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May 5th 2019 at 8:05:41 PM

I've had some concerns about this page for a while, for a few reasons. I'll see if I can articulate them clearly.

First and foremost: it's become a major magnet for complaining, partly because its definition seems to invite it. The trope's definition is ostensibly "A work that alternates between deconstructing a genre's conventions and playing them straight", but a lot of users seem to interpret that definition as a free license to criticize works for inconsistent writing, or for failing to deconstruct works in sufficient depth. A lot of entries are just thinly-veiled complaints about works that try to deconstruct popular genre conventions, but don't go as far as they could (or should), and wind up being just as shallow and formulaic as the works that they're deconstructing. Entries like that would be problematic under any circumstances, but they're especially troubling since Indecisive Deconstruction isn't a YMMV trope, so a work's quality shouldn't have any bearing on it being an example of the trope.

I removed a few of the more egregious examples, but there are still plenty on the page.

Just to name a few:

  • There's an entry complaining that the later seasons of Game of Thrones turned the series into a generic Tolkien-esque High Fantasy series, and it accuses the show of turning Tyrion Lannister into "another catch-phrase spouting sidekick to the main heroes". Without getting into my personal thoughts on that criticism, I think it's fair to say that a non-YMMV page isn't the place for accusations like that.
  • There's a multi-bulleted entry complaining that The Last Jedi tries to deconstruct some of the central tropes of the Star Wars saga, but fails to do it effectively (since Rey turns out to be the Chosen One after all, Luke ultimately does live up to his heroic reputation, and the Resistance really are the good guys). Once again: a non-YMMV page really isn't the place for chewing out works for not being as nuanced or subversive as they could be.
  • There's an entry calling out Animorphs, Harry Potter, and The Hunger Games for their anti-escapist messages, since the heroes ultimately do defeat the bad guys in those stories—despite undergoing many hardships. In addition to being a major violation of Examples Are Not General, that entry seems to imply that a work isn't really a deconstruction unless The Bad Guy Wins and the heroes suffer a horrible defeat in the end. That logic is a bit questionable, to say the least.
  • There are two subpoints in the entry about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice criticizing Zack Snyder for being inconsistent and heavy-handed with the Christian motifs in his portrayal of Superman, and for glorifying violence in his portrayal of Batman. Not only does that kind of criticism not belong on a non-YMMV page, it barely fits the trope definition (if at all).

Now, another major problem is that the trope seems to have a lot of overlap with Decon-Recon Switch, potentially creating confusion; many examples seem to fit that trope much better than they fit Indecisive Deconstruction. The above Game of Thrones and The Last Jedi entries are both good examples. Both works delight in showing that their heroes are flawed people who live in a morally grey world, but they still come through when it counts, and their morally grey world is still worth protecting; that's a textbook Decon-Recon Switch. Plenty of works might alternate between deconstructing tropes and playing them straight, but it's not always due to indecisiveness; sometimes it's because an author intentionally sets out to reconstruct a genre after deconstructing it.

Another potential problem is that "Deconstruction" is a bit of a subjective term already, so calling a deconstruction "indecisive" is just extra-subjective. Plenty of works might deconstruct popular tropes, but not all of them openly bill themselves as deconstructions of popular genres; most of the time, viewers just interpret them as such. Oftentimes, authors may not intentionally set out to deconstruct popular genres, but just prefer to take a slightly more realistic approach to certain tropes within them. As a result, it can be a bit problematic to accuse a deconstruction of being "indecisive" or "inconsistent", since an author may not even have intended a work as a deconstruction at all.

Case in point: Game of Thrones wasn't actually sold as a deconstruction of High Fantasy, it was just sold as a High Fantasy series for an adult audience; Batman v Superman wasn't sold as a deconstruction of superhero stories, it was just sold as a somewhat Darker and Edgier superhero movie with an older-than-average target audience.

(Of note: the trope's name appears to be a snowclone of Indecisive Parody. But parodies generally are sold and marketed as parodies, and they're usually identifiable by their comedic tone. Deconstructions aren't that simple, and they're not generally tied to a single genre.)

I don't want to argue that the page is beyond saving, but I think it needs help.

Edited by TheMightyHeptagon on May 7th 2019 at 10:26:45 AM

SeptimusHeap from Bern, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
May 18th 2019 at 2:20:30 PM

[up] Thank you.

Does anyone have any thoughts?

GastonRabbit King of Blue Lions from Robinson, Illinois, USA Relationship Status: I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me
King of Blue Lions
May 18th 2019 at 5:30:10 PM

I think the name might be causing it to be mistaken for YMMV, or at least causing accusations that the creators can't decide whether they're deconstructing or playing things straight. To be honest, I think Partial Deconstruction sounds like a better name, but the page currently uses that name for a type of example.

However, I might add that the Unintentional Deconstruction and Attempted Deconstruction subtypes do sound YMMV; the former sounds like it requires interpretation on the audience's part (particularly because the list says that type can be read (emphasis mine) as a deconstruction), and the latter straight-up says bad writing or author bias can cause it (the former is definitely subjective, and the latter would require Word of God confirmation to be considered objective).

There might need to be at least one split to separate the potentially YMMV types I pointed out from the objectively present types.

Edit: Upon further reading, the Partial Deconstruction type explicitly says its presence is debatable, so it too sounds subjective. Maybe this isn't a matter of a split, but rather keeping everything in one place and making it YMMV, possibly with a modified description. I might add that there have been recent TRS threads that proposed making tropes YMMV, with that being the outcome of the one for Quicksand Box.

Edited by GastonRabbit on May 18th 2019 at 7:51:16 AM

"I am Ferdinand von Aegir." —Ferdinand von Aegir
May 18th 2019 at 6:05:44 PM

[up] Yes, that's partly why I think the trope is flawed in its current state; the four sub-types of Indecisive Deconstruction are very different from each other, and some are more subjective than others—so the trope comes off as an overly inclusive umbrella term for grouping phenomena with very little in common. That can be a potential source of confusion.

Honestly, the trope definition might need to be revised, if only so "Partial Deconstruction" isn't just one sub-type. But as I pointed out: Deconstruction is inherently a subjective term, so it can be problematic to use it in relation to any non-YMMV trope.

Edited by TheMightyHeptagon on May 18th 2019 at 9:11:18 AM

GastonRabbit King of Blue Lions from Robinson, Illinois, USA Relationship Status: I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me
King of Blue Lions
May 18th 2019 at 6:53:38 PM

[up]As I said in the revision to my previous post, I took a further look at the Partial Deconstruction subtype's description and it sounds subjective, like the two I originally mentioned. It says how it's used is debatable, and if this trope were truly objective, examples' status wouldn't be debatable.

Defictionalized Deconstruction is the only one I'm not sure of; the other three I question the non-YMMV status of.

Edited by GastonRabbit on May 18th 2019 at 9:01:36 AM

"I am Ferdinand von Aegir." —Ferdinand von Aegir
May 18th 2019 at 10:16:08 PM

As I understand it, "Defictionalized Deconstruction" means "A work which wasn't intended as a deconstruction, but is perceived as such because it's based on Real Life events that appear to subvert popular tropes". If it’s based entirely on viewer perception, it's probably safe to classify it as YMMV.

GastonRabbit King of Blue Lions from Robinson, Illinois, USA Relationship Status: I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me
King of Blue Lions
May 19th 2019 at 1:05:23 AM

[up]I see. I probably overlooked that because I was tired when I wrote my previous post (I went to bed before you replied).

Edited by GastonRabbit on May 19th 2019 at 5:51:44 AM

"I am Ferdinand von Aegir." —Ferdinand von Aegir
May 19th 2019 at 8:31:25 AM

[up] That's alright.

Just to reiterate, though: even if this trope were made YMMV, that wouldn't change the fact that it's a bundle of four very different phenomena that have very little to do with each other. I think that's another major problem with the trope, and making it YMMV wouldn't address it.

While I don't want to default to the nuclear option too quickly, I'd like to point out that the trope wouldn't have many examples left if it were split or narrowed down to a single type ("Attempted Deconstruction", "Partial Deconstruction", etc.) and its misuses were removed. And the trope is ultimately just a subclass of Deconstruction, so any of its remaining examples would be covered under Deconstruction anyway. That makes me wonder if it's even Tropeworthy.

Edited by TheMightyHeptagon on May 19th 2019 at 4:18:12 AM

Jun 4th 2019 at 11:58:57 AM

Indecisive Deconstruction seems to inherently overlap with They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot due to not following through with the deconstruction. I can't think of any examples of Indecisive Deconstruction that isn't used as a complaint.

I'd say cut it and move examples to:

  • Debate and Switch: There's deconstruction but something in-universe renders the issue moot or puts it aside.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: There's deconstruction but it attempts to become straight again.
  • Lost Aesop / Aborted Arc: There's deconstruction or build to one that isn't followed through.

Edited by Ferot_Dreadnaught on Jun 7th 2019 at 11:35:39 AM

Jun 4th 2019 at 12:03:56 PM

[up] [tup] Sounds good. If nobody has a better solution in mind, I'd be perfectly in favor of cutting.

Edited by TheMightyHeptagon on Jun 4th 2019 at 3:26:34 PM

Brainulator9 Regular garden-variety troper. from US Relationship Status: I get a feeling so complicated...
miraculous I am a link in a chain from South Africa
I am a link in a chain
Jun 4th 2019 at 12:21:56 PM

[up][tup]

"Demonstrate for us your great skill at standing there, and you'll be fine."
Jun 4th 2019 at 1:50:26 PM

I am not in favor of removing this but I am in favor of making this YMMV if need be.

Indecisive Deconstruction isn't Decon-Recon Switch, Debate and Switch and so on. Decon-Recon Switch is a trope where the deconstruction and reconstruction both work as intended. A Reconstruction does not negate the Deconstruction, it proceeds logically from that. An indecisive deconstruction is where a work's attempt to deconstruction simply falls flat in its attempt to do so.

And quite obviously the trope deserves to exist since many people in real-life as testified in the quotes page have made observations and statements showing that this is a real thing which happens and so obviously deserves a name.

Jun 4th 2019 at 2:27:29 PM

[up] Sorry, but it's not so obvious to me. I'm perfectly aware that plenty of people in Real Life like to point out instances of this phenomenon—but when they do, it tends to take the form of complaining. Critical observations made in good faith are one thing; disjointed, long-winded rants about a work's flaws are another thing.

As for your point about Deconstructions and Reconstructions: who gets to decide if deconstructions or reconstructions "work as intended"? That's an awfully subjective distinction—and it doesn't really apply to either of those tropes, since they aren't YMMV.

"Decon-Recon Switch" isn't a coveted distinction that only the most effective works can claim. It's just a storytelling technique that some writers choose to use, since it makes for interesting writing. If a work was clearly intended to be a Decon-Recon Switch, then it is. Quality is a moot point.

And as I've pointed out: this trope is ultimately just a sub-trope of "Deconstruction", so any examples on the page could easily be moved to that page if it were removed.

I agree with everyone who's called for cutting the page. If you want me to change my position, I'm going to need convincing.

Edited by TheMightyHeptagon on Jun 4th 2019 at 5:42:30 AM

Jun 4th 2019 at 2:55:49 PM

[tup] for cutting Indecisive Deconstruction and moving examples to the tropes Ferot listed and/or Deconstruction.

The name suggests the creator can't decide how to write something, which is troping creator intention and we don't do that.

GastonRabbit King of Blue Lions from Robinson, Illinois, USA Relationship Status: I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me
King of Blue Lions
Jun 4th 2019 at 3:36:22 PM

[up][up]

"I am Ferdinand von Aegir." —Ferdinand von Aegir
Jun 4th 2019 at 8:12:06 PM

If all Deconstruction is subjective, then obviously the entire thing should be made YMMV, no?

Jun 5th 2019 at 3:21:20 AM

[up] No. Deconstruction is still just a storytelling technique, not an audience reaction. It's "subjective" because it's rooted in a work's subtext, it requires analyzing its themes (which not everyone will necessarily interpret the same way), and it's not always intended by an author.

But Indecisive Deconstruction is an audience reaction that rests upon the assumption that a work was intended as a deconstruction. As Tabs pointed out, it's troping creator intention—which is against the site's rules.

Edited by TheMightyHeptagon on Jun 5th 2019 at 6:40:02 AM

Jun 5th 2019 at 6:17:35 AM

Okay, so if you read the examples listed there. The Killing Joke was intended by Moore as a deconstruction of Joker (and which in his own opinion didn't entirely work). Bioshock was intended as a deconstruction of games and Ayn Rand. Game of Thrones likewise is intended as a deconstruction of the standard fantasy genre and its tropes. This is attested to in numerous interviews given before and during that time.

Most of the examples there which discuss Indecisive Deconstruction cover works which its own authors mentioned multiple times to be attempts at deconstruction. There are some examples that don't fit, for instance the Star Wars prequels certainly (and I removed it myself the first time before another poster re-added it) but The Last Jedi is certainly intended by Rian Johnston as a deconstruction of some of the overall Star Wars mythos as he mentioned in twitter and in other interviews. Should there be citations to mention or refer to authors' intentions there?

Because most of these examples were seen as, were presented as, and are filled with meta-humor and jokes that they are clearly trying to be deconstructive. Denying that is like denying the presence of existence of a gunfight when two characters use guns.

To me Indecisive Deconstruction works like Informed Attribute and other main tropes which clearly lampshade that the intent seen on screen jars with the execution.

Jun 5th 2019 at 8:45:08 AM

[up] In some cases, yes, writers do openly bill works as deconstructions of popular genres. But even in cases where that's true, it creates major problems when every example ultimately boils down to "Well, it's deconstructive—but it's not deconstructive enough!"

Who, exactly, gets to decide what it means to be "deconstructive enough"? Is there some kind of universal standard for determining that? And what would Game of Thrones or The Last Jedi look like it they met that standard? You can't really answer those questions without trying to rewrite other people's stories from scratch; that's not what the page is for, and it's not what this site is for.

The way they're written, most of these examples imply (or outright state) that it's an inherent flaw when a work has deconstructive elements, but doesn't take them as far as they could go. But deconstruction is ultimately just an approach to storytelling, and it's no more or less valid than any other. By the same token, it's not an inherent problem when a work deconstructs a genre in some ways, but plays it straight in others.

As it stands, far too many tropers are using Indecisive Deconstruction as a platform for venting about works that (in their opinion) aren't as smart or perceptive or original as they purport to be. It's not inspiring discussion or criticism, it's just inspiring complaints. And most entries on that page aren't documenting common complaints—they just are complaints.

Edited by TheMightyHeptagon on Jun 5th 2019 at 11:47:38 AM

Jun 5th 2019 at 9:14:15 AM

it creates major problems when every example ultimately boils down to "Well, it's deconstructive—but it's not deconstructive enough!"

No more than Informed Attribute talks about "this is what the say is this trope but we don't see it in practice". It's absolutely the same thing when we see a work attempt a deconstruction but then play that trope straight.

Who, exactly, gets to decide what it means to be "deconstructive enough"?

You go by the trope that's being deconstructed in a given situation. As Alan Moore pointed out The Killing Joke was supposed to challenge Single-Issue Psychology but ultimately ended up using Single-Issue Psychology as an attempt to try and explain Joker. Deconstruction in multiple examples always highlights certain tropes that's being explored or corrected and so on. Deconstruction is a process and not a trope by itself.

Is there some kind of universal standard for determining that?

Since Deconstruction is a process applied to other tropes. An Indecisive one simply deals with how a work's attitude to a certain trope falls in the Playing With spectrum. We have Straight, Subverted, Inverted, Averted, Deconstructed, Zig-Zagged. So there is a criteria or standard to a deconstruction of a given trope. Given numerous clean-up pages i.e. about certain examples listed Straight and Averted at the same time being removed (rightly so, since it's one or the other). There is a spectrum for this.

The way they're written, most of these examples imply (or outright state) that it's an inherent flaw when a work has deconstructive elements, but doesn't take them as far as they could go.

So the language can be fixed to sound more neutral.

But deconstruction is ultimately just an approach to storytelling, and it's no more or less valid than any other. By the same token, it's not an inherent problem when a work deconstructs a genre in some ways, but plays it straight in others.

A work can deconstruct some tropes in a genre and play others in that genre straight, that's true. But Indecisive Deconstruction applies specifically to the tropes chosen by a work to be deconstructed and how that there. Watchmen for instance deconstructs most superhero stuff but plays Charles Atlas Superpower straight but the stuff it deconstructs remains deconstructed. Reed Richards Is Useless is demolished, as is superhero team-ups, and other stuff about being a Vigilante Man. It would only be indecisive if you know Dr. Manhattan for some reason decides not to use his powers to create a new technological revolution and so on after starting out breaking that trope among others, or you know if an actual superhero team actually forms at the end which again doesn't happen.

As it stands, far too many tropers are using Indecisive Deconstruction as a platform for venting about works that (in their opinion) aren't as smart or perceptive or original as they purport to be.

That's your judgment. And that's neither here nor there. The motivations people have for these entries are irrelevant and should have no bearing on TRP.

As I said if that's an issue, we can repair, reform, and clean up the language and make it more neutral and value-free. We can make it more in line with Informed Attribute.

Edited by Revolutionary_Jack on Jun 5th 2019 at 9:15:48 AM

Jun 5th 2019 at 1:34:16 PM

  • 1) ...It's not, though. Informed Attribute is about specific character details; Indecisive Deconstruction is about broad subtextual ideas and thematic motifs—which are subject to interpretation and analysis. Pointing out that a character who supposedly loves hamburgers never actually eats a hamburger is a simple observation. Claiming that a High Fantasy deconstruction fails to deconstruct High Fantasy in sufficient depth (whatever "sufficient depth" is supposed to mean) is a criticism. There's an extremely fine line between saying "It fails to sufficiently examine its themes" and saying "It's trite and cliché and formulaic". The vast majority of the entries on the page are essentially saying that.
  • 2) But the vast majority of the entries on the page (if not all of them) aren't just discussing works with deconstructed tropes—they're discussing genre deconstructions. Playing a trope straight is one thing; claiming that a work "fails to deconstruct its genre" is quite another, and—as I've said—it's entirely too subjective, since it assumes that there's an objective litmus test for determining whether a deconstruction is "successful". I'm not even sure how a Deconstructed Trope can even be an Indecisive Deconstruction; that would mean that the work deconstructed it, but also didn't deconstruct it. That doesn't make any sense.
  • 3) See above: the vast majority of these entries are talking about genres, not tropes. And you just said that the trope is about deconstructions that "fall flat"—so you've admitted that it isn't objective at all.
  • 4) No, it can't. It's not just a few entries that are opinionated complaints—it's nearly all of them. And like I said: many of them are in relation to works that might never have been intended as deconstructions; even if the language were brushed up, that part would remain incredibly subjective. When the very definition of a trope comes off as a criticism, the entire page is bound to be a magnet for complaints.
  • 5) I haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about, and I'm not sure what Watchmen has to do with this discussion.
  • 6) It's not just my judgment; by my count, there are six people in favor of cutting the page, and one against. People's motivations for adding entries are none of my business—but when an entire trope page is dominated by complaints made in bad faith, it's an issue for the whole site.

Edited by TheMightyHeptagon on Jun 5th 2019 at 4:37:38 AM


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