Bibliography and Titles not counted.

Short Paper 2

TOPICS and Guidelines

1250 Words (min) – 1450 Words (max), Bibliography and Titles not counted.

3+ outside academic sources (blogs, wikis, pop websites are permitted, but do not count  for these 3 scholarly sources). Sources should be good journal articles or academic books.

Avoid Google. For academic articles, search https://onesearch.library.utoronto.ca/research/articles-databases Links to an external site.

Writing Tips:

MLA or APA format required: quotes and paraphrasing need page numbers APA: (Smith, 2000, p. 235).  MLA (Smith 235). Quotes are best. Avoid footnotes in any form, or the Chicago style of citation.

—State your thesis at the end of Paragraph 1 — what will you claim?
–Include a copy of small image as an Appendix after your Works Cited, if you analyze an ad or other visual item
 you want me to see (if I haven’t likely seen it).

“Quote” if you can. Paraphrase secondarily. Introduce/integrate quotes. As Smith suggests, “Ads are a system…” that can “educate us…” (Smith, 2005, p. 5)

Quotes cannot stand alone. 

Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence and address that topic. The topic sentence tells readers what the topic is. For example: “Historically, ads were outdoors…” OR you can use a question “How did we move from a needs society to a wants society?…”

Use transitions between paragraphs. “But Farnsworth was not only the creator of TV, he also…”

Block quotes (more than 3 full lines) should NOT be used, or only in rare cases when you cannot summarize the gist, and almost never in short papers.

TOPICS

  1. TELEVISION 1. Select 2 Reality TV Programs, particularly hour-long shows that focus on the participants in some depth. An episode of “Next in Fashion” or “Survivor” or “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” or “RuPaul’s Drag Race” would provide an exemplary case study. (Episodes of “The Bachelor” or “Dancing with the Stars” or audition programs may focus on too many people and prove challenging for this paper). Look for patterns and differences concerning conflict in the ways stories are told in the two episodes you choose. At a general level, 1. what are the conflicts about? (roommates versus roommates, men versus women, managers versus employees, tradition versus change, individuals versus institutions, honesty versus dishonesty).  2. how are problems resolved? Is someone removed from the show? Do people reconcile?  Importantly, what comes through as the “message” of the episode: does the scheming person on “Survivor” succeed, or is s/he punished? Does the Diva on “Drag Race” succeed, or is that person disciplined? Are women punished for appearing ambitious? Are they treated as “emotional” or told to suppress emotion?
  • Select 2+ scenes from each show and describe them in detail. Focus on the people and their conflict. Write a Compare and Contrast style essay, showing how the 2 shows present and resolve the conflict.
  • Compare and Contrast:
  • Intro
  • Show 1
  • Show 2
  • Show 1
  • Show 2
  • Conclusion
  1. TELEVISION 2. Select 2 Situation Comedies.  As we examined in class, “The Mindy Project” is considered a situation comedy since the workplace / doctor’s office is its setting. “All in the Family” is a situation comedy set in a home (see Chapter 6). Workplace and Domestic comedies are both situation comedies, programs usually 30 minutes long, and on major networks. “Parks and Recreation” and “BoJack Horseman” and “Mom” are examples.  When you have chosen your shows, look for patterns and differences concerning conflict in the ways stories are told in the two programs. At a general level, 1. what are the conflicts about? (roommates versus roommates, men versus women, managers versus employees, tradition versus change, individuals versus institutions, honesty versus dishonesty). 2. How are problems resolved?  These types of programs are well known for “returning everything back to normal.” Characters end where they began. But what do you think this style of storytelling says about North American culture (if you select a domestic program)? On “The Simpsons” for example, the family sometimes gains the offer of money, and then loses it, ending up in the same place they were—usually home on the couch. For a career show, like “Parks and Recreation” and “The Mindy Project” or “Mary Tyler Moore” or even “Friends” (at the cafe) how is the central woman’s career treated? Does the conflict produce personal progress in the end?
  • Select 2+ scenes from each show and describe them in detail. Focus on the people and their conflict. Write a Compare and Contrast style essay, showing how the 2 shows present and resolve the conflict.
  1. CINEMA. Have you enjoyed a movie Remake? (for our purposes, a movie made again in a different language, often English). Hollywood often remakes movies from Asia, Africa, Europe and India.  For example, the Oscar-winning movie The Departed with Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon was a remake of the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. The Japanese director Akira Kurosawa made movies about ancient Japan, and samurais.  Kurosawa’s movie Seven Samurai was remade in the USA as The Magnificent Seven, about cowboys. Kurosawa also influenced the entire Star Wars saga in which the samurai were given light sabres.  The French comedy La Cage aux Folles was remade in the USA as The Birdcage. The Japanese film Ringu became the USA horror remake The Ring and influenced dozens of US films in the 2000s. The Norwegian action film In Order of Disappearance introduced dark comedy (which many see as common in Norway, Denmark and Sweden) into the action genre, and was remade in English last year with Liam Neeson as Cold Pursuit. There are also 2 versions of the police thriller Insomnia.  (you can use any of the above examples). In your essay, examine 2 movies–the Original movie, and the Remake.  The films must be in different languages–as in a French original, and English remake (so 2 American versions of A Star is Born or The Fly will not be permitted here).  In the remake what elements have been changed?  What has been kept similar to the original?  Do American remakes tend to introduce American values?  Does a Hollywood remake incorporate some of the Hollywood elements we examine–the hero’s journey, struggle, success against a villain? Does the remake respect the original film, or keep some elements the same?  Write a Compare and Contrast style essay.
  2. DIGITAL MEDIA. Select 1 Historical or Current Example of Social Media being blamed for a social problem (ex: the cyber bullying of Amanda Todd), and 1 Example of Social Media being credited with improving life (ex: social movements). (See Chapter 2). Many people who examine ‘social media’ (such as Facebook and Twitter) say that these tools distract us from the important things in life. Similar things were said about television, and telephones, and the radio, and even of writing. Any communication technology can be used in a variety of ways, depending on who has access to them, and how creative they are.
In your Compare and Contrast Essay, discuss one case or way in which social media get blamed for negative events or outcomes (loneliness, competitiveness, bullying, boasting, narcissism). Compare this side with the positive things people accomplish with social media (MeToo, BLM, organizing events, socializing, reading the day’s news). Give specific examples, and support your claims with research. You may also mention your own experiences, if relevant. For the negative side, a case study may be wise: the Grossman cyber bullying case, for example, or the BC politician who lost an election due to an old Facebook photo.  Or you could identify a common criticism of social media, and explore it. For example: Are social media affecting news and political views based on this news today negatively?  Examples from the textbook can be included. For the positive side, ask how social media might be changing Social Movements, International development, poverty reduction, or argue that these sites are simply helping people connect with friends and family in good ways. You may use any examples from around the world, both recent and historical.
  3. ADVERTISING. Last Spring, the actress Brie Larson was promoting the expensive Marvel release, Captain Marvel, in which she stars as the heroine. The film was the latest in the massive Marvel Cinematic Universe, prior to the Avengers sequel.  Larson was appearing in YouTube videos, interviewed by WIRED Magazine and many other publications. She has since been appearing on daytime and late night talk shows, segments of which are on YouTube.  She has spoken to reporters and discussed the character and the costumes.  Marvel paid for many traditional commercials, but Larson was also creating “promotional culture” around the film. Promotional culture includes the active efforts of individuals to promote products, shows, movies, or anything else through public appearances, product placements, “news” stories or Instagram postings, that are not ads per se. (Research Andrew Wernick and Aeron Davis who write about promotional culture).  Your task in this essay topic is to 1. research the promotion of this film with the usual previews (what did they show us?) and its stars’ promotional activities as well, and 2. examine how Marvel and Larson dealt with some controversy around the film and many male Marvel fans saying negative things.  Similar to the remake of Ghostbusters with an all-female cast, Captain Marvel has faced some misogyny by some men.  Fans also become picky when costumes change colour, and timelines are altered, etc etc.  Questions to address include:
  • Are actresses faced with greater challenges than actors in promoting their movies?
  • Are “fans” still mainly men and boys, who have too much influence online?
  • Can a performer’s own political views and activism help or hurt promotion?
  • Can companies like Marvel fight back against negative online rumours? Successfully?
  • You do not need to have seen the movie to write on this topic. This is about ads and promos.

Organize the essay with paragraphs devoted to traditional advertising for the film, compared with “promotion” from elsewhere in the MCU (or other Disney branches, like ABC Television) if it exists, and the promotional appearances of Larson. What is she discussing? What is the tone? Does she introduce a clip?

6. GAMING, VR, and the FUTURE OF MEDIA. Select 2 Video Games or Virtual Reality experiences to examine.  As Campbell notes, Gaming Technology of the future promises an immersive and portable experience that will touch all aspects of our lives. The Wii allowed greater interactivity from gamers a decade ago, and attracted non-gamers with its interactive motion-controlled games. For Nintendo’s Wii U system, the controller serves as a virtual shield for players to block arrows shot by pirates. The Xbox Kinect has been a hit since its introduction in 2010, and with Avatar Kinect the player can control the avatar’s motions as the Kinect senses even the smallest physical gestures. In 2012, Sony released the SOEmote facial-tracking software with Everquest II and the Oculus Rift VR headset continues to promise an immersive and comfortable Virtual Reality experience. But it has yet to take off.  Gaming will be a major application for VR headsets, but they can do much more. Many predict a time when doctors will be able to use them, during exams and surgery, and VR can offer us new experiences (one example is a Toronto VR display that let people feel as if they were in a pregnant woman’s body). Perhaps VR can build empathy.  Choose your 2 games or VR examples, or one of each, and consider their present capabilities and future possibilities. Campbell notes that gaming is already used for training pilots, training workers, educating people on social causes, and for military simulations. Games can teach us about empathy, about the dangers of distracted or drunk driving, and about behaving badly (many games and even Grand Theft Auto illustrate the negative sides of using violence since the player faces the consequences. Even eating too much in these games produces a slower, heavier avatar). Of course, games are heavily criticized for their violence and lack of consequences. Will VR follow the violent games, or go in different directions?   Questions to consider include:

  • How have the newer, more interactive styles of gaming improved the experience?
  • How might gaming and VR be used more in fitness programs?
  • How might gaming and VR be used in education, to teach empathy or other lessons?
  • Could journalism really embrace VR to tell stories about distant experiences?
  • What are the possibilities and drawbacks, or negative outcomes of a given application in the future of gaming and VR?
  • What if as in the movie Ready Player One people begin to prefer their VR lives?
  • Do you have any concerns about people gaming too much?

A Compare and Contrast structure is a good way of approaching the 2 games or VR experiences you analyze. Refer to Chapter 3 to consider the massive progress being made in these industries. And don’t be afraid to make some predictions of your own about the future of media.

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