As You Know
Two Examples of an Expo Label
, Including This Caption
, one of the more obnoxious side-effects of creating a believable world
in Speculative Fiction
. Aha! I've got it!
An alternative to using a narrator
(or making characters look bat-shit crazy as they stand around talking to themselves) is to label everything so clearly that the audience can tell what it is without further explanation! Everything shall be Exactly What It Says on the Tin
Most ordinary things are not labeled like that in Real Life
. While an Expo Label
or two can help with the pacing, they can easily come across as silly and awkward.
On the other hand, various scientific and technical fields are notorious for labeling everything in sight. Console gauges, dials and switches are often clearly marked, with broken components tagged as such to reduce costly (or potentially lethal) operator errors. Programming courses actually encourage you to label every single thing you code. And, obviously, medicine bottles have to tell you what's contained in them and how frequently you take doses of said medicine.
Accordingly, the Big Red Button
often has an Expo Label
. Bonus points if it's handwritten on a piece of masking tape because the creator hasn't had the time or inclination to mount anything permanent.
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- As the above picture indicates, these used to be painfully present in Superman comics. From Superdickery.com:
- Scott Pilgrim: Absolutely everywhere. The characters can see them as well.
Films — Animation
- During the chase scene in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Bennie the Cab yells for his passengers to "pull the lever!" Asked "which one?", a sign pops out of the dashboard, marked with a pointing arrow and "This Lever, Stupid!"
Films — Live-Action
- Lampshaded in the Doctor Who episode "The Age of Steel": Mickey and Jake are looking for the transmitter controls, and Mickey asks what it looks like. Jake responds sarcastically that it'll have a sign with "Transmitter Controls" in big red letters on it. It does.
- The old Batman TV show, especially with the "Bat" stuff.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- The box of Rat Poison with "Rat Poison" on it.
- Also, their plan to attack the Mayor with a box labeled "Ebola".
- In Beakmans World, Beakman can always find the really dangerous stuff in the cabinet marked REALLY DANGEROUS STUFF.
- Everything — and we mean everything — in Look Around You, with those embossed red stickers that used to be used in laboratories. In one Credits Gag, a male scientist presents a female scientist (played by Sarah Alexander of Coupling fame) a box of chocolates labelled in this way, which included one item purporting to be sulphur.
- Castle: The NYPD wears bulletproof vests labeled "Police". In the second ep, Castle gets one custom-made... that's labeled "Writer".
- In Dilbert, somebody had to go around putting labels on things like coffee pots to comply with the ISO 9000 labeling standards. He also had "Stupid Label Guy" printed on his back. This may have been inspired by a Real Life incident in which everything in a lab was labelled for the benefit of a visiting executive. One of the labels covered a product logo which provided the same information (plus a brand name).
- In just about every Political Cartoon ever (I wonder what that giant monster represents?)
- A The Far Side cartoon had a man standing in his yard after painting labels such as THE HOUSE, MY SHIRT, THE DOG, THE CAT on everything with a caption of "There! That should clear things up around here!"
- Gerry Anderson's shows take place in a very well-labeled future.
- Gunnerkrigg Court
- Girl Genius
- Many things are labeled in this world, especially in Castle Heterodyne. Many of those labels are hilarious. For example "Poison — Illiteracy reduction effort".
- In the Cinderella theater break, Agatha's miniature volcano has a labeled "innocent town" at its foot.