Thursday, February 23, 2017

Acid Blood Scene

In this scene, Kane is laying on the table in the infirmary with the Facehugger latched to his face, impregnating him unknowingly with the Chestburster. In the early parts of the scene, two of the crew members decide to detach the creature from Kane’s face. As they approach the Facehugger’s arm with the surgical device to cut it, the camera switches to a shot of a close up on the knuckle they are to cut. There seems to be slight sway in the shot, which to me resembles the gravity of the situation to the crew at the time as well as the nervousness of the doctors. Upon initially cutting the Facehugger, its blood sprays from the incision and the camera shows where the blood lands, revealing its acidic quality. The shows some of the first truly dangerous qualities of the alien, but doesn’t compare to the horror that is due up. As the entire crew follow to track the extent of the damage of the acid on the hull, the camera zooms in on this damage, magnifying its acidic qualities. Most of the shots are still shots down the hallway with slight pans up and down to show the crew members coming into each floor of the Nostromo. After inspecting the acid with a pen, the members of the crew discuss it. Parker talks about the alien’s defense mechanism and how amazing it is. He says, “You dare not kill it.” This changes the mission of the crew from killing the alien to simply surviving. This shift in mission truly makes Alien a horror film, one where the crew seems to always be avoiding the monster. After this shift, Ripley, with her maternal instinct, asks about Kane and his safety. She is quickly dismissed by Dallas as he hands Brett back the pen, signifying the lack of respect for Ripley’s opinion on the ship. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Feminist Utopia Can Paint an Incorrect Picture

Houston, Houston, Do You Read? is a feminist utopia that begins with three astronauts, Bud, Dave, and Lorimer, floating in space trying to reach NASA in Houston. Instead, they contact females in space on the ship Gloria. They soon learn that, after a solar flare, the male astronauts were sent centuries in the future where a plague has killed all men and many of the women on Earth. At the present of the story, there exist 2 million women with 11,000 different genotypes, meaning they reproduce via cloning. The men were unwittingly given a drug to reveal their true selves and their opinion on the women. Bud tries to rape one of the women while Dave attempts to take control of the ship because, to him, God commands men to control women. Lorimer, however, realizes that the women are performing an experiment on the men to see if they are fit to assimilate into the current society. He then realizes that after Bud and Dave’s reactions, the three men are soon to be killed.
                Houston, Houston, Do You Read? critiques the men in modern society as misogynistic and controlling over women. While this gender role might have been in place at the time, I feel as though the messages behind the work cast a negative blanket over the perceived opinions of all men within our Western society. Although men, especially white men like the three astronauts are, are extremely privileged on a societal level, painting this stereotype of all men as misogynistic through the characters in the novella actually go against the principles of diversity. Oftentimes, the idea of not applying stereotypes to people is a staple of champions of diversity. This application of stereotypes oftentimes goes both ways, as people assume all men act in the same manner to Bud and Dave.

                This same view of men as poisonous continues into When It Changed. In the story, an all-female society is visited by male astronauts and similar negative effects ensue. As with Houston, Houston, Do You Read?, When it Changed creates a negative image of men as controlling and over-bearing. While this may be true for some men, both stories seem to create a mentality that most, if not all men, act in the manner of Bud, Dave and the astronauts from When it Changed. The language in the two stories, especially in the rape scene in Houston, Houston, Do You Read? is harsh and persists this equally harsh view of men within the stories. 


The neurotic view of men in society exist within both stories. While I am sure that each author had their claims to this fear, I feel as though the general population of men in our society are not this over-bearing and blatantly sexual, like Bud, or as overtly domineering about societal structure, like with Dave and the Russian astronauts. While my belief, I feel, exists within a major portion of the population, often times the most extreme views are the loudest. To me, the authors of both "Houston, Houston, Do you Read" and "When it Changed" were critiquing the overly masculine population that feeds off their own egos and power (ahem Donald).

That being said, the issue with the men, especially in "When it Changed", is that they expect to take control immediately. The actions of the men in the second story reflect the actions of the British colonists when they came to America. The women, the metaphorical Native Americans/American Indians/Indians (IDK what to call the group, I'm just trying to not be wrong), are due to be forced to adapt to the male social structure that exists on Earth. The issue with the actions of the men is not that their men, but that they still possess the ideals of Manifest Destiny that destroys pre-existing societies. To me, the wrong is not that their men, but rather they are following this 1800's ideology. They just happen to be men. One could easily flip this story around and have it be a racial conversation. The author just happens to be critiquing men in this piece. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Robots Don't Have Hearts

I do not believe that robots can express emotions like love and empathy. Like the article we read for Tuesday’s class suggests, those emotions are rather complex. To me, this showing of complex emotion is only a fa├žade for the complex coding or electrical work that goes into the creation of a robot or AI. Such complex emotions, in my opinion, aren’t built off of if/then statements that coding can be. I think complex emotions are something we as humans uniquely possess.
The robot’s inability to love in its truest form is shown in both “I Sing the Body Electric” and Ex Machina. The man who sells Grandma to the family explains that she is designed to love. To me, that means that “love” for people is built into the robot. This goes against what I believe love is. To me, love is built over time and experiences, not a snap shift or bolt in place. Grandma in “I Sing the Body Electric” is programmed to love the family no matter what environment she is placed in. Meanwhile, Ava’s character in Ex Machina further proves the fact that genuine love is impossible for robots and AIs. Ava used manipulation and false love to gain her freedom. This further shows that instead of genuine love, the love that Ava shows in Ex Machina is only a facade.

Love, a complex, uniquely human emotion, cannot be felt by robots or AIs. Although on the surface it may seem as though this love is genuine, as shown with the feelings of Grandma in “I Sing the Body Electric”, these robots are designed to show such emotions, rather than genuine love that is built over time. The false love is shown further by the actions of Ava. Her manipulation prove that robots and AI can’t feel human levels of love. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Frankenstein Summary: Worse than Shmoop

The story of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley begins in the form of letter from Robert Walton. Walton describes in these letters meeting a traveler out to sea who claims to in pursuit of a monster. The novel of Frankenstein is set as Walton’s telling of Victor Frankenstein’s life. Victor Frankenstein, the main character of the story, grew up in a wealthy house in Geneva in Switzerland. His wealthy father and mother had another son, William, and the family adopted Victor’s cousin, Elizabeth, who is to marry Victor when they are both ready to do so. As a young man, young Frankenstein became enamored by science, specifically the old sciences such as alchemy and the work of Cornelius Agrippa. Through Victor’s studies of these old sciences and its mastery in Ingolstadt, Victor attempts to study the creation of life. He begins and experiment to give life to a previously lifeless body. His experiment is successful, resulting in the awakening of Victor’s creation. Unfortunately, the creation’s appearance is hideous to the young scientist and he runs away in fear of his own work. He later returns to see that his creation is gone. After some time in Ingolstadt, Victor learns of the death of his brother and the accusation of Justine Moritz, a girl taken under the Frankenstein family’s care, as the murderer. He returns to Geneva and goes hikes in the mountains to calm himself. There he meets his creation and hears his story.
                His creation, upon leaving Ingolstadt, wanders the forest and collects food and learns the power of fire. In his wanderings, the creation learns of the hatred people have for him just by his wretched appearance through violence. After some time, he comes upon an ideal family and begins to learn from them moral values and language. After some time of observing them, he chooses to introduce himself to the family, but they too are disgusted by the creation. The creation then says that Victor must create a companion for the creation or Victor will find the creation on his wedding night.

Victor chooses to go on a tour of Europe and begins creating this companion in Scotland. In Scotland, Victor chooses to destroy this companion, fearing the results of her creation. Because of this, Frankenstein’s creation kills Victor’s friend, Clerval. Victor is framed for the murder but is eventually let free. He returns to Geneva and marries Elizabeth. On their wedding night, the creation enacts his revenge by killing the new bride. Victor begins to dedicate the rest of his life to enacting revenge on his creation and hunts his creation. This hunt leads the two north, where Victor, on the brink of death, finds Walton. Walton then decides to assist Victor in his quest. After the crew of the ship argue otherwise, Walton decides to return to England. After Walton makes this decision, Victor dies. A short time later, Walton comes upon the creation weeping over the body of Victor, claiming he no longer has a reason to live. The monster then tells Walton his struggles and sufferings. He then walks off into the cold north alone. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Audience and Genre: Two Intertwined Concepts

Audience and Genre are often words misunderstood. Genre, as described by Bullock, Goggin, and Weinberg, is the form in which a writer presents their work. This presentation can fall under two separate sub-descriptions for genre, structural genre and thematic genre. This structural genre reflects the presentation and form of the work, such as whether to write in the form of letter, novel, non-fiction work, etc. Thematic genre represents the generally thought of definition of genre, where common themes and devices are used to tell stories. This thematic genre includes Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction, and other categories that we commonly think of.

Audience, to whom we write, plays an integral part of style and genre in writing. Audience is both those who read what is written and those who we write to. Audience, being an extremely broad term, greatly affects the way in which we write and present our thoughts. This effect is twofold. When writing, there is often an intended audience to whom a writer wants to spread his or her message. This intended audience and their ability to properly digest a piece of writing greatly affects the structural genre of the work. If one is trying to reach a less educated audience, his or her work would not be published in a scientific journal as a scholarly article. Instead, a news article or social media post would be better to reach the desired audience. This intended audience also affects language and tone, another large component of genre. In the same example, long, complicated words would not be used to try to reach this same uneducated audience.

Audience and genre are two intertwined concepts that affect each other. As mentioned earlier, the intended audience greatly affects the genre in which a work is written. This changes and molds the general structure and presentation of many writings and works. However, the intended audience and the actual audience are not always the same. This actual audience depends greatly on the structural genre, as discussed, and the thematic genre. For example, writing in the Sci-Fi genre will often attract younger people, often males. In this way, genre and audience constantly play off each other and change the way we present our thoughts and messages. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Definition of Science Fiction

To me: Science Fiction has a very set definition, despite the fact that recent readings have argued otherwise. 

Science Fiction is the class of writing where an adjustment in technology toward progression causes an unforeseen shift in the daily lives of characters in the work. Science fiction often pertains to the characters in these works to deal with the consequences, both positive and negative, of this revelation in technology.