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stupidity in fiction

Much as I hate, hate, hate idiot plots, there are always convolutions.

Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a stupid action.  There is only an action for which motives have been inadequately delineated.

So the heroine goes out to check out the deserted old house and hears an odd noise --

At which point I interrupt to observe that actually, when I hear an odd noise about the house, I go to investigate what happened.  Usually it's something fell, and I put it back.  I bet most of you do, too.  And why do we expect characters in a movie to know they are in a flick and act according?  Given that they don't have genre awareness. . . . all right, in a sequel they ought to know that something is bad mojo, but people groan about it even when the character is the first victim in the film.

Except that we can't really turn off our knowledge that it's a horror movie and so not be aware that it's dumb.

Especially when young idiots are doing something because they know that being young makes them immortal.  Which happens all the time in real life but still can be very annoying on the page or screen.

--  so, back to our heroine.  Let's suppose she does, for whatever reason, get backup and lights.  And let's suppose that this frightens it away.  And as soon as she's alone, it comes back.  Again and again.  Finally, she goes to check it out before she dies of curiosity.

There are all kinds of reasons one can do something that would be dumb without such reasoning.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
rhinemouse
Sep. 21st, 2010 05:04 am (UTC)
*cough* And then there are those of us who hear an odd noise and cower in our rooms with the lights on, because we have read those stories and can't turn the knowledge off.

But that is a good point about motivation.
marycatelli
Sep. 21st, 2010 05:11 am (UTC)
there are times when it has certainly been unnerving. . . but it always turned out all right.

In that respect. There was the time with thundering crash that I couldn't figure out until the next morning, when I tried to open my garage door and discovered the one spring had broken.
sallymn
Sep. 21st, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC)
Homo fictus is actually far more restricted in what he can or can't do than homo sapiens - we real folk can act totally illogically and without making any sense whatsoever, but a fictional character, as you say, must have some sort of reason that They Who Cannot Be Ignored (the readers) will swallow...

Which is why 'acting naturally' in fiction has to be so very artificial, methinks :)
marycatelli
Sep. 21st, 2010 08:49 pm (UTC)
How very true!

Then, if we want realism, we can always go to Real Life which offers it undiluted and free and of unexceeded realism every day. Fiction needs to do something else to make up for that.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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