I don't understand porn parodies. They've been around forever, and I can't figure out who they're for. I once spoke to a man who watches porn, and he agreed that the porn experience is in no way enhanced by bad pun comedy performed by strung-out actors in rental costumes. Not that it would matter if the comedy was good -- it's just not the time or the place for it. If you go to a brothel, you're not going to find a guy hiding under the bed with a slide whistle.
Dominic Ford Features, Adam And Eve Productions
However, nonporn movies and shows frequently make the same mistake as the pornmongers: they add plot elements that are doomed at the idea stage. I'm talking about ...
5Plots That Are Essentially Clickbait
As seen in: The recent The Walking Dead finale, Lost, shows that like cheap cliff-hangers, and The Sopranos' series finale (for some reason?).
If you know some The Walking Dead fans, you might be wondering why they were out in the street overturning burning cars after the recent season finale. Well, about six months ago, the show started teasing a major event that's already happened in the comics: the death of a main character at the hands of a new villain. The cast did publicity appearances talking about how they were already in mourning and how said event would arrive in the season finale and would shock fans to the core. AMC teased the episode with glimpses of the death scene with the tagline "THE PRICE WILL BE PAID."
Finally, in April, the season finale arrives. Early in the episode, the villain's henchmen promise to kill one member of the heroes' crew, right on schedule. After 90 minutes, 28 minutes of which were commercials, we get the final scene. All of the protagonists are restrained and lined up. The villain emerges and gives a monologue that seems to last for 46 hours. The camera cuts to a first-person view from a victim, the villain swings his weapon ...
Cut to black and the sound of screams. Season over, come back in six months to find out who got killed.
"Please enjoy a metaphorical hate-cock to the face until then."
Yes, it all turned out to be a cheap ratings stunt, which was shitty for obvious reasons (you don't reward loyal fans by lying to them, and you don't ruin huge emotional moments by chopping them up into teasers for the next episode). But, it also featured one of my least favorite storytelling tricks: coyly denying the viewer information in a way that reminds us we're watching a TV show.
Think about it: Every main character in the show knows what happened -- it occurred right in front of them. The only party left in the dark is us, the viewers, because they chose to turn off the camera at the key moment. It would be like if at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, they bleeped out "I am your father!" and superimposed "TUNE IN NEXT TIME TO FIND OUT WHAT VADER SAID, AND POST YOUR GUESS WITH HASHTAG #WHATDIDHESAY" across the screen.
20th Century Fox
"Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as- *fanfare end credits*."
This cheap trick is usually the sign of a creative team that has run out of gas -- Lost got very bad about this right when the show was in mid shark-jump. Example: At the end of Season 3, we see protagonist Jack walk into a funeral parlor with a closed coffin in the room. He and the funeral director talk ... but carefully avoid saying who is in the coffin (we know from context that it's a key member of the cast). About an hour of show time later, in the final scene of the episode (and the season), Jack and Kate meet to discuss said dead person and proceed to have another ridiculous conversation in which two people discuss the death of someone close to them without ever A) saying his or her name or B) referencing anything that could give away his or her identity. So, instead of Jack simply saying, "Did you know Locke died?" he silently hands Kate an obit cropped from a newspaper:
Jack: "I was hoping you'd heard. I thought maybe you'd go to the funeral."
Kate: "Why would I go to the funeral?"
Jack nods silently.
"He, she, or it was survived by some family members or possibly none at all."
Any answer he gives there would give the audience clues to the corpse's identity, and the characters know that we, the audience, are listening in. They then stretch this shit out for a whole calendar year, until the finale of season four. There, they finally reveal who's in the coffin ... but only after a long exchange between Jack and antagonist Ben, in which they carefully only refer to the dead as "he" or "him" 10 times.
It's like hiding a Christmas present from a kid who already snuck inside the box.
Once more: During that entire time, everyone in the universe of the show knew who was in the coffin -- it wasn't a secret they were trying to discover. It was only kept a secret from us, because this is what struggling writers' rooms do when they feel like their plotline doesn't have enough juice to keep the viewer engaged. That's why I refer to it as clickbait -- it's the plot version of "YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHO JUST DIED! CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT!" Cliff-hangers are about "What happens next?" -- not "What just happened?" If your story is worth telling, you don't have to do that shit.
4Debates Over Whether The Hero Should Stop Having Adventures
As seen in: Daredevil, Breaking Bad, Rocky, The Dark Knight Rises ... any story in which a character has a dangerous hobby.
If you're the kind of deranged sicko who likes to watch something and then spend weeks afterward reading long essays about it, you're familiar with the controversy surrounding Breaking Bad and the main character's wife, Skyler. As the nonpsychotic spouse of the meth-dealing antihero, she was constantly trying to get him to stop committing horrific acts of depravity for profit. And fans hated her.
Sony Pictures Television
A woman? Getting shit on for being decent and levelheaded? The Hell you say!
Many of these essays were berating said fans for this, for siding with the murderous meth dealer over his concerned wife. But, the reason for the reaction was obvious: The show was called Breaking Bad. It was about a boring chemistry teacher who "breaks bad" and starts a criminal empire, full of danger and adventure and flamboyant villains. Every single person who tuned in did it to watch this guy break all sorts of bad. So, whenever Skyler would point her finger at Walter and say, "You need to stop breaking so much bad, mister!" what we heard was "You need to make this entertaining adventure end, and go back to being a boring high school teacher!"
Sony Pictures Television
"I am the one who grades on a curve."
And, hey, in real life, she would be completely right! If any of you are facing a similar dilemma right now, please don't break any further bad than you already have. But, those arguments were ridiculous in the context of the show we're watching. In The Dark Knight Rises, we get the same thing -- Alfred demanding that Batman stop being Batman:
Alfred: I've sewn you up, I've set your bones, but I won't bury you. I've buried enough members of the Wayne family.
Bruce Wayne: You'll leave me?
Alfred: You see only one end to your journey. Leaving is all I have to make you understand you're not Batman anymore. You have to find another way. You used to talk about finishing a life beyond that awful cape.
Again: This is in a movie that was promoted with this poster:
Warner Brothers Pictures
That "awful cape" was specifically designed by a prop department to be the coolest goddamned thing you've ever seen. The poster screams, "Buy a ticket to watch a guy wearing this badass costume rise the shit out of his Dark Knightness!" So, whose side are we going to take when the weeping old guy says, "Mr. Wayne, I am begging you to stop doing the thing that all of those strangers in the theater out there paid to see!" It's like a restaurant advertising photos of their delicious steaks, and then, when we get in the door, they start pestering us with arguments for veganism. It's literally the one time and place when that discussion makes the least amount of sense.
Warner Brothers Pictures
The Wet Blanket Deflates.
Yet, this is almost standard for superhero franchises at this point. It's a major subplot in the current season of Daredevil. The hero's law partner gets concerned for his safety and demands he stop daredeviling and simply practice law full time. That's a great scene to have in a different show -- say, a series about a lawyer who does lawyer stuff and, in one specific plotline, is considering doing some vigilante justice. I mean, when that same scenario came up in Matlock, I didn't want Andy Griffith to go beat those 30 ninjas to death with a claw hammer. Not that it stopped him.
CBS Television Distribution
"Justice will be served."