Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Scifantasy: About the origin of the term "lampshade hanging"...

I quote J. Michael Straczynski in part from a book of Babylon5 scripts:

"Bob [Robert Swanson, a fellow TV writer] loved construction metaphors. So you'd...hang a lantern on it to strongly illuminate a story point..."

Clearly Swanson didn't invent the term, but this can't be a coincidence.

Ununnilium: Possibly "hang a lantern" is an alteration based on a supposed construction-based etymology. Or, possibly, it's the "lampshade" etymology that's wrong. Hm.

Scifantasy: Yeah, I dunno. But it seemed worth it to mention this.

Tabby: For whatever it's worth, I'd always heard "lantern" before I found this site.

Airbud: The etymology for "lampshade" in the current article doesn't make a lot of sense to me. In that case, a lampshade is meant to conceal something obvious, while this trope is about calling attention to something obvious.

Gus Seconded. I pulled it out to here: The "lampshade" name is possibly derived from a old stage comedy convention where a character hides from another character on the same stage, while remaining visible to the audience, by hanging a lampshade on his head and, presumably, disguising himself as a lamp. Apparently people do not notice large human-shaped lamp stands appearing from nowhere. This itself was referenced in some early Looney Tunes that had the hiding characters say "click" or light up like a bulb when someone tried to turn the light on.

Ununnilium: I dunno, it makes sense to me as an example of Lampshade Hanging.

Morgan Wick: Mostly because what the term reminds me of is the idea of drunk people hanging lampshades on their heads and dancing.

Keenath: Between Stargate SG 1 and Babylon 5, I think 'lantern' is probably the right version of the phrase. 'Lampshade' could be a confusion of the term, but it doesn't really make sense. A lampshade would suggest (as previously discussed) "hidden from the characters, but visible to the audience". This is actually the opposite of what hanging a lantern does, which is to have the characters acknowledge the odd element — far from acting as if they can't see it.

Ununnilium: Well, Gus's origin makes the "lampshade" version make sense, but it might be a justification of a corruption of "lantern". Either way, though, it's far too late to change the trope name.

Webrunner: Okay, so, um, shouldn't the blurb at the top at least reference the actual decided correct name (next to 'hanging a clock')

BT The P: Unnamed guy, "Fred" was correct. Look here, a few entries down.

Looney Toons: The specific entry on that link is "Signal From Fred." Just in case you have trouble finding it, like I did. <grin>

Someone added the following example:

The Mad About You episode "The Conversation" was filmed in a single shot (see The Oner), except for The Teaser and The Tag. In The Tag, when Paul and Jamie are watching and discussing a movie filmed in that way, Jamie can't understand why anyone would go through all the effort to do that.

I don't believe this is Lampshade Hanging, unless there were lots of other single-shot episodes of Mad About You. The techniqe itself is not particularly unlikely or overused.

—- this was pulled out, because it didn't really add anything (to which the appropriate response is "That's because you are!")

Tabby: Is there any elegant way to verb this? It's easy to start a sentence with "Subverted in an episode of..." or "Parodied by the whole concept of...", but this particular trope just seems to lend itself to awkward phrasing.

Robert: 'Pointedly highlighted in/by ...'?

Gus: I'd do tenses/forms of 'hang', in a double-bracket. Like so: "This was hung in the episode by ..." or "This notions was strung up when Pete did the thing with the deal-y."

Ununnilium: I usually use "Lampshaded by..."

Gus: pulled out ...
* Another example is in the Hey Arnold!! episode titled "Phoebe Takes The Fall", where, after a dream sequence in which Arnold repeatedly asks Helga Pataki why she's in the city finals of an academic tournament and not the more-appropriate Phoebe Hyerdahl (answer: Helga had Phoebe take the fall in the school's individual academic competition), Helga points out to herself (and the viewer) that her dream sequences tend to lead her to do the right thing ("Well, good thing it's just a crazy dream").

Trogga: Why?

Rika: There's talk that in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine Episode "Let He Who Is Without Sin", the writers had a few characters (Bashir, Jadzia) oppose Worf's attendance and the plot to make it seem reasonable, while really saying "this plot is bad." ref(Contains spoilers, if you haven't seen the ep.)

Ununnilium: Add it, then? `.`

Seth: That wrestling line about the weapons should be the page quote.

HeartBurn Kid: I agree, so I decided to put it up there.
Ununnilium: Took out...

(BTW, if there was a trope for vacation episodes, this ep would be the ultimate subversion: Mac and co never actually leave the states!)

...because it doesn't have anything to do with this trope.
Sikon: I feel bound to ask a question raised at Has Lampshade Hanging ever been itself lampshade-hung?

Wiki: I had been wondering the same exact thing for the longest time. Apparently, it went down in the 200th episode of Stargate SG-1. Huh, kinda expected it more from The Simpsons. Yeah they've probably done it at least twice.
Silent Hunter: Today's (10/10/2007) Irregular Webcomic! is about Lampshade Hanging and references this entry in the annotation. Good job people!
Fast Eddie: Don't put that long-ass South Park quote at the top. It's too long. Works fine as an example.

Trogga: But it's better than that WWE quote. And I don't like examples that are just quotes.
Silent Hunter: Request that we put the Twelfth Night quote at the top.
Prfnoff: Didn't understand how "Buffy vs. Dracula" was an example of Lampshade Hanging. Moved it to the recently created trope Your Costume Needs Work.

Requesting that someone put in Saddler's final schpeel from Resident Evil 4. I'd do it myself, but I can't remember exactly what he says.
  • Nevermind. Just put it in there.

Big T: I tried to put the picture into a quoteleft box to make the caption line up correctly, but quoteleft doesn't quite work like quoteright. I left a note on the Wiki Tech Wish List for Janitor to fix it. But, if she doesn't, we can always use quoteright...

  • Sounds more like her complaining about What an Idiot! she's been. I can see how it could be a lampshade though. *thinks* Actually wait, they're the same thing...
    • With Legacy of the Force, the Character Derailment is so enmeshed with the Idiot Plot it's almost impossible to sort out cause and effect between them.

Conversation in the Main Page.

Starscream: Where'd all the examples go? Is someone rewriting the article?

Fermatprime: I feel like the majority of examples in this article would fit in better elsewhere — for example, to No Fourth Wall, to Genre Savvy, or to Medium Awareness. To me at least, lampshading is pointing out the use of a trope — not just generically breaking or denting the fourth wall.

Chad M: I am loathe to cut out an example multiple people have obviously worked on, but to me the Galaxy Quest example doesn't count at all. I mean, it's not a lampshade hanging if all the things being made fun of are the object of parody, is it? (the examples they refer to all come from the show-within-the-movie which is of course a parody of popular sci-fi TV in general and Star Trek in particular)

Lampshade/Lantern Hanging launched as Lampshade Hanging: From YKTTW

Meta Four: In accordance with that ykttw thread, I edited the article. I hope this will clear things up a bit.

Tamfang: The closing paragraph of John Dickson Carr's novella "The Third Bullet" might be worth quoting, either here or elsewhere:
"In one way this has been a very remarkable case," said Colonel Marquis. "I do not mean that it was exceptionally ingenious in the way of murders, or (heaven knows) that it was exceptionally ingenious in the way of detection. But it has just this point: it upsets a long-established and domineering canon of fiction. Thus. In a story of violence there are two girls. One of these girls seems dark-browed, sour, cold-hearted, and vindictive, with hell in her heart. The other is pink-and-white, golden of hair, innocent of intent, sweet of disposition, and (ahem) vacant of head. Now by the rules of sensational fiction there is only one thing that can happen. At the end of the story it is proved that the sullen brunette, who snarls all the way through, is really a misjudged innocent who wants a lot of children and whose hardboiled worldly airs are a cloak for a modern girl's sweet nature. The baby-faced blonde, on the other hand, will prove to be a raging, spitting demon who has murdered half the community and is only prevented by arrest from murdering the other half. I glorify the high fates, we have here broken that tradition! We have here a dark-browed, sour, cold-hearted girl who really is a murderess. We have a rose-leaf, injured, generous innocent who really is innocent. Play up, you cads! Vive le roman policier! Ave Virgo! Inspector Page, gimme my hat and coat. I want a pint of beer."

  • Hello? Did anybody notice that nobody in the series has mentioned the Luke, I Am Your Father moment since it happened? If you ask me, that should be an obvious lampshade.

Lale: Doesn't belong in Examples, since it wasn't lampshaded, but I suppose it could have gone something like this...

Iroh: Your mother's grandfather was Avatar Roku.
Zuko: No. That can't be true! That's impossible!
Iroh: Search your feelings! You know it to be true!
Zuko: [Big "NO!"]
Iroh: I was afraid of this. Your father had the same reaction when he found out...

The Day of Black Sun
Ozai: Iroh didn't tell you everything about your great-grandfather.
Zuko: He told me enough. He told me Roku was my great-grandfather.
Ozai: I can only imagine how that went.

BritBllt: A lot of these examples don't sound like Lampshade Hanging at all, but just trimming some Star Trek examples for now...

  • When they capture Locutus / Picard in "Best of Both Worlds II" and start trying to use him as a terminal to input commands to stop the Borg cube, someone asks why the Borg don't just cut the connection. Dr. Crusher Hand Waves it off by comparing it to asking a human to cut off an arm or a leg, and infers this makes it impossible. (Not that this stopped the Borg from doing so in later instances.

Hand Wave?!? It was an expounded-upon Achilles' Heel that led to the heroes saving the day; they only came up with that plan after Crusher informed them the Borg can't break the connection, as a result of her telling them that (prior to that, Riker really wasn't sure what they would accomplish by rescuing/kidnapping Locutus - he was just hoping they'd figure out something by studying him, and they did).

Of course, the Borg breaking connections with ease in Star Trek: Voyager is a whole different matter, though I guess we could be generous and say maybe they adapted after having it used against them.

  • An episode featured the ship traveling back in time to the mid-1990s and encountering another time traveler from an additional 300 years in the future, had Captain Janeway remark: "Time travel. Ever since my first day in the job as a Starfleet Captain, I swore I'd never let myself get caught in one of these god-forsaken paradoxes. The future is the past, the past is the future. It all gives me a headache."

Maybe she's Leaning on the Fourth Wall, but that's about it. There's enough Time Travel happening in the Trek universe that they teach classes on it and have Starfleet departments dealing with the consequences of it. Janeway's comment makes perfect sense taken at face value.

  • Janeway got started on her patronizing attitude toward character (and by extension, audience) acceptance of lampshades early. In the fourth episode, "Time and Again," Paris objects that they couldn't have gone back in time and caused an explosion that created the time-warping holes they fell through in order to go back in time and cause it, because this is an obvious recursive paradox. Janeway cuts him off and tells him how stupid he is for forgetting XYZ Previously-Unmentioned Principle which says these paradoxes are perfectly normal.

Again, that's a Hand Wave, at best. The characters have just had a time travel experience. Trying to figure out the rules of time travel after traveling through time is NOT Lampshade Hanging, it's just a perfectly sensible conversation to have in that context.

Also removing this one for much the same reason (it's even got a Justifying Edit about it)...

  • In the Firefly episode "Objects in Space", the character Wash expresses his disbelief that someone could be psychic: "That sounds like something out of Science Fiction." When his wife, ZoŽ, responds with, "We live in a spaceship, dear," he says, "So?"
    • Not necessarily, as Zoe might have been pointing out to her somewhat-dense husband that the definition of Science Fiction changes through the eras. A few hundred years earlier, the very concept of a spaceship would have been considered Science Fiction.

And moving both Janeway's "I hate time travel" and Zoe's "we live in a spaceship" to Leaning on the Fourth Wall.