As the semester draws to a close, I’m sure that I’m not alone in beginning to ponder what the coming year has to offer and how I will choose to attack it. I am very excited about my classes, as I can finally focus on my major (History/Education) and minor (Communication, woo!). My courses are as follows: History of Mass Media; Field Seminar for EC-6th Grade; Science, Technology, and War; and Black Images in Film. I will also be serving as a peer tutor for the First Year Seminar on Harry Potter, which means I will get to nerd out every Tuesday and Thursday about one of the greatest book series of all time. Oh, yes. Other than that, I will continue to devote my time to Sigmas and Young Life, as well as watching copious amounts of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Hopefully, all these endeavors will lead me to a successful teaching career in the great state of Texas!
Now, let’s return to the present and consider this course. I’d first like to say that I greatly enjoyed it, and it might have been my favorite class at Trinity thus far! The experience has been one in which I have learned so much that it proves difficult to recall specific lessons that have stood out. I think one poignant, aesthetic message was what McCloud’s Understanding Comics had to say about the “gutter” in comic books. He talks about how the audience is an active and vital participant in the course of a story and that readers often make their own interpretations between comic panels. McCloud uses a great example that depicts a murder without actually showing the crime. Then again, one could also decide that the victim gets away or some other ending, because the panels never actually show what happens, only the result. Thus, the audience member is an active participant and accomplice to the story taking place based on his or her own interpretations. Similarly, Dick’s Anatomy of Film also discusses the role of the audience, and I became particularly interested in his ideas on point-of-view shots. I had no idea that entire films had been shot in such a way, and I find it intriguing primarily because these movies massively flopped. Why so? One reason could be that the audience members found it difficult to identify/sympathize with the main character and lost interest in the plot as a result. Despite the negative reception of these films, I still applaud those directors for taking such risks!
There were also many theoretical ideas that truly interested me, one being Klosterman’s criticism of Lloyd Dobler/John Cusack. He makes such a valid point when he states that women are looking for this unrealistic, perfect man who is sensitive yet manly. He goes on to talk about the fact that people are constantly striving to replicate those relationships and people that they see in the media, so no one can get a sense of reality, because the couple that they might aspire to imitate is actually imitating Chandler and Monica from Friends (and who wouldn’t want that after watching this video of their best moments, which was uploaded by the user iloveefriends?). It’s a vicious cycle, but it absolutely exists in our society. Another theoretical idea, though slightly minor in its context, struck me in the Rogin readings. Why were so many alien movies released in the 1990s? This time represented an era of political correctness, which eliminated the appeal for different races/ethnicities as “the bad guys.” For this reason, aliens became the ideal movie villains. One might also consider this idea when looking at the recent trend in zombie movies/literature– perhaps the prevalence of aliens has been overtaken by a new, deader group of villains.
Finally, when considering the mysterious package from Johnny B., I would first probably get really freaked out, wondering where the sender procured photographs of me and remembering every Lifetime movie about stalkers that I’ve ever watched. After the initial scare, I might then consider my COMM 2302 class and notice that several elements from the course exist in the package, such as those quotes and images found in The Truman Show and Animal Man. I would look at the quotes, particularly the one that mentions us swallowing microphones and headsets, which reminds me of McLuhan’s ideas about the medium as the message. Perhaps I might go so far as to realize that my last name is Tulpa, which Morrison defines as an abstract idea manifesting into physical form. From there, I could lose control like the masked lunatic in Animal Man once I believe that the world in which I live is merely the product of one supreme author who toys with its inhabitants. It’s all a conspiracy! My life is not my own! Then again, a friend from my COMM 2302 class could just be pulling a prank on me… Yes, let’s go with that.