Misused: Rule Of Symbolism

Deadlock Clock: 8th Feb 2013 11:59:00 PM
Total posts: [19]
The description of this trope starts off with this:

Essentially, this is when something would normally stretch Willing Suspension of Disbelief, but it is so central to the themes or premise of the story that it is allowed so that it can be used as a symbol.

However, this trope seems to be very widely used to just refer to symbolic elements within a work in general, with no analysis of whether the symbolic elements are believable in their own right or not. It certainly doesn't help that Symbolism redirects to this trope. Do 'symbolic elements that stretch willing suspension of disbelief' really need their own trope? Especially since said trope seems to be completely overshadowed by 'symbolic elements in general' in practice.
I know. The misuse on this one is insane. And it just contributes to the idea that "Rule Of X" means "X" or "for the sake of being X."

We should probably cut and redlink Rule of Symbolism because I can't imagine how we can convince people of its true meaning. We can create a new page for cases when something is done for symbolism but makes no literal sense - the current page has valid examples. And we should make page for plain Symbolism and change most of the current Rule OF Symbolism wicks to that.
Can we have some examples? Most of the ones I saw seemed to be fitting parallels to Rule of Cool, Rule of Funny and Rule of Drama. There are a bunch of zero-context examples and a few misuse, but the it seems like a valid trope and in line with the rest of its family.
I agree it's a valid trope, and the examples on the trope page itself fit its description, but seeing it used properly outside of that seems to be an exception. Like I said, people just seem to be using this any time they want to discuss symbolism. I'll take some examples to illustate.

AdventuresOfHuckleberryFinn YMMV:
And yet some critics have argued that there is some hidden symbolism in that Huck and Jim's several arguments are actually about slavery.

Rule of Symbolism: The film, despite taking a lot of flak for its derivative plot, makes judicious use of symbols: dreams, twins/doubles, living inside another body...

In "Winter Is Coming," the Starks find two dead animals who died fighting each other - a stag and a direwolf. The latter has six pups which map directly onto the Stark children (including Jon Snow, who gets an albino who ran or was driven away from the others). Everyone is disturbed by this in-universe, as the symbolism of the house sigils is very important in Westeros.

All these are just pointing out and explaining the symbolic elements in the work in question, which is not what the trope is about (according to its description, it should only be used for when symbolic elements are shoved into a work and their inclusion is justified pretty much only by their symbolic meaning, and these examples certainly don't count, especially as their writers make no attempts to explain how these elements are inexplicable). It's as if Rule of Funny were being linked to just for discussing and explaining funny elements in a work, but not to point out where suspension of disbelief is stretched for the sake of humor. I haven't really looked into that, and I hope that's not common, but if it is, it would be wrong too.

For contrast, here's an example of a seemingly valid use of the trope, but it's a rare exception:

Rule of Symbolism: By Word of God, the reason for the seeming Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, "Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart", is not merely to show off Bernadette Peters, nor 1920's Paris, but a reflection of both cultural progress at the time and Anastasia's Character Development. On the one hand, Russia was dying while the rest of Europe was explosively alive, with much of this renaissance based in Paris; on the other hand, this ties into Anya leaving a dead world for one vibrant and alive, paralleling her leaving behind an empty, soulless existence for one where she could bloom, grow, and begin a new, happy life.

Here the symbolic element is a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment (by definition an somewhat inexplicable scene that doesn't advance the plot) which seems to be there mainly to get some symbolism across - just what Rule of Symbolism calls for.

Maybe discussions of symbolism within a work should just go to a works' YMMV page (under a new meta concept trope called Symbolism, Symbolic Themes, etc.) or even its own special page; I think Rule of Symbolism is being abused because people have no other outlet for discussing symbolism. Funny stuff and cool (= awesome) stuff have their own crowning sections, but symbolic stuff has only Rule of Symbolism.

edited 10th Jul '12 7:55:24 PM by spellraiser

Any more thoughts on this? Rename to clarify the definition? Give up and just rename it "Symbolism"? Create a new trope for symbolism?
Creating a page for general symbolism would certainly help.

As for this trope's page, just add a note stressing that it's not about symbolism being present in the story, but about a seemingly inexplicable scene appears just to highlight the symbolism. Or maybe just rewrite the main article to more clearly state this.

Then offer up a link to a general symbolism trope/super trope for comparison.

It may help a bit to reference Rule of Funny and Rule of Cool to help out. (Of course I haven't visited those pages in ages. I've no idea if those are being misused, as well.
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[up]I agree with just about all of this. I think the lack of a Symbolism supertrope (for when an element in a work is clearly symbolic, yet fits organically in its context) is responsible for a lot of the misuse.

edited 4th Aug '12 4:22:38 AM by DoktorvonEurotrash

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I like that idea!
9 SeptimusHeap17th Aug 2012 04:42:10 AM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
Definitively agree on a Symbolism supertrope.
Regardless of what happens with Rule of Symbolism, a Symbolism supertrope is definitely needed.
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definitely needs a supertrope.

Anyone want to start the YKTTW to start it?
Why not just merge all examples into Faux Symbolism, and decide what is and isn't faux. Also, we should have a symbolism thing that isn't YMMV, because there are works that have obvious symbolism, which thus can't be used on the main page.

edited 29th Sep '12 6:13:28 PM by bulmabriefs144

I volunteer to make the Symbolism supertrope.

Also, it looks like Main.Symbolism is already a redirect to Rule of Symbolism.

edited 1st Dec '12 12:27:27 PM by WaxingName

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14 Victin19th Dec 2012 02:37:49 PM from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil , Relationship Status: LET'S HAVE A ZILLION BABIES
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I think there should be a page for Symbolism, maybe even with some short descriptions about the most commom symbolism, like 'Chess" and "Tarot" (There are already pages for those, thus the "short description")

EDIT: Well, the only page with a long explanation is Tarot Motifs, Chess Motifs and Alchemy, for example, have nothing.

edited 19th Dec '12 2:59:06 PM by Victin

15 TropeEater31st Dec 2012 06:29:20 PM from the depths of Hell
That One Troper
[up][up][up] I don't think that's a good idea. Faux Symbolism is much more specific than "symbolism that's not really symbolism" — Faux Symbolism is essentially gratuitous religious or philosophical imagery that doesn't really mean anything. For example, Aslan getting killed and coming back to life by the White Witch is true religious allegory — inserting Crucified Hero Shots just for the hell of it isn't. It looks like this page is being used as just "symbolism", in which case attempting to move the examples to Faux Symbolism will just be more effort than it is worth.
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16 SeptimusHeap1st Jan 2013 01:48:18 AM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
Has anyone made this Symbolism YKTTW?
This is what comes of splitting What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic? and not bothering to sort out the examples properly.
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Total posts: 19