Month: October 2019

Global Issue: I Have a Rite

The graphic novel I Have a Rite by Zen Pencils’, Gavin Aung Than, is about the young activist, Malala Yousafzai standing up for the right of girls to receive an education. This section of the novel focuses on the climactic event of Malala getting shot by a Taliban on the way home from school, revealing the distribution of power in Pakistan society and the presence of gender inequality, peace, and conflict. Aung Than explores the use of contrast, speech bubbles, and eye contact to depict the global issue of politics, power, and justice.

 

The first panel reveals the distribution of power by establishing the Taliban as the antagonist through contrast. The Taliban are an extreme Islamic group that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. They want to regain control over the country to transform Afghanistan into what they believe as the “purest” (Who are the Taliban? BBC) form of Islam. The panel bleeds into the background to direct the audience’s attention towards the figures. The stark contrast in values between the Taliban and the background symbolizes shade and light, good and evil. Furthermore, the Taliban aims the gun towards the bus to portray the Taliban as the source of ‘darkness’ and ‘evil. ‘On the other hand, the bus driver is surrendering in an old, worn-out vehicle, with wide eyes and downturned eyebrows to evoke a sense of fear. This scene reflects the distribution of wealth, illustrating the citizens as middle to lower class. It also shows how the Taliban are the hierarchy of power in Pakistan society and presents the type of reaction they want from citizens: fear and obedience.

 

The following panels are framed to capture the different moments in time and focal points — the focal point shifts between each panel, determined by the perspective and eye contact of characters. The wide eye expression paints the children’s faces with fear when their eyes meet the Taliban. Even the driver is sneaking a glance behind his car seat. The next panel captures the instant Malala’s presence is given away through a moment to moment transition. Just like the real event, the Taliban identified who Malala was through the glances of her classmates. To provide additional support of the situation, Aung Than used speech bubbles containing direct speech. The speech bubbles are drawn with the same yellow tint as the background of the first panel to create unity. The capitalized words are drawn with rough strokes to portray the Taliban’s aggressive and hostile tone, which further characterizes the Taliban as the antagonist and enemy in society.

 

In comparison to the Taliban and classmates, Malala carries a relatively calm aura, sitting straight in her seat, portraying her as valiant and heroic. The empty background in the seventh panel brings all the focus on Malala for this critical event of ‘will she get shot or not.’ The panel then zooms into her unblinking stare to further support the idea of her bravery. The novel concludes with Malala getting shot. The heavy graphic weight creates a contrast between the orange background and Malala, who is in black. It’s as if Aung Than is saying the Taliban’s darkness coats Malala and puts her wish and supporters, to an end.

 

In stark contrast, the final panel depicts Malala’s unwavering determination to make a change. The background symbolizes how Malala is now oblivious to her surroundings; however, the text holds a different message. The word “speak” shows that her spirit is very much alive, and she won’t rest until girls have equal rights for education. By looking at these final scenes through the feminist lens, it suggests that men are superior to women because the Taliban, a male figure, shot Malala, and young girl. This portrays the gender inequality in Pakistan and goes back to what Malala is fighting for: equal opportunity for girls to receive an education.

 

Through the use of contrast, speech bubbles, and eye contact, Aung Than characterizes Malala’s valiant character and her fervor towards resolving the gender inequality issue. This section of the graphic novel, I Have a Rite, plays a significant role in portraying the ongoing problem with politics, power, and justice in Pakistan society. 

“Representations” in Family Guy

In class, we watched the laundry scene in Family Guy. I didn’t realize how racist and offensive a cartoon can be; it was disturbing how it was done so openly in an obnoxious manner to humor the audience. I was curious to see other examples, so I watched the “How God made Asians,” which mocked and satirized Asian/Chinese stereotypes:

  • several students at an American school are Asians
  • intelligent, smart
  • glasses
  • the shape of eyes – small, slanted upwards
  • the color red
  • “compact” – short and small compared to Americans
  • “10 billion within 5 years” – densely populated country
  • “different varieties that will all hate each other” – referring to present and past conflicts between countries, such as North and South Korea; Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China; etc.

 

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