Archive for the ‘Media’ Category
Have you ever analyzed what blogging means to you and how it influences what you write??You could learn a lot.?Recently, I did just that for Esther Prokopienko, a grad student at the College of Saint Rose. Researching both the act and platform of blogging, she incorporated the following answers into her research and posted the resulting paper, The Scholarly Writer/Blogger: A New Discursive Space,?on her own blog, Esther’s Space.
1. How long have you been blogging? Why did you choose to begin? Do you notice any changes in your writing/thinking process from before you were a blogger to now, as an active blogger? Do you use blogging as a way of thinking through ideas? How do you use the different mediums (journals, blogs, livejournals, etc) for thinking and writing?
While spending a great deal of time overseas as a flight attendant (1997-2001), I had begun a blog of sorts, The Lincoln Street Chronicles,?to keep friends and family updated on my personal activities and observations. I?d also share pre-digital, scanned photos of my layovers. That primitive HTML site was hosted by Geocities and I would add entries to the top of a free, single and static web page. There was no mechanism for readers to enter comments, but I sometimes posted interesting email replies under the main post. I certainly wasn?t the only person doing this, but I suspect that blogs, as they are known today, stemmed from this type of ?web logging.?
From the beginning of Berman and Pulcini?s American Splendor (2003), we are presented with many versions of Harvey Pekar:
- A comic strip frames Harvey Pekar (Daniel Tay), an uncostumed kid on Halloween in 1950. When asked what he?s dressed as, we learn that this kid is no super hero. He cranks off, ?I?m Harvey Pekar. I?m just a kid from the neighborhood? and storms off with the voices of kids mocking his name in fading echos.
- If memory serves correctly, we hold that same external comic frame and fade the content to actor Paul Giamatti walking that same street?playing the film?s character “all grown up.”
- A voiceover of the real Pekar tells us Harvey Pekar is also a real guy and we eventually meet that guy in a sound studio being interviewed, documentary style, by Shari Springer Berman.
- Interspersed are comic renditions of the character talking to us in bubbles, telling us about who he is.
- Giamatti thinks in bubble text at the supermarket where the idea for American Splendor was born.
- We meet?the comic renditions?of Pekar again at the the train station when Joyce Brabner (Hope Davis) arrives for the first time.
- Later, we get clips of the real Pekar on ?Late Night with David Letterman.?
- Giamatti?also stages Pekar?s volatile GE/NBC blast on the same show.
- Last but not least, we see one more permutation when Giamatti acts repulsed while watching a play about Pekar played by Donal Logue when the voiceover adds that he, the real Pekar, wonders how he?ll feel seeing Giamatti play him in this movie.
The genious mix of reality and fiction is?enough to make my head spin…
In Brian Gilbert?s Wilde (1997), we discover the early nature of Oscar Wilde?s fame (played by Stephen Fry) from a conversation between the characters of Ada Leverson (Zo? Wanamaker) and Lady Mount-Temple (Judy Parfitt):
Lady Mount-Temple: I know your friend is famous, Ada.
Ada Leverson: Notorious, at least.
Lady Mount-Temple: But I don’t understand for what.
Ada Leverson: For being himself, Lady Mount-Temple.
In Alan Randolph?s Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994), this type of fame is said to be true of Dorothy Parker (Jennifer Jason Leigh) as well. The repetition of this notion (in?these and other?films)?suggests that writers have a?larger-than-life personality and high social profile in addition to the work they produce. While we know this to be untrue, particularly?since writers lead much of their lives behind a desk?writing about subjects other than themselves, only those eccentric, dramatic?and often tragic figures?lead lives worthy of having films made about them. Unless we look beyond the film portrayals, what an audience is left with is the notion that all authors must experience adventurous escapades to craft good work.
In reference to whether or not the gonzo journalism of Hunter S. Thompson as portrayed in the 1997 film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas offers any kind of objectivity, my classmate Catherine Dumas says:
Hell yeah, a lot more that the journalism that we get on a daily basis through our media. A lot of our media is controlled by some Australian dude, Rupert Murdoch.
While I tend to agree with Catherine on some level, I think we need to start with whether or not objective truth exists before answering this question.
Truth is constructed via the gathering of facts and means nothing without the connectivity of those facts through narrative. Since narrative is always written from a particular point of view, there can be no objectivity without the influence of culture whether it be race, gender, political affiliation, sexual preference, etc. That said, I say no form of writing offers objectivity. Regardless of any stated effort to achieve it (the phrase “fair and balanced” comes to mind), journalism is used to persuade the public toward a particular viewpoint.
Has anybody seen “The Myth of the Liberal Media: The Propaganda Model of the News?”
The question: Substance abuse… Writing fuel or writing substitute?
I say fuel.
Granted, the stigma of alcoholism and addiction adheres itself to the stereotype of writers. What drunks! What freaks! What introverts plagued by the pain and suffering of their own humanity! Sure, we?ve had a few of these throughout history. But really, doesn?t Poe?s addiction produce some amazing literary results? Writers, often referred to as seers, don?t necessarily like what they see. To observe the human condition at a deeply personal level can produce extreme depression, particularly when the writer sees no way out of the social confines that trap him or her. Think Oscar in?Wilde. Addiction, even when detrimental love is the drug of choice, becomes the fuel used to examine the world around him. Narrative requires conflict, and those who are deeply conflicted have a great deal of material to work with.
Having read the chapter on sound rather than film editing for April 3rd (DUH), I have formulated these ideas with our viewing of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in mind. On one hand, this puts me ahead of the game by writing a week in advance, and yet I am also a week behind by missing the freshest corresponding film material made available to class. Please pardon.
I found an original script of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and have included the first portion of the first scene below. Highlighting the sounds mentioned within the text, they include everything from the wind, car tires, music, screeching bats, characters screaming, news, voiceovers and narration. This montage of reference to sound doesn?t include what might be assumed by the action, from slamming car doors and trunks to crinkling plastic and popping tops of bear cans. (Although, in the 70s, these were pull back tabs, they still popped from the pressure of carbonation.)
To illustrate what a sound editor might consider, I marked the direct reference to dialogue in red, narration in green, prerecorded music and news in blue, and implied sounds in orange. In doing so, I found it eye-opening to see just how much editing and mixing is involved in such a short span of film. This, by no means, covers the full spectrum.
I?m fascinated by the ways we, as humans, make meaning from images. Whether presented on their own, in a pair or a group, the story often changes when contextualized by what surrounds that central image. If anyone has ever done scrapbooking, you know that three well placed images on a page, and not necessarily in chronological order, can epitomize an entire event, whether it be a child?s birthday party, a wild night out on the town, or a child?s wild birthday night out on the town.
Welcome to the opening montage of Terry Gilliam?s 1998 film, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. A series of black and white images flashes before us: a helicopter, a Vietnam protest, and other faded war time images alternating with a repeated black screen covered with thick, wet and vibrant spattered blood. We immediately think of fresh death, destruction and civil unrest.
Once in that frame of mind, we?re hit with the jarring contrast of a long shot showing a pristine, cherry red convertible flying down the straight and narrow highway. Who is driving? Cut to a humorous image of drug induced driver/journalist, Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and passenger/lawyer, Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro). We not only see the main characters, and I do mean characters, we also enter their LSD induced world as our view of them is contorted through the distortion of a fish eye and barrel lens. Next, Duke repels his invisible bat hallucinations with a fly swatter. The scene then cuts to a real bat casualty lying dead in the road. The audience has just left their own sense of reality and specifically entered that of Duke?s. Welcome to the 70′s.
Moving into “Chapter 5: Acting” of Barsam’s Looking at Movies, it’s interesting to learn about the ways in which acting techniques have evolved in relation to increasing capabilities of technology. Moving from theater to silent film, to camera with sound, to sound separate from the camera has provided increased actor/audience intimacy and morphed into more natural character portrayals over time.
While this reads as a natural progression, what this technological growth has meant for acting is a regression from a more naturally performed, chronological performance. At present, many takes and set-ups are required and dependence upon location determines the shot sequence rather than narrative order. It?s no wonder that Forrest Whitaker made such an effort to be Idi Amin in Kevin McDonald’s The Last King of Scotland, off the set as much as on. The vast number of performance interruptions can only be a distraction from the feel of the story as a whole. Amin, as a man, was so intense that to slip in and out of character would have been far more difficult than to sustain that constant level of intensity.
The ways in which we, as an audience, assign meaning to film is fascinating. In some ways we have unwittingly learned alongside Hollywood?s developing experimentation. Of course, another way to spin it is that Hollywood has studied?natural behavior long enough to categorize and name the filming processes that invoke certain audience perceptions and reactions. I believe that this has clearly been a joint venture.
From the Birds
In raising birds, I?ve learned a great deal about their visual language. When one wishes to exert power over another, he or she stands taller and looks down upon the flock. Those who offer submission bow their heads and agree to be led. Like dogs, birds are comfortable in either role as long as they know which behavior to assume. In my experience with macaws, amazons?and cockatoos, the human must become the alpha bird or flock leader to establish order. Otherwise, and trust me on this, these highly intelligent beings know how to manipulate humans (through screaming, biting, destructive chewing, etc.) and they will take control in a hurry. To establish the alpha position, human eye level must be elevated above that of the bird at all times. If the tables do turn, they can be reversed again through this simple act of elevation (and a great deal of patience).
In Chapter 3 of Barsam?s Looking at Movies, I found the segment on costumes fascinating. Aside from obvious stylistic creations, I had assumed that accuracy of period costumes was of the utmost importance to filmmakers. This assumption is, in part, due to my singular and ridiculously unimportant role as an extra.
In June ?06 I made my film debut in Peter Schnall?s The Revolution, a thirteen part?series made by The History Channel. (Reruns are airing as I type). It captures a few quick glimpses of me in five of those episodes posing as both a middle and lower class colonial woman.
Historical accuracy in this?project was not just the main directive, it was a passion. The costume designer was so knowledgeable that she explained where certain pieces of clothing got their name and most of the actors personally owned authentic Redcoat and American Revolution uniforms, seeking this type of film for a living.