Term Paper Time

Since the Summer Quarter of my schooling is only 8 weeks long, it is now Term Paper Time (it’s due by 23:55 on Friday).

The instructions are to choose a film from the list below and write 8-10 pages on the premise given to us in the guide (which I have included with the list). Nothing too difficult.

Now, before you go thinking that this is some sort of “PoliSci for Dummies” course, I can tell you quite earnestly that it is not. Most of are assignments so far have been to read 40-50 pages per week on a particular political ideology, then read the six test questions and answer each with a couple/few paragraphs, with ten minutes given to answer each question. Each answer is worth the equivalent of 50 points and we are graded not only on the thoroughness of our answers but also our use of proper written English. Bad spelling and grammar will see a loss in points.

I’m quite happy with the instructor. While he and I do not see eye-to-eye politically, he is quite fair and non-judgmental.

Even better, I am infatuated with the text book. I will post more on it when the course is over in a  couple weeks. I am even thinking of holding a contest with the book as a prize. It is that good.

You’ll probably notice that the premises below are somewhat, if not completely, contrived. While I’m not happy about some of the contortions I’m having to go through with writing about my selection, Groundhog Day, there are others I would dislike to have to bend around even more.

Anyway, the list is below the fold. Enjoy, and feel free to leave a comment on the premises.

Avatar – Ecologism is all about living in harmony with nature. It requires that humans acknowledge a relationship with nature, and live up to our responsibilities as members of this ecological whole. Avatar presents a pretty standard good guys vs. bad guys take on our relationship to nature. But let’s look beyond this at a reality true for both ecologically-minded and non-ecologically-minded ideological outlooks. What do both the humans and the Na’vi (Why is Na’vi capitalized? It’s not a proper noun.) have in common?

Fahrenheit 451 – A conservative society attempts to order itself to maximize social stability. This is done through the use of an over-arching moral code, imposed by the state, and stressing the obligations we, individually, have for each other and for society. Fahrenheit 451 presents a conservative social order, but suggests it is flawed. Think about the impact a conservative social order has the individuals who inhabit it, and the flawed conceptualization of human nature that undermines this order.

Glengarry Glen Ross – Classical liberalism is built around the premise of a free market.
While the free market can be applied to any aspect of a liberal society, realistically it concentrates on the economic. This means that individuals are, largely, economic constructs, whose worth is judged relative to their economic capacity. Glengarry Glen Ross portrays a logical extension of this idea. In what way does a
classical liberal society play itself out? And why, fundamentally, is the free market concept a flawed idea?

Groundhog Day – Groundhog Day presents a conservative critique of liberalism. Focusing on the concept of human nature, and what is necessary for the fulfillment of human nature, how does
Groundhog Day present liberalism’s effect on human behavior, and how do the tenets of conservatism correct liberalism’s shortcomings?

Juno – Ah, a film about conservatism! No, it’s about feminism, pure and simple. Juno offers an insightful portrayal of feminist ideals and how they play out. Consider in Juno: What is feminism? How it portrays feminist characteristics? What is necessary for to be feminist? And what gets in the way of being feminist?

Mary Poppins – And you thought Disney produced only wholesome family entertainment, consistent with traditional American values. Instead, what we have here is a tale of a Marxist-Leninist
revolution. In what way, and for what reasons, does this revolution play out? How does Mary Poppins contrast the oppressive evil of capitalism against the idyllic workers’ paradise of communism?

Robocop – Blood, guts, and violence galore…what’s not to like? Well, there’s a lot more to Robocop. It presents an interesting narrative about the nature of fascism, and the impact of having to give yourself, literally body and soul, over to the state. What are the dimensions of fascism? What does Robocop say about those who are social saviors and enemies? And what does it say about the impact fascism has on ordinary people?

The Road Warrior – What, exactly, is anarchism? The Road Warrior (also known as Max Max 2) offers a glimpse at how anarchism plays out in a (as usual) post-apocalyptic world. While The Road Warrior is about anarchism, it’s not about anarchism. Rather it’s more about how we view anarchism. For this film I want you to consider the types of anarchist communities depicted in the film, where these fail as anarchist communities, and why, despite these inaccuracies, is this how we liberals (and conservatives) insist on portraying anarchism?

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5 Responses to Term Paper Time

  1. Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    The Road Warrior – That one would be fun.

  2. Phil says:

    Not if you’d read the chapter on Anarchism. He wants to know about the different types of Anarchists, and there are plenty, and plenty of examples in the film. That looks to be a 15-20 page paper, and frankly, I just don’t have that kind of time available.

  3. Dfwmtx says:

    Which one are you writing on?

    Does the discussion include sequels? Bartertown from Mad Max 3 s eems like anarchy-capitalism to me. And if the discussion on RoboCop includes the 2 sequels, things might get interesting. Though IIRC RoboCop is more a thing of a private corporation versus the State, so is it really fascist or corporatist?

    I’m not sure how Groundhog Day is a conservative criticism of liberalism. I guess I need to see that movie again and watch it with more of a political eye.

  4. Phil says:

    Actually, D, I am writing on Groundhog Day. As mentioned, the assigned premise is contrived, though I was able to fake 8 pages for it. Just about any political ideology could identify with the things that Bill Murray’s character does to “become a better person” while assigning those things which made him a “bad person” to their ideological opposites.

    I’m hoping that leaving out of my Paper another 5 pages which would have represented that last sentence doesn’t cost me any points.

  5. Ted says:

    Anarchy doesn’t really work for Road Warrior. It’s really more of an example of a resource war being waged by the society of Lord Humongous, with the largest target being the society of the people living in the refinery. Neither society is anarchic. Where the appearance of anarchy appears is where people who are not part of either society have some of the resource that Lord Humongous covets. In Road Warrior, almost every time someone is targeted by an individual, that individual turns out to be an agent of Lord Humongous. These people are innocent victims of a rogue state.

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