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Complaining: Indecisive Deconstruction

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Jun 5th 2019 at 7:49:17 PM

The vast majority of the entries on the page are essentially saying that.

I am gonna have to question you about how you make that call. So far you've only disucssed Game of Thrones, The Last Jedi and others. That's not "vast majority" by any definition.

Can we at least agree that some examples really do fit the definition that I discussed:

Bio Shock is the game that became the Trope Codifier for ludonarrative dissonance:
  • The critique of video-game linearity and how video games program and manipulate the gamer into unthinking consumers runs into trouble in the third act when the conditioning is removed, and Jack is finally freed, the game still remains linear with little in the way of alternative paths. The little agency that the player does have, such as killing/sparing Sander Cohen, freeing/harvesting the Little Sisters by itself doesn't lead up to the denouement. For instance, Tannenbaum will save Jack regardless of whether or not he harvests the little sisters because she wants to stop Fontaine, sparing Sander Cohen likewise doesn't have any consequence, and the overall meaning of these choices is a simple binary good/bad ending, which more or less rails you to acting altruistically rather than choosing to.
  • Levine's critique of Objectivism is intended to apply reductio ad absurdum to its ideas, i.e. showing what could happen if that society was actually erected. So Andrew Ryan created a Libertarian utopia beneath the sea running on free enterprise but essentially Rapture and its ideology works or is shown to work. Andrew Ryan builds a functional society and it actually does provide what it advertised to its citizens (i.e. a haven for the talented special people to do as they pleased). What made it fail was not the contradictions or flaws in its ideology but the fact that it was deliberately subverted by the evil Frank Fontaine (intended to be the sort of man Rapture would foster, but coming off as an outside force), and about the only ideological critique is that the government didn't anticipate or prepare itself to protect itself from Fontaine. Essentially, Objectivism works in Rapture and would have worked had Fontaine not arrived, which isn't an actual critique or deconstruction of Randian ideas at all.

This one here discusses specific tropes and issues that the game is deconstructing. The language is maybe a little too verbose (mostly since tropers aren't professional writers and so aren't down on the whole brevity thing) and it's mostly neutral. The same applies to The Killing Joke example.

I just think it's better to reform the page then try and junk it. How would you suggest going about to reform it?

Jun 6th 2019 at 3:37:20 AM

Yeah, no.

One reasonable entry is not enough to justify the existence of an inherently flawed trope that's attracting massive amounts of complaining. And even if it were, I'm not convinced that the BioShock example is a legitimate example.

When you boil it down to it's core points, it's ultimately just a long-winded criticism about a game that (allegedly) fails to live up to its premise, and (allegedly) falls short of adequately examining its central theme. As I’ve said before: that's an incredibly subjective distinction, and it's rooted more in personal opinion than anything else. And it begs the question: who gets to decide which works "live up" to their premise, and which ones "adequately" examine their central themes?

And considering that entry is a horribly formatted Wall of Text that disregards proper example indentation, it's not exactly the best example to use if you want to make a case for keeping the page. Especially since it was added by a troper who was permanently suspended for (among other things) bombarding pages with long-winded off-topic diatribes exactly like that.

To answer your question: I wouldn't propose reforming the page, because I don't think it can be reformed.

Its definition invites (at best) long-winded opinionated diatribes about works that don't live up to their premise, and (at worst) bad faith arguments that make assumptions about creators' intentions. It doesn’t add anything to the site that isn't already covered by Deconstructed Trope, Genre Deconstruction, and Decon-Recon Switch.

Sometimes, junking a page really is the best option. I think this is one of those times.

Edited by TheMightyHeptagon on Jun 6th 2019 at 11:02:08 AM

naturalironist from The Information Superhighway Relationship Status: TV Tropes ruined my love life
Jun 6th 2019 at 5:21:01 AM

Rather than Informed Attribute, I think the analogous trope here is They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot, which is YMMV. That trope is also a huge complaint magnet, and has it's own problems.

Make YMMV or cut.

"It's just a show; I should really just relax"
Jun 6th 2019 at 5:30:40 AM

[up] Yep, that was Ferot_Dreadnaught's point. I'm inclined to agree.

I think there would be issues with making it YMMV. First and foremost: it's a sub-trope of Deconstruction and a snowclone of Indecisive Parody, and neither of those tropes are YMMV—which begs the question of why Indecisive Deconstruction would be. So I'm still leaning strongly toward "Cut".

Edited by TheMightyHeptagon on Jun 6th 2019 at 10:43:29 AM

Jun 6th 2019 at 8:13:56 AM

I prefer keeping and reforming the page...whatever issues that are there can be worked on and so on, we can improve and add caveats and so on, to make it better. Although I again question why Indecisive Parody doesn't get the same consideration, I mean deconstruction is more or less a parody that is serious. Alan Moore for instance said Watchmen is Kurtzman's Superman parody Played for Drama. Whether a parody is indecisive or not is even more subjective than if something is deconstructive to a trope.

I am okay with making this a YMMV though. I fully support that.

Jun 6th 2019 at 8:25:55 AM

[up] I already explained that in my initial post.

Calling something a "parody" is far more objective than calling it a "deconstruction". Parodies are easy to identify by their comedic tone; to identify something as a deconstruction, you have to examine its ideas and themes—which not everyone will interpret in the same way. Because of that, you can nearly always identify something as a parody without having to make assumptions about the author's intent.

And when a work alternates between treating an idea comedically and treating it seriously, it's often a deliberate choice—so it's not necessarily a criticism to call something an Indecisive Parody. But Indecisive Deconstruction is inherently a criticism, since it's just a thinly-veiled way of saying "It doesn't examine its themes properly." As if there's some objective way of determining what a "proper" examination of a theme looks like.

Edited by TheMightyHeptagon on Jun 6th 2019 at 11:34:40 AM

Berrenta Here comes the sun~ from Texas Relationship Status: Can't buy me love
Here comes the sun~
Jun 6th 2019 at 8:44:48 AM

I'll also vote cut. Claims of one singular legit example is not enough when we require a minimum of three.

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Jun 6th 2019 at 3:56:49 PM

Well there's also this example:

  • The Killing Joke by Alan Moore was intended to counter Insane Equals Violent and Single-Issue Psychology (which was also a deconstructive focus of Watchmen) and provide a more realistic motivation for the gimmicky villain motifs. By exploring Joker's origins and treating him as a victim of mental illness, the story introduces the possibility of Joker being cured. However any attempt to do so would be Failure Is the Only Option since it would counter the role and function that Joker is intended to serve as a fictional characternote  and so can't really experience the Character Development that comes up with deeper motivations. In the end, Joker's darker, nastier backstory becomes nothing more than a Freudian Excuse for him to do darker, nastier things.

And this one which is a little too long:

  • A number of Rockstar Games in general, and Grand Theft Auto in particular fall into this:
    • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was the first GTA game which had a narrative with a somewhat moral focus, at least in the first half, being that it's a game that tries to show how the gang culture, the Neighborhood-Friendly Gangsters sentimentalism can't really compete against the drug trade, poverty, and limited social and personal advancement. Except, the game has you play as "the one good gangster" who still believes in this trope, who partners with other good gangsters like the Triad, becomes a mercenary for the American government, and somehow single-handedly crush the drug-pushing rival gangs and rebuilt the community with better, richer, and cleaner gangs. The message of the first section and the serious point is completely overturned in the later sections, where more or less you can have your cake and eat it too.
    • Grand Theft Auto IV and his Expansion Packs are attempts by Rockstar to show the life of a gangster and outlaw as being completely horrific, with characters that are trying to redeem themselves from those lifestyles, and more or less the story-missions and cutscenes tell a story about criminals trapped forever in the bottom of the ladder without any of the triumph and climb-to-the-ladder conclusions previous games trafficked in. The side-missions and the open world however depend on the player fully being able to act as violently and murderously and degenerately as they want, which more or less makes their actions inconsistent with the story, and goes against the open-world fantasy the games provide without actually acknowledging it.
    • While it's definitely Lighter and Softer than IV, Grand Theft Auto V may be an even more severe example. The tone is much lighter and the organized crime aspects in general are shone in a much more flattering light, but somehow that just makes the darker aspects of the story all the more jarring. For example, Michael has a completely dysfunctional family life and a mountain of debt he owes to a government agent after striking a deal to escape his life of crime, culminating in Michael and his partners later being forced to torture and kill on the government's behalf in order to return the favor. And don't even get us started on Trevor. This may, however, be part of the point; the game has a running theme of showing multiple sides of every issue, and showing both the ups and severe downs of criminal life goes with this and the game has Multiple Endings that complicate this but more or less the player has the full choice to have their cake and eat it too. i.e. the crazy, depressing, and disturbing violence and amoral sociopathy of the game can be embraced and engaged in and the player can walk away rewarded and validated for their fantasies.
    • Red Dead Redemption attempts a Deconstruction of The Western and is set in the Twilight of the Old West in the early twentieth century, and it more or less parodies and makes fun of multiple Western archetypes and tropes from the Western genre, but the main character you play, John Marston, is more or less a Western protagonist in the mould of the classic genre, i.e. an ex-criminal who reforms, wishes to go straight, and is forced by society to go back into crime and is hypocritically punished by the law. John Marston is a classic romantic Outlaw in an utterly un-Romantic setting, which more or less allows gamers to play and enjoy the fantasy of being a badass cowboy without actually feeling culplable or implicated in the historical and socio-economic issues of The Wild West (i.e. expansionism, gun violence, manifest destiny).

I don't know if Analysis Channel counts. But given that they identify and discuss the trope in their videos, it should:

  • The Cosmonaut Variety Hour notes this about some of the series undergoing this:
    • Marcus notes that Neo Yokio has had arguments made in favor of it being a pure deconstruction or a "post-modern commentary". However, it plays many of the tropes it's supposedly deconstructing straight and not only fails at picking apart modern societal flaws.
    • About Game of Thrones he had this to say:
    Marcus: "If you watched Game of Thrones from beginning to end all the way through it kind of feel that everything that felt important at first kind of gets thrown away. The show just morphs into something bizarre. The themes and ideas that were once important are completely gone and are now replaced by more generic fantasy tropes...To me this series was always about breaking tradition...The series was about breaking the traditions of fantasy storytelling. A story where a hero may die, where you might find yourself rooting for someone who has done bad things. In a series which one pushed the idea that there are no good guys or bad guys, we now have characters who are very obviously good and evil."

  • The video game Watch_Dogs by Ubisoft was criticized in many places for its Flat Character Aiden Pearce. According to Word of God and picked up by some sites, though, he was actually meant to be a Deconstruction of typical video game anti-heroes. His quest for revenge is immature and poorly-considered, as demonstrated by the fact that his sister manages to handle the death of her daughter (which was his fault) much better, and it ends up making enemies of people who threaten her and the rest of his family as well. Meanwhile, he tries to claim he has the right to clean up all the crime in Boston (giving him the moral high ground) while also constantly committing crimes or rubbing shoulders with criminals (to not compromise the power fantasy). He has a Reputation score, but regardless of whether the public approves of him, he still sees himself as the hero. But Aiden ultimately succeeds in his quest to kill the genuinely evil Big Bad and reveal the truth about the similarly evil corporation (admittedly, it's a bit ambiguous as to how good this was, but it's only ambiguous, not bad), and he also successfully breaks up a human trafficking ring in the sidequests with altogether good consequences. As a result, he comes across as less a takedown of an anti-hero and more a rather typical one who screwed up a few times.

  • James Bond: GoldenEye and the films made afterwards walk the line between this and Decon-Recon Switch, as many characters talk about whether James Bond is relevant in the post-Cold War world, which is offset by puns and gadgetry straight out of the Connery and Moore films.

  • Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li attempted to be a more realistic and edgy take on the Street Fighter series by downplaying the Camp and mysticism, while supposedly showing a more brutal and true-to-life depiction of violence. This is undercut immensely by still giving Chun-Li the ability to use Ki Attacks, or a major plot point involving Bison transferring part of his soul into his child.

  • To Live and Die in L.A.: The whole point about someone being a police maverick eventually gets deconstructed, as Chance's rule-breaking has serious, negative consequences: His withholding of information from his superiors makes them unwilling to help him; the convict he manages to bully the DA into releasing beats him up and escapes, and his plan to get the buy money for the sting goes horribly, horribly wrong. On the other hand, Chance does recapture Cody, and the sting does go down; furthermore, the movie ends with Vukovich becoming the new maverick cop, to triumphant Wang Chung music.

Jun 6th 2019 at 5:27:21 PM


All of those entries have exactly the same problems that I raised with the other ones, and some of them are even worse than the ones that I highlighted. All of them are just variations on "The story doesn't properly examine the themes that it introduces!" or "The story doesn't properly follow through on its attempt at realism!" Some of them take the complaint ever further, and imply (or outright state) that it was pointless to try to deconstruct their various genres in the first place.

To address all of those entries:

  • The entry on The Killing Joke complains that the story failed to deconstruct Single-Issue Psychology the way that Alan Moore wanted to, and that its portrayal of psychology is ultimately just as simplistic and superficial as in any other Batman story. And it (apparently) implies that it was pointless to try in the first place, since the Joker wouldn't be an effective archenemy to Batman if he had a believably complex psychological profile.
  • The entries on Grand Theft Auto complain that the later games' Darker and Edgier treatment of violence and crime didn't "properly" deconstruct the ethics of the Crime Drama genre. And they (apparently) imply that it was pointless to try in the first place, since the games wouldn't be very fun to play if they made the player feel terrible for wreaking havoc on an American city.
  • The entry on Red Dead Redemption complains that John Marston is an unrealistically perfect Action Hero who doesn't fit with the games' attempt to deconstruct The Western, and it complains that the game doesn't do enough to show the consequences of gun violence and expansionism. Apparently, a Western deconstruction isn't really a deconstruction unless it's an Anvilicious lecture about why crime and Manifest Destiny are horrible.
  • The Watch_Dogs entry complains that the main character is a Flat Character and a cliched antihero, and that the game doesn't "properly" deconstruct the archetypal antiheroic video game protagonist. And it complains that it ends with the protagonist defeating the evil Big Bad—because, apparently, a video game deconstruction isn't really a deconstruction unless the Player Character is a Villain Protagonist or The Bad Guy Wins.
  • The entry on Goldeneye complains that the later Bond films are a Cliché Storm of Tuxedo and Martini tropes, and they don't "properly" address the ramifications of the end of the Cold War.
  • The entry on Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li complains that the movie includes a few supernatural elements from the games, despite otherwise deconstructing many of their central tropes. As if it's somehow hypocritical for playing some tropes straight while deconstructing others.
  • The entry on To Live and Die in L.A. complains that the movie doesn't "properly" follow through on its attempt at deconstructing the Cowboy Cop trope, since it still has a triumphant ending where the good guy triumphs. Because, apparently, a deconstruction isn't really a deconstruction unless it has a massive Downer Ending where The Bad Guy Wins.

And I'm not even going to address the entries on The Cosmonaut Variety Hour, since they're just regurgitating other people's complaints.

I could address a few more entries on the page, but I think you get the idea...

Edited by TheMightyHeptagon on Jun 6th 2019 at 8:46:03 AM

Jun 6th 2019 at 8:38:00 PM

I honestly am amazed that you think it's implying that it was pointless to try at all. That's totally not what's mentioned in any of these examples.

Anyway, I have said my say. I vote make it YMMV rather than cut it. Got nothing more to add.

WarJay77 Just a little (coco)nutty. from The Void Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Just a little (coco)nutty.
Jun 6th 2019 at 9:11:57 PM

Sorry Jack, but after reading through this thread, I'm with the others. I'm not sure if this can be salvaged, so I'm voting for a cut.

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dragonfire5000 from Where gods fear to tread
Jun 6th 2019 at 10:16:11 PM

Going to have to vote [tup] for a cut as well. I don't think there's much to salvage, especially with it being a complaint magnet.

Albert3105 from the lands of Bibble Bobble
Jun 6th 2019 at 10:29:54 PM

It suffers from being The Same, but More Specific-to-deconstructions as They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot, which should cover all YMMV reaction to underutilized plot directions anyway.

Edited by Albert3105 on Jun 6th 2019 at 1:30:52 PM

GastonRabbit His own thang from Robinson, Illinois, USA Relationship Status: I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me
Jun 6th 2019 at 10:46:01 PM

Do we need a crowner, or is there already consensus?

Any questions?
Brainulator9 Short-Term Projects herald from US Relationship Status: I get a feeling so complicated...
Short-Term Projects herald
Jun 7th 2019 at 4:58:42 AM

I'm not sure if one person disagreeing with the consensus would prevent an invocation of the snowball clause, but I say we're good enough.

I'm also inclined to agree with The Mighty Heptagon. This is not salvagable.

Contains 20% less fat than the leading value brand!
Jun 7th 2019 at 5:00:25 AM

There appears to be consensus, but I'll leave it to the moderators to decide whether a crowner is necessary.

By my count, we have 9 votes for "Cut", 1 for "Make YMMV", and 1 that could go either way.

@naturalironist: Do you have any strong feelings one way or the other?

Berrenta MOD Here comes the sun~ from Texas Relationship Status: Can't buy me love
Here comes the sun~
Jun 7th 2019 at 9:35:58 AM

Looks safe to call in favor of cut. Let's get started.

TRS needs your help!
Jun 7th 2019 at 12:12:28 PM

Creator.Dakari King Mykan:

  • IndecisiveDeconstruction: He claims his work concerning ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' is a DeconstructionFic, but really, it just boils down to him hating on the series. He says he is showing that friendship doesn't solve everything, but as BrokenAesop shows, that is not the case. Lately, however, he's stopped sugarcoating it and admitted that [[AuthorTract they're solely to help himself feel better by punishing them]].

This was originally under Deconstruction, but I moved this (and similar entries under their specific works) here since it's not actually an example per this wiki.

What to do with it? Move to You Keep Using That Word since he's misusing Deconstruction? Just cut since it's troping the creator? Anything else?

Brainulator9 Short-Term Projects herald from US Relationship Status: I get a feeling so complicated...
Short-Term Projects herald
Jun 7th 2019 at 4:59:36 PM

I say cut.

Contains 20% less fat than the leading value brand!
Jun 7th 2019 at 7:59:28 PM

Sandbox.Case Study Brave: I assume we'll be fine leaving it a Red Link removing all other examples then cutlisting the trope (as the sandbox will be cut eventually anyway). Any objections?

Update: Sandbox.Case Study Brave and It.Elenco Provvisorio H-I are the last remaining links. Anyone know what to do with them? Are we cutting the trope or redirecting?

Edited by Ferot_Dreadnaught on Jun 7th 2019 at 9:28:25 AM

GastonRabbit His own thang from Robinson, Illinois, USA Relationship Status: I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me
Jun 8th 2019 at 2:14:39 AM

[up]The first is for an old pre-release works thread (no relation to the currently ongoing unreleased works cleanup thread), and there's no point in listing a trope that won't be listed on the corresponding work page. The second is for Italian translations for trope names, so there's no point in listing this one if it's getting cut.

Anyway, I removed the last two wicks and cutlisted Indecisive Deconstruction, since the consensus was to cut instead of redirect, and since it's been fully dewicked.

Edited by GastonRabbit on Jun 8th 2019 at 5:14:44 AM

Any questions?
Berrenta MOD Here comes the sun~ from Texas Relationship Status: Can't buy me love
Here comes the sun~
Jun 8th 2019 at 4:54:54 AM

Will process the cut.

Since that is all that's left, time to close.

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