Fight the Power

NWA- F*** tha Police

NWA are one of the most famous and influential bands of the hip-hop genre . They became known with the release of their first Album “Straight Outta Compton” in 1988. The album included many of NWA’s greatest hits , one of them being “F*** tha Police”, which, arguably, was the most controversial rap song of that time.

At a time when gang violence and police brutality was at an all time high in Compton and in the ghettos in general, NWA’s record gave insight to how life for someone from “the hood” was at the time. “The record was among the first to offer an insider’s perspective of the violence and brutality of gang-ridden South Central L.A. With songs like “Fuck tha Police” and “Gangsta Gangsta” set in a chaotic swirl of siren and gunshot sounds, it also foreshadowed the 1992 L.A. riots.”(Rolling Stone, 2016). Their song “F*** tha Police” sparked a lot of controversy at the time, as it explained and condemned police brutality and the socio-political war amongst gangs and police in the area of Compton and not only. The song was so controversial, that in 1989 the group’s distributor, Priority Records was sent a “warning letter” from the FBI (Rolling Stone, 2016).

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That same year the group was arrested for performing the aforementioned song at their live performance in Detroit. They were warned not to play the song, but they did regardless and they where, later on, arrested by the police, when they fled back to their hotel.”[…]they managed to evade police long enough to sneak back to their hotel room. But when they returned to the lobby, the police were waiting for them.”(DeVito, 2015).

What the NWA fought for, more than anything, was freedom of speech. Through their music and lyrics they where able to inform and narrate a gang members’ way of life and struggles. The group did not hesitate to talk about very sensitive matters for the time and were the first to actively fight the illegitimate way the police dealt with people of colour at the time. “We let people know that its OK to say what you wanna say”(Straight Outta Compton – Red Band Trailer with Introduction from Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, 2015). The group fought against racism and police brutality, trying to promote freedom of speech , through their art ,which reached millions of people and brought the hip-hop movement under a new light, because it spread to the public much more due to the media coverage they got and the controversy they stirred with their music.

The NWA set the tone for what followed in the hip-hop scene with many artists following NWA’s example, at the time which is now known as the Golden age of Hip-Hop, the 1990s. It is, therefore, safe to say that the group played a very significant role to the establishment of the genre as we know it, while fighting the opressing authority of the time, in a way where it influenced and inspired many more after them.

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This is My Song

Les amoureux des bancs publics – Georges Brassens

Translation: Public passion needs to be encouraged as its lifespan is brief – George Brassens

George Brassens (1921–1981) is a well known French poet and musician. His work, often of anarchist nature, is widely loved around France.People whistle his melodies on the streets, pass them on through generations. His bittersweet lyrics won him the French national poetry prize. He popularised French poetry in music. “People respect him asle bon maître/the good master and regard him with affection as tonton Georges/uncle George and notre nounours national/our national teddy bear. The reason that this song is special to me has nothing to do with its socio-political content nor with the artists’ nature.” (Projetbrassens.eclipse.co.uk, 2006) . This song provided a unique experience to me in a completely unrelated way.

 

I was around 13 years of age when this happened. I was on a road trip with my father and one of George Brassens’ albums was playing in the car. At some point throughout the trip I fell asleep in the back seat. What happened during that time was extraordinary for me. At that moment I saw my favourite dream to date (yes, I remember it very clearly, even today). The main reason this dream was different for me was that it had a soundtrack. Brassens’ song was playing in the background of my dream. It was a connection of my subconscious with my actual environment I was during the time I was dreaming, because at that instant the song was actually playing in the car. It bled out into my dream and complemented the whole experience. Even the environment in the dream went together with the tune. I was around some sort of dry sunny countryside, which for some reason looked and felt very appropriate to the style and sound of the music.

Even though I have almost non-existent knowledge of the French language , the song spoke to me in that moment. I now feel that I have a very personal connection to it, without having to pay attention to the content and/or the lyrics of it. At the same time, however, I am very pleased with the fact that the actual content of it has a very strong purpose and meaning, perfectly representing the artists’ views and means.

My History Of Pop

The Singing Saw

The singing saw is a musical instrument that is created by the use of a saw and a violin bar combined. The saw, when used, emits a very high pitched sound almost like a scream. It was used in a show I went to this summer and the reason why it has a personal connection with me is because the gig that I saw it at was from a band that I had already seen before when I was much younger, the Tiger Lillies.

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“This unique anarchic Brectian street opera trio tours the world playing songs about “anything that doesn’t involve beautiful blonde girls and boys running at the meadow” to quote their founder Martyn Jacques. Hence, their sons cover all the dark aspects of life, from prostitution and drug addiction to violence and despair. Always with a touch of twisted humour and sharp irony” (Creative, F. (2014) The tiger Lillies. Available at: https://www.tigerlillies.com/band/history [Accessed: 5 October 2016]).

The band and their showmanship has a special place in my heart for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was one of the first live gigs I ever saw as a kid. My mom took me to a show when I was 10 years old, at most, and I was amazed by their sound and the show as a whole. At the time I could not understand much of what they were talking about because my level of English was not that great, but it did not matter at all. I enjoyed every bit of it. This also relates to the main reason why the Tiger Lillies and the singing saw are special for me. The fact that I had the chance to see them again at almost 21 years old with a completely different mindset and an infinitely better understanding of the English language and still be as amazed, or maybe even more, than before is what makes this whole story worth mentioning.

The saw only added to the experience because it was the first time I ever saw anything like that. I did not even know it existed before hand and that is why I correlate the instrument with the Tiger Lillies and why I think it represents something personal.

Actual Places

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Thessaloniki city

‘A place is a space invested with meaning’

What we essentially talked about is that a place is defined by the existence of humanity and it’s effects and influences around and in it. This only means that a place is a place when people have some kind of relationship with it, it doesn’t need to be man made nor does it have to be visited by the person that calls it that: a place.

Types of places:

  • Beaches
  • Cliffs
  • Mountains
  • Valleys Fields
  • Meadows
  • Forests
  • Rivers
  • Oceans
  • Islands
  • Seaside Resorts
  • Villages
  • Towns
  • Cities
  • Suburbs

Types of non-places:

  • Motorways & Services
  • Airports
  • Terminals
  • Underpasses
  • Bus stops
  • Roundabouts

Can you think of instances where fiction has contributed significantly to the way a place/location is experienced?

The first example that comes to my mind while thinking about this is mount Olympus. The home of the Greek gods where they reigned upon ancient Greece, a place unreachable at the time. Nowadays, people know that the actual Olympus is a mountain and no gods await for them at the top. However, it still creates this feeling of a divine place. Whenever I think of Olympus I never think of it the way I think of other mountains.

Consider the key symbols and representations that construct ‘London’, and consider how this image corresponds to your experience of living in the city.

Coming from a different country, this question is very relatable to me. The stereotypical ideas for London are, at both ends of the spectrum, mostly realistic. London’s pace of living is actually much more hectic and fast than anywhere else I’ve ever been. There is a certain point, however, that needs to be taken into consideration: it depends on where you’re coming from or with what you can compare it. A person living in New York their whole life, for example, wouldn’t really find the pace as different as I do. A person who lived in a small village, on the other hand, would experience that pace much more vividly than me. With that said, I would never think that living in London, the big city, is tedious or less enjoyable. While this is the nature of most of representations that construct the idea of ‘London’, the positive sides of it are equally true. London really is so big, with so many people, that always something is going on. One could always find something to do around their interests no matter what. In conclusion, generally, we could say that, for me, London is opposite to  the Olympus example. Most preconceptions that I had in mind before coming here had some truth in them.

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the Canary Wharf

Imaginary Worlds

Do Imaginary Worlds ‘convince’ audiences?

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Although it is more of a question of preference in the creative world, there are certain aspects that could define if an imaginary world has successfully convinced its designated audience. The key to this statement though is the word designated. This is because most imaginary worlds as we know them have first been conceived and presented in written form and where, later on, adapted visually.

There is different kinds of imaginary worlds (fantasy worlds, alternative timelines, dreams, science fiction, etc) which on its own separates them from each other in so many ways that the fact that they all simultaneously exist and convince is almost surprising. To answer the question of, if they are convincing, we need to look at two things: the purpose of the creator and the creation, as well as to why people want imaginary worlds to exist. These two are obviously related since the creator’s purpose derives from the demand of the audience, but this is a very general way of seeing it since there are no specific requirements set by any audience before someone creates a world of fiction. This means that the demand of the audience can basically be defined by the simple need of the viewer or reader to ‘escape from reality’ and feel like a part of something completely different and unrealistic even.

All that, basically, puts the creator in a perspective, where what they are creating must be relatable in some way. It must have characteristics similar to the world as we know it. This could be in the form of an analogy, or a version of something in a completely new way (i.e. language). Two very famous examples that have used similar things to achieve this are “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien, and “Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling. First of all, the main difference between the two worlds is that The Lord of the Rings is taking place in a completely fictional world, while Harry Potter is part of an alternative timeline where wizards live secretly without normal people knowing. From that it’s easy to realise why a world like the world of Harry Potter would be convincing. It creates a ‘what if’ kind of feeling to the audience, which immediately makes them want to become and feel part of it. A completely imaginary world, such as Middle Earth, is a different case. It depends on the creator how the world relates to the audience. Tolkien especially gives the readers a sense of belonging in this world, through the protagonist, who has to leave his home and comfort in order to go on a quest. This home then has to be a part of something bigger, which in this case, is imagined geographically as well as conceptually.

That, however is not the only thing used by the creators to make a world convincing. The example of language is also very important. The fact that characters can speak the language we speak makes the audience feel like they have something in common (the audience could actually communicate with the parts of that world if they ever had the chance, for example). The exact opposite also makes a world convincing. Both Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings have examples of completely imagined ways of communication. In Harry Potter snakes have their own language, something that doesn’t exist in the same way in our world. Tolkien created a whole alphabet and language for elves in his work. Orcs also communicate with each other in another ‘language’. htDvENPWhat this achieves is that it separates the imaginary world from the real, while adapting traits of the real to make the imaginary believable. It makes it so the audience can believe that this world is an independent world from ours. This world could exist. It does not even stop there however. When the same worlds are, later on, adapted in film, the sub-creators (that’s what I’ll call them) also do their part to make the world even more believable. The epitomy of this is the creation of maps. The audience can now literally see how this world looks like, in a way, and is even more convinced. When I first saw the ‘Marauders Map’ in Harry Potter, after having read all the books before watching the films respectively, I felt a sense of clarity, because I could finally realise how Hoghwarts was. Its architecture.

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the Marauders Map

An analogy is also very popular amongst the imaginary worlds that exist. Disney Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’, for example, creates a world with characters similar to us, but competely different at the same time, where the imaginary world exists within the real and follows principles similar to ours. 6.25.2

 

Character

How do characters engage audiences?

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Indervilla.com – The Joker

In order to answer this question there needs to be a definition of character. Robert McKee wrote a book about structure and the principles of stories in screenwriting. The book, named “Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting” analyses different aspects of screenwriting, in which ‘the character’ is one of the most important. McKee defines character through:

  • physical appearance
  • mannerisms
  • style of speech and gesture
  • age, IQ, occupation, where they live and how

However he differentiates between ‘characterization’ and ‘true character’, saying that the definition of a true character  ‘can only be expressed through the choice in dilemma. How the person chooses to act under pressure is who he is – the greater the pressure, the truer and deeper the choice to the character’.

All these aspects would put the audience in a position where they would either like or dislike a character. But is it that simple? I think that a characters’ success shouldn’t be defined by how relatable they are, but rather how and what they do with respect to their role, which could be defined by McKee’s theory. What engages audiences, however, in general is exactly that. Are they relatable? There is different ways and techniques that writers use to make a character relatable. Depending on the genre, the audiences expectations of a character will obviously vary. Therefore the way for a character to be engaging derives from their role in the specific genre. For example, in a fairytale or a children’s book or film, it would be clear who the villain is. But their purpose is what would engage the audience, children in this case. If the villain does something that is obviously evil, but relatable (something that in an analogy, if happened to you, you would react the same way) and that is what engages the children, making them feel like the villain is their enemy and that he is the one who is going to ‘loose’ in the end.

This is where the role of the character really plays a big role. A villain would not engage the audience the same way an anti-hero would. An anti-hero would again maybe be evil (like the villain), but their actions would create a different relationship with the audience, because essentially the character would be likeable. This is a distinctive example, because a supposed anti hero that would leave the audience baffled about why they did such an evil thing would be an unsuccessful attempt of a character in my opinion. That’s where McKee’s definition of a true character falls in place and helps us understand this perfectly.

The most interesting example of interesting but vague characters, very famous and has left audiences with many different feelings about every role and character in it, would be Tom & Jerry. The question is: Is there a hero and a villain in Tom & Jerry? As in Tom, the cat’s purpose is obviously an ‘evil’ purpose: eat the mouse. But the way Tom always ‘learns his lesson’ makes you feel bad for him and relate to him as a character. Jerry on the other hand, even though he is supposedly the victim, always comes out on top and crushes Tom, never feeling bad about how the poor cat gets it. Which makes me, in particular, hate him. I hate Jerry’s little grin every time he ‘wins’. This however is a result of me growing up and being able to critically watch something. TOm_and_jerryThe designated audience of the cartoon, young children would immediately feel that Tom is the one who has to pay no matter what, from his facial expression alone.
However, I don’t think that the characters don’t engage their audience the right way. The creators of  Tom & Jerry have successfully created characters that would make people feel something about them in every age and in both ends of the spectrum, as well as in-between.

The Museum of Innocence

The Museum of Innocence is an exhibition brought to London from Istanbul this year. The exhibition has to do with the author Orhan Pamuk and his novel of the same name. The exhibition, held in the Somerset House, displays 13 out of the 83 vitrines, that are exhibited in the original exhibition in Istanbul. The vitrines are filled with everyday objects that were collected because of their potential relationship with the characters of the novel. They are items that the characters would have collected,used or owned, while simultaneously representing Istanbul of the time.

“Both the novel and the museum tell the story of engaged wealthy socialite Kemal Bey’s obsessive love for Füsun, his twice removed cousin and a beautiful shopgirl, through an array of everyday items which have taken on special emotional significance as mementos and keep-sakes of the couple’s ill-fated romance.” (https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/museum-of-innocence)

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The exhibition is consisted of two rooms and an entrance hallway just before that, in which three different scenes of a documentary are displayed. The documentary, called Innocence of Memories directed  by Grant Gee. The first room is where the vitrines are displayed, together with a part of the novel, dedicated to each one. The second room includes a video projection and a wall with sketches and letters of the author. The projections on the wall are the author describing his ideas and a collection of photographs related to the novel.13091687_10154279462387223_1660731684_o

“The exhibition at Somerset House focuses on 13 vitrines filled with everyday objects that each represent a single moment within the relationship, interwoven with film by celebrated director Grant Gee, original material about the making of the museum and facsimile manuscripts of the novel.” (https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/museum-of-innocence)

The way the exhibition is set up is very successful. The viewer, at first, finds themselves in the streets Istanbul through the documentary scenes, which display different atmospheric scenes of the city, putting the viewer in the right context. After that they are properly introduced to the novel and the characters through the vitrines and the novel extracts, finishing with the authors’ process and ideas, which gives the viewer a more technical and conceptual understanding of the purposes of the author.

 

Visual Sequence

How do cinematic codes contribute meaning in “The Backwater Gospel”, an animated sort directed by Bo Mathorne and produced by The Animation Workshop.Backwater-Gospel 1

The Backwater Gospel is an animated short about a small town called Backwater, where, every time “the undertaker” cycles into town, someone dies the same day. The people of the town, led, or rather brainwashed, by the priest, all blame “the tramp” of the town, the only person in town that does not follow the priests’ orders and opinions.title prtscr

The theme of the short is very dark and mysterious, which can be noticed right away through its cinematic codes. The lighting used is always dark and “creepy” and the whole atmosphere of the animation puts the viewer in a position where they feel that nothing is going to end well in this. This is a very successful part of the short. The way the lighting, the environment and the characters is animated also draws focus in different aspects of it. For example, the most lit part of the whole story, is the undertakers’ glasses. He is also the only character, whose eyes are not animated as holes, showing us that he can maybe see the reality of things.

The “black sheep” of the town, the tramp, is also the most colourful character, in terms of lighting and clothing. He is also the only character who is ever smiling in the story, other than the undertaker. This shows us how he could be the only one in town whose heart is in the right place. He is always singing about the undertakers’ arrival. His singing becomes a big part of the atmosphere of the short, since it is almost being used as background music in various moments of the sequence.

Additionally, apart from the obvious and literal religious references, gospel prtscr 1there is a lot of visual symbolism throughout the short  all revolving around death. More specifically there is crucifix symbolism as well as crows that follow the undertaker around and make their signature call, making the viewer feel like death is just around the corner. On top of all that the undertaker himself has crow wings, which can be seen on his shadow and on him physically in various surreal instances throughout the story.
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The story resolves with everyone in town snapping after a whole day of the undertaker observing the town with no one dying. It is as everyone gets punished for their way of life and thinking ending up violently killing each other. The massacre starts with the death of the tramp. The way the scene pans out shows us how they should not have killed him or follow any orders from the priest for that matter. The short shows us the tramp being “crucified” like Jesus  himself, putting him in the position of the “good guy” amongst the rest. There is a lot of meaning in the short and I think that the way the cinematic codes are used in the animation do a very good job at conveying it.Untitled

 

Short Story- Hampstead Heath

One of my favourite places in London is Hampstead Heath. More specifically, its south side. Hampstead Heath is a large area spanning around three or four different areas of north London. What sets it aside from other parks and such, for me, is its age and up until recently it had not really been tampered with, construction wise, but now there are major works going on to build new ponds in the heath. This has, admittedly, made the place much less pleasurable, but in general it has won me over and I still usually choose to hang around there if I am going for a walk or on a sunny day. I’m lucky enough to live around the area as well. This has given me so much time to appreciate everything about it.

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What makes me like it so much is the fact that the moment you walk in the park, its like you escape the city. It feels like you are not in London any more. I always observe people when I find myself in there and one of the things I really like about the atmosphere and the feeling it creates for me, is seeing the many different kinds of dogs with their owners running around fetching different items, enjoying themselves.

One cloudless evening, me and two friends went for a walk at the heath. We chose the hill, where the nice view is. It is also were the most people always end up, but we went there anyway we always enjoy a good view. I was looking around as always and I noticed a dog that stuck out amongst the rest of the dogs that were running around there. No dog is leashed ever leashed in the heath. That is what  I like. It’s like a world for the dogs to run around the humans freely, with literally no one minding, not openly at least. As is any park or heath. Not all of them give you the feeling of a forest to complement this atmosphere though. So, I was looking at the dog.

I was mesmerized by its snow-white colour and its wolf like characteristics. It had no collar.  At the same time there was a very eccentric figure amongst the people around. They looked like an old school rockstar. The gender of that person, we never identified, because it could either be a man looking like a woman or a woman looking like a man. Their voice didn’t help either, it could be both. Regardless, they seemed like one of those friendly, borderline homeless, characters that talk to every one on their path trying to start a conversation, pass the time. Everyone has probably met someone like that in London if they’ve lived there long enough.

The three of us are sitting on a bench and I’m still fascinated by the dog, that is still playing around. All of a sudden another dog of similar physique approaches it. That is when I realised that this dog had more wolf and less dog in it. The dog duck down and into the grass, in a completely wolf-like stance, observing the dog approaching. I was amazed. Around that moment that person approached our bench and we started chatting. They were the owner of that dog.

“She’s beautiful” I said at some point, “she looks like a wolf”

“She is a wolf” they responded. “Guess what her name is”

“How would I guess that?”

“You just said it!”

“Guess?”, stupid brain…

I do some meaningless guessing until we reach to the point where I realise….

“Oooh… beautiful!”

“Yes, almost! Her name is Bella” after that we started talking about music. This all happened around the time David Bowie passed away. We talked about that as well. What I couldn’t help thinking was that that person was ‘created’ the moment David Bowie passed away. It was like he was reincarnated and started telling stories to me and my friends. More than they actually did actually. The scenarios I have made in my mind about that couple’s (wolf and person) existence have since multiplied.

All the magic of the moment was lost when they tried to buy my portable speaker off me. I had one with me playing some music and they loved it!

“What’s that? Oh that’s brilliant! Can I buy it off you?”

They left, almost disappointed, a little bit after that. Me and my friends were baffled and intrigued, but we all agreed that this was a very interesting experience. For me, personally, it was like I met the mad Hatter of my wonderland, which is none other, than Hampstead Heath.

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Genre

Genre: a style or category of art, music, or literature. It derives from the French word genre which means ‘kind’ or ‘sort’.

How is a genre defined?

Genre is defined by a pattern, a style, a form or structure. Generally, all those aspects combined make up the genre of something, depending on how and why they are used, presented or created. But why is genre important?

The elements of a genre influence the construction of a piece in its entirety, because the creator needs to follow or include different aspects in order to define the genre of its creation. Additionally, genre is important, because the perception and the expectations of the viewer or listener of a creation are formed based on it. Even tastes and preferences are nowadays defined by the genre of something.

Main elements of genres

  • Characters
  • Setting
  • Iconography
  • style

We were asked in class to make a list of all the genres we can name in 10 minutes. This proved more challenging than I thought after naming every obvious example. Each of us had different genres in mind and written down, which just shows exactly how genres are influenced by their audience and vise versa. Whole characters of people can be formed through the genres they like and the genres they don’t and that exercise was a good example of how that works.

Encyclopaedic entry of a genre based on its semiotic language

Erotica (adult porn): emphasizing the sensuous or sensational aspects of a sexual subject and stimulating a compulsive interest in their audience, only intended for adults. The content is presented in a blunt and upfront way. Camera angles are very generic throughout the genre as most just follow the same path of conventional camera angles in different scenes. Usually starts off with sensual music which later just bluntly stops. Sometimes there is a scripted introduction to the characters, not to be taken too seriously, almost never playing any role with respect to the purpose of the work.