Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Saturday, May 25, 2013

South Atlantic Modern Language Association 2013 CFP: Doctor Who!

SAMLA 2013

Dr. Who: Traversing Cultures, Contexts, Images, and Texts

It seems more than a happy coincidence that Dr. Who’s 50th anniversary falls on the same year that SAMLA’s focus is on “Cultures, Contexts, Images, Texts: Making Meaning in Print, Digital, and Networked Worlds.” Dr. Who has not only spanned fifty years of television history, but has crossed platforms (television, print, digital, gaming) and genres (science- fiction and fantasy). Papers are welcome on any topic that focuses on specific episodes, or themes such as technology versus humanity, identity, making memory, intertextuality, Dr. Who and cultural memory, and the matrix of meaning in cross platforms of Dr. Who. 
By June 1, 2013, please send abstracts to Karra Shimabukuro at

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Fandom: Why do battle lines have to be drawn?

Fandom is a funny thing. As an academic, fandom is complicated.
For instance, I can watch, and enjoy a movie or television show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I can be a fan of it and at the same time, I can dissect it, and deconstruct it, and analyze it. Both are enjoyable to me. Often, it's just a matter of putting on a different hat.
This juxtaposition was reinforced for me this weekend. This weekend, both Star Trek Into Darkness and the Doctor Who series 7 finale, premiered. Two gigantic fandoms collided. And the Internet has been abuzz with fans on both sides duking it out. Battle lines have been drawn, and shots fired. And I had a front row seat.

I am a staff writer for 8 Days a Geek, a website that caters to geeks, providing reviews on the latest apps and technology toys, comics, movies, television shows, and books. Because I'm a geek girl at heart, I tend to write reviews of things of movies and tv shows. Just this past week, I've written reviews of Iron Man 3, Arrow, Doctor Who, and Star Trek Into Darkness.

Because of the nature of the website, and the audience, I write very differently than when I write academic articles. My audience is fellow geeks, not academics, so I don't cite my reviews, I don't bog it down with theorists, or references. I try to write solid reviews for people like me- other geeks. And I am a geek, a Trekker to be specific- I grew up watching ST: TOS, I used Spock as my campaigning strategy when I ran for class officer in high school, I wanted to be Wesley Crusher when I grew up. I can kick your ass on trivia. I was a loyal fan of Next Generation, Voyager, and Deep Space Nine. I had issues with Enterprise, but I enjoyed it because it was MORE Star Trek. I love the movies, even the crappy ones. So, I'm a fan.

However, once I posted my review, another academic made sure I saw his review of Star Trek Into Darkness ‘Star Trek: Wrath of Fan’.
To say that they are very different reviews is an understatement. His is part of a larger work about reboots, and is aimed at an academic audience. And I acknowledge a lot of his points- the new Star Trek does forward a lot of the sexist ideals from the original series, which is interesting to me, because incarnations after the original series made pretty big strides in regards to this, so it's definitely a step back. It got me thinking about WHY they'd made this choice- was it just a result of the film playing with homage? Was it an inadvertent forward? Is it a symptom of films in general? I did not have the same reaction to the "whitewashing" of Khan, as played by Benedict Cumberbatch, but that's me in general. I don't see race, so I tend not to notice it in films or tv. Do I think there should be more diversity in media? Of course, our media should reflect reality. Do I think there should be more diversity in sexual roles? Again, of course. On the flip side, I'm often more interested in the story being told, so depending on the story, there are some things I overlook if the story is good. I can recognize that there are issues, but still enjoy the story- again, it's a matter of changing hats.

But even knowing how rabid fans can be, I've been surprised at the vitriol of the response over Star Trek Into Darkness. With things like this, you're always going to have fans drawing battle lines, people pick sides, and argue their side LOUDLY. As though we were in Ancient Rome, and whoever yells the loudest is proved right.
I got into a shouting match yesterday with one of my oldest friends over a tv show. And it immediately devolved into "Well you can think that but you'd be wrong, and I'm right". It's an old argument with us- he always takes that stance, and I ignore him. But in light of the opening of Star Trek Into Darkness, and the fan response, it got me thinking. Because this is how most fan arguments go- 
"I'm right and you're wrong."
"No, I'm right and you're wrong"
Rinse, repeat.  

Why? Most fans I know are smart people, they're well read, they get all the intertextual references, they're upper level folks. So what is it about fandom that turns these people into foaming at the mouth fanatics, as in "A person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal, esp. for an extreme religious or political cause"? Too often the last couple of days, I've seen good friends tearing each other to shreds over differing opinions on a movie or tv show, and then back it up with an insincere, "Just kidding".
Why can't fans look at other reviews and opinions and take something away from them? Realizing we're all fans? I'm not saying I'm going to change my mind about anything, but I LIKE seeing other people's readings of movies and tv shows. I always take something away from it. And, shouldn't that be what we do? Why can't ALL readings have a place? 

The geek in me squeed during through most of Star Trek Into Darkness.  So please, send me your differing opinions, because I love learning from others, and supporting other academics, but to (mis)quote another cult favorite- 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Transnational Horror Across Visual Media Fragmented Bodies Edited by Dana Och, Kirsten Strayer

My first publishing credit it a book chapter!  This still seems surreal. I chronicled how this all came about here.
In a little over two months, I will be in Albuquerque, starting my PhD program. It has taken me three years to get here- three years of struggling as an independent scholar, adjuncting, presenting at conferences, and trying to figure this whole academic thing out.
I am infinitely grateful for everyone who helped get me here!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Defining My Research Focus in One CFP Proposal

A near perfect fit CFP came across my Twitter/Facebook feed this morning. As I wrote my proposal for it, I realized the proposal summed up my academic bent and interest perfectly.
So I'm posting it here:
Popular Culture as Folklore: The Intertextuality Matrix of Cabin in the Woods
Folklore is defined as “the traditional beliefs, legends, customs, etc., of a people; lore of a people”. For many scholars, folklore remains something that exists in the past.. However, an accurate analysis must consider what constitutes folklore in the modern world. I argue that popular culture has become modern day folklore. It contains legends, and archetypes that are recognizable across generations and social class. Popular culture is also reflective of the beliefs of a generation or group. Familiarity with current popular culture requires not only a knowledge of current trends and tropes, but also a working knowledge of past popular culture that is referenced within other other works, the lore. There is no better example of this than Whedon and Goddard’s 2012 film, Cabin in the Woods. In many ways, it is easiest to argue horror’s folkloric roots, than any other genre. Whedon and Goddard are clearly playing with horror as a genre in their film, but I argue that rather than just responding to current horror trends, or criticizing them, Whedon and Goddard are actually accomplishing much bigger work- they are creating new, and contributing to current, folklore. In his script, Whedon focus on folkloric archetypes such as the maid, warrior, fool, and the threat of old gods, while Goddard, in his execution of the script relies on the audience’s previous knowledge of specific horror films and tropes. When analyzed as a whole Cabin in the Woods can be analyzed both as inspired by, and contributing to folklore.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Television Responds to Tragedy: "Ceuf" part 2

Earlier, I posted about how I was intrigued by Hannibal's creative/marketing decision about their episode "Ceuf" in light of the Boston marathon bombing (you can read about it here). In the weeks that have followed, I've only become more, not less, interested in exploring this topic. So here are some further thoughts:
  • The uncut, unaired, untinkered with episode became available on iTunes 30 April. Which brings me back to my original analysis of airing "Ceuf"' as s webisode- it was marketing, not any real feeling that led to this decision. I doubt that the episode, or people's impressions of it, would have changed so much in 15 days.
  • Which leads me to another question (always in the back of my mind) did Bryan Fuller make this decision, or NBC? In  world of corporation as author, this also seems an interesting question
  • What is the impact of viewing both the "cannibalized" webisode and the unedited episode? What statements/analysis can we make about the differences? Especially if those differences are NOT solely based on "objectionable" material that was pulled because of the Boston marathon?
I've been trying to find research that I could use to deconstruct this episode/action/choice and a couple of things:
  • While there are some articles about 9/11 in the media, or how media responded, there is little I've found about analyzing these marketing/storytelling decisions influence HOW the story is viewed
  • I've also found little about how television responds to events like this
  • There's also little about how television shows' reactions to these events affect storytelling
  • The closest sources I've come to have been psychology texts that deal with how people deal with trauma. There were actually some interesting things here that could transfer to television audiences/ media work- such as people tend to form communities after tragedies, experience violence differently. I wonder how social media relates to audiences forming communities?
  • How can social behaviors after experiencing a trauma be mimicked by/used for storytelling?

The trap here is that there's a lot to explore: community vs. audience, how technology influences storytelling, corporation as author or corporate policy dictating storytelling, trauma studies.

My interest/focus narrows down to this:
What does a television show's reaction to a tragedy tell us about the show, and ourselves?
  • What "story" is told, both by the webisode "Ceuf" and the original episode?
  • What can we discern about the differences and the significances of these differences?
  • What authorial voice decided on the direction of this story? Corporation in the form of NB or creative team headed by Bryan Fuller? If the answer is NBC, what is the implication of corporation as author?
  • What was gained by the show's response(s)/reaction to the Boston Marathon?
  • What trends could we predict in storytelling and/or shows responding to these types of traumas/tragedies?