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I've decided to start a cleanup thread for Narm, since it seems to attract a lot of misuse and complaining. Like I said in my ATT post, "some misuse is easy to catch (e.g. saying a joke is Narm when Narm by definition can't be a joke), a lot of examples fall into grey areas that seem like misuse but it's hard to tell. Like nitpicks that at first glance seem to be valid examples, but feel like stretches the more you think about them."
I think one of the main reasons for misuse is that most people aren't clear on what Narm actually is. To my understanding, it's when a scene is intended to be dramatic, but comes off as cheesy/funny unintentionally. But going by the page description, it's kind of vague what actually qualifies something as Narm.
At the top, it says "Narm is a moment that is supposed to be serious, but due to either over-sappiness, poor execution, excessive Melodrama, or the sheer absurdity of the situation, the drama is lost to the point of surpassing "cheesy" and becoming unintentionally funny." But then later on in the same page, it gives a much more vague definition:
Most often, Narm is misused to mean "anything I personally don't think worked," whether or not it was intended as dramatic or comes off as funny. And when a work is high-profile enough, hoo boy, pretty much every scene is Narm to somebody. You can look at the Narm subpages for Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones and find tons of examples of people nitpicking the tiniest of details in a scene and blowing whatever it is out of proportion.
Another problem is that since it's such a subjective trope, it's not clear if there's supposed to be any sort of in-fandom consensus on the example in-question, or if every example is valid under the "it's called YMMV for a reason" excuse, even if the only person who thinks the example is Narm is the troper who adds it in.
I think it needs to be clearer whether nitpicks are valid examples of Narm, especially since nitpicking overlaps so often with barely-disguised complaining. The most frequent offenders for Narm entries I see are complaining, nitpicking, adding jokes, and ZeroContextExamples.
I'm going to use Venom (2018) as an example, with my comments in bold:
Another issue with Narm is the distinction between moments that are unintentionally funny on their own, and moments that are only unintentionally funny after Memetic Mutation or similar feat. Does the latter truly count as Narm? Because you can make the case that everything that has ever been made can fall under that.
Edited by MisterApes-a-lot on Mar 31st 2019 at 7:06:31 AM
I think the reason most of the Venom (2018) examples are so bad was because people were adding example before the film even came out. I believe the sub-page was created about a month or two before the official release date. Obviously, I think creating a Narm entry for something that isn't even out yet is completely unfair, since the context in the finished product could be completely different. I remember one of the reasons the YMMV page for Captain Marvel (2019) was cut for a while was because people kept adding Narm entries to complain about Brie Larson's acting before the film was out. That's an extreme example, but it shows how bad this trope can be misused. Hell, I think I've misused it once or twice.
I wonder if this is one of those cases where the best thing to do would be to rename the trope entirely. Yes, Narm is one of our most well-known tropes and it's been spread everywhere across the site, but clearly the name isn't specific enough to get the point of the trope across. It's not something that's cringe-worthy or failed attempts at drama, it's dramatic moments that are made funny by accident. I don't know how much a new name would fix things, but I think it'll help stop some misuse. Call it "Unintentionally Hilarious" or something to make it reflect the trope a lot better.
Of course, we'd have to think about what to rename Narm Charm to if we go that route. It's an extreme solution right now, so I'd like to hear some other ideas.
I think a rename is more trouble than it's worth. This is one of the Tropes of Legend and it will be a huge amount of work to rename. YMMV tropes are more trouble in general, and we still have plenty of misuse with things like Broken Base that have clear names. But a long term cleanup seems like a good idea.
I think the path forward is to develop some set of (semi) objective criteria for what does and doesn't count as Narm, and re-write the page accordingly. Then start chainsawing bad examples.
It might help if people start by posting what they think are the best examples of the trope, and go from there.
I remember one anti-Brie person defending their entry's inclusion by saying "You assume people aren't making jokes about it." Now, obviously that example wound up zapped, but it spotlights the problem that Narm is so generally defined/adhered to that people think "Well you could make jokes about this scene" is enough to qualify the scene as Narm. Like I said, if that was enough to qualify something as Narm, then every second of every piece of media ever could count. Which means the trope's definition (or at least the definition that's adhered to) is too broad.
The thing about the Venom (2018) page is that, from what I've looked at, it's no worse than the vast majority of Narm subpages. I think every Narm subpage could use a thorough scrubbing. Especially for works that are popular to hate, where you'll see nearly every scene drawn out into a lengthy list of exaggerated complaining. The page for The Emoji Movie is awful in this regard. The page image is a misuse. And nearly every other sentence had potholes to negative tropes bashing the movie, which is always a no-no. Also take note of this line under Film Narm: RiffTrax doesn't have to license the movies, so they can do any classics and blockbusters they like. They've since proven you can find Narm in any movie with the right observations. Emphasis mine.
I would definitely endorse some sort of definition update for the trope.
I removed the "Meta" section on Venom's page (was planning on doing that for a while now) since it's such blatant misuse. One example admitted that the scene was intended to be comedic, while the other was criticizing the movie's Tag Line rather than any scene.
I'd like some feedback on these entries I found under Batman: Arkham City. Most of them are clearly nitpicks and things that you wouldn't find funny unless you nitpick them, but I can't actually tell if they're valid examples:
A lot of those fail to explain the comedic factor. Unless they do, cut them.
Anyway, Narm.The Emoji Movie. I was going to bring this one up, due to the work being a complaint magnet. Narm.Sanjay And Craig existing as a page gives me bad vibes, seeing as the show has been subject to Reviews Are the Gospel-led Hate Dumb years ago combined with it being comedic to begin with.
I'm not even sure if this can manifest beyond bile and complaining, but we'll see. This would not be accepted nowadays if in the Trope Launch Pad, that's for sure.
For kicks and giggles, here's an independent news outlet defining narm as being "serious in context, funny out of context".
The weird thing - well, not weird given the well-demonstrated problems of the troper base, but still - is that the concept described by Narm in my experience doesn't even have to be inherently negative. I can think of numerous examples where I've found something unintentionally funny without it undermining the work or even the specific scene at all.
Edited by nrjxll on Apr 4th 2019 at 9:48:33 AM
Sanjay and Craig looks like 100% misuse. The first one is just complaining about bad animation, and the others are just jokes being jokes.
Narm.Game Of Thrones — season opener is out, and we're already at the bashing.
I fail to see how this fits "a moment that is supposed to be serious, but due to either over-sappiness, poor execution, excessive Melodrama, or the sheer absurdity of the situation, the drama is lost to the point of surpassing "cheesy" and becoming unintentionally funny".
(P.S. I also deleted one entry for being pure speculation.)
Edited by XFllo on Apr 16th 2019 at 1:23:45 AM
Definitely delete. It's complaining + misuse.
Narm.Kingdom Hearts just had a new example that I don't really think qualifies:
This looks more like complaining than an undercut dramatic moment. What do you guys think?
Edited by Loekman3 on Apr 16th 2019 at 8:35:02 PM
Found this one is Music.Narm:
This is Natter. Delete the Natter, if the Natter's wrong, and if it's right, delete the example. So, should I deleted the examples or not?
Having scrolled through various Narm subpages, I've noticed that, as a rule-of-thumb, any time a scene is described as "cringe-worthy", you can cut the example a) for complaining, and b) because it's probably just complaining about a thing that falls flat instead of a thing that comes off as funny.
I took a quick look at the Game of Thrones subpage. Yikes. Somebody more familiar with the show should scrub that page. I already zapped a bunch that were just "scene falls flat" misuse.
Cut the Kingdom Hearts example. It's just complaining and nitpicking with the trope shoehorned in. Pretty usual "x falls flat" misuse. Nothing about the example implies to me that the scene is funny.
I feel like song lyrics, especially for a lighthearted song, can't really fall into Narm, since they're not meant to be dramatic. Seems like "x falls flat" misuse to me. Again, doesn't seem funny, just underwhelming/lame. I'd say cut.
Maybe we could use a trope for things that fall flat, with narm being a sub-trope for things that fall flat because they're unintentionally funny. Just a suggestion.
The intention is good, but that would be waaay too much of a complaint-magnet.
I was trying to say what I thought made the moment narmful. As in, looking back on it, it's hard to take it seriously. I could make it sound less like complaining if you want.
How does this sound?
Xehanort's reveal to be Not Evil, Just Misunderstood would have hit a bit better if not for the fact that, before this, he was so Obviously Evil that the only thing missing was a big, neon sign that says "I'm not very nice." The sudden change of character is pretty bad by itself, but keep in mind that before this, Sora just watched this man murder his girlfriend in cold blood. He doesn't bring this up until after Xehanort goes to Keyblade Heaven, adding to the bits about Kairi above.
Is this any better? I may add a bit more, honestly. It's just the footnotes version. I promise it won't sound like complaining. I just kinda have that problem sometimes, where I sound like that.
Edited by SenorCornholio on Apr 17th 2019 at 9:07:17 AM
I'd say avoid phrases like "x is pretty bad by itself". I don't think it counts as Narm, though, just bad writing. It's like if there was a murder mystery and somebody added "The killer turning out to be the butler is pretty weak, since there's zero foreshadowing of this whatsoever." That's not Narm, because it isn't funny. Some people try to add in "this thing is laughably bad" into their entries to make it sound more valid, but that's just shoehorning, so it's still not an example. So I'd say it doesn't qualify as Narm, but that's just me.
EDIT: With regards to your entry, if you want to make sure it isn't complaining, try not to be snarky/quippy with the entry. Try writing an entry how you normally would, then just take out the snarky parts.
Xehanort's reveal to be Not Evil, Just Misunderstood contrasts heavily with him being Obviously Evil up to this point. Keep in mind that before this, Sora just watched this man murder his girlfriend in cold blood. [Last sentence seemed extraneous.]
I still don't think it's Narm, though.
Edited by MisterApes-a-lot on Apr 18th 2019 at 5:37:06 AM
Are the following RWBY entries examples? I've pulled everything off the Narm.Web Animation page (5 entries) and the show's YMMV.RWBY page (6 entries). There are two overlaps between the two pages, where I think the YMMV page has the better write-up in both cases.
The examples I think should be kept are as follows (with possible wording tweaks needed):
Edited by Wyldchyld on Apr 23rd 2019 at 1:36:40 PM
Found these examples on Star Trek: Generations:
Neither example is listed as funny. Cut, move to Creator's Apathy and Blooper respectively.
Ehm, Game of Thrones non-fans strike again.
I deleted a bunch of stuff, and other tropers too (mostly they were merely complaints), but I'd like a second opinions on these. Perhaps I am too much of a fan?
It concerns the latest episode, in case you don't want to be spoiled.
It all seems like unnecessary nitpicking.
(full disclosure: I sometimes laugh at the series, too, but merely because I enjoy some Game of Thrones memes way too much doesn't mean I'm gonna post every snark that comes into my head on Narm.Game Of Thrones. It seems like someone wants to fill the page with complaints, claiming/implying that everything the showrunners and actors do is silly, funny in a bad way or executed poorly.)
Edited by XFllo on Apr 29th 2019 at 4:41:36 AM
I agree that it seems like unnecessary nitpicking. The first one sounds especially contrived; most "hiding from a killer" scenarios are going to be "perverse hide and seek". Not sure about the other two without having seen the show, but I'm assuming it's stuff that isn't funny unless you're looking for things to complain about.
Do all YMMV tropes require some type of fan-consensus, or just certain ones, like Broken Base and Unintentionally Unsympathetic? 'Cause that would really help clean up the bad examples.
No, only ones that are about fandoms. Narm can be anyone's opinion, it doesn't have to be universal. However, the entries do have to make an argument for why the entry fits the trope criteria, which many examples unfortunately don't.
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