Life is Strange: The Relevance of Video Games

For my final blog post, I want to reflect and talk about video games–specifically one of my favorites: Life is Strange. I’ve gotten more into playing video games as they develop; I have noticed they rely heavily on stories rather than the simple action and gameplay. Video games are usually seen as a form of entertainment, but nowadays, I consider them almost like playable novels. Just like novels, the creators of these games can make connections and illicit messages through themes, symbols, allusions etc.

I’m discussing Life is Strange specifically because its prequel, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, references “The Tempest” in the students’ production of the play. As I found out through actually reading “The Tempest” for the first time, the presence of this reference is important for the context of the game’s storyline.

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Is There Such a Thing as an Adequate Response to a Disaster Scenario?

I’ve been going back and forth with this idea ever since we did our group blog posts on specific hurricanes, and to be honest, I still don’t have a solid answer. We’ve seen–like in When the Levees Broke and in our current events–how the U.S. government has not prioritized relief efforts towards the victims of hurricanes in lower-class or “other” areas such as New Orleans or Puerto Rico. In our post here, my group analyzed how the Trump administration failed to respond to the victims of Puerto Rico in a timely and adequate manner. This is probably because Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States and not a state, so there wasn’t a lot of priority in Trump’s opinion.

For the purposes of this blog post, I am mainly analyzing the responses by our past and current presidents in disaster scenarios. This is because they are usually the ones with the direct blame by citizens since they are the figureheads of our country’s government. So upon reflection on Trump’s lack of efforts combined with the lack of aid George Bush’s administration gave to New Orleans post-Katrina–as seen in When the Levees Broke–I began to think about the concept of an “adequate disaster response.”

I’m sure that we can all agree that both of these latter responses were not “adequate.” Upon further thinking, however, what really constitutes as an “adequate” response of a government in a crisis situation? Is there a situation in which government officials can incur little to no criticism from the public? Further, is there a situation where almost, if not everyone affected by the disaster is accounted for and taken care of in a timely manner? It’s impossible to define an “adequate response” because what would one consider “timely?” Who would be defined as “everyone affected by the storm?” This is the reason why this post is so long-winded and why I’ve been putting it off until one of my final posts.

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Why is Reading Shakespeare So Important?

As English majors, we tend to be questioned about what we do in the classroom and how it is valuable to an overall learning experience. This is especially true when reading contemporary “fantasy” novels such as Zone One, which Erin tackles in her post, How To Teach Colson Whitehead in College Classrooms. Reading Shakespeare for the first time since high school (unless you count HUMN I last year where I read “Hamlet” again), I was brought back to the groans of my classmates who were perplexed by Shakespeare’s ancient language. I was actually even surprised when Beth admitted she had a tough time in graduate school being able to comprehend and appreciate his work. Beth did remind us, however, how important his work is.

Something that I want to reflect on is, just like Erin mentioned how important reading Whitehead and contemporary novels is to our learning experience, it is just as important to turn back to why we study older, preliminary texts such as Shakespeare. It may seem obvious to mention considering that the basis of a lot of more traditional English classes is to read older texts like that of Shakespeare, which is, like Erin mentioned, thoughts people have. Yet, regardless of what the text itself is, reading “ancient” texts as English majors is beneficial to enhancing our critical reading skills. Additionally, the things that Shakespeare mentions in his texts are relatable to any time.

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Mark Spitz is Unstuck in Time: A Comparison of PTSD in Zone One and Slaughterhouse-Five

After reading Zone One and thinking about the themes in the book, I realized what grounded me amidst the complex timeline of the narratives was my experience not only in consuming zombie media like I mentioned in my last post, but also in reading war novels. For example, I read Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and Johnny Got His Gun for a war novels class I took in freshman year.

Something I will highlight in this blog post, however, is Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five because it mirrors the narrative of Zone One in many ways. I think, like any author and their work, Whitehead had a very important point in having this complicated narrative. One objective was to reflect the characters having Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, or PASD. This correlation of narrative to character is also true true of Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.

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What Does the Zombie Genre Really Say About Us?

“Usually disasters like this bring out the best in everybody, and that’s what we expected to see. Now we’ve got people that it’s bringing out the worst in.” This is a quote from the Governor of Louisiana Kathleen Blanco in 2005 during the after effects in Hurricane Katrina as presented in When the Levees Broke. I was brought back to this moment and this concept while talking about zombie narratives in class on Friday, and while I was reading Zone One.

In reading the rather convoluted text Zone One, something that grounded and grounds me is the zombie genre and how familiar it is to me. This was true for a lot of people in the class like Spencer and Jenna, for example. I have experienced the “zombie disaster” genre through many mediums–video games, television shows, movies–but approaching Zone One, I became aware of how similar this–hopefully–fantasy genre is to the course concepts and materials we have covered.

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What Do You Do at a Traffic Light?: A Response to “The Conundrum of Color-Blindness” and Self-Proclaimed Racially Colorblind Individuals

After reading Spencer’s blog post, “The Conundrum of Color-Blindness,” and after Beth mentioned the idea of “colorblindness” a couple of classes ago, I was intrigued to go into the topic further. This is especially true when I considered the words of Roach in relation to how Spencer ends his post.

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The Power of Art as Experienced in When The Levees Broke

I mulled over my thoughts on When the Levees Broke during spring break, and my conclusion was that the film as a whole was incredibly dense, both in factual and emotive value. Since the film was informative, I was able to know more about the timeline of the events during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and more about the reactions and stories of individuals. The film evoked real feelings from me, as I’m sure it did for everyone who watched the documentary.

Beth’s words ring true when she said, “when you were moved by Levees it was done as a work of art.” Through our reaction from When the Levees Broke, I think it’s really important to consider the effects that are created from art. This is especially important as well considering our current political climate and how art is the salvation we need to cope with current events.

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Cultural Remembering and Forgetting: A Response to the “Tot Tanic” Bouncy Castle

“There are certain topics that are off-limits to comedians: JFK, AIDS, the Holocaust. The Lincoln Assassination just recently became funny. ‘I need to see this play like I need a hole in the head.’ And I hope to someday live in a world where a person could tell a hilarious AIDS joke. It’s one of my dreams.” -Michael Scott, “The Office”

This quote from one of my favorite television shows popped into my head during today’s discussion on memory versus forgetting. Michael’s reference to not being able to make jokes about “JFK, AIDS, and the Holocaust” relates to the immense tragedies involving the topics, but also to the timeliness of the issues. Compared to those three things, the Lincoln Assassination occurred very long ago. The problem with timeliness of the commercialization of or jokes about topics from history is apparent in this quote, as well as in our discussion of the “Tot Tanic” image Beth showed us in class.

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