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Wednesday, March 20

March 20, 2013

Spongebob: Today we added our final two archetypes, both predominantly female:

11. The Waif (variations: The Princess; The Orphan)
12. The Free Spirit (variations: The Comedian; The Trailblazer)

The difference between these two archetypes is best measured via Disney princesses (though that’s certainly not the only source of examples). Waifs tend to be old-school Disney: characters like Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, who are dependent on other characters, male and female, to help them out of their predicaments. Some princesses (Snow White and Cinderalla) are examples of both variations. It is this archetype that Cheetah Girls famously rebuked in this early Noughties hit:

The newer breed of Disney princesses, on the other hand (that is, since 1989’s The Little Mermaid) have tended to be Free Spirits — mostly trailblazers. They are determined to make their own way, even when it conflicts with the expectations of society. This trailblazing probably reached its peak in Mulan, where the heroine not only shows she’s as tough and smart as any man, but actually saves Imperial China in the process.

(Quick sidebar about the other variation, The Comedian. The best example is Lucille Ball’s character Lucy Ricardo, who defied convention not by confronting it directly, but by making people laugh.)

We said that the description of anima and animus in the handout from last week would make sense if we viewed the anima (the more feminine, passive, maybe even weaker side of men) as better represented in literature, since most writers have been male. Representation of the animus (the tougher, more analytical side of women) would have taken longer to be represented, since female authors are a fairly recent proposition, at least en masse. (However, this is an advance that has been, I think we could say, internalized by male writers, as well as females.)

That brings us to our assignment for Monday: reconsidering Twilight. Specifically, is Bella a Waif, or a Free Spirit? To give one example of a more specific line of questioning, is she a waif which represents backlash against the preponderance of Free Spirits in our culture, or is she actually a Free Spirit herself? Please use examples from the books or films!!

Please frame your response in a one-to-two-page paper, type- or handwritten, which is due Monday.

New Media: Today we had a pretty intense conversation about literacy, semiotic domains, and, of course, video games. It was interesting. Keep this stuff in mind, and also remember that a lot of what Gee brings up in this work has roots in things that we talked about in Critical Reading. Hopefully some of the stuff that was brought up today will be useful in future conversations. Also, thank you all for the engaged conversation, it was quite refreshing.

The homework for Monday is to write a blog post (it should be #4) and to research both the “blogosphere” as a community and to research methods and suggestions for increasing traffic to your blog. It would be best (in terms of getting all of the points) to put a post up on The Battleship with your findings (and links, if relevant).

Family Values: Today we watched the Dick Van Dyke Show episode “Show Of Hands,” from 1965:

We discussed the ways in which this episode was unique, primarily through its treatment of race. (And its use of black actors with speaking parts!)

We also discussed one of the secrets of the show’s enduring appeal: the Petries’ awkwardness. Remember, they are meant to be a small-town couple trying to fit into a fairly sophisticated urban/suburban environment. Laura’s mistake with the dye is an example of how 1) sensitive she is about being considered foolish, and 2) much comedy you can get out of such mistakes. But all of us, to cite the show’s famous opening sequence, trip over the ottoman occasionally.

There were also two handouts about Nielsen ratings and how they are calculated. Please see me to get copies if you were absent.

BatCat Press: THE USUAL.

Seventh Grade: Today we had a spelling bee, and wrote from the perspective of a (stuffed) bear. Very disturbing.

Remember: the next spelling quiz will be two weeks from today.

Survey: Screenwriting: Today you handed in Assignment #7 (subject description and character sketch). If you didn’t hand it in for whatever reason, please do so BEFORE spring break (which starts next Wednesday).

Today in class we talked about a few things. The next step in this project is to do a detailed outline of your film, from beginning to end, identifying all of the points as identified through three act structure. Here are some thoughts that you should put into your notes and SERIOUSLY think about.
– The things that your character does/says should MAKE SENSE. The character sketch is very important. You are creating a person.
– Think about your character’s motivations. What does you character want, and why does your character do the things he/she/it does? There should be a reason that your protagonist is your protagonist, and you should know what that reason is.
– Your characters MUST DO THINGS. I know that sounds obviously, but do not, under any circumstances, drag a passive character through an entire film as a protagonist. It’s not going to fly. Even if your film takes place entirely in Steve’s room, Steve still needs to be doing things: taking over the world, perhaps.

The second act will likely be the most challenging, but it is often suggested that the second act should include three “complications.” Complications is kind of a tricky word – what this really means is that there should be three sections in the second act in which there is an overarching complication that is dealt with in a variety of ways. Here’s what the second act complications look like for Some Like It Hot:
C #1: Joe and Jerry need to figure out how to live as women. After they’ve basically figured it out, we move on to the next:
C #2: Joe and Jerry need to figure out how to navigate their new love lives. They fight a bit over Sugar, but eventually Joe figures out that his way to Sugar is pretending to be Junior, and Jerry moves on to accept Osgood’s advances. Complication basically solved, so we move on to:
C #3: Joe and Jerry need to stay alive by avoiding Spat & crew. This complication is brought to an end with PP2, in which Joe and Jerry decide they need to run away.

In example, note that the complications are large and not terribly specific, but they do guide the action, and as one complication is rounded up and comes to an end, a new one arises. The tension fluctuates as we move through these complications, but there is a constant sense that the story is moving forward.

There is no specific homework for Monday, but you should be in contact with your partner and arrange a way to fill out the outline Screenwriting – Three Act Structure Outline), which will be due with your pitch materials. On Monday you will get notes on how to pitch. Wednesday, April 3 will be a work day and pitches will take place on Monday, April 8 and Wednesday, April 10.

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