The Age of the Superhero

The cast of ‘The Avengers’ assemble at last year’s Comic Con (Google Images).

I was rather lukewarm about the idea of an Avengers movie when it just seemed like a cynical ploy to make more money by producing movies about other lesser-known Marvel heroes in the wake of the successful Iron Man franchise. But my interest has been piqued after seeing the delightfully old-fashioned Captain America film last week and the wonderfully galactic Thor several months ago.

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The King’s Speech Review

Colin Firth in The King's Speech (Image: Official Site).

The King’s Speech explores the unlikely friendship between King George VI (Colin Firth) and Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech therapist whose unorthodox methods helped a reluctant leader to find his voice at a time when his country needed to hear it most.

Director Tom Hooper has constructed a pitch-perfect account of the events that transpired to elevate Albert to the head of the British monarchy. Although second in line to the throne after King George V’s death in 1936, Albert was forced to take on the mantle of the King following his brother’s abdication. Guy Pearce is at his simpering best here as the weak link of the family.

The film is a pleasure to watch, and several beautifully composed tableaux of scenes of domesticity vividly bring to life the details of a period which sometimes seems reduced to names like Churchill and black and white photos of sombre faces. The locations are also used exceedingly well, with everything from the somewhat rundown workplace of Logue to a London garden on a misty, sunlit morning providing depth and atmosphere to what could have been a rather dry subject.

All of the cast turn in superb performances and Firth is particularly empathetic. His finely balanced embodiment of Albert’s strength and vulnerability is perfectly matched by the quiet power of the future Queen Mother, as uncannily portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter. The ease with which they interact as well as their affection for their young daughters is heartwarming. Geoffrey Rush is fantastic as always.

The film is sentimental, but never in a way that is overly trite. It is a genuine crowd-pleaser and its puzzling limited release will surely be expanded as it continues to gain momentum from ongoing award recognition. There is genuine enjoyment to be had in immersing oneself in a simple story that is told in such a beautiful and satisfying way.

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And the geek shall inherit the box office…

 

Behold the mighty Eisencera (Image Source: myteespot.com).

Eisencera? How about Cerenberg?  What shall this two-faced hybrid be known as?  Why does it exist? Will the two actors ever be considered on their own merits?

These are eternal questions that may never be answered. But I will attempt to make a contribution to the ongoing debate that has surely preoccupied the minds of most peoples of the world at one time or another.

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Year of the Niche

A beautiful sunset over the bridge to Sydney Uni.

After a self-imposed month-long hiatus from writing pretty much anything following an intense year of further university study, I am ready to dive back into writing on a regular basis.

I started this blog in order to pass several class assignments. It soon became my favourite component of the whole digital cultures experience – I could combine my newfound love of writing with a careful analysis of cultural trends and theoretical ideas.

I have decided that 2011 is going to be my ‘Year of the Niche’. I am going to search high and low for events and issues that spark my interest, engage in diverse work and play experiences and above all challenge myself to try new things every day.

Some of the websites I will continue to contribute to/visit for inspiration (if anyone other than myself is reading this and has read this far without falling asleep at the diary-like nature of this entry):

The blog for Filmink Magazine

pagesdigital.com

Go Fug Yourself for excellent creative commentary on the bold, the beautiful, and the fugly.

Project Rungay, a site with some of the best, most detailed and interesting analyses of Mad Men, Glee and general fashion goodness.

Gabe from Videogum writes the funniest recaps of True Blood and Mad Men I have ever read. Seriously.

Lastly, here is a song from THE soundtrack to my walks to and from the train station when I was scared as hell going back to uni earlier this year, Gorilla Manor by Local Natives, who I will have the pleasure of seeing live in Sydney next year. And who through their sweet tunes made me feel hopeful when this often difficult year of transition brought me down.

Onwards and upwards!

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The Strength of the Online Collective

From what I have observed of the unique rules of the Internet, nothing is worth knowing unless it has been shared. The idea of a unique event occurring, then being presented through mass media in its ritualised form, inspiring awe and stopping the nation, is seemingly a thing of the past. Social media has infiltrated even the most stalwart of old media institutions, the nightly news, with banners appearing under talking heads of reporters directing viewers to their Twitter accounts. Perhaps it is the reproduction of the mundane details of the ordinary lives of millions of users through social media, thereby bestowing significance upon the everyday, that is causing the shift from ‘newsworthy’ to ‘buzzworthy’.

The driving force of collective sharing online is demonstrated well on the microblogging site Tumblr. On the remarkably easy-to-use site, content can rapidly become popular through ‘reblogging’, the practice of repeating a meme, photoshopped graphic, photo of breathtaking scenery etc. on one’s own ‘dashboard’. People control what they see on their dashboard by selecting certain users to ‘follow’. They can create a select group of online friends with whom they usually share one or more interests in common.

A recent example of the collective strength of the site was the adoption of a purple-themed background for the site and the thousands of reblogs made of inspirational quotes related to the ‘Spirit Day: Wear Purple’ event in memory of the young Americans who took their own lives this year after suffering exclusion and hate because they were identified as homosexual by their peers.

The sheer amount of reblogs for a particular cause like this demonstrates the underlying motivation for many users as identified by Clay Shirky: “the coming change in group effort in general, is in part predicated on the ability to make nonfinancial motivations add up to something of global significance” (2008, 133). The incremental contributions of individual users can add up to a perennial flow of information that can inspire people to utilise their power as a member of a collective.

Further Reading:

Shirky, Clay. (2008) Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. London: Penguin Press.

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