Thesis Trouble

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University of Toronto St. George
Innis College Courses
Roger Riendeau

1 The Utopia: Its Unrealistic Existence and Inevitable Downfall Divergent, published in 2011, is a dystopian novel written by Chicago-based author Veronica Roth as her debut novel and consequently her first step into the intriguing world of dystopian literature. Roth’s novel moves past the surface of teen angst and YA labeled fiction to reveal a surprising and thought-provoking revelation of human nature. The unique and cleverly constructed dystopia that she creates allows an in-depth look at the innermost desires of the typical person. Although beginning as a utopia, Roth’s society erupts in war and revolution as she highlights the crucial flaws of any given society throughout her novel. In doing so, Roth’s novel displays the unrealistic idea of the existence of a utopian society through the carefully structured society that she creates in her dystopian Chicago. Fiction and Fact in Oliver Stone’s JFK JFK, Oliver Stone’s baptism by fire into the world of Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories, blurs the line between history and fantasy in an attempt to present an alternative to the so-called “lone gunman theory.” Throughout the film’s more than three hour running time, Stone parades a litany of possible Oswald replacements in front of the audience in a frantic collage of film techniques that, at first blush at least, seem to cast serious doubt on the findings of the Warren Commission. Real and fabricated news broadcasts, dramatization of actual eyewitness testimony (as well as the dramatization of fabricated testimony), and reenactments of the events in Dallas serve to drive home Stone’s point: Lee Harvey Oswald could not have acted alone, and, therefore, a conspiracy must have been behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Whether one accepts Stone’s conclusion or not, however, is completely irrelevant. Stone’s film should not be judged on whether or not it proves the truth of this or that assassination theory, but rather on 2 whether or not it succeeds in capturing the deep sense of ambiguity that continues to surround Kennedy’s death. And in this respect, at least, JFK is a resounding success. Did ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’ influence the 2008 election? ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’ is a late night comedy show hosted by Jon Stewart on the Comedy Network, Monday to Thursday at 11:00pm. It is highly acclaimed, winner of 18 Prime Time Emmy Awards, and highly watched, with audiences in the range of 2-3 million per night (Wikipedia 2012). It focuses on satirizing US daily headlines, domestic affairs, foreign affairs, as well as political opinions. It is also highly politically charged, with a clear bias towards advocating left wing, liberal-democratic values. In 2008, ‘The Daily Show’ offered extensive coverage of the presidential election which was arguably one of the most important elections in US history marking the first African-American presidential candidate, and imminent threats from a stalling economy, ballooning deficit, and deteriorating wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By disproportionately focusing its comedy and satire on Republican blunders, Jon Stewarts ‘The Daily Show’, influenced the 2008 presidential election in favor of the Democratic Candidate. Benjamin Franklin: A Man Lost in his Own Legend The paradox of truth in an autobiography can lead a reader to question the authenticity of the work, and Benjamin Franklin’s The Autobiography and Other Writings is no exception. Franklin’s contribution to America during the eighteenth century includes a plethora of inventions such as the Franklin stove, bifocals, and batteries, but he is most remembered for his involvement in composing the Declaration of Independence. While the historical events outlined 3 throughout his text are fairly accurate, Franklin’s use of rhetoric to portray himself as a modest and humble self-made man is often so transparent that his self-depiction becomes more of a manufactured public persona than a truthful and authentic insight to his private inner-self. Today’s self-aware Western reader is more skeptical of and sensitive to the makings of the “self” and since Franklin gives little insight into his feelings and private life, his autobiography reads more like a narrated history book than a truthful account of the man behind the legend. Old Boy: a Cinematic Depiction of the Dark, Disturbing Nature of Revenge Old Boy, a South Korean psychological thriller, is a film which narrates a story of revenge between two men in one of the most unusual ways possible. Oh Dae-Su, an ordinary salary man in his thirties, is kidnapped mysteriously one day, only to be confined in a small motel room without any human contact. After fifteen years, just as he was abducted, he is released out of the blue; thus begins his journey to find the evil mastermind behind this absurd plot involving hypnosis, adolescent memories, and incest. In this film, the director Park Chan-Wook portrays the deadly nature of revenge: it consumes us and destroys our souls. He manages to successfully
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