Saturday, December 18, 2010

Robert Neville, Mr. Lonely

In order to find Robert on Facebook Please search: "Robert Danger Neville" and he lives in Los Angeles.

-Please do not try and add him as a friend, his whole page is completely public and I feel it will take away from the idea if he starts adding friends. Thanks!

Robert Neville Has No Friends
When I found out that we could do a creative option for our final project I immediately got excited because I could do something that plays to my strengths and with almost no rules. This is the first time I could utilize my creative talents in a long time, science just doesn’t call for this that often. I made a Facebook page for my favorite (and most interesting) character Robert Neville. What my main focus for this was to really showcase the loneliness and frustration he feels everyday of his life. I think making a Facebook page for the only known human on the planet, which at its core is a way to meet and keep in contact with people, is a great contrast that shows how lonely life really would be if you were in his position. There is something really sad about seeing someone with a page that they update several times a day with no one to read or respond to it, ever. It is almost like an internet journal that he can keep his thoughts written down and express whatever he feels he needs to, although no one will ever read it but himself.
Some of the best parts of this project lie in the posts he makes. I really tried to make him emotional when he posts, either depressed or frustrated to the point where he sometimes loses control for a short while. Finding content from recent history that plays into the loneliness aspect of his world was probably the most fun, an example being the Akon song that Robert posted one of the days he was feeling particularly lonesome. This was a great way to integrate technology from today into his life.
After weeks of working on the page, getting pictures, updating his info, daily status updates, it has turned out great. I tried to make it a powerful idea that he is all alone, but keep it somewhat light by using some of the content of his personality to make it funny. A good example of this is when he posts on his wall about his current thoughts; he is the only one to “like” it. This makes one feel bad for him, considering he is probably devastated that no one will ever be there to “like” it, but also its humorous because “liking” you own posts is commonly regarded as a vain practice by today’s Facebook standards. I think when readers examine his profile page and see that he has no friends, yet lots of content, it hits home that he was the main character in one of the greatest novels depicting human solitude and loneliness. The goal for me was to emphasize his isolated world and I think that after reading his information and full page the readers will get that feeling and understand what he is going through.
This project was fun because it allowed me to constantly come up with new ideas to poke fun at his situation while still getting the point across. There are several not so obvious things about the profile that accent Robert’s isolation in the world and sadness that he has lost all of his family and friends. Some of these things will require looking at all the small details of the page, such as the email address he choose to use to create his account. The fact that there were obviously no computers or Facebook when the novel was written gave me the creative freedom to integrate old ideas from the novel with technology and the new ways of communicating. This being shown when Robert posted links to books he is reading on his wall and becoming a fan of things such as “weapons” and “whiskey”.
There was no need for continual revising because this was an ongoing project that I could add to content to whenever I wanted. I could be sitting in class and come up with a good idea and just go add it without changing the rest of his profile. Many of the things Robert posted were things he was thinking at that exact moment. When he gets frustrated he likes to think out loud on his wall, sometimes cussing and taking refuge in the bottle.
An idea that I keep thinking about during this project was how technology creates people who are isolated just like Neville. I used technology to show how isolated Neville is in his everyday life, but in reality technology is creating more and more isolated people every day. Today we are connected in many different ways, calling, texting, emailing, tweeting, and more. These connect us to other people in more ways than in Roberts time period, but they seem to be shallow and less meaningful when compared to face to face human interaction. Making this page for Robert really made me aware of how technology can create relationships that can sometimes have less depth than if you were to meet someone in person. For this reason things like Facebook and Twitter can be diluting to human friendships.
Robert Neville is the only human left on earth and he deals with it in many ways, sometimes becoming frustrated and sometimes drinking his sorrows away. Facebook is a program that was designed to keep people in contact and make new friends, and it is for this exact reason that we are able to understand how alone Neville feels when he is posting and updating his profile. Seeing zero friends and no comments by anyone but himself shows perfectly what he is going through. I am glad I got to do this project because I feel it gets the idea of his true sorrow and despair right to where the readers live. “Sometimes he had indulged in daydreams about finding someone. More often, though, he had tried to adjust to what he sincerely believed was the inevitable — that he was actually the only one left in the world. At least in as much of the world as he could ever hope to know (Robert Neville, I am Legend)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Final Blog Post

I was a little nervous coming into this course because it was A.) the first online course I have ever taken and B.) an English course. I have not taken anything but science classes since my freshman year and I did not know how I was going to handle it. The main thing I think I really got out of this class was a new appreciation for the vampire figure. I have never been a big fan of vampires, mostly because of all the fuss about the twilight series and what not, but I now realize that vampires have a much more serious history and people can learn things from them and their (mostly) sad stories. Also many of the vampires of the books we read were very different and showed a great deal of diversity.
Another thing that came along in this course was the blogging, I have never done it before and I’m glad I got to have a constant reason to learn how. It is a very different feeling posting and commenting in an online community rather than a class room; I find it much more stress free since I don’t care for public speaking much. Overall the class structure was just fine, it was enough work to keep you busy and interested yet not enough to slow me down doing my other work.
My final project actually got me excited because I never really get a chance to show my creative side in any of my science classes. I think my Facebook page for Robert Neville is going to showcase his actual living situation very well. His loneliness is presented and interpreted very easily when shown on a “friendship making” program. I am glad to see how it turned out and I think it may make some of the people who look at it laugh. I definitely think the final project made me think more about what is going on in Roberts head, more than the just reading the book. This class was different from anything I have ever done and I can legitimately say I enjoyed myself.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Little Monsters Causing a Ruckus

Little Monsters Causing a Ruckus
“There’s nothing like a little monster to inspire terror among grown-ups (Calhoun p. 1).”
In John Calhoun’s Childhood’s End: Let the Right One In and Other Deaths of Innocence he explores a few different topics while referencing many movies, stories and films. The media he uses range from the early 1900s to the present and all have one thing in common: creepy, corrupt, and mysteriously evil children. Calhoun goes on to show what it is about this type of media that is so compelling. When the role of children is changed from one of innocence and vulnerability, to one in which they are cunning, evil, and dangerous, it not only terrifies, but captivates, the audience.
To the human mind, the unknown is a common cause of the emotion we call fear. It is for this reason that children, expected to be ignorant, innocent, and vulnerable, can be so terrifying when this role is reversed. Within their socially acceptable role, children are predictable. When they are unconstrained to this role, it calls into question everything adults take for granted about how children act. Calhoun uses the following quote to describe why it is so terrifying to see children as these films depict them:
“But in the world of Let the Right One In, and of the little-monster subgenre in general, the character can be seen as much more than this: she is a repository of adult fears about children, who are so like us yet in crucial ways so different, who are both vulnerable and demanding, and in touch with the id in ways that can elicit great anxiety and discomfort, especially when sexual stirrings begin to take form (Calhoun p.1).”
With this quote, Calhoun explains how the taboo of children, unaware of social norms and rules that adults abide by and who pursue what they want, combined with adult-like intelligence and personality, brings forth fears that the unthinkable, forbidden, and unknown, could occur. There are many examples of this fear of the unknown in this genre. One in particular is Village of the Damned. This was produced in the 1960s and involved a village wide blackout that resulted in the impregnation of every single woman in the village, even the virgins. The children that are then born are sophisticated, experience accelerated growth, and can control adults with their eyes. No one in the village knows how or why they came and generally don’t know what to do about them, thus causing terror and panic among the villagers.
Another idea that is unnerving to the public is that of a child’s seeming vulnerability. If you were to see a small child huddled in a dark alley shivering, you would probably help them, would you not? Now what if this child suddenly lunged out at you and aggressively bit and fed itself on your flesh? Because of their perceived innocence we dismiss the danger that could come from a child. In these horror movies, children are not the ones that need protection, but rather the other characters need protection from them. Calhoun states, “The power of children to inspire pity and terror—because of their vulnerability, because of their uncontrollability—has once again moved to the cultural front, not least at the movies (Calhoun p.6).” With this quote, Calhoun explains how the various elements of these films has helped them to not only become popular at the box office, but has aided in creating a cultural phenomenon.
All of the previously mentioned ways children can be scary involve them having powers or knowledge that normal children do not possess. However, do not think this is the only way children can be scary. There are plenty of ways that children can be very frightening just being terrible to other children. Calhoun agrees by ending with a sobering remark, “The torment he (Oskar from Let the Right One In) undergoes at the hands of the boys at school is unusually violent, easily making the point that monstrous children can come in forms other than the supernatural variety (Calhoun p.6).” This is completely true; none of bullies possess anything special except a broken home and desire to cause pain and suffering to others. This is most frightening to adults when children, who are suppose to be care-free and innocent, are showing adult emotions and evil intentions. The fact that these children have learned these drives so early in life and are tormenting others can be emotionally disturbing, these situations may happen and do happen in everyday life, not just in film.
Frankly, I think this image of “devil” children in horror films scares the hell out of most people. With our image of children being so sweet and innocent we picture them as vulnerable and in need of our protection; when this is reversed and we are placed in danger because of these children it can be quiet shocking when they deviate from the social norms we are used to. John Calhoun gives a good proposal for why it is that they are so disturbing, using ideas like their vulnerability and innocence to showcase how abnormal it is when these roles are reversed.

1.) What characteristics does Eli have that go against the social norms expected of children?
2.) What about Eli’s history makes her captivating to the audience?
3.) How do Eli and her actions reflect what Oskar is feeling inside during his encounters with his tormenters?

Works Cited
Calhoun, John. Childhood’s End: Let the Right One In and Other Deaths of Innocence