for his medication, but Khonshu stops him from taking it.

Crossing the threshold: Marc decides to accept what he’s being told and suits up to fight the monster.

Ordeal: There are two in place here, the physical battle against the monster and potentially the mental battle against Marc’s own mental illnesses, hence the implication that all of this was hallucinatory in nature.

The road back: Upon returning to bed and throwing his armour off, Marc does have a degree of satisfaction, but he is still suspicious, hence the choice to take the medication at the end.

Return with the elixir: Marc is rewarded with taking his medicine and getting back to sleep. However, upon awakening and finding every trace of the previous night’s ordeal gone, he is given the knowledge that his suspicions may well have been right and degree of both vindication and concern (Bronzite, n.d.).

Much like with Lovecraft, Moon Knight deals in both interdimensional gods and mental health. Compare for a moments Dagon to Moon Knight (2016). The protagonist of Dagon himself openly wondering if the story he is recounting is even true, or if he has simply succumbed to madness and in Moon Knight (2016) Marc Spector does the same, ultimately being told by Khonshu to trust his own madness and let it guide him (Lemire, 2016) (Lovecraft, 1919). Warren Ellis’ take on Moon Knight even raising the question of if Marc Spector’s dissociative identity disorder is even real and posing the possibility that Khonshu’s inhuman consciousness inhabiting his brain caused brain damage and Marc’s multiple personalities are as a result of his mind trying desperately to accommodate it (Ellis, 2014).

Hence my choice to question the existence of what Marc is fighting, it wasn’t just a dream, he really did smash through his own window, but maybe what he fought wasn’t there and he was just hallucinating. Or perhaps what he saw really was there and simply vanished after its death, or maybe his medication affects his ability to perceive things from other planes. I leave that open to interpretation.

Bronzite, D. (n.d.). The Hero’s Journey – Mythic Structure of Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth. Retrieved from http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/the-hero-journey-mythic-structure-of-joseph-campbell-monomyth.html

Lemire, J. (2016). Moon Knight Vol. 1: Lunatic. New York, NY: Marvel Entertainment.

Lovecraft, H. P. (1919). Dagon.

Ellis, W. (2014). Moon Knight Vol. 7. New York, NY: Marvel Entertainment.

 

 

 

 

Weeks 11 and 12 the future of reality tv.

I hate to open a post like this, but, with a few exceptions, I cannot stand reality television. Even the use of the “reality” to describe it gives it too much dignity in my opinion, and as with most genres that I vehemently dislike I don’t really consume it.

However, I am expected to engage with it on some level for this course, as such I’ve decided to talk a little bit about where I think reality TV is going and I think it’s going online.

Not in the same way that television and film are generally heading online with the rising ubiquity of streaming services, but in a more independent, viewer and producer way.

The only reality show that I can stomach is on YouTube and it’s called Buzzfeed Unsolved, it’s also an exception to my general distaste for Buzzfeed. The hosts Shane Madej and Ryan Bergara investigate unsolved crimes and alleged supernatural occurrences and while they make fun of each other they do so in a way that friends often do, making fun of each other’s quirks and polar opposite opinions on whether or not the supernatural exists. They also take and answer questions from the audience (Bergara, 2016). This is where I think that YouTube is the future of reality tv, YouTube more than television allows for interaction between the audience and the producers that television does not. This adds to the feeling of seeing real people doing real things and the perceived connection between the average person and the people they see in their entertainment as spoken of by Blitvich & Lorenzo-Dus (2013)

There is a very dark side to this, however, as spoken of, again by Blitchish & Lorenzo-Dus (2013) controversy breeds views and YouTube breeds money. This is my honest opinion has lead to, among other things the trainwreck in slow motion that was Logan Paul’s visit to Japan. if you wanna talk about impoliteness, let’s talk about Logan Paul going out into a forest known as a suicide location, filming the body of a suicide victim and uploading it to YouTube and leaving it there until the controversy was such that he had no choice but to take it down (ABC News, 2018). Despite all of this, he’s still around and still making videoes. I don’t see this as much more tasteless than what reality tv usually gets up to. As far as I know, they’ve never done that, but I wouldn’t put it past them given the “all publicity is good publicity” mindset.

Blitvich, P. G., & Lorenzo-Dus, N. (2013). Real Talk: Reality Television and Discourse Analysis in Action. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan Limited.

Bergara, R. (Producer). (2016). Buzzfeed unsolved [Television series]. New York, NY: YouTube.

ABC News. (2018, January 2). YouTube star under fire for video of apparent suicide victim [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjNFGZLJLss

Doubles.

I will be answering question six. I will be using the forms of doubles as defined by Mountford (Mountfort, 2018).

The first set of doubles that I want to discuss is a bit non-traditional, the paid being Aang and Prince Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender. the two are atypical biological while they neither look particularly similar nor are related, they aren’t even the same nationality. however, the series deals with reincarnation. It is revealed later on in the series that Zuko is descended from Avatar Aang’s previous incarnation Avatar Roku.

While Aang and Zuko start off as diametrically opposed mortal enemies, by the end they are inseparably close friends and allies who have risked their lives for each other. the two follow similar character arcs, Zuko initially hunting for Aang in order to regain his honour and ultimately learning that attempting to please his genocidal tyrant father Firelord Ozai is the wrong move to make.

Aang feels that he has been dishonoured by his choice to run from being Avatar leading to the rest of the Air Nomads being wiped out in a genocidal campaign by Roku’s best friend who betrayed him and Zuko’s other great grandfather Firelord Sozin. Aang eventually even echoing Zuko’s catchphrase “I need to regain my honour” after failing to stop Zuko’s sister Azula from conquering the Earth Kingdom and subjugating its people.

The other set of doubles I want to talk about are Peter Parker and Peter B. Parker from Spider-Man: Into the spider-verse. Peter Parker when we first meet him as Spider-Man is a minor celebrity in the New York City we are presented with. seemingly the only superhero in this universe at this time. This version has his life together, he has been in the superhero game for ten years and licenced Spider-Man everywhere. He’s a picture of handsomeness, he’s clean-shaven, he’s a married grad student with piles upon piles of technology and special costumes designed to help him fight crime more effectively and he’s defeated supervillains time and again. He’s also blonde and voice acted by Chris Pine (Konietzko & DiMartino, 2005).

Peter B Parker could only be in a worse position if he was homeless. He’s been doing this for 22 years and it’s ruined everything for him, it’s destroyed the same marriage, it’s bankrupted him on one bad business move. he’s nose is crooked seemingly from being broken at some point, he hasn’t shaved for a while, he’s got a black eye, he’s let himself go physically. His apartment is a tiny mess, he spends his time sitting in a fetal position in the shower crying in his Spider-Man outfit. He has brown hair and is played by Jake Johnson.

They sound incredibly different, but if you cleaned up Peter B Parker, or made Peter Parker much scruffier you could tell that these quantum doubles from different universes are the same person. they just have different hair and voices (Persichetti, Ramsey & Rothman, 2018)

Mountfort, P. (2018). Science fictional doubles: Technologization of the doppelgänger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science & Popular Culture1(1), 59-75. doi:10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1.

Konietzko, B., & DiMartino, M. D. (Directors). (2005). Avatar: The Last Airbender [Television series]. New York, NY: Nickelodeon.

Persichetti, B., Ramsey, P., & Rothman, R. (Directors). (2018). Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse [Motion picture]. USA: Sony animation.

Costumes forever caught in time.

I did do one of the readings, but as these are all my own thoughts I will not be citing it.

How would I describe the relationship between cosplayers and photographers?

Questions like that can be difficult to answer in this format, I want to say “Photographers capture the work of cosplayers for others to enjoy”. But the current word count is 41 and a general rule is aa minimum of 500. As such, I feel further explanation is necessary.

I think the vast majority of creative types wish to have their work experienced by others as best they can be. As such many pieces of art are reproduced and sold on the market, books, video games, etc. are given large production runs so many people can enjoy them. There is the financial motivator as well obviously, but that is generally not a concern beyond production when it comes to cosplay as much of it uses copyrighted imagery and designs. However, this doesn’t mean that cosplayers don’t want others to see and appreciate their work, quite the opposite, as many cosplay outfits are made by and for the person who wears it. But the people who will typically understand what the outfit means and why it’s significant and appreciate those things. However, say you’re wearing ne of the Moon Knight costumes, not everyone will get that, not even every nerd, and you’ll only run into so many who do at Armageddon Expo in two weeks. At least until the Disney+ show comes out that is. That being as it may, you will often want pictures of your outfit taken so the maximum number of people can appreciate it.

That’s where the photographers come in. The best way to document something visual in the real world is to photograph or to film it. What’s interesting though is that this relationship is symbiotic, even when the photographers are not being paid. Many will take the photos simply due to being impressed by the quality of the costuming. Not only that a good photoset even of cosplay of a copyrighted character can be very good for a photographer’s portfolio and can be used as an example of their skills with a camera and thus lead to more business in a professional context and compliments/adoration in a casual context.

For both parties there is sentimental value in having pictures of a convention that one has attended, for nerds, it can be a very nice experience to be surrounded likeminded people with similar interests and mutually partaking in them. It’s the kind of thing that one would often want to remember. Take a picture, as they say, it does, in fact, last longer and once you have it you can mean as much as your subjective memories might allow.

Once a picture is taken it is often posted online and may well go viral, letting millions of people see and appreciate both the photography/cinematography and the work that has gone into a cosplay outfit and performance. This can lead to all kinds of opportunities for both the cosplayer and the one responsible for their work being captured for all to see.

Put on a happy face, you never know who, nor how many might see it.

Pacsifistic flying kicks.

I would say that according to Callavaro Miyazaki’s work has a generally anti-war bent and is generally centered around coming of age stories.

Given Japan’s recentish history regarding war and more personally Miyazaki’s family history it’s not hard to see why this would be the case, especially given that anti-war themes are not exactly uncommon, even beyond Miyazaki’s work (Callavaro, 2006).

This is shown very well in the film Nausicaa of the valley of the wind. The film takes place entirely in a post-apocalyptic world that has descended back into a number of absolute monarchies. In the opening of the film we see an opening in which several enormous living weapons of mass destruction referred to as Giant Warriors, surrounded by fire as whatever the old world was is picked clean by fire. Although the film from this point on features Princess Nausicaa many times saying that the violence of the world must come to an end, this seems to be an opinion she forms after walking in the scene of her father’s body after his death, leading to her swiftly killing the people responsible. After this point she becomes staunchly anti-violence, while she does threaten its use she never actually hurts anyone from this point on. With this outlook she is able to save the world and prove herself worthy of becoming queen and thus comes of age through her renouncing of violence (Miyazaki, 1984).

I would argue that many Japanese artists do not conform to the idea of higher and lower genres as many do here in the west. Take for example 2017-2018’s tokusatsu series Kamen Rider Build. Despite being in the same subgenre of science fiction as Power Rangers, being made to promote and sell toys and being aimed primarily at children, Build does not shy away form the affects of war and death. At the start of the show we learn of the Skywall incident wherein, stay with me now, Pandora’s box is brought to Earth from Mars by an astronaut possessed by an alien called Evolt causing a wall to separate Japan into three fairly corrupt and dangerous governments. These three regions of Japan from this point on wage war on each other many times (usually at the behest of Evolt) these attacks are shown to do serious damage and kill several people. As the series progresses the initially villainous Kamen Rider Grease appears with three minions who are his closest friends until they die one by one. The first of them having been at the hands of Kamen Rider Build after loosing control of his powers. After the loss of the rest of his friends Greese eventually joins the heroes, but this ultimately leads to his own death, fading from existence in the arms of the woman he loved, after having become a beloved fan favourite character (Muto, Ōmori, & Yanaka, 2017).

I don’t think it’s controversial to say that Japan has valid reasons to be anti-war given their history. Not only did they side with the nazis in world war II, they are also the victims of the only two nuclear strikes in war. As such they, as a culture, have firsthand experience of the horrors of war that many other nations dread to imagine. But Miyazaki knows of WWII better than many, his family having produced parts for war planes that lead to the deaths of many. Given how influential Miyazaki has been on the Japanese media landscape it’s not unlikely that his anti-war views have gone on to permeate all the way to today.

Callavaro, D. (2006). Introduction. In The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.

Miyazaki, H. (Director). (1984). Nausicaä of the valley of the wind [Motion picture]. Japan: Studio Ghibli.

Ōmori, T., & Yanaka, T. (Producers), & Muto, S. (Writer). (2017). Kamen Rider Build [Television series]. Tokyo, Japan: TV Asahi.

Week 7. You tried.

Well, that was a depressing read.

So what were Hergé’s political beliefs? Well even for the thirties he was fairly right-wing. Mostly in terms of his depictions of race. in particular, many of his early depictions of African peoples are very cringe-worthy by modern standards. I believe that is an important caveat that at the time these kinds of depictions ethnic minorities were not only common but almost universally accepted as fairly accurate (Mountfort, 2010). More on that later.

As is covered in the article I am responding to these caricatures are very racist. However, I generally air on the side of giving people the benefit of the doubt with something like this, these racist depictions are as much a product of the world around Herge as they are a product of the man himself. When he says he was a product of the circles he ran in I believe him. That being said, Hergé should absolutely not be given a free pass for it. The criticisms he received were absolutely warranted for his work to be considered racist even in the 30’s it needed to go pretty far.

All of this being said I think that Hergé is an excellent example of giving second chances. While his racial depictions never reached any level that would be considered progressive by today’s standards, he did show a continuing desire and effort to improve in these areas. In my opinion that should be commended despite the fact that he often stumbled, or even failed outright.

Comparing his first depictions of Chinese people as pigtailed torturers, to his later depictions as a rich culture that had been stepped on by both imperialism and Imperial Japan. Which unfortunately makes his depiction of the Japanese people even more unacceptable. How on earth he could have simultaneously drawn The Blue Lotus and written Japan the way he did is inconceivable to me. How did he not wonder if the same divide between stereotypes and reality also existed for Japan as it did/does for China? I wonder what he would have thought of the Nanking massacre or Unit 731.

What I do wonder about are the parts of his earlier work that were later censored, it is obviously important to look back at them historically and understand why they are wrong. But I do wonder if their alteration was at his order and if so why. Was it to cover his former mistakes> Was it out of embarrassment? Was it to fight back against his former self? This is a question that sadly we will likely never known the answer to. But I’d like to think it was on his orders and he had it done in an attempt at self-improvement and another try and doing better, where previously he had failed.

Mountfort, P. (2010). ‘Yellow skin, black hair …careful, Tintin’: Hergé and orientalism. Retrieved from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4917942-dt-content-rid-10258696_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/AJPC_Herge%20and%20Orientalism.pdf

Weeks 5 & 6

As I read the articles demanded of me, I kept wondering what I was going to write it on. But after I had finished, I realized quickly what I would write it about. The prolific and game-changing Star Wars: The Clone Wars (TCW), (Filoni, 2008).

I will be answering questions one and four and will be doing so while talking about TCW.

According to Wilcox and Lavery, there are nine main contributing features to quality television (Wilcox and Lavery, 2002). They are as follows:

  1. A quality pedigree. Regardless of what you may think of his later works, there is no denying that George Lucas has at least been very influential in the worlds of film and television. While he was not a writer or director on TCW he was important to its creation and gave the writers seeming free reign to do as they wished within the Star Wars prequel era. The show was headed up by Dave Filoni who had previously been an art designer on the seminal Avatar: The Last Airbender (Konietzko, DiMartino, & Ehasz, 2005).
  2. These shows must fight finically and critically to stay afloat initially. Star Wars was at the time a guaranteed money-maker having been shot in the foot by the lukewarm critical reception to the theatrical film that kicked off the series.
  3. A large ensemble cast. TCW has an entire army of them. The series is named for the grand army of the republic and its army of mass-produced soldiers known as Clone Troopers. Despite all of them sound alike (but not the same thanks to excellent direction, writing and the vocal talents of Dee Bradley Baker) and looking alike, each of them have unique personalities. From Captain Rex’s arc that takes him from a soldier’s soldier who always follows orders and believes wholeheartedly in the propaganda of the republic, to complete disillusion with the republic and the Jedi, eventually going AWOL with Captain Gregor and Commander Wolfe. Or Domino squad made up of Hevy, Cuttup, Droidbait, Echo and Fives, who we are introduced to early in season one and are all killed one by one by season six. Not to mention the several Jedi who were simply background crowd filler in the films, who are given entire personalities and full character arcs in TCW.
  4. There are consequences between episodes. Despite the episodes not being produced or aired in chronological order if an earlier episode is required to understand this one that episode has already aired. As mentioned above with Domino squad we are introduced to them as rookies on a moon of planet Kamino and simply following Fives we see him lose all of his friends and his eventually his own life as he uncovers the plot to have the clones kill the Jedi in Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith (Lucas, 2005), ultimately costing him his life.
  5. It mixes genres into something new. The blending of genres at play in TCW is inherited from the Star Wars prequel trilogy, however, in my opinion, is handled much better. It’s a blend of science fiction, fantasy, war and political intrigue. The science fiction and fantasy I feel do no need explanation, you’ve seen at least one Star Wars movie, it’s like that. The war is also in the films, but it is not the focus, we watch ou heroes carve their way through faceless enemies, but that is not their goal. However, in TCW there are entire arcs dedicated to the horrors of war and the toll it takes on the people who fight in it, watch the Umbara arc to see that in full. The Umbara arc being a pivotal moment in Captain Rex’s character arc. The political intrigue is also better, often being shady deals and assassinations
  6. Quality tv is usually writer based, or literary. While Star Wars is often very open to selling you toys, TCW’s writers understand that the writing must be of high quality in order to make you want to. Thus it puts its characters and stories first and its weapons and vehicles second. It almost feels like a collection of short stories in the Star Wars universe due to its anthology structure.
  7. Self-conscious. Sort of, because the show doesn’t take place in “the real world” it can’t reference other media beyond Star Wars, but it does that willfully and flagrantly. It takes every opportunity to throw in cute references such as Fives recreating Han Solo’s posing as a stormtrooper (Lucas, 1977). But it also will use to enrich the universe such as taking the opportunity to better seed Anakin Skywalker’s rage and cynicism toward to Jedi, turning his wife Padme’s life is in danger and failure to achieve the rank of Jedi master from the sole incidents that turn him to the dark side and make them the last two straws (Lucas, 2005).
  8. Controversial subject matters. For what is a basically kids’ cartoon TCW goes to some dark places thematically. Torture for life-saving information, a democratic government using an army of slaves, bio-warfare, political assassinations, corruption, terrorism, and deaths of friends and loved ones, just to name a few.
  9. Emotional realism. TCW does this excellently, mostly with the character Ahsoka Tano. We watch Anakin’s young apprentice Ahsoka go from a wide-eyed bushy-tailed Jedi learner to a loner, pushed so far as a child soldier that she ultimately leaves the Jedi order entirely after she is wrongly accused and hunted down over crimes she did not commit. And from being such an engaging character she went on to become a fan favourite, having her own novel and returning in Star Wars Rebels to continue her story (Filoni, 2014).

 

According to Hill there are three potential ways of defining cult TV. These are as follows. Cult TV as authored by the people working on it, cult TV emerging from inter-text surrounding it and cult TV emergent from fan engagement. I believe it is a combination of the people working on it and the audience engagement with the inter-text emerging as a result of the fan engagement (Hills, 2004).

Continuing with my use of TCW as an example, as mentioned above it was run by Dave Filoni and created by George Lucas.

The inter-text is a natural extension of fan engagement and it goes hand in hand that once you have a passionate fanbase the inter-text will follow as fans search for a way to show their appreciation for their series of choice. If you go down a youtube rabbit hole today there are countless videos of people showing off their Lego Star Wars collections that are in many cases based around TCW and little else. Many people have made money on the side by selling custom lego clone troopers painted in original and interesting ways to either recreate characters or create entirely new ones.

This inevitably leads to the new fan-made inter-text of the internet age. Despite TCW having concluded its original run in 2015, there are still to this day people on youtube uploading their fan theories and videos of them watching the series episode by episode and analyzing each episode as they go. Not only that, the series remains so popular that even after having many of its loose ends tied up in Star Wars Rebels, it has been renewed for one final seventh season set to premiere in 2020, five years after the show’s original cancellation and twelve years after the show originally premiered. A renewal and sequel being very rare for shows that were cancelled.

I think overall, while all of these definitions of cult TV are important and relevant, I think for it to truly achieve cult status a show must find a nice midpoint between all of them.

Filoni, D. (Producer). (2008). Star Wars: The Clone Wars [Television series]. Atlanta, GA: Cartoon Network.

Filoni, D. (Producer). (2014). Star Wars: Rebels [Television series]. Burbank, CA: Disney XD.

Hills, M. (2004). Defining cult TV; Texts, inter-texts and fan audiences. The Television Studies Reader. Retrieved from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4914230-dt-content-rid-10157821_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/Hills%202004.pdf

Konietzko, B., DiMartino, M. D., & Ehasz, A. (Producers). (2005). Avatar: The Last Airbender [Television series]. New York, NY: Nickelodeon.

Lucas, G. (Director). (2005). Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith [Motion picture]. San Francisco, CA: Lucasfilm.

Lucas, G. (Director). (1977). Star wars [Motion picture]. USA: Lucasfilm.

Wilcox, R. V., & Lavery, D. (2002). Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Retrieved from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4914230-dt-content-rid-10157823_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/Wilcox%20and%20Lavery%202002.pdf

Wilcox, R. V., & Lavery, D. (2002). Introduction. What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Retrieved from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4914230-dt-content-rid-10157823_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/Wilcox%20and%20Lavery%202002.pdf

Torture porn and post-horror and so on and so forth.

These days we live in a very disturbed society, I myself having, at only the ripe old age of four having watched over three thousand people murdered on television. After that, I was raised in a fairly violent media age and in the shadow of constant wars and a constant increase of terrorism.

All of this as disturbing and terrifying as it is ripe for the horror genre to thrive. The modern world has many a monster hiding in its closet and the thing about monsters in closets is that we always want to peek through the creak in the door. We want to see it from a safe distance.

Let’s talk for a second about what some call “enhanced interrogation”, what you and I might call torture. As the years rolled on since 9/11 the Bush administration began to take more and more drastic measures to get information from suspected terrorists to lead to the capture of other terror cells (Worthington, 2018). Unfortunately, I would say, many of them were innocent, despite this, it would continue under ex-president Barak Obama and is still policy to this day under President Trump. While I personally do not believe that torture against anyone is effective or even morally justifiable that is not the debate I intend to have here. The reason I bring this up is that torture is a terrifying prospect and very real part of the world we live in today, even if we the average law-abiding citizens of New Zealand are not under any particular threat of it. As such it becomes a fear that artists decide they wish to speak about and thus it finds its way into horror. The thing about torture though is that it’s very hard to justify it to an audience even in fiction, especially when it comes to what has been dubbed ‘torture porn’. Take Saw, for example, the serial killer Jigsaw kidnapping people who he feels have sinned in some fashion and making them undergo horrifying acts of self-harm in order to be freed from his circus of blood if they refuse, they die. What a choice. The important difference, however, in my opinion, is that Jigsaw’s victims have generally committed some crime for which they are now being punished, the proportionate response debate notwithstanding. However, in my opinion, the people tortured using enhanced interrogation policies were largely innocent and simply admitted to crimes they had not committed in order to make the pain stop.

I think a better allegory for the way the torture of real-life tends to go is in BioShock Infinite: Burial at sea episode one. Here the torture is not particularly gory but is in my honest opinion more effective. Elizabeth, to keep a young girl out of the hands of the villainous Atlas is tied to a chair and from a first-person perspective, we see him push a scalpel up and over her eye before giving it a light tap with a hammer. There is a loud unsettling noise and a purple blotch that goes over the screen as it begins to move through her skull with each strike, about to reach her brain and lobotomize her. Atlas is in our face the entire time and is taunting Elizabeth while demanding the girl’s location, but Elizabeth manages to use her wits to save the girl. I would argue this works better not despite the lack of gore, not a single drop of blood is shed, but because of it. Sometimes less is more and the torture of an innocent person who ultimately wins out, in the end, can be both more terrifying and more and satisfying.

Horror like any genre, popular or otherwise, needs to evolve and horror is doing so with has been dubbed ‘post-horror’.

Based on my reading of Rose’s article, this is my idea of what post-horror is (Rose, 2018)

Horror generally is a metaphor for some kind of societal fear. Lovecraft is the fear of unimportance and Frankenstein (Shelley, 1869) is the fear of science gone awry, etc.

Post-horror films are a bit different. Instead of focusing on metaphors for things in the real world, they instead are much more personal. Often being written around the personal anxieties of the person behind it. Very telling of what they think about and what’s often on their minds.

Often times the horror is not connected to your typical horror tropes like jump scares and creepy old houses. However, the issue with this is that horror audiences have come to expect certain things from horror movies to such a degree that it is starting to hurt post-horror, many post-horror films being lambasted by audiences who expected something different.

Unfortunately, it’s not exactly the most popular, for that exact reason. The problem with subverting expectations and the birth of any emergent genre or subgenre is that there is always pushback against it that is often not as a result of genuine flaws as much as marketing that is seen as dishonest when it is often down to bewildered marketing teams not really knowing what to do.

The thing I really like about this concept, however, is the possibilities it unearths. You could argue that on some level one of my favourite franchises unintentionally falls into it. That being John Wick.

The fear for me here is not of international organizations of assassins paying each other to get into back rooms with specially minted gold coins, although they may well exist, it’s the fear of how little can push a person to commit horrible atrocities. In the first movie, John’s dog is killed and his car is stolen not long after his dog dies of unrelated causes. Because of this, he murders 70 people without mercy or remorse. The last words of one of his victims being “It was just a fucking-” before being cut off by John emptying his skull with one well-placed shot. This is not John’s first set of murders either, he had at one point been known as the ‘baba yaga’, meaning the ‘boogeyman’ by the Russian mobsters that formally employed him. Not only that he had also been a professional assassin with god only knows how many lives taken by him. At least five of them with pencils that we know of. The thing about John, however, is that he’s kind of a regular dude. A guy pushed too far who then goes on to kill hundreds of people across three films. To me that is terrifying. If more so conceptually than in terms of exposing heads and alien babies tearing through people’s ribcages. But horror is subjective and that’s what makes it so interesting (Stahelski, 2014).

Rose, S. (2018, February 22). How post-horror movies are taking over cinema. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jul/06/post-horror-films-scary-movies-ghost-story-it-comes-at-night

Shelley, M. W. (1869). Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus.

Stahelski, C. (Director). (2014). John Wick [Motion picture]. USA: Thunder Road.

Worthington, A. (2018, February 7). Exactly 16 Years Ago, George W. Bush Opened the Floodgates to Torture at Guantánamo. Retrieved from https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/02/07/exactly-16-years-ago-george-w-bush-opened-floodgates-torture-guantanamo

Irrational games. (2014). BioShock Infinite: Burial at sea – Episode 2 [Video game]. Novato, CA: 2k ganes.

Chief executive officer Vlad Dracula.

Based on my readings of both The Nature of Horror (Carroll, 2003) and Danse Macabre (King, 2010) I have to come to a conclusion about the nature of “the monster”.

The monster is an evil of real life, be it true, or perceived, given physical form. As they often represent all the ugliness of the real world concept (usually a social issue present in the minds of the time it sprung from). One could argue that if Dracula were to be written by a contemporary American author, the count would more than likely be a CEO and his sucking of the life from his victims would be done through the private health insurance corporation he runs as well as his fangs.

Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth is very… of its time. to put it as lightly as possible. its central concern relates to Lovecraft’s own bigoted and entirely irrational fear of interracial procreation. Very ’20s and ’30s. As a time ruled by such ideas as eugenics and less than a lifetime after the abolition of slavery in the United States and the resulting American civil war such concerns, while terminally invalid, were still widespread. After generations of humans laying with Dagons, the town of Innsmouth is entirely populated by horrifying half-human, half-fish-monster hybrids. if you replace the Dagons with black people you get what Lovecraft actually meant and… oh bloody dear (Lovecraft, 1936).

Let’s go with this hypothetical Dracula retelling again. I consider it to be a fair assumption that all, or at least most, of the people reading this are New Zealand citizens or residents given the school this blog is run by. so I would like to first seed in your mind a uniquely American problem. An average of 45.000 people die in the United States per year due to lack of basic healthcare (Brayon, 2018) and 530,000 (Konish, 2019) families go bankrupt from medical costs. Seriously. This has become a major talking point of American politics in the last few years. As a present fear, this would be perfect for a horror story. in today’s political climate.

So Chief executive officer Vlad Dracula jacks his prices to absurd degrees causing the deaths of many people and the bodies of those who die in his care are wheeled off to his mansion to be devoured, at the same tie as he bankrupts their families to continue to find his lavish lifestyle. Only more horrors awaiting our modernized Dr Johnathan Harker, sick of letting die patients he can save and Abraham Van Hellsing with his knowledge f the supernatural and the entire vampire killing crew. Simple really, weave the real-life fears of the reader into the narrative and you’ve terrified a generation. However, while King would argue allegory is inherent to the horror story I would advise to have your allegory and themes all in mind and planned out before put pen to paper or finger to key for the first time (Stoker, 1897).

No you can’t take this idea, I thought of it first, thank you very much.

King, S. (2010). Danse macabre. Retrieved from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4908672-dt-content-rid-10075160_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/Stephen%20King%20Danse%20Macabre%20reading.pdf

Carroll, N. (2003). The Philosophy of Horror: Or, Paradoxes of the Heart. London, England: Routledge. Retrieved from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4908672-dt-content-rid-10061418_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/The_Philosophy_of_Horror_Or%2C_Paradoxes_of_the_Hear…_—-_%281_The_Nature_of_Horror%29.pdfhttps://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4908672-dt-content-rid-10061418_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/The_Philosophy_of_Horror_Or%2C_Paradoxes_of_the_Hear…_—-_%281_The_Nature_of_Horror%29.pdf

Stoker, B. (1897). Dracula.

Lovecraft, H. P. (1936). The shadow over Innsmouth. Everett, PA: Visionary publishing company.

Brayton, E. (2018, October 15). Study: 45,000 deaths per year due to lack of health insurance. Retrieved from https://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2018/10/15/study-45000-deaths-per-year-due-to-lack-of-health-insurance/

Konish, L. (2019, February 11). This is the real reason most Americans file for bankruptcy. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/11/this-is-the-real-reason-most-americans-file-for-bankruptcy.html

 

 

Cosmicism.

What is cosmicism? That can be summed very well with the following quote.

Cosmicism is the belief that the universe is cold and indifferent to humanity. While it feels no malice towards us, it doesn’t care if we are wiped from existence in an instant. Which in some ways is more terrifying, the feeling that you’re not even important enough for something to make a point of wiping you from existence.

There is an inherent fear to meaninglessness and the feeling that nothing you do truly matters. I think this is why we once believed in such things as egocentrism. Not only was there no reason not to in ancient pre-scientific times, but also a desire for a feeling of importance. Cosmicism spits in the face of that desire to feel important.

It is in play in both The Void and The Shadow over Innsmouth use this idea, to, in my opinion, varying effect.

In The Shadow of Innsmouth, the case of cosmicism is, in my opinion, rather atypical. Instead of being all about one’s feeling of unimportance when laying eyes on interdimensional space gods that can consume the entire sol system in an instant, The Shadow over Innsmouth seems more concerned with the unimportance of one’s personal ideology and identity. Our protagonist is by the end of the story confronted with the fact that the exact monsters he had been in fear off from the start of the story had, in fact, birthed him. Learning that he was no in fact fully human as he had thought, but in fact a hybrid, not quite monster, not quite man. This tears apart his entire sense of self and place in the world. Eventually sending him on a downward spiral leading to him joining his fellows in the ocean. (Lovecraft, 1936)
The Void, on the other hand, is a bit more standard in its version of cosmicism. Instead, deals, albeit indirectly, with beings beyond death and beyond human comprehension, able to cause resurrections, albeit warped ones and are not even shown. This is likely for the best, as the fear of cosmicism is often in that which is beyond your comprehension and what you can depict on film you can comprehend. Unfortunately, it’s a bit harder to get a feel for these forces, in as much as one can, as they aren’t really brought up until the end of the film and even then, are barely spoken of, merely offhandedly mentioned. However, it appears that they are able to control life and death at their whims and wish to see humanity converted into something more horrifying to us, but likely more to their taste. Eventually, our main hero and main villain end up in their realm. They stand in the shadow of a vast pyramid in a land of rocks and thunder and we are left to decide for ourselves as to their fate. But it is clear they have no power here, wherever here is (Gillespie & Kostanski, 20160.

Death it seems is imminent. But isn’t it always? Sure the universe doesn’t care, but that’s why you should.

Lovecraft, H. P. (1936). The shadow over Innsmouth. Visionary Publishing Company.

Gillespie, J., & Kostanski, S. (Directors). (2016). The void [Motion picture]. Cave Painting Pictures.