Text Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir is a gripping novel about the struggles of an astronaut stranded on Mars. Within this reality, the protagonist— Mark Watney— is completely separated from humanity and lives in near complete isolation, his only connection to Earth being an old Mars rover that he configures into a messaging link to Earth. While Mark lacks interactions with others, Weir also portrays the multi-national efforts to rescue him back on Earth. Within these efforts reside politically motivated actions as seen between the American and Chinese governments as they merge their space programs’ respective work to be able to save the single stranded man. 

Although there has historically been a lot of tension between the American and Chinese governments, their space agencies— NASA and CSNA— scrap together a supply probe to allow for an attempt to rescue Mark. This collaboration is seen as reasonable as the agencies see it not as a collaboration between two hostile governments but rather scientists coming to aid one another in order to save a human being. With this in mind, we see that military might and governmental pressures/powers are surpassed by humanity’s need to push boundaries and explore the unknown. However, this raises an important question; what is the value of a human life? 

Throughout our day-to-day lives, there are hundreds of preventable deaths that can be countered through simple actions: the homeless person on the side of the street can be saved from starvation through simple generosity, gun deaths could be prevented through actually effective legislation, and suicides can be decreased through greater access to mental health resources. With all these issues plaguing millions across the world, why is it that the government may be more ready to spend trillions to save only one man? Weirs simple reasoning is the furthering of mankind’s understanding of our universe. Saving Mark is a decision banked on the fact that Mark’s experiences and knowledge will benefit humanity as a whole whereas saving large groups of other people through legislation reform doesn’t “benefit” humanity as a whole. This idea sets up a case of “Othering” where only those deemed important and beneficial to society are cared for and protected. Those deemed “unimportant” are expendable in the eyes of governments, a cruel and cold view of the world.

Text Reviews: Around the World in Eighty Days

Around the World in Eighty Days is a novel written by French writer Jules Gabriel Verne. The protagonist of the story, Mr. Fogg, once had an argument with a friend in a club. He bet 20000 pounds, half of his family property, that he could circle the earth in 80 days. In 1872, transportation was so backward and too many people think this trip was doomed to be a bad one. The British National Bank had been stolen a large sum of money before Mr. Fogg started the trip. The detective of Scotland Fix found that the characteristics of Fogg were exactly the same as those of the police officers who had investigated the thief. So, Fix set up obstacles on Fogg’s journey to try to arrest him. However, Fogg was not trapped by setbacks, and experienced many extraordinary experiences along the way, such as: Taking the elephant as a walking tool; Rowing the sled to get rid of the chase of wolves; Risking their lives to save the captives robbed by the Indians; After several twists and turns, he crossed the North American continent. With victory in sight, Fix arrested Fogg in the name of “the Queen’s government”. The drama is that the real thief was arrested three days ago, and Fogg was released. After all kinds of difficulties, Fogg finally returned to London, but he was five minutes late. Fogg assumed he was defeat, but unexpectedly found that he won because he circled the earth from west to East, which would save one day. Fogg won the bet.


Based on the whereabouts of the protagonist Fogg, the writer Verne connects the topography, climate and architectural features of Europe, South Asia, East Asia and North America. Like the book of Geosciences, Verne combines the local conditions and customs with the ups and downs of the story, and integrates the strange religious customs and local power struggles in different parts of the world, making the whole story structure colorful. There is an India scene in the novel. The protagonist Fogg doesn’t know the culture that slippers are not allowed to enter the temple, which leads to the opportunity for fix to encourage the evil monk to sue Fogg in Calcutta. The novel skillfully narrates the cultural differences. Verne describes Fogg’s escape from the temple in a humorous way, which avoids the readers from mistaking him as discriminating against culture. The novel portrays Mr. Fogg as strong and brave, silent, upright and just. He dares to insist on the truth. Although almost everyone thinks that it is impossible for him to circle the earth in 80 days, he believes in his accurate calculation and dares to prove it. This is such a valuable character.

Text Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation Essential Episodes | Den of Geek

One work which discusses challenges in identity is an episode from Start Trek: The Next Generation called “The Outcast”. In this episode, the crew of the Enterprise is working with a species that is androgynous – they do not have gender and find the idea of gender among their species to be unacceptable. One individual, Soren, reveals to Commander Riker that she feels female and wants to be female, but is too afraid to speak up for fear that her society will make her an outcast. She describes how many people on her world identify as male or female but upon speaking out, they are seen as “ill” and are taken in for “treatment” after which they no longer identify as a gender and find the notion to be offensive.

This story is a wonderful example of an identity struggle in which Soren feels deep down that she is female, she knows that she is female, but she lives in a world that would rather violate its own laws of bodily autonomy by operating on her without her permission than let her be herself. Soren feels lost and alone, like she does not fit in anywhere – she cannot relate to her own people who identify as androgynous, but she cannot relate to the humans who fully identify as male and female. In a way, her situation of feeling lost between two peoples is similar to Deming’s in The Leavers, who both identifies and does not identify with his Chinese friends/family and American friends/family. Both Deming and Soren feel not quite enough of either side to identify with them, which leaves them lost in the middle. Soren’s story also depicts a One vs Other relationship in which her government and society, who believe in androgyny, set themselves up as the One and therefore “Other” those like Soren who identify as a gender. Essentially, Soren is seen and treated as less-than and potentially mentally ill for wanting to express herself in a way that aligns with a gender.

Obviously, this situation is a direct parallel of our society in which we experience the opposite situation – people who are born one gender or the other do not identify as that gender. They are mistreated and “Othered” by a society that historically has forced “treatment” on them and altogether outcast them simply for wanting to express themselves differently. This show inspires conversation around identity by forcing us to compare our society to another that faces the same fundamental challenges. I believe the creators of this show want their audience to consider the following: Is Soren doing anything wrong simply by wanting to live her life as a female? Is it reasonable for Soren’s government to outcast her and force a procedure on her that will fundamentally change her as a person? How does Soren’s dilemma compare to those in our society? Is it therefore wrong for men/women in our society to want to live their lives differently?

Text Review: The Americans

Sorry for the spoilers!

The television drama series “The Americans” follows two undercover KGB agents posing as a married couple in the 1980s during the Cold War. The two agents, Philip and Elizabeth, have been in America since the 1960s and are raising a son and daughter who do not know their real identifies for most of the series. The show details the conflict between the KGB and FBI in Washington D.C. as Philip and Elizabeth carry out various counterintelligence missions. The series comes to and end when their identities are uncovered which causes Philip and Elizabeth to go back to Russia. 

The most interesting aspect of the series is how it depicts identity. Shortly before Philip and Elizabeth’s identities are uncovered by outsiders, they reveal the truth to their daughter. The children of Philip and Elizabeth are thoroughly American. When the truth is revealed to their daughter, it comes as a shock even though she knew something was off about her family. She begins to learn about Russian culture and learns about how the Soviet Union views America. She comes to the realization that at least one of her parents actually has a disdain for America, the only country she has ever known. This takes us to the internal conflict between Philip and Elizabeth. Philip has assimilated into American culture and wants to leave the KGB. Elizabeth is angered by this and cannot understand why someone would ever want to become Americanized. One could say that Philip does not buy into the Soviet-propangda about Americans now that he has lived there for almost two decades. Yet Elizabeth’s time in America has only hardened her beliefs about America as she has seen how a supposedly great country treats minorities and engages in proxy wars throughout the globe. 

The ending of the series is bittersweet. Philip and Elizabeth decide to leave their American son in America but bring their daughter to Russia with them. The three of them board a train but their daughter decides to get off at an early stop. Elizabeth is shocked. Philip is at peace with it knowing that America is home for his daughter. The series closes out with Philip and Elizabeth back in Moscow. The creator of the series wants the audience to ask themselves what it means to be an American and why some people do or do not become Americanized. The series inspires a conversation around identity because it shows us how even an immigrant couple can have conflicting views on how much they want their children to assimilate into American culture. The majority of Americans are many generations removed from an immigrant experience and this series gives them a glimpse into how painful it can be to raise children who do not have a connection their culture. 

Text review:Misaeng

“Misaeng” is a Korean TV series about an office worker that gets treated differently because he did not go to college, unlike other workers. Jang gue-race, the main character, does not go to college due to his poor financial situation in his family and keeps following his passion and talent in Go. He tries to be a professional GO champion, but he fails due to his financial situation again. Then he looks for a job. He is a brilliant person, so he gets a job as an intern in a huge company without a college degree. The problem begins as he starts his work in the company. As an intern without a college degree, other coworkers get jealous because they think that Jang did not go to college and it is unfair to be treated like other interns in the company. Even with everyone’s hate and jealousy, Jang overcomes and does lots of successful works in the company, so everyone stops hating him. However, when the intern working period is finished, he gets fired, and other less talented coworkers become full-time employees.  


“Misaeng “shows the sad truth about the Korean employment situation. It is essential to get a college degree in Korea, and those without college degrees get unfair treatment. In reality, without a college degree, it is almost impossible to get employed in big companies. Jang is employed to do some extra work in the company and gets fired after the intern even with great work. The educational discrimination is shown in Misaeng. Kids from low-income families do not usually get a good education because of Korea’s high cost of learning. This leads to a bigger problem because Korean companies hire people with good education, which is the social systemic injustice. With this discrimination, kids from rich families get rich easier than kids from frolow-income families.


After watching ”Misaeng,” I feel bad for the current Korean Job market situation. There is nothing wrong with being born in a low-income family. Opportunities are supposed to be equal for everyone or as close as possible. This social injustice must be worked out to be removed.

Text Review: Get Out

The film of Get Out is a movie released in 2017, which narrates a horror story that a black man (Chris) is invited by his white girlfriend (Rose) to spend the weekend with her parents. But then Chris found he was caught up in a huge conspiracy. His girlfriend’s family is engaged in a consciousness transfer operation, transferring the consciousness of the elderly, frail or disabled white man to the body of the black man by the operation. Finally, Chris escapes the horrific town with the help of his friend.

The Get Out is definitely not a pure suspense thriller, which is a metaphor for the problem of racism about African American. In the film, the father of Rose is full of praise for Chris’s excellent physical fitness. However, his admiration of Chris’s body, which seems to be a compliment, is actually a form of racism. The actor utilized the story to criticize those who talk about equality, but still build the wall between them and African Americans. In most people’s opinion, the physical fitness of Africans is considered to be the best among all ethic groups. Besides, the important position of Africans in modern sport events demonstrates that the explosive force and muscle strength are far higher than other groups. However, the advantages become a factor of discrimination. For example, when people refer to the Asians, they would think about good math, hard work and careful calculation; when they refer to Jews, they would think about moneymaker, canny and wealthy. What may seem like a virtue is actually a form of racism.

After I watched the movie, I thought that the opinion expressed in the film was related to a concept “one and other” in our course. In today’s society, many Americans still consider Africans or Asians as “other”. In their eyes, Africans or Asians are different from them just because of skin color. In this way, the differences of treatment between African and their ethic group is obvious. On the other hand, some people intentionally avoid the racism problem to treat Africans overly friendly, but indeed hurt them. The so-called “equality” is not just to show good will, but to stand on the same footing with others.


Text Review: Pinocchio

Pinnochio is a Korean TV series (2014-2015) about the lives of two lovers who are affected by a news reporter. Gi Ha-Myung’s father, who was a firefighter, passed away from attempting a rescue mission. But he is accused of being the cause of the accident and fleeing the scene, leaving many others for dead. This resulted in having the public discriminate and treat his family with contempt, this was the citizen’s way of getting “justice.” One compassionless news reporter named Song Cha-ok made their lives very hard, and ultimately bringing Ha-Myung’s mother to commit suicide. This heavily impacted Ha-Myung’s older brother, who has a hatred for news reporters and the media for not only slandering and discrediting his late father but also bringing their mother to end her life. This news reporter is the mother of his lover, Choi In-ha, who admires her mother and wants to become a respectable news reporter just like her.

I was reminded of injustice because for many years people always sided with the news reporters because they are known for being credible and take pride in the news they report. In this drama, people strongly believe that the news channels are the most credible sources, with 100% truth and accuracy to the reports that they make. They carry the power to influence what the citizens think and feel. A lot of people made the family feel outcast which affected the two brothers’ identities. Ha-Myung later changed his name and lived with a different family after surviving the fall from the cliff that his mother jumped off of. And his older brother carried hatred and lived his life with revenge constantly in his mind, which was incredibly draining and unhealthy for him.

What the brothers went through from childhood carried into how they lived as adults. Their late father was seen as a cowardly criminal on the run, belittling him as a person and man of virtue who lived his life selflessly. This unjustified hatred that the public had for his whole family. The stories of the two brothers also reminded me of the discussion that we had about subalterns. They and their mother weren’t heard in the past. But Gi Ma-Hyung had to become a person that had the authority that made people listen to him, he became a reporter. Subalterns speak but they aren’t heard. They have to become something, someone different in order to tell their story and have it be deemed valid.

The writers, directors, and actors did a great job telling a story of how the media can take a toll on a person(s) life. Not everything that we hear is true.  Justice in the eyes of another could be seen as injustice for another. And that the people in power, who have authority are not always the most morally correct and we should not be easily influenced by one source. It encourages us to research and seek the truth before jumping to conclusions.

Text Review: Watchmen (HBO TV Series)

Watchmen is a one-season TV series that is a spin-off of the 1986 DC Comic Watchmen which premiered in October of 2019. The show is set in Tulsa, OK in somewhat of an alternate reality. Highlighting racist events that occured in Tulsa’s history, the show pits masked vigilantes against an organization called the “Seventh Kavalry.” These vigilantes appear as policemen and women, yet must wear masks to protect their safety after the racist Kavalry group terrorized the police force. The show features more sci-fi and superhero/supervillain plots, but for the purpose of this text review, we will focus on the diverse racial aspect of the series.

The original Watchmen comic featured all white characters, except for the god-like superhero Dr. Manhattan who was blue. However, the HBO series features various African-American characters, namely the main character Angela Abar, known as “Sister Night” and played by Regina King. This, paired with the show’s reflection on the Tulsa race massacre of 1921, the mass attack of black people in their homes and businesses, gives Watchmen a lot of depth in terms of racial injustice.

At the beginning of the show, we can see the masked police force responding to a reawakening of Kavalry attacks. The vigilanties work hard in an attempt to investigate and stop the racist group, who seem quite recognizable at first. However, as the series progresses, we see the deeper impact of this racist way of thinking. For example, Abar goes into her daughter’s classroom for a sort of career day, when a little boy brings up a racist remark that triggers Abar’s daughter. Additionally, we come to see that one of the nicer-looking characters, the governor, ends up working with one of the main villains in support of the Kavalry. 

Perhaps the most powerful aspect of Watchmen’s showcase of racial injustice is its connection to the real world. Obviously, the vast majority of what goes on in the series is more of an alternate reality. However, the first scene of the show reenacts the real Tulsa massacre including the Ku Klux Klan’s actions. With the increased focus on racial injustice and police brutality, the masked police officers with restricted weapons and rise of a Klan-like organization scarily does not seem as alternate.

Text Review- Daughter from Danang

The film Daughter from Danang tells the story of Heip who’s mother is a Vietnamese woman and her father is an American soldier. The story takes place during the Vietnam War when everyone is saying that communism will kill all the racially mixed children. As a result, Heip was sent by her mother to America by an organization called Operation Babylift. She was then adopted by her foster mother who did all she can to make Heip as American as possible. After Heip grew older, she returned to Vietnam and meet her birth mother. However, their joy of reunion quickly turned into strong cultural conflict and the story ended with tragedy.

After watching this film, I immediately recalled the book the leavers we read. There are many similarities between Deming and Heip’s experiences. They are all adopted by American families and be Americanized. Heip may experience less of an identity struggling as she was small when adopted and never stay in a Vietnamese community until she returned to Vietnam. She also forgot how to speak Vietnamese and almost completely identified herself as an American instead of struggling between the American identity and the Vietnamese identity. But this intensified the cultural conflict when she reunites with her birth mother who identifies herself completely as Vietnamese.

When Heip returned to Vietnam, she was surprised by the differences in people’s habits. One example is when she noticed that in Vietnam, people often cook on the street. She cannot handle the relationship between her and her family in Vietnam. Her sister kept asking her for money and treat her as the one who will help the entire family and her mother treated her as the mental support. Heip also cannot get used to the environment and said that this is not what she is expecting. She ended up missing her life in American and is eager to leave. Her decision is similar to Deming who also ends up returning to the community in which he is most familiar and comfortable. What influences Heip and Deming’s decision is their identity.

I think the idea that the author is trying to convey is how our self-identity is influenced by the environment we grow up in and the type of people around us. The author also shows the significant impact of self-identity on people’s decisions and sense of belonging. This film uses a true story, showing audiences that there are still many children who are facing this type of problem. The author encourages the audience to discuss the formation and impact of self-identity and think about will the ending in the film be the only outcome.

Wüsten blume: Different Cultures

“Wüsten blume” is about the heroine Waris Dirie, who is unwilling to marry an older herder, secretly ran out at night without her mother, walked a lot of roads, experienced a lot of risks along the way, and finally wandered to the United States; Because of her good conditions, she was discovered as a model. But deep down in the heroine’s heart, she is puzzled by the traditional customs of her own nation. She wants to appeal to the tortured women: abolish the tradition of circumcision. Standing on the podium, she was the first person in the world to stand up and speak about the “tradition of female circumcision.”

Waris Dirie, the first half of her life was full of tragedy, she was raped by her father’s friend when she was four, and when she was five she was forced to undergo the female circumcision that had taken the life of her sister a few years ago. At the age of twelve, she was cheated by her father to marry a sixty-year-old old man for five camels. She escaped barefoot in the desert and almost became food in the mouth of a lion. After she arrived in the United States, she worked as a Filipino domestic helper. At that time, she didn’t speak English. This caused great trouble to her life and work, but fortunately, her good friends helped.

After watching “Wüsten blume”, in the beginning, I felt infinite sympathy for the protagonist, sympathized with her tragic fate, the mother with unbreakable traditional thinking; when she ran wildly in the cracked desert, the dry air-dried her When I lip, I have endless admiration for her. She is a fighter who has the courage to resist oppression and is so determined. In an unaccompanied foreign country, penniless, she must have experienced unimaginable hardships. Although her success does have great opportunities, her persistence, courage, and diligence cannot be ignored. After becoming famous, in the face of such ugly etiquette and customs, in order to prevent more African women from being tortured in this way, she bravely stood up to tell the story of her circumcision. This call has saved how many African women have been persecuted by rituals.

But what is most worthy of introspection in the whole drama is the cruel traditional culture of Africa. When modern civilization is surging and irrigating the world, it is hard to imagine that there is such a cruel etiquette in another corner of the world, but I believe that with With society’s emphasis on human rights, people will surely be able to escape this cruel sea of ​​suffering.

The flower of the desert, with bravery, wisdom, and perseverance, allows us to see the hope in the desert