Bastards and Game of Thrones


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Now that we are all waiting for the next season of Game of Thrones which will only air next year, here is an article on the categories of bastards in medieval Europe.

Much as in Medieval Europe, there are several different kinds of bastards in Game of Thrones, falling into sometimes overlapping categories. The first and most obvious type of bastard is one born to a known “highborn” father who recognizes the child as his but whose mother is either unknown or known to be low status. Here the most memorable example is Jon Snow, Snow being the surname for Northern bastards of this type (though of course — spoiler alert — Jon’s parentage turns out to be more complicated, and extremely throneworthy regardless of any niceties of marriage law), or Sand, Sand being the surname for bastards from the south. It is quite clearly better to be a Sand than a Snow, with the warm sunny climate of the south both more openly licentious than the restrained north, and more tolerant of children born to extramarital sex.

The complete article

Sara McDougall — OUPblog

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The secret life of airports


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Uncovering the secret life of airports through movies. This needull is for frequent travelers who have are spending disproportionate time at airports.

So next time you find yourself trudging down a dank tunnel that seems to lead to nowhere, in the nether regions of an airport, suddenly alone and perhaps feeling a bit of existential dread, or maybe just exhaustion and boredom—remember that you are taking part in the secret life of airports. These non-simple spaces are indices for our broader culture, sites to interact with and interpret—sites that can make us feel exhilarated or stranded, by turns. This is what I call airportness, and it spreads out into all sorts of surprising things, and seeps into unexpected places. Airports can be used to propel entire stories, from Home Alone 2 to Make America Great Again. But with their narrative potential comes all the other parts of textuality, as well: the ambiguities, the uncertainties, and the tensions. The secret life of airports is brimming with these things, and there’s no escaping them. It’s one thing to imagine effortless transitions from one place to another; it’s quite another thing to fully inhabit these spaces, these awkward times on earth, and be conscious of them—aware that this is us, this is the pinnacle of mobility, human progress in the making, at least for now.

The complete article

Christopher Schaberg — 3:AM Magazine

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Did 13 Reasons Why Spark a Suicide Contagion Effect?


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There is a debate going on whether the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why should have depicted suicide the way it did.

The study, while troubling, is not entirely surprising. In May, I examined how 13 Reasons Why managed to break virtually every rule that exists when it comes to portraying suicide, featuring a graphic, prolonged scene of the main character’s death in the final episode and glamorizing it as a force for positive change in her community. One of the biggest concerns among psychologists and educators was that the show might spark a contagion effect, where increased coverage of suicide in the media leads to a related increase in suicide attempts. Netflix doesn’t release data regarding its viewing figures, but the wide discussion of the show on social media (it became the most-tweeted about show of 2017) implies that a significant number of people watched it, particularly teenagers. The rush to produce a follow-up season (currently being filmed and scheduled for a 2018 release) indicates the show has been a big hit for the streaming service.

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Sophie Gilbert — The Atlantic

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FEMININE WONDER WOMAN


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Today’s needull discusses why Wonder Woman’s theme is not the usual feminism.

The story of Wonder Woman, far from being a feminist fable, is actually the archetypal tragedy of the goddess who falls in love with a mortal man who must die while she lives on immortally. It’s a version of Eos and Tithonus in classical mythology—and of Arwen and Aragorn in Lord of the Rings. There is also, dare I say, a Christian theme. “They do not deserve you,” Diana’s Amazon mother warns her daughter before she goes off with Trevor to save mankind from more ghastly slaughter than even the historical World War I entailed. The film’s arch-villain, the war-god Ares, dueling with words with Diana in a fashion that can remind readers of the Gospels of Jesus’s verbal duels with Satan in the desert, reminds her that while he is the powerful tempter, it is human beings themselves, with their weakness, greed, vanity, and murderousness, who have brought on their own self-destruction. Like Christ, Diana makes the choice for humankind anyway. She sees that men and women, despite their capacity for monstrousness, are also capable of selfless love. Her own human lover, Trevor, sets the example: He sacrifices his life to bring at least a temporary end to the destruction.

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Charlotte Allen — First Things

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“Dunkirk” Is the Movie Christopher Nolan Was Born to Make


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I have yet to watch Dunkirk but going by the reviews I would want to go to watch in an IMAX screen.

Nolan doesn’t get enough credit for the experimentalism of his filmmaking. His final Batman picture, The Dark Knight Rises (2012), had extended passages that interlaced suspense set pieces with time-condensing montages, two modes that require totally different kinds of pacing; that the director would cross streams so flamboyantly in a superhero flick indicated his willingness to push stylistic boundaries, not to mention the power he wielded as a producer. He had attempted something even bolder in his previous film, Inception (2010), in which multiple layers of dream realities, each playing out at a different speed, interacted with one another in strange ways.

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Bilge Ebiri — The Village Voice

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The Obsessions of Hitchcock, Welles, and Kubrick


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Today’s needull is a book review of The Extraordinary Image: Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and the Reimagining of Cinema by Robert P. Kolker. Kolker is known for his extensive studies in cinema and is a very well respected figure.

The treatment of women in Kubrick’s films can (and has) filled volumes—that astonishing scene in Killer’s Kiss (1955), in which scores of mute, naked female mannequins are mutilated in the midst of a fight between two men wildly swinging axes and spears can be read as a summary of every charge of misogyny ever leveled at film noir. And the connection between sex and death in Kubrick films goes back at least as far as Paths of Glory (1957), when one soldier realizes that he hasn’t had a “single sexual thought” since learning he had been condemned to face a firing squad. But once again The Extraordinary Image more commonly gestures than investigates. A summary of the sexual banter between Joker and Cowboy in Full Metal Jacket (1987), for example, was particularly unfulfilling, as this reader at least has always struggled with how to read that scene. Regrettably, Kolker does little more than describe the action. Yes, Joker’s sexually aggressive banter is accompanied, (incidentally and subtly), by “the fly on his shorts coming open,” but is this indicating a sexual relationship between the two men? The film (and this book) doesn’t say.

The complete article

Jonathan Kirshner — Boston Review

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Quentin Tarantino makes his one true action movie, and it’s glorious


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This needull talks about Kill Bill: Vol. 1. An action movie where Tarantino goes no holds barred on action scenes.

Kill Bill—the whole bloody affair—is messy. The tone veers wildly from cartoonish silliness to bloodcurdling emotional intensity; think of the moment where Uma Thurman wakes from her coma, realizes that she’s no longer pregnant, and lets out a feral-animal howl before she gets to killing motherfuckers. And somehow, probably because Tarantino knows what he’s doing, those abrupt tonal shifts never kill the movie’s momentum. It rockets forward on its own logic, over the course of two movies. It’s a four-hour revenge spectacular that ends with a long philosophical discussion.

The complete article

Tom Breihan — The A.V. Club

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