[LMB] Things I Don't Like In Movies [OT:] (was: cardboard characters)

PAT MATHEWS mathews55 at msn.com
Fri, 20 Aug 2004 06:39:06 -0600

>From: "Padget, Scott R" <scott.r.padget at boeing.com>
>Reply-To: lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk
>To: "Bujold Mailing List (E-mail)" <lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk>
>Subject: [LMB] Things I Don't Like In Movies [OT:] (was: cardboard  
>Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 17:21:50 -0500
>Marna nominates for the "what I really don't like in movies" award 
> > Mission Impossible II.
> >
> > You can't do that with a motorcycle.
> >
> > And by "that?" I mean, "any of that".
>That sort of thing doesn't particularly bother me, in the context of that
>genre (i.e., "action movie").
>Partly, I'm sure, it's because I personally don't know *squat* about
>edge-of-the-envelope driving (in general--and that goes triple for
>motorcycles).  I figure most of the "heroic driving" I see in movies is
>impossible--it certainly would be for *me*, at least.  (Lane changes on the
>Houston freeway system in the afternoon rush hour is challenging *enough*,
>thank you very much! <g>)
>But another sizeable part of my unruffled feathers is that "impossibly
>heroic driving" is one of the standard tropes of the action movie genre.
>I'd be way more upset by stuff like that if it happened without warning in
>the midst of a movie in some other genre whose conventions did not include
>this (an Agatha Christie-style mystery, for instance).
>Similarly, I'm not especially bothered by magic systems in heroic fantasy
>that bear no resemblance to any real-world magical system, or spacecraft
>that make noise and maneuver like WWII fighter planes in most SF, or serial
>killers who deliberately and systematically leave clues in that subgenre of 
>mystery/thriller typified by _The Bone Collector_--because these genres 
>their standard tropes that we're just Supposed To Suspend Disbelief About.
>It bothers me more when such things happen in a book or movie which 
>to be of a genre which does not normally allow such things, or when it's 
>in a way which violates the usual conventions.  This is why I'm unimpressed
>by a lot of "cross-genre" work in general--and especially SF, fantasies, 
>mysteries written by people from outside those realms.  These fields have
>*lots* of different (and not always mutually compatible) sets of standard
>tropes, with skilled authors who can use a few phrases to show an 
>reader exactly which (if any) sets of tropes to expect.  But many of the
>"outside" authors don't understand those tropes and their conventional use,
>and thus violate them with no warning and for no apparent reason.
>Nobody can do those things on a motorcycle in the real world.  The SNAG
>boyfriend in a "chick flick"[1] better not be able to do them, either.  (In
>fact, *he* probably can't drive a motorcycle at all, though The Bad-Boy
>Rogue With A Checquered Past in the same movie probably can drive them.
>He'd still better not do Impossible Action Movie Riding, though.)  If a top
>field agent in an action flick can, OTOH--*shrug*, he's an *action hero*.
>Conversely, the field agent's informer/contact who works as a waitress in a
>coffee shop can't afford the apartment in _Friends_, whereas I can accept
>that apartment with the sketchiest of explanations in a TV series that's
>basically a "chick flick comedy".
>Similarly, I have no beef with the plethora of remarkably humanoid "aliens"
>flying banked coordinated turns in Star Wars etc.; but I'd be very
>disappointed if such elements appeared in a work of SF that otherwise used
>the tropes of "hard SF".
>But that's just me.  YMMV, and all that.
>Pilot Padget--who has spent way too many words on this

That's OK, Pilot. I found it both interesting and informative.

>[1]  Apologies to anyone offended by this admittedly-sexist term.  I don't
>mean it as a disparagement of that type of movie any more than do the many
>safely-female types I know who use the phrase.  It's simply a widely-known
>shorthand identifier of a specific genre with defined tropes, and I don't
>know any *other* equally-recognizable shorthand identifier for the genre.
>If there is some other preferred nomenclature, please let me know.

Hey - you should hear what us chicks call certain sorts of movies and 
literature aimed at the sort of obnoxious young male who seems to want lots 
of blood & gore and lots of unclothed, adoring women. A hint - it RHYMES 
with 'chick'-flick.

Pat, amused.
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