Sunday, February 26, 2012

There's A Trope For That - Week of February 26

This week's trope: Writers Cannot Do Math

"You're watching a show or movie, or reading a book, when suddenly something numerical throws you for a slight curve — like a date, or a character's age. Your brow furrows. You start ticking things off on your fingers. What the hell? That wasn't right!"


Most of us have a certain "thing" that yanks us right out of a movie, book or show. It can be anything -- an anachronism, a visible boom mic, 26-year-olds playing teenagers, or even just a general "THAT. WOULD NEVER. HAPPEN." If you don't have one of these hangups, consider yourself fortunate.

For me, it's the age/years thing. Screw-ups involving numbers or days make me CRAZY. I have no idea why. Math was never my forte growing up, nor am I obsessed with years or numbers in my everyday life. But for some reason, my brain -- when watching or reading anything -- is constantly making sure everything is accurate, number-wise. Did Bobbie Sue turn 12 years old in 1972? Well, then she better well be 22 (or about to turn so) in 1982. OR ELSE I WILL TURN THIS MOVIE RIGHT AROUND.

For some idea of how obsessive (read: strange) I am about this, take a look at the link above, open the Literature tab, and look at the entries for Harry Potter. (Warning: this might make your next read-through of the HP books a little less enjoyable.) There are about a dozen number-related "whoopses" listed there, and every time I read the books, I think about those. Yes. I have already obsessed over every one of them. Repeatedly.

Yet somehow the number errors don't really ruin the books for me. They'll just cause me to pause. Usually I will put the book(s) down, think about how it (the mistake) could make sense logically, realize it can not, shrug and give it the old "a wizard did it" write-off, and continue reading. 

It's the only way.

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