Return of the Obra Dinn was the most fun I’ve had doing a “required reading” throughout my entire career as a student, and I’m not ashamed to say I’ve returned to complete it since playing the portion I was able to complete before class. The game was released by independent game developer Lucas Pope in 2018, and went on to win Best Indie Game at the 2018 Titanium Awards. The game also received a well-deserved accolade for Best Art Direction at the 2018 game awards. In Return of the Obra Dinn, players are tasked with uncovering the mystery of a ship which came into port with all 60 people who set sail on it either dead or missing. Using a “Memento Mortem” which allows to view still scenes which preceded each crew member’s murder, your task is to explore the dense crime scenes past and discover exactly what became of every single person on the vessel.
Clueless by Amy Heckerling includes some of the most memorable costume design from the 1990s. Anyone who has seen the movie, even if they cannot remember a specific outfit, remembers the fashion as distinctly bold and of the moment. The movie is about a girl who loves shopping, so naturally the costumes reflect that. I counted and the protagonist, Cher Horowitz, wears 42 distinct outfits throughout the movie. That is a new costume roughly every two minutes. These outfits, and those of others in the movie, provide insight into character, demonstrate relationships and showcase the power of fashion for a teenage girl with a credit card.
Mad for Plaid
The most iconic outfit of this movie, one that has been recreated over and over, and still sells as a Halloween costume is, of course, Cher’s yellow plaid coordinated school look:
The first thing Cher does at the beginning of the movie when she’s introducing herself to the audience is to put together this outfit. This costume says a lot about Cher. For one, it speaks to a level of perfectionism. There are several pieces in this outfit and they all perfectly match with each other. Even her chewing gum matches.
Butterfly Soup is a visual novel that stars four 9th grade girls who join their high school baseball team. Or in the eloquent words of Brianna Lei, the developer, Butterfly Soup is “A visual novel about gay asian girls playing baseball and falling in love.” Furthermore, it is a tale of self-discovery, growth, and finding love. Romance is a central component of the story, though comedy is thoroughly embedded as well.
The four main protagonists are Diya, Min-seo, Noelle, and Akarsha. Diya is socially awkward and an exceptionally talented baseball player. Min-seo, also known as Min, has a short fuse and will not hesitate to cause bodily harm to get what she wants. She is only sweet to Diya. Noelle is a strait-laced and studious girl who is consistently pressured by her parents to succeed. Akarsha is an eccentric goofball who loves to ask ridiculously random questions just for attention. Other less prominent characters in the game are Jin-seo (also known as Jin), Hayden, Chryssa, and Liz. Jin is Min’s twin brother, Hayden is a childhood friend, and Chryssa and Liz are the leaders of the baseball team.
by Brendan Boustany, Joalda Morancy, Katerina Stefanescu, Shahrez Aziz, and Zach Cogan
I would say that the film is a documentary, in a similar way that Waltz with Bashir is. Both stories rework nonfiction events into artistic images. Still, the stories of the characters remain entirely intact. The artistic style does not interfere with Goss’s goals in terms of the story that she is trying to tell. If anything, her decision to use video game images was simply an artistic choice to emphasize the themes of the film. The strong narrative voice is compelling enough without many visual distractions, so the sparing CGI images do not interfere with the interviews about coming to this country as visual reenactments might. Most importantly, the anonymity that this visual style allows may have been crucial to attaining these interviews.
In the essay “When is a Documentary?: Documentary As a Mode of Reception” Dirk Eitzen lays out the argument that “what distinguishes documentaries, and nonfiction in general, from fiction” is whether it makes sense to ask the question “Might it be lying?” (89). To support his argument he draws on semiotician Sol Worth’s essay “Pictures Can’t Say Ain’t,” where Worth makes the argument that pictures cannot lie (Eitzen 89). Eitzen extends this argument to “everything in movies that does not have the character of an express metatextual caption or label” (91). According to Eitzen, movies merely represent “a space, action, or event” (91), and “project a world” (91), until some “metatextual caption or label,” usually in the form of a framing device, asserts meaning. In the case of Paris is Burning sometimes the “metatextual caption or label” is a literal label, in the form of a title card.
Paris is Burning imposes meaning on the projected worlds of the movie through these title cards. For instance, early on in the film this title card is shown:
by Junyoung Choi, Gabriela Horwath, Tomas Pacheco, Alan Countess, and Wyn Veiga
Jennie Livingston’s 1991 documentary Paris is Burning explores the nooks and crannies of Harlem, painting vividly the ball culture’s cultural importance in celebrating the drag style and hitherto marginalized gender norms through the transgender families and their flamboyant fashion shows.
Observing the endeavors of New York’s ball culture through the lens Livingston has picked out, both writers Judith Butler and Erving Goffman would likely concur that personal and group identities are reinforced socially through dramatic performances, but would fall short of agreeing on whether there truly is an internal core being expressed. However, if the two theorists sat down and spoke to reach a conclusion, they would most likely agree that the many different categories in the balls helped most people participate in the performative act and present their parts while making explicit the rather flexible nature of gender. Finally, both scholars would also be astonished and disturbed by the growing impact of one’s exposure to the media’s mundane normalized social expectations.