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Tropers / Naturalironist

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Here because, despite my claims to the contrary, I guess I really did love high school English class. In real life I am a paleontologist. I'm interested in entry-pimping lesser-known works and helping improve appearance tropes. I am most often found in the Trope Repair Shop and the left side of the forums. One of the last remaining with FORKS leanings.

Very gradually splitting off works by Daniel Pinkwater to their own pages.


Troping philosophy: I believe that there is an optimal trope description length: 3-5 paragraphs, 300-500 words. Too short and you can't tell what the trope's about, too long and readers don't read it (and tend to misuse it).

     Stuff here I've done 


Some of my favorite pages on the wiki (not tropes, just overall page quality):

Pet-Peeve Trope

Sliding scale of likelihood of Meaningful Appearance

  1. Literature: Books don't need to tell you anything about what a character looks like. If they do, it's almost certainly important.
  2. Fan Fiction: Similar to literature, although fanfic writers do love Self-Fanservice and Costume Porn, making meaning slightly less likely.
  3. Comic Books: A highly visual medium with little text and a tendency towards Black-and-White Morality (traditionally), so using visual shorthands for characterization is common.
  4. Anime and Manga: The medium is prone to Adaptation Dye-Job and You Gotta Have Blue Hair, with character appearances chosen to give characters unique looks despite Only Six Faces. But the medium is also characterized by a high degree of creative control over characters appearances, heightening the likelihood that appearance and characterization and linked. The number of anime-specific appearance+characterization tropes (Shy Blue-Haired Girl, Cherry Blossom Girl, etc) suggests that You Gotta Have Blue Hair can be used meaningfully. However, due to Mukokuseki character appearances are often not literal in-universe, and so be careful about any tropes that rely on a difference between the real world and fiction.
  5. Webcomics: Similar to Comic Books and Anime, although the wide range of styles in webcomics, including the Stick-Figure Comic, often means that certain appearance tropes are not possible and colors may simply exist to provide contrast.
  6. Western Animation: A mixed bag. Anime-type usage sometimes appears, particularly in higher-budget full-length (Disneyesque) films and modern CGI or anime-influenced productions. However, a long history of Limited Animation, particularly in The Dark Age of Animation, led to a convention of character designs being chosen for visual distinctiveness rather than meaning (see Pie-Eyed, White Gloves). Add that to a historical focus on Funny Animals and older cartoons being in black and white, and you get a tendency towards non-meaningful or aesthetics-driven character appearances.
  7. Live-Action Film and TV: While filmmakers do work to create a visual look that may tie to the script, they have many limitations. Characters' appearances are largely determined by actors' appearances, which due to Ability over Appearance may differ from the script. Additionally, the bold color contrasts seen in animated media often don't work in live-action. That said, appearance tropes relating to costuming, makeup, and color saturation are often meaningful for characterization.
  8. Video Games: Meaningful Appearance may show up in series with an iconic protagonist or a small cast of recurring characters. However, several features of the medium conspire against appearance being used meaningfully:
    • Older games had graphics too poor to provide much detail on characters appearances. Colors are likely to have been chosen for color contrast.
    • Cut scenes and different types of sprites may modify minor details of character appearances such as eye color, body type, etc.
    • Some games don't focus much on characterization, making the "meaningful" aspect difficult. Tropes such as Heroic Mime and first person perspective make the protagonist's personality and/or appearance difficult to glean.
    • Many games feature customizable or randomly chosen character appearance that necessarily isn't linked to characterization.
  9. Music: Musicians often choose their visual look carefully. But some don't, and musicians' appearances are just what they happen to look like! And even if chosen carefully, musicians' appearances are often just to look cool or different, not convey specific things about characterization. Trope the real people in bands' appearances with caution. Music Videos are a different story. A highly concise and deliberate visual medium, appearance is often all you get for characters in a music video, rocketing them up to just above the Live Action Film rung.

     Funny Afro Rewrite 
Afros, those curly, bouffant hairdos most commonly sported by people with African ancestry, have a long history in comedy. Since the 19th century, Non Ironic Clowns have sported large, curly, often brightly-colored afros (a tradition that may have its roots in Minstrel Shows), and afro hairstyles continue to play a role in both gag-based and character-based humor.

Definitely an Evolving Trope, as both styles and attitudes about race have changed over time. In The '70s, afros surged in popularity in the United States with the Black Pride movement to become a defining element of '70s Hair. As such, comedic characters with afros cropped up often as parodies of the then-popular Afro Asskicker trope or as wise-cracking Black sterotypes. As both the afro hairstyle and this type of racial humor fell out of style, the role of afro'd characters shifted. Due to its unpopularity, the style became associated with the Disco Dan and other nerdy, uncool Butt-Monkey types. In order to avoid Unfortunate Implications and to serve as a joke in itself, afros were increasingly worn by white characters (i.e. the so-called "Jewfro"). In American comedy today, afros tend to be used in one of two ways: to show a character is The Wacky Guy or otherwise weird and kooky, or as a quick gag where characters wear outlandish afro wigs to increase the absurdity of a situation.

The trope is very much alive in Japan, which doesn't have the same taboos about racial humor as the US. Such characters tend to be a Funny Foreigner. As a side note, in Japanese just the word "afro" is rather funny because it just happens to sounds like "afuro", which rather accurately means "overflowing"; hell, this pun is behind the title of one show. Or, it could sound like "a furo" (yes, at least one anime has made that very joke).

See also Hollywood Nerd, Modern Minstrelsy, Soul Brotha, Curly Hair Is Ugly.

When writing examples, be sure to explain the joke. There's nothing inherently funny about afros, and examples should explain how the character's hair contributes to the humor.


How well does it match the trope?

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