Most Ridiculous Movie Tropes II

I’m pretty sure I wrote about these movie and television tropes before, but here goes anyway. These aren’t so much the most annoying tropes as the ones most people seem to notice. Films are full of tropes, or should I say cliches? Tropes are usually how an audience determines what kind of genre the film belongs to. So technically, there’s not actually anything wrong with tropes, except when the writers and directors get lazy and throw in things that are simply silly or over-use them to create a false sense of tension like “cat the jump-scare”, which is what turns a trope into a cliche, I guess.

Here is a loose list of tropes that I personally find the most annoying and/or silly

Movie people only ever run in straight lines. No one ever moves to the left or right when they’re running. The most egregious use of this trope was in the movies Christine and Prometheus where you have characters who can clearly either run to the left or the right but insist on running straight ahead, and consequently, dying.

If someone is running they will fall down. This is inevitable. This takes place in every horror movie ever made, and most every other type of movie too. Doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a woman, they will trip and fall, sometimes over nothing or just their own feet. I’m pretty clumsy and I can count the number of times I’ve fallen in public (3). How is it even possible that the only person capable of running in a movie is Tom Cruise?

The only time people don’t fall down is when they are walking away from an explosion because:

People never run from explosions, but calmly walk toward the viewer as if nothing were going on back there. They don’t seem to care about flying debris, explosive concussion, or the heat of the blast, and they always do this in slow motion. I guess this is understandable though, considering people’s tendency to fall down when running.

No man in a movie knows how to successfully change a diaper. Most men in movies don’t know how to successfully do any household chores actually, but babies are especially difficult for them.

Babies never just pee in their diapers like they do in the real world. Babies only pee on people. If you are a man they will pee on your shirt or your pants, but if you are a woman you will be squirted in the face, usually with an extraordinary amount of urine. Considering how often that occurs, I’m convinced that something very distasteful is going on in the heads of the male filmmakers who insist that’s funny.

In movies, men only dress like women to get something. No man dresses like a woman simply because he enjoys doing so. Any man in a movie who dresses like a woman is automatically considered either funny or dangerous. They don’t actually have to do or say anything funny or dangerous. They only need to be dressed like a woman to be perceived as either.

Any man who finds out that the woman he is interacting with (even if it’s not a romantic interaction but merely a casual one) is actually transgender must pretend to vomit. This happens in every single movie that has ever introduced a transgender woman who is interacting with a cisgender man who doesn’t know she is transgender. The message being sent by straight, cisgender, male filmmakers, in film, after film, after film, is that transgender women are disgusting.

Having dinner with the family is one of the hardest things to ever do in a movie. People can never just sit down, eat, and make conversation. Something, somewhere, will go horribly, sometimes embarrassingly, wrong. Sometimes it’s the food gets dropped or somebody says or does something overdramatic. I have been to multiple family reunions, and always had a pleasant time, nothing embarrassing or horrible ever occurred at any of them. If a group of people are having a dinner, shenanigans will ensue!

No one goes to the bathroom in a movie just to use the bathroom. There is always an ulterior motive like getting killed, kidnapped, having a fight, or meeting a spy. Sometimes all of the above.

All divorcees hate each other with the passion of a thousand suns. There is never an amicable divorce in a movie, especially if kids are involved, after which all their fights will be about the husband missing alimony payments and/or missing some kind of recital. This is a staple of cop films and shows.

People never ask who it is before opening any doors. They hear the doorbell or knocking and just spring to open it. They don’t look out a window to see who it is or ask any questions. The door is never, EVER locked. Whoever it is just runs to the door and pulls it open. Doors are never locked unless:

Locked doors only ever contribute to the suspense of being chased by somebody or something. The door hasn’t been locked for the entire first half of the movie, but once someone is being chased the locks click on automatically, I guess. The person never knows how to work any of the locks, or the locks are always stuck, which I guess makes sense for why the locks are never engaged otherwise.

People never say goodbye on the phone. They always just hang up. People almost never ask who it is either, and that is somewhat understandable, since the invention of caller ID, but they also never offer greetings either. Hello is all they’re going to say. Phone calls are never pleasant activities in the movies. They always mean something bad.

People being able to find convenient parking spaces and the cars that don’t work when the killer is coming has already been heavily discussed in a lot of places, so I won’t mention them here, but there are a host of car tropes used in movies, only a few of which I find deeply annoying.

People fly through the air when they get shot by a large caliber weapon. Okay! Whose idea was it that people should take flight when they get hit with bullets? The bullet’s momentum doesn’t transfer to the person whose been hit. That is not how physics works!

Autistic people are only ever white, straight, male, and a genius of some kind.

Bombs with digital countdowns. Once you see this you can never unsee it. There is absolutely no reason, at least most of the time, for there to be a digital readout on any remote-operated explosive, but movies love them and don’t seem to be stopping doing that anytime soon.

I think I talked about the “nagging wife” cliche, once before, where a woman is constantly bothering her action/adventure husband/boyfriend/significant other, about how much he’s already given to the world, the force, the city, or whoever and how he doesn’t need to go out and save any people right now because he’s going to be late for his daughter’s dance recital, son’s baseball game, or their dinner party. Pick one! If the two of them are divorced then the subject of alimony payments will also be included in this conversation.

And quite possibly one of the most annoying cliches for me personally, are drivers who don’t keep their eyes on the road ahead and talk to the passenger next to them instead. Watch the gotdamn road, you idjit!!!.

And last but not least, people who are supposed to be hikers, meaning they have been hiking before and supposedly know what the rules are, who go out into the woods and are completely unprepared. They have no survival gear, flashlights, a compass, warm-up blankets, sleeping bags, or sometimes even water bottles. I’ve never been hiking in my life (have no intention of ever doing so) and even I know to take a compass and something waterproof to start a fire with!

So yeah, I definitely mentioned at least a couple of these in my posts about Film Shorthand, but these aren’t so much about symbols in film as they are about lazy writers and cliches that simply need to be done away with because they really don’t contribute that much to the story.

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