Sunday, 20 December 2009

Ego-troping in the classroom.* I mistakenly clicked on a link to tv tropes and now I have a head full of oddly-named and only half-remembered trivia like the Crowning Moment of Awesome.** While I'm always amazed by the degree to which I agree with random strangers on the internet (e.g. Ledger's improvisation with the detonator in The Dark Knight), I'm always even more amazed that there are people out there who fail to realize what the best line or moment according to science in a film is. The Crowning Moment of Awesome in Return of the Jedi, for example, occurs in the film's first act (as anyone who was five years old and me when he saw it in the theaters will tell you). You wouldn't know that from reading tv tropes. More seriously, I use the site in class to get the kids conversant with the notion of subversion, i.e. that a given scene can be explicitly working to produce the very effect it wants to undermine. For example, in the scene from The Dark Knight in which the Joker fiddles with the detonator, I pull up the entry on the "Unflinching Walk": When just blowing something up isn't enough, proof of one's apparent badass bombing technique can be seen when the bomber leaves himself barely enough time to escape the blast radius, usually just enough so that as he's walking away, he's silhouetted by the explosion itself. Then we can talk about why Ledger's improvisation worked so brilliantly in a more sophisticated manner (e.g. the lack of an explosion subverts the badassness of the "Unflinching Walk" such that blah blah blah). *That title makes no sense. Sometimes I'm simply slave to the pun. **Not to be confused with the Awesome Moment of Crowning.

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