Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fight Club and Identity

I had the task of identifying the concept of identity in Chuck Palahniuk's gritty, dark and wonderful novel 
Fight Club. Through exploration of concepts in the real world through media such as the internet and real life 
examples it shows how this concept is everywhere, and in different ways, it effects everyone in some way, 
shape, or form. When I read in the book that “You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.” (p.134) It really got me how true it is in a way when it comes to things like the internet and even when it comes most people when they're buying their clothes. When everyone wants to seem popular and go out and buy their clothes at American Eagle, American Apparel, and even places like Hot Topic trying to fit in with what everyone else in their little group, or to follow whatever trend there is to think that they stand out, trying to create an individual identity they fail. That is because, while they think they think they're being unique, someone else has the exact same shirt, or the exact same pants, or shoes, or belt.
In the novel, the narrator identifies himself through his possessions, his job and Fight Club itself. The narrator says “I loved my life, I loved that condo, I loved every stick of furniture. That was my whole life. Everything, the lamps, the chairs, the rugs were me. The dishes in the cabinets were me. The plants were me. The television was me. It was me that blew up. Couldn't he see that?” (pp 110-111). This is the perfect example of people becoming their possessions. Bringing this into the real world, if someone owns a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, they are automatically identified as bikers, they are identified as their Harley. Same with cars, if you're going to spend 40 thousand plus on a car like a Tesla, a Lexus, or a Lamborghini you want to be identified by that car. The best media example of this is would be the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. The character of Blake played by Alec Baldwin said it best when he identified himself as his watch by saying “That watch costs more than you car. I made $970,000 last year. How much you make? You see pal, that's who I am, and you're nothing.”
Lastly, there is the identity that an individual creates either intentionally or unintentionally. The narrator says, “Tyler Durden is my hallucination.” (p. 168). This is when he realizes he is actually Tyler Durden. This can be very true online. You aren't who you say you are online, if you are in a chat room, you create a different personality than you really are. The internet is the one place that people can be someone else, because no one knows who you are. The activists group that calls themselves Anonymous is the perfect example.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Relationship between Alucard and Integra Hellsing

I've currently been re-watching the anime Hellsing. The plot of it revolves around the Hellsing Organization which is located in England and run by Integra Wingates Hellsing, who is either the great granddaughter or granddaughter of Abraham Van Hellsing. They purpose of the organization is to protect the country from vampires and the undead. She does this with the help of Alucard who is bound to the family through his capture 100 years prior. Through that bond, I would like to focus on the relationship and personalities of Alucard (who happens to be my favorite character in the series) and Integra, because I believe their hostel relationship is actually quite interesting.

The relationship and personalities between Alucard and Integra clash. For instance, Alucard's personality for being as old and powerful as he is, is psychotic and actually quite violent, he's also arrogant and cocky. All the while being sad and somewhat jealous of humans because they can die and he cannot, in the traditional sense. He also can't understand humans either. While Integra's personality is collected yet emotional with slight anger issues and she is a protectionist when it comes to her job. The relationship between the two no matter who you look at is strictly master (Integra) /servant (Alucard). Because when she was twelve years old, and her uncle tried to kill her after her father declared her as the leader of the organization, her blood restored Alucard, and from that moment on, he recognized her as his master.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"The Edge of Sanity"

The Edge of Sanity
A movie, play and even television shows have a beginning which will usually show what the conflict is, then toward the middle, how the conflict will be taken care of and at the end, the conflict gets resolved and everything is fine. This beings me to the topic of the movie, “The Edge of Sanity”. This film would be classified in the genres of action, romance, with some horror elements stuck in at times. The film will set out to prove that Scotland has heroes that the country and it's people can count on to feel safe and that they can count on. It also goes to prove that vampires can be heroes, not just the blood sucking villains they're usually portrayed as.. Finally, it also shows that there can be strong female roles in films without the main heroine being just a sex pot, a weakling or being killed off toward the end of a film.
In the beginning we meet the main protagonist his name is Daniel Christianson, and is portrayed by Marilyn Manson. Christianson who happens to be a very powerful, eight hundred year old, vampire and the secret weapon of a top secret organization only known as The Black Dragon. His job is to simply protect the Scottish people from the plague that is spreading throughout the country. The Black Dragon organization is lead by Vlad Michaels, played by John Goodman, he swore to help Scotland in the fight against the invasion of vampires and their ghouls of the Scottish mafia run by Iseabail Bruis, personated by Shirley Manson. Daniel Christianson would be considered a modern day James Bond. The only difference is that Christianson, was forced to work for Michaels against his will. Christianson, like Bond, is thought of as “..an imperial hero, who provided a way for Britishness to continue to be defined in opposition to the 'dark' people of the world.” (Baron 136). The darkness in this case being the Scottish mafia and the vampires and ghouls it controls. Through this, Scotland realizes it has at least one person it can count on, although he isn't completely trusted because of his vampire nature.
Part of the conflict Christianson faces is the death of his fiancee. As he storms into an apartment building after fending off the ghouls that surround the area, he finds his fiancee, and the heroine Charlotte McKain, acted by Kate Beckinsale, murdered by the hands of a rogue vampire. This leads to him killing the rogue vampire in a psychotic rage. After the threat has been taken care of, he takes McKain in the bathroom and begins bathing her in his blood. After approximately fifteen years, she awakens. She then goes in search of Chistainson. This moment, falls under the old romantic comedy guidelines. Boy meets girl, where McKain and Christianson meet, fall in love, and get engaged. Boy loses girl, this is the point where McKain dies and later on, boy gets girl back when they reunite with each other. While this isn't a romantic comedy, the previous situation could be taken in any romance plot line.
After awakening, she leaves the building, she beings taking out any perceived threat that stands in her way with her only possession, a bow, she picked up on her way out. At the moment that she fires an arrow into the ghoul standing in her way. It gives Scotland and it's people that they have yet another hero that they can count on in making sure they are safe. This also gives the audience the impression that McKain isn't just another pretty face. Before her death, many people would perceive McKain, and others like her as “small, weak underdogs who must transform themselves in important ways to overcome long odds to succeed.” (Allison and Goethals). That's because she got murdered because she couldn't protect herself in that instance. However, that isn't the case, before she died, she was a member of the police force, taking down men twice her size. She also has a passion for sword play and archery. Furthermore, because she “..receive(d) assistance from enchanted and unlikely source(s).” (Allison and Goethals) she became a vampire, therefore becoming more powerful and stronger than she was before.
The feminism arguments come into play here. Simone De Beauvoir quotes Aristotle, and states that, “'The female is a female by virtue, of a certain lack of qualities, we should regard the female nature as afflicted with a natural defectiveness.” (De Beauvoir). This puts all women in the same circle as weaklings no matter what the circumstance is. Charlotte McKain proves this wrong, for she can hold her own. She is not lacking in any qualities that would be a hindrance to anyone. De Beauvoir also argues that women have a master/slave relationship with men (De Beauvoir). In the case, when Daniel and Charlotte meet up again, there will be a master/slave relationship of sorts, but it is not because she is a woman and he a man. On the contrary, it is because she is his fledgeling and she will need to learn, not because she is less than he is.
On occasion Daniel will talk down to her, making it seem as though she is inferior to him, goading her on and verbally abusing her. Phrases like, “What do you know, you're a woman?”, or when he gets angry or enraged and doesn't want to be bothered, “Know your place little girl!”. This doesn't phase her at all though, because, as Fraser describes feminism in this case, “This must involve argument and contestation about which new descriptions will count and which women will be empowered.” (Barker 249). She knows she's a strong women and she won't let some over grown child make her feel like she isn't. McKain won't back down either, as she more often than not calls him out on what he's saying. The witty retorts catching him off guard, making him realize the reason he fell in love with her in the first place.
This point in the film, she follows his aura until she stops in front of The Black Dragon headquarters and reunites with Daniel. As I pointed out earlier this is the last part of the romantic equation, and they are both happy to be in each others company again. McKain gets introduced to Michaels, and after a quick briefing to the situation at hand, McKain and Christianson start training. He is surprised at how strong she is, and he knows he doesn't have to worry about her safety. He realized that, while she was for the brief moment, she will not be the damsel in distress anymore. The situation of the damsel in distress is “a classic example of a passive character defined by the actions of another, and this is precisely the fate that waits in store for many supposedly-strong female characters: despite all their muscle, their stubborn temperament, their bow, and their bravery, they end up incapacitated or jailed by some guy, and then just wait around until they're rescued by another.” (Legomenon).
This is what typically happens to a strong female character, so that when it is shown that she's about to do something heroic, she gets knocked down a peg and gets captured. However, in McKain's case, this will never be a problem. For every mission they go on, she holds her own like any man, and in some cases. She proves to be better than men, and in this instance, unlike other strong female characters in the media and pop culture, such as Vasquez from “Aliens”, and Sarah Conner in “Terminator 2”, and the tough female character from “Resident Evil” she won't be so easy to just kill off.
Coming back from their training, Michaels gives them the news that a new threat is imminent and that Iseabail Bruis is planning another attack. This time however, it's different, they are informed that the attack is on the Vatican. Daniel is sent to take care of the vampires and ghouls that she has generically modified to spread an infection turning everyone into ghouls in Rome. Michaels was going to send Charlotte to Rome with him, but Daniel comes to her defense, and tells him to let her go take care of Bruis herself. Michaels agrees and sends them their separate ways, after several days of dispatching the threat in Scotland, and destroying Iseabail. Charlotte is sent to help Daniel in Rome, when she arrives, the place is in shambles.
She tracks down Christianson and gives him the update that Bruis has been exterminated, he is pleased with this news and they begin fighting together. Several hours pass, and the threat is generally wiped out there too. She only to notice several minutes too late that he has lost a lot of blood during the battle. In his weakened state, he can't seem to go on much longer. She does the only thing she can thing of to do to help him in the situation at hand. In one last grand romantic gesture, without crying, without any emotion but caring, she lets him drink from her, and that gives him enough strength to carry on, at least for that moment. In the situation at hand, this is the complete opposite of what usually happens in media and pop culture with strong female roles. Usually it is the man saving the woman because the writers of films always, no matter how physically or mentally strong they are. They have to break down in some way to be down graded into this weak shell that their gender always has to fall into.
After the battle has been won, and there is no other threat Daniel's wounds don't heal like they used to. He explained to her that it took a majority of his power to take care of most of the hoards before she got there, he is weaker, from the loss of blood and his vamperic powers, closer to death now and he starts slipping away before he is gone. He disappears for several years after this incident happened, finally reappearing after forty years, to see Charlotte heading The Black Dragons now.
This is the first time in movies that the strong female character doesn't die because of some motherly instinct that wasn't there before, manifested itself up at some random moment, causing the heroin's death. This is also the first time that the strong female protagonist tries to save or saves the male protagonist from demise or death making the man look weak for once.
This also goes to show that vampires can be the heroes as well, not just psychotic blood sucking monsters that do not possess the ability of being on the side of good. Whether or not they are fighting their own kind, or another threat, vampires are heroes that can protect their country. Furthermore, females can be strong willed women, who do not have to get captured all the time and always be the ones to die and that even the most powerful vampires are capable of love.

Works Cited

Allison, Scott T. and Goethals, George R. Heroes: What They Do and Why We Need Them”. The Heroic Leadership Dynamic - Part 1. 23 Oct. 2013. Web. 25 Oct. 2013. http://blog.richmond.edu/heroes/

Barker, Chris. Cultural Studies Theory and Practice. London: Sage. 2012. Print.

Baron, Cynthia. Dr No: Bonding Britishness to racial sovereignty. PDF file.

De Beauvoir, Simone. “Introduction” to The Second Sex. 1949. Print.

Legomenon, Hapaxius. “Stars, Beetles, and Fools”. Writing Strong Women, Part II: Independence in Action. 21 Aug. 2013. Web. 25 Oct. 2013. http://starsbeetlesandfools.blogspot.com/2013/08/writing-strong-women-part-ii.html

Monday, October 21, 2013

"Escape Plan" V The Real World

This last weekend my husband, his best friend, his co worker and I went to see the new Stallone/Schwarzenegger movie “Escape Plan”. It was about a man who broke out of prisons for a living and tried to build an escape proof prison. He goes through a mission meeting where he is to try to break out of said prison. A van comes to pick him up and instead of just taking him to the prison, they take out his tracking chip and take him to the prison where he wakes up in a cell. In this prison is where he meets Schwarzenegger and another man and they try to get out.

This made me reconsider my thoughts of people actually behaving themselves while they're being watched, even in prison. There have been prison breaks and they were probably under the watchful eyes of the wardens. However, no one knows what people are doing every second of every day. This is also a reason why other crimes are committed. Such as rape and murder, because people plan it out and do it (a majority of the time) where no one can see or hear what's going on. And in the case of rape, can get away with it sometimes.

Maybe I'm thinking too much into a movie, I tend not to do this. But with my faith in the human race being less than 5 percent. This movie and the thoughts that came from it put everything in proper perspective.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lost in Translation and Japanese Culture in America

Going back to the globalization of the film “Lost in Translation” had got me thinking of just how much Japanese media (all be it not as prominent as it is in Japan with western cultures) is in the USA and surprisingly many other countries. For example, in the film, as in real life, western culture has a huge influence on the Japanese culture. The female school uniforms are sailor uniforms which caught on during the world war II era (or so I've been told). While Bill Murray's character was plastered everywhere, and they were singing songs in English in the karaoke bar.

Now, while not as prominent out here, there is a huge following of all things Japanese, such as Anime, Manga, certain games, and yes, even J-Pop. Sailor Moon for instance has a huge following out here, as does Bleach, Naruto and so on. And fans tend to want to watch most anime in Japanese with English subtitles. Then there is the J-pop and games. One game in particular was in demand for an English release that Sega compiled with a limited release, with one of the most popular pop icons in Japan, The vocaloid Hatsune Miku and Hatsune Miku's Project Diva f. While singing in mostly (if not only) Japanese she sells out concerts all over the world, while only being an animated character with a voice that is processed through a program. So to say that Japanese culture/media isn't prominent out here isn't true it is prominent.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Masquerading in Romantic Movies.

Last week, I got to thinking about masquerading in romantic comedies, or romantic movies in general. Now, mind you, I really REALLY hate “chick flicks”, but sometimes I get roped into watching one. There is this one movie, called “Boys Don't Cry”. Now while I didn't sit down and watch the entire movie. What I sort of got from it was that Hillary Swank's character dresses up as a boy to get this girl to fall in love with him/her. This is masquerading in a major way, because she changes her identity and sex to get someone (of the same gender) to fall in love with her.

Another example of masquerading in a romantic movie, is the movie “Shallow Hal”. For those who haven't seen it, In the movie, Hal Larson played by Jack Black is a man that only cares about the physical appearance of women and spends the night in a bar hitting on gorgeous women. He runs into a hypnotist and Black gets..well hypnotized to see the inner beauty of women. He falls in love with an obese woman named Rosemary played by Gwyneth Paltrow, not knowing she's obese until the end of the movie when the hypnosis gets broken. They get married after they get back together and presumably live happily ever after. The movie is great, through the masquerading it actually shows that love can come in every shape and size. This movie could also show fat shamers a thing or two, look inside someone.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lord Nekros

When it comes to superheros, we tend to think of people like Batman, Superman, Ironman and people like that, men or women who try to help mankind and protect their city.  Some have super powers, some don't.  But what actually defines a superhero?  Can a soldier be a superhero?  What about something or someone that would be considered a villain?  Something like a necromancer for instance.

In New Orleans, Louisiana on November 11, 1877, Charlotte and Alexandre welcomed a baby boy into the world. His name, Julian Thibodaux.  The family decided to move to Orleans France when Julian turned 5.  Once in France, Julian started school, and enjoyed it. However he never made friends nor did he really want any. While their lives where going well, things took a turn for the worse when Charlotte became gravely ill, with what would later be discovered to be cancer and passed away when Julian was 10.  Julian moved through that tragic event to graduate high school, at the top of his class at age 18, only to come home to find his father on the ground brutally murdered in a home invasion. At that point, with tears falling from his eyes, he swore he would dedicate his life to curing cancer and finding the bastard that killed his father. In his early 20's he started medical school, graduating top of his class in this instance as well. He spent the next years of his life doing research, tending to patients and doing the occasional autopsy.

On his 62nd birthday, he was sent to Haiti because he heard that there was a miracle cure there to help in the fight against cancer and could help in his research. Once he got there, the next morning he went to the shop that he was told had the cure. He walked in and a sinister, evil looking old man asked him why Julian while he was in his shop. Julian told the old man that he was there, because he heard that the shop had the cure in it and he was there to get it. The elderly man turned his back to Julian to look for the medicine, and asked him if he would like some water, all the while adding an elixir to a small cup. Julian said yes, and takes the cup as the man faces the front once again. As Julian drank, the man turned again to look for the medicine again. Julian looks around and notices a black, silver and red scythe, with an onyx handle and along the blade, rubies and onyx. He decides to buy that as well pays for both items and leaves. Once back at home, Julian starts to experience horrible vertigo, and starting to wail in horrendous pain, He barley made it to the bathroom, he looks at himself in the mirror, and notices his eyes glow a neon blue before he collapses on the floor. Several hours later, he wakes up, and pulls himself up with the help of the sink, looking into the mirror once again. He's shocked at what he saw, he had aged backwards and looked like he did at 21. Little did he know, from that point on he would be immortal and never look older than 21. Confused, he walked out the door, picking up the scythe by the door. Once outside, he notices a puppy that had died from heat exhaustion, he picked it up and to his surprised it came back to life in his hands. Thinking it was a fluke, he notices a man in his early to mid 30s , he walks over to him and gently places his slender hand on the man's shoulder and as he starts to move, Julian grins, he knows now what his true purpose is. Thus, Lord Nekros was born. While he has the ability to raise the dead, to use them as his minions, he doesn't want a zombie apocalypse happening so he uses his scythe, the “Coup de la Mort” to keep that from happening. He also has some limitations, such as he has to constantly protect his minions, while keeping more undead from spawning. He also has a problem working in direct sunlight and extreme heat.

His appearance is quite striking. At 6'3” and 169lbs he is a tall and lanky man. However, he's masculine, yet feminine with long black and red hair, bone white skin, and piercing blue eyes. He's a quite beautiful man. He dons a skin tight body suit of black and gray with a giant red, black and white skull on the chest, with red and black studded leather gloves with black and red spiked leather boots. On his back, a hooded cape with dark gray trim. He is hard to miss while walking down the street.

His goals are simple, he wants to protect the country and it's people from crooked cops and your run of the mill lowlifes such as the mafia, burglars and murders. The villains he has to deal with are as I said, run of the mill lowlifes and his nemesis, if you will, is the man that killed his father. According to the culture of the 1940s in France, being a super hero is an honor, because being something that no one else is, is new and exciting thing for a culture of people. The political aspect, there is a sworn duty, and a sense of pride, when it comes protecting the country and it's people, (in a different sort of way) when there is a war going on, the major problem is that the French military want's his help to defeat the Germans, because they see his power could help out in WWII, but he refuses to help because it would only make the situation worse. The general public has a problem with Julian Thibodaux for the obvious reason that he brings back the dead. However, there are always a few exceptions to the rule, such as the people that constantly badger him about bringing one of their loved ones back. When they don't understand that they won't be the same person anymore. As I pointed out, most people have a problem accepting him because he brings back the dead, and a zombie apocalypse isn't the most acceptable thing.

Lord Nekros is necessary for the protection of the citizens of France from the general criminals of the population and the Milieu while the war is going on and the Germans are invading, because no public official or the police is really concerned with the general public nuisances at this point in time. He is needed and necessary because without him there, the citizens would be at risk from Germans and Nazis as well as all the other horrible people. All in all, he suggests that no matter who you are, man, woman, child, mortals are weak and emotional, and all of that combined, if you let it consume you, it can blind someone to what truly makes them strong. Yet, at times, those moments that make someone weak can also make them strong.