eilonwy2017: (Fox licking glass)
An appropriate subtitle would be Evidence My Brain is Messed Up and Why I Don't Have an Ordinary Life...

So, one of the courses I'm teaching this semester is Introduction to Literary Criticism. It's... not my most comfortable subject, but it's going pretty well. (My students tend to leave the classroom saying things like how the class makes them think about things they've never had to before, so I think that's a plus.)

Last week they read Althusser. One major aspect of what Althusser talks about, very very simplified, is the Repressive State Apparatus (RSA) and the Ideological State Apparatus (ISA). The RSA is made up violence or threat of violence-- people stay in line because RSAs threaten them with injury. This would be stuff like the police, the army, large men with big baseball bats, guns, etc. The trouble with using just an RSA to keep people doing what you want is that you need a lot of other people willing to hurt other people (or threaten) and it's just not consistently feasible. But, ISAs take over-- people are influenced by the ideology in which they live-- they are influenced by family, church, school, politics, etc. So in a sense, people police themselves and their own behavior because they do things that they think they should (and don't do things they think they shouldn't.)

I showed the King Arthur and the peasants scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail to illustrate this to my students. The peasants and the king are talking from two completely different ideologies (ISAs) and when Arthur gets irritated enough, he physically attacks Dennis (the peasant) who even points out that he's being repressed (RSA). My students thought this scene was hilarious and most of them had never seen the movie before (tragedy!!! sacrilege!) but planned on seeing it as soon as possible. (Success!)

At any rate, that's been somewhat on my mind. Meanwhile, as you know from an earlier post, I've been watching a lot of La Femme Nikita. I've been enjoying it, of course, or I wouldn't be continuing to watch. I've enjoyed the good stuff and enjoyed snarking at the stuff that hasn't aged as well (although hey, by episode 9, Madeline's hair shrank down to half its previous size, so someone figured out that much.) And the episode I'm watching as I type this, "Rescue", is amaaaaaaazing because it's had 1/2 naked Michael and also Madeline and Nikita off to rescue him in an almost-buddy-filmesque romp through "Eastern Europe" and OMG that would have made an incredible spin-off. But for all that, I've also got Althusser in my head.

A brief background to the world of La Femme Nikita, so that you can see what I mean:

The show centers around a clandestine organization called Section One (or just Section.) It's probably American (once in a while the US government is specified and in an early first season episode they investigate a rogue faction in the CIA) although the show was filmed in partnership with and in Canada, and most of the actors are Canadian. Section is ruthless, not particularly worried about collateral damage, and have no trouble working with the bad guys as needed, if just shooting them (which is what usually happens) doesn't work best. The field agents/operatives are sometimes undercover (Nikita often is) but are even more likely to just be dressed in black and sent someplace to shoot a lot of people.

What makes up the interesting tension of the show is that Nikita was recruited in the first episode (just like the French movie by the same name that the show is based on and like the American version of that film, Point of No Return.* Nikita was a street kid who was wrongfully accused of killing a cop and sentenced to death. Section removed her from prison, but to the rest of the world, she's dead. She the has zero choice but to work (read: spy and assassinate) for Section or be killed by them (euphemistically known as being "canceled"). Since Nikita was not actually a killer, and she still has her morals, she's frequently at odds with what Section wants her to do and bends/breaks the rules to save people, running the risk of Section deciding she's not worth the trouble.

And you find out over the course of the season that ALL, or at the very least almost all, of the operatives were recruited the very same way. Nikita isn't the only one torn and certainly not the only one who wants to leave Section One.

In other words, except for the people at the very top (Madeline and Operations), everyone is there because if they don't do what they're told, they'll be killed. The system is entirely a Repressive State Apparatus. (Nikita almost joins another operative in order to escape during season 1, and Michael essentially seduces her into staying because he knows she'll be caught and killed if she goes, as the other operative was. He frequently covers for her, in fact, because of course another major point of the show is the will they/won't they tension of their relationship, but also because if any of the operatives get caught doing anything they oughtn't, they'll be killed.)

My point is that it seems to me a really unstable way to run an organization, particularly a clandestine agency full of high tech weaponry. If enough people chose to go against the RSA, they could succeed because there would be more of the rebels than the people in charge. (I assume that the people in charge have actually bought into the ideology-- if there's no one above you to keep threatening you with cancellation (execution), you wouldn't keep doing things you morally disagreed with.) Once in a while the show will have a character say something about how, since they did the crime they were sentenced for, this is a life they wouldn't otherwise have had and thus they shouldn't complain but a) that isn't human nature and b) they do complain.

Almost never does the series show people trying to convert the recruits/operatives based on ideology (a "we get rid of bad guys/keep the general populace save unless they're in our way" kind of thing), presumably because... well, why? Wouldn't having true believers, ideologues around be the best way to get stuff done and not have to spend resources and time on policing (via RSA violence/threat of violence) your own people?

The other way to look at Section is through Foucault. (Because as I mentioned above, I am a NERD and because the two work pretty well together.) One thing Foucault is really known for is "panopticism". Super simplified, it applies the idea of the panopticon to society. The panopticon was an idea for a prison put forth by Jeremy Bentham (and actually created in some places, albeit much later) where all the prisoners each have a cell in a cylindrical, hollow prison. Each cell has 3 solid walls and one that's a window facing the center of the cylinder. In the middle, there's a guard tower that can see into every single cell, but the prisoners cannot see into the tower. This means that prisoners never known if they're being watched, but they know that they can always be watched or seen. Since any activity could be seen, they act as if every activity is seen, or, in other words, they internalize the police state. Big Brother isn't necessarily always watching but he absolutely could be and probably is, so don't do anything wrong. From the idea of a physical prison, Foucault takes this to a much wider perspective, that of society itself. And he was writing in 1975-- can you imagine if he were to write now, when there really are cameras nearly everywhere and the NSA can listen in on civilian phone calls and home appliances (like tvs) can be equipped to turn the camera on the household constantly?

(I take comfort in the fact that I'm too damn boring for anyone to watch. The fact that I'm writing this post should, frankly, illustrate that fact...)

The world of La Femme Nikita, particularly within but not restricted to Section, is a panopticon. Partway through season one, Nikita finds out that there are cameras in her apartment (she tears them out and tells Section she'd rather be cancelled than spied on, but who's to say there aren't more cameras? She has to have thought of that, too.) Surely Section itself is full of cameras, not to mention other people within the organization willing to tattle on a colleague in the hopes of buying themselves some privileges or maybe saving that information until they need it (if they're in danger of torture or cancellation for some other indiscretion.)

But the panopticon of LFN is still part of Althusser's RSA, and no matter how much the characters internalize the policing, they aren't internalizing the ideology, which means they continue the tension between Section's ideology and directives and their own ideology and morals.

This makes for excellent television, but a really terrible way to run your clandestine organization which is supposed to keep the world safe from terrorists and the like.



------
*The show even uses a few seconds of film from the American movie in its pilot and recycles one of the film's story lines in a first season episode.
eilonwy2017: (Think Sam)
I'm still thinking about 6.01, as you can tell. And I'm not sure that I have anything new to say, but I also feel like I have to. I was stunned by the amount of negativity that I saw out and about on ze webs today, that the episode was bad, that Dean and Sam were out of character, etc. (THIS IS NOT AIMED AT ANY ONE INDIVIDUAL, or even any two or three, but a response to the general feel I got when reading commentaries, and even more so-- comments on commentaries.)

I mean, I'm not going to sit here and say that it was the best episode ever (although I'd be hard pressed to tell you what the "best episode ever" was anyway) but I thought it did what it needed to do.

Spoilers through 6.01 but not beyond )

I don't plan on posting this beyond this here journal (It's not as structured as I like the meta I write to be), but I'm un-friends-locking it, just in case.

Hey, this is the first time I've used this icon or the "thinky-thoughts" tag in a loooooong time. See? I'm already pleased with season 6.
eilonwy2017: (EEEEE Raoul the Big Gay Supernatural Dra)
PLEASE NOTE. This is a jumble of thoughts/observations made a bit after the fact. I didn't have my computer with me at [livejournal.com profile] flurije's house, and I still have papers to grade tonight, so I don't have the time or brain power to make anything smooth and pretty. Last week I got into a bit of an argument with another SPN-fan about a very minor comment I made (that Anna should have gone back earlier in time, before 1978, so that Mary couldn't be pregnant) and it was a totally unimportant, throwaway observation, and I think the confusion may have come about because of my just throw-it-out-there style of commentary. This week's is bound to be even more haphazard, yet even less detailed. Fair warning. :)

My Bloody Valentine )

Not a spoiler or related to tonight's episode, just funny. Flurry picked up Yarn!Castiel (as I always bring Sam, Dean and Castiel with me, or I get in trouble with Flurry) and started swinging him about and singing, somewhat hight pitched, "Swiiiiing looooooow, Sweeeeet Chaaaaariot..." Well, *I* thought it was funny. Mind you, that was partly because last week when going to the Dreaded TA Meeting, Flurry, [livejournal.com profile] wild_donkey_man and MM sang it (and other spirituals) as a protest to having to go to said meeting. Also, WDM brought his fingerpuppet of Walter Benjamin with him, and he also sang. (I made a hat for Walter Benjamin out of an index card. It was the most productive part of the entire meeting.)

I love comments, as well you know. But I can't guarantee just now when I'll get around to responding. My life is booked up from now 'til sometime on Saturday... I haven't even decided if I'm taking my laptop to campus tomorrow 'cause I have reading I have to do before 3pm, and if I take my laptop I probably won't so much do the reading...
eilonwy2017: (Think Sam)
So, I'm about to go gather up necessary materials to start on ami!YED (or ami!Azazel as you prefer) and I looking at pictures of the said demon from "All Hell Breaks Loose" parts 1 and 2. Black undershirt, dark blue overshirt, blue jeans, brown coat. Why does this sound familiar, I ask myself.

Because John in "Salvation" and "Devil's Trap" is wearing a green undershirt, dark blue overshirt, blue jeans and a brown coat. I wonder if this very similar color palette was intentional?

Man Men

Aug. 16th, 2009 11:24 pm
eilonwy2017: (Think Sam)
Man Men's third season opener, and some thoughts on the show in general, especially pertaining to race, gender and sexual orientation. Whee?

Thoughts on the Third Season Premiere )
eilonwy2017: (Book review)
23-30? Seriously? Yes. And then before I leave, you'll get 31-40. Holy carp, right? But then you won't be left hanging. :D

Read on to see [livejournal.com profile] eilonwy put her hard-earned education on the Early Modern period to use, and see her wibble on about witches and spell-craft-- which may eventually become a meta in its own right, but not at the moment because it's 1am, and I have a lot to do tomorrow, and leave for a cross-country drive on Sunday.

Chapters 23-30 )


Join me tomorrow when I not only finish this book, but spend a great deal of time pondering Sam's Big Decision.
eilonwy2017: (Think Sam)
Warning: This got *really* long. Basically, I argue that Sam made understandable choices, Show didn’t show us what was evil about them, Dean’s choices were not inherently better, and the boys were screwed from the get-go of season 4.

I'd been meaning to write a rant for a while now about Sam being eeeeevil and how, while I had no trouble whatsoever following his line of reasoning throughout the season (with the exception of his choice at the end of 4.12), I have issues with how the season portrayed the supposedly inherent wrongness of those choices. And that rant will be in here. But while I was pondering these thoughts, I also came to the realization that Dean, essentially, did the same thing.

I asked before (here) if we'd not consider Sam's choices in a different light had he been successful in averting the apocalypse. At that point, [livejournal.com profile] ahania made a good point about playing God, and how that's a different line to cross than "simply fighting and letting the chips fall as they may" (comment here). I have a whole meta planned on the idea of the Greater Good in SPN, but that’s for another time-- here I just want to consider the fact that in this case, yes, Sam made a choice between to impossible options, and the fault lay in not knowing all the facts (ie: that killing Lilith frees Lucifer) but Dean does the exact same thing with the angels.

Thinky-thoughts ahoy! )
eilonwy2017: (Think Sam)
(in light of 4.03 "In the Beginning.") Wait, what? )
eilonwy2017: (Think Sam)
Just a thought I suddenly had about a moment in 4.22. Beneath the cut...
Muse along with me )
eilonwy2017: (Sam: Not working for the Mandroid!)
Do Not Sleep with Sam )
eilonwy2017: (Think Sam)
(I find it really telling that I still haven't written about seeing President Obama at graduation today, but I'm a thinky-thoughts posting madwoman about SPN. Oh, my priorities.)

I'll probably revisit this when I get back to season 3 and 4 in my (not yet begun) rewatch, but... have some musings. They're a lot of thinking out-loud, hopefully interesting, but not ready for Prime Time (by which I mean I won't post this at Heavy_Meta or anything just yet.)

I'm reading through the TWOP Forum reactions to tonight's episode (I don't post -- everything gets said long before I, on a West Coast schedule, get to watch the show, but I enjoy reading the reactions) and there was a particularly passionate post about how the entire season and therefore the ending was predictable, and how clearly Kripke didn't think ahead. My thoughts.

Who's working for whom? )

I... had more, but it seems to have gone away now. But like I said, I'll be returning to this topic, I suspect. I know that the above makes me seem like I'm pretty convinced it's the second option, but I'm actually easily swayed between the two.
eilonwy2017: (Glee Dean)
Beneath the Cut- no promises of coherence because I haven't been well all day adn because the finale is likely to cause FLAILING!

Carry on Wayward Son )

Ok. I'm going to go hang out on the TWOP forums for a while, then go back to bed. (Seriously, MANY hours in the AZ desert sun yesterday have completely wiped me out. I (accidentally) slept in 'ti noon today. Then went back to bed at 4:30 and slept 'til 7:30. It is now 9:30, and I expect to be back in bed by 11:30, maybe sooner.)
eilonwy2017: (Bad Idea)
First thoughts, first watch, etc. Under the cut:
When the Levee Breaks )

Commercials. Whatever.

Oh, Eric Kripke, you're going to kill me. AND HOW WILL YOU FEEL THEN, HUH??

More )

Flurije is making Iso fly like a superhero. Heh.

SHUT UP COMMERCIALS, GO BACK TO MY SUPERNATURAL!!!

Flurije says that Sam looks like Cro-Magnon Man. She makes me sad.

More more more )

Can't say it was the bestest episode ever, but it certainly was knife-twisty.
eilonwy2017: (Think Sam)
Over on TWoP's discussion forums, oddly in the board for episode 4.20 (this past week's "The Rapture") there is/was a fairly vehement discussion going on about John Winchester, whether he was righteous, whether he would have been the righteous man who broke the first seal had he broken, whether he broke, etc. I'm not going to join in over there because the main players have agreed to disagree, and it would be churlish for me to return to the question-- plus I'm not entirely sure that this conversation belongs in that thread anyway, and I'd hate for my first substantiative post on TWoP to be shot down by TWOP Barnes. So. I'm going to put all of it here, beneath this handy-dandy cut, and I'd love for other opinions to join in conversation.

No spoilers past the aired episodes (ie: nothing beyond 4.20).

Papa!Winchester )

Wow. That's a lot. Other thoughts? Did John break in Hell? Or was he the righteous man, but so righteous he didn't break?

I'd post this somewhere else, but I rather suspect that this question has been done to death since episode 4.16 (Which, when it aired, I didn't see yet, having not caught up to watching things on broadcast 'til 4.17 or .18). But, there you go, my thoughts.
eilonwy2017: (Default)
In the Blood )
eilonwy2017: (Think Sam)
Anna )
eilonwy2017: (Think Sam)
I'm here aren't I? Not entirely... )

I dunno. I got nothing of substance here, just noticed the theme and thought it was worth noting.
eilonwy2017: (Think Sam)
Get your speculating here! )

No, seriously, is it next Thursday yet? AND the one after that? 'Cause eeeeeep.

Ok. I'm done spamming the friends list for now. :)
eilonwy2017: (Default)
My greatest fear for this season )

Overall, as tonight's episode recedes, it felt very much like an episode setting up future episodes (ie: .21 and .22) and that's a shame. I think the problem, for me, is that when they don't have a MoTW, when the whole episode is mytharc, then Show is sort of slow, a bit bogged down. And very much not the same show we saw in season 1, 2 and 3. I miss the brotherly interaction, the research, etc. And it's a shame that season 5 is almost certainly going to have to be like season 4-- how do you go back to MotW, hunting things, saving people, the family business, after a war between Heaven and Hell?
eilonwy2017: (Default)
Wow, I know nothing about Smallville, but that's a sappy piece of music playing over those closing credits. Bleh.

Okay, so, SUPERNATURAL SUPERNATURAL SUPERNATURAL SUPERNATURAL SUPERNATURAL!!!!! Beneath the cut, as is habit, my during-episode-flailing.

CLICK ME! )

I just want to say that this Starburst juicy burst commercial bothers the hell out of me. I suspect this is because my biggest fear is radioactivity, but still, the commercial doesn't really make sense-- is it honestly suggesting that this candy is so very good that it's worth getting radiation poisoning?

Must. Not. Click. Other. People's. Comments. Yet.

This way for mooooore )

Okay, am off to read everyone else's reactions now! Wheee!

(The downside to this show being on Thursday nights is that now I want to stay up all night reading other people's thoughts, and the TWOP boards, but I can't because I have to teach in the morning. More than that, I have to be on campus all friggin' day because I have a colloquium meeting in the afternoon that I can't skip because they're going to be tearing apart my paper. :( )

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