“A trope, particularly in cinema, since neither of you give off the impression of being well-read, is a widely recognized storytelling convention containing several layers of contextual meaning for the intended audience, thus creating an identifiable visual upon which said observer can relate based on prior knowledge. Examples include metaphor, irony, and motif, though not necessarily cliché. […] In literary terms, it’s simply the use of figurative language for artistic effect. The films you referenced contain hundreds of tropes. Life itself is full of tropes.”Shoshone Wewatta- Opposable
Tropes are the framework on which pop culture is built. They’re unavoidable. As artist or audience, you can either fear, loathe, tolerate, or love them.
Badass Sci Fi fucking loves tropes. Every influence we have is based on, or created by tropes. Guaranteed; tropes fuel most of what entertains you.
Here’s three random tropes from our favorite movie; Aliens.
- Famous Last Words: “You always were an asshole, Gorman.”- ???
- Inelegant Blubbering- Hudson
- Rated M For Manly (sounds like another fictional work we know)
Now, this isn’t to say you should give in to tropes. Don’t let them walk all over you and dictate what you enjoy or create. Don’t be a Super Troper.
Tropes are arrogant little shits that think they run the world. They need to be smacked around a bit. They need to be hogtied and publicly flogged. They need to be shown who’s boss.
Who’s the boss? Not Tony Danza. You’re the boss. You’re the boss of tropes. Tropes are your employees, and they exist to serve you.
Side rant. Yes, we know the danger of imprudently using or embracing tropes. We risk falling into the deadly grasp of cliché.
“But how do we know?”
The only way to be 100% positive you’re skipping on the right side of the fine line between trope and cliché is to read thousands of books, watch thousands of movies and television shows, and be continuously fingering the throbbing pulse of popular culture. You can start by memorizing every page of the website tv tropes.
I’m joking. You have to have a feel for it. You know when you recognize a common plot element or storytelling convention. Hell, most of the time we look forward to it. It gives us a since of comfort, like we know we’re about to get something we really like. Mmm-hmm, good.
And don’t be discouraged by the detractors of all things familiar. Tropes are subjective, as are clichés.
Opposable has cats with opposable thumbs. Animal Anthropomorphism is a recognized trope. Some people think that’s played out.
Opposable also has aliens, badass female characters, and guns. Are those elements played out as well? Some people might think so. We think not so.
Bottom line; you gotta have an innate connection with tropes. Respect them (while smacking them around), and they’ll work their assess off for you.
And when in doubt, throw caution to the trope gods. Fuck it. Believe us, we know what we’re talking about. We seriously hope we know what we’re talking about.
Until next time, don’t bother us. We’re troping balls.