Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bottom of the Trope Barrel

Is there a point to TVTropes these days?
I mean, yes, the site gave me a few chuckles years ago when it was attacking the endless strings of Buffys and Homers on television and their repetitive on-screen interactions, but in its desperation for more material it's now pretty much a list of anything and everything someone anywhere at any time might have said in some way. When it ends up listing things as generic as swearing and nudity or as obscure as the way a comic book character's speech bubbles are drawn, it's about time to admit there's no real reason for the discussion. It's only a social activity, smalltalk perpetuated solely by the participants' desire to participate and not by any specific topic.

The degradation is really sort of obvious from the front page disclaimer: "We are also not a wiki for bashing things. Once again, we're about celebrating fiction, not showing off how snide and sarcastic we can be."

See, that's the problem. Bashing things that deserve to be bashed is the logical purpose of such a site. Popular tropes are examples of bad writing, of lazy, uncreative, patronizingly simplistic writing. Delineating the dip from representations of the human experience or of specific ideas to "that's what she said" laugh-track-tripe is the logical reason to point out tropes. You're supposed to be pointing out things about which we should be snide and sarcastic, which we should condemn as cheap, repetitive and dull.

Of course, somewhere along the way, the satirical gadfly core concept disintegrated into a gigantic mass of fanboys terrified of offending each other, attempting only to link anything from elsewhere on the internet to the TVTropes site with no particular rhyme or reason, just to take part in that communal babbling.
Is "desperate for attention" a trope?

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