Nice Job Snowcloning It, Hero (Alt Title crowner 2/28/12): Painting The Medium

Deadlock Clock: 25th Feb 2012 11:59:00 PM
Total posts: [175]
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Dragon Writer
... because Everything's Worse with Snowclones, that's why!

I'm currently analyzing this for confusion with Fourth Wall and its other snowclones....

The following is the canonical ptitle range.

Looks correct

Ambiguous cases

Suspicious cases

Looks like...

Little or no context

Okay, so out of the classic ptitle range I can draw three conclusions:

  2. There's an incredibly high rate (over half) of unclear examples in my sample.
  3. What exactly is this trope supposed to be in the first place?

So, can I get some help here?

edited 16th Oct '11 11:21:10 AM by Stratadrake

I have to question exactly what this trope is supposed to be in the first place.
It's when a work uses paratext to convey information about the story. For example, in comics, altering the shape or background color of the Speech Bubbles to indicate the speaker's mood. Or in a story with more than one narrator, using different typefaces for each narrator.
This trope has nothing to do with the Fourth Wall at all. Snowclone suckage at its finest.
4 DRCEQ16th Oct 2011 11:59:05 AM , Relationship Status: Anime is my true love
Dragon Writer
Oh, oops. Hmm ... almost two months ago? Forever in Web time. And nobody took time for a misuse check back then. The initial argument was:

posted by SomeName
Looking at the Painting the Fourth Wall Western Animation section, actual examples seem to the be the exception, rather than the rule. Most of what is listed is Breaking the Fourth Wall, Fourth Wall Psych, or just gags that involve the fourth wall in some way. (e.g. Fake advertisements.) The trope itself means that some aspect of the medium itself is being used to communicate some concept or story element to the viewer, but the common usage seems to use it to mean "weird fourth wall-y stuff".

Some of the problem seems to stem from the title. I've seen a pretty substantial number of examples of characters "literally" Painting the Fourth Wall, which almost inevitably ends up actually being an example of Breaking the Fourth Wall, since it generally means that the character starts to interact with the screen in some way.

edited 16th Oct '11 12:23:38 PM by Stratadrake

The Warrior's Way example is about the music playing in the background being the sound of High-Pressure Blood coming out from your throat when one of the Sad Flute ninjas cuts you, hence the name "Sad Flute".
7 Elle16th Nov 2011 11:17:01 PM , Relationship Status: I wanna know about these strangers like me
I can't argue with the misuse, but I have never had a problem with connecting the title to the definition. The Order Of The Stick page image previously there helped a ugh, I have no idea what the current picture is supposed to show.

I would say that the description could also use some clean up. I would prefer that plus an example cleanup to happen before attempting to rename - it is a Fourth Wall trope and it is kinda like writing on said fourth wall, or at least hanging decorations on it.

edited 16th Nov '11 11:24:31 PM by Elle

Dragon Writer
I disagree about it being strictly related to the Fourth WallBreaking the Fourth Wall in particular. The misuse claim is about people treating it like "Playing With The Fourth Wall", which is missing the point entirely, and the article has had at least two occasions of page images describing the wrong trope.
I went through the article with an axe, cutting away a great many inappropriate examples and no doubt some of the appropriate ones, and rewrote the description to a simplified but clearer form.
^You didn't axe enough. I'm still seeing plenty of examples that don't belong anywhere near the page.

Also, can we get a change to the thread title? This trope's name isn't a snowclone. At all.
Belief or disbelief rests with you.
Plus EP x 3 for thread title.
Goal: Clear, Concise and Witty

12 Ultimatum18th Nov 2011 06:00:29 AM from within the darkness , Relationship Status: Yes, I'm alone, but I'm alone and free


Meanwhile, in England a 👨 known only as Ultimatum sips ☕️ in front of his 💻 screen
Dragon Writer
@Petrie: The trope title is derived from Breaking the Fourth Wall (compare: Tapping On The Fourth Wall, Leaning on the Fourth Wall), so it is in fact a snowclone by our usage of the term.

edited 18th Nov '11 8:10:21 AM by Stratadrake

Dragon Writer
Bumpity. I recently noticed the F-Zero page is misusing it when one character's ending describes them smashing the screen out of frustration. That aside, nobody's posted any new, proper checks. Can I?

For starters, this is the complete 'A' range.

Misuse more easily fixed than said

In other words, I fixed them already. Still counts as misuse though.

Literal Misuse

  • Animal Man: "At one point, a panel in the comic is literally painted in. Buddy also uses his ability to step outside the fourth wall to help him beat Overman, literally pulling him out of continuity."
  • Art Initiates Life (2nd of 3)

Misuse not so easily fixed

Can't tell what's going on here

  • Roleplay.Active Duty: "Makoto replied to an action that had accidentally been put into quotes by Johnson's player."
  • Ah! My Goddess: "Done by Chihiro when Keiichi expresses surprise at her intention to use a 156 horsepower engine in her dream bike."
  • All Over The House: "When Emily let colour into the comic for the first time, Tesrin complained that it burned her but Emily thought it "much nicer" Done again when hits on the site skyrocketed because of people searching for a pornographic music video called All Over The House."
  • Animated Actors: "In the Gunnerkrigg Court interlude City Face, the commentary below each page speaks of the characters like actors playing roles. And the Shout Box below these pages featured commentary from these in-universe actors rather than from Real Life readers."
  • Another Gaming Comic: "With the beginning of the Second Evil Campaign, roleplaying-game-traditional secret notes passed between players and the DM are represented by little notepad-objects, which display the note on mouse hover. A similar system is also used for the players' thought balloons."
  • Answer Cut: "I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again couples this with Painting the Fourth Wall. 'We have just heard that David Hatch has left Radio Prune to create his own radio station, and it falls upon me to say...three years later. (gentle piano music in background)'
  • Art Shift (2 citations)
  • Assassin's Creed: Revelations: "The console versions of this game miss out on this, but with the PC version, when you start the 'Desmond's Journey' sequences, the main game closes, and soon after, the sequence opens up in a new program. It seems like an odd bug, but it's not - the Journey sequences are is an entirely different program from the main game's. It also feels perfectly in line with the entire 'corrupted dataflow' style the Animus of this game has adopted. This also occurs on the Xbox360 if you install the game to the harddrive. When you start or complete the Desmond sequences the system begins to read from the disk as if the game were not installed."
  • Augmented Reality: "Some helicopters in Fringe's alternate universe have an information service that works in this manner. Presumably it includes an overlay of massive three-dimensional block letters identifying your current location."
  • "Awesome McCool" Name: "Two of his minions also have names that beautifully paint the fourth wall: [[color:#2ED73A:D]][[color:white:o]][[color:#2ED73A:c Scratch]] and [[color:#2ED73A:Sn]]o[[color:#2ED73A:wman]]. All the other members of [[color:#2ED73A: The Felt]], and the gang itself, have names that are written in green."

(not part of the formal range, but spotted in transit)

Zero-Context Example

Nonstandard medium conventions that convey metatext

Our totals across this range are:
  • Total misuse: 17*
    • Easily fixed: 14
    • "Literal": 2
    • Other: 3
  • Total ambiguous: 13 (not including +1 from the 'C' range)
  • Correct: 19

This is approximately a 30 percent misuse across the A range, with an additional 20 percent ambiguous cases.

edited 8th Jan '12 12:05:08 PM by Stratadrake

I would support a rename.
Dragon Writer
Let's try the 'E' range, same category, Alex.

First, the misuse:

Cited as misuse and easily corrected

Literal Misuse

Other suspected misuse

The ambiguities:

Ambiguous context

  • Easter Egg: "The Dresden Files RPG has PDF versions of the sourcebooks available if you buy them online. In several places where Harry has scratched out part of the text with Sharpie, you can copy the text into another program and read what was underneath. It's usually something like "By the way, if you're reading this, we sure bet you feel clever!"
  • Everybody Hates Chris: "Frequently, especially in "Everybody Hates Mother's Day" when Chris Rock and adult Tonya have an argument in the voiceover booth, while the camera pans between young Chris and Tonya respectively."
  • Sluggy Freelance: "[Chaz's] name, activation method and voice all indicate evil, but Chaz neither requires nor encourages evil acts...]"
  • Eyeshield 21: "His thought bubbles are arrows containing short phrases pointing towards his opponent du jour."

Zero-Context Example

  • (none found in this range. Yay!)

Creative use of metatext:

Indexes, Other

Now for the totals.

  • Total misuse: 15
  • Total ambiguities: 4
  • Correct, Exempt, Other: 5

Hmm, I think I liked the A range better. The E range shows 60 percent misuse, but it's only a third the size. So, combined, the A and E letter ranges constitute 40 percent misuse.

edited 8th Jan '12 1:31:04 PM by Stratadrake

Oh hey. I'm the guy who YKTTW'd this trope. That went smoothly, with (I recall) everone agreeing that it was a thing, but by the time it was due to be launched, I had been left incapacitated by an extraordinarily stupid turn of events. The trope page was built by committee, and left with a half-baked description that among other problems lacked a "see also"/"compare & contrast" section that would've pointed casual tropers in the right directions.

By the time I'd recovered, a backlock of other issues and lingering stupidity kept me from writing a new description. I guess I didn't really think much of it until this thread was started, when I panicked and put in a bare-bones but much clearer and functional description.

I think that swapping a defective description for a good or even working one should cause much of the problem to subside, and that this makes such a difference that we can't fairly judge the trope's performance on past grounds. However, I also acknowledge that the mis-use that's already happened is a large part of the problem and won't go that easily, which is why I'm ready to review every last related page, and fix them when necessary.

I also object to the claim that the title of this trope runs afoul of the things listed on the Everything's Worse with Snowclones page. Unfortunately I desperately need to go to bed, too, so please don't do anything major for a day or so while I get my rest and my thoughts in order and see if I can't work on things further.
We needs a new name for this. Any ideas?
20 Cider31st Jan 2012 05:57:37 PM from Not New York , Relationship Status: They can't hide forever. We've got satellites.
The Final ECW Champion
I think the name is fine. Visual cues about the story the characters themselves aren't aware of. Death speaking in all caps in Disc world right? The unsound affect off mouser's bombs. Psychic characters having color or italics in Marvel comics right?

I don't think the name is wrong, I think tropers are just misusing it. Seems more like a special efforts case than a repair shop one. The fourth wall generally is something not known to the guys in story so it makes sense to be in the title.
Modified Ura-nage, Torture Rack
It's not a "gag" thing.
Rhymes with "Protracted."
This is in desperate need of a rename and a cleanup.

Crowner here

edited 18th Feb '12 2:27:14 PM by Catbert

The problem I've always had with the name is that it sounds just like a lesser version of Breaking the Fourth Wall to me, just like Leaning on the Fourth Wall.

Based on that wick check, I'd say that I'm not alone.

From my point of view "conveying things about the story through elements that aren't actually in the story" doesn't have much to do with the fourth wall. You may as well call subtitles and speech bubbles "writing on the forth wall."

I can't think of a name right now, but there's got to be a better one that what it has now.
I think we need to add in the description that this is NOT something that happens TO the 4th wall. I think the bad examples are stemming from the fact that the current title is "VERB-ing the 4th wall", and so people automatically associate it with something that happens to the 4th wall.

Dunno about what to rename it, if anything, though when i think about it, "Painting the 4th wall" does conjure up images of someone doing exactly that, and nothing as subtle as a character making a throw-away reference to the way text is formatted.

..."The Writing on the 4th Wall", perhaps? The "THE" would be important, as to disassociate the trope with the act of something happening TO the wall. Otherwise we have the same problem, and people go looking for instances where someone literally writes on the screen. Or maybe "Noticing the Paint on the 4th Wall"? Long names, I know, but the more simple a title, the more broad it becomes in the minds of those who see it, and the more ripe it is for misuse.

We need a name that has nothing at all to do with wall, fourth or otherwise, because this is not about Fourth Wall.

edited 18th Feb '12 4:32:26 PM by Catbert

Alternative Titles: Painting The Fourth Wall
22nd Feb '12 2:35:43 PM
Vote up names you like, vote down names you don't. Whether or not the title will actually be changed is determined with a different kind of crowner (the Single Proposition crowner). This one just collects and ranks alternative titles.
At issue:
Last Crowner established that we need to rename.

The name should indicate that the trope is "Making changes to usual medium conventions to represent things about the story" For instance, changing the appearance of a speech bubble to show that a character is evil, or a TV show changing to black-and-white to show that a flash-back is happening.

Look at the list of subtropes to get a complete idea of what the trope includes.

Total posts: 175
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