Saturday, July 30, 2016

The 5 Worst Cliches in Books and Movies

If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll know that things I absolutely hate most when reading a book or watching a movie is clichés, tropes, and stereotypes. It's nothing more than lazy writing. If you can predict everything that's going to happen in a book within the first twenty pages, then why read all two hundred? 

So, this is my dedication to those crappy, lazy clichés and stereotypes that plague modern literature and television. Enjoy. 

5: “The Dame” is the sneaky, backstabbing traitor 

Because women are so treacherous and evil (unless they're a virgin; then they're just weak and stupid). 

4: Revenge (as the sole reason a character or story exists)

This happened in Game of Thrones the show; they completely changed all of Dorne and turned a strong pacifist into a two-dimensional revenge-seeking caricature (This article goes into further depth). 

Obviously, revenge is important and is a major motivator for epic stories, both on an individual and communal level. But to have it be the only reason a character is there? When they have no other purpose, no other passion, nothing? Lazy. 

3. Workaholic Woman

A woman who's actually dedicated to her career? There's no conceivable way that can be sexy or attractive (never mind the obvious passion behind it and big paycheck). 

This usually happens in movies, and the man's job is to show this woman how all of her problems can be solved with his penis. 

2. Damsel in Distress

By now it should be obvious that I am a feminist and therefore prefer my women characters to be more than talking sex objects.

I'm not saying women are invincible. We're no more indestructible than men. But we're not three-year-olds who blindly walk into danger every week and need a big, strong man with an actual narrative arc to come and rescue us. Give us some credit.

1. Romantic Subplot

Because this is something everyone can relate to.

I hate this one the most because it's a gateway cliché. It leads directly to the Damsel in Distress (especially in superhero movies), and you'll be hard pressed to find a female traitor or workaholic woman who also isn't the hero's crush. 

Love triangles are the absolute worst. 

It also reinforces the belief that men and women cannot be in the same room together without romance. Like it's somehow the woman's job to be the hero's girlfriend at the end of the book (because that's the real victory: making sure he gets laid). God forbid we have two characters of the opposite sex go through a crazy adventure together and then decide at the end of it, "Wow, you're a really good friend and I'm happy to have met you. Let's stay platonic besties and do this again sometime."

So there you have it. The worst clichés you can find in any movie or book. But I’d like to make one thing clear before I finish: clichés exist because, sometimes, they can be very good. Even the romantic subplot (i.e. Nico di Angelo and Will Sherman in Heroes of Olympus). People use them over and over and over again because at one point they were the height of originality and imagination. And sometimes, if the writer is very very good, they can put in one of these horrid clichés in their book (or movie or TV show) and have it be beautifully captivating and amazing.

And to show you that I’m not lying in an attempt to avoid bad comments, here is a list of every book, movie, and TV show that I’ve seen successfully pull off one or more of these clichés:

Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus (both of which I go into further detail here), and Trials of Apollo series (full review here).

Miss Congeniality does the workaholic woman well because while Hart spends most of the movie getting glammed up, in the end she goes back to being just her: an industrious tomboy. (The romantic subplot adds no value to the movie and shouldn’t be there at all, but it takes up a total of, like, two minutes, so it’s not so bad.)

Game of Thrones, the books and the show, usually (I’m always gushing about it on my blog, but I have a fuller review of the series here and here). There are so many traitors and spies, a few are statistically bound to be women. Romance and love are huge motivators and factors in human psychology. And revenge is a big reason wars get started (although, as I mentioned above, sometimes it goes a little overboard). 

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms has, like, eight different love stories and triangles between mortals and gods, but the heartbreak is fundamental to the villain’s backstory, not just unnecessary drama.

Harry Potter uses several clichés, but somehow makes them work. J. K. Rowling’s magical that way. 

Every Pixar movie, and several Disney movies. 


Thanks for reading! :)

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