Category Archives: Media Studies

“Happy New Year, let’s make it a good one!” – Predictions for 2015

Yep that’s my title for this article. Why? Because as soon as midnight came along it was all anybody really wanted to say. When New Years Day happens; as it does every year, we as a people are filled with great joy that the end of our date has a new number, we believe that all the problems 2014 had will just go away. It’s like being a fan of the Sonic the Hedgehog series. You hear about a new one, get excited and become hopeful that it will be a reform to the good old ways but when it’s released; you realise it’s still the same broken mess it has been for 10 years.

Let’s be honest, the New Year will be like every other year. The world’s problems will continue and we will all moan and groan until the next new year comes along; of which we can sing and cheer in the hopes it will be any better.

Enough of the downer nonsense, let’s start speculating events that will hopefully occur in the new year.

Justin Bieber’s Public Mental Breakdown:
We sure do enjoy it when a celebrity has a mental breakdown, those who we previously considered to be gods amongst the people are suddenly seen as mere mortals and worse; they are seen as nutters. Too be honest; it couldn’t happen to a worse speck of human faeces.
He’s been heading ever closer to the point of breakdown throughout the years, as he grows older; he acts like more of a child. He gets in a temper when things don’t go his way, he treats his loving fans awfully and in general, he spends most of his year at the height of controversy whilst news outlets constantly call him a “bad influence”.
When the breakdown happens, the media will react how it usually does; they won’t stop bothering him because there is nothing more interesting than a breakdown. The constant media attention will make the breakdown worse. The public will then say that the media caused the initial breakdown, the media will back off.
The best reaction will be from his fans, who will all decide to have mental breakdowns of their own simply so ‘the Beebz’ doesn’t have to go through it alone, thus beginning the devolution of an entire generation of children.
Whilst all this happens; Justin will be in his penthouse, walls singed from numerous fires, floors covered in vomit and in the middle of the room will be Justin; stood in nothing but his tattered Calvin Kleins as he makes a small fort made completely out of police warrants, newspaper articles of his breakdown and a notice informing him that his private jet is being taken away.

For One day only; Back to The Future Part II get’s everything right.
Even though we’re only in the second day of 2015, one of the most talked about subjects is Back to the Future Part 2. People joke about how weird things look in Back to the Future’s future compared to the life we all lead today. The simple answer is because it is a movie, if Marty arrived in 2015 and it was just like 1985 except people stared deeply at the tiny screens they have in the palm of their hands whilst they tweet about their weird obsession with Game of Thrones, the film would have probably landed on the dull side.
Suddenly, something strange happens. On October 21st 2015 (The date Marty travels to), all is revealed that the Back to the Future part 2 2015 is what we had been living in all along, but the world wanted it to be a surprise for when we were taken out of the Matrix. We’ll all wake up on this day and Spielberg will announce a box set featuring 14 new Jaws films with the 19th instalment to be released for Christmas. Hoverboards will exist but will be banned due to the amount of deaths caused by them. Also every H&M, Primark and Next store will be stocked full of weird neon and reflective clothing that will be compulsory to wear. Anyone not wearing these clothes will be taken Essex which has now been turned into a maximum security prison.
There will be a new online awareness trend
Yes, we had the ice bucket challenge last year to raise awareness of ALS. First it was a lovely sight but it soon become a big vanity project for people to show off whilst pretending to try and do something good. When you realise that it just becomes another subject matter to completely bloat your social network news feeds that makes you groan just at the sight of another one.
Well that will be coming back in 2015, look forward to it; because it’s going to be far more hardcore than a measly amount of cold water poured over you. There will be blood. Instead we will cut off fingers for prostate cancer awareness. There is no real connection between the two things but as soon as one popular celebrity does it; we’ll all jump on the bandwagon.
The video will be heart-warming, whole families getting together with butcher knives chopping off a finger; heck, why not two? You have 8 of those bastards.
You’ll probably join in as well, any reason to get more likes and retweets on something you made. Who knows, maybe the first person to do it will be Justin Bieber; which can then become the beginning of his mental breakdown.

That’ll be it for 2015, yeah we’ll still have our usual slosh of news that we have every day, but we have those three particular things to look forward to. So grab yourself a drink, gather around your loved ones and buckle up; 2015 might be that year you were hoping for.

It most likely won’t.

The Walking Dead: Soap Opera

We’ve had some truly fantastic television shows grace our little glowing boxes in the corner of the living room. Sadly there are some facts that make you realise though TV has its ups, it has plenty more downs. There’s the fact that Breaking Bad ended its final season back in September, Scrubs did indeed get a ninth season despite the ending to the eighth was perfect and nearly made me shed tears; oh and also Two and a Half Men will undoubtedly get another season because that dead horse is twitching just about enough to entertain the moron masses.

Though in this television darkness, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not enough light to fit a person through, also it’s not even at the end of the tunnel; it’s a trick to make you believe it’s at the end when it’s more likely the middle. Heck, it’s probably just a creepy man in a trench coat holding a flashlight with one hand whilst the other hand fiddles around underneath his coat; this man is called ‘The Walking Dead’.

The Walking Dead was a show based on the graphic novel of the same name and released by edgy TV station; AMC, the same station that brought you happy-go-lucky drug-a-thon; Breaking Bad.

The Walking Dead originally graced our screens in the latter half of 2010 with a short but sweet, six episode long first season.

Part 2 starts tonight. Image courtesy of Fanpop

Let me tell you, the first season of The Walking Dead was fantastic. Due to the six episode limit, ever episode had to be filled with as much action, gunfire and tension as physically possible… oh, also it had zombies in it, which is always a positive note for television. It was everything you could have ever wanted in a zombie apocalypse television show.

Though after season one, came season two (strangely enough) and it promised to be a bigger, better and more nail bitingly terrifying than the last. Sadly it didn’t really deliver, it felt like this honeymoon was over and we were thrown back into normal life… with zombies in it.

As we know, when the honeymoon period is over, its back to married life which involves bickering and the teardown of relationships, which is possibly the best way to describe seasons two and three of The Walking Dead because for ten out of the thirteen episode seasons, it was primarily bickering leaving you with only 2-3 episodes of genuine excitement.

The Walking Dead stopped feeling like a genuinely exciting, zombie apocalypse television show and started to feel more similar to a completely different genre. The Walking Dead very quickly became an American soap opera… with zombies.

Season 2 and 3 was filled with dramas based on relationships, tension but the danger of the zombies began to drift away. A few episodes would go by where you wouldn’t see any zombies at all, making the title ‘The Walking Dead’ and made it seem more like ‘The Bickering Living’.

It seems the zombies have taken a back seat as the villains during season 2&3, whilst regular people became the new villains. That’s right, regular people. Regular, boring people, like you or me. How dull. They walk around with guns and actually speak which means when one dies you don’t get the laughs like when a zombie dies, every time a person died you would just think how it would affect a completely different character, perhaps we haven’t even met that character yet… or maybe that’s just me. It almost got to the point that you could easily mistake this zombie apocalypse as light snow in Alabama, it had similar visuals with cars being abandoned on motorways, the collapse of society and the world believing god is angry with them for something they did/didn’t do.

In season 3; the zombie drought only got worse as the show had the nerve to put the zombies tantalisingly close by making them seen but keeping them stuck behind a fence which meant most of the viewers would return to The Walking Dead during season 3 simply to see if the zombies would get through the fence in this episode.

Though seasons 2 & 3 pushed me close to the point of giving up on the series, series 4 seems to have learnt its lesson. It no longer goes for the soap opera style and is going back to its roots of being a zombie apocalypse drama, how it should be. The zombies are more prominent, people are still dangerous but not the main focus, but more importantly; events actually happen throughout season 4 rather than leaving it all to the last three episodes of the season.

Part Two of season 4 starts tonight and I must admit, I’m pretty darn excited if part one was anything to go by. I’m just hoping they forget about the soap opera story and leave that to Danny Dyer in  Eastenders. Just give me zombies or give me death, or just something moderately entertaining.

Note: This may seem as my shitting on The Walking Dead, don’t get me wrong. It’s a great show but seasons 2 & 3 were prime examples of quality drops in television.

Summer Project: The Movie List

This project originally started at the beginning of Sixth Form (College) when my friends made me realise that for a student aspiring to go into media, I have not seen many of the films I should have. This was true as I usually watched random films which rated from bad to mediocre.

So through this realisation my friends and I wrote up a list of films I need to see before I start University. As I have been going through A-levels, I rarely found the time to sit down and watch 3 hour films hence why this project hasn’t started until now, as I have finished College and now have the spare time to watch all the films on the list over the course of this summer.

So my aim is to watch all the films on the list shown below and afterwards, I shall review the film and give my personal opinion on it. The reviews will either be done via an article like this or a video on Youtube.

The reason this article is here is to keep my list updated without uploading another screen cap of it every  time I watch a new film.

Here is the list:

Usual Suspects

Rambo First Blood (All of them)

  • ·         First Blood
  • Rambo First Blood Part II
  • Part III
  • ·         Rambo (IV)

Commando

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Snatch

Silence of the Lambs

Clockwork Orange

Lethal Weapon (All of them)

Never Let Me Go

Last King of Scotland

Highlander

The Island

The Beach

Children of Men

Sixth Sense

Enemy at the Gates

The Fly

Forest Gump

Saving Private Ryan

Apocalypse Now

2001 A Space Odyssey

Event Horizon

Die Hard (All of them)

  • ·         Die Hard
  • Die Hard 2
  • Die Hard 3
  • Die Hard 4.0

Zulu

Clint Eastwood Westerns

  • ·         Good, The Bad, The Ugly
  • Fistful of Dollars
  • A Few Dollars More

Reservoir Dogs

Falling Down

Downfall

Das Boot

City of God

The Invasion

Toy Soldiers

Mars Attacks

Bullit

Blade Runner

E.T.

Groundhog Day

Shawshank Redemption

Bucket List

The Departed

This is Spinal Tap

Platoon

The Shining

Fight Club

House of Flying Daggers

Blade (Trilogy)

Se7en

Naked Gun (All of them)

Swordfish

The Italian Job

Assassins

Wayne’s World 1&2

Dumb & Dumber

Gladiator

Point Break

Bad Boys

Face Off

Mission Impossible

Transporter

Office Space

Magnificent 7

Blues Brothers

Full Metal Jacket

Men Who Stare at Goats

Pandorum

Wall Street

Running Man

Logan’s Run

Billy Elliott

Close Encouters of the 3rd Kind

Sleuth

The Truman Show

 

If you have any suggestions of films to add to the list, leave a comment, I will add it if I have not yet seen or have an interest to.

Update: Watched ‘Blade Runner’ so it has recently been struck off the list. Reviews will come shortly (after Wakestock music festival).

Update #2: Just Finished Shawshank Redemption. That too has now been struck off my list. Again, reviews will be written/recorded sometime after July 8th (Post – Wakestock)

Video Games and Todorov’s Theory of Narrative

In days of old, the story of films and other forms of media were to follow the ways of Tzvetan Todorov and his theory of Narrative. The theory followed the ideas of an Equilibrium in the beginning, disruption, acknowledgement and the attempt to fix the equilibrium and it all ending in the restoration of the old equilibrium or with a new equilibrium entirely.

Many films have followed this theory as have many video games, but recently it seems video games tend to ignore the theory of narrative and instead place the player into the story half way through in order to get them to the action faster.

A great example of a game not using the narrative is Epic’s 2006 hit game ‘Gears of War’ though it is the first game in the series it starts in the world which has already been destroyed by the Locust army. This has been done so players don’t lose interest waiting for the event known as ‘E-Day’ and for the action to start.

You're in a war. Now go kill stuff!

Though this is good for some video game players, it has been something that has bugged me. One of my fears in the gaming industry is that developers have a tendency to sacrifice story for gameplay or vice-versa. This can happen by not applying a backstory to your current story arc.

Many modern games tend to land you in the middle of it but some have stood out to still follow the old narrative theory. A fairly modern game attempting to follow Todorov’s theory was Bioware’s 2009 fantasy RPG hit ‘Dragon Age: Origin’. This game allows you to have an Origin story depending on the race or social class of your character; it sets the Equilibrium of your character and the disruption of it which leads you into your journey. Sadly Bioware decided to not use Todorov’s theory in the 2011 sequel ‘Dragon Age 2’ and instead decided to put the player in the midst of the action.

Another perfect example of Todorov’s Theory of Narrative is in the long running Legend of Zelda series. After playing the new Zelda entitled ‘Skyward Sword’ I had noticed that all Zelda titles start with an Equilibrium. It goes back to the N64 days of ‘Ocarina of Time’ where your equilibrium is living in the Kokiri Forest with the rest of its inhabitants. This idea of the hero’s equilibrium goes from the island living in Wind Waker, the farmer’s life in Twilight Princess and to the new aspiring knight in Skyward Sword. All 3D Zelda titles have used Todorov’s theory from beginning to end (Exception of OoT and its confusing dual storyline ending).

Hoorah for Todorov Narrative

I use these examples as Dragon Age: Origins and the Zelda titles are two of my favourite games for single player. Though some believed Dragon Age sacrificed gameplay for Story, I still enjoyed it can easily play it over again, the same goes for the Zelda series.

I hope in the future more games can try to fit Todorov’s theory into their storyline, it may not place the user in the action as quickly but by doing that will make the action scenes much more rewarding as you build up to them, rather than the game throwing you in to all the action to a point where it may begin to get tedious.

MrGSeff