Broken Title: Expy

Deadlock Clock: 14th Sep 2011 11:59:00 PM
Total posts: [93]
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1 billybobfred15th Jan 2011 09:09:47 PM from renamed to wingedcatgirl , Relationship Status: Crazy Cat Lady
(I fucked up in naming this topic, pretend it's called "Title broken by definition drift (or deliberate change?)")

I dunno whether it was Trope Decay or a deliberate and thought-out decision, but Expy no longer means what it used to.
  • Original: Stealing your own character designs (but not the actual characters)
  • Now: Stealing anyone's character designs (but not the actual characters)

Thing is, "Expy" is short for "Exported Character", and that only applies to the original definition.

Am I nitpicking? Is this something that just doesn't matter?

edited 15th Jan '11 9:10:47 PM by billybobfred

she her hers hOI!!! i'm tempe
I think this is something that's generally recognized as being misused but no one really wants to fix it. I can't think of what the proper trope for that would be, anyway, and I see it much more than true expies. Expys?
The misused version is a better trope anyway.
Rhymes with "Protracted."
Expy is not stealing. Captain Ersatz is stealing. Expy is based on.
5 billybobfred15th Jan 2011 10:12:06 PM from renamed to wingedcatgirl , Relationship Status: Crazy Cat Lady
[up]Still, it's drifted from "based on your own characters" to "based on any pre-existing character", which means it's not exported.
she her hers hOI!!! i'm tempe
I asked this question awhile back.

Yes,Expy is broken. Like you said, it was originally "character similar to another character in the author's/production team's previous work" and now it's just "character similar to another character in any work." The first definition is tropeable, the other is iffy (I say spin that off into it's own thing). But apparently, this trope is suffered so much Trope Decay that it's nigh impossible to fix everything.
Expy has another problem. People seem to think that its not only characters.

edited 15th Jan '11 11:22:21 PM by nuclearneo577

Question: Can expy be gameplay-based?

Because there's a lot of Pokemon labeled as expies for gameplay reasons.
[up]I would say yes. There are after all character pages for Pokemon generations.
Cure Candy
Well it hasn't been limited to same author for a really long while... The trope is pretty much Suspiciously Similar Character now.

There is also Fountain of Expies, Char Clone, Bruce Lee Clone, Overused Copycat Character all not limited to that.

edited 16th Jan '11 1:18:43 AM by Raso

It's not broken. The description states that it can be applied to different creators, the editors use it that way, and the title doesn't directly contradict that either.

This is just an etimology shift. It is "broken" in the same sense as Bishōnen is "broken" because it is used for males over 18, or Fun with Acronyms is "broken" because it is used for any initialism.

"...But the word originally used to mean..." is not a good enough reason for page action, if everything else works.

edited 16th Jan '11 5:33:57 AM by EternalSeptember

I believe we've done this before - it resulted in a pretty massive across the board redefining of Expy and all related tropes. I might have been acknowledged back then that it wasn't exactly perfect, but that it worked all the same.
"The difference between reality and fiction is that fiction has to make sense."
- Tom Clancy, paraphrasing Mark Twain.
Welcome, traveller, welcome to Omsk
I think the main problem with Expy is that while it has plenty of legit examples, quite a few are just Take Thats to the creator. "Intra-series example: in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, all the female characters are expies of each other." The entry for The Inheritance Cycle is just a long list of Star Wars or Lord of the Rings characters the writer has allegedly copied. That isn't telling us anything interesting about the writer's way of reusing their own characters (or copying others'), it's just saying "ha ha, this book sucks amirite?"

But back on topic, no, the trope isn't broken, because Expy was broadened to include characters from other writers, since virtually no-one seemed to be using Captain Ersatz.
It does not matter who I am. What matters is, who will you become? - motto of Omsk Bird
[up] I think most editors who use "this work is not entirely original, lol" as an insult, are still newbies, who missed that recognizing similarities while staying neutral is all that we do here.

It's not the page's fault, though some organized rewording of such edits could be done.
Teutonic Tomboy T-Girl
The bigger problem I've seen is that people keep using Captain Ersatz when they really mean Expy. A Captain Ersatz should be damn near identical (or just different enough to not be legally actionable) to the inspiration. If it's just "clearly inspired by," that's an Expy.

Cure Candy
[up] agreed. A set of clearly defined rules should be set for those.
The difference is well defined on the Expy page, but the Captain Ersatz page is a bit vague.

Some Example As Thesis could be good.
Teutonic Tomboy T-Girl
While we're thinking about it, clearly distinguishing Lawyer-Friendly Cameo would probably be a good idea. Its problem is compounded by the description being written as if it's a Japan-Only Trope.
Welcome, traveller, welcome to Omsk
I think the problem with the "same creator" vs. "different creator" forms of Expy was that there was never a good page for "Expy but with a different creator's character", despite the fact that this is clearly tropeable. If Captain Ersatz was meant to be that, it has a pretty bad title (Captain Ersatz sounds 1) superhero-specific and 2) parodic), and the trope description and image made it seem oddly Professional Wrestling specific. Sure, people would say it was the "different creator" equivalent of Expy, but in practice, it was treated as if it was "funny Lawyer-Friendly Cameo of a copyrighted character".

Merging both versions into Expy at least gives a place to put the ripoffs of other creators' characters, though I'd personally prefer a split.

edited 17th Jan '11 3:05:16 PM by DoktorvonEurotrash

It does not matter who I am. What matters is, who will you become? - motto of Omsk Bird
Teutonic Tomboy T-Girl
I'm unfamiliar with the history of Expy, but as the trope stands now, a split between "same creator" and "different creators" seems nonsensical to me. It's a sensible, mostly-functional trope that wouldn't seem to benefit much from such a split.
21 ccoa20th Jan 2011 06:43:06 AM from the Sleeping Giant
Ravenous Sophovore
This was done deliberately. I know, because I'm the one who did it, albeit with consensus.

The problem was that Expy was being misused. Massively. It had been painstakingly cleaned up once, and a short few months later people were back to misusing it (including re-adding deleted examples). So our options were, I believe:

  • Make Expy a supertrope of a new trope with the old definition of Expy, Captain Ersatz, and Homage, so that all examples are technically correct and can be made the narrower trope when spotted.

  • Redefine Expy to be what people are using it for. No cleanup needed.

  • Do nothing to the trope and clean it up. (Again. And probably again x months down the line.)

The second won, and the reasoning was thus: whether it is the same author re-using a character or another is usually transparent to the audience, at least with things like Live Action TV and Film.

Personally, I was rooting for the first option, but it was not to be. :P

The problem with Expy is that not only is it a catchy name, humans are quite literally built for pattern recognition. Even worse are tropers, who are here because we take pattern recognition in media to a whole new level. There is always going to be a need for a trope that is something along the lines of "this character seems based off this other character," whether we like it or not. If we don't provide this trope, people will find a way to shoehorn it into the closest trope they can find.

edited 20th Jan '11 6:46:49 AM by ccoa

Waiting on a TRS slot? Finishing off one of these cleaning efforts will usually open one up.
Why is Legal Character Copy a redirect for Expy? Is it a remrant from the old days, where it was called legal because creators can legally copy themselves?

Now it sounds a lot closer to Captain Ersatz, that is the trope where a creator outright uses that old character, and only makes the bare minimum of differences that need to be done for not getting sued.
Teutonic Tomboy T-Girl
Thanks for the history, ccoa.

On a tangent, now that I know that history, it strikes me that Recycled Script is in almost exactly the same position that Expy was once upon a time. Recycled Script is supposed to be about scripts that are pretty darn literally recycled, as in "Take this script, replace every instance of 'Kirk' with 'Picard', change a couple references, and we're good to go."

But there's about a 1:20 ratio of that to "This movie has some plot elements that are kind of similar to this other movie, so the writer was probably copying it."
How annoying! It looks like this series of tropes hava a whole bunch of minor problems, but none big enough that could be solved with a single page action.

Total posts: 93
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