Things to show what I’m talking about. Zombies are everywhere.

Picture of a zombie flash mob. Why do people do this?
Hit T.V show on AMC. Wasn’t going to have a second season, now its top dog.
Ricky Gervais running from a zombie mob in a commercial for Netflix airing frequently on major channels
NFA Weapons by Fiscal Year. Details to follow
Gun sales have gone up dramatically
a picture of top selling rock artist Rob Zombie, formerly of White Zombie
 earliest of the modern zombie theme, inspired a sequel and began the spree of films in the genre to emerge after
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Idea for Poster – Zombies in 3D

  1. Pictures (Attached); I will include pictures from the zombie Film Headlines including N.O.T.L.D & 28 Days Later. I want pictures to be my main attraction on my poster since the topic of zombie film is such a visual idea. My typed work will be mostly spoken, although I will include main points from each paragraph as well as a work’s cited on the poster too. I would also like to include a 3-d and/or video element: I would like the visuals of my poster to be enhanced with 3-d graphics, almost like a zombie “coming out” of the poster, so that my project can be brought to life a little more (no pun intended). I was also thinking about having two laptops set up with one playing Romero’s 1968 black and white classic “Night of the Living Dead” while another simultaneously plays Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” so that just as is discussed in my paper, my audience will be able to observe differences between the two films themselves – almost as if the videos will help to prove my point for me without my saying anything. Also, these movies are just plain cool and I think they will attract a lot of attention from multiple generations remembering the classic zombie horror films of their time.

Images;This is an original poster/ cover for Romero’s original 1968 film, which many still claim to be the scariest movie ever made. Interestingly enough, this zombie doesn’t really look a thing like zombies in modern horror, which I also include pictures of on my poster.

 This is a popular poster sold at almost ever online poster website out there. In fact, my friend has one hanging in his room and I see this everywhere. I don’t understand it but think it’s a pretty interesting conversation point. One word; “Brains”. I don’t understand myself what kind of message or idea this is supposed to convey, but it seems that all of a sudden, zombies are becoming less scary and more ‘cool’. This correlates well in my paper which argues that society as a whole has lost a certain filter which once deemed this kind of imagery inappropriate – the same way that gore, blood, and violence has increased exponentially in modern cinema as opposed to zombie films from the 1960’s and 70’s.

These next two pictures I think are weirdly related in imagery, and use a visual idea to convey partially what my paper will be about. Not just about the fire, but the attitude of 9/11 gave us all a heightened fear and unsafe feeling which is absolutely played out in modern zombie flicks – especially “28 Days” which came out recently after 9/11. Just as our enemies are now so resourceful and destructive they can fly planes into buildings, the modern zombie exhibits similar ‘unstoppable’ feelings to audiences, who can longer imagine the zombie as a slow, docile, weak corpse as Romero’s 1968 “N.O.T.L.D” painted. Zombies, like our enemies, are now something uncanny and unknown, but surely destructive and something to be not only avoided, but feared.

Compare that to imagery from the 1960’s in both cinema and real life. A Nuclear bomb destroys everything, and I believe the slow and somewhat harmless docility of Romero’s zombie’s are reflected in Cold War ideology. Whereas modern zombies are aggressive and forceful, startling and overpoweringly REAL, Romero’s undead served more as a threat to human beings when our guard was let down. Just like politics of the Cold war preached vigilance, it was easier to survive the Zombie apocalypse in the 1960’s because the threat was obvious from far away – you could even outrun a zombie back then which is more than can be said of today. You can outrun a bomb, but deff not a plane.

The Unwanted and Unnecessary American

One of the ideas that Riverbend tries to combat through several of her posts is the stereotyped image of Iraq and the Iraqi people. She is constantly making references to the way the world “sees” Iraq and comparing it to what the reality is.

The Myth: Iraqis, prior to occupation, lived in little beige tents set up on the sides of little dirt roads all over Baghdad. Men and boys would ride to school on their camels, donkeys, and goats. These schools were larger versions of the home units and for every 100 students, there was one turban-wearing teacher who taught the boys rudimentary math (to count the flock) and reading. Girls and women sat at home, in black burkas, making bread and taking care of 10-12 children.

The Truth: Iraqis live in houses with running water and electricity. Thousands of them own computers. Millions own VCRs and VCDs. Iraq has sophisticated bridges, recreational centers, clubs, restaurants, shops, universities, schools, etc. (Riverbend 34)

The saddest part about this statement is that Riverbend is correct–many Americans really do think this way because they do not know any better. Part of the general ignorance of the population of our country is due to our own willingness to accept what we are shown as truth and fact. We don’t question nearly as much as we should and as is healthy because there are consequences for individuals who question authority–granted the consequences aren’t as dire as they are in other nations around the world, but they can be dire enough. Mainly I think we do not question what we are told because of the apathy and self-centered attitude which has become an epidemic in this country.

The other thing which Riverbend discusses often in her blogs is how Americans think they are helping the Iraqi people through their occupation. Newsflash people–not every country wants to turn into a carbon-copy of America! Many countries, Iraq included,

 just want to be left to their own vices to figure out their own political affairs. Yes–it can be helpful to aid in the removal of a tyrannical governmental figurehead, but after the dirty deed is done, we need to have the social graces to get out instead of setting up camp in whatever country we just “liberated”. There was actually a book written which deals with the views towards Americans who overstay their welcome and try to “help” countries which don’t necessarily want the pity for one reason or another: The Ugly American by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick.

One last interesting point I would like to raise also deals with the issue of the unnecessary American occupation which Riverbend discusses. It is the issue of re-building. I came across an image which is perfect for the situation Riverbend describes in regards to building bridges.

   …Someone from the CPA wanted the company to estimate the building costs of replacing the New Diyala Bridge on the South East end of Baghdad. He got his team together, they went out and assessed the damage, decided it wasn’t too extensive, but it would be costly. They did the necessary tests and analyses…and came up with a number they tentatively put forward–$300,000. This included new plans and designs, raw materials (quite cheap in Iraq), labor, contractors, travel expenses, etc. …A week later, the New Diyala Bridge contract was given to an American company. This particular company estimated the cost of rebuilding the bridge would be around–brace yourselves–$50,000,000!! (Riverbend 34)

This all goes back to the concept of the Ugly American and our constant desire to “help” where we are not needed. In the example Riverbend uses, not only is the native country–Iraq–capable of rebuilding on its own, it is able to do it at a much more reasonable price by taking advantage of natural resources as well as using Iraqi engineers for the project. Not only would this save the country money, it would also create much-needed jobs which would in turn help stimulate the economy and raise overall morale. But hey, this is just one woman’s opinion.

Works Cited

Riverbend. Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq. New York: Feminist at the City University of New York, 2005. Print.

Link

Everyone likes talking about what they are interested in, and writers are no exception. Writers also happen to typically be very opinionated people (why would we write if we did not feel that we had something to say?). Writers also seem to have no shortage of opinions on what it means to be a writer, what the writer’s  place is in society, and what responsibility and significance goes along with it. The overarching argument is about responsibility and what exactly that responsibility is.

Tony Kushner says in his essay, “Some Questions About Tolerance” that the writers responsibility is to make good art, any other responsibilities come after that.

Arundhati Roy in “Power Politics” says that the writers responsibility is to “ask ourselves some very uncomfortable questions” and “take sides” because these are “our responsibilities as citizens.”

Edwidge Danticat says that the writer’s responsibility is to her audience. She argues that we are called upon to “create dangerously, for people who read dangerously.”

The responsibility of the writer is foremost to be good at writing, I do not think that is easy to argue against. However, when writing is laced with the any broader political ideology, it gains a greater urgency to be good art. Kushner says, very succinctly, that  “If art […] has any political impact, and I believe it does, it seems to me that it’s most likely to have it by being effective art […]” As I have suggested, this seems obvious, but there is an edge to it.

Slam poet Taylor Mali, in his poem “How to Write a Political Poem ” speaks somewhat flippantly to the point that Roy brings up when she asks, “if what we have to say doesn’t ’sell’ will we still say it?” Mali takes a different approach to talking about writing the political than Roy or Kushner or Danticat. Mali talks about the craft of writing and how we try to formulate our political arguments. He points out that we are selling it from the moment we sit down to write. He points out that we have to “have a hook” and right at the start he says that “however it begins, its gotta be loud.” By saying this he is suggesting that no mater what you say, there is a certain way that you have to say it to help make people believe you.

Mali also brings out a larger point about how when we are selling our ideas (as that is what we do when we write, we try to sell the truth of what we are trying to say, just as I am doing now) it is exactly that, selling. Roy brings up the issue of commercialization of writing and Mali brings out a more resonant point that the idea of selling happens before, and in a different way than the idea of publishing and marketing. The selling happens as soon as one sits down to try to convince someone of your political point. The political, just as the literary, is always about selling your truth and that truth is our responsibility. How we choose to write that truth is up to each individual writer.

Works Cited

Danticat, Edwidge. “Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work” New York: Vintage, 2010. 1-20. Print.

Kushner, Tony. “Some Questions About Tolerance” New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1995. Print.

Mali, Taylor. “How to Write a Political Poem” Youtube. 13 Oct. 2009. 30 Jan. 2012. Web.

Roy, Arundhati. “Power Politics” Boston: South End Press, 2002. Print.

The Politics of Being a Woman Writer

In Power Politics Arundhati Roy expresses her aversion to being labeled a “writer-activist”: “why should it be that the person who wrote The God of Small Things is called a writer, and the person who wrote the political essays is called an activist?” (10). This is not the only label used to define and limit the power of an author’s writing. Women who write have often times been labeled as women writers instead of being regarded as part of the collective writing society. The question is, does being a woman impact the way the author writes? What is the importance and difference in what women write in comparison to men? Roy’s power as a writer is limited by defining her in a such a specific role. Only those who are interested in political activism will be interested in reading her work (this is a general statement on the purpose of creating the label). In this same way, only women will want to read women’s writing and what they have to say is no longer as important or impacting as those writers who are recognized as part of the writing society as a whole. By creating this division in the writing world does it change the way a women author’s writing is accepted and perceived? Is a woman’s political opinion taken as seriously as a man’s?

Virginia Woolf addresses the idea of what it should mean to be a writer, especially a woman writer writing about being oppressed by the male dominated society, in her essay “A Room of One’s Own”. Woolf makes a statement about what writing should do or really not do: “The mind of the artist, in order to achieve the prodigious effort of freeing whole and entire work that is in him, must be incandescent…there must be no obstacle in it, no foreign matter consumed” and continues referring to William Shakespeare and his success as a writer, “All desire to protest, to preach, to proclaim and injury, to pay off a score to, to make the world the witness of some hardship or grievance was fired out of him and consumed. Therefore his poetry flows

free and unimpeded” (DeShazer 43).

This entire idea of the artist or writer keeping agendas and anger out of their writing or filtering out specific complaints about injustices they have perceived reminded me of Kushner’s essay Some Questions About Tolerance. Kushner states: “political agendas can’t successfully be imposed on the act of making art, creation, for all that those agendas will invariably surface from within once the art is made” (44). Perhaps Kushner and Woolf are correct in saying those ideas take away from the art or writing, but perhaps there is something special and influential in making blatant statements about political and social issues. Political opinion should not detract from the sta

tion of the writer; it is simply a characteristic of their writing. A characteristic which has impacted many a reader and should be valued as much as the writing that is perhaps not as obvious or directed.

DeShazer, Mary K. “A Room of One’s Own.” The Longman Anthology of Women’s Literature. New York: Longman, 2001. 16-72. Print.Kushner, Tony. “Some Questions About Tolerance.” Thinking about the

Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness: Essays, a Play, Two Poems, and a Prayer. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1995. 41-47. Print.

Moss, Tara. Women Writer’s Book. Digital image. The Book Post. Tara Moss, 16 Oct. 2010. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://blog.taramoss.com/media/2/womenwritersbook.jpg&gt;.

Roy, Arundhati. Power Politics. Boston: South End, 2002. Print.

This video is a clip of blogger and author Jessica Valenti on her book Full Frontal Feminism. While she doesn’t specifically talk about what it means to write the poltical, she does address what her purpose is. She comments that with her web site, Feministing.com, she often forgets about people who are not yet feminists. It’s easy to forget that there are tons of people out there that don’t understand the patriarchal restrictions that oppress everyone and it’s much easier to write about feminism from a more enlightened viewpoint. I thought it was really interesting to note the importance of keeping in mind who may stumble across your writing and how beneficial it is to get your message out there in many ways.

This video reminded me of all three authors, but specifically of Roy. While Roy and Valenti are from two very different walks of life, they are both considered writer-activists. Valenti’s activism is perhaps even more blatant given the nature of her writing. Unlike Roy, Valenti is writing strictly in a political sense and pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a woman. Her book asks what the worst names for a woman are. They include things like “slut” and “whore.” Then she asks what the worst names for a man are. They include “pussy” and “mangina,” pointing out that the worst thing you can call a man is a woman.

Roy asks “do we have Really Free Speech? If what we have to say doesn’t “sell,” will we still say it?” I think Valenti is an interesting answer to this. It doesn’t seem as though we have free speech.Think about it, if we tend to go against the crowd we are often called names and torn down. Just recently a girl worked to get a prayer banner taken down in a public school and she has dealt with incessant bullying since. Valenti is lucky in that she was able to us the internet as a platform to find like minded individuals to support and spread her message. The school girl didn’t have that same option. I don’t know that Valenti would have been able to publish any of her books had she not been affiliated with Feministing.com and gained such a loyal internet fanbase. She was lucky enough to have power in numbers. Unfortunately, power usually comes in the form of money.

Roy, Arundhati. Power Politics. Boston: South End Press, 2002. Print.

Valenti, Jessica, perf. Book TV: Jessica Valenti, author of “Full Frontal Feminism”. Web. 30 Jan 2012

The Impossibility of Writing (and Living) Apolitically

In a July 5, 2010 interview with Democracy NOW!, filmmaker Michael Moore discusses   the redundancy of the term “activist,” stating, “I’m a citizen in a democracy, so that automatically implies I’m an activist, you’re an activist, you’re all activists. Anybody who decides to reside in the democracy is an activist. If you’re not an activist, if we’re not, then the democracy ceases to exist. So, there is no choice but for all of us to be active.”

Similarly, in the opening chapter of Power Politics, Arundhati Roy writes, “One is not involved by virtue of being a writer or activist. One is involved because one is a human being” (24).

To Moore, participation is vital to a democracy; Roy takes this idea a step further in stating that participation, or involvement, is an integral part of human existence.

So, is it possible not to be an activist? To write, to create, to exist — all apolitically?

I mean, maybe you don’t vote. Maybe you haven’t made a habit of exercising your right to peaceably assemble; to speak out against your government. Maybe you’ve never participated in a sit-in or a stand-in or a walk-out or any other such verb-preposition combination. Maybe you don’t even live in a democratic nation.

But I think Roy would definitely argue that your existence still has political implications. Is complicity not just as political an act as protest? Is defending, accepting, or willfully succumbing to the status quo, just or unjust as it may be, not a political statement in and of itself?

Kushner, in his essay, arrives at a similar conclusion, though he gets there a little differently: “[E]ach culture is different; the artistic expressions of each culture embody those differences in form and content, and indeed one might say that the art a culture produces is the clearest statement that culture can make of difference” (43).

Whether the artist wants it to or not, his art is going to reflect his culture, his background, perhaps even the political circumstances under which a given piece was produced — much like the individual, whether he recognizes it or not, is “involved,” is an activist, simply by virtue of his existing.

Michael Moore’s Democracy NOW! interview

Kushner, Tony. Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness. New York: Theater Communications Group, 1995. 41-47. Print.

“Michael Moore on His Life, His Films, and His Activism.” Democracy NOW! democracynow.org. 5 July 2010. Accessed 30 Jan. 2012.

Roy, Arundhati. Power Politics. Boston: South End Press, 2002. 4-33. Print.