Day 134-- on my obsession with pop culture tropes

I could spend hours and hours reading and studying weird little things dealing with film, literature and television. Here are some of my favorites:

"Jumping the Shark"-- I love this term. It's the point where a television show (originally--it'll now work with any media) passes its prime and dips into the realm of subpar. The article is captivating beyond belief.
"Retcon"-- Or Retroactive Continuality. It stemmed from comic books, but like almost everything else in this field can now apply to almost anything. Retcons are when the creators of a comic (for example) change previously established facts, either on purpose or by accident. This happens ALL of the time in science fiction or comics, when one writer of a series accidentally changes something already established by past writers.
"Chekhov's gun"-- To quote gifted Russian novelist and playwright Anton Chekhov: "One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it." This is when an object or idea in the story is present early on in a seemingly random way, only to become of importance later on.
"Character shield"-- Where characters (especially in film and television) survive things that they shouldn't, for whatever reason.
"MacGuffin"-- The ever-classic, Hitchcock-coined term for any plot device that advances the story and nothing else. A good modern example is in the film Ronin--what's in the briefcase? Who cares; it moves the plot along.

Wikipedia has a great list (and sublists) of some narrative tropes and genre ideas. It's worth spending some time on!

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 1/17/2007 11:48:00 PM,


At 12:35 AM, Blogger Qere Ketiv said...

Don't forget the ever popular "Munson".

"Barfing? Where did I get Munson?"

At 10:30 PM, Blogger James said...

The writers of Dodge Intrepid are guilty of Retcon (Retcons?) mainly because they're really lazy or they'd rather make a dumb joke.

At 8:55 AM, Blogger Erica said...

have you ever seen the site dedicated to shows that have jumped the shark? I think its called -- you should check it out if you haven't already -- hilarious. (Especially the one from Happy Days where Fonsie actually does jump over a shark tank on waterskis.)


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