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(Re)Connecting the Pop: The Hunger Games, Election 2012, Ray Bradbury, The Avengers

Art by Faith Erin Hicks

With all the hoopla surrounding the home video release of The Hunger Games, I thought I’d revisit that topic, one of the first (and most popular) that this blog addressed. And I figured while I’m at it, why not revisit some of the other pop culture topics covered here over the past few months by way of sharing some related links that get at media literacy, visual literacy, and transliteracy.


The Hunger Games

The example shown above from a wonderful fan-made graphic adaptation of the novel is notable for several reasons. The creator, Faith Erin Hicks, is an accomplished professional (Friends with Boys), and that happens to fit with my own conception of fandom and the fannish: these terms do not convey amateurism, but rather that the texts produced are unauthorized. It’s an important distinction to share with young people, who may see fan art (and thus their own efforts) as “less than”—but when one of DC’s Batman artists sketches Spider-Man at a convention table, isn’t he or she creating a fannish work?

For more on Hicks’ stunning version of The Hunger Games (I like it more than the movie), follow this link to Comics Alliance. Oh, and if you present this work to students, you’ll obviously want to draw attention to the silent quality of the narrative; it could even be used as a model for students who want to try their hand at a comics adaptation of the opening of any YA novel that they’re partial to.

Equally impressive in its own way is the below fan-made trailer for Catching Fire. Yes, there are a ton of these out there, but this is the most compelling one I’ve come across—I find myself doubting that the actual trailer will be this engrossing when it eventually surfaces. (And be warned: it is a little bloody in places.)

The springboards for discussion here are multiple:

  • Which moments and images correspond to passages from the novel?
  • What are the sources of the clips used? How is the video edited to obscure those sources?
  • How does the trailer make use of the common conventions used in actual trailers?


The Avengers

Speaking of fandom—a favorite topic of mine that I wish Connect the Pop focused on a bit more—here’s a piece of fan art should serve as a lighthearted accompaniment to my posts about The Avengers.

Although addressing the question of “Where Was Loki When The Avengers Were Eating Shawarma?” it actually points to key aspects of how fans typically approach texts critically:

  • What was left out? And was it left out intentionally?
  • What happened during the parts of the story we didn’t see?
  • What makes a little less sense if you just think about it a bit more?


Election 2012

Certainly there’s a big chunk of curricular potential in the Library of Congress book Presidential Campaign Posters: Two Hundred Years of Election Art. Like my interview with Frank Baker, this post on Brain Pickings shows how easy it is to combine visual literacy, media literacy, history, and politics. If you decide to share some of these fascinating vintage posters, you might want to ask

  •  How do they reflect the style of their time in terms of design?
  • How do they reflect the “style” and strategies of their respective campaigns?
  • Should these be considered works or art? Why or why not? Can “art” ever have a persuasive intent—or does it almost always have a persuasive intent?


Ray Bradbury

Almost as soon as I posted my eulogy to the beloved author back in June, “Thank Ray Bradbury for-Everything You Love,” I was inundated by further evidence for the title’s thesis. “Without Bradbury there’s no Michael Chabon, no Cormac McCarthy, no Margaret Atwood,” wrote Adam Rogers in his spot-on obituary for Wired. “He made the conventions of genre into a beautiful machine for telling important stories.”

One of the things that made the cultural impact of Bradbury’s imagination so pronounced concerns his influence across media. Here’s a great piece about television in this regard, and it happens to include The Twilight Zone, which I mentioned in my post.

While we’re at it, here’s a terrific video essay that covers both TV and cinema.

And let’s not forget comics.

It was also interesting to note in all the career summaries how often the issue came up of whether Bradbury was a fantasist or a writer of science-fiction (a characterization he disdained)—but how rarely he was associated with horror. Yet for me, especially with short story collections such as The October Country, his towering stature in the genre can’t be denied. Indeed, I’d go so far as saying that he penned the single greatest sentence of terror and suspense in the twentieth century: “Behind her, in the black living room, someone cleared his throat.” (Oh, and if you’d like to check out a vintage radio adaptation of this classic story, here you go.)

Finally, and this really is a case of saving the best for last, if you have never seen Bradbury as a guest on You Bet Your Life, you may be in geek heaven as you watch the below—that is, if seeing a major literary figure discuss movie versions of Moby-Dick and Henry James qualifies as geekiness to you. It certainly does to me.

About Peter Gutierrez