Author Archives: Jennifer R.

I, Tonya: An Artistic Look at a Controversial Story (95%)

I, Tonya deserves an Olympic gold medal for its successful combination of comedy and drama. The film is based on the life of US figure skater Tonya Harding and the attack on her competitor, Nancy Kerrigan, prior to the 1994 Olympics. Writer Steven Rogers and director Craig Gillespie took an artistic and entertaining approach in telling Harding’s story. The movie constantly flips back and forth from a chronological telling of Harding’s youth leading up to the attack to (acted) interviews with characters in the present day. This mode of storytelling also allows Tonya to break the fourth wall and correct any information she disagrees with from her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly’s interviews. The interviews and breaking the fourth wall are genius on their own because they capture the difficulty of one person trying to tell their story while close friends, family, the media, and entire nations overpower them and attempt to tell the story from their own contradicting perspectives.

While the movie touches on how the media may have abused and manipulated Harding’s story, there is a greater focus on Harding’s difficult home life, as well as exposing the unfair judgment she received in skating competitions strictly because she was not the idealized image of the American woman. Harding’s home life and marriage is often shocking and devastating, yet the blend of comedy amidst the drama made this movie feel more realistic. The witty lines bring the personalities of various characters to life.

The costumes and casting were also incredible for this film. The skating outfits were based on Harding’s actual outfits from her competitions. Beyond Margot Robbie’s amazing performance as Tonya, Paul Hauser’s performance as Shawn Eckhardt, Tonya’s bodyguard, was very accurate (stay and watch the real interviews in the credits and judge for yourself).

I also recommend this movie for anyone who enjoys great camera work. There is a wonderful long shot that moves from room to room in Jeff’s house and shows him moping in each place.  On the whole, this movie is both visually pleasing and masterfully written. Even if you’re someone who remains convinced Harding was more involved with the attack on Kerrigan than she claims, this movie can still entertain you and make you sympathize with the injustices Harding faced.

*This article was originally written for SFU’s student newspaper, The Peak.

Essay 2: Online Publishing in Practice (A Reflective Essay)

Simon Fraser University’s course Publication of Self in Everyday Life provides an opportunity for students to explore what it means to be an online publisher and encourages students to create a place on the internet to write about their interests. I have been a movie fanatic for years, but I had never considered making a blog. I assumed no one was interested in hearing my thoughts, and also saw no benefit in making a website that may only have one viewer (presumably myself). As I began creating content, learning more about design, and thinking about online audiences, my fear of screaming into the void subsided. Even if I have a low number of readers, I discovered that my blog had other value. I discovered this blog could act as a portfolio (demonstrating my design and writing capabilities), and this blog could act as an inventory (a personal space for me to keep track of all the wonderful and horrible movies I watch). I see benefits beyond readership. The POSIEL course offered at SFU expanded my understanding of what it means to be an online publisher by forcing me to consider audience, design, and confidence in the online world.

In order to create a target audience, I considered my own experience with cinema and the quality of information I can relay to readers. My imagined audience is average movie-goers, ages eighteen to twenty-five, who are interested in film but are not professionals working in the field. I focused on the “average” movie-goer because I have no formal education or training in cinematography; I am an average movie-goer myself. I watch more movies than many people my age because I work at my local cinema, but I am a fanatic not a professional. I also targeted this audience because I find critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes to be more critical than user reviews. The more positive user reviews suggest average movie-goers are more optimistic about the films they are seeing, and I wanted to contribute to this positive outlook on movies.

The professional yet personal design of my blog is an attempt to better attract my desired audience. Mauvé Page suggested that rhythm “helps create predictability and order in your design,” and rhythm can be achieved through repetition of elements (Page). All of my movie reviews have the movie poster, movie name, a brief comment on the film, and a score (displayed as a percentage). The articles also have a repetitious feel by having the written review followed by the movie trailer. Mauvé also suggested people respond well to faces (Page), so I included an image of myself on my “About” page that seems friendly and approachable (and also indirectly tells my viewers I am around the same age as them). I also used contrast to make my homepage exciting and unique to me. Contrast can be achieved through colour, texture, size, and shapes (Page). My header image is the largest item on the page, and I used vibrant colours to make this image stand out further. Based on my Google Analytics, I can tell my readership is quite small and mostly comes from people in our class. On a positive note, the people in our class are a part of my target audience, so my imagined audience is my current audience.

One of the greatest challenges I encountered throughout this entire process was gaining confidence in my work. In high school, I won several creative writing contests within the school but few people read my pieces. Putting both my movie reviews and academic posts online made me feel vulnerable. There are real studies that show the severity of online harassment: “A Pew Research Center survey published two years ago found that 70% of 18-to-24-year-olds who use the Internet had experienced harassment, and 26% of women that age said they’d been stalked online” (Stein). It was nerve-racking posting a picture of myself on my “About” page along with posts that express my thoughts and emotions (especially in my process posts). I did not want to reveal my age or gender. Fortunately, I have only received one comment on my website and it was positive. To my surprise, a user commented on the post I felt most self-conscious about making public: my essay. My first and only comment was as follows: “Only wanna tell that this is very useful, thanks for taking your time to write this.” The comment surprised me because I thought no one would be interested in reading my essay. This single comment managed to increase my confidence and make me reflect more seriously about why I am afraid of posting my academic writing online. Erin Glass’ article “Why We Need Social Paper” looks critically at academic writing and asks readers to consider “what we learn about the practical power of speech when we practice speaking to nobody” (Glass). Glass emphasizes that “a public must not die every semester” (Glass), but that is exactly what happens as students simply hand in papers and never look at them again. As an English major, I have written many thoughtful essays about literature that may be of interest to my peers or others studying the novel under analysis, but those essays cannot benefit anyone if they remain a buried file on my laptop.

After spending many hours working on the design and content on my blog, I have no desire to stop writing. I finally feel like the design is complete and I can focus on just writing posts. I hope to expand on my blog to include more television shows and special features posts (which will likely include a “Best Holiday Movies” post shortly). At the beginning of the semester, I felt overwhelmed, frustrated and confused, but now I finally see the value of having this space of my own. Audrey Watters discusses the importance for students to have a “domain of one’s own” in her article “The Web We Need to Give Students.” Watters explains how personalized domains provide students with an opportunity to “build their own digital portfolio” (Watters). My blog is a piece of academic work I can take with me and continue to explore. It is a piece of my academic work that demonstrates my passion, writing, and understanding of design more thoroughly than any other essay or project I have created in the past four years. Online publishing does not necessarily require writing for a large public; online publishing can simply be a way of discussing your passions, demonstrating your knowledge, or creating something that is of interest to you.



Works cited

Week 12: Community Guidelines

This blog was created to discuss films critically, and while different perspectives are welcome, certain comments will not be permitted on this website. Please consider the following before leaving a comment on this website:

  • Comments that contribute to discussions around the work under review are welcome (including respectful disagreements), but irrelevant comments, personal attacks (against the writer or other users), and recurring trolling will not be tolerated.
    This website was created with the intention of providing reviews for movies and television shows. The content is supposed to be fun and informative, not vicious or disrespectful.
  • Racism, sexism, homophobia, and other hate speech is not tolerated under any circumstances.
    If a film deals with sensitive subject matter, the conversation that follows should still be considerate and respectful. Some films may focus on a variety of different characters. This should be celebrated, not attacked. Comments should be respectful towards writers, users, and anyone featured in the film.
  • Spam and advertisements will be removed.
    If you wish to share a link for your own movie review blog, go ahead! Post it in the comments and start more discussion. Want people to buy something from your website? Sorry, this isn’t the place for you. Advertisements and general spam will be removed because it does not contribute to the purpose of this blog.
  • Content will be removed if it can put me in legal jeopardy.
    No explicit content, defamatory postings, libelous comments (to name a few). Think about what you are posting.

Generally, comments that are relevant and respectful will be permitted without any problems. Comments that conflict with our guidelines will be removed, but the user may be asked for clarification prior to removal if there is potential for confusion. Be mature, be considerate, and be kind to one another.

Week 11: The Merciless Internet and Human Empathy

The readings this week reaffirmed that I made the right decision in deleting Twitter. I have deleted Twitter twice already. The first time I deleted my account was in grade ten, but I made a new account in grade twelve when my basketball coach entered the Twitterverse (everyone wanted to follow him because he had hilarious posts). About a year ago, I deleted my account again and no one seemed to notice. It was peaceful. I just disappeared. I deleted Twitter because I hated the negativity that flooded my newsfeed. Negative posts came from celebrities, family, friends, everyone. One of my last tweets addressed pessimism on the internet: “If you’re looking for optimism, go offline. Negativity is everywhere.” This was posted with an emoji of a waxing moon.

I was never shamed on Twitter, I never directly experienced the type of abuse Justine Sacco faced, but I hated the constant personal attacks going viral and starting aggressive reply chains. The first time I made a Twitter account I wanted to see the thoughts and ramblings of celebrities and authors that interested me. The second time I made an account was to follow people I found funny, such as my basketball coach. But as I followed other people I knew out of the social obligation to maintain friendships, I discovered I didn’t like the thoughts of many of my own friends. Their outlook on the world and mankind was so nihilistic. I felt like my newsfeed was begging me, day after day, to hate mankind and accept life is meaningless. Twitter became a bitter poison for my mental health.

Jon Ronson’s TedTalk connected deeply with me when he began discussing empathy. Ronson looked deeper into Justine Sacco tweet and the problem with the extent of the harassment that followed: “She was got because she was perceived to have misused her privilege. And of course, that’s a much better thing to get people for than the things we used to get people for, like having children out of wedlock. But the phrase ‘misuse of privilege’ is becoming a free pass to tear apart just about anybody we choose to. It’s becoming a devalued term, and it’s making us lose our capacity for empathy and for distinguishing between serious and unserious transgressions” (Ronson). After Sacco tweeted a joke that landed poorly, the internet begged her employers to fire her, the internet begged for her to get raped and get AIDS (Ronson). Nobody punished the people who called for such serious threats. Nobody gave Justine the opportunity to explain herself. One of the biggest problems with the internet is that I think it is destroying our ability to accept that people make mistakes and can be sorry. I think the internet is destroying our ability to believe that people can change. We see their words in black and white text on a screen, devoid of human emotion, and immediately assume this one horrible thought (or poor joke) defines them.

I am not an overly optimistic person, but I believe that people can better themselves. I understand that younger people sometimes have ignorant thoughts because they are still learning. People continue to grow and change over the course of their entire life. By all means, point out bigotry, privilege, racism, sexism, and more. Point out the inconsiderate and inappropriate things people say and beg for better behaviour. But after you identify ignorant or harmful behaviour, ask yourself why you are doing this. Are you identifying this behaviour because you want to see a change or improvement? If so, you also need to believe that people can change. We need to the internet to become more democratic but, above anything else, we need the internet to become more human.


Work Cited


Mini Assignment 6: Make a Gif

There’s been a lot going on with my family lately, so we decided to take a little mini vacation over the long weekend. I’ve never gone on vacation in the middle of a semester, but I managed to do so without missing classes or falling behind!

Yes… that’s my mom eating a salad on Big Thunder Mountain. I love my crazy family.

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018): Just Another Useless Remake (40%)

The 2018 reboot of The Grinch felt like nothing more than another thoughtless Hollywood remake created with the intentions of capitalizing on an already popular story. The original adaptation, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, was an animated TV special released in 1966. Since it was a TV special, the runtime was approximately 20 minutes and the film was basically just an animated version of the book. It’s a great 20minute episode (my family still watches it almost every year). The live-action version starring Jim Carrey was released in 2000, and it has got to be one of the best Christmas movies to this day! The jokes are hysterical, the costumes are amazing, and the sets and props are surreal! I was super excited about the new film because I love both of the other adaptations, but it was incredibly disappointing.

Unfortunately, the new animated adaptation of The Grinch had very little to offer. It felt like they simply took the extended storyline of the live-action version and stripped out most of the jokes. One of the slight alterations made to the plot was that Cindy Lou wanted to deliver a letter to Santa asking for help for her mother. Her mother is depicted as an overworked and exhausted single parent trying to take care of three children while also working night shifts. In the end, the mother’s struggles feel unresolved and the focus remains on the Grinch and his feeling of belonging.

The new movie had several well-known actors, yet the voice actors didn’t add anything special to the film. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the Grinch, but the film may have been more entertaining if they had cast a comedian for the role. Steve Carell, for example, would’ve been a great pick. Carell actually alters his voice dramatically to make exciting characters (example: Gru from Despicable Me).

There were a couple of laughs throughout the movie, but on the whole there just wasn’t anything special or new. Children might enjoy The Grinch, but I don’t think it’s worth the admission rate. Save your money for better holiday movies coming soon to theatres.

“Hate, hate, hate. Hate, hate, hate. Double hate. LOATHE ENTIRELY!” -How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)



Week 10: The Analytical ABC’s and the Editing Blues

After weeks of making small and dramatic design changes to my blog, I finally feel ready to buckle down and start the next massive task: editing all of my posts. I began this tiresome (but necessary) task by going through my movie review posts and adding embedded videos. I wanted to add trailers to my content posts because I wanted to reduce my audience exit rate. Even though I don’t have information about why my audience exits my website, I understand that many people want to watch trailers, not just read reviews. If I did not have trailers available, people would have to leave my website to find them (and there’s no guarantee they’ll come back). Another simple but important change I made to some of my posts was adding links to other articles I’ve written. For example, in my review for SearchingI added a note stating, “If you enjoy mysteries, you may also enjoy the TV series The Five (available on Netflix).” I decided to link to other articles after hearing Monique Sherrett’s lecture on audience and analytics. Monique discussed the importance of user engagement: how long do people spend on each page, how many pages do they view before exiting, how many users return (Sherrett). Linking to other shows and movies users might like can help increase their engagement, and potentially increase their interest in my website.

(An example of the changes I made).

After Monique’s lecture for our class, I also began thinking more critically about goals and objectives for my blog. Monique explained that goals are broad statements about actions we want people to take, whereas objectives are measurable, specific, actionable, and achievable (Sherrett). My first goal is that I want to increase the page views for my TV Reviews category. In order to create a more specific, measurable and actionable objective, I looked at my Google analytics to better understand my viewers’ behaviours. I was surprised to see the TV Reviews category already had over 50 page views because I created this section more than halfway through the course. After checking the views, I created an objective: I want to have more than 100 views for the TV Reviews category on my blog by December 31, 2018.

I looked at the Acquisitions section of my Google analytics in order to create a plan to achieve my objective. The following graph shows the breakdown of how people enter my website:

This chart made me realize that no one is finding my website through social media because I have not linked my blog on my social media accounts. I originally avoiding providing a link to my blog because I felt nervous about my friends and family reading my work, but I’m going to try adding the link to see if this helps to increase the number of people entering my site.

In order to increase the interest in TV Reviews, I’m also going to try posting for this category more often. I focussed on my Movie Reviews for my weekly posts, but once the semester is over I will have more time to post more frequently in both categories. If I post more often, this might result in more viewers returning to see what’s new. I can also try linking more related TV shows to movie reviews. There are many ways to increase views!


Work Cited

Sherrett, Monique. SFU Publishing 101, 30 October 2018, Harbour Centre, Vancouver, BC. Guest Lecture.

Peer Review #3: “Lessons of a Design Student”

Jason Chung’s blog “Lessons of a Design Student” has the potential for marketing opportunities, but he may need to narrow down his target audience to better understand what type of marketing would be the most appropriate for his website. Currently, Jason hopes to target an audience of all ages, but it is difficult to make a design that appeals to both children and professionals.

(Jason’s current target audience).

Matthew Stadler’s talk on “What is Publication?” could help Jason think about his audience more critically. At 1:20 in the video, Stadler (2010) explains that “publication is the creation of a public.” Stadler does not mean that everyone will be attracted to a website, but rather publication gives people the opportunity to create a certain type of public. Further on in the video at 5:35, Stadler (2010) also reminds viewers that “publication requires relationships and conversations.” In order for Jason to have meaningful conversations on his website (between himself and his readers), he should try targeting a certain age group or a group with a certain level of design competency. Since this blog is written clearly from the perspective of a “design student,” I would expect Jason’s target audience to be 18-25-year-old design students or people considering entering the design field, but it is possible to target a younger or older audience. He could also try looking at his Google Analytics to gain a better understanding of the audience he is already reaching (on Google Analytics, go to Audience, Demographics, Age).

If Jason’s target audience is interested in going into the design field, he will have a wide variety of marketing opportunities. He could potentially place a sponsored advertisement for a university that offers design courses, such as SFU. Jason could also have affiliate advertisements for software such as Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, or Illustrator (but this may be contradictory to his post “Design Software is Just Another Tool”). He could also have affiliate advertising for design books. If Jason decides to have any form of advertisement, I recommend he puts a disclaimer somewhere on his website that explains how he makes money from these advertisements. As Tom Bleymaier (2013) argues in his critical review on Maria Popvova’s advertising techniques, “it sure seems like [readers] should have all the information at hand to make their own choice.”

While Jason considers monetizing his blog, he should also consider altering his design to better indicate his desired audience. I recommend installing the plugin WP Hide Post. His POSIEL posts are not related to his blog’s topic, so I would recommend using this plugin to hide the process and assignment posts on his homepage. This will help his audience find his design posts faster. Jason should also consider adding colour, a header image, or a background image to give his website more flare. I have only taken one design course, but graphic design is very visual and, as of right now, Jason’s website is more text-heavy.

Beyond the lack of photos, there are lots of other design elements that are working well on Jason’s website. His website has a really strong sense of balance. The content is center-aligned, which leaves a lot of white space on the right and left sides of the screen (both on his homepage and on his blog posts). As Mauvé Page (2018) discussed in her design lecture to our class, white space is important for a variety of reasons. White space makes the page feel less cluttered, and also makes big blocks of texts feel less daunting for readers. Jason’s blog is mostly filled with text, but the white space makes the homepage feel clean and tidy rather than overwhelming or cluttered.

Even though the balance and use of white space are working well on Jason’s blog, he could use more contrast on his homepage and blog posts. Mauvé (2018) recommended “[using] contrast to create emphasis.” Contrast can be created through “colour, texture, size, and shapes” (Mauvé 2018). Jason could create contrast on his homepage by having an interesting header or background image. I noticed that Jason has a post called “Start with Sketching.” When I took IAT102 (Intro to Graphic Design) last summer, the course also emphasized the importance of sketching in graphic design. Since sketching is a big part of design, it might be interesting to have a bunch of different sketches as the background image. Just an idea!

Overall, Jason’s website is coming along nicely. Focusing more on his target audience and contrast on his homepage could help him increase his blog’s marketing potential.


Works Cited

  • Bleymaier, Tom. 2013On Advertising — Maria Popova.
  • Page, Mauvé. October 2018. “Some Considerations for Web Design and Type On Screens.” Lecture at Simon Fraser University for Publishing 101.
  • Stadler, Matthew. 2010. “What is Publication?” Talk from the Richard Hugo House’s writer’s conference, Seattle, WA. May 21, 2010.

Bohemian Rhapsody: An Exciting Film but Inaccurate Queen Tribute (79%)

Bohemian Rhapsody will have you stomping your feet and singing in theatres, but it may also leave you irritated if you’re a devoted Queen fan. The movie follows the formation of the band with a focus on Freddie Mercury, capturing their experimentation with music and successes on tour. The film focuses closely on Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) as he struggles with his sexuality.

Looking at Bohemian Rhapsody strictly as a film, it was an exciting movie worth seeing on the big screen. The beginning of the film and band formation felt rushed; the movie quickly moved from concert to concert, which was entertaining but had me worried there wouldn’t be much of a storyline. In the first 20-30 minutes of the film, I began to wonder if this movie was just an excuse to have a cast dress up as the band and recreate their biggest moments. Fortunately, this feeling subsided as the movie progressed and the writing became more comedic and emotional.

The film had a strong cast that helped build up these comedic and emotional scenes. Rami Malek made the concert scenes feel real and energetic, while also making Mercury’s loneliness evident and overwhelming. Malek also manages to make record deals seem hilarious, but the humour in these scenes should also be attributed to Mike Meyers. That’s right—Mike Myers has a cameo. He plays the EMI executive Ray Foster. Though Myers’ screen time is brief, it was memorable.

The main criticism I’ve been gathering about this film is that there are major inaccuracies that were simply added as a means of making the movie dramatic. I must admit, I love Queen’s music but I didn’t know much about Freddie Mercury or any of the band members. Without much knowledge of the band, I genuinely enjoyed the story. Refusing to standby blissfully ignorant, I searched online for the main causes of frustration. This article highlights the two main concerns: the timing of Mercury’s HIV diagnosis, and portraying Mercury as a villain for quitting to make a solo album. Perhaps this is just a good reminder that even “true stories” in Hollywood are often, well, not the most truthful. I still recommend seeing this movie in theatres, but don’t walk away thinking the events portrayed are factual.

The most accurate fact highlighted in this movie was probably Freddie Mercury’s love of cats…

*If you’re interested in Bohemian Rhapsody, you may also enjoy A Star Is Born.

Week 9: Follow Me On My Data Trails

I must admit that I am not overly paranoid about the data trails I leave behind. I used to be extremely uncomfortable with the idea that I can be easily tracked, but for some reason that fear has subsided. Maybe that has something to do with the fact my data trail has not visibly affected my day-to-day life. Maybe that has something to do with how much work it is to avoid creating data trails. Maybe I’ve just given up. Regardless, I know Amazon, Google, Facebook, and more have absorbed mass amounts of information about me. I found Suzanne Norman’s (2015) article on “trying not to drop breadcrumbs in Amazon’s store” interesting because I didn’t expect the store not to accept cash. Our digital-focused world is increasing the difficulty to avoid leaving breadcrumbs.

I actually found it very interesting to discover how user data is analyzed from a business perspective. For this week’s lecture, we had Monique Sherrett present and discuss website monetization. Monique (2018) discussed how Google Analytics can provide information that can help improve your blog, such as knowing what people click on, how long they spend on pages, and what time people are typically accessing your website.

This lecture also led me to consider the possibility of monetizing my website. I don’t think my website would make any considerable amount of money, but I wouldn’t mind having affiliate ads or partnerships with specific theatres or movie companies. I don’t think these types of advertisements would take away from the integrity of my work because I am still focused on discussing movies, not theatres. If people were on my website and decided they wanted to buy tickets through my affiliate ads, great. If not, I’m fine with that too. Making money isn’t my focus.

Roshane encouraged us to consider what kinds of ads we would have on our websites. When I thought about different partnerships or affiliate advertisements I could have for my movie review blog, I thought of three potential companies: Cineplex, Landmark Cinemas, or Atom Tickets. Cineplex would be a great partnership because they are a large company and they often have a wider range of films than Landmark Cinemas (mostly because they have larger theatres). On the other hand, I have a more personal connection with Landmark Cinemas because I have worked at the Guildford location for just shy of seven years. Atom Tickets seems like a neutral company because their focus is allowing users to purchase tickets and concession in advance, skip the lines, and receive rewards. However, Atom Tickets currently only provides tickets for Landmark Cinemas, so these advertisements would still feel tied to Landmark.

I didn’t create an advertisement, but here is an example of my personal experience and love of Landmark.

I am in the red power ranger suit, and my coworker and manager are the other two power rangers. We did this promotion for the release of the new Power Rangers movie and had prize wheels, colouring stations, and more. I would be happy to partner with Landmark because they are a theatre that knows how to have fun and create “movie magic” for their guests.


Works Cited

  • Norman, Suzanne. 2015 “Trying not to drop breadcrumbs in Amazon’s store.”
  • Sherrett, Monique. October 2018. Presentation on monetization and Google Analytics. Lecture at Simon Fraser University for Publishing 101.