It’s time to give you a little help with all these tropes I’ve been dishing out so this week we will discuss How To Deal With Tropes. Because, let’s face it, learning about tropes can really screw with your ability to enjoy a movie or tv show. You start realizing that almost everything is a trope and suddenly everything seems cliched and you can tell the entire plot of a movie from the trailer.
It’s OK. You can move past this. And the MST3K Mantra can help.
If you don’t know what MST3K is then…I feel sorry for you. It’s only one of the funniest shows ever! It’s a cheesy little set up of a guy stuck in space with some robots who’s forced to watch bad movies and we get to watch him make fun of them. MST3K stands for Mystery Science Theater 3000. Here’s the opening that explains the premise, demonstrates how extremely low-budget the show was, and also states the Mantra.
Did you hear the Mantra?”Don’t worry about how he eats or breathes, Or other science facts. (La, la, la.) Just tell yourself, it’s just a show; I should really just relax.”
Now technically, the mantra specifically addresses fans who pick apart details of a show that deal with things like physics, logic, geography, and other fact-based areas but don’t actually contribute to the enjoyment of the show. Passionate fans can sometimes get so obsessed that they start combing over elements of the story and blow tiny little errors out of proportion. (I’ve never done this, especially not with Lost or Doctor Who.) (Did you catch that that is a Suspiciously Specific Denial?)
Occasionally, fans need to be reminded that focusing on the wrong details can detract from the simple pleasure of the story. The MST3K Mantra addresses this directly.
But it also comes in handy when learning about tropes. At first it will seem like they are everywhere because they are! Just like wood and nails are everywhere at a construction site. If you’re going to create something, you have to have the materials to put together. And tropes are one of the main materials used to construct a great story.
So when you feel like your new found knowledge of tropes is holding you back from losing yourself in a movie, just sing the litttle song to yourself. (La,la,la.) And relax, after a while, the tropes won’t scream at you. Instead, they will make you appreciate the story even more.