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Jun 11th 2014 at 3:16:22 PM •••

There seems to be an Edit War with the Bleach example. Could everyone please post your sources before changing the article ?

Oct 15th 2013 at 10:54:15 AM •••

Answer to Zaptech, who deleted the part about EMP bombs with that line : "Despite popular belief, the military can't just deploy EMP bombs at the drop of a hat, mostly because there aren't many in existence in the first place. "

I get that armies don't just stockpile EMP bombs, but this is more for Rule of Funny than anything. The points still kind of stands : the army could have found one somewhere, deploy a nuke in a way that would have made an IEM striking the robot, or anything else than sending a few guys with submachine guns. I wrote "EMP bombs" because it's shorter and funnier than "nuclear bombs deployed above the atmosphere to make an EMP that may have destroyed the robot" :) So, it's not accurate, but I think it makes sense to leave it.

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Oct 15th 2013 at 11:47:15 AM •••

Axe that line. There's any number of things the military could've done, and EMP bombs would be... pretty far down the list (especially given the clear 1950's aesthetic), honestly. I see no reason to have the line. It's inaccurate, it's needless, and it isn't funny (thus not really fitting Clear Concise Witty).

Sep 16th 2013 at 3:18:32 PM •••

There is an example from the YKTTW that seems to be getting a lot fo discussion:

  • In The Avengers, the army doesn't send any troops to help the titular heroes defending New York against the alien invasion. And of course, they don't think one second about sending a single missile to destroy the one building on which the phlobetonium supporting the invasion stands, or sending some nukes in the two-way portal to take down the exposed enemy spaceship. Nuking the city seems so far more sensible.

I don't know whether it fits or not. The discussion wasn't apparently settled on the YKTTW.

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Oct 8th 2013 at 12:04:29 PM •••

Here's my proposed rewrite:

  • The Avengers is a completely straight example. The alien invaders, the Chitauri, weren't very impressive at all and were easily dispatched with bullets (considering that three members of the titular team were badass normals with no particularly exotic weapons or abilities. The military should've been able to handle the number of Chitauri shown, however they never appear (handwaved by saying it would take the National Guard an hour to mobilize). The World Council decides to just outright nuke NEW YORK CITY before any Armed Forces reach the city. Even in-universe, the leaders of the world don't have any faith in their militaries.

It's certainly an example, given that the Avengers were quite effective at dealing with the Chitauri including Hawkeye and Black Widow, even though they were just two people shooting them. Granted, they're tremendously skilled, but not at One-Man Army levels. Plus, the fact that the National Guard couldn't get there is an example of the army being useless, not an excuse.

Oct 8th 2013 at 12:50:54 PM •••

I was considering going back and rewriting the original point, but you beat me to it.

Some points: The military do show up; we can clearly see them several times in the background shooting at the Chitauri. I'd also cut out the part about nuking the city, or at least remove the Bold Inflation. Also, only two members of the team are Badass Normal; Cap explicitly has superhuman strength and toughness.

Perhaps this would be better:

  • In The Avengers, the military is explicitly stated as being unable to stop the Chitauri invasion in New York City. Though the National Guard does arrive to fight the invaders, it falls to the Avengers to hold the line. The World Council eventually decides that the military can't hold the line and attempts to nuke NYC.

Straightforward, factually accurate, cuts out the complaining and loaded words and Bold Inflation.

Edited by
Oct 8th 2013 at 1:00:20 PM •••

Oh, definite agree on yanking the Bold Inflation. Really unnecessary.

I would still like some mention that the Chitauri go down just fine to bullets (thus it stands to reason that the armed forces should be able to do fairly well). To me, there's where the real meat of the example: the fact that the primary reason the army is useless is because the story says so, even though they logically should be more effective.

Edited by
Oct 8th 2013 at 4:18:59 PM •••

Fine by me. Perhaps this?

  • In The Avengers, the military is explicitly stated as being unable to stop the Chitauri invasion in New York City, though individual Chitauri are no more dangerous than human soldiers. While the National Guard does arrive to fight the invaders, it falls to the Avengers to hold the line. The World Council eventually decides that the military can't hold the line and attempts to nuke NYC.

Oct 8th 2013 at 11:40:29 PM •••

I'd also mentioned that their flyers are very ineffective, routinely picked off by normal humans. Yet said humans don't really do anything your average soldier couldn't, they just have protagonist powers. Black Widow and Hawkeye just kind of shot them, and the vehicles either exploded or the pilots died, then the vehicle crashed. Hawkeye also shot down several of them with a normal SHIELD aircraft, before getting flanked and taken down by others, showing that human aircraft > Chitauri aircraft.

This should be notable, as it, like mentioning that the Chitauri go down fine to bullets, illustrates that the military SHOULD be monstrously effective, yet isn't, because the story says so.

I also think it's an insult to say that the Chitauri are comparable to human soldiers. Physically, maybe, but their weapons and tactics were far inferior, meaning your average Somali militiaman would be a far bigger threat than your average Chitauri, to say nothing of an actual soldier. Somlia militia can at least can take cover, and have automatic weapons.

It's also notable that the entire military force we saw consisted of, what, one humvee and five guys? Pretty straight example of Five Rounds Rapid, another big element of this trope.

One last thing: I think "The World Council decides to just outright nuke New York City before any significant forces reach the city. Even in-universe, the leaders of the world don't have any faith in their militaries" should be kept. It underlines that, even though the aliens we see are ineffective, the leaders still don't even try to just let the military handle it, instead opting for nuking arguably the most important city in the world immediately. It shows that this trope is believed in-universe.

Edited by
Oct 9th 2013 at 9:02:36 AM •••

Hawkeye strafing a bunch of them that didn't know he was there and which were set up to be on a silver platter does not mean human aircraft >- Chitauri craft. Especially since, as you say, he is flanked and shot down less than a minute after the Chitauri realize he's on the scene. Hawkeye only destroys any of them with special arrows, and Black Widow does not take down a single craft except for the one she hijacks.

Oct 9th 2013 at 8:17:17 PM •••

It still shows us that Chitauri flyers are both slow enough and fragile enough to be shot down by normal human aircraft. Not even designated air to air ones.

No, Hawkeye shoots off some with normal arrows. That shows us that normal humans (Hawkeye is a Badass Normal) can register these things and take them down with mere bows. So obviously groups of soldiers on the roofs with rifles would be even more effective.

Even counting special arrows, they're not... special. Just grenades-on-a-stick. Not exactly some super high tech thing the army doesn't have.

Oct 9th 2013 at 9:51:12 PM •••

I think its a bit silly to say that ordinary humans can do what Hawkeye does. Remember that he's not only able to arc arrows around to hit targets on the opposite side of an aircraft carrier, he's also able to hit targets he isn't even looking at. That's well beyond what the vast majority of mankind can theoretically do.

That being said, I agree that the Chitauri would go down pretty well against regular soldiers. So...

  • In The Avengers, the military is explicitly stated as being unable to stop the Chitauri invasion in New York City, though the Chitauri soldiers can be readily killed with modern weapons. While the National Guard does arrive to fight the invaders, it falls to the Avengers to hold the line. The World Council eventually comes to this conclusion in-universe and decides to nuke NYC rather than risk the Chitauri breaking free.

Oct 10th 2013 at 12:24:00 AM •••

I'd recommend a slight adjustment, first to change "though the Chitauri soldiers can be readily killed with modern weapons" to also mention that their aircraft are in the same boat, and second for it to say "even though" rather than just "though". "even though Chitauri soldiers can be readily killed with just bullets, and their main attack aircraft are routinely shot down or disabled with modern weaponry", something like that, so it doesn't seem like the Chitauri had some big tech advantage (they didn't) to make up for physical frailness. It would also emphasize that, given the tech tier that the Chitauri are at, and what their weaknesses are, the military should logically be capable of repelling them, but can't, even though the protagonists can using (in Hawkeye's and Black Widow's cases) the exact same methods as the soldiers would. That's the central element of the trope here.

I also think "eventually" implies too large of a passage of time. The WSC decided to nuke the city a mere 20 minutes or so after the attack started. I think that's pretty critical to illustrating how much this trope is improbably believed in-universe.

Hawkeye is skilled, but he's still just a human. Not to mention, no matter how good he is, he's still just one guy with a bow, so logically hundreds or thousands of soldiers with guns being deployed in the same role would be more effective. But they aren't.

Edited by
Oct 10th 2013 at 9:42:38 PM •••

Agreed for the most part, though I disagree on "Eventually". The battle lasts at least an hour and a half, because the police explicitly state that it would take an hour for National Guard troops to get there and they show up halfway through the battle. It seems shorter because of time compression that takes place in any movie. I would put a reasonable estimate on the length of time at two hours, at minimum. They didn't just jump immediately to the nuclear option, though they were quick to go for it.

  • In The Avengers, the military is explicitly stated as being unable to stop the Chitauri invasion in New York City, though the Chitauri soldiers and aircraft can be readily destroyed with modern weapons. While the National Guard does arrive to fight the invaders, it falls to the Avengers to hold the line. The World Council eventually decides that the military can't win and decides to nuke NYC rather than risk the Chitauri breaking free.

Edited by
Oct 11th 2013 at 2:25:49 AM •••

The above rewrite seems fine, though I still think "eventually" seems like the WSC waited longer than they did. Even factoring in time compression, deciding to outright nuke New York City after an hour or two is quite hasty and shows that even the leaders in-universe consider the military to be useless. Just change "eventually" to "quickly" and it'll all be good.

  • In The Avengers, the military is explicitly stated as being unable to stop the Chitauri invasion in New York City, even though the Chitauri soldiers and aircraft can be readily destroyed with modern weapons. While the National Guard does arrive to fight the invaders, it falls to the Avengers to hold the line. The World Council quickly decides that the military can't win and decides to nuke NYC rather than risk the Chitauri breaking free.

Sep 23rd 2014 at 6:07:01 AM •••

The example got pulled for some reason... I'm going to readd it.

Sep 2nd 2013 at 12:36:23 PM •••

I really think that we should keep the Animorphs example, not only because it qualifies, but précisément because it represents the very idea I have of the trope. In Animorphs, the military is actually a bit useful : they give the main cast bombs and send Redshirts die for a (pointles, in my opinion, but whatever) diversion, and that's all. Yeah, that's exactly what Jake asked them, but since when armies are supposed to expect teenagers to give them orders before doing useful stuff ?

The thing is, the army is very secondary, and it feels like it has been added because its absence would have seemed weird, but it still lacks something : intelligence. They have gathered no information on the enemy, give no advice to the cast about what they should do, and aren't shown to try anything to improve the situation except obeying a few teenagers. So, yeah, they're a bit useful, so this trope isn't exactly played straigh, but it's far from averted.

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Sep 3rd 2013 at 3:44:15 PM •••

My points then:

First, the military actually saves the Animorphs' lives once they're allied. While escorting the bomb the kids gets attacked by morph-capable Controllers, and are nearly defeated, but then the troops come and kill the Yeerks. Second, they specify the bomb needed to blow up the Yeerk pool. The kids only had a vague idea of using a nuke, but the Captain offers a non-nuclear bomb better suited for the job. They also evacuate the city while the bomb is being transported by train.

As for the diversion, it was explicitly a suicide mission. Plus, it wasn't just troops but the Auxilliary Animorphs joining them, many of them named and developed characters. The purpose of the diversion was to show Visser One that the humans weren't just sitting around doing nothing while the Pool ship was on the surface, or else he would have gotten suspicious and ordered an attack. Why the military didn't take on the Pool ship is because it ha shields and kids that can turn into flies have a much better chance of getting aboard.

As for gaining intelligence, the hard part is that they've been infiltrated. It's hard to know who is truly theirs and who is a Controller, and it wastes time having to lock all their men in a room and not letting them out until the Yeerks there are dead, though they eventually attempt this. One might argue that a competent army wouldn't have been infiltrated in the first place, but all it takes is one serviceman on his off time to get invited to a meeting to the Sharing for the floodgates to open.

One last thing: after the war, the military opens a branch for morph capable combatants. Jake becomes a teacher for soldiers, and recruits several for his new team at the end of the book.

Edited by
Sep 4th 2013 at 5:24:58 AM •••

- For the army saving the Animorphs : my bad, I forgot that point. That's actually the one moment in the book where I felt "Yeah, that's what we have soldiers for (and totally not for Afghanistan) !". But they still don't do as much as they should.

- For the diversion, I don't say it's bad the army took part of it (as the article says, sending Redshirts die en masse can be a valuable tactic), but that's the idea you get of it that qualifies for the trope : basically, the army is just there to give mooks for the hero to play with. They don't give him, say, tactical advice for his mission (like don't kill the 20 000 defenseless guys if you have the choice :p), intelligence, a plan B or anything.

- Actually, I think infiltrating the military with aliens like Yirks would be pretty much impossible IRL (but whatever, suspension of disbelief ftw !) : I don't know how the US military works, but I guess soldiers aren't actually free of their movements, so they can be sent at the other end of the world (or heck, even two states away), so...

- They could have easily gathered lots of intelligence, actually : they just had to promise the Yirks who cooperated a quick death (instead of, you know, big "to horrible to contemplate" agony by Kandrona starvation) and then crosscheck them, and bam, everyone who has valuable intel gives it. They could have debriefed Eva (aka ex-Visser one), interviewed the guys of the Yirk peace movement, and so on.

To summarize my point : the military helped a bit, but in the end they weren't that important, or weren't shown as important anyway.

Sep 4th 2013 at 6:18:59 PM •••

There's not much else they could have done with the bomb mission. The reason why the Animorphs escorted the bomb and not soldiers was because the train was rigged to crash and the kids can turn into bugs, which won't be affected by the impact.

They don't offer tactical advice because they have none about Yeerks, aside from what the kids know. It's not like they know much about getting aboard a Pool ship, and even Eva at most could give the layout, weapons, and warning that the security codes update every hour. Interviewing captured Controllers probably wouldn't work because you have to figure out who is a Controller and who isn't, and even after that the Yeerk might refuse to surrender or give false information. Some might even be morph capable or, being in soldiers, holding a weapon.

At some point some soldier on his break has got to have been invited to the Sharing. Troops are indeed limited by the government's rules, but they still get vacations. Then he gets infested, invites friends in their break, and keep going until they get someone high ranking enough to order his men to a pool site without other officers asking too many questions. There was the previous attempt by the Yeerks to get military men in The Unknown at the amusement park.

Since blowing up the Yeerk Pool was a critical blow that the kids simply couldn't accomplish on their own, I definitely say the military was vital to their victory. I'd even say it was close to the portrayal of the military in Man of Steel. They're suspicious of the hero(s), are unable to strike a killing blow against the villains, but help out with simultaneous efforts. Superman/Animorphs saves the world, but they needed a helping push from the military. Playing a supporting role is not the same thing as useless.

Sep 6th 2013 at 9:12:33 AM •••

For the bomb mission, there's a lot more that could have been done : they could have tried to take control of the pool by sending enough men to attack it, for example, and then have a few thousands of hostages, plus the one strategic point the invasion depends on. But they still did much more for that one mission than the army usually does in 99% of movies, so whatever :D

For the tactical advice, even without knowing anything about the yirks, they could have given them diplomacy/negotiations tips, infiltration and guerrilla lessons (even if the kids were pretty experimented, they could still have learned things), or heck, even devised their own infiltration plan and submitted it to the animorphs !

And interviewing captured controllers is easy : you just lock everyone up for three days and ofter the yeerks who give intel a quick death instead of horrible kandrona starvation. You don't even have to find the controllers, they come at you, and if you tell them you will crosscheck the informations they give, they can't invent things (unless they all accorded on what to tell in case they were captured, but even then there's the prisoner dilemma).

For the infestation point, I don't think infesting soldiers would be impossible, but keeping them would be. There's only so much soldiers who can stay around the same city without being moved, plus they all tend to be in the same group (so it's less interesting than having soldiers in every division). Actually, even trying would be a huge risk, since any soldier moved, then freed could give the whole invasion away instantly AND discretely. Any yirk pool would have a bigger chance to be discovered in a military base ; and infesting officers wouldn't be safe either since they're more often subject to inspections/investigations. But again, that's not the subject here :p

My whole point on the army role is not that they're useless because they just support the cast : my point is that they are "not totally useless but still not much useful" (aka, trope downplayed) because they could support a lot more.

Edited by
Sep 16th 2013 at 3:06:44 PM •••

Sorry I took so long to respond. In that case, it looks this entry won't be going away; how 'bout I rewrite a bit to make it fairier to the army? Because leaving it as "they don't seem very worried" and "bombs to toy with" seems like drastically undermining their role.

Oct 15th 2013 at 11:17:15 AM •••

The Pacific Rim example was cut because Zaptech argues the Jaegers are legally still military. You could say the same thing of the Avengers. Plus, note Stacker's comment that they're "not an army anymore", and how Del Toro went out of his way to make it not seem like a military.

Oct 17th 2013 at 10:33:12 AM •••

Okay, but what does it have to do with Animorphs ? (to start a discussion about Pacific Rim, click the "add a new topic" button)

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