Complaining: Idiot Plot

Deadlock Clock: 17th Dec 2012 11:59:00 PM
Total posts: [73]
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It seems whenever I figure I don't need to ^^ stuff that's when the confusion comes in. Stratadrake was commenting on something I said and I was adding to it. I was just saying the problem is straight up misuse and not debating over gradations of "idiot."
Well, I don't know about everybody else, but so far my understanding of Idiot Ball and Idiot Plot is this:

Idiot Ball: One or more characters does something stupid, or doesn't do something obvious, but while it is inconvenient and/or creates conflict, or even result in deaths, the plot of the show, movie, book, etc. would still happen and be more or less the same even without the stupid moment.

Idiot Plot: One or more characters does something stupid, or doesn't do something obvious, and the plot would not occur at all without the stupid moment, regardless of if more stupid moments that also allow the plot to continue occur or not.

In other words, Idiot Ball is something stupid the characters do but is ultimately irrelevant to the events of the story, while Idiot Plot is the occurance of one or many stupid moments by the characters that the story can't exist without.

At least, this is how I understand those tropes, correct me if I'm wrong.

edited 21st Dec '12 4:23:37 PM by immortalfrieza

No, definitely not. Idiot Ball is a character briefly becoming stupid in order to allow the plot to progress smoothly (forgetting about a power to solve the situation, not asking a question they'd normal ask, etc). Idiot Plot is when the entire plot hinges on everyone being an idiot. Or at least the main characters.
[up] Ok, if that's the way you view it. I consider my understanding of the 2 tropes much more clear cut as to which is which.

edited 21st Dec '12 4:50:06 PM by immortalfrieza

55 Noaqiyeum21st Dec 2012 06:55:01 PM from the October Country , Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
The it-thingy
That isn't how they're defined, though. 'A character does something stupid that doesn't affect the main plot' isn't even tropable, I don't think.
This isn't an arbitrary "This is what the name sounds like" definition, they are pre-existing terms coined by Roger Ebert. It's also made it around some professional circles where actors in tv shows would complain about which character will be handed the Idiot Ball in this weeks episode. Thus this thread isn't about trying to clarify the definition but trying to figure out how best to keep people from nattering up the wiki with the tropes, like I said the difference between "characters acting stupid for the sake of the plot" and "editors think this plot was stupid."
57 nrjxll22nd Dec 2012 07:36:24 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
[up]And? I still fail to see why we've decided that this trope must be strictly held to the existing definition - even when it leads to complaining and some downright stupid redundancy - but don't do the same with other preexisting terms.
Dragon Writer
Ebert may have coined the term but he has little to no say in how other people use it. Terms evolve, sometimes change, based on how they're used.
59 Noaqiyeum22nd Dec 2012 09:49:47 PM from the October Country , Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
The it-thingy
[up][up] It isn't adhering to the definition that causes natter and redundancy; quite the reverse, by all evidence.
60 nrjxll22nd Dec 2012 10:13:32 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
[up]How so? The issue here, as I see it, is that people want to stick with the original definition's "breaks Willing Suspension of Disbelief" clause and the associated negative tone. I can't see how getting rid of that would do anything but help with natter.
And pre-existing terms are not arbitrarily changed because of the way this wiki uses them or because TRS came up with something more appropriate for the name, there has to be evidence outside the wiki that it has evolved into what we are seeing within. On a few occasions (which I think is appropriate for here) we modify the use of a pre-existing term in such a way that it culls natter and prevents "trope ranting."

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but we have seen frequently from past experience that any definition that hinges of Willing Suspension of Disbelief will either be unilaterally YMMV, Darth Wiki or eliminated right out.

Looking over both Idiot Ball and Idiot Plot it is pretty clear a lot of the examples have absolutely nothing to do with character's behaving like idiots and more about Fridge Logic or blatant "It Just Bugs Me" nonsense. One of the few good examples comes from Roger Ebert himself on Paranormal Activity 2, where he said that realistically the people involved would have called in the actual paranormal investigators or even a SWAT team by day 7 but just suffer on because the plot demands it. Instead we get examples like Palpatine creating the Empire and trying to paint the senate as being idiots for believing him even though he "looks like a monster" when in actuality Palpatine clearly used his disfigurement to gain sympathy.
62 nrjxll23rd Dec 2012 02:18:24 AM , Relationship Status: Not war
And you honestly don't think that sort of thing has anything to do with the clause you're so insistent on telling editors "this is bad"?
63 SeptimusHeap23rd Dec 2012 02:26:58 AM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
So, this one needs cleanup. Also, the "this is bad" note needs to go.
^^ What are you talking about? I've said nothing about adding or taking anything away from the current descriptions other than maybe some routine nip-and-tuck. All I've been suggesting is cleaning up examples while immortalfrieza was proposing changing the definitions entirely (and into something that would do nothing to stop misuse).
65 Noaqiyeum23rd Dec 2012 10:46:50 PM from the October Country , Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
The it-thingy
[up][up][up] Nrj, the problem with the page is that people are not adhering to the definition. Changing the definition will not do a thing to help if people are obviously not reading it in the first place.
66 nrjxll24th Dec 2012 01:57:48 AM , Relationship Status: Not war
I'll admit now - I've been mistaken about the definition. The suspension of disbelief stuff isn't actually in there as it stands. I think the tone of the description is encouraging complaining to some degree, and needs a rewrite, but it's not the issue I thought it was.

edited 24th Dec '12 1:58:51 AM by nrjxll

[up][up][up] It would do plenty to stop the misuse of this trope. For the most part, the Idiot Plot is subject to misuse is because it's VERY poorly defined as to what the difference is between and Idiot Plot and Idiot Ball. Looking at the trope pages side by side, there is VERY little difference between the two tropes. Even if this wasn't the case, the two tropes are strongly linked, there is going to be quite a bit of unavoidable cross pollination between the two.

In fact, by their current definitions the only difference between Idiot Ball and Idiot Plot that I can see is that the first is stupid things 1 person does during the story when they normally wouldn't to advance a plot line, while the second is when more than 1 person does stupid things during the story when they normally wouldn't to advance a plot line, a miniscule distinction at best. From where I'm standing it seems like they are barely worthy of being two different tropes at all.

edited 25th Dec '12 3:35:33 PM by immortalfrieza

That's not the distinction everyone else is using. I really don't know where you're getting that idea.
"Characters do something stupid that has no impact on the plot" isn't even a trope (if it doesn't mean anything to the plot then there is no reason to trope it) and the distinction between Idiot Ball and Idiot Plot isn't even what is causing the problems in the first place. The only reason we are including them together in this discussion is because they are so closely related (and the misuse is parallel to each other) that any repairs done to one likely has to be done to the other.
70 Ogodei5th Jan 2013 01:35:54 PM from The front lines
Fuck you, Fascist sympathizers
I noticed one in this article under "Naruto" that is just factually untrue (the part that asks why Tobi just didn't capture Naruto himself at any point before the time-skip), which is largely because Akatsuki didn't even start trying to capture Jinchuuriki until the arc where Itachi and Kisame first appeared in Konoha, and from that point forward Naruto usually was protected by high-power Ninja, until he became one himself.
71 Jeduthun8th Feb 2013 11:54:02 AM , Relationship Status: watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
Won't you be my neighbor
I think the two tropes are distinct yet with a clear overlap:

  • Idiot Plot is a situation depending on a conflict that would be resolved if only certain characters stopped thinking like idiots for a second; may result from one or more of them holding the Idiot Ball.
  • Idiot Ball is when a character behaves uncharacteristically stupid; may result in an Idiot Plot.

Clear enough?

edited 8th Feb '13 11:56:07 AM by Jeduthun

If you live as humans do, it will be the end of you. -James Thurber
72 SeptimusHeap8th Feb 2013 11:54:42 AM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
Clear enough for me. Not sure what the other issue is.
73 Xtifr9th Feb 2013 10:31:51 AM , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
World's Toughest Milkman
"Characters do something stupid that has no impact on the plot" isn't even a trope

You're confusing "plot" and "story". If something has an Excuse Plot that's simply there to further, say, the Rule of Funny, then elements that have absolutely nothing to do with the plot can most definitely be tropes.

Anyway, I'm with jeduthun and septimus; I don't see a problem here. Idiot Ball is when a character behaves uncharacteristically stupidly, to further the plot. Idiot Plot is when all the characters have to be idiots, or the plot won't work. This may involve them all holding the Idiot Ball, but only if they're normally not that stupid. For standalone works, there may be no "normally" to contrast with. Note that some or all of the characters can be idiots without either trope coming into play.

edited 9th Feb '13 10:32:19 AM by Xtifr

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Total posts: 73
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