This essay investigates the evolution of formal qualities of blockbuster films in American cinema. The texts used for analysis are Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) and Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day (1996). A change in the movie-going audience—specifically, the increase in audiences’ awareness of film conventions and cinematic language—prompted the strikingly different aesthetics of the blockbusters of the 1970s and those of the 1990s. This essay examines specific cinematic attributes observed in both films.
By Joshua Randall
Complicated, contradictory depictions of Artificial Intelligence (AI) dominate science fiction narratives, but the character Gerty from Moon demonstrates a recent trend toward more positive depictions. Gerty takes a supportive role as main character Sam’s caretaker and subverts many conventions of AI established by films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey. His ultimate sacrifice of his memory on Sam’s behalf highlights this positive shift, a shift echoed in subsequent films like Robot and Frank.
By Greg Bayles
This essay examines virtual governance and economy as essential components in the foundations of virtual and digitally-hybridized civilizations. It looks at existing social and political systems in two online worlds, EVE Online and Second Life, and examines the virtual currency Bitcoin as a potential model for robust, independent virtual economies. This essay closes with commentary on the increasing hybridization of real and virtual worlds and calls for exploration of these novel environments.
by Scott Raia
This essay uses phenomenological psychology to examine the themes of Michel Gondry’s 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, specifically the associationist and cognitivist schools of psychoanalysis. This essay observes the film’s claim that real-world suppression of memories is impractical and dangerous. This essay investigates some of the film’s allusions, including the poem by Alexander Pope from which the film derives its title, as evidence of the film’s stance against attempts to remove painful memories. This essay concludes with a subjective reading of the film text’s implications that support the theme that memories are integral to identity.
by Josh Randall
This essay is an examination of religious depictions in science fiction, particularly within the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This essay finds that Deep Space Nine doesn’t seek to actively challenge and change cultures and religions by analyzing the Ferengi (a peripheral religious organization and species) and the actions of Quark, one of Ferengi’s members. Instead, Deep Space Nine incorporates a more realistic, positive, and sophisticated view of religion than previous Star Trek incarnations and the science fiction genre in general have done.