Thursday, April 18, 2013

Final Project Proposal - Taylor Hochuli

Taylor Hochuli

Project Proposal – Narrative and Technology

Movie Antagonists: Paper and/or Visual Representation


 I intend to analyze socially-destructive and idealistic antagonists in film and their impacts on society. Characters like Hannibal Lecter, John Doe from Se7en, Tyler Durden, and villains from the Christopher Nolan Batman movies stick with audiences with their social commentary and manipulation of American culture. They embody either anarchistic or highly individualistic ideals that show the more appealing side of being bad. I will specifically examine these characters origin, portrayal, and impact in both film and reality. Included in this subject are “copycat” crimes that came from these movies or even crimes that inspired these movies.


These characters, despite being anarchistic and individualistic, do not impact society on a large scale. Casting the characters as villains and having the system triumph over them perpetuates societal control rather than refutes it. The fact that they are in the medium of movies also helps reject their message since it is incorporated into the system rather than outside of it.

Possible Counter-Argument

The trend of using villains to communicate social commentary is causing acts of terror in an attempt to replicate these antagonists. “Copycat” crimes such as a bombing of a Starbucks, the Aurora Dark Knight Rises shooting, and other smaller crimes are the result of these violent portrayals on-screen.

Connection to Marcuse

I will use Marcuse’s concept of the Great Refusal as well as the absorption of antagonistic elements into our society in my project. The antagonists attempt to participate in the Great Refusal and certainly bring up a discussion on societal issues, but ultimately fail in this respect. These characters are absorbed into society and used as icons and fads rather than actually inciting change.

Medium of Project/ Notes on Project

Here is where I am still deciding how to best present my project. This project is essentially a broadening of my Tyler Durden analyses and the Batman movie discussion in class. I am very interested in movies and have always been interested in these antagonists that really stick with you rather than just being threatening or crazy for no reason. Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker seems to have inspired several new and similar characters in upcoming movies like the second J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie and even supposed The Mandarin in Iron Man 3. However, it seems like the Aurora shooting might indicate that this kind of villain portrayal is harmful, so I want to do a more general analysis to see if this is the case.  The first option for this project is to strictly do the essay portion by writing about these characters in relation to Marcuse and society in general. This would involve heavily cutting down my second revision and still my general style of commentary on Tyler Durden to apply this to more characters and their impacts in the real world. I am also thinking that a visual presentation might go well with the paper or even supplement some of it. This would involve either transferring my main points to a PowerPoint with movie clips in it or splicing together footage of these villains along with narration overtop by me to be posted on YouTube or simply submitted for the project. I feel that the medium will become more apparent as I research but suggestions are welcome.

Initial Bibliography

Fahraeus, Anna, and Dikmen Yakah. Çamoğlu. "'Wait till They Get a Load of Me!': The Joker
            from Modern to Postmodern Villainous S/laughter." Villains and Villainy: Embodiments
            of Evil in Literature, Popular Culture and Media. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2011. 71-88. Print.

This source analyzes both Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker. I will use their analysis of how both Joker’s reflect societal troubles and their criticisms of it in my paper.

DiPaolo, Marc E. "Terrorist, Technocrat, and Feudal Lord." Heroes of Film, Comics and American
Culture : Essays on Real and Fictional Defenders of Home. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland &, 2009. N. pag. Print.

This source analyzes Nolan’s Batman movies and how their antagonists are used for social commentary through terrorism to help aid me in this analysis.
Ling, L. H. M. "The Monster Within: What Fu Manchu and Hannibal Lecter Can Tell Us about
Terror and Desire in a Post-9/11 World." Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique 12.2 (2004): 377-95. Web. <>.

This source discusses Hannibal Lecter in the context of Orientalism and terrorism in the 21st century. This will help in showing how the portrayal of Lecter affects the real world.

Note: I will also use the sources from my Revision #2 for critique on the character of Tyler Durden. 

Also, another character that frequently came up in preliminary research was the antagonist of A Clockwork Orange. I will watch the movie as soon as possible to see if this is also a viable character to analyze. 

1 comment:

Adam said...

Overview - good, although most of these works should be refered to briefly, if at all, in the essay/presentation itself.

Argument - One way you could word this is that Marcuse is essentially correct: apparent oppositional figures in our current cultural/artistic moment do not function as an authentic opposition. Or, if you *don't* quite agree with Marcuse, you could use whatever you (possibly subtle) points of disagreement are to make your argument more precise.

Possible counter-argument counter-argument: You are conflating terrorism with antagonism. While that's not obviously wrong, it's also not obviously right - you need to think through what you're trying to do here carefully, and express it clearly.

Connection to Marcuse - this is fine, of course, though you want to look at the specifics of what he has to say about antagonists.

Medium - I'm not opposed to anything you want to do here, but I think that using a visual element to supplement rather than replace an essay is the more obvious choice. Obvious isn't always the same as better, of course, so do as you like - that's just my default suggestion.

Looks good!