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(The Atlantic)   Critic says the tired formula of having a hero/heroine who is "the chosen one" overcome adversity to triumph over evil is ruining teen movies. Personally, I blame those hacks Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung for inventing the trope in the first place   (theatlantic.com) divider line 104
    More: Asinine, heroine, Eragon, secret identity, Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Harry Potter, science fiction film, Narnia  
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1437 clicks; posted to Entertainment » on 27 Aug 2013 at 6:12 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-08-27 04:47:05 PM  
THAT'S RIGHT!! Jebus want's his mother effing movie check!!
 
2013-08-27 04:48:29 PM  
I think that it's more a problem of them sticking specifically to the Twilight formula. What I am surprised is that they omitted that part of that formula that really gets old: the inevitable Mary Sue.
 
2013-08-27 05:12:05 PM  
Yes. Life is a journey. Is there any other story, ever?

Unless you die. But no one would go to that movie.
 
2013-08-27 05:35:42 PM  
Screw you Theseus!
 
2013-08-27 06:15:50 PM  

cryinoutloud: Unless you die. But no one would go to that movie.


1.bp.blogspot.com

I thought it did alright
 
2013-08-27 06:17:54 PM  
Wasn't being the chosen one a trope of Roman and Greek mythology, as well?
 
2013-08-27 06:21:06 PM  
What else do you expect - the classic hero's arc has conflict and growth.

Now who's going to point out that there are only three types of stories: boy meets girl, man leans a lesson, and the Little Tailor?
 
2013-08-27 06:22:32 PM  

fickenchucker: Wasn't being the chosen one a trope of Roman and Greek mythology, as well?


It's still the trope of lieberal mythology
 
2013-08-27 06:22:51 PM  
From what I saw and heard from previews and reviews, they absolutely butchered The Dark is Rising.  Susan Cooper walked away from it.  Why does Hollywood think that American youths can't relate to a British hero?  And if you're worried that your franchise will look like a ripoff of Harry Potter, maybe it's because you didn't fully understand the books?
 
2013-08-27 06:23:11 PM  
 
2013-08-27 06:28:09 PM  

The Stealth Hippopotamus: THAT'S RIGHT!! Jebus want's his mother effing movie check!!


Aeneas and Achilles would like a word in the alley outside.

cryinoutloud: Yes. Life is a journey. Is there any other story, ever?


One of the French existentialists said that there are only two stories: "A man goes on a journey" and "A stranger comes to town."
 
2013-08-27 06:29:49 PM  

Dwight_Yeast: The Stealth Hippopotamus: THAT'S RIGHT!! Jebus want's his mother effing movie check!!

Aeneas and Achilles would like a word in the alley outside.

cryinoutloud: Yes. Life is a journey. Is there any other story, ever?

One of the French existentialists said that there are only two stories: "A man goes on a journey" and "A stranger comes to town."


He forgot "Hot co-ed can't pay for pizza"
 
2013-08-27 06:33:50 PM  

cryinoutloud: Yes. Life is a journey. Is there any other story, ever?

Unless you die. But no one would go to that movie.


You're right, we would not go to that movie. You just watch on HBO instead game of thrones
 
2013-08-27 06:34:32 PM  

Snapper Carr: Dwight_Yeast: The Stealth Hippopotamus: THAT'S RIGHT!! Jebus want's his mother effing movie check!!

Aeneas and Achilles would like a word in the alley outside.

cryinoutloud: Yes. Life is a journey. Is there any other story, ever?

One of the French existentialists said that there are only two stories: "A man goes on a journey" and "A stranger comes to town."

He forgot "Hot co-ed can't pay for pizza"


+1
 
2013-08-27 06:39:48 PM  

Snapper Carr: Dwight_Yeast: The Stealth Hippopotamus: THAT'S RIGHT!! Jebus want's his mother effing movie check!!

Aeneas and Achilles would like a word in the alley outside.

cryinoutloud: Yes. Life is a journey. Is there any other story, ever?

One of the French existentialists said that there are only two stories: "A man goes on a journey" and "A stranger comes to town."

He forgot "Hot co-ed can't pay for pizza"


Who orders a pizza they can't pay for? Do people not make sure of that when calling the pizza place?
 
2013-08-27 06:42:00 PM  
Suck it, Odysseus.
 
2013-08-27 06:46:52 PM  
Maybe movie writers should do more than read the wikipedia summary for Joseph Campbell's books.
 
2013-08-27 06:52:06 PM  
fark Fate, Destiny, and Prophecy. They have no place in modern entertainment.

Note that the Prequels sucked badly because of an emphasis on the little Chosen One to bring Balance to the Force.
 
2013-08-27 06:53:40 PM  
Hmm, now having read the article, I could have summed it up better as "NO MORE MARY SUE/MARTY STUS."
 
2013-08-27 06:57:31 PM  

Fano: Note that the Prequels sucked badly because of an emphasis on the little Chosen One to bring Balance to the Force.


i don't know as how the concept was really why it sucked. in more competant hands, that could have been a really good story... especially if they'd gone with the idea of the jedi thinking he'd bring balance without considering that their present circumstances meant that restoring balance would require that evil become significantly more powerful
 
2013-08-27 06:57:32 PM  
Apologies for the all caps, but sometimes Hulkcrit really does say it best:

#1 - PEOPLE ARE HEROES SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY ARE THE MAIN CHARACTER FOR SOME REASON... AND THEY ARE GETTING CALLED TO ADVENTURE OR SOMETHING

WHAT MAKES A HERO? THERE SEEMS TO BE SOME CONFUSION OVER THE MATTER. WE KNOW ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS IS THAT A HERO COULD BE ANYONE. EVEN YOU! IT'S A NICE THOUGHT AND HAS SIGNIFICANT NARRATIVE VALUE, BUT THE PROBLEM IS THAT WE MAKE A MISTAKE IN THE ASSESSMENT AND SAY ANY OLD HUMAN QUALITIES WILL DO... EVEN "NONE." WE DO THIS APPARENTLY TO ENSURE THAT THE MAIN CHARACTER IS A CONDUIT FOR AUDIENCE DESIRES AND AS A RESULT WE CREATE MAIN CHARACTERS WHO ARE JUST VACUOUS, BLANK SLATES. YOU KNOW THE ONE HULK IS TALKING ABOUT (PSSSST... MOST OF THEM). OR HELL MAYBE IT'S JUST LAZINESS. THESE CHARACTERS ARE PICKED TO BE HEROES BECAUSE, WELL, THAT IS WHAT THEY THINK HAS TO HAPPEN IN ORDER TO TELL A HERO STORY.

YOU REMEMBER THE END OF RATATOUILLE WHERE THE CRITIC ANTON EGO SURMISES THAT HE WAS MISTAKEN ABOUT SOMETHING OF GRAVE IMPORTANCE: IT'S NOT THAT "ANYONE COULD COOK" BUT THAT "A GREAT COOK COULD TRULY COME FROM ANYWHERE"? IT SPEAKS DIRECTLY TO THIS PROBLEM. IT'S NOT THAT ANYONE CAN BE A HERO, BUT THAT A HERO CAN COME FROM ANYWHERE. BUT THE KEY IS THAT THEY HAVE TO HAVE SOMETHING INSIDE THEM. A SPARK. A YEARNING. REMY THE RAT WAS SOMEONE WITH AN INNATE ABILITY (SMELL) AND A DESIRE (APPRECIATION OF FOOD BEYOND HIS ENVIRONMENT). HE NEVER HAD A SENSE OF BELONGING. LUKE SKYWALKER? SAME THING. HE HAD THIS SAME HUMAN YEARNING FOR ADVENTURE BEYOND HIS FARM. AND YET WE CONSTANTLY MISAPPLY THIS "ANYONE CAN BE A HERO" TROPE TO MEAN THAT ANYONE WITH A VACUOUS PERSONALITY CAN  BE A HERO/MAIN CHARACTER SIMPLY BECAUSE SOME OLD MAN SHOWS UP AND TELLS THEM THEY ARE. WE ARE TREATED TO HERO AFTER HERO YOU COULD BASICALLY RENAME THEM MILQUETOAST MCBLANDERSON.

SO NOW HULK IS GOING TO DO ONE OF HULK'S FAVORITE THINGS TO DO ON THIS BLOG AND BRING IT BACK TO INDIANA farkING JONES. THE GREAT THING ABOUT INDY IS THAT DUDE'S A farkING CHARACTER. FUNNY, SMART, FLAWED, AND AWESOME. YES, YOU WANT YOUR MAIN CHARACTER TO WORK AS A CONDUIT, BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN THEY HAVE TO BE AN EMPTY SHELL, IT MEANS THEY ARE A FLESH AND BLOOD PERSON WHO WE CAN BE HUMAN WITH, NOT HUMAN FOR. IF PROJECTING OUR DESIRE TO BE IN THEIR SITUATION ONTO THEM IS THE ONLY MEANS OF IDENTIFICATION, THEN THE CHARACTER IS A COMPLETE FAILURE. THERE HAS TO BE A REASON WE WANT TO BE LIKE THEM. THEREFORE, THEY SHOULD HAVE A farkING PERSONALITY. SO DON'T BE AFRAID TO THROW IN SOME DRAMA INTO THAT CONDUIT! DON'T WASTE YOUR PERSONALITY ON SECONDARY CHARACTERS (THOUGH THEY SHOULD OBVIOUSLY HAVE THEM TO). DON'T USE YOUR MAIN CHARACTER AS SOMEONE WHO IS ONLY FUNCTIONAL IN TERMS OF PLOTTING. AND OOH, OOH AND DON'T FORGET! WHEN WRITING HEROIC CHARACTERS ALWAYS REMEMBER: EXASPERATED = GOOD! BUT WHINING = BAD! SO TOE THE LINE!
 
2013-08-27 06:59:57 PM  

SockMonkeyHolocaust: Maybe movie writers should do more than read the wikipedia summary for Joseph Campbell's books.


Or read more of Jung than Man and his Symbols.
 
2013-08-27 07:00:22 PM  
img11.imageshack.us

What about introducing a character, claiming he's "the chosen one," then turning around and ignoring that for all intents and purposes? Is that still okay?
 
2013-08-27 07:03:47 PM  
Since it's actually a sci-fi / fantasy trope, applying it to tweens has ruined sci-fi / fantasy.

But it's kind of a low risk plot to build a franchise around. A new crop of tweens are always around the corner, and the parents are perfectly happy to see them reading books. And then they're in need of harmless first date movies. And just to fracture your mind, some of the first batch of Harry Potter fans are now buying their kids whatever the latest franchise is, and Scholastic is the 800 pound gorilla and gatekeeper.
 
2013-08-27 07:06:28 PM  
Joseph Campbell didn't invent (or claim to invent) those tropes. He merely documented that they existed in mythologies from cultures around the world.
 
2013-08-27 07:09:42 PM  
Do people actually get paid to write shiat like this? I'm in the wrong business.
 
2013-08-27 07:10:43 PM  

rugman11: HERO AFTER HERO YOU COULD BASICALLY RENAME THEM MILQUETOAST MCBLANDERSON.


I agree with this rant but it overlooks the real reason for the problem: advertising. Modern media is designed to push goods and the story is just a conduit to selling the goods. And what advertisers dislike most is anything that turns off the audience, which means anything that can be remotely seen as "meaty". If the writer takes a critical stance then someone might not buy the product because of that stance and that will never do. Much better to create an outline and let the audience fill that outline in with their own projections. The audience sees something they love, which is themselves reflected back at them, the writer sees something he loves, which is a paycheck, and the advertiser sees something he loves, which is sales. So everyone wins by everyone losing. A creative "tragedy of the commons".

Every so often a writer can punch through this morass and create a real character that manages to touch the zeitgeist in just the right spot. But for every one of those people there are a million starving artists looking to pay the bills.
 
2013-08-27 07:14:03 PM  
The depressing part of all such movies is the realization that, no, you're not "the chosen one." At the end of the movie, when reality sinks back in and you realize that, no, you're in fact one of the muggles pitied by the good characters and treated with contempt by the bad characters. You're one of the teeming masses that didn't get a mutation, hit by cosmic rays, or fried by gamma radiation. You're just another chucklehead that didn't have a Greek god as a parent. You're the high school kid that didn't get bitten by a werewolf or vampire. You're the kid that laughed at the kid that wet his pants outside the magic shop. Nothing is going to whisk you away from your humdrum, simple, sad, entirely normal existence.

But, then again, it's entirely normal people that went to the Moon, split the atom, explored the world, and created everything around us. So, there's that, I guess.
 
2013-08-27 07:23:55 PM  
How do archetypes work?
How?
 
2013-08-27 07:30:14 PM  
Stolen straight from the worlds best time waster itself: (sorry for the messy link im half drunk)
Tropes Are Not Bad
There is one thing that you must keep in mind to retain your sanity here, and that is that including a trope in a particular work does not make it "ruined." Not even those tropes.
If your favorite shows have long lists of tropes associated with them, well, so does everybody's. A show featuring an Action Girl or showing a character kicking the dog is not a bad thing; the former is merely a reasonable type of character (badass character who is female) and the latter is a character action that happens plenty in Real Life.
Consider the following points before you label simply including a common story element or character type as a sign of creative failure:
"But it's what this author is doing this time that matters, as much as, if not more than, what he or she did last time, and that, certainly, matters far more than its kinships, its family likenesses with its mode, its genres, its formal kind."
-Valentine Cunningham, Oxford
There is nothing new under the sun. Including that very statement. And the book from which it comes. Completely ignoring the possibility that one's favorite show just might not be hewn from the very essence of the universe by Thor himself and placed in the periodic table under Or for "Originalium" doesn't change the fact that it wasn't. And acknowledging that it isn't should not lessen its appeal, either.
Every story is influenced by what came before it - and storytellers (e.g., writers, directors, actors) are bound to show that influence, intentionally or not, in the process of telling. Just because something's been used before doesn't mean it's a cliché, and stories often gain something by having ties to other works. That said, there certainly is such thing as too derivative, but there's a difference between playing a trope straight and utter Cliché Storm (and even those aren't necessarily bad).
It's impossible to write something completely and utterly without tropes, anyway, so stop trying.
Almost every trope has a silver lining. The much-reviled All Just a Dream was, let's not forget, used in one of the most highly regarded series finales in the history of television, as well as one of the best twist endings in any movie. While Darker and Edgier revisionism isn't always a good thing, it's been used in the biggest blockbuster of 2008. Even if a trope didn't have a silver lining, every trope could still be used honorably by way of subversion, parody, or appropriately employed and treated in-universe examples. Remember, while this site is fairly snarky, most of the snark is directed towards shows that don't use tropes well.
Fiction isn't necessarily supposed to be realistic. When your reader wants to escape from the tired drudgery of reality, you shouldn't be trying to indexically recreate it. Much fiction seeks to show not what is, but what could be, or what should be. A trope being unrealistic isn't necessarily a flaw, and is often covered by Rule Of Cool, Rule of Funny, or Rule of Scary. Indeed, a trope, however unrealistic, can be a convenient shorthand when played straight; setting up aversions or subversions for it can be more wordy than is needed to get on with story.

Tropes Are Not Good
Tropes Are Not Bad covers the bad half of this, but there are good reasons to remember Tropes Are Not Good, too:

All tropes can be written badly. This includes tropes that everyone thinks are good, like Magnificent Bastard. A badly written Magnificent Bastard may be done in such a way that everyone else in the story are idiots and generally gives less of an impression of intelligence and more of an impression of cheating or changing the internal rules of the story. Refuge in Audacity has different breaking points for different people.
All tropes can be overused. Too many Xanatos Gambits tend to make the show confusing, no matter how well written they are. Too many Moments Of Awesome take up room where plot could go, or make the audience pay less attention to the relatively boring plot bits, making the story more shallow. The Moment of Awesome is supposed to be a singular moment for a character and the Rule Of Cool can make up for weak points in a story, but rarely does it work as the story.
Just because a trope is realistic doesn't mean it's good. There is a reason why we have an entire category devoted to Acceptable Breaks from Reality. For example, The Hero gets shot in the shoulder and dies. The Determinator doesn't come into play, no My Name Is Inigo Montoya, nothing. Realistic, maybe, but that is not what we want a hero to do. That's right, one of the most fundamental character archetypes is usually unrealistic. The important thing when writing a story is that it's believable, not that it's real. Reality Is Unrealistic, after all; often people are so used to tropes that it's reality they find jarring.
A good show doesn't need "good" tropes. People often search for an ideal recipe for a hit show, as if entertainment was some sort of alchemical process, and are surprised when their stitched-together creation lurches three steps before disappearing into critical oblivion. A well written show won't be any worse if it doesn't have a Magnificent Bastard. A good show doesn't get worse if the main five characters don't form a Five-Man Band. Heck, a good show doesn't even need basic tropes like The Hero or Big Bad
 
2013-08-27 07:37:41 PM  

Some 'Splainin' To Do: I think that it's more a problem of them sticking specifically to the Twilight formula. What I am surprised is that they omitted that part of that formula that really gets old: the inevitable Mary Sue.


I liked Joss Whedon's assessment of the Twilight movies in a recent interview: It's "Choosing Boyfriends: The Movie".
 
2013-08-27 07:37:50 PM  

Surool: Joseph Campbell didn't invent (or claim to invent) those tropes. He merely documented that they existed in mythologies from cultures around the world.


Yeah, he documented mythologies and belief systems--that is, stories. And, well, I forget how this works, but don't you make movies out of stories?
 
2013-08-27 07:41:37 PM  
You still can't just start a slow clap at any time!

i55.tinypic.com
 
2013-08-27 07:42:09 PM  
It is getting a bit farking much yes. And dull. Dull dull dull.

One more teen meets a mysterious stranger who explains that they are a demigod/wizard/savant/alien and I will farking cut someone.
 
2013-08-27 07:44:24 PM  
cdn.bulbagarden.net
/knows a thing or two about being "the chosen one"
 
2013-08-27 07:45:54 PM  

fusillade762: Some 'Splainin' To Do: I think that it's more a problem of them sticking specifically to the Twilight formula. What I am surprised is that they omitted that part of that formula that really gets old: the inevitable Mary Sue.

I liked Joss Whedon's assessment of the Twilight movies in a recent interview: It's "Choosing Boyfriends: The Movie".


As opposed to Angel vs. Spike?  Vampires with a soul, the original sparkly vampires.
 
2013-08-27 07:46:35 PM  

Fano: fark Fate, Destiny, and Prophecy. They have no place in modern entertainment.

Note that the Prequels sucked badly because of an emphasis on the little Chosen One to bring Balance to the Force. political process.

 
2013-08-27 07:49:30 PM  
io9 was just talking about this yesterday - Eight Reasons Why The Hero's Journey Sucks.


/ I like io9. Don't judge me.
 
2013-08-27 07:50:04 PM  
And what's the deal with Bildungsromans? Almost no one in them is Roman. There's like, The Aeneid, but that's it! Why not call them Bildungsamericans? Right?
 
2013-08-27 07:51:59 PM  

phaseolus: / I like io9.


fark you

phaseolus: Don't judge me.


too late
 
2013-08-27 07:54:21 PM  

MrEricSir: What about introducing a character, claiming he's "the chosen one," then turning around and ignoring that for all intents and purposes? Is that still okay?


He was a chosen one.

The Creator's Pet.
 
2013-08-27 07:57:26 PM  

Snapper Carr: Dwight_Yeast: The Stealth Hippopotamus: THAT'S RIGHT!! Jebus want's his mother effing movie check!!

Aeneas and Achilles would like a word in the alley outside.

cryinoutloud: Yes. Life is a journey. Is there any other story, ever?

One of the French existentialists said that there are only two stories: "A man goes on a journey" and "A stranger comes to town."

He forgot "Hot co-ed can't pay for pizza"


That is a subset of "stranger comes to town", subbing "pizza boy" for "stranger" and "sorority" for "town".
 
2013-08-27 08:06:35 PM  
I really wouldn't mind seeing people at least try to tweak the hero's journey. Like, maybe make the hero someone who actually had to earn the Chosen One title. Or maybe someone who became the Chosen One simply because s/he was the most convenient option.
 
2013-08-27 08:08:06 PM  
shadoka.files.wordpress.com

/call me betty
 
2013-08-27 08:08:36 PM  
One of the main narratives of the Harry Potter books was that he, alone, was nothing special or grand. Could just as easily have been Neville. He was nothing without his friends.

Likewise with LoTR and Frodo.

And Ender Wiggin...yeah. That was complicated.
 
2013-08-27 08:15:59 PM  
You know, I'm torn on this one. Let me go ask my buddy Enkidu. BRB.
 
2013-08-27 08:18:15 PM  
Chosen One stories are so morally empty. Effort? Experience? You're the Chosen One! You can plow through highly experienced individuals like nothing. Just because. That's why I like Lord of the Rings. The hobbits just willingly threw themselves into the fray despite the whole thing being way over their heads.
 
2013-08-27 08:21:08 PM  

phaseolus: io9 was just talking about this yesterday - Eight Reasons Why The Hero's Journey Sucks.


/ I like io9. Don't judge me.


That article is kind of off from the get-go.  The Hero's Journey isn't a formula, it's a model based on observations of past stories.  There's nothing inherently wrong with writing a story that can be analyzed by a model.  The problem is when you write your story specifically to fit the model.

The HulkCrit article I linked above addresses this point to re: Iron Man (again apologies for the All Caps):

ONE OF THE REASONS THAT THE IRONMAN MOVIE WORKS SO WELL IS THAT IT KNOWS WHEN TO COMPLETELY AVOID THE BEATS OF THE HERO JOURNEY THAT DON'T MATTER TO THE STORY IT WANTS TO TELL. THINK OF HOW MANY BEATS IN THE "HERO JOURNEY" WOULD NOT BE CALLED FOR WITH THAT CHARACTER. THEIR SOLUTION? THEY JUST DON'T USE EM! INSTEAD, EACH STEP OF TONY'S JOURNEY TO BECOMING SHELLHEAD IS AN ARTICULATED, CHARACTER-BASED MICRO-STEP; A SINGULAR DECISION THAT DEALS WITH THE MOMENT AND IS DIRECTLY RELATED THE SITUATION AT HAND. WHICH MAKES IT REAL farkING WRITING.

Basically, you can tell a story that fits a model with telling a story TO fit a model.  Just because the Hero's Journey has been used before doesn't mean it can't be effectively used again.

 
2013-08-27 08:21:57 PM  
So does this mean it's still OK for some people to consider Christopher Paolini a hack?
 
2013-08-27 08:30:42 PM  

rugman11: phaseolus: io9 was just talking about this yesterday - Eight Reasons Why The Hero's Journey Sucks.


/ I like io9. Don't judge me.

That article is kind of off from the get-go.  The Hero's Journey isn't a formula, it's a model based on observations of past stories.  There's nothing inherently wrong with writing a story that can be analyzed by a model.  The problem is when you write your story specifically to fit the model.

The HulkCrit article I linked above addresses this point to re: Iron Man (again apologies for the All Caps):

ONE OF THE REASONS THAT THE IRONMAN MOVIE WORKS SO WELL IS THAT IT KNOWS WHEN TO COMPLETELY AVOID THE BEATS OF THE HERO JOURNEY THAT DON'T MATTER TO THE STORY IT WANTS TO TELL. THINK OF HOW MANY BEATS IN THE "HERO JOURNEY" WOULD NOT BE CALLED FOR WITH THAT CHARACTER. THEIR SOLUTION? THEY JUST DON'T USE EM! INSTEAD, EACH STEP OF TONY'S JOURNEY TO BECOMING SHELLHEAD IS AN ARTICULATED, CHARACTER-BASED MICRO-STEP; A SINGULAR DECISION THAT DEALS WITH THE MOMENT AND IS DIRECTLY RELATED THE SITUATION AT HAND. WHICH MAKES IT REAL farkING WRITING.

Basically, you can tell a story that fits a model with telling a story TO fit a model.  Just because the Hero's Journey has been used before doesn't mean it can't be effectively used again.


Just once, I would like to see a cook in a traditional Victorian or Edwardian house that isn't blustery, overweight, grey-haired but with a heart of gold...
 
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