The Manchurian Candidate: Scenes of a Classic

The opening scene of “The Manchurian Candidate” is a very well staged scene that employs many film techniques to encapsulate the tone of the rest of the movie. The opening itself, brandishing a staunch, white sign that displayed time and place of the scene, gives the introduction a sense of exposition. The film tries to give the audience some context by alluding to the fact that this movie takes place in the Korean war. The sign fades to a pan shot of a military vehicle moving around a set of trees, letting the frame rest just in front of a nearby ramshackle building where the car parks. The scene cuts to a shot from inside the building, letting the camera shots bounce between medium shots as the camera follows Raymond. After Raymond finally enters the main room of the building, the camera plays with the angles of framing to capture the faces of the members of Raymond’s unit by bouncing back and forth between them and Raymond. These techniques add a very fast pace to the scene, making it feel almost overloading with how much it is trying to show in a small amount of time.

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Mentioning time, it is very interesting how timing is used throughout this piece. The cut from when Raymond enters the building to when it shows Raymond walking down the hallway, while seeming instantaneous, probably had a time elapsing that isn’t known to the audience. Furthermore, the party inside the building was probably cued to happen in conjunction with the beginning of the scene. This helps keep the pace of the scene without revealing that the time actually passing isn’t equivalent to the time portrayed in the scene. This helps keep the tone that the producers intended: a very chaotic and fast paced momentum that Raymond brings to an abrupt halt when he begins blowing his whistle.

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The motion of the scene helps add to the effect that the scene is creating. Raymond, when making his way to the main room of the building, is halted by two people kissing and blocking his way. Furthermore, the main room itself is a mass of movement that is presented in the point-of-view shot. This only ends when Raymond demands it to end with his whistle, and the entire motion of the shot suddenly freezes in response. The producers wanted to give a means to show just how much power Raymond has over his company, and how serious his demeanor is.

Music and sound plays an integral role in the effect of the scene. The diegetic music that plays from the party blares through the walls and gives a sense of discord even before Raymond gets to the party. The greatest sound throughout the clip, being the loudest, was Raymond’s whistle. All other diegetic noises are suddenly halted before this noise, dispersing the chaos that plagued the party. It shows the whistle as an instrument of Raymond’s authority over his company and his unwillingness to stand for the disgraceful actions set before him. It follows that the only other noises that remain in the scene until the next scene is dialogue Raymond has with his fellow company troops. While not present in the scene, it is worth noting that this scene lacks narration that helps along other stages of the movie. The lack of narration in this opening scene allows the audience to clearly identify for themselves what is going on in the scene and how the action brings meaning.

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The Slenderman and Impressions An OP:ED of the Direction of Youth

 

On May 31st, 2014, America bore witness to the tragedy that was the Slenderman stabbings. A young girl was stabbed roughly nineteen times with relentless intent, almost dying in the process. The culprits behind this act, however, were not adults with malicious motives. Both culprits were children, and both were even in the same class as the young, twelve year old victim. The motive behind this act is as unbelievable as the perpetrators: both wanted to appease a fictional character known as the “Slender Man”. This stabbing is the result of young children experiencing media online that has no restrictions and no ways to prevent impressionable or mentally unsound minors from experiencing said media.

The internet today plays host to many different sources of entertainment. Many frequent sites like Hulu and Netflix for movies, and some enjoy playing an occasional game that caught their eye. There is, however, a very wide and varied collection of disturbing media that is in circulation today. Amongst these different collections lies a sub-genre that has taken many youths of today by storm: Creepy pasta. Creepy pasta, a collection of short stories belonging to the horror genre, makes it its goal to attempt to make readers uncomfortable or afraid of what they are reading, as is the purpose of most horror. Among the many ranks of the Creepy pasta genre lies none other than the Slender Man, along with many other fantastical and terrifying creatures. The true differences between the horror genre and Creepy pasta lies in both its audience and the accessibility of the material being posted.

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Before going into how Creepy pasta has played into these children’s actions, it is worth noting exactly what Creepy pasta is and how it came about. Creepy pasta comes from the term “Copy pasta”, which is meant to describe the process of how many stories on the internet were copied and pasted throughout different forums. When a collection of horror stories began circulating, many dubbed the various macabre tales as “creepy pasta”. Over time, these Creepy pasta were eventually gathered into a large internet site, christened after said stories.

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Creepy pasta’s main audience tends to be young adults and teenagers to children. The young girls behind the stabbing frequented the site and read many stories about the poster child of the site: The Slender Man. One of the children were deemed to be afflicted with schizophrenia, were tried in a Wisconsin court as adults for their act. These girls were exposed to a culture that they didn’t understand or fully grasp, and treated it as if it were reality. It’s quite obvious of how this internet sensation holds some fault for irresponsibly parading this culture around and pandering towards these poor minors.

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The easy accessibility of these horrifying narratives also makes it greatly different from the typical horror story. Many systems of providing reading material, such as libraries and book stores, can limit or discourage certain individuals from reading certain texts. Society today often bans books or prevents more adult texts from falling into the hands of children too young, or perhaps too pliable. The internet knows no such limitations. Children can easily access media that is in no way meant for children to view, possibly even these short stories that could shock a stern adult. Creepy pasta may pander towards younger adults in practice, but is still material that needs restriction to prevent minors from misinterpreting the meaning or reality of the narratives. While horror fiction can be regulated, Creepy pasta is much more difficult to restrict due to the nature of the internet as a medium.

Hence lies the problem: Creepy pasta panders toward an audience that could easily misunderstand and act on what they read in a radical and illogical way. Creepy pasta indirectly led to the tragedy of the Slenderman stabbings because it allowed for two twelve year old girls, one being schizophrenic and delusional, to bring a peer to the brink of death in the name of a fictional character. Creepy pasta needs restriction and regulation to prevent this tragedy from reoccurring. While many authors and narratives have attempted to make amends for the actions of their genre, they continue to irresponsibly pander towards minors that could easily repeat the horrors brought about by these two twelve year old girls, in the name of some other fictional character.

OP-EDs and the Humanities

A few articles are interesting in their makeup and their arguments when put into conversation with each other. The articles in question, each with their own sources of publication and various topics, seem to have widely different degrees of value and worth. While all of these Op-Eds are credible and have different goals in mind, it is clear that these three stand in different regards to each other due to the effort and quality that is marginally dissimilar.

The first Op-Ed is an article from the Los Angeles Times that discusses a research project undertaken by UC Berkeley to develop a robotic emulation of a common cockroach. While the focus and concept of the Op-Ed is interesting, the content of the article itself is lacking in any call to action or awareness to any problem. Rather, it wastes diction, one that is less than constant and not often as serious as it should be, to simply describe a new technological feat that doesn’t meet the expectations to either the core reader or the steps to creating an Op-Ed. The only satisfying part of this article is its employment of knowledgeable experts throughout the piece, accurately evidencing the focus with little trouble. This piece, one that I find lacking in professional etiquette and appropriate language, is obviously an inferior Op-Ed that fails to properly convey what it wants to about the topic in question.

Robot Roach

The next Op-Ed is one of a higher caliber: a piece regarding a developing problem in Apple’s “iPhone” and how third party repairs are being attacked by the smartphone conglomerate. The article dictates that many iPhone users are dealing with a malicious error due to an update targeting repairs made by a third party. This Op-Ed is very serious about its concept, makes it’s purpose very clear, and uses various types of evidence to say what needs to be said. This article is much better than the previous because it suits the form of the Op-Ed in a much more appropriate fashion. This Op-Ed, however, is not without its flaws. The conclusion lacks the same draw that the introduction presented, and felt much weaker in terms of content and support. Furthermore, while using sources that are qualified, there could have been more support, such as by using a quote from an Apple executive on this subject. This Op-Ed, while decent and thorough, still doesn’t hold up to the quality of the final Op-Ed.

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The final Op-Ed is particularly interesting in both subject and execution. The article addresses the rise in avian influenza strains in tandem with the world’s increasing hunger for poultry. The Op-Ed then goes on to mention potential factors for how several new strains are being created due to conditions in China and climate change. The Op-Ed is very serious, uses powerful language, and holds a constant, unyielding sway over the reader. From start to finish, this Op-Ed calculates its usage of words to emphasize its point and encourage a reaction from its readers. Furthermore, this particular piece seems to emulate the format of the Op-Ed to the letter, showing very little dissonance from the steps to creating an Op-Ed.

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Regarding these three Op-Eds, they all hold varying degrees of quality and adherence to what makes an article an Op-Ed. The first showed little promise and lacked the properties of a true Op-Ed. The second showed a much greater sense of self in regards to what makes an Op-Ed, yet still had some flaws that could have been addressed. The final Op-Ed is by far a much greater example of such than the former two, and acts a great example for editorial journalism.

In the Order in Which They Appear:

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-cockroach-rescue-robots-bioinspired-20160208-story.html

http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2016/02/05/apple-error-message-killing-iphones/?mod=ST1

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/07/opinion/sunday/what-you-get-when-you-mix-chickens-china-and-climate-change.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0