Saturday, February 28, 2009

Too Stupid to live?

Hi all!

Do you remember the old movies? the monster/villain is fighting the hero while the heroine shrieks in a corner, arm dramatically poised across her face? I was watching an old "grade B" when it occured to me it took 100 years of women's sufferage for the heroine to figure out the fight would end quicker if she busted the villain over the head with a vase rather than shriek the hero's name while he is fighting for his life.

Why is it the same heroine will flee the bad guy and trip over...well, nothing; long enough for the evil doer to catch her?

This is the TSTL heroine: Too Stupid To Live.

If you remember the old Superman cartoons it was Lois Lane who fell into peril after doing something no woman with an IQ above 70 would try. She has stowed away inside a killer robot, invaded Lex Luthor's lair (try saying that three times fast), and in an earlier episode even confronted Japanese spies. (remember the cartoon came out in 1941).

Lois Lane is the queen of the dumb heroines. Her motivation is good, at least in her mind, as a journalist she has to get the story, What better way to get the story than to put yourself in harm's way! After all, Superman will save the day.

Call me a crab, but I wish he would find another girl friend. Honestly, doesn't he have enough to do without dropping it all to save someone who should know better in the first place?

Then there is the horror movie. TSTL is a must in this genre. Let's face it, a disembodied voice tells you "get out" when you walk into the house and you're going to spend the weekend? If this wasn't enough, one would think the blood pouring down the walls would be a good clue. Give me a break, what does a demented spirit from the other side have to do to get it through your head.

Go Away!

Looking for vampires at night is TSTL. I shake my head in wonder when the heroes decide to stake a vamp at midnight. If they know where the vampires sleep, why don't they bull doze the building at noon, then open up the coffin lids and stake them? I can understand werewolves. you don't know who they are until after the full moon, but looking for vampires at night is dumb.

In all fairness, if everyone was smart enough to flee the crazy man in the leather mask wielding the chain saw, there would be no horror genre. If you want to survive a horror movie, keep your clothes on and never say "this must be what paradise is like." The minute those words are said, the characters are screwed. Enter the TSTL. They have to walk in the door, use the cursed item, ignore the nice gypsy telling them death is imminent, or there will be no story.

I don't want to slam other genres, I do like the classics. As often as people put down romances, at least our heroines know to turn on the lights before searching a dark room, I find myself getting defensive.

To avoid the dreaded TSTL we need to be sure our characters have a clear goal and a logical plan for achieving said goal.
Buffy did hunt vampires at night but what kept her from being TSTL is a good plan, the right tools and good source of information on the best way to deal with the enemy.
She was motivated by the fact she was the chosen one and honed her skills as best she could. It helped to have friends she could trust.
Ultimately she chose to sacrifice herself to save her sister. She was never TSTL, the choice to die was hers.

TSTL, unless your writing satire, isn't a good thing. Keep them real and give them something resembling intelligence.


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