Sometimes when watching a movie, or reading a book, it dawns on us that we've seen this before. There are a lot of well-worn tropes that can make our entertainment run together in a hodge-podge of images and impressions that don't really stand up to hard scrutiny; which often leads us to demand more originality from our favorite authors or movie makers.
But sometimes, nothing satisfies like predictability.
I am susceptible to my own particular list of clichés. Maybe it's because I grew up watching cheesy 80's television-- I don't know. But the are some things I just always fall for. Here's my list of dirty little secrets-- maybe if I bare my soul, you'd be inspired to do the same.
I could totally blame Moonlighting for this. I doesn't matter that I know my favorite TV couples have no hope of getting together until the final season, I still watch. "Castle" (with the incredibly likable Nathan Fillion) is my current weakness, though "Bones" gets points for making me tune in for six seasons. All the shows have the same formula-- verbal sparring that disguises sexual chemistry-- and I fall for it!
Woefully Outclassed and/or Young Heroes:
The Belgariad by David Eddings. You gotta love the David vs. Goliath story though. It transcends genre and even though it now seems most heavily represented in corporate espionage films, I still think of Luke Skywalker and the vicarious thrill of seeing the little guy win one.
I so wanted to be Samantha Stephens from Bewitched as a kid. I had dreams of waking up with witch powers and the ability to wiggle my nose and make anything I wanted magically appear. So it's no wonder that I would love the idea of a character like Spiderman. There are so many ways people in the superhero (and supervillain) pantheon can gain superpowers-- from mutants to falling into a vat of nuclear waste (hat tip to "Sky High")-- and I've imagined them all. And if the new show "No Ordinary Family" is any indication, I'm not the only one who wonders what their super power would be.
Stranger in a Strange Land:
I was never able to get into the book by Robert Heinlein, but I loved me some Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. This is one of those stories we can all relate to, but having gone to 11 different schools as a kid, I can really relate to this one. I never had the ability to seamlessly fit into a few environment, so I appreciate the stories in movies like "Dances With Wolves" and "Avatar" that illustrate the awkwardness of just trying not to stand out.
Whether it's Yoda or the carelessly offensive Gregory House, there's no shortage of characters who have knowledge that is eagerly sought after-- and they're not going to give it up easily. Sometimes there will be variations, like the character of Walter Bishop in "Fringe"-- whose mental instability is the main barrier to a productive mentor/protégé relationship-- but there's something timeless about the idea of one generation passing on their knowledge to the next. I can't explain why I happen to like it better when the going is rough-- I guess I'm just complicated.
Unfortunately, I could probably do this all day. I guess there aren't really any new ideas-- just different interpretations. But this list represents the ones that pull me back again and again.
What sucks you in?