Views From The Captain’s Chair- Trope Is The Dope!

While this post isn’t specifically about writing, it is about storytelling and the tropes that fill those stories.

What’s a trope?

Let’s have Merriam-Webster answer this!

a :  a word or expression used in a figurative sense :  figure of speech

b :  a common or overused theme or device :  cliché <the usual horror movie tropes>”

We’re going with “b” on this one.

Why am I talking about tropes?

I had tweeted that I needed suggestions for this week’s post and got a couple responses. One was specifically asking that I talk about tropes I hate and how to make them better if used. I liked this idea at first, and still do, but realized quickly that I am not the guy to write about this.


Because I don’t hate any tropes. It’s that simple. I actually can’t think of a single trope that bugs me. I like werewolves, vampires, zombies (obviously), wizards, Special Forces, ninjas, damsels in distress, dudes in distress, romance, pirates, ninja pirate robots from Mars, you name it and I like it!

Does that mean I like every book, movie, TV show, video game, comic book, etc? No, it does not. Some can really suck. But even ones that suck I may like. Because, for me, it always comes down to my expectations, not the actual quality of the product itself.

Case in point: we are a CW house. I freakin’ love the stuff the CW churns out. Talk about a network filled with tropes! Do I think it is high brow, award worthy fare? Uh, no. No, I do not. But damn if it isn’t fun! It is pure, mindless entertainment for me. And my mind needs that quite often.

Let’s talk about The 100. Schlock central, yo. But I had zero illusions otherwise going in. Is the acting great? Uh, no. Is the writing great? Uh, no. Can the stories be contrived? Uh, yeah. But it’s scifi teens getting all Lord of the Flies and shit in the future on an Earth ravaged by nuclear war! Suh-weet! Plus, it’s brutal and violent as hell. They don’t pull punches on killing off characters or going for the headshots. This isn’t The A-Team, people. When the trigger is pulled, peeps gonna die.

The one thing I do hate about The 100 is how the network, the actors, the writers, all say “The Hundred”. You can’t call a show “The 100” without pronouncing it as “The One Hundred”. Drives me up a wall. But that’s about it.

I am a huge fan of bad scifi, bad horror, bad westerns, bad everything- as long as it is entertaining. If I find myself getting bored then I put it down, turn it off, walk away.

Another case in point: Z-Nation. Nope. Not a fan. I know some like it, but for me it just didn’t hit that entertainment factor. I get what it is trying to do, but there is so much TV to watch that I had to choose. I’m not saying you shouldn’t like it or watch it, I’m just saying that I gave it a try and it wasn’t worth my time.

And that is what it comes down to for me- is it worth my time?

Time is precious to me. It’s precious to all of us. There are so many great TV shows, books, movies, video games, comic books out there that I will never get to experience all of them before I die. That is a fact. I have done the math. Not going to happen.

So I pick what I like, what entertains me, and I embrace it. What I don’t do is disparage the TV shows, movies, books, video games, comic books, etc that others like. Why would I? I’m not you, I’m not the one watching something in your living room, I’m not the guy with your book in my hand, so why would I disparage what you like? It doesn’t hurt me if you like something that I’m just not into, so why would I talk down on it and hurt you?

Another another case in point: Constantine. I did not like this TV show. There are many reasons I didn’t like it (and I did give it a try), but I’m not going to go into those reasons. Why? Because a lot of people I do like enjoy the show. They state constantly on FB and Twitter how much they like it. Good for them! That is awesome! But it’s just not for me.

I like things for my own reasons, I dislike things for my own reasons, but at no point do I dislike something just for what it is. The trope don’t matter to me, yo! The trope don’t matter!

You like a specific trope? Right on!

You dislike a specific trope? You go, girl!



Posted on March 11, 2015, in Views From The Captain's Chair! and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. “Tropes” aren’t “tropes” if you do them YOUR way. It’s only if you stick with convention. Muddy it up. There’s no shame in stealing from as many genre devices as possible. In fact, it’s preferred.

    • I totally agree. But I also like tropes in their purest, derivative sense. The TV show Salem goes full on trope by making the witches of the Salem witch trial actually boil and bubble style witches. Great, trashy stuff.

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