Saturday, April 27, 2013

"Deconstructing the Modern Antagonist" - Taylor Hochuli, Final Paper

Taylor Hochuli
Final Paper - Narrative and Technology
April 2013

“Deconstructing the Modern Antagonist”

                Can a movie truly bring about great social change? What was once viewed as pure entertainment is now used to convey deep messages and emotionally move an audience. Films like Schindler’s List and Gandhi allow audiences to re-live the teachings of history while other films spin their own tales in order to express different thoughts. This medium not only tells tales of history and grandeur, but also acts as an active social commentary on modern times. This face of social commentary is especially contorted when it comes from the villain rather than the hero. In recent films originating from the 90’s, a trend has been emerging of mysterious villains who are able to manipulate, criticize, and actively destroy social boundaries. They show the more attractive attributes of being evil as a form of freedom and try to spread their doctrine violently, ultimately running up against a hero who fights for society whether it is the police or even a masked vigilante.

 A modern iteration of this villain is the Joker as portrayed by Heath Ledger in the film The Dark Knight. The Joker actively spreads messages of chaos and anarchy while trying to test Gotham city’s people with moral conundrums and societal ironies. Mystery surrounds both the character and events in real life. Actor Heath Ledger was found dead by a drug overdose during the post-production of The Dark Knight, causing rumors that his suicide was caused by playing such an evil role in the movie. Fellow actors Morgan Freeman and Christian Bale have actively denied this rumor, but the thought of a movie character pushing an actor to suicide in real life is very striking (Celizic, 2008; "Morgan Freeman: Joker Role Didn't Kill Heath Ledger", 2013) . A more serious crossover of the movies into real life occurred at the premiere of the sequel to Ledger’s controversial performance, The Dark Knight Rises. In what was dubbed as the “Aurora 2012 Shooting” by the media, a gunman named James Holmes shot and killed 12 people while injuring 70 as well in a theater in Aurora, Colorado. What made this tragic event even more scary was that the shooter dyed his hair orange as a “homage to Batman’s Joker” and was initially reported to be calling himself “The Joker” when arrested although this was later retracted by the police (Pelisek, 2013; July 22: Tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, 2012). This act of violence inspired by the movies and a controversial character has once again sparked the debate of copycat crimes and such antagonists who may influence real-life crimes. Despite this, movies are trying to emulate the award-winning performance of Ledger’s Joker rather than avoiding the chaos it brought off set. Movie villains like Raoul Silva from Skyfall, The Mandarin from Iron Man 3, and Benedict Cumberbatch from Star Trek: Into Darkness are all being compared to Ledger’s Joker as “a villain with aggressive anti-establishment attitude who likes to discuss the ‘lie’ of society” (Houvouras, 2013). This trend could spell a new type of villain that revolutionizes movies and invokes social critique, or inspires more events like the Aurora 2012 shooting.

ABC News Coverage of the Aftermath concerning the Aurora 2012 shooting (Follow Link to Youtube since video is not able to play on Blogger)

The revolutionary villain is very well defined after seeing several examples throughout cinema from the 90’s into the twenty-first century. These examples include Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs, John Doe from the movie Se7en, Tyler Durden from Fight Club, and the previously mentioned Joker from The Dark Knight. These characters are very popular in cinema and are often considered even scarier for their revolutionary tendencies. They are defined by their socially relevant rebellion portrayed in each of their movies. Each character dislikes the current societal order in different ways. For example, Tyler Durden rejects the current societal “feminization” of men in society. He practically preaches this doctrine in a speech to the men of the fight club saying:

Fight Club Speech pe

“Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.” (Fincher 1999)

Durden actively attacks consumerism and capitalism as a controlling force that gives false hope of happiness. Both consumerism and capitalism are actively employed in modern society, so bringing up these actual issues that the audience experiences makes a more relatable villain. Both the Joker from The Dark Knight and John Doe from Se7en choose to address the issue of crime that is overlooked by society rather than addressed. With news constantly reporting crimes and wrongdoings on a daily basis, people have become more accustomed to it and accept these problems as inevitability. John Doe recognizes this and when accused of killing innocent people promptly corrects his arresters by saying, “we see a deadly sin on every street corner, in every home, and we tolerate it. We tolerate it because it’s common, it’s trivial” (Fincher, 1995). The Joker addresses the issue by saying if he decides to kill the average citizen, we accept it, but threatening the mayor causes “everyone [to lose] their minds” because it isn’t expected (Nolan, 2008). Both address a realistic issue which causes tension between reality and the movies where these issues are solved in a radical way.

John Doe discussing how society overlooks sin and crime due to its commonplace nature (Fincher, 1995)

This interplay between reality and artistic expression has been seen before in history and is nothing new. The most successful tales that truly brought about social change participated in what Herbert Marcuse labels “the Great Refusal.”  The Great Refusal includes art that somehow negates or transcends society by bringing up societal problems that are not normally addressed (Marcuse, 1964). This process of bringing out what is not normally observed breaks contentment with society and demands that these issues be solved. Marcuse’s point to bringing up the Great Refusal coincides with his main point that criticism and opposition to society are simply absorbed into society. They are turned into something that supports and coincides with society rather than pointing out issues, or as Marcuse puts it, “draining their antagonistic force” through a variety of methods (Marcuse, 1964). This new trend of idealistic villains who are anti-establishment seem to match the qualities of the Great Refusal by highlighting true societal problems, but ultimately are not an effective model for social change due to their ineffective messages, casting as villains, and psychologically insane nature.  

                The controversies surrounding these antagonists are the ways in which these characters choose to address these real societal problems. The resolution of societal conflicts seems to fall along the lines of either anarchy or terrorism. Hannibal Lecter seeks an integration of higher culture and baser instincts, seeing as he is a learned psychiatrist who is also an aggressive cannibal. Lecter refutes the system by highlighting agent Clarice Starling’s repression of childhood memories and escaping incarceration by wearing a policeman’s face (Demme, 1991). Lecter chooses to take a very traumatic and bloody path to his escape rather than accepting his incarceration and helping out the police in their investigation. This refusal of law frees him rather than limits him since he is able to fool his incarcerators, the police, the FBI, and a senator with great ease (Demme, 1991). This is similar to John Doe who constantly evades capture for his crimes which are elaborately set up years in advance in order to manipulate the police. He eventually gives himself in, only to fulfill his killing spree while incarcerated (Fincher, 1995).

 The most radical villains are Durden and the Joker who employ very realistic forms of both terrorism and anarchism in order to solve societal issues. Tyler Durden envisions a nation that has animals “around the ruins of Rockefeller Center” and “wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower” (Fincher, 1999). It is a primitive view of the land that suggests society is worse than the glorious wild where there are no rules or regulations.  He decides to make this vision real through “Project Mayhem,” a terrorist group evolving from his fight club that creates acts of discord. This involves committing minor crimes around the city, spray painting a giant smiley face on the face of a tall building, and ultimately blowing up financial corporation building in the city in order to erase all debt in society (Fincher, 1999). This final scene is reminiscent of the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11 that occurred only two years after the movie was released. Some have even speculated that this movie showed a “weak point” in society that the terrorists were able to make into reality (Petersen, 2005). The Joker arrives post 9/11 with an anarchism that is described as a simple desire to “watch the world burn” (Nolan, 2008). He evades police capture until is suits his needs, robs a mob bank, blows up a hospital, and nearly blows up two ferries as the people inside attempt to flee his chaotic hold over the city. The aforementioned villain John Doe summarizes perfectly the nature of these villains’ acts by saying to the police:

“Wanting people to listen, you can't just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you'll notice you've got their strict attention.” (Fincher, 1995).

The antagonists see the resolution to societal problems in a complete wipe of the system. Removing society will liberate the individuals inside and the only way to do so it to tear the entire thing down piece by piece. There is no medium ground or compromise, only radical change or continued oppression.

                These radical solutions cannot act as true social commentary simply because they inadequately discuss the issues that are brought up. Most of the individuals succeed in their endeavors, but the problems still remain. The terror of Hannibal Lecter allows for his escape and freedom, but the individuals he tries to corrupt remain repressed by society. Agent Starling goes on being a police officer with troubling nightmares, a senator who Hannibal wins over returns to being a corrupt politician, and the asylum continues to house madmen like Lecter despite his loathing of their system (Demme, 1991). Lecter gets his personal freedom, but leaves all other ideals in the dust once he has it. John Doe is able to successfully commit his murders based on the seven sins, even after being incarcerated willingly, but small crimes and sins are still looked over by society despite his acts of rebellion (Fincher, 1995). This is made even more explicit when Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) ends the movie by revising a Hemmingway quote that the world is “worth fighting for”, but is still far from a “fine place” after the actions of John Doe (Fincher, 1995). Doe also dies in the process to embody “Envy”, not allowing him to continue his radical solution to the societal problem. The Joker is successfully able to terrorize Gotham and corrupt the “White Knight” of Gotham, but is subsequently defeated by Batman and Harvey Dent’s evil acts erased by having Batman take the blame (Nolan, 2008). Things seem to go according to plan for the Joker, but fall apart once he is captured.

Lastly, Tyler Durden successfully organizes “Project Mayhem” and is able to blow up financial building to wipe out debt, but Durden is ultimately killed and Project Mayhem falls apart with its leader in ruins. The men of the fight club just go back to being tools of a culture that represses their manhood and individual abilities with the only difference being that the main character is able to establish a relationship with a woman (Fincher, 1999). Also, author Henry Giroux examines the flaws evident in Tyler Durden’s social critique that harm his argument.  He points out that the sexism involved in the male liberation, the “dominant militarism” in place of capitalism, and indistinguishable forms of freeing and abusive violence cause more problems than are attempted to be solved in the movie overall (Giroux, 2001). The antagonists all succeed in their immediate goals, but do not ultimately cause any social change to correct the problems they preach about. With no alternatives to solve the problems about overlooked crime and a flawed society, the problem will only continue to exist despite a failed attempt to change things.

Having the social critique come from the villain also undermines their messages about social problems because they are what the audience roots against. In a more constructive social criticism, societal problems should cause the conflict rather than the villains. In The Dark Knight, Batman fights for a system that is flawed since it restricts the power of the police and allows a murderer to kill his parents. He consistently is in contact with the police through Commissioner Gordon and helps assist the unit by bringing back a mob banker from Hong Kong and interrogating the Joker for the police once he is arrested (Nolan, 2008). Although he is considered to be a criminal vigilante by the police, he works with them, essentially showing his support for society but with less restriction. The Joker mocks this, saying that “the only sensible way to live in this world is without rules” and urges Batman to kill him in order to finally be free from societal restriction (Nolan, 2008). Ultimately, Batman is able to resist corruption from the evil Joker. The system remains flawed but the audience is turned against the Joker who is meant to spur on change in society. Simply acting as the villain diminishes any possible critique despite his claim that “It’s not about money…it’s about sending a message” (Nolan, 2008).

The Joker is interrogated by Batman while preaching about the freeing nature of having no rules (Nolan, 2008)

The quickest way that these idealists are written as villains is their violence. The Joker kills his own thugs, Hannibal Lecter is described by describing how eats his nurse’s tongue, and John Doe very graphically kills an obese man by causing his stomach to burst. This transference into villain is best seen through Tyler Durden who starts as an inspirational revolutionary, but turns into a villain a little over halfway into the movie. Durden is immediately shown to be the villain in a short flash-forward in the movie’s preface where he has a gun stuck in the mouth of the protagonist, Jack (Fincher, 1999). This is done in order to ensure the audience that the man is a villain because he is so idealized in the very beginning of the movie. He represents everything that the narrator wants to be and liberates the middle class men of their city from their feminine, capitalist oppression through moderate violence that the men accept. It paints him as a saint to these men who preaches their worthiness despite what the system sees them as, simple units of labor. Once Durden forms a terrorist organization that results in the death of a more feminine man, he becomes the villain (Fincher, 1999). Since he turns into the villain so late in the movie, the director might have put the flash-forward in to have the audience critical of the man’s message rather than also going along with his violent doctrine. It shows that attaching villainy to these characters is specifically used to tone down their anti-establishment message.

The nail in the coffin of any social critique from this form of villain is that all of these villains are painted as psychologically insane. Marcuse actually comments negatively against psychiatric ideas saying that they “’solve’ [a] problem by suppressing it” rather than actually dealing with the problem (Marcuse, 1964). In this way, mental problems can be a form of breaking this oppression in order to show and ultimately solve the actual problems they are dealing with. However, this tactic is used to such an extreme level, the villains become less trustworthy. Hannibal Lecter is the least seemingly insane, but still makes comments that define him as insane. For example, Lecter comments to Agent Starling that he ate a past visitor’s “liver with some fava beans” and also immediately describes Agent Starling’s skin care products just by catching a whiff of her through the holes in her cell (Demme, 1991). These acts come off as immediately disturbing and crazy despite the high culture knowledge of Dr. Lecter. As Marcuse suggests, Durden is the past antagonist “essentially transformed” into a group of “freaks or types of the same life, serving as an affirmation rather than the negation of the established order” (Marcuse, 1964). Tyler Durden turns out to be nothing but a figment of the author’s imagination, created by his need to break free of societal control. Jack uses Tyler to “re-establish equilibrium in [his] psyche” after a series of people push him around (Lee, 2002). By casting Tyler Durden as an illusion of an insane man, he loses all credibility and all his ideas are labeled as crazy too. His marketing of the “collapse of financial history” is redefined as a terrorist act while Durden is branded the villain of the movie who must be destroyed by the society the movie is actively trying to criticize (Fincher, 1999). The Joker outright admits that he is strange and comments on his insanity throughout the movie.

Agent Starling first meets Hannibal Lecter in a psychiatric hospital under extreme lockdown (Demme, 1991)

John Doe from Se7en has a room filled with journals (estimated to be 2,000) that he raves in about God and Sins and generally disturbing things. Some excerpts paint very demented and odd thoughts to paint Doe as insane:

“On the subway today, a man came up to me to start a conversation…my head hurt from his banality…I suddenly threw up all over him. He was not pleased, and I couldn’t stop laughing.” (Fincher, 1995)

“What sick, ridiculous puppets we are…not a care in the world, not knowing that we were not what was intended.” (Fincher, 1995)

These journals are “his mind poured out on paper” and truly reflect this as they are rambling and crazy in nature (Fincher, 1995). This insanity does come up again when it is discussed further by the character’s themselves. Detective Somerset warns his young partner that John Doe is “not the devil,” but rather an actual man despite his insanity. Despite this, Detective David Mills still mocks John Doe by commenting that he’s so insane that “he’s probably dancing around in his grandma’s panties…rubbing himself in peanut butter” (Fincher, 1995). When John Doe is actually arrested, Detective Somerset asks him if he knows he is insane or if he’s oblivious to it. Doe replies that it is just “more comfortable” for society to label him as insane rather than dealing with the fact that societal problems led to his creation (Fincher, 1995). Although this is thought provoking commentary on society’s dismissal of the insane, the fact that the audience has witnessed his gruesome and over-the-top murders and crazed journal scrawls has made them judge him as so insane that this is nonsense rather than something to be taken seriously.

                The emergence of these rebellious, anti-establishment antagonists attempts to join the Great Refusal with legitimate social commentary, but ultimately falls short since they are cast as insane villains who have complicated or too radical solutions to real problems. So now that these characters are established as being not effective at passing along messages of complete social overthrow, why do copycat crimes continue to occur in society? The results of research are mixed, but seem so focus on the age of the people watching the movies and the violence portrayed rather than the radical messages by this new type of villain. A recent study looking into copycat crimes had 575 inmates judge their consumption of media daily and whether their own crimes were inspired by these forms of media. The results showed that controversial and violent media seemed to act as “crime catalysts and rudders, rather than as crime generating triggers” (Surette, 2012). The younger criminals appeared to be more inspired by media violence and used it as a model to commit their crimes. Also, most copycat crimes occurred from people who had committed these crimes in the past (Surette, 2012). It seems that exposure to violence in movies at a younger age causes these issues rather than the controversial villains’ messages. In fact, more movies seem to be inspired by real life crime rather than inspiring crimes themselves. These types of criminal movies are also able to be implemented as instructional tools in criminology (Jordan, 2002).

                These real world results support the conclusion that rather than the message corrupting people into committing copycat crimes, it simply escalates these crimes by showing how to commit higher level crimes. From the meticulous planning of John Doe’s crimes to Tyler Durden’s discussion of household explosives, this crime catalyst is seen in films with controversial antagonists. After analyzing these specific movies for their social critique, the crimes that followed their release only support the idea that the social agenda of the villains don’t influence copycat crimes. Hannibal Lecter mostly is connected with past cereal killers that inspired his creation, but the movie portrayal also drew attention when a boy murdered his mother a year after the movie release. David Lorenz (29) of Baltimore beheaded his 57 year old mother and was dragged away by police shouting “I’m Hannibal the Cannibal” (“Police”, 1992). It was already known at the time that Lorentz was admitted to a psychiatric hospital 5 years before the incident and that he was released only four months before committing this crime (“Police”, 1992). This psychiatric instability of Lorentz is more to blame for the crime since he was a past criminal who was simply motivated by a new icon he found in cinema. The aforementioned “Project Mayhem” of antagonist Tyler Durden inspired a 17-year-old’s bombing of a Starbucks much like the destruction of a coffee shop representing consumerism in the movie (“Starbucks”, 2009). The teenager also organized his own fight club inspired by the movie (“Starbucks”, 2009). In this case, the crimes of the movie are emulated, but not truly connected to the villainous figure that they are based off of.  Returning to the Aurora 2012 shooting, more details were revealed about shooter James Holmes as legal proceeding begin. Holmes was actually a Ph. D. candidate, but began to amass weapons while in the program. After failing a end-of-the-year test and dropping out of school, Holmes added an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to his collection to be used a month later in his rampage (Pelisek, 2013). Although the actual intent of the massacre is still a mystery, the suggested cause of the attack does not relate back to the Joker’s messages of anarchy, but rather employs his tactics of mass terrorism to make up for his problems.

                After analyzing several iterations of the new anti-establishment antagonists with viable social critique, one can see that the characters attempt to participate in the Great Refusal, but fall short of transcending society due to their role in the movies and flawed messages. This leads to only the violence and terrorism of the antagonists being transferred to real life and inspiring villains not with their long speeches against society, but rather their tactics to fight back against it. Although these villains remain ineffective at solving true social problems, future reiterations of this character type could prove useful in cinema rather than causing traumatic events like the Aurora 2012 shooting. As Marcuse suggests, social critique in film should speak to “that which is not seen, not touched, not heard” in society and shine a positive light on that aspect despite the antagonist’s wrongdoings in the film(Marcuse, 1964). The star of the show should be the oppressed over those who fight for them. Social critique from villains should also take on a more constructive role rather than suggesting that one error of society negates all its advantages. If the antagonist does not do this, then the protagonist should at least have a viable way to solve a social problem, creating an “ingression of a different order of things into the established one” rather than doing away with the established order completely (Marcuse, 1964). Finally, in order to prevent such copycat crimes, these villains should have less explicit descriptions of violence. Detailing exactly how Tyler Durden constructs his bombs or how John Doe is able to make a man’s stomach burst conveys realism, but allows criminals to re-enact the fake crime more easily. Although this next generation of “Joker” archetypes might fall into the same errors as past antagonists, implementing a more constructive message with less violence could prove effective in both creating terrifying villains and getting an effective message across for the audience to reflect upon.   

Works Cited

Celizic, Mike. "Christian Bale: Ledger Had ‘wonderful Time’ as Joker." Today Entertainment. NBC News/ MSN, 14 July 2008. Web. 23 Apr. 2013. <>.

Fight Club. Dir. David Fincher. Perf. Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. 20th Century Fox, 1999. DVD.
Giroux, Henry A. "Brutalised Bodies and Emasculated Politics." Third Text 14.53 (2001): 31-41. Taylor and Francis Online. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <>.

Houvouras, Anghus. "The Joker Effect - Why Movie Villains Are Starting to Sound the Same." Flickering Myth, 24 Mar. 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2013. <>.

Jordan, Casey. "Movies and Crimes." Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment 1 (2002): 222-25. Google Books. Google. Web. 25 Apr. 2013. <>.

July 22: Tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. CBS CBS Interactive Inc., 22 July 2012. Web. 23 Apr. 2013. <>

Lee, Terry. "Virtual Violence in Fight Club: This Is What Transformation of Masculine Ego Feels Like." The Journal of American Culture 35.3-4 (2002): 418-23. Wiley Online Library. Web. 25 Apr. 2013. <>.

Marcuse, Herbert. One Dimensional Man. Boston: Beacon, 1964. Print.

“Morgan Freeman: Joker Role Didn't Kill Heath Ledger." N.p., 13 July 2012. Web. 23 Apr. 2013. <>.

Pelisek, Christine. "James Holmes Hearing Begins—Inside the Prosecution’s Case." The Daily Beast. The Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC, 7 Jan. 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2013. <>.

Petersen, Serritslev. "9/11 and the ‘Problem of Imagination’: Fight Club and Glamorama as Terrorist Pretexts." Orbis Litterarum 60.2 (2005): 133-44. Wiley Online Library. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <>.

“POLICE: SON DECAPITATES MOTHER, YELLS, 'I'M HANNIBAL THE CANNIBAL'" AP News Archive. The Associated Press, 26 Mar. 1992. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <>.

Se7en. Prod. Arnold Kopelson, Stephen Brown, Nana Greenwald, Sanford Panitch, Lynn Harris, Richard Saperstein, Gianni Nunnari, Dan Kolsrud, Anne Kopelson, Phyllis Carlyle, Michele Platt, Michael Kaplan, Arthur Max, Jean Black, Michael White, and Monte Westmore. Dir. David Fincher. By Andrew Kevin Walker, Howard Shore, Richard Francis-Bruce, Darius Khondji, Rob Bottin, Peter Albiez, Danny Cangemi, Ren Klyce, and Charles Picerni. Perf. Andrew Kevin Walker, Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Richard Roundtree, Lee Ermey, John C. McGinley, and Kevin Spacey. A New Line Cinema Release, 1995.

“Starbucks Bombing Blamed on ‘Fight Club’ Fancy." The Washingtion Times. The Washington Times, 16 July 2009. Web. 24 Mar. 2013. <>.

Surette, Ray. "Cause or Catalyst: The Interaction of Real World and Media Crime Models." American Journal of Criminal Justice (2012): n. pag. Springer Link. Web. 25 Apr. 2013. <>.

The Dark Knight. By Christopher Nolan. Perf. Michael Caine, Aaron Eckhart, and Christian Bale. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2008. DVD.

The Silence of the Lambs. Dir. Jonathan Demme. Perf. Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. Orion Pictures Corporation, 1991. DVD.

FINAL PAPER: What Makes a House a Home?: The Changing State of the American Family through Marcuse, Danielewski and Ware

What Makes a House a Home?: The Changing State of the American Family through Marcuse, Danielewski and Ware

By RJ Sepich
Narrative & Technology, Dr. Johns, Spring 2013

The once-sacred and traditional American household has crumbled. The statistics about what it means to be an average “family” living in a “house” or “home” in the United States of America have greatly shifted in recent decades. According to numbers from the United States census bureau, the average number of children an American woman gives birth to in her lifetime has been cut in half since the 1950s, dropping from almost four kids per women to just less than two children per women currently. Even more telling about the trend of domesticated America are the numbers regarding the composition of families. In 1950, about ninety-three percent of families with children under the age of eighteen were taken care of by married couples. But over recent decades, that number has slowly but surely plummeted, and in 2010 roughly only sixty-eight percent of kids lived under roofs with married-couple parents. Households run by single mothers and single fathers now make up the difference that has developed, with statistics showing that the single mother raising her children is much more common than the single father raising his.
German philosopher Herbert Marcuse noticed this shifting attitude that was already leading to a different household atmosphere when he wrote his book One-Dimensional Man in 1964. “It has often been noted that advanced industrial civilization operates with a greater degree of sexual freedom,” Marcuse explained before discussing how the marketability of sexualized businessmen and businesswomen permeated the American lifestyle of the 1960s, which led to more sexuality throughout culture and, in turn, less privacy and stability at home. “The corrosion of privacy in massive apartment houses and suburban homes breaks the barrier which formerly separated the individual from the public existence and exposes more easily the attractive qualities of other wives and other husbands” (Marcuse Chapter 3). As Marcuse pointed out almost 40 years ago, husbands and wives are not afraid to express their sexuality and personalities in public like they were back in the 1950s and further back in time, and the numbers validate his observation of a definitely changing landscape with regards to the “family” and “the home” in American culture. As a result of this constantly expanding sexuality and numerous other factors, it’s pretty well known that about fifty percent of marriages in this country culminate in divorce, and when the former husband and wife produce offspring together, oftentimes the children are the ones affected the most by the divorce. But what does this really say about America? Why is it important? Well, it is important to me because I am one of the increasing number of kids who grew up with divorced parents, living with one parent for a few days at a time and then living with the other parent for another couple days before repeating the endless cycle. (At least I wasn’t one of the kids completely shut off from one of his or her parents.) It matters because millions of American children are growing up with two homes and two families, which actually means they don’t really have anywhere to call “home”. And it matters because if the trend continues at its alarmingly swelling pace for another couple decades, eventually there will be no traditional homes as we knew them, no traditional families as we knew them, and no economic or social stability in our once-great country. The destruction of the trademark American family that used to lay the groundwork for our nation’s future but now has become borderline nonexistent is finally beginning to become an issue discussed more and more throughout media and literature, and two of the best modern storytellers, Mark Z. Danielewski and Chris Ware, both referenced and rhetorically commented on the deteriorating American home in their recent works.

Although Danielewski’s book House of Leaves and Ware’s graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan differ significantly in the amount of traditional writing used to tell each respective story, both books frequently utilize complex visual elements that delve into this growing national problem. One of the main themes in both of Danielewski’s and Ware’s comprehensive and brilliant works is the abstract concept of what exactly defines a “house”. Danielewski always writes the word in blue to further emphasize its importance—and he even uses it in the title of his book—while Ware’s work with the complicated idea deals more with what exists on a day-to-day basis within the usual house: the family. There is one particular section in each respective work that I believe presents the reader with a similar image of a house gradually deteriorating into nothing.
Beginning on page 119 of House of Leaves, Danielewski introduces a seemingly random blue box on the page that is filled with a list of items used in the construction of a house. Considering his use of blue when typing the word “house” throughout the book, it is fair to say that this blue box should be viewed as a emblematic representation of a home, especially given the lengthy written list within it that includes just about everything that could ever be used to add to the foundation of a house. For the next twenty pages, the “house” remains filled with this ridiculously long list of objects. During this time, the “house” is always safely protected by a slightly changing, but fairly consistent block of text surrounding it. But on page 141, Danielewski’s “house” suddenly begins to deteriorate. Only about half of the blue box is filled with text, and even the block of words around it isn’t as stable. However, the main passage of words on the page near the box, which is quoted from a 1990 New York Times article by Andy Grundberg about photography, hugely represents Mark Z. Danielewski’s view of the “house” in a very indirect form:
“In the future, readers of newspapers and magazines will probably view news pictures more as illustrations than as reportage, since they will be well aware that they can no longer distinguish between a genuine image and one that has been manipulated. Even if news photographers and editors resist the temptations of electronic manipulation, as they are likely to do, the credibility of all reproduced images will be diminished by a climate of reduced expectations. In short, photographs will not seem as real as they once did” (Danielewski 141).
Danielewski creates fake sources for a lot of his footnoted information in House of Leaves, but this is not one of those instances, and I believe that this fact is vitally important to notice at this particular moment of the book. What is also imperative to notice is that beyond writing about photography and art, Andy Grundberg also wrote numerous obituaries for the New York Times. I don’t believe that it is a coincidence that on the same page the blue-block “house” begins to deteriorate, Danielewski quotes a real-life obituary journalist from one of the planet’s most recognizable newspapers. The message of this crucial page is very clear to me: Grundberg’s rumination about the future of newspaper photography stands as a metaphor for the decline of the American home. Seemingly perfect households no longer get the benefit of the doubt in this country as less and less homes abide by social norms; everyone always views happy families with skepticism, knowing there must be some dirt or gossip just waiting to be uncovered. Essentially, page 141 of House of Leaves hints at Danielewski’s belief that the American house is not as real as it once was; it has transformed into a photograph constantly being photoshopped.
This belief exposes itself further in the ensuing pages of the book. Flipping House of Leaves to page 143, the blue box is now all of a sudden completely empty with no protective chunk of writing surrounding it. Flipping again to page 145, and the box is gone altogether, replaced by white space surrounded by some new text. On page 147, some text begins to fill in the area where the blue box originally was, but there are no remaining remnants of the box shape. Flip over to page 149, and there are more words where the box used to be just a few pages ago. And by the end of chapter nine on page 151, the entire area where the box stood is filled with a block of text, which perhaps could be understood to be a new box-like figure beginning to form in its place as a replacement.
Danielewski’s interpretation of what the “house” truly means in modern American culture can be extracted from this brief section of an incredibly dense book, and, as Natalie Hamilton points out in her scholarly journal article “The A-Mazing House: The Labyrinth as Theme and Form in Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves”, by later ending the story with its two main characters—Navidson and Karen—escaping the haunted house that seems hell-bent on killing them together, “the novel implies that their love for each other brings them safely out of their individual labyrinths” (Hamilton 7). With his negative opinion about the ongoing destruction of the house in society declared earlier in the novel in the passage I just pointed out, here we have a moment where Danielewski suggests with positive insinuations that love can indeed repair or escape any broken household, even when it is stretched well beyond its limits (pun intended).
A similar extremely visual series occurs early in Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan. All on the same page at the beginning of the graphic novel about a protagonist with a problematic relationship with his sketchy father, Ware creates four main panels of the same place at different moments in time. In the top left, the panel is sideways with a nice new house in the late winter/early spring, presumably waiting for a family to begin living in it. In the top right panel, the house is right-side-up in the summer with two cars out front, showing that a family now lives there, with the nice weather suggesting that the family is likely happy and comfortable. Over time though, as the panel in the bottom left depicts, the house begins to show age and only one car is parked outside in the fall, representing a diminishing of the family living there. And in the bottom right panel of the page, the house is suddenly gone completely in the winter, leaving behind only the tree that stood beside it for so many years to show that this is indeed the same area where the house stood. A small red bird, which appears throughout the graphic novel, is in the middle two frames, representing a significant change in time and letting readers know that the house didn’t just dissolve in thin air over night, but instead it eroded over a period of years (Ware). Matt Godbey, an English professor at the University of Kentucky, noticed several of these moments where Ware pays great attention to detail when drawing several pictures of buildings over time throughout Jimmy Corrigan, and Godbey believes that, “Ware thus offers a new perspective on the dwellings where we live and, more importantly, shows their importance in preserving the social and public life of our cities”, suggesting that Ware wants his readers to know that how we take care of our architecture—everything from homes to business, both figuratively and literally—could determine where we are headed as a society in the future (Godbey 124).
As I mentioned from the very beginning of this essay, the styles of these two authors differ greatly in numerous facets, but their end result reaches a similar ending point. Danielewski gives a more abstract metaphor of a declining house before offering a sliver of hope, while Ware often shows a concrete (sometimes literally) representation of an aging building to display his more pessimistic outlook on homes and families, which could be possibly interpreted as ending with his main character, Jimmy Corrigan, committing suicide in rather saddening fashion by jumping off a building with his favorite childhood superhero, Super Man. But regardless of their separation in methods of attack, there’s no denying that these two men both want their readers to ponder a similar question by the time they are finished with the book: What exactly makes a house a home? And as Marcuse and these more modern storytellers all reference, it’s glaringly obvious from the inclination of the statistics and the overall American culture that keeping a family together just isn’t as valued as it once was many decades ago. There’s a popular cliché that I’ve heard far too many times in my life that says “home is where the heart is”, but Marcuse pointed out long ago that the heart of Americans seems to be so caught up in sexuality, success, politics and numerous other materialistic and possessive ideals that many people have forgotten about something that used to be more important than anything else: their home lives with their family:
“This liberation of sexuality (and of aggressiveness) frees the instinctual drives from much of the unhappiness and discontent that elucidate the repressive power of the established universe of satisfaction. To be sure, there is pervasive unhappiness, and the happy consciousness is shaky enough-a thin surface over fear, frustration, and disgust. This unhappiness lends itself easily to political mobilization; without room for conscious development, it may become the instinctual reservoir for a new fascist way of life and death. But there are many ways in which the unhappiness beneath the happy consciousness may be turned into a source of strength and cohesion for the social order” (Marcuse Chapter 3).
This passage from One-Dimensional Man can be read numerous different ways. But to me, it seems that Marcuse approves of the “liberation of sexuality” that he claims allows the mind to free itself from repression of home life and “the established universe” because it leads to more political awareness, ensuring that fascist regimes don’t take over. As he appears to support the twentieth-century trend of increased sexuality and individualism, despite its obvious downgrading of the priority of home life, it is important to remember that Marcuse is a Marxist—he is often referred to as “Father of the New Left”—and that his political and social beliefs drive this thought process. But his recognition of this transformation in American society is still very important to notice, even for my argument’s sake.
In conclusion, I firmly disagree with what Marcuse would argue about the positives of a world filled with sexuality, extreme amounts of expression and revolution because of the potential further harm it would cause to an already increasing amount of American households that are losing stability and cohesiveness, as referenced throughout House of Leaves and Jimmy Corrigan by Mark Z. Danielewski and Chris Ware, respectively. It personally saddens me to think that while people enjoy exclaiming that “home is where the heart is”, it is becoming increasingly apparent to me and many, many other writers and journalists that the heart of the American people certainly isn’t at home anymore. About a half century ago, Herbert Marcuse noticed this worrying (or not worrying, depending on who you are and what you believe) change in society. And it certainly remains true today. As Mark Z. Danielewski suggests in the index of House of Leaves, the blue house appears everywhere, but the house written in black DNE.
Does Not Exist.

"Census Bureau Homepage." Census Bureau Homepage. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.

Danielewski, Mark Z. Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves. New York: Pantheon, 2000. Print.

Godbey, Matt. "Chris Ware's "Building Stories", Gentrification, and the Lives Of/in Houses." The Comics of Chris Ware: Drawing Is a Way of Thinking. Ed. David M. Ball and Martha B. Kuhlman. Jackson: University of Mississippi, 2010. 121-30. Print.

Hamilton, Natalie. "The a-mazing house: the labyrinth as theme and form in Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves." CRITIQUE: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 50.1 (2008): 3+. Academic OneFile. Web. 17 Apr. 2013.

Marcuse, Herbert. One Dimensional Man. London: Sphere, 1968. Print.

Ware, Chris. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. New York: Pantheon, 2000. Print.

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. 

Final Project Proposal -- RJ Sepich

RJ Sepich
Narrative & Technology
Final Project Proposal (For Grading)

             1.  Bibliography

Ball, David M., and Martha B. Kuhlman. The Comics of Chris Ware: Drawing Is a Way of Thinking. Jackson: University of Mississippi, 2010. Print.

Freyne, Patrick. "Chris Ware's Comic-book World." Review. The Irish Times [Dublin] 26 Sept. 2012: n. pag. LexisNexis Academic. 26 Sept. 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.

Hamilton, Natalie. "The a-mazing house: the labyrinth as theme and form in Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves." CRITIQUE: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 50.1 (2008): 3+. Academic OneFile. Web. 17 Apr. 2013.

Toth, Josh. "Healing Postmodern America: Plasticity and Renewal in Danielewski's House of Leaves.” CRITIQUE: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 54.2 (2013): 3+. Academic OneFile. Web. 17 Apr. 2013.
2.      I think in this essay, by comparing the houses in both Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan and Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves and what it means about their views on what exactly the “home” is, I gave uncover a better understanding of how these books are related in main ideas despite their obvious differences. Although some critics might claim that it is a stretch to compare a graphic novel to a more traditional (although very unique itself) novel, I hope to prove that discussing similar aspects of these novels can be beneficial for readers.
3.      I believe that there is quite a bit of information in chapter 3 of Herbert Marcuse’s book One Dimensional Man that could help drive my paper’s ideas along. “The corrosion of privacy in massive apartment houses and suburban homes breaks the barrier which formerly separated the individual from the public existence and exposes more easily the attractive qualities of other wives and other husbands,” writes Marcuse. This is one example of how the existence of the “home” in modern society has been altered, and Marcuse seems to believe that increased sexuality and other aspects of society that focus on material goods over core beliefs is changing the way we live, which could fit perfectly into my paper somewhere.
4.      I plan on keeping most of what I wrote in the first draft because I feel like it laid the groundwork for a very good longer essay that delves more into the meaning of what the images of the disappearing houses in Ware’s and Danielewski’s books mean rather than just descriptions of them. I think the main purpose of this essay is to expand on what I think is a high-potential idea with more research and more analysis to see what I can come up with.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Final Questions/Comments on Danielewski/Marcuse

As always, post your thoughts as comments to this thread.

Prompts for next week

Remember, nobody is required to do a graded entry for next week. If you aren't doing a graded entry, don't post! If you are, do post! If you haven't yet done a project proposal, you still need to sent me one, but you can just email one (not to be graded) at your convenience. Note: The deadline for the final project will not be Thursday - probably it will be Saturday morning, the same as we've done for the revisions. If you are doing graded work for next week, use the prompts from last week - just do one you didn't do last week.

4/11 Blog Entry (Slightly late)

As mentioned in my Wednesday blog entry, I found the quote, “marriage of the positive and the negative-the objective ambiguity,” to be very interesting. As I read more of House of Leaves, I also thought that it applied to the house. The house is many things – it has many hidden rooms that come and go, it takes away and it gives back, and it is an always changing between what it is and what it could be.

The house is described as “collapsing, expanding, tilting, closing, but always in perfect relation to the mental state of the individual.” This is especially important as Navidson and the rest of the explorers come to understand the house. At the surface, and as the house is still mysterious to the crew, the positive (as the house is) view of the house is a massive and constantly changing entity. It reflects the fact that they are still exploring the house and don’t know what the house contains or what it means. Once the Halloway crew reaches the bottom and Navidson comes in after him, the stairway shrinks and they make it down in much faster than the other crew. As well as the point made in the book that “Navidson’s rapid descent reflects his own knowledge that the Spiral Staircase is not bottomless,”  I think this reflects the negative view of the house (the house as it should be). Navidson, Tom, and Reston are on a rescue mission and they know that they need to find the others soon. The house changes to meet their mental state and thus the staircase changes from an estimated 13 miles down (and hundreds of feet in diameter) to a mere 5 minute walk and only about 100 feet down. This all connects back to the objective ambiguity of experiencing events in different ways based on their knowledge and understanding of the event.

Karen is another great example of the objective ambiguity in House of Leaves. At first I was very much inclined to dislike Karen. She comes across as, one of the many fake references used in the story describes her as, a “cold bitch, plain and simple.” From the accounts given in the book, she is depicted as a cheater and impatient and petty with Navidson. The whole reason that they move to Virginia is because Karen has offered an ultimatum that Will spend all his time with the family and not on his job or she would leave. Soon, there is new information about Karen presented that shows her in a new light. She has a crippling case of claustrophobia that was brought on, if not from a rape that her sister had claimed, possibly some other unspeakably horrible event in her childhood. When Navidson wanted to explore the new hallways, Karen was terrified for him and asked him not to explore it further for his safety. It showed that she did care about his welfare and wanted him not to feel any of her fear about the place. Also, she is shown as forgiving later in the book when she is putting together A Brief History of Who I Love and finally finds out what Delial means. She tries to turn her life around to prepare for reconciliation. This objective ambiguity shows that Karen is a human with both good traits and flaws but is all the more interesting of a character for not being so one-dimensional.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Poe Gives Danielewski's "5-1/2 Minute Hallway" a Voice -- RJ Sepich, Blog Essay 8, Option 2

Sorry this is late. Found the CD online and wanted to finish listening to it tonight before I posted.

Mark Z. Danielewski’s novel House of Leaves relates closely with the album Haunted by rock artist Poe, who happens to be Danielewski’s sister. Both exhibit long, drawn-out and complex narrative sequences followed by brief, rapid sections. Both feature similar subject matter, often referencing haunted things, repression and other creepy topics. But beyond their obvious similarities on a broader scale—the album serves as the soundtrack for the book in many ways—there are also instances in both pieces of art that can help the reader or listener better understand a specific moment in the other piece. An example of one of these occurrences comes from Poe’s song “5 & ½ Minute Hallway”, which directly discusses the hallway with the same name in the Navidson house from Danielewski’s book.

“I live at the end of a 5 and ½ minute hallway/but as far as I can see, you are still miles from me/in your doorway,” Poe begins the song. From the very first line of the song, it is clear that Poe isn’t speaking from the perspective of any of the characters in Danielewski’s novel who view the hallway cautiously; instead, she is speaking for whatever is at the end of the hallway, whether it be the hallway itself, the house, or even another force such as a ghost. Regardless of what Poe specifically is representing, her voice gives the one unspoken for character in the book a voice: whatever is haunting the house. When the Navidson’s first discover the hallway, the family doesn’t understand its meaning, but it certainly scares them. “The hallway also remains meaningless, though it is most assuredly not without effect. As Navidson threatens to reenter it for closer inspection, Karen reiterates her previous plea and injunction with a sharp and abrupt rise in pitch. The ensuing tension is more than temporary” (House of Leaves 60). I envision the beginning of Poe’s song to be in this moment, with the Navidson’s looking down the hallway nervously and Poe’s voice representing the hallway looking back and giving the family a warning.

Later in the song, Poe sings “5 more minutes and I’ll be there/inside your door/but there’s more to this story/than I have exposed/there are words made of letters/unwritten.” This passage increases the eerie factor to the voice of the hallway. The first two lines imply that whatever is at the end of the hallway could enter the Navidson’s house in a matter of minutes, and then it acknowledges that it doesn’t have much of a voice in the novel by stating that “there’s more to this story than I have exposed.” The rhythm of the song in these lines further adds to its creepiness, as it is one of the slower moments in the entire album and resembles a ghost moaning with a fading voice at times.

By creating the character of the hallway and giving readers and listeners some insight into what is haunting the hallway feels and thinks, Poe’s song adds another level of depth to her brother’s already layered book. The house finally has a voice, and it is just as creepy as most fans of House of Leaves would’ve imagined it.

Project Proposal

Blog 8 – Final Project Proposal

            Since the beginning of the semester when the class was first informed about the final projects, I’ve had a story in my head. As soon as we were told that our final projects could be creative, but needed to somehow reflect the views of the class as a whole, it began to form. It has literally just been squatting in my imagination since day one. Now is the chance for it to finally leave my psyche.
            To summarize, in the far future humans will be encased in metal for their protection, like robots (or Cybermen). In this world there is a girl who becomes curious about the way things used to be, slowing becoming more and more disconnected from the world in which she was born into. It is not fully developed in my brain. I was fearful that something might get in the way of it actually coming out, whether it was a new final project format or just a new, easier idea from me. But luckily neither of those things happened.
            Much of what has been discussed in class comes off as an “outside looking in” perspective on technology (with the exception of Neuromancer and possibly Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) But in this story I want to try and capture an “inside looking out” view. I want to argue that technology is not necessarily a bad thing, but that it is not quite enough. For instance, I personally do not see technology as a bad thing, and tend to embrace it’s growing position in our every day lives. That being said, I would prefer to make friends face-to-face, not face-to-screen. I would prefer to give someone a hug or a handshake than text them a winky face emoticon. I’m glad to have technology in my life, but it is not the only thing I want in my life. I’m hoping to write a story that shows this perspective. The girl in this story is not Frankenstein’s monster, or an android that needs to be retired. She’s essentially me with a hard exoskeleton.
            Writing this will be hard. I understand that writing a creative essay is going to take a lot more work, and willpower to complete than a traditional essay would require. I’m not exactly tackling this project because I feel like I would do better on it than if I went the less creative route. I just really need to write this story, and I need some sort of pressure to do it, because on my own I just get too distracted. I know it is not the easy way to go, but I think for me it will be a more honest way. I could churn out a decent essay exploring the literature and themes addressed over the course of the semester, but then it would just be another essay I need to do. But with the story, it can be a bit more than that.