And I got to wondering if anyone else had the same or similar problems that I had, if anyone else had noticed the things I’m complaining about. An a little bit of Google searching turned up that, yes, some people did!
So for this post, I will put up select quotes, with attributions.
The trope wiki does encourage a form of intellectual laziness when it comes to analysis of literature. It gives the impression that all fiction is made up of interacting tropes, which is basically the only way you can interpret a whole bunch of people making huge lists of of tropes which they ‘picked up’ while reading/watching any particular story. Rather than discuss the themes behind a story or the motivations of characters or whatever, a ‘troper’ looks for devices that have been used in other stories before, no matter how tenuous the connection is. Usually the definition for any trope is quite broad so it can refer to characters who are wildly different but have a few familiar traits, which is how you can end up with Char Aznable and Adrian Veidt on the same list of ‘Well Intentioned Extremists’.
Ford Prefect, Stardestroyer.net
As I’ve said before, TV Tropes is not valid literary criticism. It focuses too much on connection, not actually looking at the story and finding themes, as said in the post above.
Any real literary critic would laugh at the tenuous connections made by the pseudo-intellectuals there. So of course the community is terrible. I can’t call it a “timesuck” as the connections they find and their way of presenting it confuse and irritate me.
Tupin, Digitpress (Note: requires registration)
One of the main issues with the site is this: there is no coherent definition of what a ‘trope’ is. As far as TVTropes is concerned, a trope is a thing that you can make a page around or slot into one of their inane lists. Tropes range from plot elements to game mechanics to popular or clichéd lines to random bits of numerology. It’s impossible to talk about what tropes are or aren’t – or what they’re for or not for – because they aren’t anything consistent.
Speaking even more broadly than that, the issue with TVTropes is that it’s really just an example of obsessive list-making and categorisation. This isn’t to say that there aren’t some good pages there, or some things worth reading. There are. Rather, it’s to say that the enterprise of TVTropes is pretty worthless. As a project, TVTropes is an exercise in purposeless and obsessive list-making, predicated on this notion of ‘tropes’ (a nebulous and undefined concept) as the ‘building blocks’ of writing (as if writing even has building blocks!).
The real point of TVTropes is as a community. The TVTropes forums, the YMMV and speculation pages, and so on. People meet, interact, and talk on the site. Just like SB, the community takes on a life of its own. That the enterprise the community is ostensibly based on is worthless dreck is irrelevant to the community. Nonetheless, the community has to defend it, or else lose its reason for existence.
It really is a mess.
Unhappy Anchovy, SpaceBattles.net
I could’ve really filled this post up, but I decided to go with a “one quote per source” rule, and all the other comments I found were of the generic “TV Tropes is a timesink” or “TV Tropes is full of japanophiles” nonsense.
I actually haven’t found “TV Tropes is full of Japanophiles” to be true, to be honest. They seem to be dickhurt about that association, because when I was there they made it their mission to convince anyone who honestly expressed an orientophile bent that they were just blind and didn’t see the true glory of western culture. They came off as nationalists, in other words.
But yeah, let’s end it here. TV Tropes is a website that needs to die, and I’m through giving them the time of day on my site. So next time I post, it’ll be about something I like.
(Edit) I realized upon re-reading this entry that I forgot to mention: why all this focus on analysis? Well, because TV Tropes claims to be a site about analysis… sometimes. Other times it claims to be a resource for writers looking for ideas. Or whatever. The truth is though, that TV Tropes really never had a purpose. Someone just started doing it for shits and giggles, and decided on a “purpose” after-the-fact.
I honestly would not take writing advice from TV Tropes, because they have demonstrated to me that they are willfully ignorant on several subjects. I’ve seen Tropers argue, for example, that the comic book “one writer controls an entire run on a magazine” is exactly the same as how television scripts are written (it isn’t–television has teams of writers who each work on individual scripts, with a head writer who basically establishes arcs and ensures continuity). This is all basic stuff you can find out with Google, or by checking the special features on any DVD season sets you happen to own, and Tropers don’t even know this. And yet they’re a resource for writers.
And the reason TV Tropes isn’t analysis is because “describing something in invented jargon” is not analysis, its just description. Analysis means looking into something, trying to see into its themes and subject matter and really penetrate it. For example, “Naked Snake’s CQC seems reminiscent of Judo. It’s a form of physical technique that revolves around gaining leverage and upsetting your opponent’s balance to give yourself power over him.” That’s analysis. What Tropers do is “Naked Snake’s CQC is a MartialArt where you FacePound peeps and NeckGrab them a lot ForTheKoolz.” You’ll notice that the analysis example is explaining what it is and how it works, while the Troper-analogy is just using a bunch of dumbass terms that don’t tell you anything useful at all.
So I say again: TV Tropes needs to die, and people need to stop taking that site so seriously.