Follow TV Tropes


Administrivia / Not a Deconstruction

Go To

"You can't go anywhere in today's anime community without seeing it. Fans love to slap it on every show they can as if it's some sort of automatic appraisal. By merely mentioning the word you've booked the show's ticket to greatness. Yes, every year a new slate of series get their seat at the cool kids' table that is 'anime deconstructions,' with little regard for the term's true meaning and whether it fits."
Under The Scope Reviews, What Actually Is A Deconstruction?

The loose usage of the term "deconstruction". This usage is typically because of fans plastering it on to their favourite work to make it seem deeper than it actually is.

Darker and Edgier vs. Deconstruction

Deconstructions are often Darker and Edgier because they take a typical genre or trope and examine the likely implications of that trope that straight uses tend to ignore in the interests of Escapism. Playing with a trope in this way is potentially a potent way to reveal the underlying Fridge Horror of a trope or genre. Thus a cartoon version of the medieval princess becomes grittier and less colorful. However, the reverse is not true; making something darker and edgier isn't necessarily a deconstruction.

If the princess is raised in a restrictive environment due to her gender, becomes a pawn in international politics, and learns to keep her head above the water by playing political intrigue using feminine wiles and her position of influence with powerful people, this is a deconstruction.

If the kingdom is invaded by a brutal neighboring nation, the royal family's murder described in Gornful detail, and the princess repeatedly raped before being sold into sexual slavery, this is Darker and Edgier but not a deconstruction.

Simultaneously, deconstructing a trope that's inherently dark can cause it to become Lighter and Softer, demonstrating that in reality, the impact of the trope would not be as severe as it is in fiction, if it would even work at all. The result might even be Played for Laughs; see Deconstructive Parody. Deconstructing a Slasher Movie could involve the victims fighting back and actually inflicting significant injuries to the murderer, and end with the slasher being overpowered and arrested by the police. That's nowhere near as dark as the standard formula of helpless victims being slain one by one by an Invincible Villain, but it deconstructs the genre by showing how such a plot would likely play out in reality. The trope Dystopia Is Hard deconstructs the dystopia by showing that realistically, an oppressive tyrant will almost certainly be toppled and replaced by a better form of government eventually.

Subversion vs. Deconstruction

Again, these two aren't mutually exclusive. When a trope is deconstructed, its consequences are subverted by playing them true to life rather than going with the conventional depiction, but not all subversions are deconstructions.

  • Tap on the Head played straight: A character is rendered unconscious with a blow to the head, with no ill effects afterward.
  • Subverted: For laughs - ":thump: Ow! That hurt! What'd you do that for? :thump: Stop hitting me! :thump: [attacks]"
  • Deconstructed: The character hit isn't rendered unconscious, but severely concussed, still capable of limited movement or slurred speech, but not of resisting. He spends days with fuzzy vision and headaches.

When an entire genre is deconstructed, it's usually not a subversion. Watchmen and Kingdom Come deconstructed superheroes by giving them realistic and often unfortunate motivations, goals, and results, but both made clear from their opening pages that these were not your grandparents' comic book stories—they weren't subverting the genre because they never purported to be a straight example of the genre in the first place.

Aversion vs. Deconstruction

There are a lot of tropes out there that are necessary to some kinds of fiction. When a woman in a bodice ripper gets kidnapped by pirates and ends up falling in love with her lusty, bearded, Byronic Hero, you'll probably notice that she's surrounded by The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything.

In a historical novel, she will be travelling on an India-bound member of the merchant fleet before their ship is attacked by corsairs who torture the crew for their valuables, force the ship's carpenter, cooper, and smith to join their crew, and then kidnap her for good measure. She is most definitely not surrounded by The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything.

Some tropes hold up certain genres (a story set in a court that isn't full of deadly intrigue probably won't be interesting), others are handwaves or Plot Holes that we accept for the sake of the story. A genre deconstruction, by making the story more realistic, will tear these tropes to pieces or simply abandon them. Thus a genre deconstruction may often entail averting some tropes typical to the genre.

However, deconstructing a trope by itself doesn't entail averting the trope. Quite the opposite; deconstructing a trope means the trope is played even straighter than normal (this is why an Unbuilt Trope can resemble a Deconstruction sometimes) and its consequences or cause are explored in detail, usually for the purpose of irony, satire, or straight up horror.

Inversion vs. Deconstruction

An inverted trope is one that's turned on its head, played back to front. A High-Heel–Face Turn might be inverted by The Heart of the Five-Man Band being seduced to evil, or the lone man working with a group of female villains might come to the side of good.

A deconstruction would instead play the trope as straight as possible to explore how it might play in reality. The lone female villain might switch sides because, let's face it, are bad guys likely to be feminists who respect her opinions and give her equal pay? (Unless the villains are Straw Feminists, but that would avert the trope unless the other misandrists are male.) Perhaps she was just arm candy and never really paid attention to what her boyfriend was doing? Or it turns out the heroes don't ever trust her because, used to be evil + betrayal = why would they?

Reconstruction vs. Deconstruction

The difference between reconstruction and deconstruction depend largely on what the end goal becomes. A deconstruction is about demonstrating the flaws of a trope or genre and leaves it at that. It is a situation that has no easy out. A reconstruction offers a solution on how to fix the situation via the repairs to the characters and story.

In many cases a reconstruction is a deconstruction of the original deconstruction, pointing out the flaws of the deconstruction and why that doesn't have to be the end result. Some works, naturally, will try to do both at the same time; deconstructing the original premise to reconstruct a new, more logically consistent solution at the end that still fits the spirit of the original pattern.

Tropes Are Tools vs. Deconstruction

Though this is mostly limited to pages in the Playing With namespace, some Tropers think that audiences reacting negatively to a trope can count as a deconstruction. Deconstructing a trope means showing its realistic consequences in the story, not outside of it. Deconstructing Nintendo Hard could involve showing the game's setting gradually turning into a Crapsack World as the characters In-Universe struggle to survive the challenges of the world. Players Rage Quitting after becoming frustrated, though, is not deconstructing the trope.

Square Peg, Round Trope vs. Deconstruction

In the worst case, something labeled a "deconstruction" isn't actually an example of the trope at all; it's been shoehorned in.

Deconstructivism vs. Deconstruction

Deconstructivist architecture is a form of architecture that had its naming due to being opposite of architectural style called Constructivism that emerged from Constructivist movement in art and was in favor in the '30s, especially in the Soviet Union. Constructivism attempts to purge dedicated decorative elements and builds aesthetics around structural and utilitarian elements, aiming to build forms around function. Deconstructivism, in opposition, spits at function and builds forms that purposefully defy engineering needs. While some architects of that movement made architectural works that could be classified as a deconstruction, the movement in and of itself is not. Mark Wigley, PhD in deconstuctivist philosophy and its relation to architecture, noted that it had nothing to do with Deconstructions. So if you feel that an architectural work should be on here for deconstructing architecture, think twice.