Aneurin Facilitation 2/18

In his article, “Perceptual Realism” Stephen Prince attempts to tackle the question of is there any risk to the realism of film as technology evolves? As technology becomes more and more capable, films begin to take on this realism that he mentions many times rivals that of real life and suddenly what’s being seen on screen is now perhaps more real than it should be. Prince believes that this creates real issues for film theorists.

The first topic that Prince discusses is the power of CGI and how it has changed the movie going experience. Film theory has long held the idea that anything seen on screen is something that could be seen in the real world, CGI has smashed through that idea.

This scene from Jurassic Park is a fitting example, this is not something that someone in 2020 would ever see, yet if you were to sit in a movie theater you would believe you are seeing a real dinosaur due to the power of CGI and how digital correspondence works in our brains.

  The most impactful part of CGI may be that in 2020 we believe this is what a Dinosaur looked like, not because a scientist said so, or because we saw bones but because Steven Spielberg and his talented team are able to convince us of that through film. This is the issue that film theorists must wrestle with, no longer is film simply a viewing but it’s now something that changes us as viewers and what we believe.

How could it be that Forrest Gump was able to run for years like he does in this scene back and forth across America? Of course,no one would be capable of this nor would it be possible for an actor to do this so quickly, but the power of film suspends any need for belief because in six minutes we see him do it.

This suspending of reality is something that has been happening even more Paul Walker  is an example of this. Paul Walker was an actor that starred in many of the Fast and Furious films and after his tragic death was brought back through his brother’s face and CGI to appear in one more film. This is now crossing the gap between a film and a truly emotional reaction, people who viewed all of the Fast and Furious films had built a relationship with the actors and Paul Walker’s tragic death caused them pain. His return postmortem caused an extraordinary reaction and truly did bring him back to life. This is a powerful moment in film as well as Paul Walker’s family is given the chance to see him alive on screen one more time. This emotional reaction is brought to life in the music video done by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth.

The power of CGI is only growing as shown by the award-nominated film, The Irishman. In this film actors such as Robert De Niro plays a character at many different ages across decades. This suspends our idea of time and allows us to become fully involved in the story because we have seen Robert De Niro get older.

This is a short video that describes this process more in-depth and the kind of impact it may have on the film industry. 

Finally, many parts of technology have changed our lives for the better or worse. CGI should enhance our entertainment experience as long as we recognize its power. Prince warns about its influence on us and as long as we are aware of that we can keep enjoying our dinosaurs and young Robert De Niro.

For Tuesday, 11 Feb

First, if you haven’t accepted the invite to create an account on the site, please do so before class (if you think you never received it, let me know by email). Also, if you haven’t provided your top three preferences for weeks to facilitate class readings, you can do that here. (NOTE: most of the available dates have already been reserved; only the remaining available dates still appear.)

For class, I’d like you to read the essay by Kenneth Burke, “Literature as Equipment for Living” and the magazine article by James Gleick, “What Defines a Meme?” (You’re finding them in the comments in the course schedule).

As you read each, consider how the concepts of “rhetoric” and “persuasion” we discussed last week are being reconsidered to some extent in each reading: how do Burke’s idea of “equipment for living” and Gleick’s discussion of “memes” relate to the classical idea of “rhetoric” as the way symbols are used to influence others?

Response: Rhetoric and Culture

As I was reading about the difference between rhetoric and culture, I found a few interesting facts about this comparison as I drew a chart about it, while taking notes. “Rhetoric had its beginnings in classical Greece 2,500 years ago, whereas cultural studies had its current roots in Great Britain in the 1970s” (O’Donnell, 2007, p. 137). The most interesting part about reading O’Donnell’s Rhetoric and Culture, while thinking about the comparison between those two terms, is how they each have a different origin. For example, the rhetoric is actually Aristotle’s definition as he viewed persuasion as “an instrumental of social adaption” (2007, p. 140). When I saw the word, logos (“words” in Greek), this term reminded me of the various logos that I was familiar with, such as the mermaid logo for the “Starbucks Coffee Shop” and the 31 logo for “Baskin Robbins.”

Starbucks logo
Baskin Robbins logo

On the other hand, cultural studies have major concerns over television, which is a form of communicating with the audience and it is a source of social understanding. This means that numerous TV shows and films have the ability to tell the audience the story and send a message to the viewers about what is going on in our society. For example, we would watch or listen to the local news that is broadcasted on TV every night. Otherwise, there are most recent TV shows that give the audience the message about the real serious issues that are actually happening in reality. There was one episode from the TV show, Black-ish, where an African American family was watching the news about police brutality and racism still existing in our world.

For Thursday, 6 Feb

We’re still just getting started with the course, but already there’s a lot to do! First, be sure you’ve clicked on “Course Documents” above and read through at least the Syllabus and Schedule documents. Bonus points (in my mind – no actual points rendered) if you also read through the Assignment documents, and double-extra-plus-plus points (same kind) if you sign up for a Facilitation week!

To do for Thursday’s class is also the following:

  • Read Victoria O’Donnell’s “Rhetoric and Culture” chapter. As you read, try to think of all the ways rhetoric – for her, “the study of symbols and how they are used to influence” – is a part of your daily life. Where do you see symbols of all kinds – in print, image, sound, or even through the design of everyday objects – influencing you and those around you? Be prepared to talk about this in class.
  • Read Ali Almossawi’s Book of Bad Arguments, pages 3-7, 49-54, and the pages for the fallacy you were assigned today in class. For that fallacy, write down two situations (beyond the example in the book) in which that fallacy could be used. Also ask yourself, does it only apply to language (speech or print), or could it apply to something visual? If so, how might that work?

See you Thursday. 🙂