In a recent post, the know-it-all Furious D said:
Those are two things that sorta, kinda, bug me. Leave what sorta, kinda, bugs you* in the comments.
Since I have a tendency to ramble on too much myself, so in no particular order, here’s ‘things that annoy me in fiction’.
- Waif-fu or “Being a woman, physics no longer applied to me.” – Let’s be very clear up front: I don’t have an issue with the idea, just the execution. If you’re fighting someone that’s a foot+ taller than you and has several hundred pounds more of muscle, you’re going to use very different tactics than if you’re fighting someone close to your size and weight. (trust me, I’ve learned this from experience as I’m not that tall of a guy myself) This goes beyond the standard combat suspension of disbelief into pure cartoon physics as say… a woman tackles a guy twice her size or tries to grapple with him. That’s a dumb move that you don’t want to do when someone’s got a size advantage over you. Part of the Expendables that earned so much goodwill from me was the mid-movie fight between Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren. It’s not only physically impressive, but one can see the guys are working through the fight mentally – struggling through turning the fight in their favor. But if a woman’s involved? You almost never see them trying to think tactically unless it’s the final, climatic battle. Look, Hollywood: We know women can fight, how about showing us they can fight smart?
- Stupid companies or “We’re really greedy – but petty!” – Yeah, I’m cynical when it comes to humanity, so no, I don’t find it that surprising or shocking if some businessman is shown pawning his grandmother’s kidney for gas money for his 3rd yacht. However, it’s just plain irritating when a company’s actions are given no more motivation than ‘greed’ when said actions would cost MORE than many cheaper alternatives. Why bother trying to get the CIA to kill someone when you can hire a private company or individual to assassinate someone for much less in terms of real money? Or why even bother with assassination? Why not just hire some people to run discrediting campaigns in the media? I haven’t checked the CIA’s price sheet lately, but I know you can always get bloggers much cheaper. Eventually the only explanation is that the corporations aren’t greedy as much as very vindictive and petty.
- Eureka! or “I will now jump to the least likely conclusion for no reason.” – This comes in two forms and both annoy me. The first is in romcoms. No matter how well two people know each other or have been working to build a rapport, one glimpse of one of the people in a weird position will immediately put the relationship in jeopardy; REGARDLESS of any other factors. The other form is that of the Mary Sue, the character who shouldn’t have the knowledge about X happening (and normal logic wouldn’t lead one to assume X was occurring), yet they not only will realize X, but they’ll be 100% right. (although I do enjoy it when a work portrays someone as having reached the right conclusion, but had all the wrong reasons and logic) In both instances, one wants to yell at the screen, “Why don’t you think, a moment!?” and contributes to the perception that rational thought is distrusted in current society (an idea no society can tolerate for long).
- Dumplin’ hobo dances rabbit or “I’m insane!” – I’m very tired of writers justifying IITS moments by claiming such and such character is insane. Look, insane people are still rational from their point of view (or at least, that’s how you should portray them in your work for believability). You can’t have the guy who’s been complaining about government conspiracies suddenly call the cops to save the day; “he’s insane” is not a justification for his sudden turn around. Character arcs, growth – it all still applies even to those that are a bit different.
- Religion or “God in the [plot] gaps.” – I could write a whole book on this and all of its instances. Cult leaders, preachers, believers, supernatural agents (angels & devils & more), even God Himself… Let’s just say that if you don’t “get” or understand religions (or even a religion in particular), then don’t use it in your work. I know it’s fashionable for everyone to demand representation in Hollywood, but if you can’t portray my beliefs well (or even accurately), then don’t bother portraying them at all.
And those are some cliches (that I can think of for now) I would most like to see die.