defining the genre

How Sony deals with fandoms

I’ve been to an international in-house PR summit hosted by one of my clients this week and nearly fell off my chair when one of the guest speakers was a VERY important person from Sony Music Entertainment. Let’s call him John. I won’t disclose his function and real name because I don’t want to reveal where I was, but based on his title he definitely knows what he‘s saying and has a lot of industry experience.

His speech was mainly  about how to engage with a variety of different target audiences. Of bloody course one of the first slides he showed was a picture of 1D engaging with fans which was supposed to drive the point home that there are some audiences who are more passionate about a brand than others.He mentioned then that he’s worked with 1D on their albums which drove me into a bit of a freeze.

Because I’m embarrassing, I recorded parts of his speech on my phone and wrote the most important things down to share some interesting insights he gave about how Sony manages their artists’ target audiences, crafts their artists’ social media actions and deals with the fact that at the end of the day they always need to get people to buy music.

 

HOW DOES SONY UNDERSTAND AND MONITOR AUDIENCES (like fandoms for instance)?

According to John, they have their very own data-driven digital tool that helps them identify and manage different target groups for an artist (it’s not perfected yet but has been rolled out a lot of countries, I think he said 50?) and see where there might be connections to other artists, who the influencers are, what the specific target groups are or will be interested in and to identify collaboration opportunities.

Target groups are being split into four categories: Fanatics, enthusiasts, casuals, indifferents. These segments are being broken down into even smaller groups defined by age, genre preference, gender and country. They found that the older you get, the less likely you’ll be a fanatic or enthusiast.

How does Sony find this stuff out? Well, they survey polled music audiences of every age in a way that covers either nationally representatives or represent one of the major top tier cities. People shared their music preferences, consumption habits, lifestyle, media habits etc. Sony gathered all that information, analysed the insights and created their own audience understanding tool.

According to John, that way everyone at Sony has access to an interactive map of the world of Sony that looks into segmentations and audiences for every artist while being searchable in a number of different ways. The tool is pulling from real data, but they are also adding to that „with things like analytics of platforms like Spotify where we are able to gather lots of informations about user behaviours and reference that against things that we do“.

 

HOW SONY STRATEGICALLY SHAPES PR STORIES

John gave the example of Snoop Doggy Dog who had launched a new album (song? Idk) around that time: „There was a week-long debate in parliament around the legalization of Marihuana, so we just jumped on this conversation and did lots of social marketing around Snoop with his rolling papers and his spliffs… so maybe that’s bad taste, I’ll allow you to judge that for yourselves. The point is though that you are also marketing into a wider cultural context. [You need] an understanding how that works and where you can have a conversation that is seamless and not fake, genuineness is quite important.

“The way you can get people to connect is: You’ve got a lot of stuff that you want to say. Start under the assumption that people actually don’t give a shit about 95 percent of it. And then see which are the bits that might overlap. This is where the understanding of the audience really comes into its own. It forces us to think before we jump to execution. The quest for relevance is vitally important.”

Why are people to connect with a brand/band though? John thinks this is one of the most underused questions when planning an approach. Why is it that they do specific things? He gave an example: „We would normally take a record to radio because we always believe that radio is the thing that breaks the record. But if my core audience, my phase one audience – the people that are gonna give that band its first lift – are on Spotify, what am I doing on radio??“


ENGAGEMENT AROUND ARTIST IS KEY

„The thing is that you don’t start with a conversation around a product. The consumption of the product is the end point of a journey where you built an engagement and a fan. So again, for us that means that when we sit down and do our plan around our next Robbie Williams album, we start with „How are we gonna maximize the engagement around Robbie Williams“? because that will then sell us albums. Not „Okay, we’ll be releasing in a week in November, eight weeks out we need to be here, here and here“. So we’re not doing product launches anymore unless [it is suitable for the target demographic]. We have to built a tension and an engagement around an artist.“

 

ABOUT THEIR ARTISTS‘ SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS

„We run most of our artists social media channels or at least their official  pages, so we are involved in all of those conversations.“


Shocking, I know.

Based on the situation we face in this fandom,with this band, feel free to draw your own conclusions about what this information means.

HERE ARE MY KEY TAKEAWAYS:

1.       It’s not news at all, but the existence of their own audience understandig tool confirms it: the 1D fandom is being monitored, segmented and analyzed. Sony’s strategies are tightly tied to that fact. Collaborations or artist interactions such as Louis/James Arthur or One Direction/ Little Mix are most likely the result of a data-driven analysis of whose fan groups are similar and whose are likely to be open towards that particular other artist too.

2.       Again no news, but the example of Snoop Doggy Dog shows that there are strategies behind even the most random photos. Often placements of specific pictures or stories serve a wider purpose. Hello pap walks, hello b**ygate, hello Louis Twitter, hello Liam visibly being linked to L.A.‘s cool singer/songwriter crowd before his first album drop.  

3.       The decision to not promote Louis‘ song could very well have been a logical outcome of the team asking themselves the question „Why?“: Why should we promote his song with huge effort when we KNOW his own fans are going to do it passionately, especially if they think  we don’t give a shit? Why not playing that game in order to make them promo it the hardest way they can?“ Why indeed??

4.       One Direction is a huge deal for Sony. John was talking about a lot of bands during his speech but whenever he was talking about major acts, he always listed One Direction amongst them (along with gems like Beyonce, David Bowie, Adele). He name-dropped them at least 5 -6 times in a 60 minute speech. He really didn’t have to because the audience was in no way whatsoever a target audience. So yes, they clearly have been and are a very huge deal for them.

5.       The part about social media? Well :))))))

Witchy Mood Music

I responded to a post about chants and music to help raise energy (for hausofsageandcrystals & ace-of-pentacles) before or during practicing magic, and I thought instead of just helping that person, I’d just make a master post to help anyone who might be looking for a list like this.

Each artist is listed here with a link to an example of their music… I would 10/10 recommend all of these artists to anyone with a taste for the medieval/pagan/witchy feel. I will do my best to define the genre of music they all fall under for you guys. 


I hope this list is helpful for people! These are just some of my favorites, if there is anyone you think I should add to this list, message me! :)

☽hexiest☾

Writing Advice: At the Heart of Your Plot Lies a Question

I’ve been thinking a lot about story structure lately. It’s the thing I struggle with the most, as an author, and judging from a lot of stories I’ve read (and blurbs I’ve helped to write), it’s a big issue for others, too. A lot of times, people don’t realize that there are fundamental structural issues with their stories until they get to the marketing phase, when they go to write a blurb or query letter and realize they cannot condense their story. 

I have some bad news for you: If you can’t elevator pitch your book, there’s a good chance that the problem is the book’s plot, not your innate blurbing skills. 

I know. That’s a hard thing to swallow. And maybe I’m wrong - maybe you just need to work on your blurbing a little bit and it’ll all be just fine. 

But maybe I’m not wrong. In which case, just humor me for a second. Your story will thank you for it. 

Thing #1: Your world-building is not your story. 

It doesn’t matter how much careful thought and planning you’ve put into figuring out the logistics of your world’s science, economy, government, etc. The intricate backstories and family histories might be totally important, but they’re probably not the plot. Until you have characters who want things and obstacles in their path, you don’t have a story. 

Thing #2: Your character arc is not your plot 

Characters should change. Your character should be transformed by the events of the story. This is, ultimately, where the story lies. It’s not, however, the plot. Why, you ask? Because plots are actually pretty generic. A plot is a framework, a set of expectations and structural beats that hold up the story. The story is the character’s development between Point A and Point B. 

Thing #3: Plots are tied to genre 

In the sense that I’m using plot here - expectations and structural beats - I would argue that “plot” is the essential defining characteristic of genre. Which is to say, the thing that unites books within a genre is that they all have essentially the same plot. But how can that be, you ask? Because…

Thing #4: “Plot” = The Story Your Reader Asks (and you have to answer)

What is it that keeps a reader turning the page? What compels a reader to finish a story? Compelling characters, cool settings, sure, ok maybe. But I would argue that at its heart, the thing that makes any reader keep reading (as opposed to, say, watching TV or playing soccer or giving their cat a bath) is curiosity. 

Humans are naturally curious. We love gossip. We find it irresistible. There’s something in our genetic makeup that craves answers to questions, to gathering insider knowledge. 

Which means that if you ask a question, and it seems like a fairly interesting question, the person hearing it won’t be satisfied until they know the answer. 

So based on that assumption, I would argue that readers keep reading stories in order to find the answer to a question. I would also argue that, for the most part, the nature of that question is the same or pretty similar for all stories of a particular genre. 

Some story questions: 

  • Who did it? How did they do it? Why did they do it? (mystery) 
  • Will they succeed in time/before bad thing happens? (fantasy)
  • Who will come out on top? (epic fantasy) 
  • How could these two unlikely people possibly fall in love? (romance)
  • What actually happened? (thriller) 
  • How will they get out of this? (adventure) 
  • Are they going to survive? (horror)

Etc. etc. 

Different stories will have different flavors of these questions, but at its core, every story should have a central question that drives the narrative onward - everything else eventually feeds in to answering that question. 

You’ll note, too, that sometimes the question asked by the narrative itself is not really the question asked by the reader. For example: Ostensibly, the mystery in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is “What happened to Harriet?” But I think the real question is “How is the PI connected to the reporter? What’s actually going on here?” (which, you will note from our handy-dandy chart, makes this book a thriller and not a mystery). 

“What actually happened the night of the murders?” <- Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. Definitely another thriller. (See also: “What actually happened to Amy?” at the heart of Gone Girl.) 

“How is Katniss going to survive the Hunger Games?” (adventure! For all that it bills itself as a dystopia, Hunger Games is at its heart a survival story that calls back to Jack London). 

There are more questions than the ones I detailed above, but those are some starters to whet the appetite.. 

The important thing to remember is that if your story doesn’t have a central driving question, it doesn’t actually have a plot. It may have a character arc! Lots of things might happen! It may have a story. But it will have no plot. And your readers might not know that’s what’s wrong with it, but they’ll notice it. They’ll pick up on it. 

And when they do, what they’ll tell you is: The book is boring. 

So the next time you’re struggling to write the elevator pitch for your story, or the story just isn’t coming together for you, stop and ask: What is the main question? What is the question that’s going to keep the reader turning the page? 

beginner’s guide to horror movies

Okay, so you’ve seen a few scary movies and enjoyed them, and now you’re looking to expand your horror prowess. Maybe you’ve been reading/listening to a lot of creepypasta, and you feel like you’re ready to take the plunge. Or maybe you just have a feeling that you’d like horror, but have no idea where to start. 

I’ve been a huge fan of all things creepy and scary for years. I was just reading an article called, “Horror Gems You Haven’t Seen Yet” and realized that I actually had seen almost every film on the list, so I guess that makes me an expert. So, my new baby horror fans, allow me to introduce you to the genre.


Keep reading

Has anyone mentioned Agatha Christie yet?

Anyways, it’s highly likely most of you know who she is because of her famous detective, Hercule Poirot and the novel And Then There Were None, which is known as “the detective novel without a detective” and the best-selling mystery of all time. (Speaking of M. Poirot, The Murder on the Orient Express is coming out this November, and I’m super excited.)

However, Ms. Christie has also written several plays, including The Mousetrap, which happens to be the world’s most longest-running. 

She worked as a pharmacy assistant during WWII in the midst of the Blitz, becoming very familiar with poisons, which she eventually worked into her stories. 

Ms. Christie first married Archibald Christie in 1914, which ended in a divorce. Her second marriage was to Sir Max Mallowan, an archaeologist. (She has famously joked that archaeologists make good husbands because “the older you get, the more interested he is in you”.) In 1971, Ms. Christie was made a Dame for her contribution to literature. She died in 1976 at the age of 85. 

Ms. Christie helped define a genre, which is something a mystery fan like myself is grateful for. 

here’s the thing that makes me so angry about the fact that literally everyone seems to write matt murdock soft and squishy and gentle and quiet: that’s all disabled people are ever allowed to be. all we’re allowed to be is tiny tim, the perpetual-child, the angel who never complains, the baby, the inspiration porn. sometimes in media we’re allowed to be the villain but there is never, never a disabled hero, much less a disabled hero who is so fucking angry that he seems like he might explode with it.

this bloody-knuckled fighter, this uncompromising, terrifying, fucking furious vigilante character who so thoroughly defines the gritty superhero genre? we don’t ever get that. but that’s what matt murdock is. that’s what daredevil is. 

he’s been treated like a child, like he’s incapable, like he has to be gentle and helpless for most of his life and he is tired of it and i am tired of it too. why is it so unappealing to you, so uncomfortable, so disquieting, for matt murdock to be angry? to be dangerous and hurting? think critically about that, and then go fuck yourself. 

matt wields his cane as a weapon and fights dirty and you still put on kid gloves to handle him and i can just tell you’re using the voice that goes along with “do you want me to get that, sweetie?” and “wow! you did that all by yourself?” that makes me want to set fire to every nurse and stranger who has ever had the audacity to treat me like a lost puppy. 

he’s not patient. he’s not pliant. he’s not nice or vulnerable or mild. he’s bloody and painful. he’s grinning through a mouthful of broken glass and you’re drawing him like a fucking chibi and i’m just tired 

you want soft? you want a superhero you can mold into a cute, submissive, cotton-candy-eating, wide-eyed child? go fuck around with spider-man, i hear he’s free

Part 2: 10 More Animated Movies Beyond Pixar

Part 1: Animation Beyond Pixar
Part 3: Another 10 Animated Movies Beyond Pixar
Part 4: Some More Animated Movies Beyond Pixar

Hey! It looks like people really liked the first post, so let’s do it again. This time I’m going to expand the rules a little bit and show you 10 movies that were not produced by Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, or Studio Laika. Hope you find something cool!

Kirikou and the Sorceress (Kirikou et la Sorcière, 1998)



The breakout hit of French animation master, Michel Ocelot, Kirikou and the Sorceress is an invented fairytale drawing from west African folklore. You’ll immediately notice the style, how it alternates between very lush, lovingly rendered scenery and somewhat limited animation. A lot of the limitations of this movie can be chocked up to the infant-status of French animation at the time, but in spite of a few reused walk-cycles Kirikou is a wonderful film! In fact, Kirikou was such a success in French theaters that it spawned its own sequel in 2005, Kirikou and the Wild Beasts.

The story recounts the birth and early travails of Kirikou, an impetuous but incredibly clever infant boy. Kirikou’s village has been all-but enslaved by the evil sorceress Karaba. It’s up to Kirikou to keep his ailing villagers safe from the sorceress, and find a way to stop Karaba for good.

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Sita Sings the Blues (2008)

Sita Sings the Blues is an interesting creature, it’s actually been released under the Creative Commons license, so you can download it for free right now. A labor of love by cartoonist/animator Nina Paley, the movie is entirely animated with Adobe Flash. Ordinarily I’m not very fond of flash animation, it’s become the new fad in TV because it’s cheap, and has unfortunately ushered in a new era of bland, limited animation cartoons (Teen Titans Go, I’m looking at you). That said, Sita Sings the Blues is a wonderful example of how an artist can exceed & in some cases exploit the limitations of Flash to create really charming cartoons brimming with beautiful designs.

Featuring 4 different animation styles and an overabundance of musical set pieces, Sita Sings the Blues contrasts the many trials and tribulations of the mythical Sita (wife of hindu folk hero, Rama) with the waning days of the animator’s own marriage. Interspersed between these two stories is a more light-hearted retelling of the Ramayana (the story of Rama) by indian shadow puppets.

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My Dog Tulip (2009)

My Dog Tulip recounts the trials and tribulations of one Mr. Ackerley as he attempts to raise his bratty german shepherd, Tulip. The most striking feature of this film is its styling, which can charitably be called “impressionistic” but more accurately be deemed “scribbly”. Everything is freeform, and the models shift and twist into the most expressive shapes for their given scenes. Considering that every one of its 60,000+ frames is actually an individually-rendered digital painting, the movie becomes quite impressive.

This is a very restful movie, aimed at an older audience, so save it for when you next want to relax. At once charming, silly, dry, and very juvenile, it’s hard not to smile as you watch Ackerley’s animated self blunder through raising his dog. And though Ackerley shamelessly anthropomorphizes Tulip, the film (quite refreshingly) will never let you forget that she’s a silly, fidgety dog.

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Perfect Blue (Pāfekuto Burū, 1997)

While Japan produces a lot of animation, most of it is just miserable crap. That said, every so often someone amazing gets to make a movie. Writer/director Satoshi Kon was one of those people.

Kon’s directorial debut, Perfect Blue, is an intriguing, upsetting, suspenseful, and frightening movie. A young pop star leaves music for acting, but is traumatized by her first role. Shellshocked by her first experience, the actress falls into a fugue state, and the people involved in the production start dying. All signs point to the murderer being the actress, and while she should be recovering she’s inadvertently pulled into the world of an obsessive stalker who has been watching her every move.

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The Illusionist (L’Illusionniste, 2010)

Based on a recovered script by legendary French comedian/director, Jacques Tati, The Illusionist is the story of the last bright spark of an aging stage magician’s career. Tati loosely based the film on his own stage career, which happened to start at a time when many stage acts were being muscled out of venues by young, hip rock bands. Supposedly Tati wrote the original script as an attempt to reconcile with his eldest daughter, whom he had abandoned as a baby. This is heavily-disputed. Delicately-rendered and beautifully-told, the Illusionist features no distinguishable dialogue, but its sentiments come across crystal-clear.

An older, struggling French magician takes a gig out in the Scottish boonies, and in the process picks up a new fan who thinks his magic is real. The result is a quirky father/daughter relationship between two strangers, the adoration of one keeping the other going during one of the darkest times of his life.

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The Secret of NIMH (1982)

If you’re going to talk American animation beyond the big 3 studios then you have to go back, before the Disney Renaissance. If you’re going to talk American animation before the Disney Renaissance then there are two giant, inescapable names that you must address: Don Bluth and Ralph Bakshi. Let’s talk about a Don Bluth movie.

It’s easy to forget, now that Disney has been ascendant for 25 years, but from the 60s to the end of the 80s Disney’s animation studio nearly shut down half a dozen times. Having endured this long decline, Don Bluth, one of Disney’s veteran animators and directors, had enough. He left Disney and took 16 of the studio’s animators with him, intent on getting back to basics and producing feature-length animated films again. His name might not ring a bell, but you’ve definitely seen his movies: An American Tail 1 & 2 (the Fievel movies), All Dogs Go To Heaven, Anastasia, and the original Land Before Time were all Don Bluth movies. The Secret of NIMH was actually Bluth’s first post-Disney feature film, which unfortunately means it’s less well-known than some of his later successes.

The Secret of NIMH shows us the life of a simple farm mouse, Mrs. Brisby. Mrs. Brisby’s son is very sick, and she desperately needs help moving him before her home is destroyed by the farmer’s plough. The only ones that can help are the mysterious rats of the rose bush, strange, almost magical creatures that seem to have known her late husband.

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American Pop (1981)

If you’re going to talk American animation beyond the big 3 studios then you have to go back, before the Disney Renaissance. If you’re going to talk American animation before the Disney Renaissance then there are two giant, inescapable names that you must address: Don Bluth and Ralph Bakshi. Let’s talk about a Ralph Bakshi movie.

The king of rotoscope, Ralph Bakshi is the guy who really created and explored the idea that animation doesn’t always have to be for kids. What’s rotoscope? It’s literally animating on top of live-action footage. For ages it was used as a pre-CGI method for creating special effects (the original Star Wars, for example, featured heavy rotoscoping). Bakshi was the first director to use it to animate entire movies, admittedly with mixed success. Rotoscoping allows for incredibly realistic movement, but is (surprisingly) bad at translating facial expressions.

Considered one of Bakshi’s better movies, American Pop is an alternate history retelling of the rise of pop music in the United States. The story is presented through the eyes of four generations of a Russian Jewish immigrant family, each of whom has a profound impact on the music industry of their respective day. It’s a fascinating look at the type of people who defined musical genres through the years.

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Azur & Asmar: The Princes’ Quest (Azur et Asmar, 2006)

Another original fairytale from Michel Ocelot! Ocelot has this fantastic skill of drawing from all points of a culture’s folklore and making a movie that’s at once evocative of its inspiration but satisfyingly original.

This time around Ocelot draws from dozens of Arabic folk tales, including some of the more infamous stories of 1,001 Arabian Nights. He also employed a new technique for 3D animation, rendering non-photo-realistic figures on top of painted backgrounds. The effect is absolutely stunning, and gives the entire movie a storybook feeling without looking like a series of drawings. It’s absolutely overflowing with rich colors and intricate arabic designs, and is a complete treat to behold.

The story: On the French countryside two boys are inexplicably born with the exact same destiny: to save the djinn fairy of the east. One is born to a wealthy french household, the other is born to an Arabic nursemaid working in the same household. The boys grow together, are forced apart, and eventually meet back up as fate guides them towards their shared destiny.

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A Town Called Panic (Panique au village, 2009)



Most of the animated feature films worth a damn are dramas and serious adventure movies. They can start to weigh on you, if you watch them one after another. That’s why it’s so fantastic that movies like A Town Called Panic exist. An unapologetically silly, borderline nonsensical comedy that injects you into its bizarre world for 80 minutes and keeps you entertained the entire time.

A stop-motion animated feature that uses action figures (kind of like the old KaBlam! shorts on Nickelodeon), based on a Belgian/French TV series of the same name, A Town Called Panic recounts the lives of Horse, Cowboy, and Indian. Three roommates in a small rural town. It’s your average guys-order-too-many-bricks-for-a-birthday-present-then-accidentally-destroy-their-house-then-as-they’re-attempting-to-fix-the-house-with-the-bricks-aquatic-dwellers-start-stealing-their-half-finished-house romp. And it’s a delight. Highly recommended!

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The Secret of Kells (2009)

The Secret of Kells is a glorious reminder that 2D animation is very much alive, and capable of being infinitely improved upon. In this case the movie is animated with stylized 2D drawings, but uses computer graphics to add color-washes and other subtle effects. The overall product is an all-too-rare visual treat in a medium that’s increasingly becoming a victim of computer technology, when it should be a beneficiary.

A young boy raised among monks finds his calling as a manuscript illuminator. But in order to become skilled enough to illuminate the legendary Book of Iona he’ll have to brave the dangerous forests of Kells and discover nature’s secrets from its wild pagan spirits.

anonymous asked:

Do you have a recommended reading list for early era sci-fi stories? Like, what you think helped define the genre in its infancy? You seem to know so much, and I want to try and maybe become more knowledgeable of geeky literature roots.

Well, here’s a few recommendations to get you started on reading early pulp-era science fiction: 

Slan by A.E. van Vogt (1940). This one is about a young boy who is a Slan, a member of a tendril-headed race of telepathic mutants who, in the future, are hunted and hated to extermination by normal humans. Our hero’s parents are murdered in front of him, and he is forced to go into hiding. It’s a great premise: you’re running in the night, and the wolves are after you. The book is really worth reading for the villain, Kier Gray, dictator of earth, a man described as “magnetic and tigerish.” A huge part of the book deals with him outsmarting all the people who want his job, and you grow to actually admire him. Like Julius Caesar or Napoleon, he’s a great man…but not a “nice” one. 

The Black Flame (1948). Anything by Stanley G. Weinbaum is worth reading; his career as a scifi writer only lasted 18 months, before he died of cancer, but in that time, he totally transformed the genre: his “Martian Odyssey” changed scifi because it had truly alien and incomprehensible aliens. Black Flame is one is one of my favorites because it’s actually a scifi romance, in that the romantic story is the “A-plot” and not a subplot. Our hero is a beefy modern-day Chris Hemsworthian engineer who wakes up in a post-apocalyptic future ruled by immortals. The most memorable is Princess Margaret, the Black Flame. Her moods turn on a dime, and she can go from the most achingly alluring woman ever, the kind you’d sell your soul to have, to being cruel and pitiless in an instant. Despite that, you get the feeling she is actually vulnerable, isolated from mankind by her immortality. I don’t know your gender, but in general, all the women I’ve lent this one to love it, because it’s a love story and the Black Flame is so cool.

Galactic Patrol by E.E. Smith (1939). This is not the first space opera, but the first space opera that had everything in play as we know it. It features the Lensmen, space-police assembled from dozens of races. It’s great, pure adventure stuff, and is the first book to have platoons of marines in strength-boosting power armor. It has imagery like the hyperspacial tube that lets you cross 20,000 light years in seconds, if you survive. “The Hell Hole in Space.” Mind battles where the reflection and parried mind powers make hundreds of innocent bystanders fall down dead. Space battles with literally millions of starships. Assembled from thousands of races, the Lensmen are the predecessors to multi-species hero organizations like the Jedi Knights and the Green Lanterns. The alien lensmen are really alien; my favorite is a telepathic dragon, and another is a psychologist from a planet of cowards. None of it is schlocky, it’s all deadly serious. The Lensmen have a kill-count that would make Brock Sampson blush, and the villains are frighteningly ruthless, cold, and competent. My favorite is the blue-skinned, cold, supergenius leader of the pirates, Helmuth, who was such a frighteningly effective villain. You figure out he’s not the usual bad guy when he refuses to accept the hero’s apparent death at face value, and because a body wasn’t found, assumed the hero faked his own death and continues looking for him.

“Shambleau” and the Northwest Smith horror-space opera stories by C.L. Moore (1933). If you ever want to see where Han Solo came from, read the Northwest Smith stories, published by C.L. Moore, about an amoral, pragmatic and hardboiled space smuggler and criminal, in adventures that are moody, dark, and more like horror than like adventure stories. The best of these is Shambleau, where Northwest Smith discovers an alien creature that may be the inspiration for the legends of Medusa.

A Princess of Mars, Gods of Mars, Warlord of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The most influential science fiction writer of the early part of this century, Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Mars/Barsoom stories are set on old, dying Mars of endless warfare, flying navies, swordfights, and beautiful princesses in need of rescue. They’re romantic stuff about heroes, gallant deeds, and daring and villains. The books have giant apes who live in crumbling lost Martian cities, and a beautiful girl who mentally controls lions.

The Hand of Zei by L. Sprague de Camp. De Camp is wonderful, but read this book right after the John Carter of Mars stuff. It’s kind of like Army of Darkness, in that it’s both a satire and also a great straight example of sci-fi planet romance stories at the same time. The hero is a neurotic oedipean ghost writer. The evil sinister mesmerist who commands the evil pirates is a velociraptor creature who is a germaphobe and spooked by loud noises. It’s absolute great fun and has a wonderful sense of humor.

Sinister Barrier by Eric Frank Russell (1939). This horror-tinged scifi novel has an amazing premise: imagine if the earth had been conquered and ruled in secret by invisible energy beings in another plane of existence who feed off our sensations of fear, pain, and terror, using the human race as cattle. Our hero is a scientist who discovers the existence of these beings, and has to flee for his life when he realizes the true nature of the world.

applications now open for the fanauthor workshop!

thank you to everyone who participated in my survey a few months ago about the fanauthor workshop, my (@bettydays) upcoming independent study in which i’ll be leading an MFA-style online workshop specifically for fanauthors. 

unfortunately, due to the constraints of the workshop model, i will only be able to accept a limited number of applicants, which is why i’m running an application process. here’s all the information you’ll need to decide if you’d like to apply, and how to go about applying.

both the workshop and application are free. i am doing this for graduate credit in lieu of a literature seminar this semester. 

what is a workshop?

a creative writing workshop is a round-table style discussion about writing. specifically, you read a peer’s work in advance of the meeting, and then we discuss the piece, offering constructive criticism, while the writer listens and takes notes. prior to the meeting, you also write a letter of critique to the writer.

when and where is the workshop?

the full workshop will begin on September 4, 2017. there will be about a dozen participants, depending on how many applications i receive. ideally we will meet on Sunday evenings around 7 - 9pm EST via Google Hangout, but i am absolutely willing to negotiate meeting times. if you have evenings and/or weekends mostly free, please still consider applying, even if Sundays specifically don’t work for you. you can let me know any constraints you have in the google doc linked below.

why are you doing this?

fanfiction taught me how to write and i have immense respect for it as a genre. i think fanauthors do amazing literary work, and i’d like to take what i’ve learned from my MFA so far and bring it back to the community that fostered my passion for writing. 

moreover, i like talking about writing. like, a lot. i thought it might be pretty fun to get class credit for meeting up with fanpeople once a week to talk about fic.

what would i get out of it?

ideally:

  • a bunch of new friends
  • constructive criticism on your writing
  • a polished piece of fanfic to post to an AO3 collection
  • (if fall workshop) a polished piece of original fiction to submit for publication or to other workshops
  • a platform in which to ask questions you have about writing, publishing, etc. 
  • more comfort providing feedback to other writers
  • being part of something cool and weird
  • providing input for my craft essay on fanfic as a literary genre, which i plan to publish
  • the satisfaction of helping me become a better teacher

the summer trial workshop

the summer trial workshop will be held the weeks of August 21 and 28 (tentatively). we will meet two or three times for two hours apiece.

you can apply for this if you only want feedback on a short piece of writing, either fanfic or ofic, with a very small group of people. 4-6 participants will be pitching any type of work up to 10k words, and we will meet twice to workshop and go through any bumps in the process. you will read and provide feedback on a total of 3 other pieces, receive crit on one, and fill out a survey at the end giving me feedback on the overall process so i can tweak it for the full semester.

the fall fanauthor workshop

we will meet 14 times over the span of as many weeks starting September 4 (provided i get all the bumps fixed from the trial run), again for approximately 2 hours apiece. during these sessions, we will workshop two pieces and also have a short craft discussion. 

prior to each session, you will have to read both pieces, provide marginal comments in the shared document, and write a short letter of criticism to the author. i anticipate the workload will take approximately 5 hours a week of your time, not including the hours you spend writing your own pieces.

each participant will be workshopped twice. there will be two cycles: one for fanfiction and one for “original” fiction (ofic). 

cycle 1: fanfiction

you will write one fic up to 10k words to share. any ship, any fandom, any content. you must also be willing to read any ship and any fandom. if you have triggers, we can discuss and work out a content warning system as necessary at the beginning of the semester. 

our craft discussions during this cycle will revolve around defining fanfiction as a literary genre. i will be taking this insight and writing a final craft essay at the end of the semester as my independent study final. 

at the end of the semester, you can revise your fanfic piece and we’ll make an AO3 collection of our work. 

cycle 2: original fiction

you will write one piece of ofic up to 10k words to share. this can be anything you want it to be. the goal of this cycle is to workshop a piece of original fiction to either apply to programs/workshops with or submit for publication/writing contests. 

our discussions during this cycle will revolve around the publication process and any other questions that come up. we will also be reading published original pieces of my choosing and discussing them from a craft perspective. 

should i apply?

  • yes, if you:
    • have 5 hours a week to spare this fall and can meet mostly at the designated meeting time one evening per week (it’s ok to miss one or two for emergencies, etc)
    • are over the age of 18
    • want to improve your writing and help your peers improve theirs
    • are interested in discussing writing with like-minded individuals
    • are willing to chat with us via webcam
  • but what if i don’t have a piece of original fiction ready?
    • that’s ok, you’ll have 6 weeks of fanfiction workshopping to prepare an ofic piece
  • but what if i’m not a student?
    • you don’t need to be. the workshop is open to everyone.
  • but what if i don’t want to post to AO3 at the end or submit my original fiction anywhere?
    • that’s okay, it’s completely voluntary.
  • but what if i suck at writing?
    • you don’t. and anyway, the whole point of a workshop is to get better.
  • but what if i write really dark stuff?
    • hey man, so do i. it’s all chill. 
  • but what if english isn’t my first language?
    • apply anyway. usage/grammar errors can be fixed and i won’t be harping on them in the application process. as long as i can understand what’s being written, that’s what counts.
  • but what if–
    • APPLY.

to apply, please fill out this google form. applications are due july 31, 2017.

if you have questions, please feel free to send me an ask

anonymous asked:

So I knew Taylor wrote a piece on Brenda Lee for that book but I didn't know she was being written about also. Brian Mansfield just tweeted this twitter*com/brian_mansfield/status/862860448835698690

this is super awesome. imagine being enough of a legend that you’re included in a book about women defining a genre, but still young enough to also write about another one of those matriarchs. i’m really excited. 

6

Looking at these images from “A Day in the Life” posted to Vimeo by Steve Purcell, I suddenly thought in this day and age Prince looks like he could have stepped out of a modern-day boy band.

But instead of being marketed as part of a pre-packaged boy band, this young man wrote all his own songs, produced them to his own exacting standards, played most of the musical instruments on many of his recordings, played guitar like a f*cking guitar god, conceived and directed his own live shows, danced like a pro, had the vocal range of a freak of nature, sang his own lyrics with genre-defining technique and other-worldly passion, directed his own music videos, won an Oscar for the music he wrote for a decade-defining film in which he also starred, was a gender-defying style icon as well as a culture-changing phenom. And, of course, he looked stunningly gorgeous.

Boy band, hmmm? My, how times have changed.

Real music. Real musicians.

For those who say that "Humanz" sound nothing like Gorillaz

So, I decided to check Amazon.co.uk to order the newest Gorillaz album “Humanz”, as I wasn’t able to preorder it. What immediately caught my eye was that the album, that came out just today, has only 3 stars. Wondering what was so bad already about the new album, I checked the reviews. What I saw made me angry beyond everything. Yes, there are 5 star reviews, loving the new songs. But there were also 1 star reviews and they all said basically the same thing - “This album sounds nothing like Gorillaz used to sound. Bring the old Gorillaz back!”

So, let me get this straight - you dislike this album because it sounds nothing like Gorillaz? Can you please describe to me how Gorillaz actually sound like? Because what I have heard of, the definition of Gorillaz is that they have no defined genre of music. Ironic, isn’t it? Please, name me three iconic Gorillaz songs. For me, it would be Feel Good Inc., Clint Eastwood and Melancholy Hill. And whoopty doo, they all sound like they were written by three different artists! One is soothing, other has a sick beat. The band, that is known for their freedom in genres are writing songs in an unusual to them, more modern sounding genre? WHAT?!?!?! THAT IS PREPOSTEROUS!!!!

Now listen, I’m gonna drop some truth on you - if you consider yourself a fan of ANYONE, and you do not support the changes that the artist chose, stop calling yourself a fan. It’s like taking an iPhone 7 and hating it because “Oh, it doesn’t feel like the good old iPhone 3, I mean, it changed so much, all these additional apps and functions, bring the good old iPhone back !!!!1!!” Change is good, ESPECIALLY AFTER 6 YEARS OF THE BAND’S HIATUS!!!! I would be surprised if the music sounded like “Demon Days” or even their first album “Gorillaz”.That would show, that they have run out of ideas and that they are AFRAID TO CHANGE. Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett even did something that many creators, especially in animation rarely do - they age their characters, Noodle grew up from a tiny girl into a grown up woman, and Murdoc went from a nice brown coloured skin to pickle green. And the change in music style makes so much sense, giving the fact that the band was silent for 6 years. It shows, that the band is not stuck to the things that got tons of attention (like Feel Good Inc. or Melancholy Hill), and tries to replicate it, but rather tries out new stuff to make things interesting. For the love of Pazuzu, “White Light” from “Demon Days"album has like, what, 3 words in it? 4, if you count in “do do dodododo” that goes between the actual words. “El Mañana”, other great song, that sounds nothing like the upbeat “19-2000” from a previous album. Oh, “Hallelujah Money” has a weird tempo that sounds strange? What about “5/4”? See, they DO sound like the old Gorillaz!!!

I love the new songs. “Saturn Barz”, “We Got The Power”, “Apprentice” are so far my favourites (I’ve blasted “Apprentice” on repeat for around 6 good hours, when it came out), and I am positive that I will love the rest of the album too. And the name, “Humanz” actually makes sense, seeing how many artists have joined the Gorillaz and put their effort in this album. Some speculate, that the name, “Humanz” means that they are evolving from the “Gorillaz”, gorillas are turning into humans. Changing. Unlike the hipster “fans”, who sit on the band’s first album or “fans” who know the couple of the most famous songs and can’t remember the names of the members. But we, actual fans, who actually love anything Gorillaz related and who know these characters to the detail, these characters, who, although animated and brought to life by imagination, are more “human” than the famous artists you see everyday on the screen, singing songs that 20 writters have put together for them. None two songs of Gorillaz are alike. Not at all. That is why we love these colorful cartoons and the men behind them so much. And if you got the nerve to say that the new album sounds “nothing like Gorillaz”, then you don’t know, what Gorillaz sound like. You don’t know what Gorillaz are and what they stand for - creativity and love for music of any genre.


Pardon me my poor grammar - english is not my first language

kateandtheuniverse  asked:

Hello :) I am working on a theatre script with a friend and our premise is an art-thief in 1950s Europe who can disable guards and such with a superpower. After the theft she leaves hints as to where she'll strike again and what she'll take. The problem we're facing right now is the historical 'accuracy' to some extent, so the link between the story and actual art-history, since we can't find a lot about stuff being stolen in the 50s across Europe. How can we make the story seem more 'real'? Thx

Let’s Talk About Historical Fiction

Historical fiction is an awesome genre that rarely gets the love it deserves. It is a piece of work that is fictional (as in made up), but set in the past. It can borrow from characteristics of the time period, but it is not a necessity. Historical fiction may take place during an important event in the time period (e.g. the Revolutionary War, reign of Queen Victoria) and generally incorporates fictional characters who tell the story from their point of view. Well known historical figures may be included in the plot, in which case the events of their lives would be depicted in a way that is not recorded in history. For example, The Book Theif tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a German girl growing up in Nazi Germany during World War II. Liesel and her friends have both direct and indirect interactions with famous regime leaders which affects their character development and the plot of the book. While the main characters of the novel were not explicitly “real,” they exist in a time of tumultuous change and fear that is a major defining point in human history. 

While historical fiction is defined as “a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past,” some authors chose to use their creative license to make their settings more romantic or appealing.[1]  Professor of American Literature and Public Understanding of the Humanities Sarah Churchwell argues that writers use this license as an excuse to write and publish novels without doing the prerequesite research.[2] However, writing is an art form just like painting and acting. There is no reason why fiction authors should be forced to keep an accurate picture of the past if they do not want to. As long as it meets the definition of historical fiction by the barest minimum, one can argue that a piece of work is in fact historical fiction. The only reprocussion to this is that after a certain amount of details begin to change, the book will slowly begin to drift from the ‘historical fiction’ category to ‘fiction.’ Rebekah wrote a great post about defining genres here if you wish to learn more.

The point I’m ultimately trying to make is that your script does not need to be about an art theif committing a real crime, especially since art theft was not super common during that time period. As long as it takes place in the 1950s, you will be writing a historical fiction script. The accuracy and realism in that case come from how you describe the people and setting during that time. Research the political climate, dialect/slang in the specific countries, fashion trends during the time, and any period laws that may directly affect your character or plot. With the proximity to World War II, a lot of Eastern European territories during that time were faced with a great deal of political turmoil.[3] Western Europe, on the other hand entered a golden age.[4] Depending on exactly where you chose to place your setting, you may need to do some extensive research around the communities in that area. 

Your script’s accuracy will only be as good as the research your do, so start by figuring out how “fictional” you want your historical fiction to be and go from there. 

xx Sarah

@kateandtheuniverse

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Some (Hopeful) Reassurance for Concerned Ballroom E Youkoso Fans

There have been concerns expressed by fans of the Ballroom E Youkoso manga who feel the animation in the anime adaptation is not up to snuff. And, truthfully, they’re right. The manga itself is, in my humble opinion, a masterpiece with exceptional attention to detail and quality of movement. With the exception of a couple of episodes, the anime’s animation has paled in comparison to the manga’s art.

But how could this be happening? Production I.G is known for their quality in their sports genre.

I’d like to take this opportunity to show you the progressions of three different, very successful (or moderately successful) sports anime released by Production I.G and how their quality in animation evolved over the course of seasons and even episodes. Hopefully, this will provide some reassurance for fans who fear that we will be stuck with swayed backs and sickled feet forever.

(This is in no way a guarantee. The tag just seemed a bit down lately.)

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ICHF Key Concepts: The Four Horrors

I’ve been writing Iconic Characters of Horror Fiction articles for over a year to a modest amount of success, and in that time I’ve covered a lot of strange territory - both in the number of different characters I’ve written about, and in the number of weird personal theories about them and the horror genre in general that I’ve shared in the process.  While I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I want to do with this series, I have come to the point where I feel some of those weird theories need their own article.  So allow me to present to you the first ICHF Key Concept article!  And what better to start off with than my moderately popular genre taxonomy: the Four Horrors.

When it comes to Academic literary criticism, the horror genre is mostly uncharted territory.  I was fortunate to have a college that offered two courses on horror literature - I mean, they both focused almost exclusively on British horror literature that was published before the 20th century, but y'know, baby steps and progress and all that.  One of the things I was surprised to learn in those courses was that, as far as literary critics are concerned, there is no distinction between Gothic Horror and Horror in general - all horror is gothic, apparently.  As an amateur scholar of horror stories, I felt that was INCREDIBLY wrong, and so I began working on a more accurate description of the horror genre - one that allows for more diversity.  One that recognizes multiple modes of horror.  A taxonomy, if you will.

I ultimately settled on dividing Horror into four main subgenres, each of which can be divided into even more subgenres on top of that.  Let’s find out more about them, shall we?

Gothic Horror

We’ll start with the only officially recognized horror genre, the Gothic.  Part of the reason I protest it as the ONLY form of horror is that, according to literary critics, it’s a very narrowly defined genre - one that cannot contain all the horror stories we’ve come up with in our history.

Gothic Horror demonizes the old, primitive, and ancient parts of our history.  The horror in a Gothic story comes from the past - a crime committed in the olden days, or an ancient evil that has survived despite the passing of time.  In Gothic horror stories, evil is something that humanity has to grow out of - it its destroyed by progress and discovery.

Monsters in Gothic Horror stories tend to be either undead creatures (like ghosts, zombies, vampires, etc.), mythological monsters (dragons, sphinxes, etc.), or humans that are turned into a more “primitive” creature (Mr. Hyde, Werewolves, etc.).  Decay and degeneration are the main tools of Gothic Horror - the audiences is presented with vivid images of rotting bodies, both literal and metaphorical.  Evil is defeated in Gothic horror stories by uncovering the truth and civilizing the old world - society must progress to keep the dead wickedness of the past buried.

Some of the subgenres of Gothic Horror include Ghost Stories (where the spirit of a deceased person must be put to rest by discovering the horror that killed them in the past), Vampire Fiction (stories with vampires in them), and the Imperial Gothic.  The later is particularly interesting to me and relevant to my Four Horrors concept, as the Imperial Gothic is sort of the bridge between Gothic Horror and the other three horror genres.  You see, while the Imperial Gothic still claims that horror is rooted in the past, it adds on the idea that said horror is being brought back to the present BECAUSE our “progress” in the present is, in fact, a barbaric retread of our ancestors’ mistakes.  It claims that modern man is backsliding, and the old defeated horrors of yesteryear will roam free as a result.  Other horror stories will take the genre even further from there.

Detective Fiction also has its roots in Gothic Horror stories, but whether it still counts as a horror genre or evolved into its own animal altogether is debatable.  I personally wouldn’t count most detective tales as horror stories, but it’s interesting to note their connection.

Examples of Gothic Horror Stories: The Castle of Otranto, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

Cosmic Horror

Cosmic Horror was the first horror genre to split off from the Gothic entirely (in this little concept of mine, which is not law).  In many ways, it seems similar to its parent.  Heroes in Cosmic Horror stories often try to uncover the truth behind a supernatural mystery, and it often involves exploring some horrifying and primitive relics of the past.  However, while uncovering the truth solves things in a Gothic horror tale, it only makes things worse in a Cosmic Horror story.

Cosmic Horror does not demonize the past.  Instead, it demonizes existence itself.  The universe is a cold, uncaring place that is beyond human comprehension, and as such it is also beyond caring for humanity.  Evil is rooted in the very fabric of reality, and built into the utter apathy and indifference our world has for us.  Madness, confusion, and miscomprehension are the main tools of these stories - our ability to see the world around us and not understand the meaning of it keeps the reader ill at ease, especially when that world grows increasingly awful and terrifying.

The main monster of a Cosmic Horror story is the… *sigh* eldritch abomination, whose good name as an archetype has been sullied by people applying it to any and all monsters.  At one point, though, eldritch abomination was a phrase that meant something - specifically, a “monster” whose anatomy and nature cannot truly be comprehended by human minds, one who is almost thoughtlessly destructive simply because we are utterly insignificant to it.

We’re probably going to need a new word for that archetype soon, since people seem to love calling any and all monsters that are even remotely strange “eldritch abominations” these days.

Cosmic horror stories rarely offer their heroes a way out - if one does manage to defeat the evil, it is always temporary, and the hero is generally scarred beyond repair by the experience if they survive at all.  One is only safe from the horror if one is ignorant of it - and even then, “safe” only lasts as long as the horror remains ignorant of us as well.

Examples of Cosmic Horror Stories: The Cthulhu Mythos stories, most Slender Man stories, Burrgrr, Awful Hospital, Hellstar Remina, Uzumaki, The Thing

Atomic Horror

When the Imperial Gothic Horror genre suggested that our progress may be unleashing the horrors of the past, it laid the seeds for the third main horror genre to blossom.  Atomic Horror takes things a step further by suggesting our progress will make its own evils - evils the likes of which humanity could never have experienced in the past, for they could only be made by unleashing the newfound powers of modern technology.

In other words, evil is rooted in the present/future in an Atomic Horror story, rather than in the past like in a Gothic tale.  Many Atomic Horror stories try to temper this aspect of their genre by emphasizing that progress is only bad when it is unchecked and uncontrolled - while scientists may make a monster, they can also be the ones to find a way to stop it.  The progress in question doesn’t have to be scientific, either - industrial development schemes or military campaigns are just as likely to create a monster in Atomic Horror as a mad scientist’s experiments.

There are (at least) four main monster archetypes in Atomic Horror stories: the Prehistoric Monster (creatures from the past that are taken out of their rightful time and place by humanity - an archetype that Atomic Horror took from Gothic Horror stories and made its own), the Mutant (a creature that is made by humanity meddling with nature), the Robot (a machine that can operate without human assistance, often with deadly purposes), and the Alien (a creature from another world - often acting as a dark mirror of humanity, showing us how awful we could end up if we don’t change our ways).  Mutation and dissection are the main tools of Atomic Horror stories - we are horrified to find that our “progress” requires us to destroy the current world to build an awful new one in its place.

To stop evil in an Atomic Horror story, one has to change the way humanity is progressing - either stopping the progress itself, changing its direction, or simply reining it in a bit.  We have to rethink what we are doing and consider the effects we have on the world we run - or else the end will always have a question mark.

Two of the subgenres within Atomic Horror include the Alien Invasion Genre, where monsters from outer space invade earth with superior technology, and the Kaiju Genre, where humanity is attacked by a literally gargantuan monster because of our violation of the natural order.  Kaiju stories sometimes leave the horror genre altogether, but I personally think most still stay within its boundaries.

Examples of Atomic Horror Stories: Godzilla, Them!, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The War of the Worlds (1953 film), The Blob, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Fly


Slasher Horror

Finally, we have Slasher Horror.  Born out of the exploitation films of the 70’s an 80’s, Slasher Horror doesn’t focus on the past or the future very much.  While it shares an existential dread with Cosmic Horror, it looks inward for evil rather than outward.  It’s not the universe that is evil, necessarily, but rather humanity itself.  Something in the human condition is sick, twisted, and, with rare exception, predisposed to wickedness.  Slasher Horror holds one thing as true: humanity needs to be punished, and oh how cathartic it is to watch that punishment unfold.

Slasher horror demonizes humanity itself, and it does so by presenting a cast of almost completely unlikeable and one dimensional characters.  Humans aren’t necessarily moustache-twirlingly evil in Slasher stories, but they are selfish to a ludicrous extent.  They ignore drowning children, have sex even as their friends are being slaughtered in the next room, and rarely trade words with each other that aren’t petty insults.  When a character is introduced in a Slasher story, they are almost certainly designed to make you desire their death.

However, there is generally an attempt at making an exception to this rule in most Slasher stories.  You will normally find at least one character who is unique in that they care about other people and, y'know, aren’t shitty human beings.  This is your hero, and they have the enviable task of stepping over a very low bar to become the least wretched person in your story.

“Monsters” are rare in slasher stories, as most tend to go for an anonymous killer instead - some ominous masked man who picks off the other awful people one by one, often in increasingly preposterous ways.  When one of these killers survives long enough, they may gain an identity - and since this tends to involve surviving several definitely lethal injuries, they often become undead monsters as well.

The main tool of the slasher movie is gore.  Splattering organs, buckets of blood, and impossible wounds are the gross out of choice, and often play less like horrifying scenes and more like money shots in a porno.  Slasher Horror is all about catharsis - while other stories may want to horrify you, Slasher tales let you indulge your darker desires for a time.

Evil is defeated in a slasher movie when the hero loses almost everything and, in desperation, finally snaps and raises a hand against the awful nature of humanity - in a literal fashion, i.e. by killing the slasher.  This violent act may also be why few heroes in Slasher stories survive coming back for a sequel - by killing the slasher, they have become another wicked person who selfishly put their own life above others.

Examples of Slasher Horror Stories: The Halloween series, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, Friday the 13th series, the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, the Saw series, Behind the Mask: the Rise of Leslie Vernon, the Scream series

The Axis of the Four Horrors

skeletonphonic was the first to make an axis out of my four horror genres, so credits go to him for the idea for this visual.

If you look at my four horror genres, you can see that there are two pairs of apparent opposites.  Gothic Horror vilifies the past, while Atomic Horror villifies the future.  Cosmic Horror claims the universe is evil, while Slasher Horror claims evil is inherent to humanity itself.  We could use this axis to try and force existing horror stories into one of these four genres - for example, the more a story vilifies humanity, the more Slasher it is.  Simple, right?

Well… no.  See, these pairs aren’t actually opposites.  A story can vilify the past AND the present - hell, that’s basically what the Imperial Gothic does.  Likewise, humanity being evil doesn’t necessarily mean that the universe itself isn’t evil too.  A horror story could hit all four points on the axis.

If one were to graph horror stories on this axis, I think it would be smart not to do it with a simple point.  Instead, show how far a given story stretches in each direction - some may lie firmly in one direction, while others may stretch into two, or three, or even all four.  It could be an interesting experiment for more mathematically included horror scholars than myself to try.

Problems with the Four Horrors

While I obviously like this little division of the horror genres, and have found it very useful in my writing about Horror in general, I can’t say it’s flawless.  It’s mostly based on Western literature, specifically English language literature, and as such there are A LOT of horror stories out there that could theoretically not fit anywhere on this axis.  That’s a major problem that I can’t address entirely on my own - even a glutton like myself could never read every horror story ever made, or even MOST of the horror stories ever made.

Academics might also argue that my division is forced.  A lot of Slasher and Cosmic Horror stories have an evil of the past as part of their story - the murder of Jason Voorhees, the ancient cult of Cthulhu, etc.  We could force them into the Gothic, and then kick Atomic Horror stories out of the Horror genre and into Science Fiction (which a lot of critics do).  I think that’s too simplistic, but y'know, I’m not God.  I’m just a weirdo who thinks too much about horror stories.

There are other taxonomies as well.  Some have divided horror into Supernatural and Radcliffian tales - Supernatural Horror has a horror that is, obviously, supernatural, while Radcliffian Horror reveals that the horror was man-made all along (think Scooby Doo).  Others have divided Horror into Thrillers and Creature Features - Thrillers involve a mundane, realistic threat, while Creature Features have monsters in them.  Or we could divide horror between its two sibling genres, Sci-Fi and Fantasy - Sci-Fi Horror, Fantasy Horror, and Mundane Horror for those tales that don’t have a supernatural element.  There are probably a billion ways we can divide the genre.

But the Four Horrors work for me, and they’ve helped form ICHF into what it is.  They won’t be leaving this blog any time soon.

(For those interested in the little mascots I made for this essay, here are their names: Count Gothic, Cthon Cosmic, Doctor Atomic, and Sam Slasher.)

On Lorde, Green Light and how I refound my love for pop music

I’m in love with Lorde’s new single. I’m in love with Lorde herself, really. To me, she’s an immensely strong wave of fresh air bursting through the pop genre. A genre that, if we’re honest, we all adore, but are too afraid to admit. We call Britney’s Toxic a guilty pleasure, but really, do we actually feel guilty? No. We know it’s an anthem, it’s a legendary song and we all love it and we all know it. 

But somewhere around age 13, when the hormones started kicking in and we wanted to impress the boys in 9th grade, we felt the pressure to be different. Different from other girls, because girls are superficial creatures obsessed with fake things like makeup and Lady GaGa. We weren’t allowed to like pop music, because it wasn’t real music. And so we all went through a post-punk or emo or grunge phase, because those bands had men in them, and men made real music about deep stuff - not to discredit that phase, the bands I listened to around age 14 shaped me in ways I will never forget. 

And then we were shamed for that too - because we didn’t like that music for the music, we were just in love with the singer with the incredibly sharp jawline or the bassist with the huge arms. Personally, I felt like I wasn’t allowed to just be passionate about music, because my passion would never seem real to the scrawny, penis-bearing, acne-struck creatures that were always a little too loud in class. 

Then I heard a song on the radio. It was definitely pop music, but it was different, the kind of different I’d been looking for since I found out my taste in things wasn’t good enough. Through Royals, I found out that pop music wasn’t a defined genre, it didn’t have to be “fake” or “superficial”, it was something able to engage with other genres and create something new. And it could be about real things - it didn’t have to be about trashing hotelrooms, diamond watches and jet planes. Rowan Blanchard put it into words perfectly last week: it was when I realized pop music could be poetry too. There’s always the Art Bros telling girls that pop music isn’t real, but Lorde’s music made us feel like this was for us. It was made for us to enjoy and not be shamed for. 

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About the narrative of The Get Down

Beware, because this will be long. 

I just wanted to get some things down about the overall structure of The Get Down, or, as I like to call it, the next big thing since Homer. 

No, obviously not Homer Simpson. I mean the hypothetical author of the Iliad, the poet who tells an entire narrative of wrath and war and honour and shame among a setting of war and another one about finding home and your love- two  epic poems that were recited orally and developed and changed over generations of poets reciting their lines, and defined the truth of a civilization across centuries. 

Sound familiar?

Because I’m about to claim a possibly ludicrous thing- but rap/hip hop is exactly like this millennia-old way of storytelling, and no other piece illustrates that better than the Get Down. 

Let’s look at the facts: The Get Down starts every episode with an adult Zeke rapping for a huge audience, and telling his life story through his art. He tells his story through his poetry, and from that point onwards, the story and every episode unfolds: He often addresses either Mylene or Shaolin when doing this. This reminds of the very first thing every epic poet does: “Muse, sing to me of…” Zeke starts off his story by positing a clear narrative and fiction, even though he is telling us his story. Often he also ends the episode, creating a frame story, which is a widely used narratological structure in epic poetry. Through verses, and rhythm, and rhyme, he tells us an epic tale of brotherhood and love during a time of war; is that not the very core it shares with the Iliad? And this of course, is true about all hip hop; it’s stories of started from the bottom now we’re here, it’s stories of straight outta Compton, it’s stories of unity. It’s telling it how it is through rhythm and rhyme, but The Get Down puts all of this, the birth of this, into a narrative, making it even more obvious.  

This connection between this ancient method and modern artform is actually strengthened by some very obvious classical references as well: for example, in the first episode, Zeke goes to Les Inferno to ‘rescue’ Mylene from Cadillac, which calls to mind the Indian Ramayana, where prince Rama needs to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana, who keeps her captive on the island Lanka. Zeke calls the Get Down Brothers orators during the battle against the Notorious Three. Shao loves giving people epiteths and different names; He calls Dizzee ‘my alien brother’, Ra-Ra a ‘god of the sun’ and obv he calls Zeke Books; if there’s ever been an aspect of oral poetry that defines the genre it’s the wide range of names for every character. The club that Mylene performs at being a reference to the Rubicon, the line that Julius Caesar had to cross for shit to get real, to start a civil war, to let behind all ideas of safety and hesitation. I could honestly even add Kool Herc(ules) and his Caesars or showing them as hip hop gods, where Kool Herc sports Greek armour and Afrika Bambaata sports a pharao outfit; the Zulu queens explicitly naming the pyramids and obelisks (also a clapback to classicists! Egypt was African y’all keep that ‘cradle of Western civilization” away from me!) even the comic book style the show takes on in part 2 can be seen as a way of storytelling that was used mostly before the Renaissance! 

And then we have the references to both opera and musical: you have Ra-Ra being obsessed with a space opera, and Dizzee with his alien-what other mediums are purely about expressing story through music??

Anyway, using this method, The Get Down quite literally shows how legendary and mythological this birthplace of hip hop has become, and shows how legendary the origin of rap is and what other story deserves that more than this one? Grnadmaster Flash is a legend and this show is doing its very best to underline that at all costs

I’m just saying, very incoherently, that the very structure of the Get Down defines hip hop- it’s about telling your story, defining yourself and your people, by oral poetry that is supported by strong rhythm-it’s a literal descendant of epic poetry and therefore the oldest and most basic way of expression known by humankind- and isn’t that wonderful?

TL;DR The Get Down uses the structure of epic oral poetry á la Homer and it adds so much to the whole idea of where hip hop came from-it’s the story of a people told through a method that is as old as humankind itself and deserves all the kudos it can get bc it’s a fucking masterpiece