Teaching Portfolio

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http://djballow.iweb.bsu.edu/portfolio/index.html

Character Relationships Ticking

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We all know that romantic love is an emotional reaction. Emotional reactions can be determined by experience, outlook, thought patterns, associations, and aspirations.

Now, how/if romantic relationships work out is a different matter altogether.

Here I’d like each poster to post a character (romantic/really close platonic) relationship and give your take on what they see in each other, how it is/isn’t working out, what attracted them initially, why the attraction faded/persists. etc.

Nice mind exercise for psych, philosophy, sociology, majors and the like.

EXAMPLE:

Lois and Clark- Lois Lane is Superman’s hero. Despite the implication of the otherwise, Lois Lane’s personality seems to come up as a cross between Hal Jordan and the new Batwoman. Her endangerment is usually as a result her risky journalism. Superman has been shown to have regard for the one’s who are more vulnerable than he, yet do the things he does. The persistence of this type of behavior, in light of all the horrible people are ALSO capable of, reinforce his “faith” in humanity.

Lois displays this on a regular basis in her pursuit of the truth, which is another reason she is invaluable to him, to his generally positive outlook on mankind, despite his enhanced vision and hearing of various counter-examples. So her constant need of being “rescued” only perpetuates this. Also, he can work on satellites and moon bases thousands of miles away from home with stripperiffic co-workers and not even THINK of any woman except Lois.  You see, back in Action Comics #1, it wasn’t because Clark was a nerd that she disliked him by the end of the story, it was because “Clark” was a coward. Lois liking Clark is a tad more simple: Her contentions relationship with her dad, as well as his OWN mistrust of suitors has passed onto her, leaving a very cynical outlook on men, resulting in an EXTREMELY high standard. But… Superman is to Lois as Edward Cullen to Bella. The only guy capable of living up. Also, they can’t have babies, so that puts a wrench in the traditional conflict of “giving up may career to care for the kids.” (This has been subjected to potential change in the aftermath of caring for Chris Kent in LAST SON.)

As of “Secret Origin” Sam Lane (Lois’s militaristic father) tried to give her over to Corben, (that I’ll assume had a past of significant delinquency in order to blend with pre-infinite crisis accounts of him being a “petty thief” before his transformation into Metallo) as a way to ensure what he wanted is carried out. Apparently a genuinely nice, reclusive guy like “Clark” is too good to be true. Suspicion and hostility ensues.

“Clark” around his workplace is an act. But Lois could see through it. (In light of “Secret Origin” any post-CRISIS hostility she initially had toward him can now be interpreted as her dislike of being perpetually lied to, that eventually cooled over when they got to know each other better.)

(Most people are unaware of the subconscious mechanisms resulting in attraction.)

Edit: I just thought of something else: Lois and Clark almost HAVE to have pretty stable relationship. It would be over if he ever lost his temper with her.

Yet, she isn’t afraid or intimidated by him in the slightest, and doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind as if she’s talking to any other guy, while she’s certainly not in denial of his abilities.

Maybe THIS is why he chose her over Lana.

Lana’s known about his powers for awhile, and can be described as being in awe of what makes Supe’s feel different, while Lois appeals to what makes him just like the rest of us.

art by Jim Lee
words by Brian Azzarello

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Batman & Robin

I think Batman vicariously lives through his orphaned pupils. If Bruce was able to fight like as they can when he was THEIR age, then his parents wouldn’t be dead. It’s is kinda awkward to imagine children that young protecting their parents from harm, as well as imagining them being so concerned with doing so. It’s a touching statement on how the unconditional parent/child love can go BOTH ways.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,331548,00.html

(Alexis Goggins was a Real Life seven-year-old who took six bullets for her own mother. She also managed to survive.)

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Batman & Catwoman

I’ve GOT IT!

I’ve finally figured out an angle for what makes the Bruce/Selina relationship tick!

I USED to think it was perverse sexual lust. Catwoman outputs the persona of a dominatrix. Batman has been presented as a pretty guilty guy when he believed something was his fault. (For example: His parent’s death, Jason Todd’s death, Harey Dent’s scarification, the Joker’s crap.) He often uses any guilt as fuel to keep going/ push himself further.

I theorized his attraction to Selina was a response to his guilt.

Here’s another angle…

Catwoman was the first similarly-themed woman he met, so their continued, ongoing presence builds a shared history. Her initial elusiveness would no doubt make her the preoccupation of a mind set on solving crimes. She’s not totally evil, and has repeatedly shown Robin Hood esque criminal behavior. (Though she keeps more than enough for herself.) And often stealing from organized criminals.

She’s not a hopeless cause, their relationship can represent the dichotomy between Batman’s efforts to actually change Gotham, or “save” her. He loves the city, but can’t give himself over to it completely lest he cease to be Batman. Maybe his attraction is a sexual manifestation of his deep immersion into Gotham’s criminal element. (He hasn’t developed very strong romantic relationships with OTHER super heroes, for some reason.) Catwoman has changed for the better due to her relationship with Batman, but won’t necessarily stay that way in his absence. (For example, after Wayne’s death, she’s currently allied with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn.)

Batman was Selina’s, distant inspiration for her Catwoman career. (Does his initial distance trigger childhood desire to be closer w/ father?) And Bruce is genuinely touched by her desire to get to know him.

In fact, her whole “master thief” shtick: figuring her way into locked, closed, spaces she’s been locked out of.. can be read as a response to that.

While satiating any current need for affection with her many…MANY… cats.

Another angle! Bruce’s mom wore pearls the night she was murdered. Bruce could be recognizing Martha Wayne’s love of jewelry in Selina.

The game changing storyline in their romance is HEART OF HUSH, where he admitted how hard he’s fallen for her. Of course, this took place shortly before his “death.” So we’re left hanging on how this will play out until he makes THE RETURN.

It could be/could’ve been many of these, only a few, one, or the other. I can’t be sure if any new writer to pick up on this relationship will use ANY of these…

This, my friends, is what happens when SO many writers and artists try to fully grasp the dynamics of an on-again/off-again romance over the course of decades… It inevitably becomes TANGLED!

Art by Jim Lee
Words by Jeph Loeb

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Wonder Woman/Steve Trevor

…But a reason I think the Trevor/Diana relationship was also so paramount to the classic Wonder Woman is that it embodied the ideal peace between the two genders and two cultures. “Man’s world and Woman’s world.” The uniting and William Marston’s ideal method of harmonizing these two aspects of humanity. If male/Ares embodied war, then female/Aphrodite embodied love. Trevor’s loving submission to Wonder Woman was like “war surrendering to love,” especially when you consider Steve is a soldier at heart.

BUUUT… Where I check out of this whole philosophy/myth/idealization is where it becomes a GENDER ISSUE. HAHaha!

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Richard “Dick” Grayson (Robin, Nightwing, Batman)/ Koriand’r (Starfire)

From birth, Starfire was taught to trust her emotions first and foremost as an indicator of how to make decisions. Taught to hate enemies thoroughly, and love allies without restraint. As a result, behavior patterns tend to be very feral and instinctual. In a group setting, she naturally gravitated toward Robin as the “dominant male” of the Teen Titans. Despite his initial, standoffish behavior, she persisted in her advances.

Think of this as a gender-reversed “defrosting the ice queen.”

Dick Grayson was trained by Batman to be logical, reasonable, evidential, not impulsive, and deductive.

Bruce generally handled this by redirecting his emotions, but Dick would tend to repress them.

When Robin was with Batman, there was a need to lighten the mood, break the depressing tension and somber spirit about him. (Either Batman had no issue with it due to his experience, or he kept the humor to himself) There was a need for Grayson to wisecrack, make one-liners, and whatnot.

When he was with the Titans, however, then need diminishes when you’re surrounded by the likes of Speedy.

The things he learned from Batman are conducive to his leadership status.

Strategy and whatnot are need when you’re brightly clad AND without powers.

To Robin, Starfire embodies this liberation from repression that he finds very, enticing, but mysterious, and/but perhaps counter-intuitive.

Obviously, after chasing psychos on a nightly basis, and having the friggin’ DARK KNIGHT as a partner, her appearance and power level don’t bother him in the slightest.

His choice between the Barbara and Kory MAY, to him, represent the (un)necessary choice that must be made in the MIND/BODY dichotomy.

(I wonder how well Barbara and Starfire know each other.)
batgirlstarfirea.jpg

More/less to come….

Responsibility Essay

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I define “responsibility” as “the obligation to make right.” Realistically, it would fall on the person who has the capacity to so. It would also help to define what is wrong to begin with, two issues that could warrant their own schools of thought.

 

Responsibility differs from blame in the fact that it doesn’t necessarily assign an outlet for repressed frustration and outrage. It neither assigns unrealistic expectations to anyone without the capacity to solve the problem. Indeed, the one who invented the gun can’t simply rise from the grave and “un-invent” it to negate the loss of life due to its users.

 

It differs from consequence in the fact that it, along with blame can be either internally or externally assigned. Consequence is a natural result of any action. Teaching a child that his actions have a consequence by spanking him is mute point. Stealing a candy bar might have a number of desired consequences, one of which is being spanked, hence the initial attempt to conceal the theft. The desired consequence is to enjoy a tasty snack without taking a toll on the allowance. What it is more likely to teach is: every mis-action has a punishment. The implication is that right should be done out of fear of punishment, and that they will they will always be found out. It would be better for society to teach children that there is plenty of evil to be done within the law and that they will never be punished for, but shouldn’t do regardless for X reason.

It also differs from guilt or fault. One can be very much responsible for the crime, but not responsible for its outcome, though he may be responsible for other things. Guilt, not referring to regret, is the fact that someone committed the act in question. In the context of punishment, letting out frustrations on the cause usually makes one feel less indignant afterward. But I’ll be the one to confess that historically speaking, releasing anger on what we perceive to be a guilty party is detrimental to ANY kind of advancement besides exerting power.

 

I will not argue that the penal system should be abruptly scratched from existence, but our societal sense of right and wrong is addicted to forceful authority figures.  We vote on laws, but the ideas underling them don’t get across in their existence alone. No need for “people to run around and do whatever they want if we get rid of the penal system” because it’s ALREADY HAPPENING. Often enough, the prison sentence as a result of a crime IS NOT A FACTOR IN WHETHER THE OFFENCE IS REPEATED upon release. Impoverished nations have living conditions worse than most prisons, so there is a point where it ceases to register as a punishment to the prisoner who has adapted. If I’ve lived in a 5 star apartment my entire life, and was abruptly moved to a small, unconditioned dorm room, then I might consider my situation to be akin to prison sentence. For several, it would actually REMOVE FEAR OF IMPRISONMENT. One of my major critiques of Batman is that he counts on the criminals fear and superstition about him. It’s as if criminals can’t have the traditionally heroic characteristic of courage. At this point, I think Bruce only keeps the bat-persona out of personal connection, aesthetic value, and tradition. And due to difficulty in finding a high-paying job, wouldn’t stand much to lose from risking the acquisition of illegal funds.

 

The problem is obvious, but the solution is not. That’s why “and unusual” should be struck from that…Bill with…the Rights and stuff written on it. (The Constitution of Independence or something?)

One thing I love about the DC universe is that it is an endless virtual playground for wrestling with all sorts of philosophical and ethical questions. Though the same can be said about any fantasy or literature, the right and wrong of the situation is at the crux of the concept of “heroes” and “heroism.” That fictional universe has become a juxtaposition of almost every possible literary genre. Now that I think of it, real life can be described as a juxtaposition of every possible literary genre. Another thing I love about it.

 

Before I get into the chosen example, I’ll say first and foremost that just about EVERYTHING is preventable. For example, I kick a small rock into the street. Several days later, without my knowledge, someone slips/trips/ loses balance on the rock while crossing the street at night in front of a driver. The tired driver doesn’t see the grounded pedestrian, and is jolted into an alert state as he thinks he’s just hit a massive pothole. I certainly won’t kick any rocks now that this possibility has dawned on me, but to subscribe blame and punishment to me would be archaic. Does he have the responsibility to never repeat the accident? Sure. Punishment? No.

 

This is the most extremely ambiguous example I can possibly think of: Wonder Woman is faced with a nigh-unstoppable, mystical, bio-weapon monster uncomfortably named “Genocide.” The monster was made from Princess Diana’s (WW’s real name) future corpse, and from the soil from sites of mass murder. “She” held a shopper by the neck amidst the wreckage of a mall it destroyed. It told Diana to kneel, seemingly implying it would break the lady’s neck unless Wonder Woman did so. After complying, Diana asked “Is this to give me a sense of defeat, monster?” Genocide replies, “No. A better view.” then does the dirty deed with a loud CRONCH sound effect.

 

Did the creature have any choice to be otherwise? Not really. It does what it was engineered to do. Eventually the creature was subdued after it thoroughly wrecked Wonder Woman’s plans for the future. Given the chance to finish the thing off, she gave a peculiar reason for doing otherwise: “Never for revenge.” She HAS killed before to save more lives by comparison, and would kill in a battle/war situation, but…”never for revenge?”

This borrows from the “depends on the intentions” school of thought. For example, “The act of shortening a life isn’t inherently evil, it is what is done WITH it that is good/evil.” This stance would clarify the difference between hunting food in its natural habitat with a gun or arrow vs. mass encampment/processing/beak clipping/small cages/ live slaughter. One is to feed the family; the other is for mass sales. This is the point of strain between her and other heroes of the DCU. In general, most affiliated heroes have a strict, “NO KILL” policy. Many people have criticized how they are thereby responsible for the deaths these villains cause by not killing them when they had the chance.

 

I’ll diffuse the argument by saying the heroes are too reactive to begin with. In their original appearances, superheroes were written as very socially conscious, but this slowly gave way to more action-oriented stories with increasingly powerful supervillains. Humorously called attention to during a destructive fight sequence in an issue of JLA: “Good thing for this crummy economy, or we wouldn’t have all these abandoned buildings to crash into!”

 

The creature Genocide was created from Ares, god of war, influencing several people. Not controlling them per se, but subliminally egging them on to something they wouldn’t have normally. Physically, Ares didn’t do very much at all. Genocide was really just a baby, being born a few days ago. It did what it needed to do in order to subsist: kill in very sadistic, emotionally damaging ways.  It’s mystical nature connects it to the Greek gods, who themselves have to be sustained through worship. Within context, it makes sense that it would need to do this for sustenance. (Metaphysical, psychic energy? I’m not sure how that works. Ares, for example, is sustained and energized by acts of war and/or conflict.) The scientists of the “Secret Society of Super-villains” or “SSOV” certainly would not have done something so “full frontal” without an outside side force urging them to do otherwise. But I can certainly stay awake during your class despite my own body urging me to do otherwise (JK) or during my 8:00 classes. They could have dismissed the idea altogether. Then again…Wonder Woman might not even HAVE a future corpse if she doesn’t give up her immortality or allegiance to the Greek gods at some point in the future. But if giving up her immortality causes future deaths, and she is to be punished for the deaths “eye for an eye” style, then… (You see why I love the DCU NOW?)

 

Diana killed Ares with an axe to the head. It was in a battle situation, so it was perfectly all right by most people’s standards, especially her own. Plus he’s not even human. In the DCU, some people take the “intrinsic value of human life” to an extreme. (See War of the Supermen for examples.)

Ares was very much a responsible party, as it was within his capacity to undo his actions. Compare his “mass production” of conflict in a similar vein as the mass production of meat products. Naturally, heroes and villains and non-heroes and non-villains fight often enough to give him more than enough sustenance. Yet he cuts off more than is appropriate, in excessively cruel ways. He gave the SSOSV the means to excessively indulge in their resentment of Wonder Woman. Genocide’s creation would not have taken place without the mass resentment. So it our faults for buying as much as they, the meat makers, are selling? OF COURSE! But the responsibility lies in whoever sees, the problem as what it is and has the capacity to change something. Whatever that capacity may be… It is our responsibility to use our power for good.

-Daniel Ballow

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