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Article: Why I hate TV Tropes

  1. Why I hate TV Tropes

    22 Comments by Peeta Mellark Published on 07 Jan 2011 12:33 PM
    A new blog entry has been added:

    Why I hate TV Tropes

    Well, maybe "hate" is unfair. Or perhaps "TV Tropes" is, when the site isn't really the object of my wrath. If you're unfamiliar with it, TVTropes.org is a wiki where people can enter the "tropes" they've seen in movies, TV shows, comics, webcomics, books, operas, or in fevered dreams. And what is a trope? A convention, idea or device often used by writers. But--the front page assures you--they do not want clichs.
    Right off the bat you may see the problem, as commonly used conventions, ideas and devices are at best clichs about to happen and at worst, well, clichd.

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  3. #2
    Prehistoric Bitchslapper Sarahfeena's avatar
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    I don't know if I can go so far as to say I hate TV Tropes, but I must confess I don't really get it. First of all, I don't really understand the difference between a trope and a cliche. At the very least, I think one is a subset of the other.

    Secondly, I agree with you that the concept of defining and categorizing them seems weird to me. I think that one of the reasons TV has become such a huge part of our culture is that it was a quick way to create a common culture for a large, diverse country like the US. But part of the fun of that is that whatever references we all understand are just that...understanding amongst ourselves. We makes jokes about the "nosy next door neighbor" and we all know exactly the kind of character we're talking about. No one has to go look it up in a dictionary and see Gladys Kravitz's picture to understand. Or there's a plot where someone lies about knowing a celebrity, and a joke will be make about Bobby Brady and his dear family friend Joe Namath, and we'll all chuckle, cause we get it. It's not important or necessary to list every known example, it's just a touchpoint, and we laugh and tacitly acknowledge that we all know the cliche (yes, I said it), and we move on. It's not academia, it's television.

  4. #3
    Elen sla lumenn' omentielvo What Exit?'s avatar
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    On the other side. TV Tropes is a fun site to surf around on. Mindless fun. It is often useful for a quick reference. More humorous than "the other wiki" as they call it. Actually is some ways it is like a specialized annex to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. It is also mostly harmless.

  5. #4
    Global Moderator AllWalker's avatar
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    "Mostly harmless"? Are you insane? I once lost eight hours of my life to that site in one sitting.

    I like the concept of the site. For one thing, looking up a show like Dr Who shows just how much stuff they actually touch on over the years, and allows you to draw similarities. And some of the catagories are really, really fun. But I also like to have a reference for all sorts of tropes and cliches because one of the things I love in fiction is a beautifully inverted trope.

    And yes, some people will blindly stick labels to everything they see and hear. But if someone gives you the definition of each key word in a story you are telling, that isn't the fault of the dictionaries. Like everything else, it is a great resource that isn't always properly used. Welcome to the internet.
    Something tells me we haven't seen the last of foreshadowing.

  6. #5
    The Queen Zuul's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by AllWalker View post
    But if someone gives you the definition of each key word in a story you are telling, that isn't the fault of the dictionaries. Like everything else, it is a great resource that isn't always properly used. Welcome to the internet.
    Yeah, I agree with this. It's a fun site and I've spent some time exploring all of the tropes listed for shows I like, and then reading about other things that use the same tropes, and then looking up tropes that are connected to those ones, etc. But geeks on the internet can latch onto anything with obsessive, scary tenacity. It's definitely more an internet geek thing than a TV Tropes thing.

    Sarah, a trope can be a cliche, but not every trope is one. A trope is simply something that reoccurs throughout a genre. When it's used too much it becomes a cliche, but a lot of tropes exist at a lower level. They're recognizable, but not so overdone as to pass into the cliche zone. Affably evil villains are a good example of this. They're common and most people can think of a few examples of it, but a bad guy who is also polite and friendly isn't really a cliche.
    So now they are just dirt-covered English people in fur pelts with credit cards.

  7. #6
    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
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    The only problem with TV Tropes is when they have to positively, absolutely identify every last trope in show without backing off and leaving it to the major tropes. There are enough examples of each trope, they don't need to go into overload.

    My favourite trope is still the Thirty Xanatos Pileup though.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  8. #7
    Porosity Caster parzival's avatar
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    I think the thing I like the least about TV Tropes is when people warn me about a link. Really, it's okay. I'm not going to get lost at that site. It's just not that insightful or interesting. I think the furthest I've ever gone is about two clicks deep. And that was only to figure out what the name refers to.
    Figuring out what the trope names mean is, to me, about the only interesting thing about the site, and yet even that isn't done well. Often you have to read through a lengthy discourse on the trope to figure out the reference, which may not even be explained. Even when it is, it's usually an off-hand sentence that doesn't really explain anything unless you're familiar with the material.
    That's a problem that runs throughout the site - the majority of the references, notes, etc. only make sense if you already know the material. So I gain nothing by comparing one "trope" to another unless I'm intimate with the details of both sources. For those sources I know, the mere mentioning of the trope doesn't yield anything of value to me. As already said, this isn't useful criticism, it's just a catalog.
    Yet, as a catalog, it's not that great either. It's poorly structured - while some tropes are well-defined as sub-tropes of others, all pages on the site appear the same. This leads to confusion over where to place an item. This is only made worse by the desire of some to split the tropes to ever smaller distinctions, to the point that they may only apply to a single case or even not at all. It seems that nearly every Examples section is half full of "subversions" and "inversions" and arguments that the trope is being wrongly applied.
    While some of those could eventually be fixed, it's perhaps a good indicator of why an unstructured Wiki is not a good choice for a project like this - it will take quite a while before a meaningful catalog appears from the chaos. Even then, I still don't see why I'd want to spend time looking at it.

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    The website itself tends to have some interesting and funny things, but most of the people on there aren't very bright. Although it's not really particularly worse than most of the other places on the web.

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    The thing I dislike about Tv Tropes is that any random person can sign up and mess with things. I noticed on some pages of my favorite shows that people were posting tropes based on their opinions on not on the show's contents. It's kind of like how people can change anything on wikipedia but ten times worse.

  11. #10
    Hombom
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    On the 12th of April 2011 I got kicked out the site for saying all women's groups hate men. They do all hate men and they are out to castrate, imprison and starve us no matter what we do because they all believe being born male automatically makes you the oppressor.

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    Quote Originally posted by Hombom View post
    On the 12th of April 2011 I got kicked out the site for saying all women's groups hate men. They do all hate men and they are out to castrate, imprison and starve us no matter what we do because they all believe being born male automatically makes you the oppressor.
    Are you serious? Just shut up.

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    Quote Originally posted by Hombom View post
    On the 12th of April 2011 I got kicked out the site for saying all women's groups hate men. They do all hate men and they are out to castrate, imprison and starve us no matter what we do because they all believe being born male automatically makes you the oppressor.
    They kicked you out because you're the kind of Troper that makes this blogger hate the site. (I'm a Troper myself, and I get frustrated with people who make the site look bad, like you. No big loss.

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    Quote Originally posted by Hombom View post
    On the 12th of April 2011 I got kicked out the site for saying all women's groups hate men. They do all hate men and they are out to castrate, imprison and starve us no matter what we do because they all believe being born male automatically makes you the oppressor.
    go to another forum to argue about that. we don't want you anymore.

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    Default A tropes is not necessarily a cliche

    Quote Originally posted by Sarahfeena View post
    I don't know if I can go so far as to say I hate TV Tropes, but I must confess I don't really get it. First of all, I don't really understand the difference between a trope and a cliche. At the very least, I think one is a subset of the other.
    A cliche is necessarily a subset of a trope. It's an overused trope to be specific. But a trope need not be a cliche. For example, the trope "Springtime for Hitler" is about someone puts all their efforts into failing at a task, since it is advantageous to them, but somehow they end up succeeding in the task, which in itself is failure. Now, I personally have rarely come across this trope in the works I've seen (limited experience on my end, no doubt) and I can't call this a cliche. It is, however, a trope that has been used in multiple works.

    As for the purpose of the tv tropes site...I've found exactly one so far. Say you vaguely remember a show from the past. You don't remember the names of the show or of any of its characters. But you remember a plot element, some detail that stuck out. Well, if you're a troper and know the name of that plot element, just go to its page and find the example. Though, "Yahoo! Answers" or the like might give you better results.

  16. #15
    Elephant Froody Blue Gem's avatar
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    I find TV Tropes interesting and I admit I'm addicted browsing through the pages. I search to see if shows and movies I enjoy made the pages. Sometimes if I don't agree with an entry or a Troper's opinion, I do get annoyed but I don't expect people to share the same opinions as me. I think a Trope and a cliche can be interchangeable, they are like cliches used in movies, books, TV shows, and other forms of media. However, they can be used well if the writers are good. With the real life examples, some pages don't allow them so that says something about how simplying they can potentially be. I do agree, sometimes tropes can oversimplify things. While I am guilty of using them, things aren't always cut-and-dried to break into cliches. However, it is very hard to write a work that nobody has done before. People may not think of the work another is similar to if it is good enough to stand on its own.

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  18. #17
    Oliphaunt Jizzelbin's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Froody Blue Gem View post
    I find TV Tropes interesting and I admit I'm addicted browsing through the pages. I search to see if shows and movies I enjoy made the pages. Sometimes if I don't agree with an entry or a Troper's opinion, I do get annoyed but I don't expect people to share the same opinions as me. I think a Trope and a cliche can be interchangeable, they are like cliches used in movies, books, TV shows, and other forms of media. However, they can be used well if the writers are good. With the real life examples, some pages don't allow them so that says something about how simplying they can potentially be. I do agree, sometimes tropes can oversimplify things. While I am guilty of using them, things aren't always cut-and-dried to break into cliches. However, it is very hard to write a work that nobody has done before. People may not think of the work another is similar to if it is good enough to stand on its own.
    Yeah, I've looked at some of it. For the most part, they seem to be pretty much right.

    I hate to say it, but obviously I will anyway -- I suspect that if I were to meet any of the contributors IRL, I'd be inclined to punch them and take their lunch money.

    Not because I want to hurt people, or be a bully -- just on general principle.

    However, I've learned a few things from there -- in the sense that I knew it, recognized it, and I was glad somebody took the effort to categorize it in a reasonable way.

    Just thinking out loud, that actually could be a good test use for a scientific ontology (vd. BFO, or other ontologies used in biomedical standards).

    Hmm..

    Don't think I can justify doing a thing with OWLCpp, but for future archaeologists of the web, that could be a good resume-padding project for someone.

  19. #18
    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
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    I almost always take a look at TV Tropes after seeing a movie. It's usually interesting, and sometimes they notice things about the movie that I didn't.

  20. #19
    Oliphaunt Jizzelbin's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Elendil's Heir View post
    I almost always take a look at TV Tropes after seeing a movie. It's usually interesting, and sometimes they notice things about the movie that I didn't.
    Really?

    I almost always look up the Wikipedia page for a movie I'd seen, but it never occurred to me to use TVTRopes like that.

    I guess I never explored their search function(s) to know about that.

    I don't know if I'd ever do that religiously for every movie, but that could work if trying to kill some time.

    Also, notice, three paragraphs started with the pronoun nominative first person singular, "I," in my post.

    Hmm. I like it!

    Narcissus and Echo rule my world. Vd. Blanchot, L'criture du dsastre. Insert malin smiley!

  21. #20
    Member Froody.Blue Gem's avatar
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    Test post check. Diagnostic.

  22. #21
    Member Froody.Blue Gem's avatar
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    Check two

  23. #22
    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
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    There you are, Froody!

    Yes, Jizz, I'll often check TVTropes, Wiki and IMDB.com's trivia page, too, if the movie especially interests me.

  24. #23
    Oliphaunt Jizzelbin's avatar
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    Well, no, that's a diagnostic account I set up (w/ Froody's approval) to try to figure out what the deal is.

    Apparently new users are only allowed to add comments to Articles, not any part of any forum or subforum.

    Since the IP address is unrelated, this is obviously true for all new users.

    I don't know when the rule was implemented, but it is now, and is unrelated to IP address, media content in posts, or anything.

    It applies to all new users.

    In addition, those who are caught smoking in a prone position in their bunk will spend a night in the box.
    Those who wear dirty pants while sitting on their bunk will spend a night in the box.
    Cigarettes are not to be used as currency. Those who do will spend a night in the box.

    See? This is probably why I should be using imdb more -- then my half-memories could become much better.

    But that's a lot of effort.

    OK, sort of worth it:

    Them clothes got laundry numbers on them. You remember your number and always wear the ones that has your number. Any man forgets his number spends a night in the box. These here spoons you keep with you. Any man loses his spoon spends a night in the box. There's no playing grab-ass or fighting in the building. You got a grudge against another man, you fight him Saturday afternoon. Any man playing grab-ass or fighting in the building spends a night in the box. First bell's at five minutes of eight when you will get in your bunk. Last bell is at eight. Any man not in his bunk at eight spends the night in the box. There is no smoking in the prone position in bed. To smoke you must have both legs over the side of your bunk. Any man caught smoking in the prone position in bed... spends a night in the box. You get two sheets. Every Saturday, you put the clean sheet on the top... the top sheet on the bottom... and the bottom sheet you turn in to the laundry boy. Any man turns in the wrong sheet spends a night in the box. No one'll sit in the bunks with dirty pants on. Any man with dirty pants on sitting on the bunks spends a night in the box. Any man don't bring back his empty pop bottle spends a night in the box. Any man loud talking spends a night in the box. You got questions, you come to me. I'm Carr, the floor walker. I'm responsible for order in here. Any man don't keep order spends a night in...
    Last edited by Jizzelbin; 01 Apr 2018 at 03:01 PM.

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