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Obsolete tropes in future fiction

tropes obsolete future fiction

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#1
zEVerzan

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So, as we all know, science and technology march on.

But what will happen to certain plot tropes in fiction when technology is able to solve more and more of our problems? Will entire genres die?

For example, I recently rewatched an episode of Seinfeld (early-mid 90's, as if you all need to know) where a couple of the characters got separated in New York City, and the whole plot episode was about them trying to find each other. Shenanigans, hijinks and tom foolery ensued, but it occurred to me that modern technology of 20 years later would make getting lost in a big city very difficult. Give each character a cell phone and the whole plot would be resolved in a minute.

The same goes for just about every old movie about a road trip or adventure- Planes, Trains & Automobiles for instance, where Steve Martin spent days trying to get back home in time for Thanksgiving. If Steve Martin's character had a cell phone he could have gotten a ride in a couple hours, he and John Candy wouldn't have had such a bonding adventure, and he wouldn't have grown as a person at all.

Thanks to modern technology, we have seen the death of adventure-based plotlines. Some adventure flicks are still made today, but those aren't fun or interesting unless the characters' phones get lost or broken. 10 years from now, we'll undoubtedly point and laugh at today's sitcoms and how old they are, but why?

Point is, how will technology affect storytelling in the future? What tropes will die, and what tropes will be born? What will happen to fiction?

Edited by EVanimations, 28 July 2012 - 04:39 PM.

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#2
Shimmy

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We could just make films and set them in the 80's I suppose or any point in the 3000 years before that, if the future really became too boring and safe. If full immersion virtual reality comes true people won't have such an attachment to the present anyway, since they won't live such a huge proportion of their life in it as such. Also, people like things that remind them of their youth, if we all live forever and the number of new births decreases we might well love anything that reminds us of a simpler world we remember from our early years.

#3
zEVerzan

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Not really what I had in mind, but I guess making everything a period piece would be a convenient way to cheat these implications without any real creativity.
I always imagined the future as a time of more reason, empathy, and peace, not less. It's time for a change.
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#4
Dramatism

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I think you're right that certain parts of fiction will die. But fiction will always live on. As I'm sure you're getting more at stories in the time period it would take place in, and not loopholes of showing a different sort of time. Because just like now, there will be fantasy stories that take place in the past and historical fiction. Maybe fiction will have to take a weirder approach from what was done in the past. Maybe most people in the future live in VR. Maybe something causes someone to want to get out of it permanently. Perhaps they find an underground civilization of people living in the old culture. If the AI and other robots seem like a fine part of society, maybe there would be a story about them actually working on an intricate plan to take over, or maybe something else entirely. Perhaps adventure stories could live on in VR? And what about paranormal stories? I think there will always be something science can't prove but seems real that could make a great story. So what I'm getting at is, fiction will always live on.
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#5
Alric

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That reminds me of the movie Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Most of the movie is about them going to a fast food place to get some burgers. They have the technology, skill and knowledge to the point that the entire trip should be uneventful and done easily and quickly yet some how they get totally side tracked. I mean seriously, how hard is it to go to a Mcdonalds or something? Lets take your example though with the cell phones. They could lose the cell phone. It could run out of power because they forgot to charge it. They could drop it and it could break. Someone could steal it. The google map might not match up with the street. While following the directions they might head down Thompson drive south instead of Thompson drive north. Maybe there is construction so the path doesn't work. Maybe a friend calls and needs some help and the person gets side tracked helping them. Maybe a person is injuries on the street so they help them. Maybe someone else loses their phone and they let them borrow it and they break it, or steal it. Maybe a dog steals it. Maybe one of them trips and hurts them self. Maybe they meet up with each other but there is a wall in the way because a street doesn't go all the way through, so they need to find a way around the wall. Maybe they decide to meet and end up passing each other on the trip. Maybe they decide to meet and one gets on the subway and then the other calls and changes the plan, but the person is already on the train and can't stop so is stuck traveling further away. Maybe one of them gets easily distracted and keeps wandering off to window shop. Maybe one is easily distracted and keeps wandering off to follow hot girls around to hit on them. Maybe their glasses fall off and they can't see. Maybe they drop their wallet and so start looking for it and don't pay attention to their calls. Maybe they turned the phone off for some reason and forget to turn it back on so keep missing the call. Maybe they call each other at the exact same time so both get a busy signal and decide to try again later. I could go on all day long. There is literally and infinite number of possibilities. In fact, I bet you could name any situation possible with any technology you want available and I can come up with at least three possible ways to ruin the plans.

Edited by Alric, 22 August 2012 - 09:47 AM.


#6
kjaggard

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It's a common fear that as tech solves all our problems the main impetus to have questing of any kind deminish in favor of desire and relisation of desire a moment later. It's not happened yet in all human history. The problems don't get less and less, they just change source. The computer didn't give us the paperless office it at first promised. One dollar ramen and canns of baked beans make food cheap and easy for almost everybody, but there are still people starving in the world. you can cross country in less than a day or take a week about it depending on which route you take, but it's still not something that's so casual that we all do it on a daily basis. On top of that we have a new set of problems. Because tech cause problems as it solves them. Sure getting lost is a key trope throughout history, it's key because it' a consequence of leaving your comfort zone and venturing into the unknown. It changes the unknown into the known, to a degree, though it in fact does little about the comfort zone. I think in a sense you may see the shift of stories about being lost turn into stories of being told by our tech where we need to go to resolve the quest, but the places we have to be difficult tests of character. The conservative mother/ officer manager finds her rental car stolen while in another city, and it has something greatly important to her in the trunk, but she can track where her car is. Can she cut through the hippies in the park to get to the nearest subway entrance that will let her get out on the same street as where her car is parked? What if going through the park she is forced to deal with 'those liberals' and while frustrated ends up surprised by some of the encounters with 'them' turning out to be decent people with valid concerns if different desires that are not opposition but not complimentary either. She might discover that black and white thinking is the short cut of the lazy mind. That is right before the police raid the camp, and she gets caught and detained. She's released twenty hours later without charges, but her car is moved now. and she has know way of knowing if the maguffin is still unfound and what will happen when it is. so off again. Tech has become the guide and the sage, offering advice and knowledge but the places we get lost are not always physical. Culture and community also cause us to get lost and leave our comfort zone. Some stories will adapt to that and it will usually be those who are unfarmiliar with not having google maps in hand when in a new place. Mapless lost will linger pretty much only in the minds and memories of those who've experienced it. But we will all still feel lost at some points.

Edited by kjaggard, 24 August 2012 - 07:35 PM.

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#7
jimmyhelu

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Although Warren W. Wagar in his fictional future history consider's him the last nail in Western metaphysics. Rorty interestingly enough reads Sf and uses SF tropes.

#8
Italian Ufo

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that would be nice to see how fiction will be in 100 years from now.



#9
CLB

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Increasingly in the future we'll see stories which take a path that makes the most sense to you, while also being exciting enough to keep you fascinated.

If something I say sounds like trolling/being stupid/offensive, please forgive me. I'm bad with people.


#10
razer1994

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We can still have adventure stories, the scale just needs to be larger.

#11
Yuli Ban

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Not really what I had in mind, but I guess making everything a period piece would be a convenient way to cheat these implications without any real creativity.

 

 

I think you're right that certain parts of fiction will die. But fiction will always live on. As I'm sure you're getting more at stories in the time period it would take place in, and not loopholes of showing a different sort of time. Because just like now, there will be fantasy stories that take place in the past and historical fiction. Maybe fiction will have to take a weirder approach from what was done in the past. Maybe most people in the future live in VR. Maybe something causes someone to want to get out of it permanently. Perhaps they find an underground civilization of people living in the old culture. If the AI and other robots seem like a fine part of society, maybe there would be a story about them actually working on an intricate plan to take over, or maybe something else entirely. Perhaps adventure stories could live on in VR? And what about paranormal stories? I think there will always be something science can't prove but seems real that could make a great story. So what I'm getting at is, fiction will always live on.

 

Oh man, not even a decade later and I can already see exactly this happening as we speak.

 

I think this might be a big, metacultural reason for the absolute explosion of nostalgia fiction. Why are so many people obsessed with the 1980s and 1990s? Well the truth is just that the aesthetic looks cool and pleasing (even in the early 2000s as a little kid, I thought pink/purple and cyan looked nice), but I think this is actually setting us up for more period pieces of a time that resembles the present enough but lacks certain technologies that make for easy solutions to plots.

As for VR revitalizing adventure narratives, I think there might be something there. Just from the success of Ready Player One and the direction of new Jumanji movies.

Paranormal stories actually could get some revitalization as well. Child's Play is an example, yes, but I think there may be more to be done with things like Alexa ghosts (which are actually a thing), smarthouses detecting anomalies, smarthouses going haywire, and whatnot.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#12
funkervogt

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The zombie genre will die out once we have armies of robots that can't get infected with viruses and that will be able to easily kill hordes of zombies. 



#13
funkervogt

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If we evolved into posthumans with augmented senses, abilities and bodies, many monster movies and slasher movies wouldn't make sense anymore. For example, how does the monster sneak up on a character in the woods at night if the character has night vision and eyes in the back of his head? 

 

The "character-is-dying-of-a-terminal-illness" trope will also disappear once we have discovered medical immortality. 



#14
Miky617

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If we evolved into posthumans with augmented senses, abilities and bodies, many monster movies and slasher movies wouldn't make sense anymore. For example, how does the monster sneak up on a character in the woods at night if the character has night vision and eyes in the back of his head?

 

On the contrary, I think this could revitalize the horror industry. Once people have augmented their senses and abilities, it'll be all the more unnerving for people to consider situations where these new senses fail them. How much scarier would it be to face a creature that thwarts not only your human abilities but also your superhuman abilities? Or even worse, if these new senses begin to conflict with each other. Imagine talking to your neighbor one day as if everything was just as normal, only to switch on your infrared vision and see that they're cold as a corpse or that they have no pulse, or turn up your extrasensory hearing to find ominous whispers radiating out of their head. I think the smarter and more advanced we become, the more tantalizing psychological horror will be and the potential to mess with what we think of as normal will only expand as our idea of "normal" does as well.



#15
funkervogt

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If we evolved into posthumans with augmented senses, abilities and bodies, many monster movies and slasher movies wouldn't make sense anymore. For example, how does the monster sneak up on a character in the woods at night if the character has night vision and eyes in the back of his head?

 

On the contrary, I think this could revitalize the horror industry. Once people have augmented their senses and abilities, it'll be all the more unnerving for people to consider situations where these new senses fail them. How much scarier would it be to face a creature that thwarts not only your human abilities but also your superhuman abilities? Or even worse, if these new senses begin to conflict with each other. Imagine talking to your neighbor one day as if everything was just as normal, only to switch on your infrared vision and see that they're cold as a corpse or that they have no pulse, or turn up your extrasensory hearing to find ominous whispers radiating out of their head. I think the smarter and more advanced we become, the more tantalizing psychological horror will be and the potential to mess with what we think of as normal will only expand as our idea of "normal" does as well.

 

Then the movies would need to be contrived to the point of being unbelievable. 



#16
Miky617

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Then the movies would need to be contrived to the point of being unbelievable.

 

Depending on the type of horror they're going for, that might not be the case. If we're talking about paranormal/supernatural horror then that genre already lends itself to being unbelievable. Do we really need to lay out how exactly a ghost or paranormal entity does what it does in order to make a scary movie? I would argue that the more you know about it, the less scary it is. A good horror movie in the future need not necessarily be believable, as long as it evokes fear of some type or otherwise some kind of visceral, disturbed reaction. It's true that it'll be a lot harder to set up other kinds of horror such as slasher stories, but that still leaves a lot of room for other kinds to fill in the gaps. Of course, horror is subjective like a lot of things, so a lot of people might find that less believable horror stories aren't as scary as the ones that make you feel like they could actually happen to you, but I'll leave it up to the writers and directors of the future to find that balance. For all we know, coming up with good stories will probably be in the domain of AI at that point, and they might be much better at scaring us than we are.

 

On another note, if we're talking about a more believable type of horror, then maybe someday we'll be so comfortable with our augmentations that the thought of losing them alone will be horrifying. If our BCIs allow us to communicate telepathically with each other to the point that we're always in each other's heads sharing experiences, then maybe the silence that comes from getting cut off from that would be deafening and terrifying (getting locked in a box that prevents signals getting in or out might do that, or whatever else might cause that kind of blackout). For many of us, even losing our phones is enough to send us into a panic, so how much worse would it be to lose something that's become an integral part of ourselves? Maybe the threat of reverting back to our basic, unaugmented selves will be a new kind of fear that we'll develop.



#17
zEVerzan

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I think this might be a big, metacultural reason for the absolute explosion of nostalgia fiction. Why are so many people obsessed with the 1980s and 1990s? Well the truth is just that the aesthetic looks cool and pleasing (even in the early 2000s as a little kid, I thought pink/purple and cyan looked nice), but I think this is actually setting us up for more period pieces of a time that resembles the present enough but lacks certain technologies that make for easy solutions to plots.

 

 

This may just be the 30-year Nostalgia Cycle happening. That's people growing up and start creating mass media at the same time as wanting to recapture that childhood wonder.

 

It's why the 80's saw a lot of media set in the 50's, and the 50's the 20's, and the 20's blah blah you get it.

 

I'm a bit worried that SO much of the culture we're mass-producing is nostalgic. Does that mean 2040's kids are going to be rebooting 2010's reboots of 1980's media?


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#18
Outlook

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I think this might be a big, metacultural reason for the absolute explosion of nostalgia fiction. Why are so many people obsessed with the 1980s and 1990s? Well the truth is just that the aesthetic looks cool and pleasing (even in the early 2000s as a little kid, I thought pink/purple and cyan looked nice), but I think this is actually setting us up for more period pieces of a time that resembles the present enough but lacks certain technologies that make for easy solutions to plots.

 

 

This may just be the 30-year Nostalgia Cycle happening. That's people growing up and start creating mass media at the same time as wanting to recapture that childhood wonder.

 

It's why the 80's saw a lot of media set in the 50's, and the 50's the 20's, and the 20's blah blah you get it.

 

I'm a bit worried that SO much of the culture we're mass-producing is nostalgic. Does that mean 2040's kids are going to be rebooting 2010's reboots of 1980's media?

 

 

I agree, but the 2000s like the 1970s should be shunned from nostalgia history forever. 

 

2010s does have an aesthetic though, despite nostalgia films being made. Reboots have been happening for decades in the film industry. A lot of pop culture films last century are remakes. Scarface was a remake, The Thing was a remake, A Fistful of Dollars was a remake. What matters is how its transformed, and while Disney thinks this is wokeness, Disney remakes barely have a hand in what defines the 2010s. We had shit like Inception, Interstellar, Blade Runner 2049, Mad Max, Get Out, Arrival, Ex Machina, etc. Some remakes, some originals, some sequels, all show a cultural transformation that goes balls deep into existential, and cultural questions.

 

Clothing styles could be better. I hope they don't go to instagram to see how people dressed nowadays. For me, it's moving away from jeans to maximizing comfort. It is the era of sweatpants and leggings. There's also K-Pop fashion that's doing the rounds.


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#19
Erowind

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The zombie genre will die out once we have armies of robots that can't get infected with viruses and that will be able to easily kill hordes of zombies. 

 

The U.S government thought the same about nukes in the novel version of World War Z (the better version, movie was terrible.) The battle of Yonkers was all the worse when the zeds were ravenous and irradiated. I can see the movie trope of hope being torn away from a group of survivors when they narrowly manage to charge a security bot only for it to be overwhelmed by a hoard of 10,000+ zombies later in the film. The bot would successfully save them in the moment adding to the dread when it dies later. Perhaps for the sake of the story it takes place in a relatively peaceful country like Iceland and there were only a few hundred bots to begin with so the zombies won initially. 

 

In the long term clarketech will make the genre less tenable though. Zombies aren't much of a worry when one can manipulate the laws of physics.



#20
zEVerzan

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2010s does have an aesthetic though, despite nostalgia films being made. Reboots have been happening for decades in the film industry. A lot of pop culture films last century are remakes. Scarface was a remake, The Thing was a remake, A Fistful of Dollars was a remake. What matters is how its transformed, and while Disney thinks this is wokeness, Disney remakes barely have a hand in what defines the 2010s. We had shit like Inception, Interstellar, Blade Runner 2049, Mad Max, Get Out, Arrival, Ex Machina, etc. Some remakes, some originals, some sequels, all show a cultural transformation that goes balls deep into existential, and cultural questions.

 

 

My prediction: the overall aesthetic/genre that define(d) the 2010s is 'the expensive gritty reboot/adaptation blockbuster'. 2040s nostalgic media, then, will take the aesthetic and present it as something that reminds us of when we were young.

 

I imagine a totally original movie - original plot, characters, everything, nothing anyone's seen before - but it has the aesthetic of a gritty reboot blockbuster. It treats everything and everyone as if we're supposed to know them, makes quirky inside jokes and references to things that never existed.

 

Reason for this? Gen Z kids are growing up today with expensive gritty reboots and adaptations of things they never grew up with - but whether or not they grew up with these properties makes no difference to them. When they get old enough to make movies might as well express that artistically huh, and get all meta with it at that


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