Misused: Moral Event Horizon

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To be fair, we really haven't poured as much effort into this as we have for Complete Monster; but that raises the question as to how much more effort we need to gauge whether or not further effort would be wasted.
"The Daily Show has to be right 100% of the time; FOX News only has to be right once." - Jon Stewart
77 32_Footsteps1st Jun 2012 09:13:22 AM from Just north of Arkham , Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
Think of the mooks!
Well, I think we pretty much have consensus here as to what the trope means - we could always do a quick check of examples to see just how many examples fit what we have in mind here (though this will finally give me good cause to clean out the example of Kefka from Final Fantasy VI - the story doesn't really start treating him like a legitimately evil threat until the poisoning of Doma, even if it presents him as mentally ill before that).
Reminder: Offscreen Villainy does not count towards Complete Monster.
No effort is wasted as long as we get a good result, and I like the way this is going. There seems to be consensus to rework this into something objective based on the in-universe treatment of a character. Now we have to decide what that in-universe treatment should consist of. One question we need to answer is whether a character can ever be redeemed within the work. I think so because it fits the existing concept of "Unforgivable sin". That raises another question, which is how hard the character has to work to earn that redemption. If nothing else, I think Redemption Equals Death characters should qualify.

edited 1st Jun '12 9:21:24 AM by NewFnu

79 Achaemenid7th Jun 2012 01:31:09 PM from Ruschestraße 103, Haus 1 , Relationship Status: Giving love a bad name
I think the in-universe objective idea has merit (a lot of merit), but first we should agree on how this should be judged. Someone has brought up Kefka Palazzo - I haven't played FF but is it how other characters in the story treat him or how the story itself treats him? If it is the latter, by what criteria do we interpret the story (given that how the story treats a character is surely a subjective analysis?)
Schild und Schwert der Partei
80 32_Footsteps7th Jun 2012 01:52:24 PM from Just north of Arkham , Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
Think of the mooks!
Kefka is kind of all over the place, and his current entry on that page reflects that.

It comes down, really, to being the first clear indication (there are hints before, but nothing explicit) that Kefka is really evil and willing to kill whoever just to get his way in the siege of Doma, where he uses poison to kill everyone in the castle... and some of his own men, too. There are points earlier where they heavily suggest how bad he is, but Doma is where they first clearly show it. That's the point in which the game stops being subtle, and it starts saying that Kefka is more than a Jerkass - he really is a Complete Monster.

There are other events earlier that add to his depiction, but you really don't realize just how bad he is (and, consequently, how bad those actions are) until that point.

EDIT: As for the characters in-story... well, they always treat him as a threat. But it isn't until he unbalances the Warring Triad and effectively becomes god that they treat him as a full-on existential threat. It's not really until the World of Ruin that the characters are fully ready to just kill-on-sight. The story presents him as having crossed it well before most characters do.

edited 7th Jun '12 1:56:06 PM by 32_Footsteps

Reminder: Offscreen Villainy does not count towards Complete Monster.
Oh, boy.

When I originally proposed Moral Event Horizon, it was specifically to supply a request for an event-driven trope so that Complete Monster could be allowed to die in its inevitible death, and so Rape the Dog could be scrubbed from the indexes as an unsavory naming scheme and metaphor. It was never intended to be subjective. The whole point was to step away from rating "how bad" a particular act is, and focus on one specific thing: did a specific act clearly indicate that a character has become or has been revealed as unforgiveably evil? This is neither subjective nor wholly in-universe, but specifically an examination of how the character's actions are treated by the creator (who, as I will point out, is central to TV Tropes.org, as everything else but authorship on this site is trivia). This means that identifying the trope requires some level of analysis. There is just no getting around that.

Arguing whether "Darth Vader" embodies this trope is mistaken. First of all, Darth Vader is a character. MEH was specifically created not to be a characterization trope. We should be talking about whether this occurs with Darth Vader in a work. Well, "Darth Vader" is a character present in six works, two trilogies, and one saga, so depending on how you slice it, you are going to get different answers. It is perfectly okay for Darth Vader to get a shot at "redemption" in Return of the Jedi because, first of all, we don't have to accept he is redeemed (that's really open to interpretation; a spiritual redemption is not necessarily the same thing as paying your dues from life). Second, each movie can be considered separately. Thirdly, invoking MEH does not dictate to the author how it is going to be used or played with. In fact, I think it's pretty clear MEH is deliberately invoked in Revenge of the Sith, as well as Empire and Rot J. Simply invoking the trope does not mean it is true. It is not necessary for a trope to be "true" to be present. You can even argue about whether the Vader in Sith is really the same character as the one in Jedi, considering the time and events that separate them. Lucas addresses the thesis of the possibility of redemption in a world in which we are confronted with a MEH... once Anakin starts killing kids, there's no just saying, "I'm sorry."

Over time, MEH has gradually evolved to be both a lot harder than when I originally codified based on our discussions, since the metaphor of the blackhole has encouraged a level of absolutism I don't believe in. After all, there are plenty of stories were people escape from black holes.... But it has also gotten softer, because over time it has migrated back to the ___ the Dog crap of talking about how bad characters are.

It really needs cleanup. The basic format for a MEH example, as originally conceived is this:

Before, we knew the character was X (good bad, indifferent, whatevever). After event Y, it was clear they had passed the boundaries of moral understanding.

It simply does not matter whether a character is sympathic, unsympathetic, a Complete Monster, Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, or whatever. It's sufficient that a specific act marks them as evil, as having taken an act of perdition. The MEH is a godlike moment, the perfect opposite to a moment of pure heroic sacrifice or mercy. This is not simply a reaction to a specific act, but an act that clearly signals the moral state of the character. In works lacking moral realism or other objective moral pillars, this is the moment that is simply unforgivable. It is probably not useful to point out that Luke can forgive Vader, because there are plenty of other characters that can't or won't, and Vader was forgiven by his stormtroopers all the time. The MEH is probably not present in works were characters are able to learn to live with their misdeeds. Mass genocide, child rape, and the like are neither sufficient nor necessary for MEH; what is required is an act of moral awareness and spiritual darkness.

In the case were Redemption Equals Death and Moral Event Horizon seem to collide, I don't think there is an inherent contradiction. I think you can invoke MEH first, and then invoke R=D. I don't think it's dishonest in a work to do so. What is not possible in life may be possible in death. It is up to the author to say whether, in their work, death allows you to pay such a debt on your soul.

I think part of the problem is that the article does not make a clear distinction between a) the trope, and b) the narrative arc typically associated with the trope.

Edit: And as far as Complete Monster goes, the Joker undoubtedly had a MEH event somewhere in his past, but we don't know what it was. By the time we meet him, what transpires in The Killing Joke simply establishes his CM cred. It does not constitute new information about his moral capabilities.

edited 11th Jun '12 11:52:16 PM by pawsplay

[up]Before, we knew the character was X (good bad, indifferent, whatevever). After event Y, it was clear they had passed the boundaries of moral understanding.

I support cleaning up the description so it basically says that, and only that.
I support the idea of an event that is meant to make the audience not be able to root for a character anymore. How awful this event is depends a lot on the nature of the series. Using a racial slur might be sufficient in a show like Weeds whereas in a dead baby comedy, multiple murders won't even trigger it.
Like I said, there will be clear evidence within a story that a line has been crossed in some way. That way we don't have to argue on how the audience now has to view the guy as a bastard now.
The most common MEH I can think of is resurrection (and or the attainment of immortality). Once a character has succeed in this (or even if they push too close to it) then you know that they have gone too far and now must die.

For example Adventure Time (any episode with Princess Bubblegum cheating death), Star Wars, The New Testament, Harry Potter, etc.

So like in Adventure Time, having Goliad crush a bug is no big deal, but bringing that same bug back to live marks her as unspeakably evil.

edited 13th Jun '12 6:57:43 PM by hcobb

"Show us the Galaxy Warp."
My preference would be to pare it down to one or two consensus examples per medium and massage the description to be more flexible flexible but also more stringent as to where the bar is. The MEH should clearly establish, by revelation or character development, an unforgivable atrocity within the framework of the story.
That seems wrong on several levels. Consensus examples bad; it implies that this is subjective. Flexibility is bad; the misuse is already out of control. MEH does not reveal an atrocity by way of character development; it develops character by way of an atrocity.

[up][up]You think that Jesus crossed the MEH?

edited 16th Jun '12 9:20:40 PM by Routerie

How do consensus examples imply it is subjective? To me it implies a large number of people agree that something is definitely present. To me, refusing to evalute individual examples implies it is more subjective.
If people have to agree on whether something's present, it's subjective. When something's objective, it's just there or not. People's opinions don't matter.
I'm just showing that resurrection/immortality is the classic MEH.

It ruins Gilgamesh, and when Jesus starts bringing back people on a whim he finds himself "forsaken".

You touch this third rail of mythology and you will suffer.

c.f. Frankenstein, etc. etc.

Healing the living has no such stigma (or stigmata) of course.
"Show us the Galaxy Warp."
[up][up] How do you know it's there? Divine revelation? Objectivity is established by viewing something from multiple viewpionts, which typically means a consensus of opinion.

On the other hand, subjective things don't require agreement at all. If something is subjective, I can say Yes, you can say No, and neither one of us can really be wrong.
The description of ymmv in HomePage- first thing- is "The article might call for a value judgement and your judgement call could be different from another troper's." In other words, if something needs a value judgement, it is ymmv.

edited 17th Jun '12 7:07:46 PM by MagBas

Most tropes are subjective in some way. So what?
[up][up] The whole purpose of consensus is to determine if my viewpoint would not be different from another troper's. Serious question: what are you basing your understanding of objective vs. subjective on?
If your viewpoint could differ from someone else's, that the matter is subjective, not objective.
"Most tropes are subjective in some way."

Disagree. Citation needed.


edited 18th Jun '12 7:10:23 PM by rodneyAnonymous

Becky: Who are you? The Mysterious Stranger: An angel.
Huck: What's your name? The Mysterious Stranger: Satan.
From hitting random a few times: Flying Saucer: How tall does it have to de relative to diameter before it's no longer a saucer? How close to circular does it need to be?

Internal Reveal: How major does the character who discovers something have to be for it to count? How much time has to pass betwween the reveal to the audience and to the character for it not to just be a regular reveal? How consequential a plot point does it need to be to be?

Red Right Hand: What exactly counts as a monstrous defect? Is some characteristic being used as a red right hand to mark villainy or is the fact they have some mark and are a villain merely coincidental (a big issue when the heroes are not normal-looking either)?

Only Law Firm in Town: All these cases do have other law firms they argue against, some of whom are recurring. In fact, both the David E. Kelley and Marvel Universe examples has multiple law firms with their own headlining titles in a shared universe. How do you determine that a law firm is being used more than seems plausible?

Thinker Pose: How long do they have to hold it? Is just the fist under the chin good enough or is this a whole-body pose?

"Wanted!" Poster: How plot-important does the character have to be? How close to the archetypical design must the poster be? Do realistically-styled poster that appear in the background of cop shows ount?

Straightforward: How straightforward must it be?

Almost all tropes involve judgement calls to some degree. Basically, if it's theoretically possible that that someone could start a description with "arguably," then it's not completely objective. This varies trope-to-trope. Ironically, straightforward is a lot fuzzier than flying saucer. Subjectivity is only a problem if no examples will be clear.
Ok, yes, there is an element of subjectivity in many tropes. Some of those are a good demonstration. A couple I think have objective answers (for example "The Reveal occurs when the writers reveal a secret to the audience", character prominence is irrelevant).

"In other words, if something needs a value judgement, it is ymmv" is not true. Doesn't have to be 100% objective to be basically objective, that is an unrealistic bar.

edited 18th Jun '12 7:56:08 PM by rodneyAnonymous

Becky: Who are you? The Mysterious Stranger: An angel.
Huck: What's your name? The Mysterious Stranger: Satan.
There is subjectivity in where the boundaries of the trope are at before it ceases to be the actual trope, which is the leading cause of trope decay including Moral Event Horizon, but a spaceship in the shape of a disk has no subjectivity to it.

Although the reality is that all tropes that require extensive analysis to qualify tend to vary by the opinion of the editor, which is the number one issue with any attempt at fixing this trope. Cause thinking over Avatar: The Last Airbender I can think of two moments when Ozai crossed the line: when he tried to kill Zuko for defecting it was an indication to the audience that Ozai was not doing Tough Love or was merely an aloof parent but he was only using Zuko to the extent that he could be useful to him, and In-Universe what made Zuko defect was because Ozai was setting in motion a plan to massacre the largest city in the world.
You can't cross the MEH twice. It even says that in the description.

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