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I was thinking about how ysabetwordsmith likes busting tropes; she has lots of posts about busting tropes, they're targets in her gun-sights. Well, I just thought of two major tropes worth busting:

1. The existence of good and evil. This trope can be busted by making sure both/all sides of a story have good, bad, and neutral aspects of their personality. This is one that I work really hard at busting.

2. Evil never wins. Have you ever noticed, the villains almost never win, more than temporarily. The protagonist always saves the day, even if s/he has to die to do it. It would be nice to see a story where the side of good puts up a valiant fight and it just isn't enough. The day is not saved.
      The only problem with busting that particular trope is, it's damned hard to pull off successfully. People have "good always wins" so deeply ingrained that when the hero dies, they demand he be brought back to life. Even if all the good guys are slaughtered and Dr. Overlord takes over the world, there's always the chance that new rebels will take their place, or Dr. Overlord's minions will get tired of him and depose him. About the only situation totally free of the possibility of evil losing is something where they destroy the world. But if they die doing that, then they also lose. If they escape in a spaceship, some aliens might stop him. If she uses the deaths of 6 billion people to fuel her ascent to godhood, some other gods might punish her.

Crossposted from http://fayanora.dreamwidth.org

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
geek_dragon
Nov. 3rd, 2010 07:36 am (UTC)
I think the evil doesn't win trope is important. in life evil seems to be kicking ass so having evil lose in fiction is therapeutic.
underlankers
Nov. 3rd, 2010 02:30 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't go that far. The extremely evil movements that have come along, like 3rd Century BCE Legalism and 20th Century Fascism tend to burn through whatever support they have in a bleeding (hurr har) hurry without much good even for their own ideologies resulting. Qin Shi Huang, the first totalitarian, ended up breaking his own dynasty to do what he did. Fascism's most evil variants in Germany and Romania were also extremely short-lived.

For that matter the Confederacy, the most evil permutation of US culture had as much hatred within the South directed as it as it did from the North. True evil does not tend to win or last long, the more dangerous kind are the morally dark grey like say, the communists or the absolute monarchies.
geek_dragon
Nov. 3rd, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
someone's projecting on my statement about politics.
there are lots of things in the world that aren't american elections.
darkoshi
Nov. 3rd, 2010 02:12 pm (UTC)
I agree with geek_dragon; if a movie ended with evil winning and with no indication of an upcoming sequel in which the fight continues, it would be quite depressing.

Then again, even when good wins, it's usually temporary too; it's just that movies tend to stop at those temporary points. But it's quite common for a movie to end with "good" on top, and then a sequel done where the "evil" has risen up again.
underlankers
Nov. 3rd, 2010 02:27 pm (UTC)
I should note that in most cases evil is sometimes portrayed as overwhelmingly powerful to the point the heroes do not in fact end up winning on their own but by pulling things out of their asses. In the Omniverse Tales I put more subtle takes on it, inspired by how the society of 1840s North America with legalized race-based slavery prone to wars of aggression and hell-bent on continental conquest softened to become a much lesser evil than its 20th Century successors.

In the main timeline the bad guys do win but like the USA end up softening and unlike the USA end up having to go full-blown into social revolution after two civil wars. Their society ends up quite powerful and resilient and also ends up able to handle social crises on a scale the other one doesn't. In the other case the good guys win with an idea that actually in the Values Dissonance of the time is both more popular and in the main "better" for the conquered.

4,000 years later the descendants of the Bad Guy Universalists (not very nice people as their vision was essentially Colonial-era Spanish and Portuguese colonies on the grand scale) have ended up creating yet another phase of liberal democracy that's evolving, where the good guy Regnalists (whose original vision was a bit more utopian and akin to Soviet-style internationalism) have created a society simultaneously much worse than that the Universalists created but a lot more fragile and technologically impoverished by virtue of the villainous tendencies in society overshadowing the more rational ones.
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