Tag Archives: hannibal

Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter X

 

 

 

is for Xenophobia

 

 

 

 

Xenophobia is a fear of strangers or of the unknown. It is frequently used as a device in literature, especially science fiction literature.

My theory is that, in times of war, the stranger is the enemy, be they German, Russian, or Mid-Eastern. During times of war there is an upswing in the number of books, movies and television shows where the stranger is the enemy. In World War I and II, most people had no idea what the typical German was like, except that s/he was different from typical Americans (or Canadians or Britains). Ditto Russians during the Cold War or people from the Mid-East since 9-11. It makes sense to cast the stranger with the unknown culture, the object of fear, in the position of the enemy in the media.

In times of so-called “peace”, there is an upswing in the number of popular culture projects in which the alien–as in from another planet–is the enemy. This is because with the advent of the Internet, the world has gotten smaller and we pretty much know about every culture there is. But a stranger from another planet? Now that is something to fear.

Most works simply assume aliens are out to annihilate the human race. Aliens speak a foreign language, they look different than us, and their culture–if it exists–would be different than ours as well. The truth is, most aliens would probably look more like Star Trek‘s Horta than its Klingons. Does a steaming mass of lava  or a shimmering plasma field have a culture? Can it/he/she/schlee have a culture?

I’m not sure what is more frightening to me, the likes of  Hannibal Lechter and Joe Carroll, or Lrrr and Ndnd from Omicron Persei 8. What’s scarier to you–an ordinary human psychopath or an alien from another planet? Would you fall prey to xenophobia and automatically assume the alien is your enemy? Post your opinions in the comments below.

 

 

Inconsitencies I have known.

Consistency.

It’s something writers strive for in their work, especially with respect to setting and character descriptions. For many, an error in consistency can break the narrative flow, reminding the reader s/he is immersed in a construct of reality and not the real thing.

On film, errors in consistency are typically referred to as bloopers. And though they can be fun to spot, if you’re like me, and the gaffes are serious enough, they can also be maddening. Minor consistency problems are artifacts of the way television and movies are filmed, a result of the final product being an amalgam of various takes and camera angles.  This is the shirt that mysteriously buttons and unbuttons or the strand of hair that magically tucks and untucks itself from behind an actress’ ear as the scene plays out. In a recent episode of Cult, it was the level of water in Skye’s bottle that randomly rises and falls.

Errors like these are more amusing than annoying.  The inconsistencies prompting me to write this blog are much more serious than that. The ones I’m talking about are due to errors in the writing and/or interpretation of the script, errors that should have been caught and edited out long before production began. Take, for example, the Once Upon A Time episode in which Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin is led to believe August is his son. This correlates with an hour of my yelling at the screen that August couldn’t possibility be Baelfire because August has blue eyes and Bae has brown. And while it turned out August wasn’t Bae, I don’t know how I noticed this and the boy’s own father didn’t.

Another issue arose watching this week’s Hannibal.  The police assert that their murderer was killing girls of the same age, height, weight and with the same hair and eye colour as his daughter. They show a series of victim photos, and I swear the last girl has brown eyes. Trouble is, when they show the daughter in the next scene, her eyes are decidedly blue.

Perhaps the biggest gaffe I’ve noticed was in this week’s Orphan Black. I remember being told via subtitle in the premiere episode that the story takes place in New York. Wikipedia observes the police used NYPD coffee mugs and drove NYPD cars in that episode. But this week they drove to a building I recognize as being on the U of T campus driving cars with Ontario plates. To make matters worse, Sarah/Beth drove through Chinatown to get to a Kensington Avenue address and walked into The Waverly Hotel (it said so on the door as she entered). While I love that shows (like Rookie Blue or Bomb Girls) use Toronto as a backdrop for stories told in Toronto, I need a show to pick a location and stick to it so that I forget I’m watching a construct and not actual people’s lives.

In other words, do the viewers a favour and make the effort to remain consistent.

graphic from:http://escapepod.org/2013/04/02/tv-review-orphan-black/

About the Author

Elise Abram, English teacher and former archaeologist, has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn’t until she was asked to teach Writer’s Craft in 2001 that she began to write seriously. Her first novel, THE GUARDIAN was partially published as a Twitter novel a few summers back (and may be accessed at @RKLOGYprof). Nearly ten years after its inception Abram decided it was time to stop shopping around with traditional publication houses and publish PHASE SHIFT on her own.

Download PHASE SHIFT for the price of a tweet. Visit http://www.eliseabram.com, click on the button, tweet or Facebook about my novel and download it for FREE!