comedy

Castaway on the Moon: Escapism in Korean Society

The 2009 film, Castaway on the Moon, focuses on two characters that have deliberately isolated themselves from the rest of society. Despite a fair amount of saddening scenes, there are elements of love and comedy present in the film.

As seen above, the male character becomes stranded on an island outside the city. At first, he is eager to return to civilization. He desperately tries signaling to a nearby ship for help and calling 911. As time passes, he resolves that he must try to adapt to his new environment. He creates a bed out of a paddleboat and begins to catch his own food. Later in the film when another ship passes the island, the man runs away so he cannot be seen because he has embraced life on the island.

The female character has not left her room in three years. She sleeps in a bed of bubblewrap in her closet, keeps piles on canned food on her floor, and stares at a computer all day. She keeps a camera at her window because she likes to take photographs of the moon. One day while looking through the viewfinder of her camera, she spots the man on the island and begins to watch him. Because she identifies with him on a personal level, she is driven to say hello. Sneaking out of her room, she delivers a message in a bottle by throwing it onto the island from the highway overpass above it. When he finds it, a series of correspondence begins.

Both characters have chosen to isolate themselves out of shame. The male character has been labeled as incapable by his father, a company, and his girlfriend. The island rid him of that pain because his actions were driven by him rather than driven by society. This period of self-discovery he called, “the perfect boredom.”

Although the reason for locking herself in her room is never revealed, the female character feels insufficient to some capacity. This theory is supported by her need to blog under an alias instead of revealing her true identity. Additionally, when she sneaks out of her room she wears a motorcycle helmet so her face can never be seen. She begins to change because of the male character because he gives her courage and strength. For instance, once she sees him succeed at planting corn, she steps out of her room and asks her mother for some pots and corn seeds.

But when the male character writes, “Who are you?” in the sand, the female character becomes reclusive again because she fears her true identity is not good enough. However, she stops punishing herself once the male character is discovered on the island and dragged back to society. In this moment, the female character sets herself free and chases after him because she feels that as long as they have each other, everything will be okay.

In conclusion, this film illustrates escapism through the two characters who have chosen to isolate themselves out of shame. Their similarities bring them together by the end of the movie. Aside from the excessive references and sound effects of bowel movements, this was an entertaining and uplifting story.

Primary Source:

Castaway on the Moon. 2009

Creative Commons License
This work by Meredith Browne is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Community, 30 Rock, Arrested Development: Reinventing the Sitcom

The brilliant ensemble cast of NBC's Community

The brilliant ensemble cast of NBC’s Community (Pardee)

In recent years the biggest innovation in the television industry has occurred in writing style, which now focuses more on genuine character development and thoroughly polished fast paced humor. Three shows in particular have lead the charge towards a new age in television: Arrested Development, 30 Rock and Community.

The most notable innovators who revolutionized the television industry—Tina Fey, Mitchell Hurwitz and Dan Harmon have transformed the 20-minute situational comedy into a respected art form.

The first show to break through and rise above the cesspool of average television programming was Arrested Development. In the summer of 2002, the veteran television actor, producer and writer Ron Howard enlisted the help of an up and coming writer by the name of Mitch Hurwitz to help create a new sitcom about a dysfunctional family that went from riches to rags.  Hurwitz developed his characters more before Arrested Development started than most sitcoms do after several seasons. The effort he put in gave his characters greater depth and authenticity and created a more genuine world for them to inhabit. The show was incredibly quick and had much more complex storylines than the average sitcom. Because the humor was so fast-paced, witty and at times so subtle that it required viewers to rewind and watch several times in order to fully appreciate every episode.

Arrested Development influenced many following sitcoms, pushing writers and producers to increase the quality of their shows even if they would not necessarily be commercial hits. The show proved that sitcoms could be more than just mindless entertainment. A documentary was even made to examine just how groundbreaking and influential. Just from watching the trailer you can get an idea:

The year Arrested Development ended, a new show emerged to take its place as the smartest comedy on television—30 Rock. With all of the obstacles that face a television show, Fey managed to create something that stood out amongst all the bland sitcoms that seemed to be an endless repetition of tropes and stereotypes. Fey’s show set itself apart from other shows by creating a realistic world inhabited by genuine, well-developed characters. The most impressive thing about 30 Rock is the writing; each episode is packed with fast-paced jokes that move the plot forward (Edgerton). 30 Rock is especially successful when it comes to social and political commentary, perfectly weaving ernest commentary into every hilarious joke.

Tina Fey’s 30 Rock has been recognized by critics and fans as one of the most imaginative and unique shows on television. Over the course of its seven-year run, the show won 14 primetime Emmy awards and six Golden Globe awards (IMBd). The show also marked a significant breakthrough for women in comedy, becoming the most critically acclaimed show to be created by a woman.  The show exemplifies a sitcom made for the fans and not for the network executives—not worrying primarily about its Nielsen Rating but rather focusing on pleasing its fan base.

The most recent show to revolutionize the sitcom was Community. Dan Harmon created the show in 2009 and immediately committed to character development. Dan Harmon said that no matter what happens in the show, the continuity of the characters and their personalities are the primary concerns. Aside from the incredibly real, genuine characters and the fast, witty humor, Community managed to do something more than Arrested Development and 30 Rockgenre hopping (Tigges). Community is primarily a comedy, but it is not afraid to go where no show has gone before and practically rearrange the entire setup of the show (as you can see in the image below), while still keeping the characters firmly grounded in the real world.

The best word to describe Community would be “meta;” it is very self aware, which makes the show incredibly unique. Watching Community can be seen as a study of television. The show often takes a step back and tells the viewers that it is changing directions or using a trope, showing viewers the inside tricks of the television industry. This is best exemplified by the character in the show named Abed. Abed is a major television geek who knows everything there is to know about the entertainment industry. The storyline also suggests that he might have aspergers. Abed is constantly relating his life to television, which might sound like a cheap plot device but his character is so well developed and so genuine that it is completely believable. Abed’s disease combined with his imagination allows for some incredibly entertaining explorations of different genres and tropes used in television. Community’s never before seen style revolutionized the sitcom by showing people that even in what has become the most formulaic of art forms, there is nothing that cannot be done.

Abed, in the famous "paintball episode," Modern Warfare

Abed in the famous “paintball episode,” Modern Warfare

In conclusion, Mitch Hurwitz, Tina Fey and Dan Harmon revolutionized the television industry simply by focusing more on character development and not being afraid to stray from the norms. Hurwitz, Fey and Harmon created shows that featured incredibly realistic and genuine characters with very fast-paced, smart writing. Each show has been praised for its unique qualities and originality; all three stand out amongst the often-formulaic plethora of sitcoms created each year. These three shows have already had an impact on the industry by inspiring other writers and producers to risk creating other unique new shows. Arrested Development, 30 Rock and Community will continue to influence and inspire future minds and will continue to change television and popularize the sitcom for decades to come.

 

 

Works Cited

bluthfamilyvalues. “Arrested Development Documentary: Final Trailer.” Youtube. Digital File. 12 Jun. 2009. Web. 9 Dec. 2012. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HC4RToo6XeI

Edgerton, Gary. Brian Rose.  Thinking Outside the Box: A Contemporary Television Genre Reader. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2005. Print.

IMDb. Amazon. 1990. Web. 20 Oct. 2012.

Pardee, Thomas. “Top Five ComicCon Moments” Photograph. Weblog. 26 July, 2010. Web. 9 Dec. 2012. http://thomaspardee.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/my-top-5-comic-con-moments/

Sepinwall, Alan. “Abed goes “Matrix” on “Community”.” Photograph. Hitfix.com. 6 May 2010. Web. 9 Dec. 2012. http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/whats-alan-watching/posts/community-modern-warfare-say-hello-to-my-little-el-tigre

Tigges, Jesse. The List: 10 Best Genre Episodes of Community. Columbus Alive. 31, May. 2012. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. http://www.columbusalive.com/content/stories/2012/05/31/the-list-10-best-genre-episodes-of-community.html

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.