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My back digipak panel (with album spine:)

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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

R+P Post 6: Our opening sequence's characters and how we plan to represent social groups

Rajesh 'Raj' Singh
A cheeky Asian nerd character, who is very confident to the point of arrogance, and clashes with the detective over the investigation into his lost friend, even in the very first scenes of the film. 
He both conforms to and breaks stereotypes- while he is shown to be the stereotypical Asian nerd, as might be found in almost any movie, he is also much more confident than your typical nerd, and it shows.
Characters from Asia often come from all over the continent. Frequently seen stereotypes include intelligence, inventiveness, and nerdiness. Data from 'The Goonies,' shown above, fits this perfectly, as he is the brains of the group, creating various plans and gadgets like the ones you can see in the picture. We wanted to incorporate the nerdiness of this stereotype into our character, but also break away from being completely archetypal. Click to enlarge.
Cherish Beauregard
An upper-middle class, fairly wealthy asian female, who is quite into the goth/emo scene. The girlfriend of Peter Smith, who misses him terribly. She provides emotional drive in the opening. 
She breaks quite a lot of stereotypes, especially in terms of ethnicity and class and status. The upper-middle class is often stereotypically dominated by white people, and any other ethnicity is a challenge to that. Plus, her alternative style is not as often found on people of her ethnicity in the media- again it is dominated by white people. However, the fact that she is a female character and also the most emotional one could be considered more stereotypical.
Tina Cohen-Chang from 'Glee.' We took a lot of inspiration from her character design, due to her being part of the goth/emo scene despite not being white, as is the stereotype. We wanted to capture the alternative/rebel nature of the scene she is involved with by breaking this stereotype, and although Tina isn't part of the upper-middle class, making Cherish part of that class was a natural extension to breaking stereotypes. Click to enlarge.
Lucy Patterson
A black female who is the gossip of the group, she is nosy and opinionated, although very 'in the know' and popular. She tries to pry more information out of the detective as soon as she can.
A very stereotypical character who embodies the common 'gossip girl' stereotype. However, she breaks stereotypes somewhat by not being too over-the-top or having ridiculously low intelligence as characters like her are often stereotyped as- she is clever enough to try and manipulate the detective. Plus, the 'gossip girl' stereotype is overwhelmingly shown as white, so we thought it would be interesting to move away from this somewhat.
The white 'gossip girl' character is a very prominent stereotype, instantly recognisable to most people and featured in various films, notably teen-orientated films that often take place in schools and so on. Regina George from 'Mean Girls,' pictured above, is a textbook rendition of the character, shown here gossiping on the phone and holding her 'burn book,' which in the film is essentially a notebook filled with gossip and secrets about people. We wanted to capture the sneaky, gossipy side of this stereotype, but break away from the lack of intelligence that these characters often suffer from, and changing ethnicity was just another way to help differentiate Lucy from the archetype. Click to enlarge.
Tyrone Beckham
A misunderstood working-class black male youth. He is known as the school bully, and for picking on Peter, although he is generally quite relaxed about everything. He is the most suspicious character in the opening due to his obvious motives and the stereotypes surrounding him.
Also quite a stereotypical character- a lot of stereotypical links can be drawn between his gender, ethnicity, and class, as well as many negative stereotypes, such as him being the violent/bully character and not really engaging with life. He is revealed as breaking stereotypes though, as he is not really a bad person, and is misunderstood and unfairly labelled throughout the investigation by the other characters, even the detective, who pushes him for answers moreso than the others.
The 'thug' character is very often played by a black male actor. Moses from 'Attack the Block' conforms to many of the negative and neutral stereotypes surrounding this portrayal- the first time we see him in the film he is mugging someone, and he is working class and lives on the titular 'block,' for example. We wanted to tackle this all-too-common portrayal by making our character initially conform to these stereotypes, but later reveal that he is more than he seems and that he is treated unfairly by those around him. Click to enlarge.
Simon Smith
Peter's older brother, a white male who is generally quite dismissive of, and even cold towards his sibling. He is also under suspicion due to his perceived dislike of his brother, and provides some mystery to the opening by not revealing the reason(s) for this.
Fairly stereotypical in that he is the textbook deadpan white character, but breaks stereotypes later on by showing that his lack of care is just a shield.
Emotionally neutral characters come up a lot in films. Stereotypically a young, sarcastic, white person, they can be the 'straight man' in comedies, as the pictured Kim Pine from 'Scott Pilgrim VS. The World' is, or they can be a more mysterious character. We wanted to show this stereotype but subvert it quite a lot- the stereotypical dismissiveness plays well into the mystery narrative, and the emotional shield opens up many possibilities for drama. Click to enlarge.
DC Sean Mann
A white detective, in charge of Peter Smith's case. He isn't the most successful at his job, which is why he was given what started as quite a straight-forward 'teenagers getting rowdy' case. Tries to be apathetic and neutral, but is not immune to stereotyping. He is one of the driving forces in the opening and the rest of the film- he pushes the story forwards by pushing the investigation forwards, and his attempted neutrality keeps the focus on the other characters (which helps when it comes to appealing to our target audience, who will likely prefer the other, more relatable characters due to their age range and various personalities and ethnicities and so on.)
Stereotypical in that he is the detective archetype- white, aloof and calculating. However, he is less 'superhuman police officer' and more human than the stereotype would have you believe, as he has his flaws.
Detectives are often very stereotypical. David Mills from 'Se7en,' shown here, is one such character. Costume is one major area where this shines through- they often have a mix of formal and casual clothing, like a suit without the jacket, and are quite apathetic on the surface but more vulnerable underneath- if you are familiar with 'Se7en,' you will know that this balance of seriousness and professionalism with casualness and vulnerability plays into the character a lot. We wanted our character's costume to be very stereotypical for recognisability, and we wanted to explore that internal struggle often portrayed in characters like this. Click to enlarge.
Our chosen representation group is ethnicity, but often linked to class and status. We plan to represent our characters as both stereotypical as part of these representation groups, but with traits (some obvious and some more subtle) that show they can challenge these stereotypes. Not all of the representations are initially positive, although they are all recognisable, but the more positive aspects of each character come out as they are developed. Hopefully we also have a good enough range of different characters that people can see and identify with at least one person, in terms of gender and ethnicity, as well as personality.

We are planning to connote this representation through a few ways- firstly is the personalities of our characters. As you can see above, they are all superficially stereotypical, and as such flawed and quite negative, but we also gave them a few more positive and/or human traits. For example, Raj is the 'nerd' character, but is much more confident than he initially appears- he doesn't speak at first, leading people to believe he is just another stereotype based on his appearance alone, but his first jokey lines show him to be much more confident and humorous than he lets on.
An early example of a possible joke Raj could use to introduce his personality. Click to enlarge.
Another way is through costume and appearance- an easy way for us to make people immediately stereotype Tyrone is by appealing to what they visualise when they think of those stereotypes. He is a black male with a hood and possibly a hat, a classic negative image that ties ethnicity with class and status and even gender. Tyrone is specifically shown to struggle with these outward stereotypes, and he has to overcome them to make people realise he is much more than what he appears.
A different shot of Moses from 'Attack the Block,' showing him wearing his most stereotypical attire. Click to enlarge.

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