Friday, June 12, 2015

Splash is just the Little Mermaid in Disguise

James Cameron’s Avatar is a big deal, technologically speaking. Without the bells and whistles, it is still a decent story. It should be because it worked extraordinarily well for Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves. But hey, Kevin wasn’t the first one to tell that particular tale because you can take the man with the gun falling for the native princess and aligning himself with her tribe all the way back to Pocahontas.

Are you having an OMG moment? Or did you recognize that Avatar is simply a high-tech retelling of a seminal story featuring a blue Pocahontas?

OMG!
It’s unfortunate, but most stories in film or on television can be traced back to an earlier version. Pretty Woman is Pygmalion. Supernatural – Cain and Able [note: the writers of that show acknowledge and seem to embrace their connection to the old testament fable about good and evil]. And so on….

In literature, we refer to the phenomenon of recurrent themes as TROPES. And that’s not a dirty word. Because the reasons these stories continue to be successful is because that particular trope resonates with viewers/readers. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Or perhaps a better idiom would be: IF AIN’T BROKE DON’T FIX IT.

When your tropes turn on you, and yeah it can happen, we end up with a ton of repetitive crap to wade through. I don’t want to point fingers or name names. Because I work hard at what I do and I wouldn’t appreciate anyone banging on my books. Everything is a matter of opinion and since I ran with the clichéd idioms above, I’ll continue my own theme and say: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. With the caveat expressed, I’ll point to some tropes in recent literature that I think are beaten to death: Bad-boy billionaire with intimacy issues dominating a young, poor virgin. (sigh) I know what book you’re thinking of, but don’t forget the one that inspired it.  And dino-porn. I still can’t believe this is a thing, but it is.

What tropes do you like or hate?

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