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Quotes / Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy

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Film — Live-Action

Sherrie: Well, I like Jigsaw. I think he kills people very creatively.
Trudie: But you don't give a shit who dies because there's no character development. There's just body parts ripping and blood spewing. Ugh.


There are nineteen rules governing literary art in domain of romantic fiction — some say twenty-two. ... They require that the author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and in their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones. But the reader of the "Deerslayer" tale dislikes the good people in it, is indifferent to the others, and wishes they would all get drowned together.
Mark Twain, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses"

Live-Action TV

"Gotta have opposites. Light and dark, dark and light... You have light-on-light, you have nothing. You have dark-on-dark, you basically have nothing."


That things happen as they do in Shuttle I suppose is true, however rarely. But a film can have an opinion about them. This one simply serves them up in hard merciless detail. There is no release for the audience, no 'entertainment', not even much action excitement. Just a remorseless march into the dark.

Tabletop Games

It can't rain all the time. Know when to let the sun break through the clouds. Sure, an Orphan's lot is supposed to be brutal, desperate and alienated, but if that's all there is, why bother? Mage is about hope, after all; that hope is hard-won, often purchased with blood sacrifice, but it is there. If the chronicle becomes an endless parade of miserable cliches, if the characters cannot ever get a break, the game grinds down and dies. Most down-and-outers have lost hope because they cannot change their world. Mages, even Orphans, can. That fact offers the key to the urban cage. Don't throw it away.''
Mage: The Ascension - The Orphan's Survival Guide

Web Animation

"There is no hope, only empty despair as one trudges pass the broken works of those who came before; the silent ruins a testament to their false pride. Kinda like my Facebook feed."

Western Animation

"Yeah, I got royally screwed, know who was there for me? No one, because everyone's an asshole and the whole world sucks balls."
Bojack Horseman, That's Too Much, Man (Season 3, episode 11).


Real Life

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    On Anime & Manga 
"This would be much more heartwrenching if not for the fact that this series has conditioned me to expect death every five minutes."

    On Comic Books 
Killing characters raises the stakes of a story. But when you get to the point that an average of five characters per issue are getting killed off, I think the law of diminishing returns kicks in and it stops meaning anything. I think this might've happened because Jeph Loeb was trying to mimick Mark Millar's work, and Mark Millar's stories can be dark and cynical. But I think that Millar was always trying to at least deconstruct comic book tropes and ground things, and I think Jeph Loeb maybe just took that surface sheen of sort of violence and negativity and just applied that to his story.

It's like the absurdity of the '90s fucked the grittiness of the '80s and then they both doubled-teamed decency until... you know, I could go on here but then I'd be getting as graphically vile as this title itself.

"Making every hero on earth as dark as Batman? That was your master plan? Great. So, after the audience gets bored to tears by every hero being just like every other hero, they'll be so depressed over how freakin' BLEAK they are, they'll KILL THEMSELVES!"

"A good sign of whether or not your Batman is being characterized properly is as follows: Could you picture this Batman comforting a scared child? If yes, congratulations! This a certified Batman. If not, I'm afraid you instead have The Punisher in a silly hat."

"And what are we left with? Monsters killing monsters?"

    On Film — Animated 
John Lasseter: It was a story filled with the most unhappy, mean people.
Thomas Schumacher: Jeffrey [Katzenberg] said, "Well, why is this so terrible?" to me in the hallway. I said, "Well, because it's not their movie anymore. We've—it's completely not the movie that John set out to make."
— "Black Friday: the Toy Story You Never Saw", on the Katzenberg-meddled, Darker and Edgier first cut of the film and its poor appeal

    On Film — Live-Action 
You half expected them to turn their guns on each other. Not that you'd know which cop to root for if it did come down to that, as there was zero character development and the whole thing looked like it was shot through a rusty window screen.

Watching cardboard characters meet horrible fates can be entertaining, but where's the fun in watching real human beings die in what you thought was going to be light entertainment? A certain plot development in one of the films mentioned here made me sob so convulsively it almost washed my contact lenses away, and, honestly, I'm not sure how much of that level of cinematic trauma I could take.

"All that happens is that Picard discovers that if he grew up in a space mine, he'd just turn into a raging psychopath that pulls a spike through his guts. Gee, how uplifting. But couldn't they've ended it like the show ended? With a nice game of Pinochle? Somethin' where ya don't feel like slitting your wife's wrists?

"(Oh and in related news: Bambi killed herself in the bathroom after I found out she was 'TAKIN' MONEY OUTTA MY WALLET I guess she felt guilty about it.)"

"I don't want to sound callous, but I want to see this place become a CRATER!"

"If anything, I feel disturbed by the fact that when I watch another person get their head bitten off by a monster, I feel no emotion whatsoever. It is wrong to feel uninterested, indifferent, and bored when you see somebody die. But, that's what this movie does to you."

"After Ripley survived the events of Aliens, along with Newt, Corporal Hicks, and what's left of the android Bishop, you'd think they'd get a little break. But nope, the ship has a fire and they crash on a planet. Nobody survives the crash except Ripley; all these characters that you rooted for in the last movie, are all dead! Even the little girl is dead! It's like a cruel joke! Even worse, this is a prison planet full of criminals and rapists, with Ripley being the only woman. With everything the character has been through, you'd think there'd be some light at the end of the tunnel, but no; Alien³ immediately drops her into hell and starts off on a depressing note which sustains for the entire film. When I saw this for the first time when I was about twelve years old, I couldn't even stand to watch it! This movie is so depressing, it'll make you want to blow your brains out!"

    On Literature 
"When this story first appeared, the fans detested it. I read it over, perplexed by their hostility, and could see why: it is a superdowner story, and relentlessly so. Could I rewrite it, I would have it end differently."
Philip K. Dick on his short story Sales Pitch

In Night Watch, there is criticism of the powerful who abuse their position, but anyone who tries to change it is mocked as an idealistic buffoon. The rebels receive a pile of ridicule even though they’re fighting a repressive dictatorship that kidnaps and tortures them. The people are depicted as petty, gullible and easily distracted, and almost deserve a dictator. Instead of fighting for what’s right, the book takes a “Giant Douche v Turd Sandwich” approach to politics and its [sic] hard to avoid the conclusion that there’s no point trying to make things better, because it won’t work.

    On Live-Action TV 
My real issue with 'Everything Changes' isn't the childishness of its nature, but how none of the characters are especially likable. If Davies really is a fan of Joss Whedon's work, then he really hasn't taken notes on his ability as creator of an agreeable company — Whedon’s gift is giving the audience a way into an absurd premise like Buffy through hilarious, flawed but fundamentally decent characters. Davies, in comparison, fills his show to bursting with unpleasant people; morally bankrupt, egotistical, smug and self important. They aren't people that you would want to spend any amount of time with, and that is a real problem when you are trying to endorse a pilot for a longer series.

This entire show is so amoral that it had to be pulled off the air after one of the contestants murdered and dismembered a woman who later had to be identified by her breast implants. And what's crazier than that is that given a choice, he wouldn't even be the first one you execute. Megan Wants a Millionaire is a Greatest Hits of man's inhumanity to man. They probably burned down an Indian reservation to build the set, and during a few scenes you can see the altar of panda bones where Megan has congress with the Beast.

"I would watch every episode, and afterward, I would just feel like I couldn’t sleep at night, it was so dark. I guess that was instructive to me. That show told me, 'Be honest with your show, make it as dark as it needs to go, but you’d better find a way to leaven it with humor, otherwise people are going to want to slit their wrists after they watch it.'"

"Star Trek: Discovery...isn't fun. It's a war story with little war, it's an adventure story with little adventure, it's a science piece with idiot science and the most light-hearted character turned out to be the villain."
SF Debris on Discovery Season One

"I didn't watch Game of Thrones. I tried. At a certain point, after enough murders and betrayals, I stopped caring. Israeli politics has the same effect. After enough betrayals and lies, apathy is tempting."
Zehava Gal'on, former member of the Israeli parliament

    On Video Games 
"The characters have achieved nothing, learned nothing, will hopefully now jump into a big black hole and return to nothing! Just as the visuals succeed too well at being deliberately hideous, the protagonists succeed too well at being deliberately wankers! There's nothing fun about the game, no light relief; just one piece of nauseating unpleasantness after another, like a roadside café breakfast special by Jeffrey Dahmer!"

"One of the big reasons I tend to stay away from triple-A games is their dark, gritty, and hopeless nature. These games are constantly showing you just how worthless, evil, and monstrous humanity can be, and in many circumstances, there's no hope for them, or even you. There's simply the somber and sobering story of 'life is cruel, then you die'."

"I'm pretty sick of tortured characters being depressing. Too many stories seem to revel in the second act at the moment. I'm not a fan of the second act."
Tom Taylor, IGN Comics interview on Injustice: Gods Among Us

"Anger can motivate you to do something other than what made you angry. But depressing misery? It just sucks the life out of you, and you just don’t know what to do with yourself other than making sure you never have to sit through that experience again, especially if it made you miserable for no narrative or artistically sound reason."
Bennett the Sage on De:vadasy

By the time you get to the game itself, it's just this ugly game filled with mean things that happen to people you don't care about.

This is why I hate horror games, too. So many times they just kill your ass at the end. "Thanks for playing. You're dead." "Congratulations surviving all of the monsters; you're now fucking dead. Eat shit."

    On Webcomics 
"Thunt hasn't shown much ability to make the audience sympathize with the characters by fleshing them out (certainly not with the "main" group of characters), so his only recourse is to constantly shit on them so that the audience sympathizes with their plight."

"Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke."

"It's the monotone crapness of everything — governments, cultures, people, Exalts, gods, the cosmos, everything. No redeeming features, nothing worth fighting for, nobody who'd bother to get up off their ass or stop filling their pockets to do the fighting even if there were. Dark and shitty."
Exalted freelancer Holden Shearer, defining the term "shitdark"

"Many readers have told me, in writing and by word of mouth, how tired they are of the kind of story that begins "Marjorie's husband was to be hanged on Tuesday, and the children were starving", or "For seven years no ray of sunlight had penetrated the dusty room where William Grocock, a retired insurance agent, lay dying of cancer"; but I don't fancy they are more tired of them than I am myself, who have to work my way through round about twenty such stories every week."

"People always say they want things dark, but if you don't have a plan to draw people out of that and show how these people overcome it, then you just leave your audience in despair."


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