04 April 2020

Three words that could use a rest in fandom

I have gotten tired of these three words (okay, two words and one phrase) in discussions of genre fiction.

  1. “Plot hole.”
  2. “Retcon.”
  3. “Canon.”

First, those three give “realism about the fictional world” too much weight in judging artistic works. They make is sounds as though the best feature of any story is how well it mimics the consistency of reality.

You can see this same obsessive drive to try to find absolute perfect consistency in world-building in classic geek questions like, “Who’s stronger, Hulk or Thor?”, or “What is the speed of the White Star spaceships?” (I mention the last, because Joe Straczynski would reply, “They move at the speed of plot.” Which I imagine must have been a very frustrating answer for some fans. Flat out refusing to play the game.)

I remember loving technical manuals and handbooks that tried to list things like the height, weight, and eye colour of every character in the fictional world.

All of that is fun. But increasingly, I’m finding that discussions over story consistency overshadows analysis of character, emotion, humour, thoughtfulness, or any of the other myriad of things people might want to experience a story for.

Second, these three feed into a bad geek habit: always trying to show how smart you are. Watching a story becomes a protracted game of, “I’m smarter than the script writers, because I thought of this thing that they clearly didn’t.” Needing to show how smart you are is not an attractive part of nerd culture. (I say this as someone who has often been guilty of this bad habit.)

1 comment:

Mike Taylor said...

It's Hulk, though. Obviously.