Friday, October 11, 2013

"The Imagination of Disaster" Annotations

So here are your excellent annotations to Susan Sontag's "The Imagination of Disaster." Some of you may find these useful when writing this weekend's blog or one of your next essays.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Analyzing Sci-Fi!

This weekend's blog will be tied to our viewing of the late-90s science fiction/horror film The Faculty. This film serves as an excellent bridge between Dracula, Sontag's "The Imagination of Disaster", and this weekend's reading, Linda Seger's "Creating the Myth." This will also be a chance to practice the kind of film analysis you may be doing in your Class Presentation and/or Essay #3.

First, we'll be viewing the film in class today and Friday, so take good notes! For your post, begin by summarizing the film, as usual. Then choose to answer either Question 4 after Sontag's article or Question 4 after Seger's about The Faculty. Be sure to answer each part of the question! The post will be due Sunday before midnight, also as usual.

In the meantime, continue revising your Synthesis Essay for Friday. Do not forget to bring your revised draft in a folder with your peer reviews and rough draft!

Questions? Quibbles? Controversies?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Re-imagining the Disaster



In Susan Sontag’s essay The Imagination of Disaster she gives us a comparative view between old science fiction films and the more current films of her day. From a psychological point of view she contends that science fiction films allow us to escape the boring realities and continuous threat of some inconceivable threat that most people either have to contend with or live in fear of in their daily lives. She goes on to give different scenarios of science fiction films in an effort to show the predictability of as well as the classic elements that make of science fiction films. I was kind of surprised that Sontag seems to have more of an inclination towards science fiction films as opposed to science fiction novels.

 Sontag states that science fiction films are not about science but about disaster; I take it that is why she prefers films over novels. According to her, science fiction films offer an immediate representation of the extraordinary. She goes on to state that sci-fi films provide “sensuous elaboration”. I think Sontag seems to be a little critical of the science fiction films that were popular back when she wrote her essay. In one point of her essay she talked about how there was a lack of social criticism in science fiction films and at the end of her essay she summarized her thoughts regarding science fiction films by stating that “aside from their considerable amount of cinematic char, consists in this intersection between a naively and largely debased commercial art product…” I think today she would have been less critical of popular science fiction films, especially I she saw Avatar, which had a strong social message, not to mention it was visually and commercial appealing.

Why is Sontag wasting her time?

In her article, “The Imagination of Disaster” Susan Sontag puts forth a very well thought out criticism against sci-fi movies. She pulls together alot of different example to help support her claim. Sontag even includes outlines of the two basic types of sci-fi movies. I must say, both list are quite similar. The rest of the article is just filled with more opinion, examples and supporting evidence.

In the beginning of the 21st paragraph, Sontag states “science fiction films are not about science." She goes on to argue that disaster is the main subject of all science fiction movies. And the success of the movie depends on how well you can pull off whichever disaster you set out to create, how believable and realistic you can make it. This is important to the point she is trying to make because it sort of discredits the whole science fiction genre. How brute like and uncultured it is to make movies about such things and to expect us, as a society to actually watch it, wide-eyed and enthralled. To delve into the second question, it can even be seen this early in the article the low opinion of sci-fi movies. You can tell she is sort of disinterested in her subject, or at least not the biggest fan. This is an opinion piece so I can't really say she was bias but, she doesn't give us any wiggle room. Sci-fi gets no breaks, no redeeming features in the slightest. Although she seems to well versed in her subject (rather then grasping at straws—she actually presents the evidence she feels will support her opinion) I felt as if the whole article was basically saying “you see?! Sci-fi movies have no merit in the art world! They are complete trash!” Mrs. Sontag, you are so well versed in “high” society affairs, sci-fi is obviously too low for yours why did you write a 15 page rant about it?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Science is the higher knowledge

       The article “the imagination of disaster” by Susan Sontag is about science fiction films and how they are not about science, but about disasters. The author gives two examples of the science film scenarios. Both models are very similar, but one is for the bigger budget films and another is for the lower budget. Susan Sontag shows to the readers that all of the science fiction movies are the same or basically have the same idea of the hero's adventures and abilities or the disaster. The disaster is what the science fictions films are about, she says. They use science to show that with higher powers and knowledge we, people, can concur the invaders, monsters, aliens and nature disasters. The science improvements are our advantage if only we would use it for the good and not for bad. That is also the morality of science films. To show that this knowledge can also destroy us and our planet. In my opinion, the author is neither dislike the science fiction film nor does she like them. The author seems to know about this subject a great deal and has her own neutral position about it.

The imagination of disaster

       In "The Imagination of Disaster, Susan Sontag shares with her audience the blueprint of science fiction movies. She claims that science fiction movies aren't really about science. Instead they're more focused on disasters. She notes that the core of a good sci-fi "is in the imagery of destruction." The bigger the scale of destruction, the better the movie will be. This was important to her argument because  that statement differentiate a sci-fi movie and a sci-fi novel. The focus on destruction turns sci-fi movies into a different sun-genre.Sontag goes to explain why people enjoy sci-fi. She believes that "it releases one from normal obligation." When people watch the chaos happening on screen, they forget the chaos happening in their lives. It gives people a chance to feel bad for someone other than themselves. Another reason it is so loved is because it embodies the fears and desires of humanity. Some fears include nuclear warfare and depersonalization. One desire of humanity is that the world could unite and fight together against being not from Earth. In this way war against non humans would be justified.
       Even though Sontag has vast knowledge about science fiction films, the tone of the article suggests she isn't a big fan. She claimed that science fiction movies are predictable. So predictable that she gives three scenarios as to how the movie will play out.

What Science Got to Do w. It?

In the 'short' article, Imagination of Disaster by Susan Sontag, we come to realize how common these horror/science film movies are. She gives us 2 different scenarios that we will actually come across in any type of sic-fi movie. She later ons goes and gives us different examples of movies through history of science fiction. As she continues, she illustrates the progression of sic-fi films.
Sontag mentions how science films are not about science. She proceeds to say that they're about disaster. Her opinion is actually valid. Science films are usually about something bad and awful happening and how 'science. can be our hero. This important in the article so we as reader can understand that we use science to learn from it and progress through hardships.
Sontag has a neutral attitude towards science. She seems more informative than bias in this article. This structure suggest that her relationship w. science and science films is something she has studied and knows a lot about...

this was a very complex read.. and not in a good way.

Wish for a good war

Susan Sontag, The Imagination of Disaster, we live in a space filled with real problems that scary us. Therefore, "fantasy" is the perfect weapon to carry us into an exotic dangerous event, holding in minutes of happy endings. (Sontag, 316) On the other hand, this reduces the world-wide true by promoting radiation and contamination, which somehow gives the sense of "otherness." Nontheseless, the lack of original dialogue touches some points in the film that ends up causing laughs. Also, the multiple "cliche" traits, such as identity, power, and social concerns, the movie brights out makes film closest to reality, and that tights the audiences' thoughts of the film. Science fiction films are made of five parts in general. First the enemy approached and it is seen by a studious guy, who become the hero. Then the hero's observation is backed up by others that witnessed the destruction. Next, the country's intelligence enters in dialogues to deal with the problem. Fourth, at the sight of the hero's clumsy girlfriend the army starts a massive attack. Finally, another chat between authorities, while the hero prepares the ultra-weapon that kills the monster. As a result, the film underlines the beauty of destruction, which in a way is similar to old monster movies expect, of course, for the scale of "havoc" the science fiction movies can produce. Every time this film provides a wish for a good war that always or at least most of it has a happy finish. When it does not give the impression for a good ending, it channels to yearn "peace or peaceful coexistence." On one hand, technology conceives a utopian fantasy where social controversies become world-wide agreements, and the simple forms of lifestyle are taken as absurd. On the other hand, it is eliminating social criticism, or at most the feel of it, in dehumanization upon the influence of aliens. In short, science fiction films standarazes attitudes of fear for newcomers, who are looked up as aliens, and consequently they are dehumanized. Also, it provides an imaginary utopia where everything is done for every person without moving a finger.  

"Science fiction films are not about science," prints Sontag. It is relevant to point out the theme of these movies are not anything for this century that "disaster" has been around for a long time by now. Also, to feature the use of the science, here science plays the role of constructing a large scale place of destruction. Thus, the film turns the attention to broken walls, massive explosions and killings. Finally, to detail the monstrous alien that is annihilating humanity, while the natives plan estratiges to put down the outsider. So, true science is not present in the so called science fiction film.           

Disaster of Sci-Fi Films

          Susan Sontag writes about science fiction and components of sci-fi films in her article “The Imagination of Disaster”.  She explains the basic plots and the predictability around science fiction films.  She uses many examples from a variety of different films, but they all have some quality in common. Sontag compares Sci-Fi’s to horror movies, claiming they partly overlap each other. “There is undeniable pleasure we derive from looking at freaks, at being excluded from the category of the human.”(Sontag 324). Much like Stephen Kings opinion is “Why We Crave Horror Movies”, we seek pleasure and a thrill in something completely insane and unrealistic. She continues to evaluate sci-fi films in her article, and continually finds the same progression and story line in each one.

          According to Sontag sci-fi films are not at all based on science, but they are about destruction. Science films are mostly concerned with wreaking havoc and making a mess. “And it is in the imagery of destruction that the core of a good science fiction lies.” (321). It seems to be the theme amongst sci-fi films, according to Sontag. This notion is extremely important to her argument because this is the underlying notion that all sci-fi films seemed to be based upon. In some way or another, destruction is somewhere or everywhere in these films. Sontag does not seem to be a big fan of sci-fi films. In a lot of ways she’s sort of bashing them. She states that they’re all the same and predictable. But even though she doesn’t seem to be too fond of them, she knows a lot about them. Out of all the examples she used I was only familiar with about three titles. She might know a great deal about the subject, but sci-fi just isn’t her cup of tea.

Sci-fi movies causing havoc

          In the reading "The Imagination of Disaster" by Susan Sontag, Sontag writes about science fiction films and disaster films are alike and gives away the reasons behind the meaning.  Shesays how  basically science fiction films, well suck, and are very much predictable.  From the 1900's to modern day, sci-fi movies have had very similar outlines, or exactly the same ones, and I must say I agree with her on that one.  But we keep going to the movies and watching these films even though we know the outcome.

          Susan Sontag writes "science fiction movies are not about science.  They are about disaster, which is one of the oldest subjects of art."  In these films we are fascinated by the sight of our world coming to an end or aliens taking over the planet.  This reminds me of Stephen Kings "Why We Crave Horror Movies" when King says how we as humans are all a little insane.  He begins saying how watching horror films gives us that excitement that we need in our life in order to stay sane and although horror films are also very predictable, we always go to watch them on the screen anyway already knowing what is going to happen.  These two readings are very much alike in that they both say we crave this feeling of seeing horrific acts of madness happening.  Sontag explains how without the effects and images of massive destruction, nobody would want to see a science fiction movie when she writes "and it is in the imagery of destruction that the fore of a good science fiction film lies." (Sontag 321)

          Susan Sontag is known for her writing about "high" art and culture but her attitude towards popular science fiction is very poor.  You can immediately tell Sontag is not a fan as she bashes on these films and novels.  "The movies are naturally weak just where the science fiction novels (some of them) are strong-on science."  Although her knowledge of sci-fi is extreme, Sontag just does not enjoy them.  She explains how the images capture out attention but the story line is just plain old boring!

The Imagination of Disaster: Sci-Fi

“The Imagination of Disaster” was written by Susan Sontag and published in RPC. In this article she comes up with valid explanations as to why Sci-Fi films are well, terrible. For the record, anytime I hear about a Sci-Fi film or book I immediately stop paying attention… they are just plain old BORING! She give us two primary examples of how these films lack originality. Their story lines compared to the story lines of today’s Sci-Fi films are predictable yet people watch them because like horror films they bring out a side of us we enjoy. Watching the world collapse and machine animals/aliens destroy it is what Sci-Fi fans crave, the same way some of us crave Vampires or shows based on supernatural creatures.  Sci-fi doesn’t offer horror but offers suspense and mystery.

But anyway, according to Sontag, “Science fiction films are not about science. They are about disaster…” (321). This is definitely where my attention was back on the reading. She goes on to explain how directors take these topics and over exaggerate just a bit. This particular belief is important to Sontag’s argument because it’s solid, at least from well-budgeted films. The mass destruction and action scenes that are presented to the viewers are what make the entire film. Yearning for peace, the UN fantasy, dehumanization and depersonalization (327-330) are all common themes amongst this genre.  Sontag’s attitude towards Sci-Fi doesn’t seem like she is actively engaged, however she is knowledgeable of the topic. Her countless references to movies from all decades prove this (but they are all a drag). Her tone during this article shows how much of a disinterest she has towards this topic.

Why we read and watch Disaster?

    In The Imagination of Disaster by Susan Sontag, she talks about how much science fiction is a disaster. Science fiction books are just the same as comic books with the imagery . Sontag is describing how sci-fi films are being played now in days and how much they suck.She explains how  science fiction films most likely is about the creature or mechanical object takes over the world.

When Sontag says " Science fiction is not about science " but she label them as being about disaster which is one of the oldest subjects of art. Its important to her argument because she is correct, science fiction is about mechanical robots, martians and creatures taking over the world. When people announce things like that its gets everyone attention and everyone would love some entertainment as they get also from comics.

Sontag doesn't like science fiction films nor books, she "propose to discuss science fiction films as an independent sub-genre, without reference to the novels." Yes the structure and tone of the essay suggests her relationship with her subject.

Social Annotations for "Hidden Intellectualism"

In case our first Social Annotation posters get torn down eventually, I'm posting the pictures I took of them here. You may find that referencing these later in the semester will be helpful.

You can find the rest after the break.