All posts by J.C

What Robots, Cyborgs and Synthetics Tells us about Expectation V.S Reality

1. Define to your satisfaction and in your own terms the public represented by your classmates and instructor.

2. Keeping that public in mind, post a link in a blog post that connects to any site on the web — a blog post, a mainstream news item, a Wikipedia entry, an online community or marketplace, audio or video content — that has the potential to enhance that public’s knowledge, incite that public to take action, provoke that public to respond to you.

Blog#5

Robots, Cyborgs and Synthetics 

I would say I’ve always been a big sci-fi nerd when it comes to spaceships, aliens, robots or anything like that. And over the past two to three years, I’ve been really trying to define the meaning of a Robot, Cyborg and a Synthetic, and what the meaning of them are and how they’re applied to these scientific stories. Movies like Alien, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate or Defiant all explore these concepts. Shit, even Firefly explores the concept of a Genetically enhanced human. I’ve even explored a little bit of this in relation to the character Tima, which is related to the movie Metropolis that’s on my blog. She herself, I would describe her as more of a Cyborg in theory, rather than a synthetic. But again, what does that mean?

Robots

If we’re defining the meaning of a robot, it would be something that is in regards to artificial intelligence. Having similar brain patterns and behaviors to that of a human.

Now, how are robots being applied to stories? They’re normally used as guards, waitresses, waiters or some type of person that is being of help to the protagonist or antagonist of the story. Assisting mankind and all of its endeavors or its destruction. Many stories have explored the concept of robots adapting to be human, almost too human. Ex Machina is a coined term that refers to a robot or a creation having sentient life (being able to feel emotion, think, process, and evolve). Maybe even taking on human emotion. Sometimes these stories result in the creation killing the creator because of the restrictions they hold upon them. And I think we all know the words that will always cut deep, that we never want to hear. Which is “You were created for one function”. 1: What does that mean? 2.What does that mean in regards to my dreams and who I am or who I think I am? 3. Then why did you create me? 

I was just thinking the other day that Pinocchio would be considered an Ex Machina and how he wanted to not only be a real boy but had the artificial Intelligence to that of a human. I’m going to go a little off script, but I promise it’s going to rain right back into what I’m talking about. There’s a specific episode in the show W.I.T.C.H, where one of the main characters ends up cloning herself so that she can be in two places at once. Obviously, it ended up going terribly wrong and they had to deal with the problem. They did end up eventually catching her, but she didn’t understand why she had to leave. The clone began to understand that she was her own person. The clone was accidentally killed, and it was a sad episode. (254) W.I.T.C.H. Season 2 – Episode 08 – H is for Hunted – YouTube (Watch at 18:04-21:05).

Cyborg

A Cyborg is half human and half robot. Sometimes these forms can vary from an arm to a leg, to ears or something that was once human. 

Cyborgs are normally applied to stories that are very action-packed or have a very adventurous genre. They create a lot of discourse around the concept of being alive and what that actually means. Normally, cyborgs don’t really have a home or a place. They usually pop up as your merchants, your travelers, your crew or your workers. Cyborgs can be a really nice touch to a story to give it some flavor.

The evolutionary component of evolving is through the concept of being a cyborg. Those who need new hands, legs, feet or arms would be considered a cyborg in theory.

Synthetic

A synthetic is a creation that has smoothly gone through the process of becoming both human and robot. Having organs with mechanical engineering, reproduction methods, human brains patterns. Synthetics within stories are basically the perfect human being that you could offer. 

Synthetic human beings that come to mind are from the movie Alien and Alien Resurrection. One of them is played by the amazing Winona Ryder. Synthetics show up as ethereal beings in post apocalyptic situations or to end a specific chaos caused by humans. They can also be prized possessions sought out by bounty hunters. Gundam animes have often used Synthetics as a significant supporting character or as a plot device. Normally referring to a means to an end or having a sacrificial nature towards the conclusion of the series.

Synthetic creations are normally women from what I’ve seen. Which is something I’ve often pondered as to why that is. My theory is that women secretly hold a lot of power or untapped potential to change the world for the better. Though they are normally naive in nature or have no type of experience. A coined term I learned the other day was “Born sexy yesterday”. Which lends quite nicely to the topic at hand. The term refers to a synthetic being often female but can be male, normally saving the got damn world. They’re hot as hell and great fighters but would fail most subjects in school. Since they don’t know jack shit, they’re learning from the protagonists or as the story progresses.

One of my favorite movies to date is “Fifth Element”, starring Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Chris Tucker and more falls into this trope pretty hard. Not to say it’s not a good movie but it uses this formula. Nonetheless, I hope you have a better understanding of the classifications and how they applied to storytelling in the Sci-Fi world. 

What stories can you think of that involve these terms?

Would you be able to allow your creation to think for itself or would you want full control? Why or Why not?

Why do you think that synthetics are mostly women. and why do you think they choose men sometimes?

Black Horror Is A Genre That People Should Begin to Understand

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What Is Black Horror?

From the perspective of the viewer, Black Horror depicts the suffering of black people as a result of outside causes. These forces normally refer to featurism, texturism, colorism, assimilation or the lack thereof. In a single moment, the genre captures the psychological suspense of a horrible history. Never being able to take a breath until the movie is done. Some many encounters, some many moments gathered to make a single piece of cinema. Nonetheless, you will feel what the movie wants you to feel because it’s oh so familiar. The genre tugs and it will tug at the stitches you try to conceal. You will sit in your wake, hoping for the gratification that will never come. Each film has a connection of transactions but different affairs.

For the Genre itself, it cultivates various tales dissecting white supremacy from an almost paranormal lens. Racism at its core can feel grotesque, disfigured, distorted and misplaced. Most black horror films that follow this formula create a most successful feeling of being uncomfortable and uneasy. The delicate weaving of tale and pain, perfectly sewn together. Not only does it improve the environment, but it also produces thought-provoking material.

The Right Direction

No, I wouldn’t say I object to the black horror subgenre. It’s more of a suggestion that can be improved over time. The value of depicting black agony and pain via cinematography cannot be overstated. However, it is equally critical that we convey tales that are unrelated to black suffering. Keep the movies black but make them more than just the physical. Jordan Peele’s new film “Nope” was incredible. It had everything I wanted in a film about black people but not about black people. In other words, a black group of scientists could build a monster in a lab and it escapes, or black people could go on a camping trip while battling a huge bat. The trick is to never lose sight of what black culture is all about. It is one of the most crucial elements of Black Horror Cinema.

The film “Nope” received negative reviews for being uninteresting and having a lackluster subject matter. Though I encourage people to consider why this film was made in the first place. Here are some links to articles that condemned the film.

https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/nope-review-jordan-peele/

https://movieweb.com/nope-hype-jordan-peele/

I could sit here and explain why the film “Nope” was a welcome addition to black culture, but I’m not going to. Today, I’ll leave you with a question:

What Does Black Horror Mean To You?

How Would You Make A Black Horror Movie That’s Not About Black Trauma?

Can You Name Any?

Why The (2017) “The Mummy” Is A Shell of An Adventure

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INTRO

The review produced by Screenrant tries hard to give “The Mummy” movie a bone but ends up killing it even faster. The honest truth of the matter, “The Mummy” tries to be something it’s not and doesn’t even do that well. Giving the audience five reasons why the movie was bad and why it was good.

  1. A Disappointingly Small Scale:

Oddly enough for a movie called The Mummy, the story spends very little time in Egypt, or anywhere comparable, and, instead, sets the majority of its action sequences somewhere around Surrey, England. Which doesn’t really spell rip-roaring adventure to most people.

Even when the movie reaches the streets of London for its third act, the sets and locations feel quite limited, and the color palette is remarkably grey and monotonous.

Response: The movie shouldn’t have been set in England in the first place. At least with the last Mummy movie with Branden Frasier, it was based in China with a Chinese mummy. It makes total sense and at no point are you confused. Was the Dragon Emperor a good film like its predecessors? Sort of, but not quite.However, The Dragon Emperor has many redeeming qualities that make it a worthwhile watch.

  1. Isn’t: Tom Cruise Has Still Got It

There are few movie actors left in the business who have the star power of Tom Cruise and, at age 54, he still brought some much-needed charm to The Mummy.

Not only could Cruise sell moments of tension and action, but his all-around enthusiasm for the process energizes the wearier aspects of the movie in a way that few actors possibly could have.

Response: I’ll be honest, I don’t really know much about Tom Cruise, and that’s OK. Although I did like him in “Interview with a Vampire”. He was very mysterious in his villainy. Although in this movie, he’s just not the guy for the role or anybody for that matter.

  1. Generic Screenwriting

Despite some very talented screenwriters working on the project, The Mummy fails to stand out from the blockbuster crowd and this is mostly its own fault.

The popular MacGuffin of a magic rock is introduced almost immediately in the movie and a predictable course of events feels secondary to the movie’s desire to flesh out a fictional universe that audiences will never actually get to see.

Response: The plot was flat; you don’t need to beat around the bush. This director completely misses the essence and fun of the other films. Branden Frasier, along with the rest of its cast, added too much flavor to the franchise just for it to taste bland.

  1. Stunts

Tom Cruise’s dedication to stuntwork on his own movies is well documented and The Mummy is no different. Having the lead actor actually get inside as many of the action shots as they can brings a lot to a movie and it helps this one feel like more of a romp.

Though a lack of originality holds it back, The Mummy is a movie that’s always trying to be entertaining in an almost slapstick kind of way and the physicality of the action adds a lot of personality to the comedy.

Response: “The Mummy” Franchise is not Mission Impossible, a James Bond movie, a spy movie, Jason Born, or Taken. It’s literally a fantasy adventure, and that’s all it ever was.

  1. Tasteless Updates to the Story

For a movie presenting so many distinct time periods and cultural icons, you’d think The Mummy would present at least one of them in a satisfying way.

Aside from sidelining Egypt, and needlessly adding medieval English history to the mix, the movie makes the particularly tasteless choice to set its opening action sequence in modern-day Iraq with a force that is, while stereotypically faceless and nameless, essentially ISIS.

Response: Making more vibrant environments would have helped the film.

  1. A Combined Monster Universe Isn’t a Bad Idea

While The Mummy often fails to frame it in an appealing way, the central idea of the movie isn’t a bad one. Universal alone had been doing monster team-ups and crossovers for just shy of three-quarters of a century before the movie came out.

The movie’s idea to unify everything through what would almost certainly be its Nick Fury figure, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde and a S.H.I.E.L.D.-like organization with its own potential to spin-off and become evil, there are some entertaining promises made. Even if they’re only just that.

Response: Creating a creature feature universe from other monster franchises wasn’t a terrible concept. What was a terrible concept was using “The Mummy” as its basis to debut. The titles below are all the movies that would have been in theaters if Warner Bros. hadn’t ditched the project. I think Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde could have been a smash hit!

  • The Dark Universe Begins – and Ends. Universal Pictures. …
  • Van Helsing. Universal Pictures. …
  • Johnny Depp’s Invisible Man. Universal Pictures. …
  • Phantom of the Opera and Hunchback. Universal Pictures. …
  • Dwayne Johnson’s The Wolfman. …
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon. …
  • The Bride of Frankenstein.
  1. It Borrows Very Heavily from Much Better Things

Arguing over how original the story really is is something that you could do with every version of The Mummy, from the original in 1932 to everything that it’s inspired since. But the 2017 version chooses much more poorly with extra cultural references and they often end up contradicting the tone of the movie.

The Mummy wants to be a horror movie in an atmospheric kind of way rather than by showing anything overtly horrific or grotesque but it also wants to be an Indiana Jones movie, which, of course, balanced its joyful qualities with more graphic imagery. It’s overwhelming visual similarities to the Uncharted series of video games (which were, themselves, already heavily inspired by The Mummy movies) also feels like an aesthetically-confused choice.

Response: Sure….I suppose

  1. It Brings Horror To a Non-Horror Audience

Not everyone watches movies in the same way and people don’t always have the same access to movies. The Mummy goes for as wide an audience as it can because it wants to reach the most amount of people and make the most amount of money, yes, but it actually succeeds in bringing classical horror aspects to audiences who ordinarily wouldn’t get to see them.

Aside from Cruise’s name bringing his own kind of audience, The Mummy was a financial hit in China, a country famous for its stringent censorship laws surrounding, amongst several other things, the horror genre and the supernatural.

Response: If you want horror elements but not a horror movie, go watch Pan’s Labrinth.

  1. It Puts the Cart Before the Horse

So much of what makes people remember the 2017 version of The Mummy as a bad movie is that it set itself such an unnecessarily high bar for success.

Audiences were definitely holding it up to, at least, the first two Stephen Sommers Mummy movies but the gigantic budget and shared universe were both its own choice yet both feel wasted. They transform it into something that audiences actively root against rather than for.

Response: Were they trying to give this movie a chance? The response says it all regarding the film successs.

  1. A Pervading Sense of Humor

Stories of production troubles on The Mummy are easy to believe but, no matter how things really went down, what the cast and crew were able to pull out of the movie is a light tone and some comedic chemistry from its actors.

Cruise is a big star with a knack for making sure his movies are driven by him but not all about him. He creates entertaining dynamics with a wide variety of talented actors that he’s paired with and allows what’s best about them to really shine in the movie, even if it isn’t for every long.

Response: Tom Cruise added nothing to this movie, nor did the humor.

Conclusion

After tentatively rewatching the (2017) “The Mummy” I realized the movie is empty. The characters have no volume, the anti-protagonist is wildly underutilized, comedic conversations are out of place, and the tone of the movie is too dark (the color of the film). The movie is not fun, and it comes off more as a chore for the audience to get through. Ultimately, I was surprised at a few points throughout the movie and bored at the same time.

What Metropolis (2001 Film) Teaches Us About “Connection, Identity, and The Meaning of Color”.

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Who are your main characters and what do they represent within the story?

Film is such an amazing experience to watch, create, and direct. Especially genres you’ve come to love and adore since you were a child. The interesting thing about cinema is that your able to create shorts, animations, trilogies, or movies. With each having there on merit of expertise. Franchises like the movie “Alien” hold a cultural relevance of the late 70’s and early 80’s with its visual effects mainly being prosthetics. Directed by the infamous creator, Ridley Scott and the art by H.R Giger. To the Xenomorphs, to the carefully crafted ship, to the eerie atmosphere all stitch together a work of art. After this entry the audience should understand the power of film, why color is such an important component to storytelling, and finally, the importance of defining your main character/characters within the narrative.

(Osamu Tezuka manga but directed by Rintaro)

Introduction

Believe it or not, Metropolis has three different versions of its narrative. The common thread among all of them is economic, ecological, and technological progress. The era in which it is set almost seems like a 1950s film. This allows it to be its own unique thing in animated cinema. The first version of Metropolis was made and created by Fritz Lang in 1927. The second one was made by Osamu Tezaka. The last edition was revitalized and re-imagined by Rintaro based on the work of Osamu Tezaka in 2001. Luther and Andrew (2012) “Nevertheless, this cinematic imagining of future conditions of life continues to resonate strongly as the film keeps attracting spectators and critical attention, thereby offering us a significant opportunity to analyze the ideological foundations upon which we have constructed our notions of human society, including our approaches to ecology”.

Tima’s Beautiful Anomaly and Fated Destruction

As Tima is catapulted into the story without meaning or awareness, her radiant glow searches through the chaos. Created for one reason, but is given the opportunity to be something else. Her glow is defined as a memorable sequence for the audience to take in and remember. Brito and Cho (2017)”Color is one of the cognitive storytelling elements, its interpretation is captured by the subconscious and it is considered an emotional resource due to its psychological background. On the other hand, the character is also part of cognitive perception and storytelling tool, but this is interpreted consciously, character is considered as a logical resource”. Metropolis itself is a heavily industrialized world where technological advancement exceeds that of the human population. Making robots more suitable for it. Carefully look at the vibrant colors above the city and the dim colors below. They can be used interchangeably to define what’s important. Notice the massive buildings Rintaro displays to show expansion and clutter systematically. Tima, a few times throughout the film, is able to shine so brightly, giving vibrance to the city around her. I understand that Tima is a tool to be used and not to be treated as a human that would have their own thoughts and desires. Her revelation is learning she is not human but somewhere in between after being shot by Rock. Her silver tears represent the loss of her identity. Brito and Cho (2017) “Red conveys more anger, passion, happiness, whereas pink conveys a softness, charm, or courtesy. Moreover, in the world of animation, the color is usually used to emphasize certain objects or people in order to convey stronger feelings to the viewer. The main role played by the color within an animation is to convey emotions and feelings. However, they depend on the physical values of each individual, their social context and subjectivity of the observer. Josef Albers8)”.

As Kenichi attempts to grab onto the rageful Tima, hanging for her life, he tells her to grab his hand. This specific scene is taking place over the explosive city of Metropolis, with its red and orange hues. Pieces of the massive building were falling down around them. She finally looks up at Kenichi, saying, “Who am I?”. Having lost his grip, Tima falls to her demise with her consciousness intact instead of without. Kenichi later tries to find Tima’s remains in the vast debris below but is unsuccessful in his efforts. “Better to have loved than not at all”. 

How is Metropolis Being Used

“Andrew and Luther (2012) “[The logical reason an] industrial capitalist society is sustainable so long as it is infused with humanism”]. You will soon learn that the main character, Tima, was the full embodiment of that ideology in theory. At the moment she met Kenichi, it was a human experience. One without control, a guide but an accident. There’s a beautiful sequence where Kenichi and Tima are trying to escape the trigger-happy “Rock” in the barracks down under. Showing their progress in a story that has yet to tell them what’s happening. Eventually in the film, it begins to snow, which seems like a very natural thing that should happen. Although it comes off as empty and desolate. Creating an atmosphere of sorrow, after they find Pero shot and killed. Andrew and Luther (2012) “We may desire a position and perspective outside of systems—ecological, political, or economic—from which to issue cautionary warnings to ourselves, but somehow the formal composition of such cautionary narratives undermines, and thereby makes visible, the impossibility of this same desire. In other words, we see in the panoramic shots of Metropolis the contradictory imagination of ourselves as exterior to and uninvolved in this place as well as interior to and complicit with it”.

Conclusions

Not only does Metropolis explore a possible industrial future, but it does it through color. The film is able to show you massive caverns of industrial trash that have gone unused. While at the same time showing the president’s residency above the clouds. From my analysis, Metropolis was able to explore technological advancement through a multitude of colors. There’s a specific scene where Tima is able to go into the circuit system to find Kenichi. Showing the audience beams of color, ranging from red, blue, and yellow to emphasize Tima’s prowess. The addition of jazz throughout the film also added a beautiful redesign of the environment. Changing our perception of a cluttered city. I believe the film wanted us to answer the looming questions of how we see ourselves, robots, and the environment. Colors are able to show importance within a story or growth and progression within a character.

(Questions to think about)

How can you show progression on a character without telling the audience?

What do you think the robots represent in the film by reading the article?

Bibliography

Hageman, Andrew, and Luther College. “Science Fiction, Ecological Futures, and the Topography of Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis.’” 1Library.Co, Ecozon@, 10 Sept. 2012, https://1library.co/document/lq55n5wq-science-fiction-ecological-futures-topography-fritz-lang-metropolis.html.

Yahaira Moreno , Brito, and Cho Dong-Min. “Visual Narrative as a Color Storytelling in Disney and Ghibli Studios.” Cartoon and Animation Studies, The Korean Society of Cartoon and Animation Studies, 31 Dec. 2017, https://www.koreascience.or.kr/article/JAKO201708160569606.page.

Why Authentic Representation Matters Within Storytelling

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Introduction

White Washing

What Does Authentic Representation Provide

Conclusion

Hopefully, this analysis gives you the comprehension to understand the ins and outs of representation. Configuring why it’s crucial to how we understand the world and each other. There will always be gaps in experiences that we may or may not encounter, which is why it’s necessary for us to learn these components. Even after learning these steps, you, as the audience, will consistently apply them when crafting, creating, and producing subjects about POC or people from different cultural backgrounds. By the end of this entry, you should be able to understand the cultural standing representation has, the empowerment it provides to disenfranchised groups, increase the written dialogue about POC, and find solutions for change and prosperity.


Introduction

Where do we start? We could talk about the lack of depth communities of color had in film between 1888 and the 1960’s. The constant stereotyping up until the mid 2000’s, atrocious caricatures on major merchandise, creating token characters just to silence criticism about a show or movie, the constant double standards, sexism, and the understanding that the only way to garner empathy or sympathy from people if you were in the LGBTQ community was if your partner died, you died, or you killed yourself (the list goes on). Then the 2010’s happened, which pivoted a lot of representation for the better. Giving disenfranchised communities the ability to tell their own stories. The lack of complexity and character development regarding POC, LGBTQ characters, and people of different cultural backgrounds has always plagued the way people view them and, unfortunately, write them.

White Washing

The Gods of Egypt is the first movie that comes to mind and how heavily criticized it was for not hiring more non-white actors and actresses. At some point in the film, you can even hear Nikolaj William (who played Jamie Lannister in Game of Thrones) speak with his Danish accent. The reactions to this and many other concerns about the movie imploded on social media. Sam (2016) “Our movies now typically feature a white cast, with the exception of a few minor roles played by people of color (POC). For the second year in a row, the Oscars failed to recognize the comparatively few roles played by minorities. By doing so, the institution feeds into an endless cycle [of white washing and erasure of minority groups].” On the same note, there has been a lot of buzz about non-white actors and actresses playing traditionally white roles in a movie, show, or comic book. Posing the question, “Why is it OK when nonwhite actors play original white roles but it’s not OK when white actors play nonwhite roles?”.

Most of the time, when nonwhite characters are created, their race, their culture, and their behavior (to some degree) are implemented. Regardless of reckless or ignorant ideas that surround the character before they debut. Characters such as Storm, Bishop, Static Shock, John Stewart, Spectrum, Night Crawler, Cyborg, Luke Cage, and Blade are all examples of heroes whose identity is directly linked to who they are as icons (Stan Lee and other creators made it abundantly clear of this fact). Now, does this make it OK for nonwhite actors and actresses to play traditionally white superheroes? Not exactly. Although anybody can play the Fantastic Four because it’s based more on an ideology rather than a single identity (let alone adversity). I’m a super big fan of superheroes, so taking it case by case is OK.

Sam (2016) “There is no representation. When people of color critique the lack of inclusivity, they’re given characters who are 1-dimensional caricatures of their culture in order to appease critics. This is why we see so much of the “ghetto” black women, “hard working Mexican immigrant,” “dragon lady” Asian women. But these characters don’t serve enough of a purpose and often end up being very, very small parts. When this is critiqued, we are given larger and often times more offensive roles like the
“Sexually submissive” Asian women, “thug” black men, “gangbanger” Hispanic men, etc. These images just normalize an image of POC that is entirely unwarranted”.

What Does Authentic Representation Provide

The answer lies in the script in which the audience will never see until its debut. Portteia (2020) “The impact a film holds on its viewers is determined by the script, and we need diverse writers who have unheard stories to aid in the film industry’s growth. Diversity is the solution”. People seem to think that movies like Indiana Jones or Mission Impossible are being sucked into a vacuum, never to be seen again, which isn’t true. Those movies that you like will still be there, but there will also be movies that include everyone. This also includes fantasy and other genres as well. Portteia (2020) “Film companies need to hire scriptwriters of diverse backgrounds. The lack of diversity can be a reason for the lack of new and inspiring stories. Without hiring these new diverse writers striving to test the boundaries and create change, we get stuck in a loop of poorly written movies that are merely a reflection of the exclusive film industry of the 1900s”. What is stopping you from engaging and learning about other people’s stories? Everyone has one.

Conclusion

Do I agree with everything in Porttiea’s article specifically, no. Although she did make a lot of points about perspective writing. Instead of using the word harmful, I would have said unrealistic and disingenuous when it came to representing different communities on screen with a lack thereof attitude. Meaning, if you’re going to write about a person, place or thing, you need to do the research to fully understand what you’re writing about.

Bibliography

Tracy, Sam. “White Washing.” Https://Digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu, University of Maine’s Student News Paper, 23 Nov. 2016, https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1186&context=racial_justice.

Davidson, Portteia, and Peggy Woods. “Best Text Collection – Umass.” Https://Scholarworks.umass.edu, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 13 Nov. 2020, https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1009&context=best_text.