One thing that immediately stuck out to me while reading Anti-Gone were Spyda and Lynxa’s eyes, or well the absence of them until the second half of the book. At first their glasses did not seem out of place while they were outside on the boat, but once they went indoors to shop or pick up their drugs they kept the glasses on. Lynxa briefly took them off in the clothing store but she put them back on until the movie. The movie theater is the only time in the story when both characters remove their glasses.
Maybe they only took the glasses off because the movie theater was dark, but I don’t think anything is just a coincidence in this book. I noticed that Lynxa did not put her glasses back on when she left the theater but Spyda did. The glasses may be a tool for the characters see an augmented reality. Or maybe the glasses help them see reality because Spyda and Lynxa take multiple drugs before they remove their sunglasses, which altered what they saw and felt. Either way I think the sunglasses are more than what they seem to be.
Today’s reading Contact High seems like a more unlikely future than the Handmaid’s tale because it does not contain the same grounding details that the Handmaid’s Tale does. The Handmaid’s Tale seems more believable because the main character lived in a time before Gilead and throughout the whole story there are tidbits that remind you of that past life, like the location details about Harvard University. Right below the surface of Gilead traces of the old society still remain.
Contact High however looks like it takes place in a world that seems completely unfamiliar to us. The technology is unrecognizable and the characters have spent their whole lives in suits that do not allow skin-to-skin contact. It appears that these characters have never lived in the world that we know today. Because of this it seems like Contact High’s world could never happen to us, but as it was pointed out in class, the issues that are frowned upon and controlled through the suits, such as mother’s breastfeeding, and homosexuality, are also not completely accepted today. Even though the world in Contact High seems like science fiction, the attention the author brings to these topics makes the reader consider if the world of Contact High is really all that different from our own reality. With the wrong people in charge could that world become a reality? The more I think about it, the more similarities I see between The Handmaid’s Tale and Contact High and how both could become versions of reality.
After reading the book, one of the most prominent feminist characters to me is Moira. In the book flashbacks, we put together that Moira was was one of the people who kept Offred sane in the real world and in the training center. Moira is introduced as a college friend who is not afraid to say what she thinks, and throughout the novel is there for Offred in one way or another. When Offred loses her job, Moira is the first person to come over, and in the center Moira offers Offred comfort because she is a familiar face and a symbol of rebellion against the Aunts.
One of the reasons why Moira’s role in the book is so powerful to me is because of the history she has with Offred. Moira has been there from the beginning and since Moira is familiar to Offred, she also becomes familiar to the reader. For us and for Offred, Moira has been there from the start and she is confirmation to how crazy the Repoublic of Gilead is. So I was kind of surprised when the movie version decided to have Moira and Offred meet in route to the training center. I get that it makes more sense if the directors want the movie to have more of a chronological order than the book, but I felt that the decision took away a big part of Moira’s character. Movie Moira disproves of the situation (and will probably still try to rebel against the Aunts) but by removing her history with Offred she doesn’t ground Offred in the same way that book Moira does.
Neil Gaiman creates a sense of familiarity with the Endless for his readers by drawing on characters of mythologies and common archetypes. The powerpoint from class links the Endless to their respective figure or archetype, and while some of the Endless’ mythology match is pretty straightforward, I think Neil Maiman truly put his own twist on some of the characters. For example, it’s not that surprising that Destruction, who is supposed to destroy and decay is linked to Ares, the Greek god of war and violence. One of the most fascinating siblings to me is Death.
Death is compelling to me because in the Sandman chronicles she is portray as a woman. I have always seen Death portrayed as a male figure, whether it is Hades, Pluto, or the Grim Reaper. Death’s counterpart Charon is also a male figure in Greek mythology. I googled the personification of death out of curiosity for this post, and there are cultures around the world that personify death as a female character, but by and large most cultures, especially western cultures, identify death as a male figure. Gaiman also did not just make the role of death fight into the stereotype of the character being dark and spiteful. In the story “Fascade” Death is shown acting maternal and sympathetic towards Rainie, eventually helping her fulfill her wish to die. This does make me think of the typical portrayal of Charon dutifully ferrying people to the Underworld or of Hades seeking revenge on his brothers. I appreciate Neil Gaiman giving the role of death a “breath of fresh air” instead of conforming to the male dominated personification.
After reading the first three stories of The Sandman Dream Country, I questioned if Oneiros from the “Calliope” short story, Lord Shaper from the “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and the Cat of Dreams from “A Dream of a Thousands Cats” are all the character Dream. While the plots of the stories are very different, there are striking similarities between these three characters, even if one of them is portrayed as a cat. The videos in today’s class helped provide background on the Sandman series as a whole, and explained that the third volume is made up of four short stories. The stories supposedly show Dream at different points in time. Although Dream is called different names in the stories, whether it it Oneiros or Lord Shaper, Gaiman, and the rest of the visual team made artistic choices that link the three personas of Dream together across the stories.
First is the decision to use the same jagged and bolded speech bubbles for all three characters. Dream is the only character to have a personalized speech bubble. Dream’s panels also tend to be darker, with black and blue undertones. Dream’s character’s also have distinctive eyes. They are either black or yellow, very haunting to the reader. However, the eyes also make me question if the Cat of Dreams is a persona of Dream because the Cat of Dreams does not possess the “twinkling” eye that is shown with both Oneiros and Lord Shaper. This story also stands out from the other two because it exists outside of time. The first and third stories are given very exact dates for when the stories take place, whereas the second story is never given a date. The story the Cat of Dreams tells takes a jab at the fragility of history and time, suggesting that it can be changed in an instant. Perhaps the Cat of Dreams exists outside of known time, a predecessor to Dream. The subtle peculiarities of “The Dream of Cats” makes me hesitate to accept that the Cat of Dreams is Dream.
In the Invention of Morel, the unthinkable is created- a projection of reality that will repeat the same week over and over for eternity on a desolate island, rendering the participants “immortal.” The projection is so believable that it takes until the Fugitive sees the inventor, Morel, confess his plan to the groups for him to realize that the projections are not living people. This confession makes everything else make sense- the two moons, the dead fish in the aquarium, the people shivering in the heat.
This revelation is unsettling. Even with the glitches, the projection was good enough to seem true. However, the book seems less unsettling because at the end of the day, we can close the book and just say it isn’t real. Or at least we use to. It’s scary the leaps and bounds technology has been able to make recently. The possibilities of Photoshop and Virtual Reality are unbelievable. For the most part they are not used for corrupt reasons but not always, and at what point will photos remain reliable pieces of information? And as I mentioned in class, there is now an app online called FakeApp which will let you doctor videos. Some of it is good fun, like putting your face on top of Jimmey Kimmel’s so it looks like you are hosting the Oscars, but other scenarios are far darker- like putting Michelle Obama’s face into a pornographic video. As the New York Times reports, an app of this power may spell a dark future in politics as it improves (Roose). Many of these videographers are amateurs, so the “glitches” are obvious, but some videos are frighteningly good. What may have seem like science-fiction in the Invention of Morel may not be as unimaginable as before. In the age of fake news, it will continue to become harder to tell what is real.
Kevin Roose. “Here Come The Fake Videos, Too.” Nytimes.com. 4 Mar. 2018. Web. 7 Mar. 2018.
After this week’s workshops, I have a far better vision of how it will be possible to create a scene for the group project. The scope of Unity is quite impressive. The prefabs are more detailed and efficient than objects made in Tinker Kad, the Occulus, or with the scanner. The scale that is possible within Unity allows the user create an entire world, resulting in endless possibilities for the final project.
The standard square grid that appears on the screen when terrain is added to the project reminded me of a map, and during Monday’s class I thought it would be very interesting to create a map using Unity. I’m not sure if Unity would be practical to map a real area (programs like GIS are probably more reliable) but I think it could very interesting to use it to make a map of virtual worlds, such as the chess board in Through the Looking Glass or the Land of Oz. Baum provides a basic map in the beginning of the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz but Unity could show so much more. For Through the Looking Glass a map would be very useful, especially with all of the sudden scene shift between the different ‘moves.’ I am excited to see what Unity has to offer for the final project.
Interpretation of the Tin Woodman’s silver oil can from the Wizard of OZ after the Winkies decorated it with gold and jewels for him.
One thing that I found striking for the Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the fact that the protagonist is female. I think a lack of female protagonists in books and films is still very prevalent today- a 2014 study by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media found that only 23% of protagonists were female in worldwide films from 2010 to 2013 (Smith, Stacy L.; Pieper, Katherine. ). So it is surprising to me that a fiction adventure series would feature a female main character and reach the popularity that it did in the early 20th century considering the lack of rights women had in the United States. Learning today in class that Baum’s feminist and suffragist mother-in-law may have influenced him definitely sheds some light on the subject.
However, just because the main character is female does not mean that the book automatically deserves praise. Whenever Dorothy had a problem in the story she needed the help of male companion to solve the problem. Even when she acted on her own to defeat the Wicked Witch of the West, she accidentally killed her not knowing that tossing a bucket of water (because she was mad) would lead to the witch’s demise.
After today’s class I was curious if The Wonderful Wizard of Oz would pass the Bechdel test, which assesses if a work of fiction has 1) two named female characters, 2) that they talk to each other, and 3) when they talk they discuss something other than a man (https://bechdeltest.com/view/174/the_wizard_of_oz/). Both the book and the movie pass the Bechdel test, and when going through and looking for conversations with Dorothy and other female characters, there are multiple instances including conversations with the Witch of the North, Glinda, Aunt Em, and the Wicked Witch of West. These conversations are about things other than men, though some are quite brief or eventually end with a male being the topic of discussion (i.e. the Witch of the North sending Dorothy to the powerful Wizard of Oz to solve her problem). I think more could be done in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz to promote feminism, for its time the book was probably one of few to showcase a female protagonist going on an adventure like Dorothy does.
- Smith, Stacy L.; Pieper, Katherine. “Gender Bias Without Borders: An Investigation of Female Characters in Popular Films Across 11 Countries”. Retrieved 21 February, 2018.