As You Know
Two Examples of an Expo Label
, Including This Caption note
, 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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- These used to be painfully present in Superman comics. From Superdickery.com:
- One particularly strong example is the Floating Anti-gravity Bed of Krypton◊. Lois Lane sleeps on it while in Superman's Fortress of Solitude. Despite its label, she was still confused when she found it floating.
- Sensor Autodog◊. It looks like a dog and is used by the Science Police to hunt criminals by scent.
- Projector for Dematerializing Any Matter for One Minute◊. Perry White uses it and an Invisibility belt, both from Superman's Superhero Trophy Shelf.
- The Mechanical Brain◊. The cover of Flash Comics #52 show the title device with the Flash and other characters running around it.
- Luthor Android Hate Tapes◊. After Superboy defeats the Luthor Android he finds the labeled computer tapes inside it.
- Spare Robot-Parts◊. Strange Adventures #136, story "The Robot Who Lost Its Head". The cover shows a robot looking for its head on the labeled shelf.
- Super Powers Tester◊. In a Supergirl story she's shown working out on the title machine to check on her invulnerability, Super Strength and heat vision abilities.
- Superpussycat (formerly Superman) Habitat: Kryptonite Cage◊. Cover of "Lois Lane, Superman's Girlfriend" #70. As Lois Lane and Catwoman fight, the cage containing Superman is shown nearby.
- Convention of Anti-Superman Gang◊. Cover of ''Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen" #87. The title villains are shown voting whether Superman should be killed or not.
- Luthor Trap to Capture Superboy◊. Superboy, the narrator, and Luthor all lampshade how stupid the whole situation is.
- Tip of Mount Everest◊. A plane is shown approaching Mount Everest, with the pilot saying that they might have crashed into it if Superman hadn't put up the sign.
- News Machine◊. The title device is built into the side of a mountain. It shows an image of Jimmy Olsen crying, with two Humanoid Aliens commenting on it.
- See The News As It Happens◊. Cover of The Flash #210. A giant robotic robotic machine shows Abraham Lincoln being shot by John Wilkes Booth...in the year 2971.
- Soundproof Gestapo Headquarters◊. Cover of an issue of The Fighting Yank. For some reason the title headquarters has a sign that says it's soundproofed.
- Death-Ray Camera◊. The cover of Young Allies #5 shows a motion picture camera with with this label to tell the audience how dangerous it is.
- Giant Television◊. The Black Terror #12. The cover shows the title hero fighting Japanese soldiers on the television with some children looking on.
- Gang Lords' Clubhouse◊. Supergirl #6. The cover shows the interior of a gang headquarters with one of the gang members kissing the Maid of Steel.
- New York Tunnel◊. USA Comics #2. A horde of Nazi solders led by Adolf Hitler driving an underground boring machine) crash into a tunnel helpfully labeled so the audience knows where it is.
- 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
- Almost everything in the Bat Cave had a label on it, especially with the "Bat" stuff.
- Episode "Ma Parker". The cells of Ma Parker and her criminal children each had a label with the occupant's name.
- 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".
- The helpfully labeled vests for law enforcement is Truth in Television in the US. Less so for crime novelists.
- The bins in the workshop in MythBusters are all carefully labeled. Some of them with rather odd contents. RAW MEAT, for example.
- 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.