Is Success just Dumb Luck?

This topic is something that I have always questioned in my writing and was quite pleasantly surprised to see this as a daily post. For the past few weeks, I had been writing about Avatar: The Last Airbender and will bring this up as well in regards to it’s initial success.

When looking at any successful product, people often question if something comes into popularity through it’s own work or through dumb luck. This is a question for a multitude of creative mediums. This is seen in art, books and movies. Why did the Mona Lisa become so culturally significant? How did the Harry Potter series rise to success? Why is L.A Confidential considered a classic? Can all of these be boiled down to luck? The answer, I would say, is quite clearly, no.

For all three of these examples, there is a clear level of skill from the creators of each of these things. The Mona Lisa didn’t happen to be come a cultural piece in regards to art. It was modeled after the wife of an influential man as well as created by an already established artist. There were also the culturally historical nuances that have to be put into consideration as well. This came about during the beginnings of the art renaissance. The Harry Potter series is another case that shows that success is not just dumb luck. It must be noted that Harry Potter did not rise to the powerhouse level of relevancy that it has today immediately upon its publishing. For starters, it was rejected eight times. There was also a clear level of skill on J. K Rowling’s writing and crafting of characters and worlds. If you haven’t seen L. A Confidential I highly suggest you give it a look. This movie showed an astounding level of skill in pretty much all aspects of film making. Though, seeing that I’m not as well versed in film making, this is the best I can give.

This can be seen in Avatar as well. The majority of the first episodes hit well over a million on their day of airing. It has even gained an extremely loyal following that still praise it over a decade later. Was it all luck? Of course not. My bias aside, there is an abundantly clear amount of skill behind the show. Everything from the writing to the animation was done beautifully. Granted, there were some things that were on it’s side. The year 2005 was an interesting one for cartoons in the West. For one, around the early 2000s was the same time that the first “Cartoon Renissance” happened in which shows like Power Puff girls became highly popular. There was also a rise in the powerhouses of cartoons had a multitude of successful series studios. This was also the time that western cartoons were also being introduced to eastern influence. Avatar had all of this in its favor.

So is success just luck? A little yes and a little no. There is a level of skill that is necessary and apparent in a lot of popular products. But they also benefit from things like historical/ cultural nuances and coincidences.

ATLA: Abstract World Building

I’ve decided to go on about how much I love the various aspects of Avatar instead of a full on review. The show is over a decade old so I’m sure that there are a plethora reviews that have gone in depth on each of the episodes. I still want to do reviews of shows, but I’ll have to think about it since a lot of the shows that I like are pretty old, but I digress.

I’ve talked about world building before and how difficult it is. In my novel, I feel that the world I’m building is relatively abstract, but the rules are a bit arbitrary. As such, I’m left awe struck at shows that can create this odd and abstract world and make it all so concise. The level of continuity is one of the other many reasons that I absolutely love this show.

When you look at the world of Avatar, there are a lot of fantasy elements. There were people who could bend the elements, fantasy creatures and a fantasy concept of spirituality. And yet it made sense, and even felt real. Why was this the case? The creators of Avatar had a consistent system with air- tight continuity. A rule made is consistently used throughout the entire show.

When it comes to world building, a well defined and consistent system is a necessity. Another show that was a great example of building a world that is rather abstract but still believable is Cow Boy Bebop. They had a consistent futuristic steam punk world that felt like a western. The things in the world are obviously different from what happens in the real world, yet it made sense.

With many aspects of story telling, consistency is key. I know for me, abstract world building is difficult for me. Doing this on your own can be very difficult, but there are ways to combat that. One thing that I like to do is write out the rules of the world. Taking notes is a way to visually see what you already have down and to ensure that as you continue, you don’t contradict yourself. I also use templates to try and keep on track.

The creator’s of Avatar did an outstanding job in world building. I would love to see  the process they took to make such a solid world!

 

Image found here!

Avatar Destroys Gender Norms

As I stated before, I’ve wanted to do reviews for awhile, especially on this show. This week for grad school, I did a paper that analyzed on Aang’s framing as a more feminine male lead. This is something that has been debated over between fans for quite some time. In researching for my paper (which was legit watching some of my favorite episodes) I found that Aang was definitely a bit more feminine. However, I found that this series, and even the legend of Korra series, did quite a bit to subvert gender norms.

I’ll start with explaining Aang’s femininity. I’d like to start by stating that this is not a diss on Aang. I personally adore Aang and he is one of my favorite lead characters I’ve seen introduced in an adventure series. And it also needs to be noted that feminine traits in men shouldn’t be considered as something negative. Now with all that in mind, I feel that there were several subtle instances that displayed Aang’s more feminine traits. It was something that could be seen in the very first episode. He as an aura of mystery that is normally projected onto women in cinema when we are first introduced to him.

His personality is also one that doesn’t really fit the dominant ideology for what is/ should be considered masculine. The episode that really showed this was the episode with the fortune teller in the first season. Sokka teases him because he made jewelry for Katara saying “Instead of saving the world, you can go into the jewelry making business.” Without skipping a beat, Aang says “I don’t see why I can’t do both.” That spoke a lot to Aang’s view on masculinity and they were so subtle about it. Aang doesn’t separate masculine and feminine tasks, saying that he could do both with no problem. Even so, his masculinity isn’t completely disregarded. They make his desire for Katara very clear. This is one of the many reasons that I adored Aang.

However, Aang wasn’t the only example of a subversion of gender norms. It’s seen in characters like Toph as well. She is a young, thin, blind girl who was far more masculine than some of the boys that she spent time with. The subversion of gender norms and archetypes was also seen in the episode where Aang ended up in jail. His cellmates were originally framed as intimidating but were shown to be very sensitive and in tune with their emotions. The subversion can even be seen in the fact that one of the most dangerous antagonists is a woman.

The way that the writers handled the perception and growth of these characters is one of the main reason that I absolutely love this show!

My Art is My Baby (and an Update)

I am someone who loves babies. They’re so cute and the purest expression of joy can almost always be seen in the bright smile of a baby. That being said, I don’t necessarily want to have a baby anytime soon. One reason being, that I feel like I already have a baby. As said in the title, I feel that my art and expression of creativity is my baby.

Yes, this does sound a bit weird seeing that artwork isn’t on the same level of a baby. Though, I do feel that I do a lot to nurture my work, almost like a baby. I create it, often times through, months of preparation. I nurture it to grow. In regards to writing, I nurture it through creating outlines to strengthen the bones of the story, comparable to giving the baby milk. I flesh out the draft, characters and the world in which they live which is similar to helping a child crawl on their own for the first time.

It can be seen in art as well. Drawing the outlines of the scene you’re drawing is akin to feeding the baby milk. Laying down the lines for the art is like when a mother first let her baby crawl on its own. As an artist lays down each layer of color it can be compared to teaching a child lessons as they grow.

For me, and I’m sure many others can understand, I treat my craft as I would my own child. There’s so much love involved in both, after all.

 

So, last week I mentioned that I wanted to do reviews on shows and that would likely be my focus and would push my schedule to weekly updates. I will be starting that next week and the day that I upload, will be the usual day for the reviews. I’m still unsure if I will post more, it will depend on the workload that I have in graduate school. Anyway, hope you like it!

When Life Give You Lemons…

via Daily Prompt: Juicy

… You make lemonade right? This juicy and refreshing beverage in the better half of the very well known saying; “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade”. I’m sure we are all very familiar with this saying and have used it on different occasions. But it’s made me really think about the idea of positivity, or rather, forced positivity. Are we really happy when we force ourselves to be? I’ll be discussing that now. To preface, I don’t know the answer, this is just my opinion.

My initial reaction is to say that forced positivity isn’t the same as just being positive or happy. Let’s use the lemonade quote as a reference. So someone has just thrown some lemons your way with the expectation that you make yourself a batch of lemonade. But there’s a lot that is missing. The most basic being that you don’t have a pitcher. You have no water, sugar or anything to cut or juice the lemons. You have no means to make this lemonade that you’re expected to make. That’s the same with positivity. You’ve been dealt a very hard and unfair and you’re expected to make good of it. However, you haven’t been given any tools or means to truly deal with these issues. This is the problem I have with forced positivity. It does little to genuinely help someone. It even comes with a sense of being condemned if you don’t adhere to this forced positivity.

Though I still stand by the previous paragraph, there are positives to the idea of making lemonade. There’s another popular quote that I think can be connected with the lemonade quote; “fake it til you make it”. I believe that things like confidence and positivity don’t just come out of nowhere. I mention this YouTuber a lot, but Anna Akana covered this in a portion of one of her videos. She said that she would laugh until she felt less depressed. This can help with forcing yourself to become more positive even if you aren’t quite as happy.

These are my views on the concept of forced positivity. I hope this helps someone or makes someone think. Thank you for reading!

Self Love

So today is Valentine’s Day. It’s a day that means a lot of things for a lot of people, which comes with an expectation for said people. There is an expectation for love to be spread, and that is something that I am very fond of. We see a lot of negativity, so a day that is focused on love is a positive to me. But what does this day of love mean to someone who is single? I can tell you my point of view, seeing that I’m single and have been for a while now. Self- love has a significant meaning on this day. Similar to how love shouldn’t just be expressed on Valentine’s Day, self- love should be something that people partake in on a relatively regular basis.

Now just to preface, this isn’t to say that you should coddle yourself on Valentine’s day just because you’re single. This isn’t a pity part, just a different way to partake on this day of love. So the first thing that I do, in regards to self- love, is to simply relax. Love is a lot of things and one of them comes from a place of serenity. True, sometimes relationships are stressful, that includes with a significant other and with one’s self. That being said, the act of love should be relatively stress- free.

There are several things that a person can do to and for themselves when single on Valentine’s day. Something that I found that I really enjoyed last Valentine’s Day was to bake pastries. Yes, it was initially a means to present myself with chocolates and sweets. It’s rather surprising how intimate cooking can be, as well as relaxing. So the process of making these sweets was a form of self love in itself. I intended to enjoy them on my own. However, something that really heightened this process of self- love on Valentine’s Day was when I shared what I made with family and friends. Remember, that Valentine’s Day isn’t just about receiving, but also giving (yes, that sounds like a clichéd line in a Christmas movie). Being able to give, is a form of love and that is healthy and pleasant for both parties, the chocolate may not be though.

Being comfortable alone is an essential part to self- love. After baking, I watched TV on my computer. Sitting in my room may sound a bit sad, but it was honestly so pleasant. I have long since become comfortable with myself, excluding times when anxiety rears its ugly head but that happens both in and out of a relationship. Anyway, you don’t have to only sit alone in your room. Taking yourself out on a date is a very pleasant and nice way to practice self- love on Valentine’s Day when you’re single.

Understand, these tips aren’t for “surviving” Valentine’s Day with out a significant other. That mentality is rather harmful to truly partaking in self- love. So, I hope you guys have a happy Valentine’s Day!

 

An Analytical Approach

I mentioned in my New Year’s post that I wanted to give reviewing different TV shows a shot. Show reviews are some of the most interesting things that I’ve seen on the internet, it’s one of the main types of YouTube channels that I follow. I enjoy the seriousness of it. In my mind, it shows the love that a lot of the reviewers have for the shows and the craft that they are reviewing. As it could be assumed, I too have a lot of love for story telling, especially through the medium of animation. As such, I want to try writing reviews for different TV shows.

Some reviews will be my opinion and analysis on the show as a whole. Depending on the show and it’s size, it would either be separated by seasons or by strings of episode based on the flow of the story. Some of the analysis will zero in on characters, settings or even on the technical side of the show.

I want to start by reviewing/ analyzing my favorite show; Avatar the Last Airbender. This show is honestly one of the main reasons I grew a love and respect for the art of storytelling and creating characters. I feel like reviewing a show that I like will help me in taking a first step in reviews.

That being said, these types of reviews are not something that I could do for daily posts and still make them the quality that I want. I’ll figure out a schedule, but I hope you guys are looking forward to it since this is something that I’m very excited about!