Main Viewersare Geniuses Discussion

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09:35:06 AM May 29th 2016
So about the page's picture. I feel it shouldn't be an example, as just about everyone who's taken a literature class in highschool knows who Edgar Allen Poe is.
01:26:10 PM Jul 23rd 2017
Well, it's not a concern of how well-known the creator of a work is, as the same can be said for any major literary figure. The reason that editor chose Edgar Allen Poe is because a good chunk of people, especially in high school literature classes, have a hard time understanding the contents of the works. In the listed examples, many of the creators are well-known, like Jethro Tull, EAP, Iron Maiden, et cetera, but the pieces in question are difficult to understand completely without doing a good deal of research.
01:21:12 AM Aug 4th 2015
"Inception. There's a lot to keep track of in this film, including dream rules and levels, and after the initial period of exposition and heist planning, Nolan expects you to figure it out for yourself."

I disagree, I felt like the movie over explained everything and didn't trust me to figure out anything on my own. I consider that film an example of assuming viewers are morons.
05:42:50 AM Jun 16th 2015
edited by Arivne
Commented out the following Live-Action TV Zero-Context Example and copied it here.

  • The 1980s TV Series Max Headroom, of all things, was short-lived largely for this reason.

Deleted the following Natter that violated Example Indentation from the Literature examples below.

William Gibson

  • Note that this story is set in the future. Even extrapolating from the time that Gibson was writing, it states specifically that the Tessier-Ashpool clan had been in orbit for an unspecified but significant length of time; long enough for the clan's progenitors to establish the satellite and die of old age, as well as the next generation going into cryogenic freeze for a mortal generation (Molly's lifespan at the time of the story), possibly having done so several times. The process of creating the Boston Atlanta Metropolitan Axis would require at least a full century, which in turn would allow solid-state (silent) desktop computers to become as common and inexpensive as their current real-world equivalents.

Peter Watt's Blindsight

  • Note that Fourier transforms do not really "appear." They can take a radio signal and give the strength of each of a large number of small frequency bands in the larger band of frequencies to which the radio receiver is tuned. What you would see is something like this.

A Song of Ice and Fire

  • They are bestsellers though and the plot and storyline isn't Mind Screw at all.
01:00:01 AM Dec 24th 2014
edited by
How is the page image an example of this trope? Edgar Allen Poe's generally very well known nowadays, and even if he wasn't, that's a Genius Bonus, not this trope, since the joke doesn't really seem to be important to the episode in question.
02:22:32 AM Dec 24th 2014
He is not that well known. Also, the importance of the element to the story is now what Genius Bonus is about.
07:57:17 PM Nov 12th 2013
edited by
Does anyone have more information about the Death Note fic mentioned on the page?
12:42:31 PM Oct 5th 2012
There are entries here that are simply ridiculous. Recognizing that kangaroos and boomerangs are from the same country ... umm ... that's not Viewers Are Geniuses. That's Viewers Have Even The Most Basic General Knowledge.

A lot of the other entries (such as the Myth Adventures one, which names a throwaway Funny Background Event gag) are works that have a Genius Bonus. If the viewer's knowledge provides an additional laugh or reference that isn't required to understand the work, it's NOT Viewers Are Geniuses at all.

The bar is set really, really low here. Maybe half of what's on this page falls into one of these two categories.
12:16:44 PM Mar 15th 2012
I have some problems with the Anime/Bee Train series entry. Namely, there's not a lot of grounds for this claim that they "require so much reading between the lines and background cultural knowledge that most viewers refuse to believe that something worthy was there in the first place". I smell a personal opinion dressed as a received opinion, at least regarding the specified series.

Noir is pretty simple, requires no more cultural knowledge than, for example, Leon, and everything in it is well explained. Most of the dislike of this series comes from the slow pacing; people go in expecting a bang-bang gunfights thriller, and while they get that in the end, the setup required to get there and sustain the story across 26 episodes means you also get very minimalist character studies and quiet scenes where the music and the visuals do more talking than the characters do.

Madlax goes faster, but more happens generally; still, it's no more complex than, say, Fight Club, albeit about very different things, and since it deals with fictional characters in a fictional warzone between two fictional countries, background and cultural knowledge is a bit of a non-issue.
10:45:28 PM Aug 21st 2011
Removed "Some viewers didn't give a damn, as they were too busy noting how much of a ripoff of The Matrix it was." for Inception. It comes out like an opinion complaining. If you want to put it back in explain how some people felt this way, and not come off like its just you feeling that way.
04:57:48 AM Aug 5th 2011
Um, small thing - shouldn't this be titled 'Viewers are Genii'?
08:51:58 AM May 7th 2014
No, because it's English, not Latin.
09:07:58 PM May 30th 2011
Should Unpleasable Fanbase be related? Fans wanted a "more intelligent" show, yet when they get it, they don't watch it.
04:46:18 PM Apr 28th 2011
Was this page intentionally made so that people could wank off about how difficult their favorite piece of literature/film/music is to understand? We could've turned this into a sort of experiment - just how many stupid things people could feel snobbish about. Heavy metal, comic books, WRESTLING? How about porn: "Another good example of this is the Bonkit brothers - they start with 15 minutes of 12th century Italian poetry as foreplay, have sex on beds shaped like Egyptian fertility symbols and in between the oral sex scenes the camera slowly pans over old photographs showing mine-workers from 1930's Mexico with titles in Spanish: "Deeper, deeper, deeper!" And if your mind can get through all that unscathed, during the money shot the woman silently mouths the third verse from "Blowing in the wind" while another actor in the background performs a pitch-perfect imitation of Marcel Marceau's Walking against the wind.
04:57:03 AM Aug 5th 2011
Um, did you make this post so you could feel snobbish about not feeling snobbish about things which you snobblishly feel are beneath you? Heavy metal is not inherently unintelligent (despite what Parkway Drive want us to think), and neither are comic books (despite what Superman wants us to think). I don't know much about wrestling, and while the WWE choreograpy is often atrocious, that wouldn't rule out room for commentators to make intelligent jokes, nor would it rule out the possiblilty of other professional wrestling circuits to be of higher quality. Also, if everything in that porn paragraph is true, it sounds like someone's dropped a definate Genius Bonus
02:28:14 AM Mar 25th 2011
edited by adamflint
06:57:59 AM Sep 19th 2010
I'm concerned that a lot of examples given just aren't examples at all - they're not examples of producers assuming that Viewers Are Geniuses, merely examples of producers assuming (incorrectly) that Viewers Are Not Morons. In other words, examples are being quoted here just because they can't be quoted in Viewers Are Morons.

  • "Panorama's legendary "Spaghetti trees" April Fools bit had people actually calling the BBC and asking how they could grow Spaghetti trees of their own."
    • How is this an example? Are we saying that it takes a genius to know that a) spaghetti doesn't grow on trees, and/or that b) lies are told on April Fools Day? Much the same can be said about pretty much every example in the "mockumentary/hoax" section.
  • "Yet another Far Side example. An American comedian in some TV special (who I forget) goes around showing people this particular Far Side comic and seeing them try to figure it out. The comic in question showed a kangaroo on a street amongst some humans, and one of the humans is dead and has a boomerang in his head, and the kangaroo is thinking "That was meant for me!" The Americans apparently had allot of trouble with it, but to me, an Australian, it was pretty obvious boomerangs are an aboriginal hunting tool often used to hunt kangaroos. Nowadays they're mostly hunted by white people with guns."
    • The joke in this case will be obvious to anybody who knows that kangaroos and boomerangs come from the same country. You don't even need to know the name of that country. I know we're talking about Americans here, but come on, is that really the criterion we're going to use to define the word "genius"?
  • "Ghostwatch, a BBC special Halloween show about celebrities conducting a seance which goes badly wrong. The show was later implicated in several suicides by people who believed that Michael Parkinson actually had been possessed by a poltergeist and was about to unleash his wrath upon Britain. It was done with much more care and attention to detail than the vast majority of the shows it was parodying, actually the buildup was done better than most Hollywood scary movies. Oh, and it was almost pure Nightmare Fuel."
    • Again, "Knowing/believing that ghosts don't exist" = "genius"? I'm also concerned with this one, as well as the previous hoaxes and April Fools' Day jokes, that it shouldn't really count if the whole point was to mislead the viewer.
[posted by Branfish, not signed in]
01:57:52 PM Jun 10th 2010
edited by Promethean
Is "Viewers Are Geniuses" a bad thing? Is invoking it always a mistake, unless subverted somehow? The main article seems to suggest this, but a lot of the examples are very successful and acclaimed works. There seem to be two different understandings of this trope:

1. The story doesn't work properly unless the viewer has detailed knowledge on something that's considered obscure by the target audience

2. The story simply makes a reference to something that's not common knowledge

The difference is that 2. doesn't necessarily affect the quality of the story at all. In some cases, when you know the writers have done their research it may give you an expectation of authenticity (even if you wouldn't actually recognise un-authentic Roman armor anyway).

So which is it? Do we want examples like the Aubrey-Maturin series, which really requires you to know A LOT about napolean naval warfare to understand the battles? Or do we want examples like O Brother, Where Art Thou, with its shout-outs to Homer which don't really affect the plot at all?
06:01:54 PM Jun 10th 2010
Bwuh? Viewers Are Geniuses is a positive Pot Hole nearly everywhere I've seen it...uh-oh, I think I see the problem. Viewers Are Geniuses, in context, is usually intended to mean Genius Bonus. This page's description is referring to something else entirely, and I'm not even totally sure what. The YKTTW archive's basic principle of "the writers assume the audience will understand something, but they don't" is the most useful concept we have here, and it seems to fit a plurality of the examples.

Ach. This needs fixing, badly- I say we rename it to Overestimating The Audience, and fix the pot holes where necessary to be either this or Genius Bonus. I made a crowner to vote on whether this is a prudent course of action.
01:25:18 AM Jun 11th 2010
I see what's happened now. I hope the new Overestimating The Audience description makes it clear that it's not the same as a Genius Bonus, and that it only counts if the work's intended audience doesn't get it - not e.g. when it's simply old, or foreign (everything's foreign to someone), or intended for a high-brow or expert audience.
01:29:35 AM May 15th 2010
Proposed criterion:
  • If the work requires the viewer to understand the reference to appreciate it, then it belongs here. If the work can be appreciated without understanding references, it belongs on Genius Bonus.

Needs work. Especially since not everything is about references.

Also, Arrested Development isn't here? Part of the reason the show failed was because the average viewer didn't find it funny, because they didn't catch the references and subtleties, as well as the references to previous episodes.
10:29:03 PM Apr 3rd 2010
Removed this:

  • The poker game in the movie Casino Royale is quite difficult to follow for those who aren't very familiar with poker. Particularly weird compared to the rest of the movie.
    • Which in and of itself is actually a case of Viewers Are Morons because in the novel they're playing Baccarat. The producers changed it to Poker because it was popular at the time and didn't think the audience would understand Baccarat.
      • This may have worked out for the better. Baccarat's very much a game of chance played against the dealer (which some would argue would actually be MORE exciting). Poker has more of a psychological aspect and it's played against the other players.

Mathis provides a constant Idiot's Guide to Poker commentary through each poker scene.
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