Created By: KJMackley on June 18, 2008
Nuked

Emotional Torque

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I have pondered on this for a while. While it seems like a simple enough concept, when thinking about all that it implies it makes me feel like I am contemplating quantum physics while all I can express is Buffy Speak. If I am right, then this trope is about as meta as it comes.

A fundamental part of storytelling is about getting a reaction from the audience. A laugh, a tear, a desire to change or maybe a desire to kill the storyteller. There is nothing more saddening then a story that gets an uncaring reaction. When I watched the Avatar Finale Trailer, it sent chills down my spine when I saw Aang and Zuko firebending next to each other. Why did I get such an emotional response? I think that it is because from the very first episode Aang was told that he would have to master firebending last, and after three seasons this is happening.

It is a feeling that is hard to describe, it isn't quite like joy or happiness, neither is there an emotion called "epic." I think the best way to describe your favorite moments is satisfaction. The Avatar moment is supremely satisfying because it is so long in coming.

A story should influence and affect us. When I was three, I scared my Mom by placing a butcher knife down the back of my shirt only so I could pull it back out and exclaim "I have the power!" Since I am on TV Tropes so much (more time then I really have to spend) this has remained a part of my personality, and probably most of the people here can say the same thing. A lot of the tropes that I've started on YKTTW have been an attempt to catelogue those tropes that give us such an emotional response. "World of Cardboard" Speech and It Has Been an Honor are moments that should excite us and and make us glad that we've been a part of the show/movie/book.

This is also a fundamental part of Fridge Logic and the Willing Suspension of Disbelief. We should be so caught up in the moment of what is happening that we don't think about the illogical, the unhistorical or the faulty science. There is also a point where the story and characters have to do the needed actions to establish themselves and their use. The Butt Monkey has to get beaten up, the villain has to do something villainous, etc. If there is a war going on and no one gets hurt, no blood gets spilled, and there isn't even a smudge of dirt on them, then it is rendered ineffective. It's like a Jerk Ass that doesn't do one mean thing.

For another example of the above, I've noticed in a lot of Disney and Nickelodeon shows that when two kids hug (especially of opposite gender) they rarely come very close to each other at all. They bend at the waist and if anything besides their arms touch each other, it will only be their shoulders. It's probably the Media Watchdogs that prevent a chest-to-chest hug (though I do have a friend that reserves those types of hugs only for her husband and absolute closest friends) but the point is it looks awkward on screen and you know it. To show a close friendship or romantic relationship you need to be willing to do what is necessary to convey it.

A lot of tropes are built upon this idea...

...but some exist solely because of it.

This probably seems a little long-winded, but I do think it would be a good page for discussion.

Community Feedback Replies: 9
  • June 18, 2008
    Fanra
    Narm is when this fails.
  • June 18, 2008
    ShayGuy
    This is somehow related to whatever the definition of "romance" is, I'm sure of it. And "epic," which I suspect is connected.
  • June 19, 2008
    Valentine
    Really like the trope, but I think anything that's a supertrope of Crowning Moment Of Awesome is going to have to be an example-free page.
  • June 19, 2008
    Fanra
    As for romance, when a romance is Narm, it is a George Lucas Love Story.
  • June 19, 2008
    ShayGuy
    Okay, here's the question that popped into my mind last night: "What does Casablanca have in common with One Piece?"
  • June 20, 2008
    KJMackley
    I like the idea of having a list of tropes for when the attempted Emotional Torque fails. Narm is when the Drama flounders. George Lucas Love Story is when a Romantic moment fails. And a Groaner is when Comedy fails. And a list of other significant tropes that exist for the purpose of exciting the audience, like My Name Is Inigo Montoya and The Determinator.

    When I was writing this I knew it wouldn't have a huge list of examples. The above examples were just to explain myself, and would be changed if this became an actual page.
  • June 20, 2008
    Stinkoman87
    KJ, you are great. You have summed up the power of tropes in fiction in the OP. I applaud you.
  • June 20, 2008
    UnknownTroper
    Excellent write-up. My general impression of it was that you are referring to the various tropes supporting the Willing Suspensionof Disbelief. Reading that article, I believe that it is in need of expansion. Your write-up is a good place to start.
  • June 22, 2008
    KJMackley
    Well...thanks. The main thing now is what do we do with it. I certainly don't want it to just fade away, but how would it be integrated into the wiki? I thought maybe have it closely tied into the Willing Suspension Of Disbelief. Since it is so fundamental it could have a link on the main page. Or the side bar.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=ozkp4puv&trope=EmotionalTorque