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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 19, 2018

At the Library

By Kayla Nelson | Jan 22, 2018

Back in high school I qestioned my teacher’s required reading choices. Why did I have to read The Great Gatsby or John Milton’s Paradise Lost? Who decided what students should read in school? Later in college, I learned the required reading lists and all the classic literature was determined by people who wanted to curb student readings to fit a specific idea or agenda. Did a book fit the historical progression of Western society and is that reflected in a written form? There is your classic. Need to show diversity or gender equality within the list? Throw in a dash of Jane Austin and maybe one or two James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, or Gabriel Garcia Marguez. But college was different. Yes, there were the classics, but then professors also assigned modern authors like Louise Erdrich and Crystal Wilkinson. One classmate did a senior paper on The Hunger Games Trilogy. All of this to say, literature can be anything, that includes graphic novels, manga, and comic books.

Many people will disagree. How can a book of pictures and minimal description and dialogue possibly be literature? The same way plays and film can be considered classics. It’s an art form that has something to say about the world it was created in. Maus by Art Spiegelman is a graphic novel, yet it is considered a classic by many teachers around the country. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi holds similar recognition as an autobiographical graphic novel. If these two can be recognized as worthy of the title of ‘literature’ then why aren’t others in this art form given a similar examination?

While the Batman comics may not have much standing for literature on their own, the history of the comics does reveal an interesting commentary on the American society. The many eras of comics are dependent on the social expectations that they are found in. From fighting humans, to monsters, and back to villains, with a modern focus on the psychological, comics demonstrate a history of the art form and censorship. Why else would Batman’s Joker transform from an organized mobster with a thirst for violence to a trickster thief and finally to a psychotic anarchist? Because the society deemed what was acceptable for readers at those times.

Manga has a similar problem. This form of graphic novel originated in Japan and is heavily influenced by Japan’s history and culture. There has also been a surge of manga from Korea and China, each rooted in their home country’s culture. Yet readers do not need to understand the long history and social intricacies of these countries to learn something from these books. Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba details the story of a seventeen year old student, Light Yagami, who is given the ability to choose who lives and who dies. While Light claims he is using this power to rid the world of criminals, the police see the killings, attributed to a serial killer called Kira, and launch a worldwide hunt for the criminal. Light’s use of this power, his manipulation of the people around him, and his eventual decent into madness raise a moral dilemma for the readers. Does the end justify the means? If you, the reader, were given this power, what would you do with it? Does killing hundreds of people to prevent future crimes absolve the perpetrator of their own crimes?

A similarly dark manga is Tokyo Ghoul by Sui Ishida. This one expands on the themes put forth by Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. The protagonist awakes to discover he has been turned into something not-human. Keniki, now a ghoul, has all of the memories and life experiences of a human, yet is now a creature forced to feed on humans. Hunted from both sides because of his unique transformation, he has to reconcile the two sides of his character and figure out how to live with himself in this new world.

On a lighter note, Fruit Basket by Natsuki Takaya explores the idea of family and fate. The heroine Tohru’s interactions with the secretive Sohma family allow its younger members to question whether they truly are cursed by fate told or if they can choose their own lives without fear of the outside world or repercussions within their homes. The individuals do not have to be punished for the actions of their ancestors and they can accept themselves and each other as people and not as a symbol of past wrongs.

Graphic novels offer a wide range of experiences for their readers, whether it is an examination of the history of a genre and censorship, biographies, cultural appreciation, moral dilemmas, or uplifting ideas of choice and fate, writing off this art form for being ‘not literature’ is a disservice to its writers, artists, and readers alike. Even if it doesn’t appear on a list next to Poe or Bradbury, graphic novels should receive as much examination as any other form of literature.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Feb 01, 2018 01:20

THE 15:17 TO PARIS Official Trailer (2018) Clint Eastwood, Thalys Thriller Movie HD

In the summer of 2015, three American tourists on a train from Amsterdam to Paris helped take down a lone gunman armed with more than 300 rounds of ammunition. The story of these real-life heroes seemed a natural fit for director Clint Eastwood, coming off the successes of “American Sniper,” starring Bradley Cooper as Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, and “Sully,” featuring Tom Hanks as heroic airline pilot Capt. Chesley Sullengberger. When Eastwood signed on to direct “The 15:17 to Paris” in early 2017, there was one obvious question: Who would he pick to play the three Americans?

The answer: Themselves.

It was an unexpected choice, and surely few were as surprised as the heroes themselves: Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone. (Two other men who helped thwart the attack, British national Chris Norman and French-American academic Mark Moogalian, also play themselves in the film.) The three had already been awarded the Legion of Honor medal from French President François Hollande, made the rounds of the late-night shows and spent time around such celebrities as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kobe Bryant. Making a movie with their longtime hero, Eastwood, however, was a whole different experience.

“We had all his movies, we’d watched them over and over a million times,” says Stone. “Getting over the nerves of meeting someone like him, that’s difficult. But if there’s anything we’ve learned over the past couple of years of meeting all these people, it’s that people are just people.” Adds Stone: “You have one conversation with Clint Eastwood and you realize how cool of a guy he is. He can get down to anyone’s level.”

“The 15:17 to Paris,” opening Friday and based on the trio’s nonfiction book, begins with their early years as middle-school friends (those roles are played by child actors, while two of their mothers are played by Judy Greer and Jenna Fischer). The men play themselves in their early 20s, when Sadler was attending California State University in Sacramento, Skarlatos was in the Oregon National Guard and Stone was serving in the Air Force. The movie depicts them as a close-knit unit, an impression confirmed by their interview by phone from Los Angeles earlier this month. The trio insisted on being interviewed together, and each seemed comfortable speaking for the others. They used the words “we” and “us” far more than the word “I.”

“We hope that people take away just how ordinary we are,” Sadler says of the movie. “There isn’t some special trait the three of us have. We were just put in a crazy situation.”

Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone first met their future director in June 2016, when he presented them with a Hero Award at Spike TV’s annual Guys Choice ceremony. (Eastwood declined to speak for this story.) While chatting offstage, Eastwood agreed to read their upcoming book.

“We kind of kind of jokingly said, ‘Ha, ha, we would love it if you’d turn this into a film,’ ” Sadler recalls. “And he said, ‘You never know.’ ” Stone sent Eastwood a galley copy of the book, and Eastwood called back to say he wanted to make the movie — and soon. “He said he was working on something else,” says Sadler, “but he’d put that one on hold and work on ours.”

Alek Skarlatos, left, Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone 

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Jan 25, 2018 13:33

“Call Me by Your Name” received nominations for Best Picture, actor in a leading role for Timothée Chalamet, adapted screenplay for James Ivory, and original song for Sufjan Stevens’ “Mystery of Love.” It is interesting that Hollywood that has had such an outcry over sexual abuse finds a movie about a 17 year old and his intimidate relationship with a 24 year old man as a beautiful love affair. 

Call Me By Your Name Trailer #1 (2017) | Movieclips Indie

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