Sunday, October 06, 2013

Speaking of Doctor Who and Ninja Turtles...

                I have been thinking a lot about how I can look at some of my other interests in terms of New Historicism and Cultural Studies. During my undergrad I took a class titled “Rhetoric of Video Games” which used games as texts. The main paper I wrote for that was about the American interpretation of the feminine male villains in Japanese role playing games, and how our “non-threatening sissies” take is not at all how they are viewed in their country of origin. From this I started looking at all sorts of media, and  I have been analyzing more of the random things that catch my interest as texts and thinking about how they could be used as a basis for some academic work. A few examples:
                Doctor Who as a gage of the mindset of the British throughout the show’s run. The main part that made me think about this topic is the run of “base under siege” stories that comprised most of Patrick Troughton’s run as the Second Doctor. In some form or another, many of the(now missing) episodes focused on The Doctor showing up in a base, outpost or office beset from the outside by monsters.  While this was, and still is, a common trope within the show it dominated that era of the show in the late 60’s. Did it have something to do with the crumbling British Empire? Many of the stories, like “Tomb of the Cybermen” feature a traitor that works with the featured monster that leads to the base being overrun. Maybe the feeling of having subjects wanting to break away while national allies pushed them to give up territories led to a culture that felt beset from the outside and within. It also could have been the same fear of communism that gripped America at about the same time (The recent episode “Cold War” really ties in nicely with this). As the show at that time was an educational program for children, there has to be some didactic intent for some of those choices.
                Another thing that interests me, but might be too close to home for me to have an unbiased opinion, is how the boom of ninja characters within 1980’s American pop culture affected current cultural relationship between America and Japan. I myself was a huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which in part led to my love of Japanese culture. I will admit, it was a pretty roundabout way to get there, and the actual connection between the cartoon and the culture was extremely thin. There was still enough of the mystique that influenced my interest. There were also characters like Snake Eyes, the ninja member of the American fighting force G.I. Joe, that place ninjas and Japanese elements in completely unrelated situations. It seems that I am not the only one, as Japanese entertainment properties have never been more popular.
                Whether or not anything worth a darn can come out of these interests, I will still spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about them. I love working with various media as texts, and it is a field that is only gaining momentum. Remember, even Shakespeare’s plays were once pop media made for commercial purposes. 

Gary Lindeburg


Blogger A.K. Packer said...

Fun post. I like how you weave all these ideas together! Everybody sing:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Heroes in a half shell
Turtle power!

1:17 PM  

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