Tag Archives: The Great Gatsby

The Pretty Good Gatsby: A Clash with Classics Part 3


Daisy, Daisy
Give me your answer do
I’ve become a symbol of foolish decadence and corruption of the American Dream
All for the love of you…

After the crushing disappointment that was The Sun Also Rises (sorry, Hemingway fans) I had to cleanse myself in the florid, engaging jazzy bath that is the prose of F. Scott Fitzgerald. My bias may seem petty as The Great Gatsby is also a Great American Novel hailed in all directions as a piece of century-defining literary might, and is also about people partying and having affairs as narrated by a blank slate observer, but at least ol’ Fitz describes stuff. Continue reading

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Symbolic Rap Music and Artistic Anachronism


So you’re watching 1612, as one does when one wanders into Russian historical drama marathons that are happening at one’s house, and you’re soaking up the atmosphere—the battles, the weaponry, the costuming, revelling in the attention to historical detail that goes into making an accurate and powerful period movie… and suddenly, there’s a unicorn. A symbolic unicorn, of course, just wandering about, representing the strength and purity of the Mother Nation they’re trying to protect… or, something. The point it, it’s a bit of a shock. And definitely not accurate.

Then again, they may have had unicorns in 17th century Russia. I’m not up to scratch on the history of it. What I and most people are sure of is that Jay-Z wasn’t around producing music in the 1920s, which is a beef a lot of folks had with Baz Lurhman’s Great Gatsby. If you went in expecting luxurious boppy jazz as the soundtrack to lay the historical scene-setting foundations for one of the most famous 20s novels of all time, you were very and possibly not pleasantly surprised. There’s some jazz in there, oh yes, but more prominently is there rap, hip hop and dance music.

To everyone beating sticks against his door protesting the anachronism, Baz declared that he used rap and party music in place of jazz for some of the major scenes because rap is now what jazz was back then—it originated with a similar group of people, it brought them power and let them speak out, it united everyone in a new, upbeat mess of popular music and captured the partying spirit of the time. So when Nick’s walking into Gatsby’s party for the first time and we the audience hear Fergie playing, what Baz is saying is that it’s not necessarily Fergie actually playing, but what Fergie feels like to us is what the music at the party, whatever it is, feels like to Nick. Continue reading

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The Great Carraway: Marvels of the ‘Pants’ Character

Story worlds are cool. Writers all over the world and throughout history have created an endless parade of fascinating and wondrous fictional realms that we as an audience adore to visit, and characters we love and love to hate. Wouldn’t it be the greatest epitome of awesome if we could really get into these places and meet them?

Well luckily, with a certain character type at the wheel, you can! Slip into their shell and walk around the story land as you please. It’s as easy as pulling on a pair of pants.

I’m trying something new these days: I’ve started playing Fate/Stay Night, delving into an adventure of magic, mythology and mayhem, and touching down into the visual novel medium for the first time. A visual novel is, in plainest terms, a complex Choose Your Own Adventure story, with graphics, voiceovers, and a lot of pages—basically you click through the story and are occasionally presented with different options that transform you from reader into player. What will you do in this situation? Every decision could affect the overall outcome of the story. There are different routes you can venture down, making the medium very interesting in terms of its virtually unlimited storytelling capacities.

But before we digress into that territory, let me tell you something I discovered while playing. I’m not very far in since the game is enormous, and that’s not even counting the alternate routes and storylines, so I haven’t been faced with many options yet. If they have come up, they’ve been menial things that aren’t directly involved with the big magical war going on in the shadows the protagonist has not yet stumbled into. For example, the first one you get is in the morning when Our Hero, Shirou, wakes up: does he go and do his normal morning routine, or go and help his friend make breakfast?

Super simple stuff, and I picked the breakfast one (because I harbour a sneaking suspicion that the character involved was placed to fulfil some sort of adorable docile housewife fantasy and it makes me itch. Go and assist your lady friend, Shirou. Look after your ladies. No ladies no life). My reasoning was that I’d hate to be the lazy-ass in that scenario, and you ought to help your friends out, especially if they’re being lovely enough to cook your meals. But then I backtracked and went “Hang on. Was I making that decision as me, or was I making it as Shirou?” Continue reading


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Flappers and Philosophy: Alex Reads F. Scott Fitzgerald

F Scott Fitzgerald himselfThe 1920s have always held a glittery fascination to me, an era of great social change in the wake of the society-shattering events of the First World War and an almost literal tossing out the window of the values of the previous century. It was a turning point era when people started to think differently, almost the Twentieth Century’s rebellious teen phase if you will—women cut their hair and refused to look upon corsets again, the classes began to merge and mingle, jazz music caused a sensation, and of course the backdrop to all this was the Prohibition, America’s bright idea to rid themselves of the corruptive devil’s blood that was alcohol by banning it.

It was a time of shifting morals and changing attitudes, iconic for much of the western world, and thus it needed a writer to document and decode it.

And here enters F. Scott Fitzgerald, a typewriter before him, dry wit social commentary in one hand and rolling prose in the other, ready to fuse them together and create an elegant electrical storm that would be immortalised as the voice of the era. Continue reading


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Adaptations are Not Your Enemy

A fan’s train of thought takes a certain journey when it is announced that a favourite work of theirs is getting a movie of it. First, it sets off at a happy chug down the track of excitement and joy. At last, your adored series or book has gotten the recognition it deserves and the awesomeness it contains shall be displayed upon the silver screen to be embraced by a wider audience! You’re going to see all those great scenes come to life, those characters you love become three-dimensional in front of you, and the world and setting be mapped out visually in all their splendour.

And then with a clunk the track shifts and the course diverts — what if they screw it up? What if they leave out important bits? What if the characters don’t appear like you had them in your head? What if it gains a less cultured movie-going fanbase who don’t appreciate the intricacies of the book? The horror!

Note: I have never had that final worry, but for many it’s a legitimate fear. (Just look at all the Hunger Games fans weeping over the newcomers who have only seen the movie and have no idea who Madge is.)

We’re seeing a lot of adaptations lately. I dare not suggest that Hollywood are running out of ideas, and lean instead towards the possibility that many good books are simply being recognised as just that, and so the story is lifted from the page to become a good movie.

Hopefully. Continue reading


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