The Skriker: Global Warming, Eco-fairytales, and Science on the Stage

Originally posted: July 2015

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‘It’s a clarion call …Maybe it will make people look at what we’re doing on a global scale and how wrong it is.’  Maxine Peake

Caryl Churchill’s postmodern play The Skriker is just about to begin its final week of a sold-out run at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre and its environmentalist message is as worryingly relevant today as when it premièred at the National Theatre twenty-one years ago. This has been a summer of headlines about record-breaking temperatures; according to scientists the Earth as a whole has experienced its hottest June and the hottest first half of the year since records began. The current climate crisis is entwined with a lengthy history of industrialisation, reckless ecological practices, and the environmental movement has been blighted by financial crisis, austerity, and a political and corporate denial of this global catastrophe. Global warming and climate change are unavoidable issues that permeate news media and increasingly fictional media. Continue reading “The Skriker: Global Warming, Eco-fairytales, and Science on the Stage”

What Entertainment Can do for Science, and Vice Versa

Originally posted: August 2015

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One of the plausible zombies from The Last of Us (2013) – in the game the zombie infection is a fungus that kills and transforms its hosts

We are experiencing a golden age for the fusion of science and entertainment. Oscar-winning films such as Gravity and The Theory of Everything, television ratings titans like The Big Bang Theory, video games including The Last of Us (2013), and high-traffic web-comics like XKCD have shown that science-based entertainment products can be both critically and financially successful. Continue reading “What Entertainment Can do for Science, and Vice Versa”

Jessica Jones: Science, Realism, & Netflix

Originally posted: December 2015395696_1280x960.jpg

In the Netflix’s Marvel comic book adaptations the superheroes and their powers can be explained by science – medical/scientific experiments (e.g. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Kilgrave) and a childhood accident with radioactive toxic waste (Daredevil/Murdoch) – even if the explanations aren’t exactly entirely ‘accurate’. The active incorporation of science allows these small-screen Marvel adaptations to achieve a greater sense of verisimilitude and also tap into contemporary concerns about viruses, medical experimentation (specifically in relation to genetics), and uncontrolled science/scientists, alongside serious responses to addiction, rape, neglect, PTSD, and mental illness. Continue reading “Jessica Jones: Science, Realism, & Netflix”

Stories about Science: Communicating Science Through Entertainment Media

Originally posted: June 2015 – co-written with Ray MacauleyScreen Shot 2018-05-29 at 23.32.08.png

We are now in a golden age of science-based entertainment media.

Every science-based entertainment product is a unique and complex cultural artefact created for a specific audience, format, and purpose. It would be difficult to come up with a template or set of generic rules that could be applied by practitioners in all science communication projects or encompass all forms of entertainment media. Continue reading “Stories about Science: Communicating Science Through Entertainment Media”

‘You’re Blind, But You See So Much’: Netflix’s Daredevil and Blindness

Originally posted: 20th April 2015

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Netflix recently released its most recent original series, an adaptation of Marvel’s Daredevil. It joins Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Agent Carter’s focus upon the more human characters of the Marvel Universe. Agent Phil Coulson, Agent Peggy Carter, and Daredevil/Matt Murdock are all human and definitely distinct from the god, the genetically enhanced super-soldier, the angry green scientist, and even the genius (billionaire playboy philanthropist) and his super-suit of armour. Unlike Agents of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Agent Carter that were produced for weekly broadcast on television, the newest addition to the Marvel franchise has been released in a 13-episode load. This gives the audience the option to binge-watch the entire series, space it over a few days, or (if you have the willpower) over a few weeks. I have taken a break from my viewing marathon to think about a few things that came up during the first half of the series relating to the way the series communicates Murdock’s blindness and how this sensory deprivation makes him a super (human) hero. Continue reading “‘You’re Blind, But You See So Much’: Netflix’s Daredevil and Blindness”

Welcome back to humanity. Now you get to die: Vampires and… Science?

Originally posted: September 2014

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From the slayer to the scientist. From slaying to saving.

Do vampire narratives become science fiction when vampirism is created or/and ‘cured’ by science? Whether benevolent, malicious, or uncontrolled, science is rivalling if not, in some cases, entirely replacing the supernatural as the most prevalent component of recent vampire narratives. Where once there was a vampire slayer and her pointy stick there are now scientists armed with vaccines and syringes. Continue reading “Welcome back to humanity. Now you get to die: Vampires and… Science?”

Nature Strikes Back: The Return of an Eco-Conscious Cinema?

Originally posted: November 2014

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Splitting the Sea with SCIENCE! – Exodus (2014)

At the 2014 Film & History conference I presented my current research in a paper called ‘From Sacred to Scientific: Charlton Heston’s Second Golden Age’. The fascinating post-paper discussion revolved around eco dystopian cinema, with a focus on my work on Soylent Green and Omega Man. Following a discussion of the connections between epics and science fiction, and the recent attempts to give religious films a contemporary scientific twist I was asked if I thought that the new religious epics constituted a new science fiction. Continue reading “Nature Strikes Back: The Return of an Eco-Conscious Cinema?”

‘Talking Apes with Big-Ass Spears’: Violence, Science, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Originally posted: July 2014
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By 2011 I had already spent five years of postgraduate study researching the history and cultural interpretations of Planet of the Apes. I was very nervous about seeing Rise of the Planet of the Apes; it was released just a few weeks before I submitted my PhD and I knew I would have to make at least some reference to the film in my thesis. So, I anxiously went to the screening accompanied by my low expectations and a notebook. I was, thankfully, very pleased with the new origin story that was clearly intended as a new beginning for the multiple-decade spanning franchise. It did not try to awkwardly update or rehash the original series’ subtext (oh, Tim Burton) but instead used the science fiction genre and the possibilities of the fall of humanity to explore more pertinent socio-cultural issues.  Continue reading “‘Talking Apes with Big-Ass Spears’: Violence, Science, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”