Doodle Blogging

Upkeeping a blog can be stressful (I say on the blog that gets the least of my attention). Heck, writing is stressful, even if you love it. Even if you love the subject matter. Being aware of the craft of writing means that you are second-guessing your word choices, that the smallest typo will haunt your waking moments, that sleep will elude you for the sake of lethologica –

lethologica
(noun)
the inability to remember a word or put your finger on the right word

– and desks will be flipped for the sake of research roadblocks. If you’re a freelancer, this goes double. Views, comments, likes, and reblogs become measures of success which can determine if you’re able to snag a contributor position on a site or gather Patreon supporters (shameless plug). Exposure becomes your lifeblood and suddenly timing and topical seasons are everything in order to get your pieces circulating. A source of joy becomes a source of stress.

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Mowgli’s Heroism: A Rebuttal to MAN(Cub) OF STEEL

The Jungle Book’s climax was certainly one of mass destruction. One that Andrew Todd of Birth.Movies.Death. found to be frustratingly similar to Man of Steel’s.

[I]t’s incredible to me, so soon after that film’s release, that more people apparently haven’t made the connection between Man of Steel’s D—head Superman and The Jungle Book’s D—head Mowgli. – THE JUNGLE BOOK Has A MAN(Cub) OF STEEL Problem

I respectfully disagree that there is a connection to make.

Spoilers Ahead

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A Close Read of the Elephant Scene (The Jungle Book 2016)

As a whole, The Jungle Book is a wonderfully structured film. Cause and effect build organically against each other, with the environment and character motivations weaving together in an elaborate dance. So it is a bold statement to say that the second meeting with the elephants – the Pit Scene as I will call it – is the best-developed scene in the entire movie. And that’s a statement I’m going to stand by.

By best-developed, I mean that this scene has so many threads that interconnect with this one event to create a very pivotal moment. This scene could not exist as such an impressive feat of storytelling were it a part of a lesser movie.

Spoilers Ahead

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The Hero of Alpha Halo, The Woman Called McKay – Gaming’s Place in Literature

Gaming’s Place in Literature seeks to examine game-related fiction through different lenses of literary analysis.



Master Chief is not the protagonist of Halo: The Flood. He’s certainly the protagonist of Combat Evolved, but in the novelization of the game, he hands the driver’s seat over to one Lieutenant Melissa McKay.

The base definition of a protagonist is simple: “the leading character’ of a story [X]. However with a cast of thousands, and multiple viewpoint characters, it can be difficult to pinpoint who the protagonist actually is. Quickbeam, a content writer over at TheOneRing.net, gives us another method of locating the main character in a story: the narrative.

“[A] character-driven story like LOTR is not strictly about sacrifice (or heroism, or the impermanence of beauty, or all those themes that are intrinsic). I must admit the novel is woven of many threads but the groundwork of the tale, the telling of it, spins on a single proviso: Who is transformed the most between the opening and the closing page, taking the reader through his transformation?” [X]

The telling of the tale, as Quickbeam so graciously highlighted, is also called the narrative. This is the way a story is told, the grand combination of themes, characters, plot, and writing style. Now not all narratives work off the same proviso or condition as Lord of the Rings does. While we do see character transformation in our protagonists throughout the Halo series, Halo 2 being an easy example, one of the groundwork pieces for Halo as a whole is sacrifice.

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Halo: The Flood – Gaming’s Place in Literature

Gaming’s Place in Literature seeks to examine game-related fiction through different lenses of literary analysis.



The Flood is a Halo book that’s known to get some flak from the fanbase, and I can understand why. Coming off of Nylund’s close look into the way the Master Chief thinks, the more action-oriented style can feel shallow. There are parts where Dietz slows down the story to describe in detail how the Master Chief dispatched the Covenant squads, which is particularly dull when you’ve played the campaign and recognize the scenes. I’m not sure we needed the description of our first Warthog jump in the tunnel system that “is not a natural formation.” Furthermore there are some interesting continuity choices that Dietz makes, such as everyone and their Sangheili zealots knowing that John was a child soldier.

With all these issue in mind, I will defend this book vigorously. Dietz had a lot of obstacles to overcome that were different from Nylund. Frank O’Connor has explained that Dietz not only had to transfer a well-known story from one medium to another, but also had to do so in less time that Nylund had (X). Therefore, even upon rereading, I remain both impressed and delighted with what we were given.

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Sympathetic Villains – Maul, Fisk, and Jul ‘Mdama

Tumblr user scribbleymark wrote a brief analysis on (“formerly Darth, now just“) Maul and how he is somehow able to be a sympathetic character despite doing incredibly horrible deeds.

The key to making Vader and Kylo Ren redeemable is that they eventually or constantly feel guilt or remorse for their wrong-doing; that they know what they’re doing is wrong on an emotional level, and suffer from it internally. This same idea is employed a lot with villains to make the audience like them. Consider all the reluctant, beloved baddies you know of, who do bad things only because there’s no other way! These types usually spend time pining over the pain and loss of life they cause.

Maul has none of those moral dilemmas or guilt. Maul doesn’t feel bad about what he does. Ever. He has no problem using people up and then discarding them, or maiming and murdering them for his own satisfaction. But at the same time, he genuinely cares about his brother. His heart is broken when his mother dies. He’s left emotionally scarred by the fact Sidious quickly replaced him and didn’t even want him back, and that bitterness tracks him for decades after.

Even at the finale of Rebels, Maul lashes out at everyone except Ezra. Why? Because he’s attached to Ezra.

Maul’s emotional attachments are what humanize him to the audience, rather than moral guilt. 

While I do like a good villain-redemption story based on morals, this caught my eye, because there have been times where villains have endeared themselves to me, while still being villains. And I’m the sort of person who likes the goody-two-shoes like Captain America and Superman. Looking back at many of these villains, who I have actually liked and not just enjoyed their monologues, I have liked them because of their emotional attachments to others.

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Bagheera’s Expanded Role – The Jungle Book (2016)

The thing that I recall most fondly about the 1967 Disney animated movie is Bagheera the panther. Maybe it was because of the character’s sleek design (I’ve always liked that aesthetic), or maybe it was because of his sense of responsibility (Baloo’s laid-back nature bothered me, even as a child). Either way, Bagheera was the number one character I was looking forward to in this movie, and my hopes and expectations were more than met. Bagheera’s role in this movie was expanded beyond what he was given in the 1967 cartoon, and the new movie benefits from it.

To begin with, Baloo’s identity as “Poppa Bear” from the cartoon is nowhere to be seen. There’s no talk of adopting and raising Mowgli. There’s still a fondness between them, but it’s treated as more of a partnership and a friendship, which fits for the timeframe that the two know each other. Instead, it’s Bagheera who really becomes the father figure of the man-cub. Any time Mowgli is snatched into danger, it’s for Bagheera that he calls. It’s also on Bagheera that the camera tends to linger when there’s a turning point for Mowgli, but I will get to that in a moment.

With Bagheera taking a larger role, the movie really required top notch talent to carry the panther through his various emotions. Sir Ben Kingsley (voice), Justin Marks (screenwriter), and the animation team knocked it out of the park with Bagheera. In one of many interviews, Sir Kingsley described the character as having “authority, discipline, command, and then underneath that of course, tremendous loyalty and affection” (Collider). Through the animation, the script, and the voice work, this is exactly what we are shown.

One instance that stands out to me in particular comes as Bagheera and Baloo are scaling a cliff to rescue Mowgli from King Louie. Baloo, being terrified of heights, freezes partway up. In response, Bagheera stops to look Baloo in the eye and tell him, ““Look at me, look at nothing else but me. You’re doing fine. Keep your eyes up high.” It’s a beautifully small scene that adds a little bit more to the character, touching on both notions of discipline and affection in the same line.

Certain story changes from the cartoon also allow for these traits to surface. For example, Bagheera is required to be absent from Mowgli’s story in order for the boy to grow (Vox), but the way in which this happens in this movie is preferable to to the 1967 cartoon. In the original Disney adaptation, Bagheera leaves after one frayed nerve too many. In fact, Bagheera’s main obstacle to his loyalty in that version seems to be himself. He’s endlessly trying to untangle himself from the Mowgli mess only to come running back any time he hears of danger to the man-cub. In the 2016 script, physical barriers alone keep him from Mowgli’s side. This gives the audience a stronger sense of Bagheera’s loyalty.

There could be an argument made that Bagheera’s turmoil over Mowgli in the cartoon makes him a more complex character. Perhaps, but those shifts in mood seem to be more driven by the plot’s demands instead of the character’s motivations. The 2016 film flips that on its head. Bagheera is given his own character arc that helps propel the plot forward.

Spoilers ahead for The Jungle Book

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