Journal Questions for the Week of August 23, 2011

1. Post about yourself on your wiki page--tell us who you are, what you like, what you want to study, what your hobbies are, basically anything about yourself you'd like us to know about. Post a picture of yourself using the File button on the editing toolbar (it's got a little color picture next to it).

My name is Miles. Most people recognize me by my hair, which I must admit is pretty swag. Once people get to know me, though, they tend to comment on my vivaciousness, joviality and appreciation for the finer things in life. I like to read, write, talk, argue, philosophize, squabble and crack bad jokes. I spend a lot of time on the internet, although I don't have internet in my house at the moment. I can also be pretty active, when the mood strikes me. I snack a lot. I love music - listening to and playing it.

I'm very unsure what I want to major in, but I do know what I want to study. Philosophy, psychology, anatomy. I'm thinking about med school. But I can really major in anything along the way, so I'm keeping my options open.


2. Why did we watch a children's movie in a college class?

Children's movies contain the most classic kinds of villains. They're boiled down to the very basics, and are very clearly evil. When it comes to villainy, comic book antagonists are the archetype.
This particular children's movie showed two separate examples of classic villains. Lex Luthor is the calculating, powerful, lawful villain. He actually draws power from the law, because he always makes sure he's just on the right side of it, or if he's breaking it he is extremely cautious. He, like Batman, uses his wealthy and prestigious place in society to pursue a secret agenda. People fear Lex Luthor because he can't be put behind bars, and he has the resources to eliminate his competition without getting his hands dirty. People are afraid of Lex Luthor for the same reason they fear corporate lobbyists, the CIA and the Federal Government in general.

The Joker is the opposite of this: he's a blatant criminal, he's unpredictable and he can't be reasoned with. The Joker scares people because he kills with a smile on his face. His sadism sets him apart, his lack of conscience disturbs us and makes him inhuman. The Joker inspires fear the same way as a suicide bomber. He's reckless and uncontrollable, and he wants to kill you for reasons that make no sense to you.

Even though Batman and Superman comics seem juvenile, they play with the same fears that are very real in modern society. In fact, because they are so straightforward, comic book villains provide a great place to start when talking about villains in literature.

Batman/Superman Villains:

The Joker - He's creepy, he's corny, he thinks he's absolutely hilarious. This version of the Joker wasn't particularly dastardly, but the potential is there.
Literary Rating: 6
Realistic Rating: 7

Lex Luthor - Lex is really not a scary guy. Sure, he's a cutthroat capitalist, but he doesn't go out of his way to be evil. In terms of realism, he's a great villain, so he gets points there. But when it comes down to it, I'm not excited to see what he'll be doing next.
Literary Rating: 3
Realistic Rating: 6

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Journal Questions for the Week of August 30, 2011

1. Abraham Lincoln wrote that “the true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject any thing, is not whether it have any evil in it; but whether it have more of evil, than of good. There are few things wholly evil, or wholly good.” Relate this quotation to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

There are indeed few things that are fully evil or good. Shades of gray, some people call it. That's what makes ethical decisions so difficult most of the time. I personally can see both sides of almost any issue (political, legal, moral, etc). I can picture myself in nearly any situation making nearly any decision. I personally believe that all humans would act the same if they were all in the same exact situation as another person. So I think that no matter how much a person condemns the actions or beliefs of another, they too would follow the same path if they were in identical circumstances.

All of us would see an 'evil' within us - and indulge it - if we were in Dr. Jekyll's position. All of us would relapse, as Jekyll did, and take the potion again and again. These are not acts of intentional evil; they are simply the desires that stem from the way that Jekyll truly is, at his heart.

In a way, I do not believe in the existance of good or evil. I do not believe that it is possible to have an evil alter ego like Mr. Hyde. But I believe that the one part of Jekyll that wanted to commit violent, hateful acts is, at its root, perfectly natural. Human will and reason are the only forces that are inherent in us. We are affected by things like empathy, greed, hate, courage and desire. At our essence, neither good nor evil has any place in the decisions we make. Those concepts are constructs, and in the end we all do exactly what we want to do, regardless if it is considered by others as good or evil.

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Villains:

Mr. Hyde - Mr. Hyde, while he is supposedly pure evil, doesn't do a very good job of it. But if you consider what he represents (the evil in all of us), he's a little unnerving.
Literary Rating: 3
Realistic Rating: 6

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Journal Questions for the Week of September 5, 2011

1.The poem Beowulf expresses distinct characteristics that are necessary for an individual fulfill to be a good king, as we discussed in class. What guidelines are implied for successful villainy?

In order to be a successful villain, there are a few things that you need to have.

#1 Be inhuman. Nobody wants to be able to sympathize with the villain. If the villain is a monster like Grendel, then he's all set. If the villain is a person, they have to be unnerving somehow. They need to be disfigured or wear makeup. Something that tells us that outwardly, they are a villain. They also can't show too many human emotions. If the villain is really just a regular person, then we can't learn too much about their story. Too much information puts us on their side, making them bad villains.

#2 Break societal norms. Besides being evil and maybe killing people, they villain has to break societal norms. Killing people is bad, but the character always has justification for it, or stands to gain materially, then they aren't good villains. We encourage people to make money and succeed in life, which is why Lex Luthor isn't a great villain. He doesn't go out of his way to hurt people; he just wants money. SO, the villain needs to commit acts that we ourselves can never imagine committing. He has to kill his family. He needs to murder for fun. He should eat the flesh of his victims, or maybe torture them for days. Such unnecessary acts are disturbing and create a powerful hatred between the audience and the villain.

#3 Make the reader feel like a victim. For a reader to hate the villain, they have to think that the villain hates them. The best way to cover all the bases is for the villain to hate society in general. That's why plots to derail trains, blow up buildings and destroy the universe are so great. Anybody can picture themselves as the victim of that villain. If the villain is a serial killer, they need to have a type that we all either fit, or know somebody that the type fits. If the serial killer murders a very specific group of people, then everyone else has no reason to fear.

#4 Be original. Great villains always bring something new to the world of villainy. If it's already been done, chances are people aren't going to be interested. The word villain has very theatrical connotations. The breed of evil that is villainy needs to be novel, it needs to be titillating. If a villain can scare people in a way they've never been frightened before, then he's done his job.

2. How would you characterize a successful class discussion? What features are present? Which are absent? How would you suggest we best accomplish such a discussion?

A good class discussion needs to be participated in by everyone. That doesn't mean that everybody should be talking at once, and not everybody needs to talk the same amount. Everybody should be engaged and thinking about the topic, and if they think they have something to say that adds to the discussion, they should have the opportunity to contribute. This means that those who talk a lot should make sure that everything they say contributes to the discussion in a positive way. If it looks less like a discussion and more like a rant or a 2 person argument, then something went wrong. Additionally, people who talk less might want to speak up a little more. Don't force yourself to say just anything, that's not constructive either. But if you are having thoughts that haven't already been expressed, you should take the initiative to voice your opinion. Chances are the loud-mouthed people haven't thought of the topic in the light that you have, and you'll bring something very interesting to the discussion.

Generally, we just need to be mindful of everybody else in the discussion and how to best accommodate the people that we're sharing that discussion with.

Beowulf Villains
Grendel - He's big, he's bad, he's ugly. Eating people is a pretty nasty thing to do, but it's a little cliché. Particularly for monsters. For all we know that's just what his natural diet is. Plus there aren't a lot of creepy monsters around these days.
Literary rating: 5
Realistic rating: 2

Grendel's Mom - She's not even scary. She killed one guy and then tried to escape. I'm not blaming Beowulf for killing her, but she's not much of a villain.
Literary rating: 2
Realistic rating: 2

The Dragon - I honestly feel no emotion toward the dragon. His character wasn't talked about at all. The only desire he had was for treasure. Dragons are classic, though, and he's mad about treasure instead of his dead son. So he's more villainous that Grendel's Mom, anyway.
Literary rating: 3
Realistic rating: 2

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Journal Questions for the Week of September 13, 2011:

1. Why do you think that Dexter is a series that enjoys popularity in our particular moment in history? Could it have been popular at another time? Why or why not?

I don't think that Dexter is popular just because of the moment in history at which it came about. We can be arguably more graphic in the shows that we create now, but to be honest, Dexter isn't that graphic. At least in the first three episodes, very little mind-bending violence has taken place. So people don't like it because of the serial killings. The appeal comes from the humanity of the character. I really don't even think of Dexter as a serial killer, because he kills criminals, and he only kills when he's positive that the person is guilty. While I'm not supportive of vigilantism in real life, there isn't much of a difference between somebody like Dexter and a character like Batman.

The real reason Dexter is popular is because it casts a serial killer as the obvious protagonist. And he really seems like a good person. I don't think that the show could have existed before other serial killer films were made, but those have been around for a while. I believe the idea of a refreshing change in the way characters are cast in a book or film is always going to be popular.

2. What parallels can you draw between Dexter, Dr. Jekyll, Batman and Superman? Go beyond the surface. How are they different from characters like Beowulf?

The Vigilantism for sure. Even in Dr. Jekyll they don't call the police when they should, and break down the door on their own. It seems life is more interesting without the law. Also, these stories all encompass internal struggles. Beowulf never really thought hard on what he was doing. He didn't take time to decide if what he was doing was right. His motivation was never discussed. In a way he was a very two-dimensional character. But the characters of the other three texts have all been very much conflicted, experiencing very human doubts and internal struggles.

3. From Miles's presentation: Why is the character of Dracula/the drinking of blood considered sexual?

Well, Dracula goes to women's bed at night and takes them... which definitely sounds like sex without mention. But a lot of it is more cerebral. Dracula is undying and powerful, and in some cases agelessly handsome. This sets him apart from every other man on the planet, so the desire to make love to him is very natural. From an evolutionary standpoint, we would want to get the genes that provide immortality.

Also, Dracula is dangerous. But he's dangerous in a gentlemanly way. This has always held a strong allure for women - to have a man that always does what he wants. Desire for this kind of man is very superficial, but then, so is sex.

4. From Hunter's presentation: Why did Jack the Ripper get away with his crimes when the media coverage/police investigation so great?

I think for one thing, the police really didn't know how to handle tracking a serial killer (forensic methods weren't being refined at the time), and the media coverage actually threw a wrench into the works. People got excited. Many people claimed to be Jack the Ripper just because it was so new to have a celebrity criminal whose identity was a secret. But I think that this also lead to the desire to perform better police work. If criminals were getting sneakier, then the police had to be just a tricky. It was shortly after the killings that Arthur Conan Doyle started to write his Sherlock Holmes stories, and science and logic began to play a more systematic role in forensics.

Dexter Villains
Dexter: From what I've seen so far, Dexter is a sweetheart. He can't help his violent urges, but he puts them to good use while maintaining his freedom. As far as I can tell, he isn't dangerous. He might not feel human emotions, but he's great with kids and he is very caring toward his girlfriend. However, the idea of people like that possibly existing...that makes me a little scared.
Literary Rating: 3
Realistic Rating: 6

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Journal Questions for the Week of September 20, 2011
1. In Medea, there are several characters who know of Medea's plans, and yet they do not try to stop her. Why do these characters let villainy happen? Do the gods approve of her choices? What are the implications of their approval or disapproval?

People let terrible things happen all the time. I think that one of the things is that people are less likely to interfere with a mother's choices for her children (even if she's going to kill them). I think it has to do with the idea that the mother knows what is best for the child, even though that is most certainly not the case here. That's partially what makes her actions so monstrous. I think that the gods do approve. Greek gods were petty. I can imagine it might have been entertaining to them, and that's why the furies didn't get after Medea. It would seem like adultery is worse than infanticide.

2. From Kaylee's presentation: Choose either (a) or (b) (a) Is Mao's quotation, "In this world, revolution is the mainstream" still true? (b) Do you have a limit or a threshold of how many people can die before a cause becomes unjust?

Especially today, Revolution is mainstream. Take a look at the news. The Arab spring. Unrest in Russia. Increasing dissatisfaction with our legislative bodies. Revolution is everywhere and it's becoming more popular, not less so. People have come to expect to make a difference in the world, which I think is a good thing.

3. From Lawrence's presentation: Everyone has an inner beast, an animal hidden within the subconscious. What is yours and why?
There are a lot of things about myself that are not admirable qualities. Jealousy, anger, greed. These are a part of everybody's lives, and I find that I control mine pretty well, but people are hardwired to feel those sorts of emotions, just like they're supposed to feel happy, loved and excited. Keeping them in check is what matters.

Medea Villains
Medea: She killed her kids. For revenge against their father. That's so unthinkably evil. It's just not done. I don't know what else to say. And that thing can and probably does happen in the real world.
Literary Rating: 8
Realistic Rating: 10

Jason: Jason was kind of a douche, but to be honest, I don't consider him a villain. Just an inconsiderate person that doesn't handle relationships well.
Literary Rating 3
Realistic Rating: 3

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Journal Questions for the Week of September 27, 2011
1. How do female villains differ from male villains?
Female villains seem to be a little scarier, in my opinion. Maybe it has to do with the supposed "nurturing nature" of women. Evil, aggressive and manipulative women always scare me a lot more than the regular kind of evil scary male villain. They also seem more in control. Between male and female villains, I would trust a woman, because that kind of villain always seems more cool, calm and calculated. They know what they're doing and they don't let anybody stop them. Their vengeance also tends to be a lot harsher.

2. How is color used to portray aspects of good and evil in Sleeping Beauty?
Black and purple. Generally very sinister. The colors blue pink and green seem to symbolize good, or nurture.

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Journal Questions for the Week of October 11, 2011

1. We have discussed how when something defies what is natural, we find it scary, but what makes something unnatural? There are a lot of elements to our world that are not natural, i.e. cars and computers, and yet we do not find them scary. What causes this difference?

Old people are perfect examples for this particular question. People are still scared of those things which are new and different. Many people simply refuse to adjust to those particular things. My generation has grown up with computers, so they are completely natural to us. Cars were invented before the birth of most people currently alive. So they are natural to everybody in the first world. If one had never been introduced to a car, however, one would be frightened. Particularly because combustion would frighten people who had never been exposed to machines like that before. These new technologies challenge what we previously thought about the world.

People that act in a particularly strange way are even more unnatural to us, because we all think we know how humans are supposed to behave. The deepest and most powerful tradition of humanity is that of community, and so we grow learning how we are expected to act, and how others are supposed to act. A person not previously exposed to a computer has their knowledge of information distribution challenge. When we encounter a strange person, it challenges our very basic concepts of human behavior.

2. If you had only this movie (The Dark Knight) to judge Batman for his actions, what would you define as heroic? Would you define anything he does as villainous? From where do your decisions originate?

I would say that Batman is a certain breed of heroic. He isn't in-your-face superman heroic. He doesn't rescue babies from burning buildings. He doesn't have the adoration of the press and public. But his basic goals are very heroic. It's harder to tell because he's put in difficult positions in the film. He either turns himself in and prevents people from dying, or he stays in the shadows so he can attempt to put a stop to The Joker once and for all. In the end, it looks like he was the cause of those people's deaths, and I'm sure he blames himself for them, as others do. But he didn't really have a good choice. The Joker made sure of that.

Taking the fall for Harvey was his most heroic moment because he sacrificed his image in order to maintain the hope of Gotham City as a whole.

3. We'll begin our discussion next week talking about The Dark Knight. Develop your own question to kick off discussion and post it here.

Why did both sides choose not to detonate the other boat? Would you have done the same? It seemed like everybody's faith in humanity had waned until that point. Do you find it realistic that it ended up that way?

I guess the real question is a very old one: Does society naturally impose morals on people? Or do people instinctively impose morals on society?

Dark Knight Villains:
The Joker: This is the most villainous villain yet. He really spooks the watcher, and he knows how to get in the head of everybody. He plans everything and makes it looks like chaos. Or he instills chaos and makes it look like planning. Either way, we don't know how his mind works, and that's a big booster. He turned the most idealistic, upright man he could find into a psychopath. And he did it without massive funding, he did it without superpowers. He makes it look easy.
Literary Rating: 10
Realistic Rating: 10

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Journal Questions for the Week of October 18, 2011

1. "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes"--who watches the watchmen. How can this idea relate to our overall study of villains in this course? Who should be responsible for monitoring what's happening in the world? How do you see your own role?

"Democracy" is the best answer we have found to the question: 'Who watches the watchmen?' That's exactly what the founding fathers thought when they created the systems of checks and balances in our constitution. I place the word democracy in quotation marks because what we actually have is not a democracy. It is a representative democracy because it's easier, and a lot of people don't trust the general public with enough power to choose for themselves. What we have now is a happy medium, where the watchmen watch the other watchmen, and are too scared to do anything drastic because the Watchmen and the watch-watch-watchers all get voted in by the masses. And with this balance we sacrifice efficiency. It's complicated.

My role in all this is to vote for the least slimy, self-serving sociopath that wants to be elected to help lead our based and corrupt central government. And hope that our politicians are selfish enough to stop one person from having more power than they themselves have attained.

I personally think that this question of watchmen leads us to inspect the way that villains are portrayed, and how the victors write the history. Not to hop on the "Beowulf's the villain" boat, but all of the stories we read are very one-sided and biased. We are often presented with protagonists that are stout of heart and have pristine morals. But in the real world, the heroes and the villains aren't so black and white. The glorious leader of the revolution ends up 'freeing the people' by being a vicious dictator. The pop culture idols have all the admiration and none of the admirable qualities. People evoke the name of God to justify bigotry and violence while Jesus rolls in his fictional grave. There is no lasting hope to be had in the world, yet people seek it all the time. And they look for it in all the wrong places.

So maybe the villains deserve more empathy than they receive. Maybe there isn't as much separating the hero, the victim, and the villain as we thought. We all have human desires and emotions. Those who say they can't empathize with the joker are kidding themselves. If a human mind conceived it, then it exists somewhere in everybody's psyche. Just like The Joker was wrong that the people would destroy each other when given the chance and he was wrong.

I guess I'll get off my soap box.

2. From Jaclyn's presentation: Are privateers less admirable than pirates because they had permission to be "bad?"

The Privateers are just as bad as the Pirates. Maybe better, if they've deluded themselves into thinking that they are serving their country. I personally feel like if they only targeted military boats, there isn't much of a difference between a naval officer and a privateer. If they target civilians then they're just as bad as pirates.

3. From Daniel's presentation: Do Eddie Brock (Venom) and Cletus Cassidy (Carnage) share the same levels of responsibility for their actions?

They do. Only difference is everybody knows Cletus was going to do what he did. It's a bigger betrayal for Eddie Brock to do it because everybody saw him as an acceptable member of society. He was a 'Good Christian' and all that. But they both shouldn't kill people. Everybody know dat.

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Journal Questions for the Week of October 25, 2011

1. Do you think there is a standard of morality that can be applied, regardless of external details and situations? That is, is there anything that is inherently good or evil?

No. I think that there is no inherent good or evil in the world. Human beings construct morality. The universe is indifferent. Whether we live or die, everything goes on without us. And there is no standard of morality either. Any human being that is true to themselves will be following the right morality. I respect Rorschach for his unyielding morals and I respect the other three for recognizing that more harm than good would be done if they were to expose the plot of Ozymandias.

2. From Ari's presentation: was Lord Voldemort born evil or was he a victim of his upbringing/life circumstances?

Plenty of people have been orphans and not turned out psychotic. And plenty of people have had perfectly lovely upbringings and still been psychotic. In the end, it's a combination of the two. If he had had a better life with nurturing parents, perhaps he would not be so sadistic. But some of it is really just his disposition. And that's genetic.

3. From Lena's presentation: How does the vampire lore of today reflect on society and what do you think the next era's lore could hold?

I think that vampire lore of today shows men as being more emotionally sensitive. But the men are also very aggressive and powerful. And youthful. These are the things that we find attractive in our culture today. Also, we cast vampires as protagonists a lot more now. This shows a little bit of escapism, in my opinion. Books about characters in supernatural worlds are popular because our current life is painful and we wish we didn't live there. Books about supernatural characters in our world are popular when the times are dull and dreary. When people don't have anything exciting in their lives.

Watchmen Villain scores:
There were no villains.
Maybe never real villains?
Must investigate further.

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Journal Questions for the Week of November 1, 2011
1. "[M]ost of us never really grow up or mature all that much -- we simply grow taller...the child we always are, whose needs are simple, whose daily life is still best described by fairy tales [remains]."-Leo Rosten We began the semester looking at a children's work. What new insight can you bring to the child-centered works we'll be looking at the for rest of the semester? What can be gained by this exploration?
There is a certain wisdom to the work of Freud in psychology, and that is that much of who we are comes out of our childhood. This affects literature as well. As we mature and develop, our interpretations and understanding become broader and more realistic, but we still tend to base things from our childhood basis. It's hard to unlearn prejudices that you grew up with, even if you would like to. Just the use of the term 'villain' shows that we still try to see the world through our juvenile and naive perspective, despite the fact that we have gained so much new understanding. Realizing when something is stemming from a childhood belief and whether or not that belief remains relevant is a very important tool when analyzing literature and simply for being human and interacting in any way with others.

2. From Angelica's presentation: (H. H. Holmes) Why are people so fascinated by things that are so gruesome and morbid?
People are fascinated by those sorts of things because they are forbidden, I think. Kids will always do what they're told they shouldn't do, and to some extent, the forbid is exciting. We see it all the time in our fantasy literature and other media. Sexual fantasies often involve something forbidden, and people derive the excitement from the taboo.

3. From Stephanie's presentation: Many times people blame their actions on demons--why is this an excuse that people use?
Because it's never your fault. Accepting responsibility for actions takes a lot of guts because people judge you for them. If you failed at something, you don't want people to think you were incompetent, so you blame it on external factors. If you do something somebody told you not to do, you blame something else because you don't want them to be mad at you. The demon excuse is far fetched, but people mostly use it when there really isn't another good reason, and the consequences for owning up to your actions are either some severe penalty from somebody, or extreme remorse. Sometimes it's just comforting to tell ourselves that we aren't to blame.

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Journal Questions for the Week of November 8, 2011
1. Make a case for Peter Pan as the villain of the story. Also, please update your evil-o-meter if you haven't recently.
Peter pan is the one that starts all the conflicts. It says in the story that war between pirates and lost boys actually gets serious only when he's around. He takes Wendy from her home and keeps her in never land for selfish reasons, and causes the suffering of Wendy's parents. He's overall cocky and arrogant.

2. From Sam's presentation: Was Snape mostly a villain? Why or why not?
No. Snape was a selfish person. I disagree that he could have been a father figure to Harry (who wants the creep that stalked their mom to be their father figure?) but he could have at least been a decent person. He operated simply based on his own, twisted and selfish devotion to "Lily's memory" which he really doesn't honor at all. He selfish and cruel and grumpy, but he also feels a lot of pain. And he was very brave, up to the end. Perhaps he was misguided. But he was not a villain. Maybe just because he was a force for good, in the end.

3. From Kharli's presentation: Did Spike deserve redemption after what he tried to do to Buffy?
Rape is unforgivable. But I cannot be the one to say whether he deserves redemption. That is not anybody's choice. In fact, perhaps redemption is meaningless (in the overall sense of the word, not in the sense of the show. Which is somehow loosely based on reality.)

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Journal Questions for the Week of November 22, 2011
1. When Ender found the queen's egg, he decided not to tell the world until he was sure they could accept it. To that end, he wrote a book about the Buggers and their point-of-view, hoping to elicit empathy in mankind. The problem with this is that, when Ender does decide to reveal the truth, his lie will be viewed as a deception, and any empathy he has managed to cultivate may fall prey to suspicion. How can Ender prove to the world that he (and ultimately humanity) wasn't being manipulated by the Buggers?
The proof is already there. The Buggers weren't building an invasion fleet. They weren't preparing for a war. It was clear and apparent in every battle he fought. They really did want forgiveness. And mankind destroyed them. It is cruel, selfish and pathetic to destroy an entire race a second time, just because you are afraid that they are manipulating somebody. It would be eons before they were powerful enough to pose a threat to humanity again anyways.

2. From Reina's presentation:Do you believe that Rasputin was a real holy man? Or were his predictions and healing just luck, fraud or coincidence?
Of course he wasn't. I'm not a moron. Fraud is incredibly easy. Back then it was just called religion.

3. From Jamie's presentation: Why do you think Disney chose to portray Hades as an evil villain to Hercules?
Because it's Disney. Disney needs somebody to be a clear, distinct, evil guy. That's how kids movies work. His role can be likened to that of the devil in Christianity. He was an obvious choice for ignorant Christians. The story was already written.

Villains of Ender's Game
Nobody. I'm done with that classification. There were just opposing sides to a conflict, and people with conflicted interests, and some people that had to make one decision or another based on the accumulated knowledge, experience and beliefs of a lifetime.

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Journal Questions for the Week of November 29, 2011--Last Journal Questions for the semester
1. The Princess Bride has multiple villains. Dicuss how each one reflects/matches a heroic character.
Humperdink is a weak, selfish man. He is not physically strong, nor is he strong willed. He is not brave. He is not particularly clever. He is not well spoken. He is not handsome. In short, he is not successful.
Tyrone was a decent villains because he was creepy, cruel and calculating. And a mutant. And he had nice facial hair. Overall a better villain.
Vizzini was a lackey with delusions of Grandeur.

2. Why does Westly adopt the outside semblance of a stereotypical villain, and does it help him to succeed?
Fear is a very useful tool, and that is exactly what he used the steriotype for. And that's what other people, who had more villainous desires than he, used the persona of The Dread Pirate Roberts for. A lot life reputation, and a stereotype gets the point across to everybody with half a brain. Easy mode.

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Comments Questions and Exaltations:

I love how you included "originality" in your list of things a villain should be. I also agree Grendel is a little cliche, but you have to remember he WAS written hundreds of years ago... so maybe then it was original and is only now a cliche?- Kharli

- mlerussell mlerussell Sep 19, 2011 I like that you don't think of Dexter as a serial killer! Me neither. :) I mean.. he's basically not. You don't consider the electric chair a serial killer, and it's basically the same idea. No human emotions, kills killers.. He's just a great guy. :)

While I don't necessarily agree with Dexter being an all around nice fellow, I do think his show would have enjoyed popularity in other periods of time, not just now.
"But he's dangerous in a gentlemanly way." That was the best way to phrase that.
Also, I think it's important to recognize how media can actually hinder investigations, simply because people like the hype.- Kayleethegr8 Kayleethegr8 Sep 20, 2011Kaylee

I respect that you're sticking up for Batman. Someone should be pointing out the brave acts instead of just focusing on the dark, questionable ones. One of the reasons society loves to tear down heroes is because it is so easy. No one is perfect, there is always something to chip away at. The noble thing is to support our imperfect heroes, not tear them apart every chance we get. - samanthaprina samanthaprina Oct 13, 2011samanthaprina
Samantha: "The noble thing is to support our imperfect heroes, not tear them apart every chance we get." I like how you say this and completely agree.- lduran02 lduran02 Dec 6, 2011

I had a similar point for the "natural" question. If we are exposed to it for a long period of time, the thing becomes natural. I really like your question for our Dark Knight discussion. I think that if a person were to be thrown out into the wilderness with no one to impose morals on him, he would come up with his own primitive view of what is "right" and "wrong." Therefore, I think that people instinctively imposed morals on society originally. Though, now, we impose morals on the few. If we're never given an opportunity to learn, we'll create our own. If someone gives them to us already, we have no need to create our own. - Roxypotter13 Roxypotter13 Oct 13, 2011

I agree with your analysis of Batman. Also, interesting question. I can't wait to discuss it in class next week.
- jserru jserrujserru

I like your analysis of The Joker. You pinpointed exactly the reasons why he is such a good villain- he's creepy, mysterious, and really, really good at what he does. - mlerussell mlerussell Oct 16, 2011

I agree with what you said about Batman. He had no 'good' choice, and he is only human so he did the best he could. And it's not like anyone else was willing to dress up as a bat and take charge. - reinada reinada Oct 17, 2011Reina

I agree with the fact that Batman is a different kind of superhero. He doesnt save people in the natural sense. I also think that your description of the Joker was perfect. In this movie, we see the Joker at his best (or worst because of the chaos he causes). - HeyThereAri HeyThereAri Oct 18, 2011 Ari

Your description political commentary and description of "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes" is pretty cool because of the way you feel that heros and villains are not purely flat black and white. It's important to look for flaws in heroes and goodness in villains because real heroes and villains are not strictly bad or good as they are in fiction. Sometimes people need to watch the watchmen because they can have wicked qualities.- Droybal Droybal Oct 25, 2011

Sure, the universe itself doesn't care about morality, but since we are humanity the morals we apply are the ones humans use. As such, there are some things we have declared wrong. I am uncomfortable saying that as long as people are true to themselves they are doing the "moral right." The first thing that pops into my head is infanticide in China, which I feel like one can say is evil.
But I'm still not sure about my own views on morality, so I did enjoy thinking about your idea. - Kayleethegr8 Kayleethegr8 Oct 30, 2011Kaylee

haha, I think your accusation on why people read about supernatural things is funny but a little harsh. Sure some people to read to escape their supposedly awful lives, but why wouldn't people just read them for fun? - Oct 31, 2011


December 9th: I saw a play titled Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde. It was (as could be expected) a play about the trials of Oscar Wilde, during which he was accused of sodomy and all of his former lovers and some potential imposters declared that they had been solicited and had perform acts of sodomy with Wilde. This was 1900 in England, and so he was found guilty and placed in prison for 2 years. There were some interesting parallels with Socrates, as Wilde had the option to flee the country to France, where he would not be punished. However he chose to remain in England. This was an powerful act that has very interesting implications for the gay community of England at the time. He (in the play, at least) did not identify himself as a homosexual, but merely as a lover of beauty. To Wilde, it wasn't an identity that he subscribed to. There were just certain things that he engaged in, and one of them was interacting with young men, whom he found beautiful. The Greeks and Romans, did not claim to be homosexual or heterosexual. They understood that it was just a thing that they did. A relationship between a young man, who has all the vitality and optimism of youth, and the elder who has the wisdom and experience of the adult. It was a play at AHS, but it was still quite excellent. I enjoyed a lot of the questions it posed, and the quotes from Oscar Wilde's works.

November 9th: I went to a lecture called Mascaras de Michoacán. A guy named Felipe Horta makes traditional masks in Mexico, a business that's is very uncommon. In fact his father was one of the first people to become a 'professional mascarero' that is, somebody that made a living at making masks and selling them around the country. Felipe has done a lot of work for museums on top of his usual work, which is crafting masks for Mexicans to wear at local festivals and dances. He does a lot of animals, he said that many people will request specific animals because they feel like it's their totem animal (I had a principal in elementary school that was obsessed with pigs, so I believe it). He also did a lot of devil masks, because a festival in the town he lives in involves all devil constumes. Apparently it's a very big deal, attracts a lot of attention and is one of the most important days of they year. His masks are the first traditional style masks to be made with three dimensional features. Traditionally the features are simply painted on, but he carves a lot of them, including horns, snouts, spikes, snakes, tongues and a lot of other stuff. He showed us some of his tools, some of which he makes himself because the roles they fulfill in carving are so specific. He also talked a little about the kinds of wood he uses, and soft wood carving vs harder woods. He said he always uses wood that just local, and so even though he generally uses one or two kinds of wood around his home, when he starts a mask elsewhere, he'll use wood local to that area. He also uses car paint to paint the masks because it is so durable and dries very quickly.

September 29th: I attended a performance at the North Fourth VSA art center. It was put on by Faustin Linyekula of the Dem. Rep. of Congo, who is a dancer and choreographer. He had musicians and other dancers. The music was very modern, a little jazzy, a little bit of rock and roll. There was a bassist, drummer and guitarist, 3 dancers and 2 other performers. I say other performers because they sort of danced but they also sang and read aloud the words for the performance. In that sense the performance was very multimedia. You had music, dance, lights and words. The words were all from a letter that Faustin received from a friend of his, who was and is a prisoner in the Congo. He was arrested for political activism, and his letter was very powerful. It was very well written, and it was clear that he had an excellent education. He referenced Don Quixote, Shakespeare and several other western authors. He talked partly in french, partly english, about the opression in the country, about birth, life and death, about freedom and dreams. It was very moving.