Eleven Tropes I No Longer Have Time For


photo by Tom Hilton

1. The adults keep brushing it off, but a group of boys (plus one underdeveloped female character who has 14 lines total) know better! It’s up to Our Young Heroes Who Are Mostly White to make the adults realize something’s really going on, and save the day while they’re at it! LOL, stupid adults.
2. Because we’re SO NOT RACIST, the judge, the doctor, and the president are all Black men, but every other character is white, and those three guys have a combined total of 9 lines. But look! THE JUDGE IS BLACK. See? That’s good, right? Right?
3. The only Black woman is Sassy Store Clerk With Two Lines who unknowingly imparts wisdom even though she is framed as uneducated and basically worthless compared to Our White Hero, yet because Our White Hero listens to her advice (despite its wacky Black vernacular! LOL!) we’re so not racist! She could be a maid, a prostitute, or maybe, if she’s lucky, an office underling! (Repeat as necessary for every other version of the Magical Person of Color, LGBTQ person, and Person With Disabilities.)
4. Sure, she’s tough (and also sexy-deadly), but under that tough, sexy-deadly exterior is a REAL WOMAN just ACHING to mother a child. IT SECRETLY DRIVES HER. “She is human after all,” thinks Our Hero, as he watches her display the one emotion she will ever display in the entirety of the piece. “She may be a highly trained, sexy-deadly killing machine who dedicated her life to her career, but all she REALLY wants is a baby.”
5. Black people yearn to be accepted by white people. IT IS THEIR EVERYTHING. Thanks to Our White Hero, it can happen!
6. It’s a caper! The characters are Our Hero (white male), Crazypants (white male), The Handsome Scoundrel (white male), Toughest Guy (token Black dude), and Nerd Expert (white male). Introduced later in the film: The Girl, whose character is “boobs.” But we’re TOTALLY NOT SEXIST, because she has a skill! It’s MASTER OF DISGUISE! So she can put on revealing outfits and sneak the guys into the building by distracting the guards with boners!
7. People with diseases are HUMAN PEOPLE who have love and maybe even sex, but die at the end so Our Hero can learn something about Life.
8. “Just give him a chance!” This is the entire film until she relinquishes access to her vagina.
9. He’s such a COOL DUDE that he has TWO WOMEN who are attached to his arms as decorative objects. He has SO MUCH PENIS it merits TWO saucy lady persons whose tragic brain injuries have resulted in a lack of all communication but giggling. Masculinity is measured by how many saucy lady persons attach themselves to you like jewelry for your strolls and party posing behaviors.
10. The White Guys Plus One Black Dude are on a caper or Important Mission™! But one dude’s girlfriend keeps calling, wanting to know where he is and what’s going on! LOL! Stupid lady person! Better lie to her and say “Nothing, honey! Don’t you worry about it!” “But I hear gunfire in the back—” “EVERYTHING’S FINE!” Then his cool awesome guy friends throw that cellphone out the window! That’ll show her for not staying in her place!
11. LOL! Fat people want love and sex! Haha, Our Hero has one ACTUALLY TALKING TO HIM right now! LOOK, SHE THINKS SHE’S PEOPLE!
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9 thoughts on “Eleven Tropes I No Longer Have Time For

  1. dehelen says:

    I’m am so with you on this!

  2. Brilliant–and right on target!

  3. Brilliant–and right on target!

  4. David Copelin says:

    Love these reminders of story structures. My favorites are still the 1950s movies in which the Uptight Lady Scientist has her hair loosened (metaphor alert!) by the Handsome Air Force Major, just before the Major defeats the Enemy, whether Commies with 5 o’clock shadow, or giant bugs from outer space.

  5. mscrunch says:

    Great article!
    I would like to add another that I am all set on ever seeing again: What are robots? Are they people? This plot is so deep: see, it’s about what it means to be human! But specifically, what is the difference between a woman Our Male Hero wants to have sex with, and a sexy, female-shaped robot? IS THERE EVEN A DIFFERENCE? (bonus points if the robot-lady looks Asian or is given some Asian cultural marker, or if the plot thinks that sex work in some way makes the differentiation between woman and robot/object more difficult)

  6. Barbara Beckley says:

    This is great. And it reminds me of an SNL sketch from a few years ago about The Actor Who Plays The One Black Guy In All The Super Bowl commercials.

  7. katy stephan says:

    I already do!


  8. Cassady Toles says:

    I still buy a ticket to #4, because I want there to be just as many action movies starring female leads as starring male ones, and I think studios will only make more when they believe there’s a chance of commercial success.

    It means I buy tickets to a chunk of lame action movies starring women, but I wish I spent more.

  9. franmcbain says:

    Can you provide one example of each? I’ve been thinking about each and I simply can’t. I bet you can’t either. I’ll bet you can’t come up with half. An example of half of these.

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