Friday, June 12, 2009

Profiles in Awesome: TV Tropes

This is probably old news on the internet, but I just stumbled across this site, and became entranced for hours. It's basically what I was trying to do with the thing about hair color, in a wiki, and on a massive scale. Masses of recurring themes, subplots, character types, and gimmicks are recorded and described, with nice little illustrative examples from TV, movies, anime, literature, and so on. A lot of it's focused on speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, and such), which makes it even more fun to read (to me, at least). And that's an important point: unlike sites like Encyclopedia Dramatica (an encyclopedia of internet memes -- reading it hurts the brain), this site is fun, at least to someone with my slightly unusual taste in entertainment.

One of the reasons it works so well, I think, is that there are so many different ways to slice things; you're bound to find at least a few that apply to your favorite movies/books/shows/bedtime stories. On a meta-level, it's also an interesting resource for looking at how we think -- what features of a story stand out? What attributes allow us to conclude that two characters are similar, or that one movie was ripped off from another? It's not academic, of course, and I wouldn't cite it in a paper (actually, I would, but I'm terrible about sources), but that doesn't mean it's not educational. And if nothing else, it'd be a great source of character ideas for a story or role-playing game!

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