Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Light VS Dark in Riverdale

The latest unit that we've discussed in class has revolved around film elements and their effects in pop culture and its viewers. Similar to previous units, it has allowed me to view the movies and TV shows that I watch with a different perspective. That perspective doesn't degrade my viewing experience but it urges me to watch them again to specifically analyze their aesthetics and messages we've covered in class. 

I do know that this unit was specifically about films and we will be focusing on television in another unit. However, the show I wanted to focus on deals with a lot of the aspects that we have already discussed about film. 

My friends and I get together every Wednesday to watch the newest episode of a TV series on The CW, "Riverdale." The TV series is driven off drama, shady characters and captivating plots lines but they also add specific aesthetics that create additional messages to characters and locations. Two of the main characters, Betty and Cheryl often look and appear on opposing sides with very different personalities, troubles, and families. While some of this does come from the character's themselves it also comes from how their worlds and families are presented in the actual show.


For example, Cheryl Blossom and her whole family are known for red and secrets. Red hair, lips, clothes, and home decor. The Blossom family appears to be the only few red-hairs in the entire town so in a gym full of students, Cheryl instantly stands out. The death of their son surrounds the Blossoms in the metaphoric black veil as they mourn and tried to move forward; however, as the series progress the Blossoms continue to be represented in low-light rooms, harsh voice, and an obvious need to regain control. The more I watch this show and the development of the characters deepen, the colors and lighting that surround them seems to be more important.


In comparison, Betty Cooper and her family are known as the "perfect" family full of blonde hair and bright smiles. The Cooper family are frequently wearing bright or pastel colors, bright smiles, and wanting to maintain that image to the rest of the town. The pregnancy of their oldest teenage, daughter starts to shine a disapproving light on the Coopers and begins to show that skeletons in their well-light house.  As the series progress the Cooper's secrets are coming forward and darker start being represented with some more darker rooms, harsh voices, and an appearance of loosing control of their "perfect" life.


Despite their major personality differences, Betty and Cheryl are similar characters. Both girls have a difficult life in Riverdale who have controlling parents with extremely high expectations and get in uncontrollable situations. Betty and Cheryl both have deep, personal baggage that they feel unable to share with their family or friends. However, the production of the TV series almost always seems to present Betty Cooper as the a good girl who's trying to do the right thing and Cheryl Blossom as a selfish girl who wants power over others. When if fact there are times with Betty is in a dangerous situation on her own accord and Cheryl is helping other girls take down the serial sexual harasser in their high school.

In class, we have discussed the impact lighting has with a specific frame or shot. There are at least 6 different kinds of lighting choices: back lighting, top lighting, side lighting, under lighting, high key lighting, and low key lighting. 

Image result for blossom family riverdale

Image result for blossom family riverdale
This specific image of the Blossom family (pre-death of the son), emphasizes their signature color. The lighting could be back or top lighting because of the light shining behind or above them; which gives some significant or sacredness to the even that is occurring in the frame. It also could be considered side lighting for the mother (far left) who we discover has a lot more secrets and control issues than we originally knew. The spot of light with relativity dim surroundings also could tell a story that the location is not often visited but is held in high importance.



This specific image of the Cooper family (pre-pregnancy), emphasizes on natural light and "happy" color tones. The side lighting that is hitting almost every one could signify the complexity of the individuals that cannot be captured in a frame: Mom is an old gang member, Betty's dark side, Polly's teenage pregnancy, Hal's lack of trust and fidelity. The location is the dinning room of the Cooper house which is frequently visit and not everything is always perfect.






This show plays with colors, lights, and camera angles well throughout all their shots. The producers aren't telling the audience which family to like more or which young woman is "good girl." They are portraying two characters with similarities and differences and allowing the audience to choose if they have loyalties and where they stand.

In comparing the first and the second season of Riverdale, you can tell a lighting difference in almost all the scenes. Season 2 is full of deep secrets, a serial murder, and families struggling to survive. The messages and events are collective darker and so the lighting changed from general or side lighting to a lot more of low key lighting, under lighting, and even back lighting. The producers prolong the suspense of the unknown with the lack of light throughout the second season.

Questions:
After this film unit, what was been one element that catches your eye in movies or movie trailers? For example, I seem to notice camera angles and color choices more frequently.
Which metaphor of zombies do you more agree with and why: zombies are a metaphor for a fear of disease or our fear of the everyday, endless tasks like emails?
Do you agree with Stephen King that horror movies allow us to become normal again and continue to fight those dangerous and violent tendencies?


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