The Pop Culture Lens: Episode 7 – Godzilla (1954)

The Pop Culture Lens is a scholarly podcast hosted by myself and Dr. CarrieLynn Reinhard of Dominican University. In each episode, we seek to offer fresh perspectives on past media as we attempt to determine whether or not it holds any relevance to the contemporary sociocultural experience. We structure the podcast so the format loosely resembles an academic paper, but we present the information in a way that everyone can understand.

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Oldboy: A case study in intercultural adaptation theory

This post is based on a paper I wrote for Dr. Blair Davis‘ class on Adaptation during the Spring 2014 quarter at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. The purpose of this assignment is to “Choose any media text (I.e. film, comic book, novel, radio or television program, etc.) that is an adaptation of a text from another medium. You may choose a text from any era or country, but it must be based upon something from another medium (I.e. don’t choose a film that re-envisions another film, for instance). For example, the H.G. Wells novel War of the Worlds has been adapted as a 1938 radio program, a 1952 film and a 2005 film, and either of these three adaptations might be examined in relation to the source text.” Therefore, I decided to look at how the various versions of Oldboy can be used as a case study to reconsider existing adaptation theories in relation to the phenomenon of cross-cultural adaptation, which is becoming increasingly common in the globalized world of the 21st century. BE WARNED: there are major spoilers for all three versions of Oldboy here, so if you have not seen/read them and want to remain unspoiled going in, you might want to skip this post. Otherwise, I welcome any and all feedback, so please feel free to join the conversation on adaptation by leaving a comment in the comments section. Thank you.

INTRODUCTION

The phenomenon of intercultural adaptation has become a common practice in the increasingly globalized world of the 21st century.1 In the contemporary transnational media landscape, many adaptations not only represent material that has been transposed from one medium to another, but also from one cultural or national context to another. With increasing regularity, a source text that originates in one specific context will often yield an adaptation generated within a completely different context.2 Therefore, intercultural adaptations illustrate the need to reconsider existing adaptation theories to address notions of cultural specificity. Indeed, many of the current canonical adaptation theories are rooted in literary theory, and tend to focus on the idea of fidelity and whether or not the adaptation functions as a faithful recreation of the source text. Soo Jung Hong, however, argues that when considering adaptations in a transcultural or transnational context, it is often more important to focus on representations of tone in relation to the different cultural contexts involved in the adaptation and whether or not it reflects or highlights any sort of commonly shared cultural values.3 Hong writes that “fidelity of the adapted text can be a possible standard measuring the cultural implications a text is generating as a product in a cultural community.”4 In other words, while the theories that currently comprise much of the scholarship surrounding the phenomenon of adaptation remain relevant and useful for considering notions of fidelity, they nevertheless must be reconsidered to take into account the cultural and national contexts that frequently define adaptations in the increasingly globalized 21st century.

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A Brief History of Postwar Japanese Cinema

This post is based on a presentation I put together for Dr. Michael DeAngelis‘ Cinema of Peace class that was taught at DePaul University during the winter 2013 quater. It is simply meant to serve as a brief introduction into the history of postwar Japanese cinema, and is in no way comprehensive. Any factual errors are mine and mine alone, and I welcome any and all corrections, along with any other feedback you wish to provide. Thank you.

POSTWAR JAPANESE CINEMA: REMEMBRANCE, UNDERSTANDING, AND THE PAINFUL ART OF HEALING

INTRODUCTION

The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II were atrocities that would have lasting effects upon the nation of Japan and its people for decades afterward. According to Clif Ganyard, “Japan is still the only nation to have experienced a nuclear attack and so it is really the first and only post-nuclear, post-apocalyptic society.” Similarly, Mick Broderick (1996) asserts that “Hiroshima and Nagasaki evoke powerful and sombre associations of holocaust and apocalypse, a microcosm of the twentieth century’s staging ground for a global nuclear war” (p. 2). This becomes evident when looking at Japan’s national cinema; movies produced in Japan often explore the trauma that resulted from the atomic bomb attacks, even when they aren’t explicitly about the event. This post will serve as a a brief examination of Postwar Japanese cinema, with a particular focus on the themes of remembrance, understanding and healing that have been evident in Japanese films since around the end of World War II in 1945.

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Exploring the Trauma of the Spanish Civil War at the Intersection of Fantasy and Reality

This is a slightly revised version of a paper I wrote for Dr. Michael DeAngelis‘ Cinema of Peace class, which was taught at DePaul University during the winter 2013 quarter. I am currently in the process of sending this paper out for publication. Also, be aware that this paper contains spoilers for both films. Also, because this paper is currently unpublished, I would ask that if you want to quote it or cite it in any way, please contact me for permission first. Thank you.

FAUNS, PHANTASMS AND PERSISTENT MEMORY: EXPLORING NATIONAL TRAUMA AT THE INTERSECTION OF FANTASY AND REALITY

The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) is a trauma that is specific to the nation of Spain, but one that had far reaching consequences that touched several other nations far beyond Spain’s borders. Indeed, the conflict drew soldiers from France, Germany, the Soviet Union and even China, and is often seen as a precursor to World War II (Raychaudhuri, 2001). It eventually took on a significance that went far beyond a Spanish cultural context, with people around the world viewing it as a battleground between fascism and Communisim, and an ideological conflict between oppression and freedom (Preston, 1996, p. 6). The Spanish Civil War left its mark on countries such as Wales, which is home to numerous Spanish Civil War memorials. However, while the Spanish Civil War would have an impact on Spain (and the rest of the world) for decades to come, those within Spain’s borders were not interested in memorializing the conflict, but rather were content to forget that it ever happened. There was a collective effort to forget the trauma caused by the war and the nearly three decades of fascist oppression that followed (Brinks, 2004). Unfortunately, even when an entire nation chooses to forget, the trauma nevertheless remains, and in this case it cast a shadow over not only Spain’s national history, but over the history of the entire world as well.

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