Penny Dreadful: Part 1

While there is plenty of internal and interpersonal conflict in Penny Dreadful, the plot is driven by the clash of mortal values and supernatural desires. The group of characters that I refer to as generally “Pro-Human” (Sir Malcolm, Vanessa, Ethan, Victor, and Sembene, and Dorian Gray) have personal goals that vary widely but are not incompatible. They are united in the search for Sir Malcolm’s daughter Mina, who has been kidnapped by mysterious creatures.  This is an example of a classic super-ordinate goal: mortals vs. evil non-humans, but this is only one layer of conflict woven throughout Penny Dreadful’s story. (Warning: there are more spoilers in this post than there are pale people in British period pieces).

Continue reading

Ripper Street: My Imaginary Friendship

One of these days I will actually write about a book, comic book, or movie, instead of just TV show after TV show… but for now I’m going to talk about Ripper Street (starring Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, Bronn from Game of Thrones, and this guy)

I watched the first three episodes on Netflix, and instead of focusing on the societal tension between a police force that failed to find Jack the Ripper and citizens who really wanted to not get murdered, I got distracted by the interpersonal conflict between Inspector Reid, the main character, and a journalist named Mr. Best (I didn’t catch his first name, and frankly it’s a miracle I figured out his last name since I cannot tell skinny white men with mustaches apart from each other). Continue reading

Fairy Tail: Villain to Friend in 0 Steps

Does anyone else who watches the anime Fairy Tail sometimes feel slightly uncomfortable with how willing the characters are to forgive just about any other character of any other crime? Warning, general spoilers ahead!

Continue reading

Vacation’s End

This is not an “official” post, as I am still deciding what my next subject of analysis will be.  Originally I was planning to do a wrap-up article on True Blood, and then a weekly analysis of Breaking Bad, but life has been a little busier than I expected.

I would like to point out, however, that in the final episode of True Blood this season Bill directly addressed the issue I discussed in my Conflict Analysis Part I: the lack of trust between humans and vampires, and the rocky relationship between the two groups since vampires “came out of the coffin.”  (He mentions it briefly during his TV interview regarding the book he wrote about his experience possessed by(?) Lilith).

As an avid Breaking Bad fan, I have been struggling to decide what conflict(s) I would like to discuss from that series.  There are a lot to choose from, but the internal and psychological conflict of Walter White is probably the best and most important to the story overall.  On the other hand, the series has ended now and I might focus on a more relevant story, whether a book, movie, or television show.  Then again, Breaking Bad was an amazing series and we should be talking about it for a long time, in my opinion.  So, I guess you will just have to wait and see what my next post will be about! I’m sure everyone reading this is just trembling with anticipation, so I will do my best to get it finished ASAP.  Until then, take care!

True Blood: Conflict Analysis Part I

Both True Blood and the Sookie Stackhouse novels do a wonderful job of presenting very complicated moral situations. Just as in real life, there is no group that is all bad; but unlike real life, there is a group that eats other people. So I really am not sure whether mediation or facilitated negotiation will be enough to resolve the current conflict between vampires and humans. Continue reading

A Game of Anarchy

Is a game without rules still a game? Game of Thrones is largely about power in society: who really has it, how did they get it, and what do they do with it. Since Westeros apparently has no legal system whatsoever (I am saying that with slight sarcasm, but only a very small amount) I argue that there are no rules, and thus the “game” of politics there isn’t really a game at all. It’s just a bunch of people trying to out-blackmail each other while pretending that they aren’t. This isn’t a critique of the books or the television show, both of which I love, but merely a good lesson when it comes to real life. Anarchy does not lead to a prosperous society, and unacknowledged anarchy is even worse. After all, many characters seem surprised when their peaceful lives are interrupted by the wars of nobles and kings; many characters condemn the actions of other characters, but if you look at the Seven Kingdoms, it seems pretty clear that this is a world without a unified code of law, and without any way of holding those who break a law accountable (unless starting a war counts as a form of assigning responsibility). Consistency is important, that is why precedent is such a powerful influence on the legal system. Without consistency, the basic institutions of society wither faster than the joy at a Frey wedding.   Continue reading

“Torchwood” Manages Terror: Suzie, Gwen, and Terror Management Theory

People are afraid of dying, and this fear influences our behavior in many different ways. Or, in terms of Terror Management Theory, “the self-preservation motive and awareness of our own mortality ‘gives rise to potentially overwhelming terror” (Pyszczynski, et. al., 2004, p. 27 as qtd. in Moghaddam, 2008, p. 58).

Besides stating this slightly obvious fact, Terror Management theorists explain that people deal with the fear of death by creating worldviews, or beliefs, that help us to ignore or deny our inevitable demise. But Terror Management theory argues that no amount of comforting thoughts, however sincerely believed, are powerful enough to eradicate the deeply entrenched fear of death from our bodies and minds.  As a result, the best our worldviews can do is allow us to repress our fear and then take out our “fears and negative emotions [on] outgroups” (Moghaddam, 2008, p. 59).

Of course, experiencing new cultures and worldviews isn’t always terrifying. The point of traveling is to see some place different, and to meet people who likely have different beliefs from your own. Still, Terror Management Theory is an important reminder of “the self-protective mechanism of cultures [and] the fear that can arise within us when we are confronted by outgroup members who, sometimes intentionally, challenge our belief systems and cultures” (Moghaddam, 2008, p. 61). Torchwood demonstrates that when we fear those who are different, life becomes as terrifying as dying. Continue reading

Cersei Lannister’s Realist Point of View

There is no new episode of Game of Thrones this week, and since I’ve been re-reading the books I thought this would be a good time to start tackling the many, many conflicts in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and A Game of Thrones, the tv-show based on the books, A Game of Thrones. As long as you’ve read the first book or season the first season of the tv series, I won’t be spoiling anything.

Many people have pointed out the similarities between Realist Theory and the plot of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire (take a look at Where in the books/tv show specifically, do we see examples of Realist Theory? After reviewing Cersei’s thoughts  while re-reading the first book, I saw parallels between her worldview and Realist Theory’s description of human behavior. Realist Theory should not be confused as referring to a “realistic” view of the world. Like any theory, it has both strengths and weaknesses when it comes to explaining politics and human behavior. Just because Cersei appears to have come out…ahead… of Ned so far does not mean that her Realist worldview is a successful way to understand the world she lives in.

Continue reading

Harry Potter and the Price of Peace

In conflict resolution, we learn that peace and justice are not always compatible. Post-conflict reconciliation is a major focus within the field of conflict resolution, and it is probably one of the most challenging goals to achieve. When learning about different processes of reconciliation, and how difficult it can be for people who have spent years immersed in violence to resume a normal life, my thoughts turned to the epilogue of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

The death of Voldemort would not have been enough to bring a long-term peace to the wizarding world. Only a transformation of relationships among the former enemies could. The fact that Draco and his family were given a chance to participate equally in the post-conflict world, that he could acknowledge Harry and his friends without any display of aggression, and Hermione’s refusal to poison the relationships of the next generation, all provide evidence that the transformation of relationships has occurred.

Continue reading