Recent Comments

One Page Dungeon Contest logo
Mihaela Mihailova

I was struck by the range of responses to the challenge of balancing design efficiency (necessitated by the format’s constraints) with visual appeal and potential for engaging play. From a design perspective, I was most interested in The Shattered Temple and its “creative cheating” approach towards overcoming the spatial limitations via fragmentation of the sheet of paper. While still technically compliant with the competition’s central rule, the resulting pieces function to extend the reach of this particular work both spatially (by allowing for multiple configurations) and temporally (by encouraging replays and extending the duration of player engagement). It is a DIY solution that, while not necessarily novel, remains notable because it is easy to implement by players and reproduce in a different context by other aspiring game designers. Given the contest’s emphasis on the open library concept, this is a particularly valuable aspect of the design.

Silas University Map from the web series Carmilla
Jamie Henthorn
Tanya Zuk

Thanks for this thought provoking post. I…looked at the projects before I read your note and was also struck by the fact that the Hogwarts space has no sense of time because of the the approach to sound. Video games and films are obviously able to give cues to the individual as to changes in time, but maps have always had more of a challenge in showing event-ness because they have a lot of control over where and when the audience is in those spaces.

One way around that would be to create several Hogwarts maps for different events. One for the Battle of Hogwarts, one for the events at the end of book/movie 3. I’m now thinking through how those maps might both limit and expand potential for fan-narratives within these spaces.

Good sound has been a challenge to media (moving from silent film to talkies, dialogue in video games, just all radio and podcasting) in a way that images have not. Thanks so much for making me think on this topic.

I found this to be thought provoking as someone unfamiliar with this trope! It’s interesting to think whether other nostalgic media (whether this be movies, shows or video games) also make use of similar popular tropes from the time of this setting, perhaps this is a common danger of nostalgic media?

Similar to the above comment, I also wonder if series 2 manages to address the fan’s outcries for justice for Barb? This almost seems mirrored by Nancy who takes it upon herself to get said justice. Do you feel that this was a conscious decision made following fan’s strong feelings towards Barb and that these emotional links perhaps helped strengthen Nancy’s storyline in series 2?

Ruth Doughty

Hi Kimberly, thanks for your comment. I completely agree that Spike Lee always places politics at the centre of his works. I think part of Lee’s agenda is to pose questions rather than offering neat solutions. His discourse on gentrification is testament to this. As you point out, he inituated the debate in ‘Do the Right Thing’ and continues you to explore the complexity of the changing demographic in his latest work. I feel there is a sense of plurality in his approach, on the one hand you have the new resident Bianca who is clearly objectionable with a misplaced sense of entitlement. On the other, you have ‘Da Mayor’, originally from Fort Greene, but now displaced and homeless after returning from fighting in Afghanistan. In addition to the two ends of the spectrum, Lee depicts a diverse community struggling to find a collective voice, but unafraid to engage in dialogue. In spite of the tensions, that are at times paplable, I believe that Joie Lee’s (Septima) statement rings true:

It’s our differences that make Fort Greene great. The new folks, you gonna keep on comin’. And the old heads, well, we aint goin’ nowhere. But we have to find a way to make it work.’

Dafna Kaufman

I actually did not know the story of John Henry! Wow that adds even more fascinating layers…Thank you for mentioning it. The connection with John Henry makes the link to, as you said “exploitation of black (male) labor,” even stronger and more powerful. Thanks for the info and comment!

Arthur Knight

Terrific explication of this crucial (and beautiful) sequence. I’ve always thought it was interesting that the final shot links together a group of women playing (where the shot starts) and a group of men (where it ends). Both groups are racially mixed, sort of cementing the utopian possibilities of basketball, but (and?) the final players you see are a white woman and a black man, which definitely presages an important dynamic in the story. That the music is Copeland’s homage to “John Henry” definitely further supports your reading—the melody is bucolic (along with many of the images; and there are those strong hits of dissonance), but if you know the folk song/story and are hearing the words in your head (thanks very much to my grade school music teacher) you get a sense that a happy end is unlikely… and the unhappiness is likely to be caused by exploitation of Black (male) labor. Thanks for the reading!

Kimberly Moffitt

Lee’s career as a filmmaker has always placed his politics central to his works. The notion of space and place and who has access to it certainly serves as one of those key facets of his politics. We need only reflect back on the scene in “Do the Right Thing” where the new (white) neighbor steps on Buggin’ Out’s Jordan sneakers and he encourages the new neighbor to move back to Massachusetts (because he’s wearing a Larry Bird t-shirt) only to learn he’s actually from Brooklyn. In that one clip, Lee highlights the complexity that exists around issues of gentrification, while also further exploring how we put physical (and mental) boundaries around people based on race. But even still, he reveals to us that gentrification, in its complexity, often has negative impacts on those currently occupying the space and often find themselves (dis)placed like “Da Major” is in the Netflix series, “She’s Gotta Have It.” I like your perspective on Brooklyn that suggests Lee has, in fact, encouraged this love of the borough, while also being critical of those seeking it out as their new space to exist. Brooklyn is romanticized in his films in the same nostalgic way that Barry Levinson recreates the Baltimore of his childhood. And currently occupying the space as home does not matter because it still allows one who called that place “home” the foundation in which to critique those changes as he often does.

American Horror Story: Freakshow
Stevi Costa

Thanks so much for this mini-essay, Elsa. I think this contributes a lot to the greater discussion about the representational politics of disability and “cripping up” in the performing arts.

Your comment about “the voyeuristic murder of the Other” really resonates with the way many marginalized communities are treated on AHS. I think about all the times Murphy has asked us to watch lesbians die at the ends of men (ESPECIALLY on Freakshow), and the gruesome use of black male bodies on Coven. We might claim that the show, and horror in general, traffics in this trope: voyeurism, destruction of the Other. But on AHS, this brushes against the show’s surface-level progressive politics: casting actors with disabilities (on almost every season), casting queer characters as both queer and non-queer, creating space for powerful black actresses.

How do we even begin to reconcile these two opposing forces in the broader universe of the show? Can we?

American Horror Story: Roanoke - season 6
Stevi Costa

Thanks so much for your take on the fragmentation of narrative, truth, and history on Roanoke. In calling up history, I’m reminded of Laura’s post about reenactment in gothic narrative, and I wonder if you might categorize this fragmentation as gothic in anyway, or if you read it as purely postmodern — the show’s attempt, perhaps, to critique, satirize, or otherwise parody the sensational horror of “truth”?