As I’ve been recovering from a surgery, I’ve spent a lot of time watching TV lately, and I’ve been thinking a lot about clichés and writing. Among other things, I watched several of the Marvel movies, and I found myself getting irritated with one thing: people falling off of buildings into moving aircraft.
(Loki does this in The Avengers, falling off the Stark Tower into a very conveniently passing alien flyer. I get that he’s a demigod, but seriously, he didn’t even look first to see if one was nearby. That was just TOO convenient for my tastes.)*
I want to say that the first time I saw that was in The Matrix, but I’m sure it was around before. Lately it seems that every action sequence in a movie has to include an instance where someone jumps/falls and lands atop an airplane or in a helicopter without ending up sucked into the jets or rotors. (And without breaking any bones or even, apparently, getting the wind knocked out of them.)
This actually goes back even further, back to westerns with people jumping off a building onto a running horse. I always wondered how hard that was on the horse, although when we’re talking human/aircraft instead, I suspect the damage would go the other way.
So sometimes a cliché can be irritating. I suspect this is a bit like a pet peeve…what works for one person drives another person nuts.
My counter example came when I watched the very last episode of Leverage…and ADORED it because it pretty much fed me every expected element that I wanted.
Remember that TV series you watched faithfully for years, but in the last three episodes they totally went off the rails? Remember how annoyed you were? Remember the first time you watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and didn’t ‘get’ the ending?
Yeah, they didn’t do any of that in Leverage. They gave me exactly what I’d been waiting for, and in a nice tidy package. Just enough epilogue to satisfy me. They fed me clichés and I LOVED IT!
So somewhere in the balance of all that is the secret of cliché. You have to hit the reader/viewer in exactly the right spot to make them happy (and some people will react differently than other people to the same image.)
*Yes, I’m aware that this is stupid thing to single out in the Marvel universe as ‘questionable.’