Thank you to TV Tropes for providing me these official titles and synopses.
10. The Ingenue
“The Ingenue is a young virginal woman with the purity of a child…. In a worst-case scenario, the character will be given no real personality beyond her purity, innocence, etc.”
There are several dimensions to ingenues, really, thought not every ingenue can be described in terms other than the ones in the quotation. Some are plucky, some are romantic, some are just purely childish, some are taken advantage of. But regardless, they spring up like weeds in so much fiction, especially the fiction of days gone by. They’re pretty and painfully naive, often oblivious to anything around them that’s less than sunshine-happy and bunny-innocent. Various examples given on TV Tropes are Sandy Dumbrowski/Olson, depending on the incarnation (Grease), Jane Bennet (Pride and Prejudice, a piece of fiction rife with annoying tropes), Cosette (Les Miserables), Johanna (Sweeney Todd), and Christine Daae (The Phantom of the Opera). A few that lampoon this stereotype to varying degrees (and therefore I like them better) are Janet Weiss (Rocky Horror), Mary Lane (Reefer Madness), and Giselle (Enchanted). Several of the proper Disney princesses are just as frustratingly ingenue.
9. The Manchild
“Sometimes people just fail to develop into social or intellectual maturity. Maybe its due to a very loving but confining mother or father. Or maybe they just didn’t want to leave the nest. Maybe they’ve been intentionally secluded from learning about the world.”
Now. This one can be done well (continuing to use TV Tropes examples, Finding Neverland’s portrayal of James Barrie, Kirk from Gilmore Girls, and Randy from My Name is Earl are a few that are) but especially in modern-day bro comedies, it’s hideously frustrating. Adam Sandler has made a career of throwing his manchild character into dozens of situations and dozens of allegedly different characters. Will Ferrell, when he isn’t being brilliantly funny (I don’t know why, but I’ve got a soft spot for his performance in Dick), is often frustratingly juvenile. (Step Brothers, Talladega Nights, etcetera etcetera). While the ingenue makes women look bad, the manchild makes men look terrible.
8. Sex As Rite-of-Passage
“The plot generally follows his attempts to meet girls/women and get them into bed. Generally speaking, this is a comedy film, so his attempts are inept or nerdish and Hilarity Ensues.”
Now, I often have a soft spot for the nerdish, awkward men themselves, but I am just so sick of this plotline. To best put it into words, well, I thought Superbad was hilarious the first time around, but having caught it on TV several times now, I just get frustrated by it. Sex is not the end-all be-all, and I hate that modern media displays the message that unless someone has had sex they aren’t to be taken seriously. The message that it makes you a “real” man or woman. That idea is overrated, overdone, and plainly sort of offensive. While I do love me some Judd Apatow and that entire genre he’s fathered, movies like Superbad and The 40-Year-Old Virgin pain me deeply. I haven’t even seen American Pie and it frustrates me. (Though I’m tempted to give it a watch just for the adorable that is Alyson Hannigan.) TV Tropes does make a point to acknowledge two instances of at least somewhat subverting this trope (or, well, talking about how it isn’t important, then going for it anyway, which is something): one, on Rome, features Atia forcing her son Octavian to go to a whorehouse and lose it (he does, but ends up basically making friends with the whore), and the other, in the Firefly episode “Jaynestown,” features Inara being hired to take a magistrate’s son’s virginity. She does, but before (and after) she talks to him at length about how sex DOES NOT MAKE YOU A MAN. Way to be all awesome and philosophical, Inara. Way to be.
7. Of Course I’m Not a Virgin
“Everybody Has Lots Of Sex is a concept so ubiquitous in modern media, that the very idea that any character, for any reason, is a virgin is something that comes off as alien and bizarre. As a result of this, when a group of characters is discussing something and the discussion vaguely implies that one character is a virgin, the script will quickly throw in an anecdote or line explaining how the character in question is most definitely not a virgin.”
This is annoying for the same reasons as the last one, really. There’s nothing wrong with being a virgin, and no shame in it. That people feel compelled to deny it so assiduously bothers me. Just once I’d like to see someone who’s a virgin unintentionally (i.e. not saving it for marriage or some such) in a film who’s just okay with it. TV Tropes doesn’t mention this, but the entire plot of Emma Stone’s Easy A revolves around this notion. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a cute movie, but really world?
6. …actually, there’s a whole slew of Virginity Tropes.
5. Love at First Sight
” Love at first sight. It’s a staple of Fairy Tales, love songs, and Disney animated movies. Two characters meet, and fall deeply, madly, passionately in love with each other almost immediately. This is one of the most common story archetypes, probably going back to the days when people first began to tell stories to each other.”
I’m not denying (and neither does TV Tropes) that there can be attraction at first sight. But holy God. You cannot love someone without knowing them. You can feel like maybe you could love them eventually, you could feel connected to them, you could like them. But love is a deeper human connection. It happens in Star Wars (creepiest. EVER. He’s a little kid! She’s the QUEEN OF HER FREAKING PLANET. No thank you), it happens in Les Miserables, it happens in Twilight (with like… every single pairing, including the pairing of a werewolf AND A FETUS), it happens all the time in Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet is hideously improbable. The Twelfth Night pairings are ridiculous. It goes on), it happens in Sweeney Todd, it happens in the cute-but-painful musical The Boy Friend (which I just saw at my alma mater). She doesn’t even know his name and they’re singing “I Could Be Happy With You,” complete with sappy-ass dance break.
4. Geeky Glasses
“Essentially, she starts needing to wear glasses and is forced to cope with the potentially negative social reaction. The glasses might not actually be Nerd Glasses, but that’s what she thinks they are; that’s what counts. Sometimes, she ends up discovering contact lenses, allowing for a complete Snap Back to how she was before. Sometimes they’ll just Snap Back in the next episode with no explanation at all, which results in a serious Broken Aesop (“it’s ok to wear glasses, but makes our actor less marketable”).”
I LOVE GLASSES, OKAY? And not in a painful hipster way. I actually need glasses, and for at least two years now I’ve proudly worn mine every day, even as I see 90% of my friends reverting to contacts. The idea that glasses make someone automatically unattractive and geeky makes me sad, period. Ed Exley in L.A. Confidential forgoes glasses to seem “tough” when really he’s just sort of awesome, period. It happens in a whole slew of shows and movies, usually to adolescent girls who just want to be pretty. And, dear sweet God. I will take this opportunity to mention my Summer Glau yet again; on Dollhouse, as Bennett, she wears glasses. At first, pre-Caroline, she has giant glasses that seem to emphasize her impossible nerdiness. Caroline, upon making her over, convinces her (?) to swap them for cuter frames. (In my epic headcanon of doom, I’m sure that Bennett abjectly refused to get contacts. Abjectly.) BUT then later we have some glasseslove:
Topher: Uh, totally shy, librarian energy through the roof.
Topher: Glasses on a chain!
TOPHER KNOWS THAT IT IS CUTE AND OKAY. And this is (part of) why I love him.
3. Loners Are Freaks
” Friends are great. Which is why having friends is often what separates the hero from the villain. An inevitable side-effect of The Power Of Friendship is if you don’t have friends, there’s something wrong with you. Similarly, if a writer is going to create a sympathetic Anti Hero, they often choose to make the character a brooding loner. Although there are many other ways to make a flawed character—pride, addiction, and lust are all sympathetic, epic flaws. No, no, instead, writers opt for just plain asocial.”
Being alone does not automatically make you a freak. A lot of those who fit in this trope and are listed on the page are the sympathetic side of this, but no, I’ve got a problem with the non-sympathetic ones. It’s the Broody Loners (page not yet constructed) that I hate. The tall, dark, handsome, and painfully dull ones who have a problem with every single person in society ever except for that one person they happen to randomly love. Usually a pretty young thing. I’m talking Angel of Buffy and his own spin-off. Seriously, I think that throughout the entire series of Buffy (not counting when he’s Angelus and evil and actually interesting) he makes maybe four facial expressions. I’m talking Mr. freaking boring-ass Darcy. So cold and stubborn and Prideful you just want to stab him. I’m talking Bill Compton of True Blood. (Bill and Angel actually have a lot in common. In both cases, I’d rather the heroine went with the interesting, sexy bleach-blond alternative.) I’m talking Edward freaking lame-ass Cullen. Need I say more?
2. Mary Sue
“Since there’s no consensus on a precise definition, the best way to describe the phenomenon is by example of the kind of character pretty much everyone could agree to be a Mary Sue. These traits usually reference the character’s perceived importance in the story, their physical design and an irrelevantly over-skilled or over-idealized nature.”
It’s difficult to properly define a Mary Sue, this much is true. But it’s easy to spot one. The impossibly perfect girl in every way, except usually one tragic flaw that isn’t that tragic; she doesn’t think she’s pretty, but every single male character in the story wants to jump her bones. These do often pop up in fan fiction pieces, original characters and the like. The easiest, most all-encompassing Mary Sue to cite is Bella Swan of Twilight. Stab. Stab. Stab. WHY DIDN’T YOUR VAMPIRE FETUS JUST KILL YOU.
1. This one isn’t official, and the searches just turn up subheadings of the Mary Sue page. But, I think that Everyone Loves Her is a huge trope and it pisses me off.
You know the type. The woman that every single man wants to be with. And they don’t just want sex from her, oh, no. They have pure unadulterated feelings for her. This says nothing of the characters who are desired themselves automatically, as they can be perfectly decent characters. But every man wants them. And that? Though I understand its purpose in a plot, it just makes me really sad. Especially because it leads to what I affectionately call The Other Girl syndrome, where another character (usually one that I love deeply and personally) gets slighted because of a man’s wanting this magic girl. I have also colloquially taken to referring to such women as having fairy blood, a la True Blood/Southern Vampire Mysteries.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy herself. This I get. She’s the series’ titular character, of course she’s often going to be desired. But Angel wants and has her (while Xander, for a little while, wants her too). Then Riley wants her (and does not deserve her). Then Ben flirts with her. Then Spike wants her all over the place so much he makes a sex robot of her. (Here, The Other Girl, though at least re: Xander, Willow fills this role at first, really is Drusilla. The only men she’s ever loved and been with, and was with for a century or two, fall madly in love with Buffy. Poor psychotic vampire.)
Dollhouse: Echo. And again, this makes sense, especially given the show’s context. Alpha loves her so much he goes crazy and kills people. Paul loves her so much he gets fired and joins the illegal organization he’s been trying to stop. A bunch of random clients love her ’cause she’s pretty. But did she really have to take Paul away from Mellie, really? I know Mellie wasn’t real. I know Mellie was just a program. But if you ignore that fact, it’s a complete tragedy. At least to me. Because I loved Mellie.
True Blood: damn it, Sookie, is there a man in the state of Louisiana who hasn’t been attracted to you? Broody Bill. Stable Sam. Altogether awesome Alcide. Erotic Eric. And in the books, uhm… Quietly Attractive Quinn? She does have that fairy blood going for her, but really? Only Bill and Eric are vampires. Sam, Alcide and Quinn all just love her because they love her. And it’s totally not fair.
Twilight: going back to the Mary Sue-ing. And the Love at First Sight-ing. Every man in Forks, Washington wants Bella. Now.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World: obviously. Everyone wants Ramona, because she’s got seven evil exes and a non-evil Scott fighting for her. Matthew Patel went out with her for a week in junior high, and he’s still fixated. Here, I also must state that a lot of these guys need to Get A Life. But even still, it’s a tiny bit freaky the power she apparently has over men.
the Betsy~Tacy books I mentioned yesterday: seriously, no, just about every single one of her high school friends wants her.
…seriously, there are thousands of these. I could go on. But I won’t.
–your fangirl heroine.