Reading Film (Fall 2011)

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Investigative Proposal Revision #3

October 24th, 2011 by Stephen Mahoney · 1 Comment · 3 Investigative Proposal

Movies have many different effects on people once they have viewed the film, some people may feel more emotional about a subject or idea, while some people may feel as if they should buy something due to product placement. Some films fall in to the category of cult films or cult classics, these are films that develop a small yet extremely dedicated fan base in which the fans follow the movie so strongly that they can create communities that revolve around these films. Often these films are not generally accepted by the mainstream, a lot of them being science fiction, horror, comedy, or melodramatic films. Some people describe a cult film as a film that 100 people have viewed 1000 times, there are exceptions to this though, for instance the Harry Potter series or Star Trek or Star Wars series. These are films are not viewed as “great” or life changing movies for most of their viewers, but they have a very dedicated fan base, so dedicated that they will even go to the extent of tattooing their skin with quotes or characters from the movies. Movies that receive a cult following are unusual or flawed in one way or another, this is because they are usually made by low budget independent film makers with unknown talents. The plots in these movies are often very unique and quirky,and feature odd characters played by unknown actors, yet people still love the films. How do offbeat and eccentric plots in addition to profound character traits of protagonists and antagonists in cult classic comedies such as The Big Lebowski lead to it obtaining a cult like following?

Through studying cult films I will be able to determine how people relate to things that are offbeat and differ from the norm. Many people feel like they can relate to characters that are often outsiders and feel out of place, like those who are featured in cult films. Possibly through this study we can understand why people often feel ostracized, which may lead to different ways to help people who feel as if they are the outsider.

Some aspects of my study will be looked at from mainly two different perspectives. Those being a film makers perspective and an economists perspective. From viewing the study as a film maker I will be able to see how the plot and characters of a movie affects the viewers to a point where they can relate to a character or admire them as a God like figure. While the economist’s perspective will allow me to measure and compare the success’s of other science fiction films from the latter half of the 20th century to that of Star Wars.

To find my research I will need to watch and review movies that have been noted to be cult classics and compare them to any other movie that is not a cult classic, I will probably compare them to movies in the same genre that way there will be some similarities that I can notice. In addition I will also be looking at reviews and blogs for cult classics and non cult movies, and lastly I will do library research on Films and how they affect their viewers.


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One Comment so far ↓

  • Kevin L. Ferguson

    Re. your question, cut out the “what I want to find is” stuff and just ask a question. You don’t want to waste words clearing your throat–you want to get right into things. The first thing I would ask is for you to do more with “some elements, such as plot and characters”–that sounds kind of sloppy and undefined. What specific element do you want to look at? And don’t pick a random element, but consider how different films might emphasize different elements. Your question really won’t “work” until you have identified the keyterms of your future essay.
    Why “science fiction or fantasy film”? Could you pick one of those broad categories? I think there is a key difference between the film that only 100 people have seen and Harry Potter–you should distinguish between those two types of audiences and focus on one type of fan.

    Your motive is honest–but not very intellectual! Could you think of a reason how your question would contribute to genuine knowledge about fans, audiences, “cult”ishness, etc (and not just help studios sucker us!)?

    You’ll do better if you identify one method to use. That will help you focus your question too. It seems like one thing in your first paragraph that you don’t identify as a method is a “cultural studies” approach–what is it that would make a person want to watch a generally unpopular film 100 times?

    This book might help:

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