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Project Porkchop: Vol. 390

Mon Jan 26, 2015, 1:13 PM
V390-img-og by techgnotic

About Project Porkchop

The DeviantArt Experience can sometimes quickly become the quintessential example of that most frustrating problem: too much of a good thing. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to peruse the thousands of submissions and postings of artistic innovation, creativity and sheer beauty that are generated everyday.

So thank you for ProjectPorkchop!

Astralseed, an Icelandic deviant artist with a penchant for equines, including Quirlicorns (a breed of unicorns), has made our busy lives so much easier with ProjectPorkchop, a feature she started on her DeviantArt page. Project Porkchop’s fine eye for the best of the newly submitted artworks of virtually unknown artists, the incredible art that slips past us, unseen and denied its due, day after day, has meant so very much for these artists trying to create a presence in the art world, beginning on DeviantArt. By spotlighting these skilled artists  and connecting creative art and creative art lovers, this group is doing the arts universe an immeasurable service.

About the Artist

Lee is a digital artist from the US. He is a conceptual artist and illustrator who has been working primarily in the video game industry for the last 17 years. His strength is his 3-D work which is extremely well executed and expertly colored. His imagery is eerie and surreal and you are sure to be inspired by his gallery!

View More of dathedix’s Gallery

About the Artist

Adasia is a digital artist from Poland. She has a unique and lovely storybook style that is very texture driven. Her themes are very whimsical and influenced by fairy tales, nature and the sea. Her colors are beautiful and soft and she makes good use of a wide range of tones. You will love every piece in her gallery!

View More of harridan’s Gallery

About the Artist

Daniel is a traditional artist from Poland. He is most influenced by sci-fi and horror and his works have a surreal quality. His colors are very bright and high contrast and his brush strokes are very expressive. Daniel has been a member of DA for less than a year, so let's welcome him to the community!

About the Artist

Stanislav is a traditional artist from Bulgaria. He finds inspiration in the beauty of nature and his paintings have a real spiritual quality. His understanding of light and color is truly outstanding and his attention to fine details is top notch. This is one artist you will want to add to your list!

About the Artist

Peter is a digital artist from the UK. His fantasy style work is rendered so well it looks photographic, espescially the backgrounds. He is a master of light and shadow and his works have a great sense of atmosphere, like you can just step into them! Please take a look at his gallery today and show some support!

Spread the Word

If you enjoyed this article please be sure to :+fav: it, as this helps these artists get even more exposure. If you would like to suggest someone for a future ProjectPorkchop article please send a note to our group.

73-img-og by techgnotic

Vibrant, raucous and, more than any other metropolis in America—truly alive! New Orleans is the one city in America that nobody believed would not stage a comeback after Katrina tried her best to kill its Big Noise. New Orleans is protected by Jesus or hoodoo or both—it’s all one glorious mixed–up gumbo goulash of cultures believing in live and let live.

Most cities in America are mostly alike in most everything. New Orleans is the exception. It is unique. It has had a separate evolution and it’s the most arts–based cultural treasure in our nation. The city is one great exhibition of the people’s non–corporate–sponsored arts, open daily from dawn until deep into the wee hours of the night. Here’s just a taste of the discerning connoisseur’s delights.

Autodesk Sketchbook Hero Challenge

Fri Jan 23, 2015, 6:48 PM
Img-og by techgnotic

The Hero Challenge is exactly the fun we should all be having when collaborating together.

View The Hero Challenge

It is incredibly important to set up direct lines of communication between artists at the top of their game and those of us in the path. It's empowering to speak to each other through the special language of creativity, artistic passion and the special bonding friendship of the global DeviantArt community.

The Hero Challenge is for deviants of all ages and all talent levels; it is for any artist for whom only the simplest prompt is all that is needed to spark the desire to create, to share, and to connect with other artists.

And this gallery of entries is just the start of all the fun we can have.

View The Rest

Fan Art Friday: Attack On Titan

Fri Jan 23, 2015, 5:56 PM
105-img-og by techgnotic

Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan is the groundbreaking Japanese manga and anime series created by Hajime Isayama in 2006 as his entry for Japan’s prestigious Magazine Grand Prix (MGP), an award sponsored by Kodansha, Japan’s biggest manga publisher and the eventual publisher of the series. Isayama received the ‘Fine Work’ award and fired up by the achievement took the ambitious step of moving to Tokyo from his hometown of Ōyama to follow his dream of working as a manga creator.

It wasn’t until 2009, after a few short stories had been published, that Attack On Titan began serialization in Kodansha’s Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine and it has been running ever since. There are currently fifteen volumes completed with over forty-five million copies in print around the world. There is a spin-off novel series, an anime series, four video games, and two films in production slated for release in 2015.

Attack On Titan is set in the far future, one hundred years after the giant Titans appeared and devastated the Earth. These oversized humanoids killed with no seeming rhyme or reason, often eating people, not out of necessity, but getting more enjoyment out of the actual killing itself. Soon the Earth was laid waste by these colossal creatures.

The story centers around a country that has isolated itself from the rest of the world by constructing a series of giant concentric walls all around it to keep the Titans out. Over the one hundred years since their construction most of the countries inhabitants have been raised never having seen a Titan. That changes when a sixty foot Titan appears one day and crashes through the outer wall. Titans have a thick skin that is difficult to penetrate and regenerate quickly, with their weak spot being at the nape of their neck. In one attack, Erin Yeager, a primary character of the series, sees his mother eaten by a Titan and so he vows to kill them all. He enlists in the military along with many of the young adults to defend the city.

Hajime Isayama plans to end the series with the twentieth volume and over time has changed his mind as to how it will end as his original intention was for all the characters to die. Isayama acknowledged the outpouring of support for his characters from his fans as the reason for changing his mind. This is a great example of creators being affected and influenced by their fans.

The wonderful advantage to being a creator in Japan is that you are in full creative control of your own series. It stops when you want it to and the publisher cannot create new stories without your permission. Imagine how few of the characters we know in the west would still be in print if the rights favored the original creators in the same way…

So strap on your Vertical Maneuvering Equipment, head for the wall, and let’s kick all this deviant produced Titan ass that’s coming our way!

Cosplay Friday: Avengers

Fri Jan 23, 2015, 5:46 PM
106-img-00 by techgnotic

The Avengers

First introduced by Marvel in 1963, The Avengers was Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s superheroic response to the success of DC Comics’ Justice League of America.

In the original comic the founders of the superhero team were Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Ant–Man, and The Wasp who came together to defeat the evil god Loki. The 2012 live–action Avengers movie loosely based on Marvel’s The Ultimates (2002) comic book series had a different core group adding Captain America and Nick Fury to the team and replacing Ant–Man and The Wasp with Hawkeye and Black Widow.

So, Who Are The Avengers?

Unlike other Marvel teams The Avengers are not mutants fighting for equal rights or a family of Four who met with unexpected effects after a mission in space. The movie version of The Avengers is a government sponsored elite team of skilled warriors, a Super SWAT team led by S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Nick Fury, while in the comics Tony Stark housed and funded the team while secretly hiding his identity as Iron Man from his teammates.

The comic world of Marvel has many twists and turns, filled with crossovers, gender swaps, and alternate timelines that aren’t always explained or don’t make it into the movie adaptations. Comic fans usually have a one up on movie fans in terms of knowing more about the characters’ origins and their backgrounds. Did you you know Nick Fury was originally white when he was first introduced in the comics and only later was he portrayed as black in an alternate timeline of The Avengers where the group is called The Ultimates as part of Marvel’s Ultimate Comics line? This change was made by the creative team of writer Mark Millar and artist Bryan Hitch, who even drew Nick Fury as Samuel L Jackson years before the movie was cast.

Classified Information: Level 7 Access Only

Nick Fury may not have super powers, but he can hold his own as one of the best military commanders of World War II where he originally met and befriended Captain America in the comics. In the comics Sgt. Nick Fury led his squad, the Howling Commandos, through Europe to Germany. After a lifetime in the military he was recruited by Tony Stark to run the newly created government super agency S.H.I.E.L.D.

Captain America was previously the leader of another military super–team known as The Invaders during WWII. He gained his power as part of an experiment by Professor Erskine to create an army of super–soldiers, but Erskine was assassinated during the experiment, making Steve Rogers the only one. He later received his circular indestructible shield as a gift from President Roosevelt.

Speaking of weapons, we all know Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, can only be wielded by those “worthy” enough and in the movie the only one to even come close to making it budge is the original boy scout, Captain America. However in the comics the hammer can actually be wielded by other superheroes including Captain America, X-Mens’ Rogue, DC Comics’ Wonder Woman and Superman, and even Loki.

Not to be left behind in the weapons department is Tony Stark whose character was based on inventor, adventurer, multi–billionaire, ladies’ man and eventual recluse Howard Hughes. It was Iron Man’s co–creator Don Heck who modeled playboy industrialist Tony Stark’s look on Robin Hood (1938) actor Errol Flynn. When Stark dons his fully powered Iron Man suit he can lift up to 100 Tons almost the same as the Hulk, only as we now know, the angrier Hulk gets the stronger he gets, so Hulk will ultimately be the strongest.

There are a few team members who have murkier pasts. Hawkeye wasn’t always the hero we know him to be now. Clint Barton as he was originally known started out as a circus performer which is where he refined his archery skills. Eventually breaking off from the circus and going on to call himself “Hawkeye” he went down the dark path of being a villain before being inspired by Iron Man to become a superhero.

No stranger to shades of grey is the deadly Natasha Romanoff. One of the world’s best spies and assassins, she was originally a member of the Russian KGB where her ruthless effectiveness earned her code name “Black Widow.” Her threat to global security made her a target for S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Barton, who was sent to assassinate Black Widow recognized her skill and disobeyed orders recommending her as an agent instead.

Last, but not least, the Hulk. Who contrary to popular belief did not start out as a big green monster. In the comics, the Hulk’s appearance caused great difficulties for colorist Stan Goldberg who couldn’t get the right shades of grey for the Mr. Hyde side of Bruce Banner which lead to him being green in a few panels. Ultimately Stan Lee and Jack Kirby decided to keep the green coloring to make Goldberg’s job a little bit easier.

While you may not see superheroes running around on a daily basis like in the movies you might very well run into them at a comic convention. We’ve rounded up our own recruits to join the ranks of the cosplay elite.

Now grab some shawarma and check out the action–packed Avengers we’ve assembled for this edition of Cosplay Friday.

101-img-og by techgnotic

By the late 1960s, the big Hollywood movie studios had lost control over actual movie production.

Individual “executive producers” based at the “Big Five” increasingly cut deals with star independent producers, directors and, especially, movie star actors for percentages of profits. These “elements” had become indie players making their own deals. They were no longer company employees being paid salaries and assigned movie roles. Television was in its ascendancy and challenging the profitability of feature films. The fragmenting movie studios increasingly rented out their facilities and personnel to service TV production. The bottom line was that the studios no longer decided what movies were getting made. They were forced to go with the flow of the times.

Some lamented this passing of the Golden Age of American moviemaking. But for others, the brief period of film anarchy before the studios finally reassembled and took back total control, was “The New Hollywood” — in which movies took a turn for the artistic over the commercial, and stories that really “meant something” could be told. This New Hollywood that gave so many dreamers and innovators so much hope for movies becoming a truly elevated art form lasted from roughly 1967 to 1982. No single individual represents the Rise, Reign and Fall of the New Hollywood as the young screenwriter out of UCLA Film School, Francis Ford Coppola. He would symbolize, and often sponsor and mentor, the new generation of filmmakers, who were students rather than salesmen of movies, arts school majors rather than street–wise pitchmen. Coppola became their “Godfather.”

Three films epitomized New Hollywood: “Bonnie & Clyde” (1967), “The Graduate” (’67) and “Easy Rider” (’69).

Movie star actor Warren Beatty produced “B & C,” which shocked some critics with its bloody violence and offended others with its very choice of making criminals the anti–hero protagonists of a movie. “The Graduate” made Dustin Hoffmann, a short “ethnic–looking” actor, a major movie star leading man. Talented performers who once would have filled supporting roles as “character actors” could be stars in New Hollywood. “Easy Rider” represented total anarchy committed to film. Simply put Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson on motorcycles, provide camera and drugs, and let them improvise a story as they shoot and ride. So much for any studio production or business model.

At Paramount in 1971,

Production head Robert Evans wanted an Italian director to create in “The Godfather” an “ethnic to the core” film. But a film authentically depicting the real “mafia” was considered a no–win proposition. American Italians would be offended by being tarred with the mafia brush. There was also the risk of making heroes out of gangsters. Executive Peter Bart had over a dozen directors turn down “The Godfather.” Coppola didn’t like the Mario Puzo novel the movie was to be based on, but needed the work to get himself out of a serious debt situation. He reluctantly signed on. Both Puzo and Coppola wanted Marlon Brando to be the Godfather. Paramount didn’t trust the erratic eccentric actor and preferred the more reliable Ernest Borgnine. Only when Brando acceded to a filmed audition, to working for a percentage and no salary, and to putting up a bond against any delays in filming he might cause, was he nervously given the part.

From day one of production, Coppola fought a war with Paramount.

He was constantly threatened with being fired and replaced. The studio was not used to having its “advice” so cavalierly disregarded by a director. Only Brando’s threat of quitting should Coppola be fired is rumored to have saved the director’s job. “The Godfather” became a high–stakes showdown between the now quintessential New Hollywood independent director and the last of the powers that be still wed to the “proper” studio way of doing things.

“The Godfather” was released in March of 1972. Coppola had won. The critics and the public were unanimous in their enthusiasm for what was recognized as an instant American cinema classic on the same level as “Citizen Kane” and “Casablanca.” Coppola had re–worked and re–envisioned a pulpy sensationalist novel into a modern mythic fable about the immigrant experience of suffering, rejection and struggle eventually triumphing in assimilation and acceptance into American society. Crime is not glorified but a necessity for survival. The immigrant dream is not to carve out ghettos to rule over as crime lords—but instead to as quickly become “real Americans” as possible, so that the initial “survival crimes” can be forgiven and forgotten.

For the next ten years, Francis Ford Coppola would be the symbolic “godfather” at the lead of all the New Hollywood rebels who followed in his wake. Responsible for such notable films throughout his career starting with ‘Finigan’s Rainbow’, ‘Rumble Fish’, ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’, ‘The Conversation’, and even Michael Jackson’s 3D short film, ‘Captain EO’ that played at Disneyland for 12 years. But largely unknown to his fans and colleagues alike, Coppola, even with all his cinematic success, was his constantly facing a personal economic Armageddon. The vulnerable soft white underbelly of the otherwise well-armored Coppola movie–making machine was “Zoetrope.”

Zoetrope was to be Coppola’s new style of movie studio.

One in which directors and other artists, not producers and other “money men” called the shots in film production.  Coppola reputed sunk almost $7—million of his own money into purchasing a plot of land in L.A. to raise this dream studio upon.

American Zoetrope was founded by Coppola with his then protege George Lucas. Lucas’ first film THX1138 was released under the banner and became just Zoetrope Studios with the release of Apocalypse Now in 1979. He later switched it back to American Zoetrope in 1991 and has remained under that banner ever since.

Aside from George Lucas and Coppla’s own films, Zoetrope produced films from Jean–Luc Godard, Wim Wenders, Akira Kurosawa, Paul Schrader, Caleb Deschanel, Norman Mailer, Kenneth Branagh, Tim Burton, Robert DeNiro, and his daughter Sofia Coppola. The studios films influence was incredibly palpable in Hollywood. Many other productions and directors at the time tapped into this new zeitgeist to be inspired to elevate their projects.

But the conglomerate corporations buying up the shells of the movie studios were not amused. They pulled every trick in the book to block Coppola’s forward progress. Things ended dishearteningly for New Hollywood”s “Godfather” and most combative visionary. Facing losing his home and his California wine vineyard to bankruptcy, he ended up selling his dream, his Zoetrope facility, to studio representatives and going to work for the studios as a contract director on mundane fare like “Peggy Sue Got Married” in order to keep his financial head above water.

By 1982, Old Hollywood had found a formula for its way back to hegemonic rule over movie production. Ironically, the film that shone a beacon on the path back to total control was “Star Wars” in 1977, with Coppola’s and partner in Zoetrope, George Lucas, directing. The summer action–adventure tent–pole blockbuster for financing the rest of the year’s movie slate was the new magic formula. It worked well. The studio execs were back in command. Coppola and the New Hollywood insurgents had been routed by one of their own. Coppola having paved the way for Lucas and Spielberg’s success had also poured the foundation of his companies own decline. Gone were the artfully produced movies he had dreamed of and they were replaced with the summer blockbuster initiated by his own student.

The New Hollywood may have been doomed from the beginning.

The concept of artists’ controlling film production is based on the idea that the public would really like to spend their hard–earned dollars on superior films—as designed by the artist experts themselves, and not the as–cheap–to–produce–as–possible junk food movies preferred by the studio salesmen. Maybe this was a fundamental error in perception.  Maybe, if given the choice, 9 out of 10 Americans would still prefer dining at McDonalds rather than a 4–star restaurant…

Maybe the general public wasn’t there to support Coppola because maybe they just weren’t quite in agreement that they wanted the new dawn in cinema he was offering them. Coppola’s Zoetrope can then be seen not as a failure, but as being just a little before its proper time. We can still dream of a day when “The Godfather” sets the minimum standard in what we can expect in a movie.

Your Thoughts

  1. Would you consider “The Godfather” to be the best movie ever made in America? Are there others you would consider better?
  2. Do you prefer the more experimental, idiosyncratic and thought–provoking dramas of the 1967—1980 period of American filmmaking or the more blockbuster superhero and light romance and comedy fare so prevalent today?
  3. Should movies have to make you think or should they be simply releases for taking a break from thinking? Should there need to be a healthy balance of serious and silly offerings?
  4. Do you think the “myth–making” quality of fictions like “The Godfather” teaches more about actual history than facts and figures in history books?

Collection: Diptychs

Fri Jan 23, 2015, 3:51 PM
70-img-og by techgnotic

Although usually associated with religious paintings as a form of portable personal iconography, the diptych can actually be any two images presented in side–by–side juxtaposition. Classic diptychs are joined together with a middle hinge, so the images can be “closed” and worn as a pendant on a chain. But art galleries often simply hang the “related” photos or paintings together, or place both within one frame—as is the case with the contemporary diptychs in this collection.

Collection: Laundry Day

Thu Jan 22, 2015, 6:22 PM
74-img-og by techgnotic

From the clothesline strung across the backyard, to the college dorm laundry rooms, to the inner city all-night Laundromats, we all have our memories that begin with helping Mom with Laundry Day, that task that soon became ours alone upon taking flight from the family nest.  Laundry day can evoke warm memories of family unity, or cold memories of aching separation and loneliness, the softness of a stack of fresh towels or the hardness of city sidewalks, depending on the time in you life you are remembering.  Here is a collection of deviations evoking the full range of Laundry Day duality.

Time Traveling While You Sleep

Thu Jan 22, 2015, 6:21 PM
02-img-13 by techgnotic

What if you could find bits and pieces of the future in your dreams?

Back in 1925, engineer and philosopher J. W. Dunne published An Experiment in Time, a long-form essay arguing that we see bits of the past, present and future all jumbled up in our dreams. At the Internet Archive, you can download a free copy of "An Experiment in Time."

Dunne wrote:

Was it possible that these phenomena were not abnormal, but normal? That dreams—dreams in general, all dreams, everybody's dreams—were composed of images of past experience and images of future experience blended together in approximately equal proportions?”

Dunne argued that our waking brains can't access the future—a mental block prevents us from "seeing" the extension of time into the future. But when we are dreaming, our brain can travel freely between past, present and future:

Backwards and forwards in Time; and the dreamer's attention, following in natural, unhindered fashion the easiest pathway among the ramifications, would be continually crossing and recrossing that properly nonexistent equator which we, waking, ruled quite arbitrarily athwart the whole.”

Dunne designed an experiment that anyone can carry out at home and discover bits of the future buried in dreams. Here at True Pictures, we are fascinated by stories and ideas about the mysteries of time, so I've outlined his method below...

If you follow his steps, you can build a comprehensive record of your dreams. Once you have collected this material, you can go "image hunting"--searching for material from the past and present in your dreams.

  1. Grab your dream notebook the instant you wake up from a dream.

    A notebook and pencil is kept under the pillow, and, immediately on waking, before you even open your eyes, you set yourself to remember the rapidly vanishing dream.”

  2. After a dream, focus on the most clear experience in that dream.

    As a rule, a single incident is all that you can recall, and this appears so dim and small and isolated that you doubt the value of noting it down. Do not, however, attempt to remember anything more, but fix your attention on that single incident, and try to remember its details. Like a flash, a large section of the dream in which that incident occurred comes back.”

  3. Jot down as many dream incidents as you can recall, even if they are not part of the first dream.

    What is more important, however, is that, with that section, there usually comes into view an isolated incident from a previous dream. Get hold of as many of these isolated incidents as you can, neglecting temporarily the rest of the dreams of which they formed part. Then jot down these incidents in your notebook as shortly as possible; a word or two for each should suffice.”

  4. Go back over the dream incidents, adding as many details as you can remember.

    Now take incident number one. Concentrate upon it until you have recovered part of the dream story associated therewith, and write down the briefest possible outline of that story. Do the same in turn with the other incidents you have noted.”

  5. Reread the entire outline and make it a full story—don't go back to sleep until you have finished.

    Finally, take the abbreviated record thus made and write it out in full. Note details, as many as possible. Be specially careful to do this wherever the incident is one which, if it were to happen in real life, would seem unusual; for it is in connection with events of this kind that your evidence is most likely to be obtained. Until you have completed your record, do not allow yourself to think of anything else.”

Dunne offered one last piece of advice: “Do not attempt merely to remember. Write the dream down.”

Once you have built a dream record, start trying to match imagery to events in the past, present and eventually, your future. Start reading the news or examining your own experience—“image-hunting” for details that surfaced in your past dreams.

According to the people enlisted in his 20th Century experiment, you will soon see details from the future recorded in your past dreams as well.

Your Thoughts

  1. Have you ever had an experience in a dream that later came true?
  2. Do you keep a dream diary?

Img-09 by techgnotic

Transrealism was coined by writer, critic and mathematician Rudy Packer in his 1983 essay, “A Transrealist Manifesto,” as a description of a specific sort of science fiction that was emerging at that time.

This was the introduction of sci-fi elements into fictions that would otherwise be classified as literary realist. In these narratives, there is no attempt to build an alternative or far into the future world for the story to inhabit. Just the opposite. The setting is obviously our contemporary times on the only planet we know. Real public figures, news events and locales are cited to make sure the reader is aware we have not left our world for another, even in a parallel universe. We simply have a character who encounters some sci-fi concept as part of the “normal” narrative. The protagonist, relating his story based squarely in historical events, might also just happen to have the ability to time travel. In Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five,” Billy Pilgrim (Vonnegut’s fictional alter ego) relates in straight literary fashion the details of his experiences in World War II, intercut with domestic life in 1960s America – but also intercut with his time and space excursion as a captive zoo “animal” on the planet Tralfamadore. The element of science fiction is interpolated into the otherwise adult contemporary literary novel with no explanatory comment deemed necessary.

This is “transrealism.”

Who are authors writing transrealism?

Philip K. Dick’s early novels and stories were classic science fiction, but his later works, some published posthumously, fit the genre description. These include “A Scanner Darkly,” “VALIS” and “The Divine Invasion.” These stories all incorporate sci-fi ideas into gritty, realistic literary depictions of the world of drug addicts and police narcs that Dick had fallen into. Margaret Atwood is probably the key “transrealist” author today, with her “The Handmaid’s Tale” being a definitive example of this new genre. After a brief return to more literary fare she has, since “Oryx and Crake,” produced only transrealist novels. Much of Stephen King’s work fits the genre in its “horror” variation, when average blue collar folks depicted realistically and inhabiting a world instantly recognizable as our own, are inexplicably attacked by supernatural forces. Other authors having written novels that can be categorized as transrealist include J.G. Ballard, Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon.

Young Adult adventures like the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series, as well as most spy thriller movies and X-Men superhero fare are not transrealist because they rarely achieve a level of writing with a complexity of character and drama that rises to “literary,” and even when they are ostensibly set in the present or a future dystopian version of “our world,” it is too cartoonish in its rendering to occupy any serious “literary” level.

So if your literary palate has evolved over the years to the point that it can only be satisfied with real contemporary literature on the level of Philip Roth or Edward St Aubyn, yet you really miss the fun of your youthful Asimov and Clarke and Ray Bradbury sci-fi days, then sample some of the “transrealist” novels from the authors highlighted in this article and just maybe you can have the best of two worlds.

Your Thoughts

  1. Do you think sci-fi ideas can be regularly interpolated into more serious literature, or are the works cited by Vonnegut, Dick and Atwood simply rare miracles?
  2. Do you think that a “serious” and award-winning author on the level of Margaret Atwood is taking too big a chance with her legacy as a pioneering author of feminist and humanist literature by concentrating her later novels in a spin-off category of science fiction?
  3. Could “transrealism” be the bridge that brings sci-fi and Y.A. readers across to appreciating the even greater adult pleasures of reading serious dramatic literature?
  4. Do you have a favorite Transrealism novel?

Movie Review: Selma 2014

Wed Jan 21, 2015, 7:06 PM
004-img-og by techgnotic

A Wonderful Movie in Review

Selma is a brilliantly understated account of events in 1965, centered on the protest march in Selma, Alabama brutally assaulted by Gov. George Wallace’s thuggish state police troopers, that became a catalyst to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, at that time the single most important Federal legislation for Black America since the Emancipation Proclamation. The movie is not a Martin Luther King “biopic.” The slam–dunk, Oscar–worthy performance of David Oyelowo as Dr. King makes certain that the straight–forward narrative never slips into hero worship or historical hagiography. Oscar–worthy director Ava DuVernay manages to produce a perfectly seamless piece of storytelling with her players despite what could have easily been the distractive star presences of Oprah Winfrey, Common, Cuba Gooding Jr, Tim Roth and Martin Sheen.

The star of this movie is the drama of the times itself. The question was whether civil rights leaders like Dr. King and the massive movement they were leading could pressure President Johnson into pushing for passage of the Voting Rights Act. President Johnson had already leveraged the nation’s shock over a church bombing in Birmington, Alabama that killed four little Black girls (terrifyingly depicted in the film) into passage of The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Important as it was, the new law officially “desegregating” America was essentially toothless without African Americans being able to vote. Only the Voting Rights Act had the real potential to break the back of entrenched systemic racist separation with its inherent inequalities in the South.

The response of King and other movement leaders was the attempt to march in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery to present their grievances to Gov. Wallace. Arch-racist Wallace’s violent response was seen as one of the first live news broadcasts suddenly interrupting afternoon television across America. Many Americans saw for the first time that day on live TV the truth of what reality was like for Southern African Americans, as the police troopers beat peaceful protestors bloodily down to the ground. King and the brave protestors had put their lives on the line to show Americans the truth. And Americans did finally see and respond, demanding action. The Voting Rights Act was passed. It was LBJ’s “Great Society” that would have to wait.

An Important Movie in Context

Movies are now the world’s history books. The stories they tell are powerfully visually imprinted in our minds, regardless of factual inaccuracies or political prejudices of the producers, etc. and as movies they move quickly into world culture more efficiently and rapidly than books. Well balanced movies like “Selma” should be presented in elementary schools to be viewed by students who no longer pay attention to textbooks. If the school system doesn’t provide this service, hopefully parents will rent the movie and watch it with their kids.

This year’s Oscar film awards have nominated “Selma,” for the best picture category with seven other films. But none of the actors or filmmakers, including the Director, of this magnificent gem of a film production were nominated in their categories. Released on the 50th Anniversary of the Selma marches and the Voting Rights Act, the people who vote for the Oscars have turned their backs. It is very rare for a film to be nominated with none of its actors or crew.

Are the Academy Awards racist? No, no more than America in general. But there is continuing criticism that the Oscar voters (the invitation-only members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) are largely white and largely old and disproportionately male even if the Academy’s President is none of these. The civic irresponsibility of the “Academy Awards” is that the Oscars is hyped to the public as the final word in film excellence and which movies are this last year’s really important ones. For the people who made “Selma” to not be spotlighted in that select group is simply outrageous.

Accepting that Selma was nominated for Best Picture, it will now compete with ‘Birdman’ and ‘Boyhood’ and ‘The Theory Of Everything’ among others. This too fails to place appropriate importance on films that choose deeply socially relevant subjects rather than providing pure entertainment and diversion.

The Golden Globes bestows two grand film awards each year, splitting movies into dramas and musicals–or–comedies. I would propose that in the interests of better serving the needs of moviegoers, that the Oscars be split into two categories: “Arts” and “Entertainments.” This would properly service what has evolved over the last century in how we “use” movies. Mostly, we seek them out as escapes, diversions – “entertainments.” But we now increasingly depend on movies to school us, particularly in history and science. By bestowing two Oscars, the Academy’s mission to reflect the glitz and fantasy of Hollywood would be satisfied, but so too satisfied would be the duty impressed upon the Academy, perhaps unintentionally, of identifying which movies are important as historical records and educational tools.

This is already done in the Academy with Oscars for documentaries. But an “Arts” category would expand the scope of recognizing films with higher, social merit which are also grand productions reflecting the full scope of the cinematic experience which documentaries do not attempt.

This year we could have both “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Selma” as our superlative examples of filmmaking.