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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and Pop Culture

25 Apr

 

One of the final novels we read this semester was Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. The novel revolves around the fact that magic was brought back to England by two men, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. This is a major tribulation in English society during this time period since magic was related to dark forces and such. Since this was such a problem the novel also focuses on the differences between reason and unreason. This novel, like many others, can be depicted to be a fantasy novel since it deals with magic, fairies, and other imaginary worlds. Because the novel falls in the same genre as many other novels it can be associated with works of the same fantastical material such as The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. This places the novel on the end of the pop culture spectrum where the rest of the fantasy novels lie. It is hard to decide whether the novel is depicted as either high culture or pop culture because the novel is fairly new so there is no telling how long its popularity will last in our culture.

As I was reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell it was difficult for me to decide its spot on the pop culture spectrum. I had never heard about this novel before it was assigned in this class so I was not even sure how this novel related to popular culture. But as I began researching the novel’s backstory and all the acclaim it has received I learned that the novel really has made an impact in pop culture. The novel has many fans and readers who appreciate the book. I think the main reason I was not exposed to this book is because it was not publically advertised through mainstream media sources. Unlike most pop culture crazes this novel did not get as much praise as it deserved. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell deserves a lot more acclaim than t has received because it can appeal to a wide range of an audience. The novel has many features that can be greatly appreciated in pop culture if only there was a larger fan base that exposed the novel to the rest of our society.

It was nice to finally read a well-written fantasy novel. After Harry Potter many fantasy novels do not come up to par because the plot has no storyline or the author tries to include every single aspect a fantasy novel could ever include into one story. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell was such a well-written novel because the story flowed very well and there were not many fantasy elements. The novel was kept pretty simple by mainly revolving around magic and fairies. It was also very appealing because the novel presented moral dilemmas such as resurrection war. Another aspect, which may have pulled many readers, is the fact that the novel approaches the topic of power and fame. This is another reason why the novel should be more popular than its current stand.

Although the novel is currently not very well known there was a point in time where filmmakers were planning on creating a motion picture based on the novel, but plans fell through for various reasons. This shows that Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell has the potential to become a popular culture phenomenon; it’s just a matter of time for the hype about the book to rise again. With a little help from social media networks and the power of a spoken word the world of pop culture will be brewing with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

In conclusion, the novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, is a very riveting novel that should have a higher place with more praise in the pop culture world. The novel deserves this because it has a lot of elements that are shared with other pop culture rages. All the novel needs is another chance and a fan base, and voila the novel can be the next big thing in pop culture!

 

Samiyah Malik

The Hunger Games and Pop Culture

24 Apr

“Reflect on the other book and how your perception of pop culture has changed (or hasn’t) over the course of the class.”

After reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins I felt as if I was apart of a pop culture movement. It was very interesting to see the popularity of The Hunger Games rise in a matter of weeks. It has become an international sensation with everyone dying to read the novel and buy his or her movie tickets. Reading such a heart-racing novel was exciting in itself, but actually watching the book come to life in film kept me on the edge of my seat. The Hunger Games is all the hype in current pop culture, and has its reason to be to. The adaptation of the novel to a movie brought everyone’s imagination of the plot to the big screen and was very well adapted. The Hunger Games has definitely made its mark in current day popular culture.

One of the main reasons there has been a huge craze over The Hunger Games is because the novel is very relatable. The novel is mainly directed towards young adults, but a reader of any age could probably enjoy the twisting and turning plot. Teenage girls fell in love with the novel because of the apparent love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. The fact hat Katniss is with Peeta for the majority of the story does not allow the reader to feel an emotional attachment towards Gale, but it can be noted when Katniss reevaluates her feelings towards Peeta. Another reason this novel has become popular is because of the moral dilemma presented. After sitting back and actually evaluating the story you realize how gruesome and gory the plot really is. The Hunger Games revolve around throwing 24 children from the ages 12-18 and having them fight until there is only one standing. Basically, it’s the survival of the fittest to the tenth degree. In addition to these reasons, The Hunger Games have become extremely popular because the fans can become emotionally attached to the characters since the novel and movie are so closely detailed.  With all of these reasons tied together one can easily see why The Hunger Games have become such a big deal.

After the novel began selling copies left and right the word about The Hunger Games was finally let out. Soon everyone became aware of the story and the feature film that was being released. This is how The Hunger Games became such a pop culture phenomenon. The Hunger Games is considered pop culture because we have an informal consensus as a society that it is a preferred addition to our culture. Another reason why The Hunger Games have gained such popularity is because mainstream media has advertised it. Whether it be commercials on television, Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr some form of social media was buzzing bout The Hunger Games, Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. Basically, The Hunger Games is considered pop culture because it is something that our culture, that our population as a whole enjoys watching and reading.

Throughout the course of this semester I learned a lot of what it means for material to be considered pop culture, and as the semester progressed my views on pop culture have changed as a whole. At first, I came into this class thinking I was going to be exposed to the aspects of pop culture that I am already aware of. Such as Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Johnny Depp, Harry Potter, or Jersey Shore. Of course we did talk about all of this, but at the same time I was also exposed to new forms of popular culture such as Quicksilver, The Sandman, Assassin’s Creed, and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. This form of popular culture is something that I was not very much exposed to because they do not particularly fall into my group of interests. It was very interesting to delve into new genres of music and books and see the other side of the spectrum. Also, during this class I learned the difference between high culture and pop culture and what it takes to be considered both. Learning about and digging deep into popular culture was a very exciting experience.

With that being said, analyzing pop culture and The Hunger Games has opened my eyes to a different aspect of society today and made me realize and notice things I have never paid attention to before. It amazes me to notice how much pop culture affects our society and culture. Often times we do not realize how much we are influenced by the things that people around us are being involved with, but now I do especially after seeing how involved I was by reading and watching The Hunger Games.

 

Samiyah Malik

Assassin’s Creed II From a Historical Perspective

30 Mar

While playing Assassin’s Creed II it was interesting to run into many aspects of the game that were historically accurate. To begin with, most of the characters, such as the Auditore family, are real figures from Venetian history. This adds to the historical feeling that the game sets. In a way, the player can relive fifteenth century Venetian life by interacting with other characters in the game, exploring the landscape and buildings, and following the journeys incorporated into the game’s plot. It was very intriguing to see how historical texts such as Veronica Franco’s poems tie hand in hand with many aspects of Assassin’s Creed II. In the four poems that were read Franco addresses her relationship with a lover, a hater, and a friend. These relationships are prevalent in the video game, and the player encounters situations dealing with each of the relationships Franco revolves her poetry around.

In Veronica Franco’s first two poems she addresses her relationship with her lover, Magnifico Marco Venier. As I read these two poems the romantic relationships between Ezio and the numerous women in the game came to mind. Of course Ezio shared a number of relationships with many women, but he did have a very serious relationship with Christina who he later finds out is engaged to another man. Soon after that Ezio returns to Florence and encounters an attack in which Christina dies. Later in the game Ezio and Rosa begin to develop a relationship. The game does not delve deep into their relationship, but hints at flirtatious comments and gestures. Ezio’s romantic life, whether historically accurate or not, adds to the historic effect that the game displays. At the same time it is helpful to read Franco’s poems because they address romance from the same time period. Her poems go into a bit more detailed love story than Ezio does with any of his relationships, but at the same time the poems do represent romance in fifteenth century Italy.

The next Franco poem describes a situation where another poet has insulted Franco. The poem is a response to the insults and slander that she received and how she reacted to the insults. In Capitolo 16 she addresses how she will confront the poet by describing situations such as “blade in hand, I learned warrior’s skills”. “The sword that strikes and stabs in your hand”, and “ for you may fall, beaten”. Although she will be using poetry and words to fight off the poet and not literally weapons and swords this poem still serves as a representation of what Ezio experiences during his quest when he encounters other assassins, evil townsmen, and other enemies and has to fight them off. As the game’s plot progresses Ezio faces many more characters that he assassinates using actually swords and weapons.

The last Franco poem that was read was Capitolo 23 describes a relationship with a friend. Veronica Franco approaches her friend for advice about dueling with another person. This poem is relevant to Assassin’s Creed II because the video game revolves around friendship, brotherhood, and family. The poem reminded me of Ezio’s relationship with Leonardo Da Vinci. Throughout the game Ezio encounter’s Leonardo many times which leads to great bond of trust and friendship between the two. Leonardo helps Ezio along the way by translating the Codex pages and by using his artistic abilities to help Ezio create weapons to assist him in his assassinations. This example of friendship relates to Franco’s Capitolo 23.

Assassin’s Creed II was a great journey that was filled with action, violence, romance, and friendship. The video game addresses family, conspiracy and history all in one game. The game is very unique and compelling because it inhibits all of these aspects into one game. Assassin’s Creed II can serve as a form of entertainment and an educational tool at the same time.

 

Samiyah Malik

The Endless Memebers of the Endless Family

1 Mar

As I was reading Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman The Endless most specifically caught my attention. The Endless are a family of seven siblings who are each different in heir own way. Each sibling has a name beginning with the letter ‘D’ which I feel plays an important motif. The seven siblings are Dream, Destiny, Death, Destruction, Delirium, Desire, and Despair.  They are the characters that shape the book with each member holding a very important role in the story. The siblings all appear to represent their names very well in the way that they dress, act, and feel. Dream is the main character but each of his brothers and sisters has dynamic paths that they follow as the story progresses.

Each member of the family serves their own purpose in the plot. Some siblings play stronger roles than others, but together they support and compliment each other. Dream plays the main role as the overseer of the realm of dreams and imagination. In a way Dream serves as a personification of the stories and dreams presented in The Sandman. Throughout the story he takes up many names and appearances depending on who is seeing Dream at that moment in time. Dream usually appears as Morpheus. Morpheus looks pale with a dark blue hair color.  Unlike his brothers and sisters he is very concerned with fulfilling his duties. Later Dream is depicted as a heroic character, and as a young man named Daniel who is similar to Morpheus but completely different at the same time.

In addition to Dream’s major role in The Endless, the twins, Desire and Despair play significant roles in shaping the story. It is interesting how the two twins perfectly resemble their names. Desire is represented a beautiful, alluring woman, something a man would desire. While on the other hand Despair is depicted as a short, obese woman with ugly features such as crooked teeth and dark skin. Despair’s personality identifies with her name, as she is a dark, cold character. Desire may look sweet, but at the same time she is one the most conniving of The Endless. She enjoys meddling in Dream’s business, but at the same time she is very similar to her sister Despair. It is fascinating to see how the two twins are on opposite sides of the spectrum but very similar at the same time.

Likewise the other siblings of The Endless play their roles perfectly as well.  It is intriguing to see how each brother and sister is known by their name and its respective function. The remaining siblings of The Endless are Destiny, Death, Destruction and Delirium. Destiny is the oldest of The Endless, and I the most involved in his function and responsibilities.  Death is spunky and shows to have the best relationship with Dream. On the other hand, Destruction is a strong, hearty man who abandoned his responsibilities with The Endless, which caused a lot of drama, and conflict with his siblings. Lastly, Delirium is the youngest of The Endless. She is a young girl with two different colored eyes and her hair, clothes, and style changes constantly throughout the book. Together, the brothers and sisters complete The Endless family.

All in all, meeting the siblings of The Endless was very interesting as the plot progressed. I loved seeing each sibling take on his or her roles and responsibilities. It was nice to see how each brother and sister was completely different but in some shape or form he all complimented each other in a different way. This in a way can be compared to any other dysfunctional family. Everyone has their quirks, but at the end of the day they are all there for each other.

A Little Bit of Both

10 Feb

Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver can be looked at as an example of a mixture of both pop and high culture. The novel refers to many aspects from the Baroque period in history, which is why the novel can be deemed as an example of high culture, but the novel also depicts these aspects of history into a fictional story. Quicksilver is a fictional story tied into elements of history the novel can be depicted to be a translation or an adaption. Because of how the information in the novel is presented the Stephenson’s novel can be seen as an example of high and pop culture.

One way that Stephenson displays a mixture of pop and high culture is by having the main character, Daniel Waterhouse, have an evolving friendship with Isaac Newton. The two friends go on a quest through science and mathematics. This journey involves historic scientific findings such as the effects of gravity and the transfusion of blood. Waterhouse and Newton also research the first philosophical language, which is also a major turning point in history tied into the fictional story in the novel.

In addition to the scientific findings Waterhouse discovers with Newton they encounter meetings with John Locke and Robert Boyle in an alchemist laboratory. After working on all of these discoveries Waterhouse and Newton soon introduce their findings to the community such as calculus. Stephenson including these events of history is what makes the novel, Quicksilver, considered to be a form of high culture.

As the story unfolds Waterhouse comes across the time the plague hit. This period of time is also when syphilis started spreading. Even though Stephenson does not directly describe a lot of these historical events he still incorporates them into the story and plot of the novel.

All of the historical events, people, and scientific findings integrated into the novel are what makes Stephenson’s novel a form of high culture. Since these components are tied into the novel with a fictional story this novel can be considered as an adaptation of these historical occurrences which also makes this novel a form of pop culture as well.

 

Samiyah Malik

That’s SO Fetch!

27 Jan

 

“There are two kinds of evil people: people who do evil stuff and people who see evil stuff being done and don’t try to stop it.” –Janice Ian

 

The main idea of Mean Girls is blatantly said in this one quote, the idea of good versus evil. The good versus evil theme is a prominent theme that is seen over and over again in classic novels, poems, and other forms of literature. So why not have it shown again in a popular chick flick? The Mean Girls movie was adapted from the Rosalind Wiseman non-fiction book: Queen Bees and Wannabes, which explores how popularity and cliques affect self-image and personality. The movie is based on Cady’s journey of fitting into a public high school after years of homeschooling. Cady is introduced to various cliques and forms of hierarchy in public high school with “The Plastics” being the queen bees. The movie develops as Cady develops into being a Plastic and completely changing her personality.

 

Although many aspects in the movie are over done by Hollywood the movie still demonstrates how a real high school works. This is prime time of a teenager’s life. The golden years where an adolescent figures out who they really are. They explore their surroundings and their options, as they become adults. Many high school students begin to party at this age just as it was shown in Mean Girls. As Cady is introduced to her first high school party she is also exposed to alcohol, boys, and skimpy dresses for the first time. Many high school students believe that this is the way of life when in reality, lots of boys and girls live their lives without getting involved in that lifestyle. By watching Mean Girls it was evident that the fast life also had its downsides. Everyone faces being judged by someone else with rumors and gossip being spread like wild fire. It is interesting to see how the Plastics display their gossip by scrapbooking it into their “Burn Book”. The Burn Book is what caused the Plastics to fall, which shows that the good always prevails.

 

 

Of course an actual high school is not set up the same way as North Shore High School, but at the same time there are many similarities in the social structure of a typical American high school. Many teenage girls feel pressured the look, talk, and dress a certain way to imply be accepted or liked in by other girls. Often times this play with the self esteem of girls and can turn into an identity problem in the future. Mean Girls can be a form of inspiration to many teenage girls across the world. It sends out a message to simply be yourself. By analyzing Cady’s journey of being nobody to being somebody it is obvious that her wardrobe, hair, attitude, and her personality as a whole underwent an extreme makeover. Cady changed herself just to fit into a crowd that did not even like her in the first place and lost her true friends along the way, basically Cady became a “mean girl”. This proves that it is simply not worth it to be who someone else wants you to be, and many girls can learn from this and grow from it as well.

 

After Cady realizes the Plastics is not who she is and she really hurt the ones who loved her she turns around and returns to her normal lifestyle. She joins the mathletes, gets her best friends back, and gains more popularity in school just by being nice and being true to herself. Sometimes it is important to figure out who you really are without having someone down your back at all times just as how Regina was. Regina transformed Cady into a bitch that no one liked or looked up to. This shows how much a teenage girl’s personality can be manipulated by her peers just to fit in. After the Burn Book was discovered everything was revealed: The lies, the gossip, and the rumors. Students and teachers were both hurt and came to speak about their feelings at the assembly which was the point where Cady took the blame for the book which shows teenagers to be courageous and to stand up for what’s right.

 

Often times Mean Girls is undervalued as a work or art. There are many lessons to learn from this movie such as the good always prevails and to be yourself. It is very difficult for girls to understand both of these concepts. Mean Girls is an important factor in a teenage girl’s journey into becoming a woman. A girl should grow up to be a strong, independent woman, not a mean girl and this is what Mean Girls stands for.

Samiyah Malik