05 June 2017

The Nuclear Deal and Failed Iran-US Relations

2015 witnessed a significant turn of events in international relations. The Obama Administration adopted a flexible approach to mending frozen relations with regimes the US had for decades perceived as hostile and consequently its relations with Cuba and Iran were put into a new direction.

18 March 2017

Representations of Psychopathy in US Cinema

Ever since the early nineteenth century when Philippe Pinel described psychopathy as moral deficiency with no sign of mental impairment, scholars have taken an interest in the condition. The ensuing discussions emphasized the role of an unsympathetic environment in making an individual morally insane and on the society's responsibility in mitigating psychopathic behavior through moral therapy. A century later, scholars interpreted psychopathy from a sociological perspective, but which bore some resemblance to the nineteenth century moral discussion. For example, Harrington's Psychopaths (1973) and Smith's The Psychopath in Society (1978) suggest that an amoral society commending individualism and personal achievement provides an environment that rewards, and thus encourages, psychopathic behavior. They also suggested that psychopaths are more successful in adapting to such a society.

01 March 2017

A Cultural History of Criminalizing Homelessness

Recent decades have seen a drastic rise in the number of homeless people, both individuals and families, and this is largely due to unemployment, limited affordable housing and failures of social safety networks. According to a 2005 United Nations survey, there were approximately 100 million people worldwide dwelling on the streets and another 1 billion without inadequate housing. Since then, the problem has only worsened, as the number of homeless people within several countries still remains considerably high.

12 February 2017

The "Good War" in Recent American Cinema

The film USS Indianapolis: Men of courage–staring Nicolas Cage–which opened in US theaters in early September 2016, has once again proved the resilient interest of Hollywood movie makers in the World War II movie genre. More than half a decade after the war ended, the story of patriotic GIs fighting fiercely, altruistically or the espionage mission of Allied powers in order to defeat the evil Nazis has never failed to captivate audience’s heart. The war ended in September 1945, yet it’s no doubt that World War II-themed films still dominate our contemporary popular culture. Much of this is greatly contributed by the previously shaped the “Good War” concept of World War II in the public memory, particularly in America. The Good war memory signifies a clear division between “us,” the good, morally superior American soldiers fighting for human rights and freedom, and “them,” the evil Hitler and his monstrous SS Armies inflict horrible crimes on other human beings. This idea of Good War was again magnified and promulgated through traditional media, which is a powerful site to alter and reconstruct audience’s perception and memory of past war, especially the distant generation that only learn the history lesson through television, music or history textbooks.

04 February 2017

Adapting Images of Fathers in Animated Films

Some animated film titles such as Lion King (1994), Chicken Little (2005), and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) remind us of a sincere father–son relationship. Fatherhood has become a major theme adopted in mainstream American cinemas, and father–son relationship portrayal is one of them. Pixar, as a well-recognized animated films producer, has also adopted this recurring theme of father and son narrative in two of its films: Finding Nemo (2003) and Ratatouille (2007). The fathers in these films, especially in Finding Nemo, have attracted audiences, in which they are acknowledged as an example of a good father. Hence, there are some questions to be asked: what exactly is a good father? And what makes these fathers a good father? This essay will discuss the characteristics of a good father, and how Pixar represent them through father characters in its films.