Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Revue of Reviews (Or: TV Tropes is full of idiots)

"So safely with your software, miles from the front line
You hear the way their sad voice sings, and you start to imagine things
Oh, any excuse to write more lies"
--Morrissey, "Reader, Meet Author."

So I know I don't have an editor, but if I did he'd be on my case right now to get back on this blog and give you guys what you want. And while he doesn't exist, he's right-- I've been moving from Asheville to Wilmington, but I'm all settled in now and I oughta get back to The Triumph because dammit Jasper, we have papers to move!
"And get me some photos on that Michael Chabon fellow! He's a menace!"
 So, while I work on a couple longer posts, I wanted to put up a shorter bit here encapsulating a recent hobby of mine: reading idiots' terrible, terrible opinions about literature. This won't be a smart post-- this is me in the mode I was back when I worked on The Gutrotter, in which I find terrible things and mock them angrily.

I've been reading the TVTropes Wiki some, and, despite having a useful premise as a website, it has one of the worst user bases I've ever seen in my life. And one of the highlights of that is my least favorite thing in the world: geek anti-itellectualism. People who need to be smart about everything, and so rationalize everything they don't enjoy as being beneath them. And let me tell you-- it is hilarious how much they want so badly for great literature to be stupid. So I've put together some of my favorites here, in which people whose favorite books are in the Star Wars Expanded Universe try and explain why Pulitzer-Prize-Winning authors are idiots.

Keep in mind, these are all from a wiki whose purpose is to analyze narrative and examine story. These aren't just random dipshits-- these are people who, essentially, consider themselves literary theorists and are supposed to be educated commentators on culture. This is a website that is supposed to be a balanced, comprehensive wiki of narratives and art.

Of Mice And Men:
"Oh let me puke, this story (And I'll question the validity of that statement later) is boring, boring, boring, the villain is kinda non-existent and ridiculous flat...Who's the villain (Or the closest approximation)? CURLEY! Or in my opinion, Steinbeck. Look this isn't an internal conflict, cause there's no internal dialogue, tell me one thing about George that the book doesn't say about him, SHOW, DON', TELL, apparently Steinbeck had never heard that little tidbit. And don't make assumptions about me, I like subtle works, which does not mean boring ones." --Phrederic
Phrederic has apparently never heard of "internal conflict" and thinks that every story has to have an evil villain for the hero to defeat-- mostly because internal conflict means a character considering they might be wrong, which is vastly less believable to him than battles in space. (This marks the beginning of a trend in these reviews). According to his profile page, he is an ultra-manly Nietzsche-loving rebel who loves fighting and "has a succulent red exterior." Also, he loves Naruto, wrestling, and Warhammer 40,000.
"I do enjoy subtle works."
"...The world building isn't complex, it's California, Steinbeck lived in California, right near where the story took place."
Because describing a real setting perfectly is the lazy option when you can make up a fantasy world instead.

Paradise Lost
Oops, I thought there'd be a review of this. There isn't-- no one's taken the time to write one up. But hey, at least there's 21 pages and 8,000 words about the best fanfiction involving Harry Potter characters boning each other.

The Road
"The writing style of the the Road is terrible. No punctuations, long run-on sentences, and no quotations to let you know who's speaking at any point in the dialogue." --Snitchy
 Snitchy thinks that the guidelines he learned in 9th-grade English about writing 5-paragraph essays should apply to all literature. Snitchy thinks that Cormac McCarthy just made a bunch of typos and his editor fell asleep on the job. If Snitchy ate like he reads, he'd give a gourmet restaurant a bad review for not putting ketchup on his steak and refuse to tip the waitress because she didn't place the food directly into his mouth.
The only reason Snitchy is still alive is because Cormac McCarthy doesn't want to hurt his writing hand by strangling as hard as it would take to reach Snitchy's windpipe through his chins.
"Imagine if the Star Wars films were about watching R2-D2 and C-3PO go about their business in the rebel bases instead of watching either the space battles or other more interesting characters. That's what the Road was like. A strange world populated with interesting events and characters, but we are forced to watch the two least interesting characters experience these events from the periphery"
Snitchy thinks that the most critically-acclaimed novel of the past decade should have been more like Star Wars, and would rather read about explosions or people hitting each other than the inextinguishable hope of a dying humanity as expressed through a father's love. Snitchy thinks that a book whose entire theme was about how ordinary people need human contact to remain human should have focused on space-knights and starship battles.
"I say R2, are we still the good guys?"
"Beep boop beeeoop."

Critic Profile: Deboss
Deboss views himself as a critic of literature. He likes to freely hand out his opinions on books, their importance, and what works have real literary value.

"The mandatory component for English is both too large and too focused on 'classics'. Any literature that has to be required to get readership, isn't a book worthy of being read. I honestly can't think of any exceptions. History of literature would also be cut from any class that doesn't have "history" in the name, and none of them would be required. There's nothing worth learning there unless someone is already interested. ...Also, no state funded field trips to go see plays. They're a form of art that will hopefully die soon anyway."
Deboss is a literary critic in the same sense that a tapeworm is a food critic.
Hey look, it's Guy Fieri.
Deboss-- whose avatar is an anime girl's ass-- is who inspired this blog post. The things Deboss has to say about books are the most insipid things I have ever heard in my life, and the fact that he's allowed to post on a site that supposedly bans people for being too negative is why I decided to highlight the goddamn morons who populate that site's literature discussions.
 "My advice would be to further promote Table Top Games since those require reading and interpretation without all the bullshit that normal literature classes have. Combined with the fact that children are rarely if ever exposed to anything worth reading, it's not surprising that they don't pick it up."
 Deboss thinks that a D&D Player's Manual offers more to the soul than "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Deboss is such an idiot that it makes me wonder if his skull is still soft, but then I realize that it must actually be pretty thick because how else do you explain the fact he wasn't aborted?
"Shakespeare was the most unpleasant work I've ever been exposed to. I've seen most of Uwe Bol and Seltzer Burger work, and I'm including it in that statement. Part of the unpleasantness comes from the idea that it's impossible to dislike it, and the answer is greater exposure to Shakespeare. The sooner the works of Shakespeare are forgotten, the better. Given the power, I'd make teaching it a capitol offense."
 Deboss is to literary criticism as John Wayne Gacy was to the world of comedy, and Deboss's posts are to my faith in humanity as John Wayne Gacy was to fifteen-year-old boys. Deboss has a college degree and only books he reads are Animorphs and Star Wars novels-- and he thinks this makes him smarter than the rest of us. Deboss is such an idiot he can't even manage to be illiterate correctly. The process by which his brain tries to shit out intelligent thought most closely resembles a botched suicide.
Deboss thinks this should be taught in schools and Orwell shouldn't.
OK, Shakespeare Should be Safe
Okay, sorry... I went to kind of a dark place there. I'm sure that people like Deboss are just flukes and the fact that they're allowed to post this on a site that bans people who try and point out that anime involving the sex lives of 12-year-olds is creepy doesn't reflect anything on the site's policies or problems. Instead, I'll look up some Shakespeare and watch people refute his points. Everyone loves Shakespeare, there's no way that a site this huge, about narrative tropes, is just an echo chamber for anti-intellectual nerds who hate real art. I'll look up my favorite Shakespeare play and I'll see someone praise it for inventing so many of the tropes that the site is supposed to catalog.Something that'll keep me from turning into Shane McGowan by the end of the night.

"This review focuses on Macbeth, but will also contain my criticism of Shakespeare's works as a whole. Shakespeare makes rational men mad and the greatest of critics weak kneed and fawning. The man is the foremost writer of the english language, and we consider his works to be on the same level as the greats of today. But I ask you this? Why... The plot is simple and the Aesop is dull and cliche, Ambition Is Evil. And the editing is simply awful. Macbeth is full of disappearing characters and dropped plotlines."
"I wanted the cool, conflicted Macbeth back, I wanted him to achieve victory over their dull and flat enemies. But instead of making an Anti Villain Shakespeare decided to throw him off the slippery slope to save himself the trouble of making the work complex at all."
You are shitting me. This jackass thinks that Macbeth-- whose biggest character trait was being an easily-distracted dimwit --was a cool conflicted hero? He thinks that the play was trying to teach us one specific, easily-reduced moral? He thinks that a 400-year-old play we only have in copies of copies should be expected to have a tight and flawless structure that can hold up against modern works?

"And I would agree with that this is a character study had his character not been so inconsistent, the man is almost bipolar."
 So What Have We Learned?
Well we learned that the internet is awful. That's a thing we learned.

But seriously though, even though I just picked one play these attitudes are pretty representative of geek/nerd culture. And considering that I spent a ton of time recently playing Shadows of the Damned and Fallout, that's a culture I'm part of.

So consider this my return after the hiatus of moving and getting set up in a new/old town. I'm back and I'm gonna keep fighting to talk about how classic, serious literature is cool and relevant and actually pretty fuckin' good, not just Important. Because, to quote Tony Hoagland (probably America's best contemporary poet, who of course has no TV Tropes page because there are no lasers in his works)
But I hate those people back
from the core of my donkey soul
and the hatred makes me strong
and my survival is their failure.


  1. This is the age where people actually vigorously defend Transformers movies. Transformers! Considering the general audience is more enamored with 'fucking the frame' than any discernible plotting, character building, narrative etc I don't consider people are going to take the time to read and understand literature but go for some 'fucking the page' genre fiction suck as Harry Potter, Twilight, Jane Austen and some Monster or the newest one Robopocalypse. Another Empire falls to spectacle.

  2. According to his profile Deboss is an engineering graduate. This is not surprising in the least.

  3. I once had a conversation with Deboss through PMs. I'm sad to say that he is completely serious about this shit.

  4. You should read this site

    John Dolan is quite awesome.

  5. You describe TV Tropes pretty accurately. I occasionaly like to browse the site, but every time I wander into the "discussion" areas I end up wanting to hurt something. Incredible self-importance from incredibly dense, intellectualy lazy people (note that the most vitriolic response to that "Of Mice and Men" review is someone complaining because the review "treated opinions like they were facts" ARGH!). The reviews you listed are infuriating and literature isn't even my forte.

  6. Oh. No. Some people are being dumb. On the internet of all places.

  7. "It's old, therefore it's good" and "My opinion about what people should think and understand about literature/movies/works in general is the only valid thing in the world".

    There, all your babbling reduced to two simple phrases.

    You really think that people today read a book because they love "the inextinguishable hope of yadda yadda" and all the shit you're saying? Because last time I checked people read books because they were entertaining. Most people don't read poems anymore, because they find them boring. The same happens with works from hundreds of years ago: people read Macbeth and all those things because their literature teachers forced them to read it, not because they heard about it and found it appealing. But I guess that is something that doesn't enter in your skull, does it?

    You're so full of yourself you don't notice that literature isn't supposed to be about the author, but about the reader. If readers don't like it then that work is useless. There was once when people liked watching Macbeth in the theater (and I mean watching it, not analyzing it). But that time is gone. Just because something is/was famous doesn't mean it's good. Deal with it.

    I don't know if this will get published, because I guess more people told you the same and their comments aren't here, I suppose you're a chicken and you don't like someone telling you the truth to the face.

  8. Troper right above me, missing the point as usual.

  9. The same happens with works from hundreds of years ago: people read Macbeth and all those things because their literature teachers forced them to read it, not because they heard about it and found it appealing. But I guess that is something that doesn't enter in your skull, does it?

    I guess it doesn't enter YOUR thick skull that people have different tastes. Guess what, some people sincerely like Shakespeare, and sincerely enjoy analyzing literature. You complain about others presenting their opinions as objective fact, and then do just the same thing.

    That's all your argument boils down to, utter incomprehension of the idea that people (gasp!) enjoy different things. That, and probably, resentment of your high-school literature courses. High school sucked, get over it like the rest of us.

  10. Oh, and PS:
    I don't know if this will get published, because I guess more people told you the same and their comments aren't here, I suppose you're a chicken and you don't like someone telling you the truth to the face.

    Hahaha. I love these self-refuting ZOMG CENSORSHIP comments. Thanks for the laugh.

  11. Thanks for the Tony Hoagland mention. I'd never heard of him before, but what I can find is great. He reminds me a lot of Bukowski. Donkey Gospel is going right on my Amazon wishlist.

  12. But wasn't the fact that MacBeth (as he put it) "jumped off the slippery slope" the whole point of the play? Wasn't Shakespeare trying to make a commentary on human nature and its flaws and how a situation can make people do crazy things (or something like that)?

  13. TV Tropes is good for what it is--description of various storytelling and the tropes used in them. I enjoy reading through it randomly, and it's introduced me to stories and genres I might not otherwise have been exposed to.

    But you're right in that it's not serious or scholarly. And the no-notability rule is both a strength and a weakness. On the one hand, anybody is free to add an example, but then anybody else can come up and "edit" your example.

    The forum is not the worst biased I've ever seen, but there is a definite hivemind among the frequent contributors that either actively discourage or even outright bump perfectly reasonable conversation and objections.

    For entertainment purposes only.

  14. Please understand that these people only make up a small percentage of tropers. When I post, I do my best to stick to the trope description and stay away from the circlejerks, but you know what they say about a couple of bad apples...

  15. "I thought there'd be a review of this. There isn't-- no one's taken the time to write one up. But hey, at least there's 21 pages and 8,000 words about the best fanfiction involving Harry Potter characters boning each other."

    I find your review here biased against TV Tropes by cherry-picking the worst examples of the website - but alright, it's your opinion, it doesn't affect me. But please, at least get your facts straight. TV Tropes has had a policy against unnecessarily NSFW content on the pages, including Fanfic Recs - shipping doesn't automatically mean sex, it means general relationship fanfiction, no sex need be involved.

    And if you're going to make a case against TV Tropes, stick to the area you've set yourself to review. This one example was a quick jab at TV Tropes for the sake of it - It comes out of nowhere in the context of your review, it's just "They don't have a review of this work I like, but they have a page of erotic fanfiction, what a crock of shit". You wanted to review the mindnumbingly retarded Reviews section, so you should have stuck to it.

  16. While I am aware that some people on TVTropes are, in fact, idiots, that doesn't mean that every single one of them are. Next time, before making another article about a loud, stupid minority, remember about the silent majority.

  17. OMAM: He's saying there IS NO internal conflict, not that there is NO SUCH THING as internal conflict, and he never said all stories have to have villains. And besides, that's a comment, not the review itself.

    Paradise Lost: What is wrong with this? It's not a review site, you know.

    The Road: I haven't read this, but... yeah. Why SHOULDN'T a professional writer be able to write at a 5th-grade level? And never have I seen such complete and deliberate misrepresentation. He didn't say it should have been about spaceships and explosions, he said that the background events were more interesting than the story.

    Macbeth: Now this review I agree IS stupid, but Macbeth's defining character trait is being an "easily-distracted idiot"? Really? And he isn't a hero, but he is definitely cool and conflicted.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. To be fair, a lot of tropers disagreed with the "Of Mice and Men" review and commented on it, arguing against some of main criticisms of the review. In fact, one of the comments linked to this very webpage.

  20. Eh, author of this is a right unhappy cunt. I'm not hiding behind anonymity, so much as I don't give a shit enough to register. This was a stupid fucking article that wasted my time.

  21. All the butthurt tropers in the comments only make this article more beautiful. Thank you for this.

  22. I like TV Tropes.

    I'm a Warhammer 40000 fan too; I liked your little quip there. It's true it may not be literary genius per se, but for fans of the genre and it's incredibly vast Expanded Universe it can be quite entertaining; the vastness of the setting allows innumerable scenarios to work and be believable to the reader.

    As for the TV Trope nerds, unfortunately, despite what some may believe, men like waging war. And if they cannot do it on a physical battlefield, they will do it on a digital medium. Like those morons that ululate like baboons when they play Call of Duty online, and like the geeks on TV Tropes.

    I enjoyed your article by the way.

    Good job.

  23. So good.

    I knew I was done with TvTropes, even as a form of banal entertainment, when I was reading their page on "Padding" and a troper had listed the film The Sacrifice (dir. Andrei Tarkovsky), complaining about the length of shots ("leave the camera running", another trope on tvtropes) and showing things that "distracted from the plot".

    Very few times in my life have I ever read something that so thoroughly missed the point of a work of art.