Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen

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Part Three: Synthesize Cruising in a richly-linked blog essay.

Aristotle's conception of plot explains that there is a beginning, middle, and an end. Aristotle concludes that "a well-constructed Plot, therefore, cannot either begin or end at any point one likes; beginning and end in it must be of the forms just described." He believes to say something is beautiful, whether animate or inanimate, they must not only present a certain order but also be of a certain magnitude. Hypertext breaks this idea of order and structure because it tests the ideas of a fixed sequence, a definite beginning and ending, a story's definite magnitude and the conception of unity or wholeness.

A book or story should not have a set of directions, but with hypertext stories there maybe some instructions. Ingrid Ankerson and Megan Sapnar provide instructions for their hypertext story Cruising. : To hear the sound, turn on the computer's speakers or plug in headphones. Move the cursor up and down to control the size of the piece, left and right to control the scrolling speed of the text and images. This goes against all of Aristotle's ideas of plot. Even though the story may be recited in order, the text is in order as well as the pictures, the idea of unity or wholeness is tempted with the struggle to coincide the sound, the text and the images. 

Cruising requires the reader to learn how to “drive” the text because it is flash based poem with the help of cinematic effects. When the text on the screen and the spoken words are made to coincide, the rush of the image sequence is reduced to a slow ongoing loop of still frames. The viewer moves between reading text and experiencing a filmic flow of images — but cannot exactly have both at the same time. This idea was strategically thought of by the authors so they could manipulate the readers to highlight the materiality of text, film, and interface separately. Every detail used in this story has a way of grabbing the reader's attention and bringing them in. Through the use of words, images, and sound, people are captured.

The main image on the site of Cruising is a car in black and white with text reading, "We wanted love." The overall idea of the story was a group of girls cruising through their small town looking for love, just like the rest of the teenagers in the town. They never fully grasped the idea that love was found in the empty parking lots in one another's company. Carefully reading the flowing text it says, "We wanted love. That's all any body ever wanted. We thought maybe we could find it driving past us." The irony in these sentences is that love was right in front of them. They were small town girls, who believed that they were alone in the world. They took a drive in a station wagon going hoping to find love that would fill their hearts and soul. They had each other and that is all they really needed in the world, their friends.

Ankerson writes,” the night rolling in Mary Jo's father's station wagon like movie credits." They cruised through town all night trying to discover something that would bring electricity into their lives. They would end up in parking lots where they would all "really get to know each other." The small town atmosphere used within this 2 minute recitation elucidates the idea that they were able to "get to know each other" while spending idle nights doing nothing but talking of their dreams they hoped to fulfill after leaving this small town. Ankerson describes how there "were hundreds of us tracing the edge of the small town of Wisconsin, eyeing life through a car we couldn't yet take to the world." Here a vast amount of information is given. They were teenagers, very young adults who weren't ready to go into the real world. The world was seen from inside cars on the borders of the counties. They knew they couldn't grasp the idea of reality, but the thought of one day being in that reality was mystifying.

The racing up and down Main Street looking to make connections with the other teens with the same dreams and aspirations of finding love is really how life is. We all reach that time in our life where we are hesitant to leave a place so safe, where you feel secure.  When they were "cruising" they were traveling about without a particular purpose or destination. Even though they said they were looking for love, they didn't need to. The car cruising was a time where they drove through town reliving memories and moments they shared with their closest friends, days when they were care free and innocent.. The girls in the car were enjoying life, spending time with one another, being teenagers in a small town in Mary Jo's father's station wagon. They weren't in a rush to grow up; they just wanted what every teenager wants, love and freedom. They hoped that as they drove, or cruised, aimlessly in their small town they would find it. They wanted freedom and love and they traced the edge of it in cars peering out of car windows.

This flash poem seems to be a flash to the past, where a woman relives the days of carelessness and love of friends and life. The story ends with the phrase, "we couldn't yet take to the world." I read this as they weren't ready to live in the real world and that the realization that once they leave this small town, they will never get it back. The tracing of the small town of Wisconsin is a way to express their hesitation of leaving their safety net.

This story reminds me of Baz Luhrman's Everybody's Free.




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This page contains a single entry by West Coast Envy published on October 7, 2008 9:11 PM.

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