CIU110 Assignment 1 – Blog Responses

What is Intertextuality?

I define Intertextuality as the point where two pieces of media overlap. In terms of film, its where movies overlap with previous work, which can be in the form of another film, another art form, a work of literature or even things from the real world such as people, places or events. Since it is near impossible for creators to make art without being influenced by an outside source that inspires them, intertextuality occurs throughout most types of art and not just in films. Therefore, another way to look at intertextuality is the way in which films and other forms of art purposely or accidentally intersect and reference each-other.

A professional definition of intertextuality by John Hartley is, that it is best understood as the textual equivalent of cross-referencing, and that at a semiotic level intertextuality refers to the use of a given sign in other textual contexts (HARTLEY, 2018). Intertextual properties of text can include generic characteristics of the genre, characters and the actors who play them, and pastiche and parody either pay homage to a source material or make fun of it. The movie I have chosen to relate intertextuality to for this blog post is Deadpool, as it makes use of all of these intertextual properties in some form.

Deadpool

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The merc with a mouth

Deadpool is about a Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him horribly disfigured and with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.

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“superhero landing”

The synopsis of Deadpool mentions the titular character’s dark and twisted sense of humour, what it does not mention however is just how self aware the character and the rest of the movie is. Deadpool is absolutely packed with a bunch of in jokes and references. Some refer to and parody generic characteristics of superhero movies as a whole. An example of this can be seen towards the end of the movie in a scene where Deadpool sarcastically commentates one of his foes jumping from a great height and doing a “superhero landing”, which entails Descending quickly, and landing on a knee, a foot, and a fist. This pays homage to many super hero movies and comic books that came before, as it is about the coolest way a superhero can keep themselves from hitting the ground (apparently).

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A gratuitous Stan Lee cameo

Being a Marvel movie of course also meant having Stan Lee, one of the original creators of Marvel comics, do a gratuitous cameo as it has been tradition for him to appear in every Marvel film since X-men in the year 2000. Lee’s cameo is put to great comedic effect as he appears as a DJ in a strip club that Deadpool briefly visits. Deadpool makes many snide and hilarious remarks throughout the film, Some referencing Ryan Reynolds, the actor who plays Deadpool himself, as well as some of his less popular films. An example of this is when he exclaims “don’t make the super suit green, or animated!” just before he gets experimented on. This is a reference to the poorly recieved Green Lantern movie that came out in 2011, in which Reynolds also had a starring role. These are just a few of the many examples of all the intertextuality at play in the Deadpool movie.

Intertextuality can be pretty much universally found in all films and other forms of art, since creators are unavoidably influenced by outside sources and other media they have previously consumed. They can use what they have been inspired by in other media to expand upon previous ideas, or use it to try something new, or even just use it for the purpose of parodying something for comedic effect.

 

References

Deadpool: Easter Eggs, References & X-Men Connections. (2018). Screen Rant. Retrieved 16 March 2018, from https://screenrant.com/deadpool-easter-eggs-movie/?view=all

HARTLEY, J. (2018). COMMUNICATION, CULTURAL AND MEDIA STUDIES. [S.l.]: ROUTLEDGE.

Intertextuality in Film & TV.mp4. (2018). YouTube. Retrieved 16 March 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3vpFGbudpw

Intertextuality in Film: Definition & Examples | Study.com. (2018). Study.com. Retrieved 16 March 2018, from https://study.com/academy/lesson/intertextuality-in-film-definition-examples.html

 

 

 

Genre and Alien

Today I want to talk about Genre. What it is and how it is used in the context of feature films, and more specifically in one of my all time favourite movies Alien (1979). All films and media are made up of key qualities that come together to form a certain style, which we can then place in a category with other pieces that share a lot of the same qualities, these categories are otherwise known as different Genres. A few examples of different genres in film are; Action, comedy, romance, horror, fantasy, science fiction and so on. All these genres are designed to evoke different reactions and specific emotional responses from the viewer, and by grouping films into genres that have a predictable range of features and expectations audiences are able to quickly determine whether or not a film suits there personal preferences.

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A more professional definition of genre comes from philosopher Steve Neale, as he argues that genres can be understood as “systems of orientations, expectations and conventions that circulate between industry, text and subject” (HARTLEY, 2018). The industry uses these genre expectations established between the producers, the film director and the audience, as a means of creating a more appealing and identifiable product for sale (HARTLEY, 2018). Some negative effects of this can sometimes be seen in Hollywood where it is argued that films forgo incorporating any creativity or new ideas in favour of just following the formulas already established in a specific genre.

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Jump Scare!

Some films however can deviate from already established genre tropes and rules and do something new or different. Steve Neal also suggests that “each new genre film tends to extend [its]repertoire, either by adding a new element or by transgressing one of the old ones’ (HARTLEY, 2018). A way that films can deviate from others in a specific genre is to take influence from and combine with a different type of genre altogether. A good example of an influential film that has progressed and reinvented its genre, is one of my all time favourite movies Alien (1979). Ridley Scott’s Alien is primarily Science fiction, but has a tonne of horror/thriller elements mixed in to create a movie that was undoubtedly a lot different from all that had come before in the scifi genre. Most Scifi movies that preceded Alien had noticeably similar tones of lighthearted adventure and campy fun, which can be seen in TV shows and movies from the 60’s and 70’s, such as Flash Gordon, Star Trek and Star Wars. As they are all filled with colourful characters and exciting new worlds to explore. Films of this time often celebrated scientific achievement and a sense of wonder as to what the future holds.

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Flash Gordon promo art, features noticeably light and campy tone

While being different from most scifi films that came before, Alien still shares common traits. As one of the defining traits of Science Fiction is that there is technology that doesn’t exist in the time period the story is written in. The technology and setting always play into a “what if?” scenario. Alien for example revolves around the scenario of “what if several people were isolated in a claustrophobic space station, with an unknown and dangerous alien threat”. Just from this premise alone it can be seen that Alien has taken its science fiction setting and filled it with themes and elements typical to films in the horror genre. Themes such as fear, suspense, surprise and mystery; these themes are conveyed with the overall dark tone of the narrative, as well as the dark, isolated and claustrophobic setting. Alien also utilises traditional horror film techniques such as; jump scares, dark Lighting, scary/ unsettling imagery and the killer being a seemingly unstoppable creature from another world.

In conclusion genre can be defined as categories of films that share many similarities. These genres are designed to evoke different reactions and specific emotional responses from the viewer, while also allowing them to quickly determine whether or not a film suits there personal preferences, due to having a predictable range of features and expectations. The industry uses genre to create an appealing and identifiable product for sale, which can lead to films being very cliche. There are however movies like Alien that can slightly re-invent how a genre is defined, by trying something new and incorporating elements from other genres to deliver a refreshing new experience for audiences to enjoy, progressive movies like this go on to inspire future films in the genre to try a different direction.

References

HARTLEY, J. (2018). COMMUNICATION, CULTURAL AND MEDIA STUDIES. [S.l.]: ROUTLEDGE.

Science Fiction – TV Tropes. (2018). TV Tropes. Retrieved 16 March 2018, from http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ScienceFiction

What is Genre? – Definition & Types – Video & Lesson Transcript | Study.com. (2018). Study.com. Retrieved 16 March 2018, from https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-genre-definition-types-quiz.html

 

 

 

The Narrative of Dark Souls

Hey everybody, today I would like to discuss narrative in the Dark Souls video game franchise, how it uses unconventional and non-linear storytelling to convey the games overall story and message. But first I would like to define what narrative even means.

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Praise the sun!

I always thought of the narrative as just the story, or an account of events and how the overall plot unfolds from the beginning to the end. Another more professional definition of narrative comes from John Hartley and his book on media studies, where he describes the narrative as being a continuous story that has two facets. The first being the plot, which tends to move between an opening stability that gets disrupted, triggering the action that leads towards facing adversity, in order to restore stability or create a new equilibrium (HARTLEY, 2018). The second facet of narrative comes from the presentation and a choice in the way that the overall story is told and realised. This facet, and the different storytelling devices used are often the main focus of textual analysis (HARTLEY, 2018).

Narrative is different from the story in various media such as TV shows, movies or video-games. Although story is a part of the overall narrative and provides a series of events arranged in some logical progression or plot, narrative is a broad term and can be seen as the way in which a story is presented to the viewer, and refers to the overall format and style of the piece, through which the story develops. In this blog post I will be discussing the narrative of the Dark Souls video-game franchise.

Dark Souls

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concept art for Dark Souls

Dark souls overall narrative is about cycles, about how kingdoms rise and fall, ages come and go, and even time can end and restart as the flame fades and is renewed. It is the players choice to either extend the cycle unnaturally, by sacrificing and linking themselves with the first flame to continue the age of fire for a time, or they can let the flame die naturally and let a new cycle begin. That being said, it is also a game with a very minimalistic plot. As a lot of the events that took place in the game world and their significance are often just implied and left for the player to interpret on their own, rather than being fully shown and explained. The storytelling can be considered non-linear, as none of the information given to the player is in a specific chronological order, and usually comes down to player choice a lot of the time. Most of the story is given to the player through dialogue from NPC’s and boss fights, item descriptions, and the world design itself. The narrative of Dark Souls can therefore be considered as an emergent narrative as its story is not authored by just the games creators, or by any single person really. The story instead emerges from the interaction between the players and the games systems.

It is clear that narrative is a distinct concept from the story and plot of a piece, and although narrative encompasses the plot as part of telling a story, it is still a broad term and can be seen as the way in which a story is presented to the viewer, and refers to the overall format and style of the piece, through which the story develops.

 

References

HARTLEY, J. (2018). COMMUNICATION, CULTURAL AND MEDIA STUDIES. [S.l.]: ROUTLEDGE.

Narrative Design in Dark Souls. (2018). Gamasutra.com. Retrieved 16 March 2018, from https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/TomBattey/20140425/216262/Narrative_Design_in_Dark_Souls.php

The Problem with Emergent Stories in Video Games. (2018). PopMatters. Retrieved 16 March 2018, from https://www.popmatters.com/173580-the-problem-with-emergent-stories-in-video-games-2495740343.html

 

 

Understanding media- Thor Ragnarok

Hey everyone. Today I want to talk about the aesthetic of the movie Thor Ragnarok, and how it greatly distanced itself from the previous movies of the Thor franchise and changed for the better. But in order to do that, I first have to define aesthetic and explain what that word actually means in the context of a blockbuster movie franchise.

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Thor Ragnarok Promo

In my opinion the word aesthetic can be used to describe the way something, like a piece of media for example, looks and feels to its audience and how it can be universally seen as being beautiful in a way, Aesthetic can be used in ways by the creator of an art piece or a piece of media to evoke specific emotions and get the audience to feel a certain way about the subject they are viewing.

Philosophers defined the term aesthetic as referring to insight, beauty and expressiveness in creativity. The term can be used as a way to distinguish actual art from simple crafts, the phrase provided a way to describe many very different forms of media as still being a form of art and by extension, an expression of the artists feelings (HARTLEY, 2018).

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Jack Kirby era Thor

Thor Ragnarok had a very different aesthetic when compared to the previous two entries in the franchise. Where the first two gave off the feel of generic superhero flicks, about a good guy with godlike powers dealing with the forces of evil in order to protect the earth and the ones they love from certain peril. Ragnarok ditched this premise entirely and was completely cosmic in scale, and was set on many different alien planets that were previously unseen by the audience. The aesthetics of these worlds and their inhabitants mirrored a lot of the early artwork that was done by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the creators of Marvel comics and the character of Thor himself. By doing this the film evoked a sense of wonder and fun from the audience, along with a hint of nostalgia for longtime marvel fans. This change in setting really improved the overall aesthetic of this film and made it into something very unique and filled with excitement, especially when compared to a lot of recent superhero movies that just seem to be falling into a rut and follow the same conventions. Thor Ragnarok also makes use of a lot of humour and improvisation to good effect in certain scenes, as the film director Taika Waititi is a huge fan of comedy, which can be seen in his previous works and his comedy/horror film What We Do in the Shadows. The added layer of humour really worked to increase the fun aesthetic of the movie, as well as make the characters seem more human and relate-able (even though most of the main characters are either aliens or gods).

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Taika Waititi’s previous film, What We Do in the Shadows

So in conclusion, aesthetics can be described as the way a piece of media looks and feels to its audience. If a film can succeed in creating an aesthetic that is perceived as being appealing to its audience overall, then it can very well influence how an audience thinks and feels, it can also be a tool used in film to help convey a message. Having an understanding of aesthetics is important when trying to create entertainment, and Thor: Ragnarok succeeded in creating something stimulating that was able to reach a broader audience.

 

References

HARTLEY, J. (2018). COMMUNICATION, CULTURAL AND MEDIA STUDIES. [S.l.]: ROUTLEDGE.

Jacobs, V. (2018). The Basics of Film AestheticsPlot and Theme. Retrieved 16 March 2018, from https://plotandtheme.com/2015/04/24/the-basics-of-film-aesthetics/

Thor: Ragnarok Is An ‘Unabashed Love Letter’ to Jack Kirby. (2018). CBR. Retrieved 16 March 2018, from https://www.cbr.com/taika-waititi-thor-ragnarok-jack-kirby/

 

 

 

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