TV Tropes Tuesday: TV Tropes: Everyone Owns a Mac

This tropes is one of many examples of how TV and film often depict a lack of realism.  This trope also involves another of my interests: technology and in particular Apple.

Everyone Owns a Mac is trope that involves depicting all or most of the characters in a work using Mac computers (and often other Apple products as well).  In real life, the vast majority of people use Windows PCs.  I myself have used them since childhood, but I have had experience with using Macs at the Apple Store and in school, since I am studying a field that often uses the Mac.

In fact, that may play a role in this trope.  Many, if not most, people in the film and TV industries use Macs.  Therefore, many of those who involved with creating film and television depict the characters using Macs even if it would be unrealistic for them to do so.

Often, characters that you see using Macs are creative types of people such as filmmakers, musicians, artists, and writers, but of course, you will see all types of characters often using them.

The trope can apply to other Apple products, but not all of them.  iPod are still the most popular MP3 players, in the real world, even though the popularity of the iPhone, iPad, and other smartphones and tablets has led to their gradual decline in popularity.  Therefore, it would not be unrealistic to depict lots of characters in one work owning and using iPods.

Using iPhones could apply to this trope because in America, at least, the iPhone was available only on the carrier AT&T.  In February 2011, it was first made available on Verizon Wireless, then on Sprint in October 2011, and finally, in April 2013 it was made available on T-Mobile and all of the four largest wireless networks carried it.  So, while the iPhone is often seen used by TV and film characters, it still may not be realistic for everyone to own an iPhone, though it is becoming more and more realistic, but that  still does not even account for other popular smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy line, for instance, which is one of Apple fiercest competitors of the iPhone and iPad.  It may be more realistic for works set in the UK or Canada.

With regard to the iPad, it would not seem so unrealistic to me, as the iPad is the most popular tablet even though there are many competitors that make up a noticeable minority such as the Samsung Galaxy tablets, the Kindle Fire, and the Google Nexus.

Now, here are some examples of this trope.

In Degrassi, the more recent seasons depict all of the characters using iPhones regardless of their financial situations.

Author Stephen King often mentions Macs in books, if his characters use computers.

On Law and Order: SVU, the detectives are regularly seen using Macs, iPhones, and iPads in the courses of their investigations.

And there are many more on the page.

Advertisements

TV Tropes Tuesday: TV Tropes: Designated Heroes and Designated Villains

Today is TV Tropes Tuesday, and I will talk about two of my favorite tropes, which are the Designated Hero and the Designated Villain.  

Most stories have a hero and villain.  However, we’ve all seen or read or heard stories where the heroes are not very heroic, and the villains are not very villainous.  The heroes are meant to be sympathetic, but come across as unsympathetic, and possibly even actual villains; on the other hand, the villains might come across as sympathetic, and maybe even heroic, especially if they never do anything that is truly wrong.

In my attempts at developing stories, I have had trouble with this issue.  I’ve wanted to depict my characters doing bad things, but then I’m told that they sound too unlikable.  It’s hard to strike a balance, but I’ve always wanted to depict bad people doing bad things; I tend to find unlikable characters to be the most interesting.

For example, with my character Luna, I’ve intended for her to be an anti-hero trying to get through life while living in a town where she is completely and utterly despised by almost everyone; to distinguish from the designated hero, my intention is that she is still the hero of her story has at least generally good intentions, although she does some morally questionable things, but I’ve realized that some of the things I’ve imagined her doing go too far and would likely make her unlikable and unsympathetic.

I’ve thought of several ways to fix that issue.

I could tone down her bad behavior and try to make her more funny and sympathetic, instead of just an insufferable brat.

I could also depict her as receiving disproportionately unfair punishments; to expand on that I have created story lines where Luna received unfair punishments for lots of things.  For example, her story begins after she has spent the summer in Juvie after the cheer leading squad jumped her.  Even though, she was defending herself, she was charged and sentenced.  I also have Luna regularly being a victim of bullying and harassment, and the school staff does nothing about it, as they hate her.  Yet another story line focuses on Luna getting her first car, and then is arrested for driving ONE mile over the speed limit. Luna is selfish and spoiled, and she doesn’t always do right by her family and friends, but that does not justify being treated unfairly by the justice system or being ignored by her school when she is bullied and harassed.

This is my attempt to avoid making Luna into a designated hero.

Interestingly, I have also considered doing other things, like making Luna so unsympathetic, that the audience is rooting against her and is happy when she is justly punished at the end; this would make her a Villain Protagonist.

I’ve also imagined Luna being unfairly treated by someone, and her antagonist is portrayed as being in the right.  This is interesting because in a way Luna is a Villain Protagonist, and her opponent is a Hero Antagonist; however, the way in which I imagined would make them Designated Villain Protagonist and Designated Hero Antagonist  One story line involves Luna being reunited with someone whom she accidentally outed as gay to the entire school, leading to them dropping out to avoid being bullied.  This person decides to get revenge against Luna by framing her for saying derogatory things about the LGBT community.  When Luna proves her innocence, the person is called out harshly for their actions, but then Luna loses her support, when the others out what she did to the person. The message is that if someone outs you, you have the right to do whatever you want to destroy their life.  Not a good message.  An audience might not like that story, so I will try to make Luna more sympathetic, rather than expecting the audience to root against her.

Moving on, my show about teachers, I have imagined several major story lines where they do lots of bad things, like sabotaging each other, the principal public shaming her bad-behaving daughter, a teacher accidentally injuring a student and covering it up, two teachers destroying each others’ house, and all sorts of things.  Now, I’ve tried to make things not so harsh, and to include humor, but many of the characters could be regarded as designated heroes, and I’ve gotta do work to make them more sympathetic.  I’ve at least made a mean character nice to certain people and supportive of mental health issues and the LGBT community.

The next paragraph has spoilers.

To end this blog post, I will talk about an example of a designated hero that I have seen.  I enjoyed the Hulu original series East Los High, a teen drama which focuses on the students of a high school in the predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood of East Los Angeles.  One of the characters, Jessie, is dating a jock named Jacob.  When Jacob becomes close to Jessie’s cousin, Maya, Jessie becomes jealous and sleeps with her dance teacher (who seems to be about the same age as her), Cristian after spending lots of time alone with him.  Jessie shortly afterwards has sex with Jacob to avoid losing him to Maya.  Jessie had unprotected sex with Cristian (he failed at using the withdrawal method, which anyone who took comprehensive sex ed should and would know is an unreliable birth control method, and that many boys and men often can’t and don’t know exactly when they will reach orgasm and ejaculate, and may not withdraw in time, but I digress.), but Jacob used a condom when she had sex with him.  Jessie finds out that she is pregnant, and tells Jacob that he is the father, when Christian is actually the father.  This leads to Jacob foregoing a scholarship to play football for a college in Indiana, and at her mother’s insistence, he asks Jessie to marry him.  Leading up to the wedding, Jessie never expresses any guilt over lying to Jacob and causing him to give up his future to be a young father and husband.  Eventually as they are about to exchange vows, Jessie feels guilty, refuses to go through with the wedding, and pulls Jacob aside to tell him the truth.

What I noticed on the comments of the episodes is an expression of contempt for Jessie for her dishonesty, infidelity, and for causing Jacob to give up his future.  Yet, through it all, she does not express guilt until the last minute, and the show depicts her sympathetically.  While I personally don’t hate Jessie as a character, I can understand all the negative comments about her.  Perhaps, the show’s writers should have and could have depicted Jessie struggles with her guilt; it would have made her more sympathetic.

Narrative Prose That I Have Written: Jack and Kate

This is second in a series of narratives I have written for an English class.

This narrative focuses on how not respecting the boundaries of the people you are in relationships with can drive them away.

Enjoy.

 

“What’s your problem, Jack?!” shouted Kate.

“You’re the one with the problem!”  Jack snapped back.  He was on talking on his cell phone in an airport waiting for his flight to spend the year studying abroad in Warsaw, Poland

“I can’t believe that you are spending a year studying in Poland and did not even bother to tell me until the day before you left.”

“Well, I knew you would be like this.  You always have to see me.  I never get anytime to myself.”

“You are my boyfriend.  Why be together if we can’t see each other?”

“Kate, you’re suffocating me.  You want us to be together literally every minute of the day.  I moved out of my dorm so that I could move into your apartment because you felt that you could live alone.” That cost me money ‘cause I could not even contractually leave my dorm.”

“Just listen, I need you Jack.

“You need me too much.  We’re over.”  Jack hangs up.

 

Narrative Prose That I Have Written: The Girl in Blue and Her Obsession with Royalty

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone has had a happy holiday season, and I hope that the year 2014 will be miles better than anything they experienced in 2013.

This post is part of a series that will include narratives that I wrote for an English class I took during the Spring 2012 semester.

This was for an English class that specifically focused on composition and rhetoric.  Mainly, the purpose of the class was to refine students’ writing skills with regard to writing about issues, writing narratives and writing descriptively.

Every day at the beginning of class, our instructor would assign a short essay.  Sometimes she would give us a few words, either as part of the assignment at hand or as part of a vocabulary list she had previously given us, and we have to write something around it; if we used words, we were asked to make sure that we give contextual clues to help readers guess the meanings of the words, as the words were not the ones that most people regularly use.  Other times, she would give us a sentence.  In my posts, I will bold, italicize, and underline the words or sentences that she gave us to start the composition.

This one is a short paragraph about a girl who has been accepted to study in a monarchy.

Enjoy.

 

The girl in blue was ebullient with the news she has received.  She had been accepted into a study abroad/foreign student exchange program in a faraway principality.  She was thrilled at the chance of not only getting to live in a foreign country, but also the fact that she would be going to a country that happens to be a monarchy.  Since she was a little girl, the girl in blue was obsessed with royalty.  She considered being plebeian to be boring and would have loved to be a princess and have a more exciting life.  She would collect anything and everything relating to royalty from books about royal families, to Disney Princess merchandise.  On many occasions she used chicanery to get her classmates to believe that she actually was royalty or at the very least related to royalty. The girl in blue knew enough about royalty to know that at certain points in history, some monarchies were not the idyllic, romanticized paradises as portrayed in fantasy movies, TV shows, and books.  Some monarchies would subjugate their people for various reasons such as following certain religious faiths or for protesting laws and policies that were deemed unfair.

 

 

Favorite Childhood Shows: Arthur

This post is part of a series, where I discuss my favorite shows from my child.

As a child, I watched a great many shows on TV.  I loved them because they spoke to me and allowed to, for at least 30 minutes, escape into another world full of interesting characters who do fascinating things.

One of those was the PBS series Arthur.

Arthur is based the series of books of the same name, and it focuses on the life of Arthur Read, an anthropomorphic aardvark, and his family and friends.  Each episode focuses on the daily lives of him and his friends as they go through various issues and learn important life lessons.

In the past couple of years or so, I began re-watching episodes of Arthur on YouTube, and I just fell in love with it all over again.

First, I love the humor of the show.  Very often there is chaos which provides a great moment for comedy.  Some characters have funny personalities too, such as D.W.’s bratty and annoying nature, Buster’s quirkiness and irresponsibility, among others.

Second, even though the show is targeted towards young children, it is mature enough to be accessible to people of all ages. (I am only referring to episodes of roughly the first half of the show’s run; I have not seen much of the second half of the show, and I have read that newer episodes are not as good as the older ones.  I have not seen them, so I cannot judge that for myself.)  The characters are articulate.  They communicate effectively.  The express themselves. Things are not dumbed down for the target audience. Perhaps because of this, the show has fans of all ages, and many of those have been watching every since they were children.

Third and finally, re-watching it as an adult brings new perspectives and allows one to see thing that they didn’t and couldn’t see before.  For example, I have found that occasionally, the characters are treated in unfair manners that could potentially serve to do nothing more than undermine the episode’s messages.  The episode “Arthur’s Big Hit” is often criticized by fans because it depicts Arthur hitting D.W. for destroying his mode airplane, and while he is punished, D.W. is not despite their parents saying she would be punished for what she did; Later, Arthur is hit by school bully/friend Binky and his parents respond by saying, “Now you know how D.W. felt when you hit her.”  I agree with others who feel that this conflict was not handled fairly and that they should have been both punished.  Also, the fact that his parents said  what they said, does seem to undermine the episode’s message of “hitting is wrong.”

On a lighter note, some things people can notice as an adult, are funny.  In  “Arthur and the  Square Dance,” the episode’s opening shows Arthur imaging being the owner of business at age 18.  He comes home from work to greet his young son and to find that he is married to Francine.  On YouTube, many people commented on how it was funny that the show is “depicting teen pregnancy.” In other words, since Arthur’s son was old enough to speak in full sentences, that means that he had sex with Francine around age 13.  Of course, this is a depiction of how young children view adulthood.  They may think that and 18-year-old can do everything that a 35-year-old can do.  Of course, very often, many people who are 18, are not as grown up as they think they are and/or need to be.

Despite any flaws, Arthur is still and enjoyable show, and I am forever a fan.

Ode to TV Tropes

One of my absolute favorite websites on the Internet is TV Tropes.  TV Tropes, whose full name is Television Tropes and Idioms, is a wiki that is devoted to cataloging various types of narrative devices, or tropes as they call them.  Despite its name, it not devoted solely to tropes from TV; it covers tropes from literature, film, music, comic books, video games legends, folklore, mythology, religion, the Internet and real life.

The site first began as a collection of tropes from the popular series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in 2004.  In the nine years since, TV Tropes expand tremendously to all types of media.

I first began using the site regularly in about late 2010.  I was so entranced by it.  There was so much information on various shows and movies that I had never found anywhere else; it most certainly was not on Wikipedia (which TV Tropes calls “The Other Wiki”).  It was also a good place to learn about narrative tropes and help aid writers in developing plot occurrences and characters.  I am happy that it helped give me direction in the development of one of my characters, Riley Diamond I used the trope called Cloudcuckoolander, which denotes a character who is odd and seemingly out of touch with reality.  I’ve since used the site to help develop other tropes in my other ideas.

I cannot say enough good things about it.  However, I will point out that due to the fact that it is a wiki, and therefore, can be edited by anybody, it is not suitable for academic research for essays and the like, just like Wikipedia.  Not to mention, it has very few sources, and therefore, it has almost no verification of the information listed.  However, much of the information can be confirmed by viewing or reading the media discussed.

However, the main strength of TV Tropes is its community of lovers of all type of media and wealth of perspectives.

I plan on devoting several future posts to various tropes listed on TV Tropes, but for now, I will briefly discuss a few of my favorite entries.

Your Mileage May Vary or YMMV

This focuses on tropes that are subjective.  They may involve differences of opinions on characters such as whether a character is unlikable or whether a plot element is weak or strong.

Designated Heroes and Designated Villains

These are YMMV tropes.  They refer to characters who are intended by the writers to be heroes or villains but who are perceived as unlikable or even villainous in the cases of designated heroes or likable, sympathetic, and even heroic in the cases of designated villains.  This often happens because writers do not realize that they are making their heroes unlikable or their villains likable.

Cloudcukoolander

As mentioned above, this a character who does odd things, and who seems to have his or her head in the clouds, so to speak.

Alpha Bitch

This character is mean girl of the school.  She does everything to assert her popularity and make the lives of the so-called unpopular kids a living hell.

What an Idiot

Another YMMV trope, this refers to characters who something that causes the audience or reader to think or say “What an Idiot.”  Many of examples listed on the site are structures as follows.

Situation

You’d Expect:

Instead:

Non Singing Voice

This refers to a phenomena that has mostly died out in musical films where if the actors did not have suitable singing voices, either in general or for the material at hand, then professional singer would record their musical numbers, and it is the singer’s voice, not the actor’s voice, heard during the musical numbers.  Occasionally, as in the film versions of the musicals West Side Story, The Sound of Music, and My Fair Lady, certain actors sang their songs only to have them re-recorded by more skilled skilled singers.  This has also happened in various animated musical films of the 1990s, particularly those done by Disney.

Characters for the Eccentrics

In approximately the fall of 2007, I was a junior in high school.  I developed a new idea for a TV comedy.  It was to focus six teenagers who are what people would consider to be odd.  I titled it The Eccentrics.  I really felt close to the idea because I was and still am the type of person who is “not mainstream” and I felt like I was an outcast in high school, who did not really fit in or belong.  I’ve been thinking about this idea every since then.  I have several episodes memorized in my head.

However, I feel that things are still not good enough.

I feel like that the premise is not original.  I need to come up with a way to give it an original and unique angle.  Also, not all of the main characters are even fully developed.  I still don’t have much of an idea on how to make some of them strange and unique.  I have three girls and three boys as the main characters.  The three girls are well-developed, though I think one of them is too strange to be plausible, especially with her personality and activities; however, the three male characters are not as well-developed as I would like them to be.  Two of the  boys are not very eccentric; the other is well-developed (he is partially based on myself), but I don’t think that he is eccentric enough.

However, I will share my character profiles here in hopes of getting some advice.

Characters for The Eccentrics

CYAN AQUAMARINE BROWN

Cyan is 16, tall, slender, and black.  She is an ultra-intelligent, over-achieving perfectionist, but certainly not one that is ordinary.  Basically, she is obsessed with the color she is named after.  Cyan lives and breathes the color cyan and all of its shades to the point that she dyed her hair cyan, everything piece of clothing, everything in her room her room, every accessory she has is a shade of cyan.  Her obsession, however, makes her something of an outcast among her the other studious students of her school.

Cyan is the oldest of three children.  She has a 14-year-old sister named Magenta.  Magenta has a generally mean demeanor.  She is embarrassed by Cyan and is not shy about putting down Cyan, her friends, or anyone in general.

ANDREW BREWSTER

Andrew is 16, tall, and black.  His passions are books, be they physical books, audio books, or electronic books.  He aspires to be an author and has submitted several manuscripts to publishers, but they have all been rejected.  Andrew has a rather cold demeanor in addition to his own social awkwardness.  He is quiet and stoic; he generally avoids expressing his emotions.  He is very shy and so acts cold and rude towards other people save for his five best friends.  He does this as a defense mechanism, but he does generally have genuine contempt for people he considers to be lowbrow or who in his view waste their lives or are beneath him.

Andrew is raised by a single mom.  She is similar very socially awkward and has generally unsuccessful friendships and romances.  The circumstances under which Andrew was conceived are somewhat unusual.  In college, his mom met his dad.  She was instantly infatuated with him, but because of her quirks and social ineptitude, he continually rejected her advances.  Her obsession for him was so great that she resolved to herself to always have a piece of him.  She spied on him while he was having sex with her girlfriend, and when they left their apartment she snuck in and stole his used condom from the wastebasket so that she would inseminate himself and become pregnant with his child.  However, shortly after getting pregnant she lost contact with Andrew’s dad.  She raised Andrew on her own, and despite often denying it, he wished he could reunite with the dad who never knew he existed and felt a measure of resentment towards his mom.

RILEY DIAMOND

Riley Diamond is 15 and five feet two inches tall.  She was born to a white Jewish dad and a black mom who converted to Judaism.  She has a 12-year-old brother named Zeke.  Riley is to say the least not a normal girl at all.  She is often oblivious of her surroundings and is always in her own little world.  Riley has strange, nonsensical hobbies such as singing songs from cook books, for example, or acting out her dreams or openly imagining poking people to see if something such as chocolate syrup will come out of them or personifying inanimate objects.  She regularly violates social norms and doesn’t seems to understand them.  Her first boyfriend was a boy with freckles and her obsession with counting them and naming them and treating his freckles as individual persons led to the boy and his family to move from Chicago to the suburbs.  Though not judgmental nor arrogant, Riley believes that she is the normal one and everyone else is strange.  Consequently, Riley is be very ditzy, naive, and gullible.  With respect to her gullibility, Riley enjoys helping people who are less unfortunate, but this regularly leads to being scammed; she is so stupid, overly trusting, and out of touch with reality that it is remarkably easy for her to be scammed.  She is so well known in her neighborhood for her gullibility that numerous people try to take advantage of her.

Riley’s relationship with her brother Zeke is a complex one.  Zeke often has to watch out for Riley to make sure her activities and schemes don’t go horribly and fix any damage that she causes.  Zeke often feels resentful of the fact despite being three years younger than Riley, he has to act as a babysitter to her.

IGNACIO “NACHO” RIVERA

Nacho is 15.  He was born to a mother from Mexico and a father from Puerto Rico.  He is fiercely proud of his Mexican and Puerto Rican heritages.  He is girl crazy.

MARISSA NOGALES

Marissa is 14, four feet eleven inches tall, thin, and the daughter of Mexican immigrants.  Marissa is an artist and non-conformist.  She enjoys taking all of the conventions of the world, artistic and otherwise, and totally subverting them.  She creates works of art in a variety of forms such as paintings, sculptures, on the computer and even the clothing she wears.

RODERICK “ROD” HARPER

Rod is 14 and black.  Compared to his friends he is the poorest.  He lives in a housing project, but he is certainly not the type of person one would expect to live in the projects.  (Incidentally, Rod isn’t the type of person you would expect to live anywhere in general.)