The Student 03/04/2012

Online issue of The Student, published Tue Apr 4th 2012.

The Student 27/03/2012

Online issue of The Studentpublished Tue Mar 27th 2012.

The Student 20/03/2012

Online issue of The Student, published Tue Mar 20th 2012.

Classic Cult: Animated

Most people associate animation with children’s films and Disney. However, this does not do justice to a medium that has the potential to create far more captivating and engaging pieces of cinema than are generally offered by live-action films. It has the ability to explore themes and ideas in an artistic style that isn’t bound by the constraints found in conventional filming.

Cult animation has generally been split into two categories: the bizarre and the adult, which for many will appear too queer to warrant any appreciation. However, there are a number of cult films which should be watched by anyone with an interest in this undervalued art form.

Almost all of the films that The Beatles produced during their career have gone on to achieve some form of cult status, none more so than Yellow Submarine (1968). The fantasy musical features animated versions of the band as they go on a surreal and psychedelic journey to save the people of Pepperland from the music hating blue meanies. With a stellar Beatles soundtrack and wildly, lush images, this is a delight for both young and old. La Planète Sauvage (Fantastic Planet, 1973) by René Laloux is a similarly dreamlike venture into the world of science fiction. In a world where human beings are treated as pests by the giant Draags, one man, Terr, stands up to rebel against humanity’s oppression. Full of vivid imagery, its combination of strong themes of intolerance and unconventional artistry makes it a powerful piece of cinema.

Within the more adult-centred cult animation, one of the stand-out films has to be Heavy Metal (1981). Based on the fantasy and science fiction stories published in Heavy Metal Magazine, it features a universe of graphic violence, passionate fantasies and terrifying evil. Often played at midnight screenings and providing the inspiration for the South Park episode “Major Boobage”, its superb 80s soundtrack helped cement it as a firm cult favourite. Ralph Bakshi’s animated comedy Fritz the Cat (1972) was the first animated film to receive an X rating in the US. Following the hedonistic outings of a free loving cat during the 70s, its satire on the America of the time is hilarious, yet undoubtedly controversial. With the ability to at some point offend just about anyone, when taken with a pinch of salt it serves as great entertainment.

Finally, Bruno Bozzetto’s Allegro non Troppo (1976) is a parody of Disney’s Fantasia. A combination of live-action and different styles of animation, it sets classical music to stories ranging from the comic to the tragic. With an inventive use of animation and actor interaction, it remains an innovative example of the genre and a worthy alternative to the Disney equivalent.

This only scratches the surface of a genre that contains a plethora of fantastic films and covers a vast range of styles and techniques, but for the cult enthusiast, it is at least a decent place to start.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Mar 13th 2012.

The Student 13/03/2012

Online issue of The Student, published Tue Mar 13th 2012.

NUS to campaign for the introduction of postgraduate loans in Scotland

Illustration credit: Holly Jameson

A motion passed at the NUS Scotland Conference held last week resolved to campaign for the introduction of postgraduate loans for students at Scottish universities.

This comes at a time when an increasing number of graduates are considering options for further study but are put off due to financial constraints.

With graduate unemployment at a 15 year high, many alumni are concerned they will be unable to stand out against the crowd with only an undergraduate degree.

The absence of a postgraduate loan system has meant many current students have had to rely on friends, family and career development loans from the bank to make their continued studying feasible.

It is predominately students from the poorest backgrounds who have been most affected by the complex financial system.

A key complaint of NUS Scotland was that a two-tier system within higher education has formed, comprised of those who can afford postgraduate study and those who cannot. They argued that the key reason behind those who wish to enter postgraduate study not doing so, has nothing to do with ability, but instead concerns a lack of finances.

Postgraduate students account for 26 per cent of the university student population in Scotland, yet 75 per cent of postgraduates questioned said they were not receiving enough financial support to study.

It was also claimed that 55 per cent of postgraduates are, “Unhappy with the current system of provision of financial support … compared to 26 per cent of students overall.” NUS Scotland have argued that access to education should be available to anyone who is academically able, not simply financially secure.

Taught and research masters fees at the University of Edinburgh for the 2012-13 academic year stand at £5,750 for home and EU students, whilst those from overseas can expect to pay between £13,050 and £30,850.

Fees for Masters of Philosophy and Doctorate Research programmes are between £11,450 and £27,000.

The Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) has highlighted the need for a greater number of postgraduates in Scotland to cater for its developing need for skills, a factor which would arguably be improved were a postgraduate loan system put in place.

The motion presented to the conference resolved to, “Campaign for a national postgraduate system in Scotland, which covers all up-front fees from institutions and which will provide at least the minimum income of £7,000 in living support for every postgraduate student.”

NUS Scotland added that the above loans system should be, “Open to all students from Scotland, and all students from the United Kingdom who have completed an undergraduate degree in Scotland.”

Taken from The Student, published Tue Mar 13th 2012.

The Student 06/03/2012

Online issue of The Student, published Tue Mar 6th 2012.

[gigya src=”” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowfullscreen=”true” menu=”false” wmode=”transparent” style=”width:420px;height:302px” flashvars=”mode=mini&backgroundColor=%23222222&documentId=120306170203-3b1ed54cd5de4d469a5fd62b585b28d3″]

The Student 28/02/2012

Online issue of The Studentpublished Tue Feb 28th 2012.

Lost & Found: Wonder Showzen


Wonder Showzen is one of those bizarre TV creations that shouldn’t have been allowed to air. A kids programme designed for adults, it blends animation with live-action to create an alternative variety show that is ingenious yet undeniably offensive.

Its opening credits set the scene for what’s to come, announcing, “Wonder Showzen contains offensive, despicable content that is too controversial and too awesome for actual children.”

It’s understandable that its assortment of cartoons, puppets and musical numbers could easily be misconstrued, but its subject content is far too mature and insulting to be considered appropriate fodder for children.

Each episode revolves around themes that range from slavery to justice and act as the focal point around which the various sketches are presented. Of the sketches themselves, one of the more memorable segments is “Beat Kids”, where children acting as roving reporters ask controversial questions to people on the street. In one scene, a young girl walks up to a corporate looking man and asks, “Who did you exploit today?”

The similarity Wonder Showzen shares with programmes such as Sesame Street is uncanny, but where the latter uses puppets as a learning platform to teach kids how to read, count and behave correctly in society, the former uses the same technique of child/puppet interaction to create searing satire for adults. Instigated mainly through the sarcastic, yellow fluff ball Chauncey Darlington Butler, questions are posed such as, “Where do babies come from?” and “What is your greatest wish?” the most notable answer being, “I wish I had my innocence back.” It’s this commentary on American culture that gives the show its razor-sharp edge and allows it to stand out against other tentative styled comedy.

While moments tread a fine line between humour and political correctness, the means at which it’s presented is intended ironically. However, it’s understandable that many viewers could find the content somewhat racist and tasteless.

For those that like their TV unorthodox and outlandish, this is a comedic gem that places standard conventions on their head; a hilariously risqué show that points out all that’s askew in society.

Taken from The Studentpublished Tue Feb 28th 2012.

The Student 21/02/2012

Online issue of The Student, published Tue Feb 21st 2012.