Phantom Menace and bad writing

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Post by Formless » 2010-02-08 03:41am

Lets recap: you

1) only bother applying the laws of physics when they suit your argument, but when someone starts saying that something you have asserted flies in the face of science and visual evidence suddenly its "who are we to say our laws of physics apply?"

2) you think that any time a character says something, no matter how stupid, unscientific, or contradicted by visuals it is it is true by default and the person who challenges this is the one who must prove the character is lying or doesn't know what he is talking about, Occams Razor be damned.

3) Jedi Mysticism is oh so important to the story of Star Wars that anything which challenges it, no matter if it makes sense to the characters or story and despite the general laziness of using the Force as a catchall plot device when Jedi are involved, must be George Lucas insulting you personally, even though this is childish and the way you said it was even more childish.

4) you abuse the canon policy even though the movie's visuals prove the official explanation is bullshit.

5) in general, you can't show one example of a problem with TPM which actually affected the plot of the story in similar fashion to the stupid climax of AotC even though this is what I challenged you to do. All your examples save for the one about the nerve gas (which was consistent with the incompetence of the trade fed anyway) are on details which personally offended your tastes.

Sounds about right for a fanwhore's way of thinking.
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Post by adam_grif » 2010-02-08 04:30am

This sure is amusing for me. When confronted with a direct source from the official Star Wars website that contradicts you, you continue to insist that you're right. Continuing to post about how it violates physics on many levels isn't going to do you any good. We already know it violates physics big time. Why is it a problem for you to have a planet core made of water that is traversal in a submarine? I mean, I can understand why you have problems with it, because I do to (it's unbelievably stupid), but we've just had confirmation that, yes, he did mean Planet Core, and no, he wasn't lying, trying to pull a fast one, mistaken or otherwise incorrect.

Insisting that this isn't enough to validate my prior claims about it is something you can do, but it's sort of meaningless at this point.
5) in general, you can't show one example of a problem with TPM which actually affected the plot of the story in similar fashion to the stupid climax of AotC even though this is what I challenged you to do. All your examples save for the one about the nerve gas (which was consistent with the incompetence of the trade fed anyway) are on details which personally offended your tastes.
If that's what you're after, then I'll gladly oblige:

What is on the level of Mace Windu putting him and his Jedi in danger for showing off? How about Qui Gon Gin proposing that they run a blockade made of dozens of ginormous large Trade federation craft that can and will shoot them on sight. In a cruiser. Not by flying out the other side of the planet, where there were no ships, but by flying directly through and past them.

Yes, it worked, perhaps because Sidious told them to go easy on the craft or something, but that is approximately equivelant to the Jedi only surviving AOTC only because Yoda just happened to arrive with the climax just in time.

Then there's general idiocy and stupidity, such as Qui Gon happily using his mind trick to pull a fast one on Watto, but then when that fails, instead of going to any other Junk Dealer on the planet and swapping his currency out (or just taking his business elsewhere), he concocts a convoluted bet to win the part he needs involving the pod race. The only explanation for why Qui Gon didn't just steal the part, or hire like a transport to get them back to Coruscant to get some help (and they'd have use for credits because they're flying to Coruscant, which takes credits) is so that they could get to the pod race. This is exacerbated by the fact that I find the pod race to be extremely boring and far longer than it needed to be.

Then there's the extremely forced plot device where the reason they can't just run off with Annakin's mum is because there's a bomb in his brain. Then at the end of the movie, when they easily could go back and free her or something, they just completely forget about it, even though there was nothing stopping them from doing it. I guess they were too busy with fancy Naboo funerals or something? I know Annakin has to be separated from his parents for his Jedi training and stuff, but it would have given him peace of mind to know that she was safe on Naboo or something. In fact, it probably would have prevented Darth Vader from existing completely, but they don't do it.

The climax of the movie is quite silly. So you have fighters taking out the droid control ship - fine. It's supposed to be some homage to the original film and that's ok. Then you have the Jedi fighting the Sith, also fine, it's a light-saber duel, classic star wars stuff. But then you also have the Gungan army drawing their forces away from the palace. Why did they do that? So they could storm the palace. Why are they storming the palace? Because they just are.

Two of the four plot threads are redundant. Capturing the viceroy doesn't immediately make them surrender, and that was never their plan anyway. So why did they risk all those Gungan lives and storm the palace if they didn't have to? With some dialogue tweaks, they could have just said "we need to draw them away so we can get to the fighters", which would make sense. But then storming hte palace still isn't necessary and just puts the Naboo people's lives at risk.

I would lambaste the Trade Federation for drawing the majority of their forces away to strike at the Naboo army, who have a defensive advantage (and would have got slaughtered if they'd just let them attack the city instead), but at this stage hating on trade federation incompetence is like hating a cat for sleeping a lot. It's just what they do.


EDIT:

I've been meaning to tell you (but I keep getting side tracked by arguments) that the quote you've attributed to me is just a rewording of Hume's Maxim. I didn't source it initially because at the time I couldn't for the life of my remember where I'd heard it or what it was called, but the original quote goes:

"...no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish."
A scientist once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the Earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.

At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: 'What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.

The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, 'What is the tortoise standing on?'

'You're very clever, young man, very clever,' said the old lady. 'But it's turtles all the way down.'

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Post by Srelex » 2010-02-08 04:54am

Just to interject, the 'Inside the Worlds' book, while also going with the water-filled core bit, heavily implies that the underwater caves the sub travelled through were precisely that--a network of submerged passages between the Gungan city and Theed, in the upper crust at best. It also makes Theed out to be not all that far off, which casts more doubt on them literally swimming through the core.
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Post by Channel72 » 2010-02-08 07:34am

Formless wrote:According to canon, the movies are the highest authority, and according to what we see in the movies this is simply not what we see.
Come on Formless, it's obvious the movie intends us to understand the Jedi actually traveled through the planet core. There's no hint of dramatic irony here, just bad science on the part of the writers. I think the starswars.com citation really settles this beyond dispute. Sure, you can rationalize the actual footage in various ways, but this discussion isn't about in-universe rationalizations; it's about bad writing. Regardless, the fact that an underwater vessel travels through a planet core is hardly the reason Phantom Menace is a bad movie. It's not even really an issue for me; just another whimsical Star Wars conceit. If TPM had interesting characters and a good plot, I say let them travel through all the planet cores they need.

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Post by Formless » 2010-02-08 08:50pm

Channel72 wrote:
Formless wrote:According to canon, the movies are the highest authority, and according to what we see in the movies this is simply not what we see.
Come on Formless, it's obvious the movie intends us to understand the Jedi actually traveled through the planet core. There's no hint of dramatic irony here, just bad science on the part of the writers. I think the starswars.com citation really settles this beyond dispute. Sure, you can rationalize the actual footage in various ways, but this discussion isn't about in-universe rationalizations; it's about bad writing. Regardless, the fact that an underwater vessel travels through a planet core is hardly the reason Phantom Menace is a bad movie. It's not even really an issue for me; just another whimsical Star Wars conceit. If TPM had interesting characters and a good plot, I say let them travel through all the planet cores they need.
The second part I agree with, but the first I have issues with. The essay I linked to from Mikes main website can be thought of as the difference between the audience's perspective and the writer's perspective. From our perspective (the audience), the statement by all means is a stupid one, and the visuals back this up— but its easy to rationalize without having to jump through many hoops, easy to maintain suspension of disbelief. On the other hand, when a critical plot point requires a character to act uncharacteristically stupid, say, or can't be rationalized away without making things worse (to quote Chuck Sonnenburg explaining the voodoo shark, "when your story depends on something so moronic, that there's no way of explaining it without resorting to something that's equally stupid!") unless its a comedy, that can be objectively called bad writing. From the authors perspective, there is no wrong way to write a story except that which the audience can't relate to or more generally suspend disbelief for, so we can't assess what is and is not good writing from his perspective.
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Post by Darth Wong » 2010-02-09 02:47am

adam_grif wrote:This sure is amusing for me.
Sounds like you're trolling. After all, you're demanding some sort of ironclad proof that the Gungans are not wrong about a statement which, on its face, makes absolutely no physical sense at all. Their little mini-sub couldn't even withstand the teeth of a large fish without serious damage; how the fuck could it survive passage through a planetary core?

I strongly suspect that anyone being so incredibly difficult about such a simple conclusion is actually trying to be difficult. The fact that you use red-flag butthurt-fanatic lines like "George Lucas rubbing his ass over your childhood" does little to dissuade the interpretation that you are just being an asshole about this because you are incapable of discussing it rationally.
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Post by adam_grif » 2010-02-09 03:21am

Darth Wong wrote:
adam_grif wrote:This sure is amusing for me.
Sounds like you're trolling. After all, you're demanding some sort of ironclad proof that the Gungans are not wrong about a statement which, on its face, makes absolutely no physical sense at all. Their little mini-sub couldn't even withstand the teeth of a large fish without serious damage; how the fuck could it survive passage through a planetary core?
We've been over this already. You'll get no arguments from me that it's incredibly stupid - that's why I brought it up in the first place. But it's not like we're just going with my word at this stage.


http://www.starwars.com/databank/location/naboo/
Naboo is a geologically unique world. It lacks a molten core, indicative of an ancient world. The planet is a conglomerate of large rocky bodies permeated by countless caves and tunnel networks. This causes numerous swampy lakes on the surface, which lead deeper into the planet's structure. The native Gungans have developed transports that exploit these cave networks, but even these hardy explorers pause at venturing too deep into the planet core, for it is infested with gargantuan sea beasts with ravenous appetites.
and

http://www.starwars.com/episode-i/fun/s ... 90714.html
Aboard a Gungan sub, Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Jar Jar silently make their way through the watery planet core of Naboo.

I'm expecting you to come up with something about how starwars.com isn't canon, and maybe you're right. But it's pretty clear that the intentions of the people making the films was for them to be going through the planet core, and that they displayed what they intended that to look like in the film. Brushing stuff like that away solely because it's idiocy in physical terms is extremely hypocritical when you're perfectly willing to accept all the other silliness that goes on in Star Wars as canonical, like hyperdrive, lightsabers and so on.
A scientist once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the Earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.

At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: 'What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.

The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, 'What is the tortoise standing on?'

'You're very clever, young man, very clever,' said the old lady. 'But it's turtles all the way down.'

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Post by Darth Wong » 2010-02-09 03:25am

adam_grif wrote:
Darth Wong wrote:
adam_grif wrote:This sure is amusing for me.
Sounds like you're trolling. After all, you're demanding some sort of ironclad proof that the Gungans are not wrong about a statement which, on its face, makes absolutely no physical sense at all. Their little mini-sub couldn't even withstand the teeth of a large fish without serious damage; how the fuck could it survive passage through a planetary core?
We've been over this already. You'll get no arguments from me that it's incredibly stupid - that's why I brought it up in the first place. But it's not like we're just going with my word at this stage.

http://www.starwars.com/databank/location/naboo/
...
Even if we take that at face value (which we don't strictly need to do), it still doesn't change the fact that their watercraft is not robust enough to go very deep, never mind traveling through rock. It was seriously damaged by simple organic teeth; its hull could not be strong enough to withstand extremely deep ocean pressures.

One could just as easily decide that due to their planet's unique geology, Naboo residents use the word "core" to describe a much more vast structure than we would refer to on Earth as the planet's core. Their idea of the "core" might extend up to include everything below the average ocean floor level. In fact, since we define "core" based on the material properties of the various molten regions, it's obvious that their definition must be different. There is no reason why we should assume that point A was on the opposite side of the planet from point B. There are myriad straight lines that would go through such a large "core" without necessarily going straight through the centre.
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Post by adam_grif » 2010-02-09 03:33am

Since it's stated that the core is where those evil sea monster things live, would it be plausible that the bongo was near it's breaking point just by being there in the core, and that those monsters chomping down on it was the straw that broke the bongo's back?
A scientist once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the Earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.

At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: 'What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.

The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, 'What is the tortoise standing on?'

'You're very clever, young man, very clever,' said the old lady. 'But it's turtles all the way down.'

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Post by Formless » 2010-02-09 03:37am

adam_grif wrote:Since it's stated that the core is where those evil sea monster things live, would it be plausible that the bongo was near it's breaking point just by being there in the core, and that those monsters chomping down on it was the straw that broke the bongo's back?
Considering that one of your own sources claims that the bongo was made out of a kind of domesticated lifeform which a gungan corporation literally grows, no.
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Post by adam_grif » 2010-02-09 03:54am

Formless wrote:
adam_grif wrote:Since it's stated that the core is where those evil sea monster things live, would it be plausible that the bongo was near it's breaking point just by being there in the core, and that those monsters chomping down on it was the straw that broke the bongo's back?
Considering that one of your own sources claims that the bongo was made out of a kind of domesticated lifeform which a gungan corporation literally grows, no.
It's the planet core, there are already the fish monsters there, implying that it's perfectly plausible for an organically grown thing to survive core pressures and temperatures. If you accept that it's the planet core, there's nothing inconsistent, and if you don't, then it is. Given that sw.com claims that it is, I'm leaning towards the former.
A scientist once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the Earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.

At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: 'What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.

The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, 'What is the tortoise standing on?'

'You're very clever, young man, very clever,' said the old lady. 'But it's turtles all the way down.'

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Post by Formless » 2010-02-09 03:56am

adam_grif wrote:
Formless wrote:
adam_grif wrote:Since it's stated that the core is where those evil sea monster things live, would it be plausible that the bongo was near it's breaking point just by being there in the core, and that those monsters chomping down on it was the straw that broke the bongo's back?
Considering that one of your own sources claims that the bongo was made out of a kind of domesticated lifeform which a gungan corporation literally grows, no.
It's the planet core, there are already the fish monsters there, implying that it's perfectly plausible for an organically grown thing to survive core pressures and temperatures. If you accept that it's the planet core, there's nothing inconsistent, and if you don't, then it is. Given that sw.com claims that it is, I'm leaning towards the former.
More broken record bullshit. I do NOT accept that its the planets core, have I not made that clear enough yet, Grief? What I meant by that statement was that as one of the local lifeforms, the bongo is one of the things those predators would eat if it weren't domesticated, so there is no reason to assume that it would be immune to teeth unless its already under immense pressure.
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Post by Darth Wong » 2010-02-09 04:17am

So Grif's argument devolves to the fact that they use the word "core" in the literature, and he therefore assumes that the Naboo geologic "core" is defined exactly the same way Earth's geologic core is, even though he simultaneously reminds us that Naboo is said to have utterly unique geology.
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"It's not evil for God to do it. Or for someone to do it at God's command."- Jonathan Boyd on baby-killing

"you guys are fascinated with the use of those "rules of logic" to the extent that you don't really want to discussus anything."- GC

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Post by adam_grif » 2010-02-09 04:41am

Darth Wong wrote:So Grif's argument devolves to the fact that they use the word "core" in the literature, and he therefore assumes that the Naboo geologic "core" is defined exactly the same way Earth's geologic core is, even though he simultaneously reminds us that Naboo is said to have utterly unique geology.
Regardless of whether the Naboo core is as large, larger or smaller than Earth's core, core is always going to be the inner-most layer unless otherwise specified. Because that's what core means. I'm open to the possibility that the core extends out to a depth greater than an earth-like planet does, but lacking any further information, for all you know the core on Naboo is even deeper than it is on Earth. SW materials being able to withstand implausibly high stresses isn't exactly uncommon, as your own Size Matters essay ponits out.

Can't really make any definite claims one way or another.
A scientist once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the Earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.

At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: 'What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.

The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, 'What is the tortoise standing on?'

'You're very clever, young man, very clever,' said the old lady. 'But it's turtles all the way down.'

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Post by Channel72 » 2010-02-09 07:28am

Darth Wong wrote:So Grif's argument devolves to the fact that they use the word "core" in the literature, and he therefore assumes that the Naboo geologic "core" is defined exactly the same way Earth's geologic core is, even though he simultaneously reminds us that Naboo is said to have utterly unique geology.
I don't think that's adam_grif's argument at all. I'm pretty sure he's saying the same thing I'm saying; that the movie intends the audience to understand that the Jedi actually traveled through a literal planet core in an underwater vessel. The original context of the argument is the alleged low-quality writing in Phantom Menace - not in-universe plausibility. I find it incredible how these two unrelated ideas have been constantly conflated in this thread.

However, I looked at the essay you wrote on the main website, and I understand the idea behind "suspension of disbelief". But from what I gather, that approach is primarily for the purpose of cross-over debates, especially Star Wars and Star Trek. But nobody's having a cross-over debate here. We're just discussing writing quality. So with that in mind, what's wrong with saying that some geologically-ignorant writer obviously wanted the audience to believe that two characters literally went through a planet core? Remember, the original context of the argument was building an overall case for low-writing quality.

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Post by Darth Wong » 2010-02-09 08:17am

Channel72 wrote:I don't think that's adam_grif's argument at all. I'm pretty sure he's saying the same thing I'm saying; that the movie intends the audience to understand that the Jedi actually traveled through a literal planet core in an underwater vessel.
Which it shows as an underwater cave. There is zero indication that it was meant to describe something like Earth's planetary core.
The original context of the argument is the alleged low-quality writing in Phantom Menace - not in-universe plausibility. I find it incredible how these two unrelated ideas have been constantly conflated in this thread.
Based on a statement made by a technologically backward race with no manufacturing capabilities or scientific knowledge to speak of? So every time you write for such a race, you should make sure to avoid any scientific terminology issues, because "high quality writing" would dictate that such a race always gets such things right?

Keep in mind that much of this argument is predicated upon the writing in sw.com, which is not done by the author of the movie and SW EU writing has a loooong history of hopelessly and stupidly taking every goddamned piece of dialogue literally even when it's not intended to be taken as such.
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"you guys are fascinated with the use of those "rules of logic" to the extent that you don't really want to discussus anything."- GC

"I do not believe Russian Roulette is a stupid act" - Embracer of Darkness

"Viagra commercials appear to save lives" - tharkûn on US health care.

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Post by Darth Wong » 2010-02-09 08:19am

adam_grif wrote:Regardless of whether the Naboo core is as large, larger or smaller than Earth's core, core is always going to be the inner-most layer unless otherwise specified. Because that's what core means.
In a planet with no molten mantle, what other layers would there be?
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"It's not evil for God to do it. Or for someone to do it at God's command."- Jonathan Boyd on baby-killing

"you guys are fascinated with the use of those "rules of logic" to the extent that you don't really want to discussus anything."- GC

"I do not believe Russian Roulette is a stupid act" - Embracer of Darkness

"Viagra commercials appear to save lives" - tharkûn on US health care.

http://www.stardestroyer.net/Mike/RantMode/Blurbs.html

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Post by Channel72 » 2010-02-09 09:02am

Darth Wong wrote:Based on a statement made by a technologically backward race with no manufacturing capabilities or scientific knowledge to speak of? So every time you write for such a race, you should make sure to avoid any scientific terminology issues, because "high quality writing" would dictate that such a race always gets such things right?
Not necessarily; a story dealing with a primitive culture should attempt to portray this culture as having inferior scientific understanding. On the other hand, given Hollywood's generally horrible track record of handling scientific issues (see just about any sci-fi movie ever made), it can be incredibly difficult to distinguish character ignorance from writer ignorance. Are you saying it's obvious that this is a case of character ignorance? Are you really so sure the "planet core" dialogue was put in there to show the audience how primitive the Gungans are? What makes you think a typical Hollywood writer has any understanding of basic geology?

For that matter, exactly how primitive the Gungans are supposed to be is up for debate. Jar Jar didn't appear too fazed about space travel, so it's obvious the Gunguns are at least aware of the wider universe. For that matter, they must have to maintain and operate advanced technology such as underwater forcefields. You could argue that Boss Nass himself is simply an ignorant politician with no scientific understanding, but again what makes you think the person writing dialogue for Boss Nass is any less ignorant?

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Re: ReadLetterMedia reviews Avatar

Post by Darth Wong » 2010-02-09 09:32am

Channel72 wrote:
Darth Wong wrote:Based on a statement made by a technologically backward race with no manufacturing capabilities or scientific knowledge to speak of? So every time you write for such a race, you should make sure to avoid any scientific terminology issues, because "high quality writing" would dictate that such a race always gets such things right?
Not necessarily; a story dealing with a primitive culture should attempt to portray this culture as having inferior scientific understanding. On the other hand, given Hollywood's generally horrible track record of handling scientific issues (see just about any sci-fi movie ever made), it can be incredibly difficult to distinguish character ignorance from writer ignorance. Are you saying it's obvious that this is a case of character ignorance? Are you really so sure the "planet core" dialogue was put in there to show the audience how primitive the Gungans are? What makes you think a typical Hollywood writer has any understanding of basic geology?
I think you're missing the point here. Ignorance of basic geology is so widespread that the author might seriously not know the difference, so why should we treat it as unrealistic that fictional creatures might not know the difference? If the author is dumb enough not to know the difference, that actually proves the point that it's not something we should treat as common knowledge.
For that matter, exactly how primitive the Gungans are supposed to be is up for debate. Jar Jar didn't appear too fazed about space travel, so it's obvious the Gunguns are at least aware of the wider universe. For that matter, they must have to maintain and operate advanced technology such as underwater forcefields. You could argue that Boss Nass himself is simply an ignorant politician with no scientific understanding, but again what makes you think the person writing dialogue for Boss Nass is any less ignorant?
Our world today is full of people who operate highly sophisticated technology with only the most rudimentary knowledge of science. There are creationist engineers, for fuck's sake. They learn precisely what they need in order to do their jobs, and not a whit more.
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Re: ReadLetterMedia reviews Avatar

Post by Formless » 2010-02-09 02:12pm

Channel72 wrote:However, I looked at the essay you wrote on the main website, and I understand the idea behind "suspension of disbelief". But from what I gather, that approach is primarily for the purpose of cross-over debates, especially Star Wars and Star Trek. But nobody's having a cross-over debate here. We're just discussing writing quality. So with that in mind, what's wrong with saying that some geologically-ignorant writer obviously wanted the audience to believe that two characters literally went through a planet core? Remember, the original context of the argument was building an overall case for low-writing quality.
Look up the phrase "suspension of disbelief" in google or any literature textbook. Wong did not invent that idea, its a literary term. It is entirely relevant when discussing whether or not a work is well written, because while the onus may be on the reader to maintain suspension of disbelief, the writer can sabotage it and does have to take it into account when writing. Ask any writer on this forum, they will tell you the same thing.
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Re: ReadLetterMedia reviews Avatar

Post by RedImperator » 2010-02-09 02:38pm

Darth Wong wrote:
Channel72 wrote:
Darth Wong wrote:Based on a statement made by a technologically backward race with no manufacturing capabilities or scientific knowledge to speak of? So every time you write for such a race, you should make sure to avoid any scientific terminology issues, because "high quality writing" would dictate that such a race always gets such things right?
Not necessarily; a story dealing with a primitive culture should attempt to portray this culture as having inferior scientific understanding. On the other hand, given Hollywood's generally horrible track record of handling scientific issues (see just about any sci-fi movie ever made), it can be incredibly difficult to distinguish character ignorance from writer ignorance. Are you saying it's obvious that this is a case of character ignorance? Are you really so sure the "planet core" dialogue was put in there to show the audience how primitive the Gungans are? What makes you think a typical Hollywood writer has any understanding of basic geology?
I think you're missing the point here. Ignorance of basic geology is so widespread that the author might seriously not know the difference, so why should we treat it as unrealistic that fictional creatures might not know the difference? If the author is dumb enough not to know the difference, that actually proves the point that it's not something we should treat as common knowledge.
The problem is that most people approach fiction--written or filmed--with the idea that unless they're given an explicit reason to believe otherwise, spoken dialog is reliable; that is, the character speaking it is being honest and accurate, especially when dialog is being used to advance the plot (as opposed to establishing character traits). Writers know this, so when they intend for a character to be wrong, dishonest, or stupid, they generally indicate it.

In the case of TPM, Boss Nass said the Jedi would travel in a submarine through the planet's core, the Jedi didn't blink at the time and never said anything later, the line was advancing the plot ("this is how the Jedi will reach Theed quickly and undetected"), even the VFX seemed to show the submarine descending through a series of tunnels. There's no point where anyone or anything indicated Nass was a liar or ignorant. I don't see how that line is anything other than a total howler. There are plenty of ways to rationalize it, but to my way of thinking, if the readers/viewers have to rationalize something so it makes sense (I think the band-aid I slapped on was that they were actually traveling through an undersea region called Planetcore), the writers failed. It's exactly the same as Data saying "watts per second"; you can rationalize it as Data being stupid, or the definition of "watt" changing by the 24th century, or a glitch in the "magic translator", but in reality it's just a gaffe. At best, the writers wanted to establish Boss Nass as ignorant of geology (for no apparent reason), but totally failed to follow up; that might frankly be worse, because you expect writers to understand basic character development even if they're pig-ignorant about geology.
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Re: Phantom Menace and bad writing

Post by Vympel » 2010-02-09 08:36pm

Split from the ReadLetterMedia Avatar thread.
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Re: Phantom Menace and bad writing

Post by Havok » 2010-02-10 02:25pm

OT: So now that this thread is in it's 'appropriate' forum... is it going to die? Perhaps we should revisit archiving PST/PSW and keeping threads like this in Sci Fi so they actually stay productive.
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Re: Phantom Menace and bad writing

Post by Galvatron » 2010-02-10 02:35pm

Vympel wrote:Split from the ReadLetterMedia Avatar thread.
I'm surprised you didn't merge it with the original RedLetterMedia thread.

In any case, I'm in the "if it has to be reconciled, the writers failed" camp. Fanon explanations have their place, but not as a defense for the bad writing that warranted such explanations to begin with.
Channel72 wrote:If TPM had interesting characters and a good plot, I say let them travel through all the planet cores they need.
And I feel this is the best point made so far.

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Re: ReadLetterMedia reviews Avatar

Post by Darth Wong » 2010-02-10 03:54pm

RedImperator wrote:
Darth Wong wrote:I think you're missing the point here. Ignorance of basic geology is so widespread that the author might seriously not know the difference, so why should we treat it as unrealistic that fictional creatures might not know the difference? If the author is dumb enough not to know the difference, that actually proves the point that it's not something we should treat as common knowledge.
The problem is that most people approach fiction--written or filmed--with the idea that unless they're given an explicit reason to believe otherwise, spoken dialog is reliable; that is, the character speaking it is being honest and accurate, especially when dialog is being used to advance the plot (as opposed to establishing character traits). Writers know this, so when they intend for a character to be wrong, dishonest, or stupid, they generally indicate it.
Lucas did precisely that in the ANH screenplay when Han Solo used his stupid "Kessel run in 12 parsecs" line, but the EU authors ignored that and tried to rationalize it as if it must be precisely accurate. There is precedent for Lucas taking the blame for EU authors who promoted literal interpretations of what were actually meant to be incorrect statements.
In the case of TPM, Boss Nass said the Jedi would travel in a submarine through the planet's core, the Jedi didn't blink at the time and never said anything later, the line was advancing the plot ("this is how the Jedi will reach Theed quickly and undetected"), even the VFX seemed to show the submarine descending through a series of tunnels. There's no point where anyone or anything indicated Nass was a liar or ignorant. I don't see how that line is anything other than a total howler.
There was nothing on-screen to walk viewers through the process of deducing that Solo was full of shit in ANH either, but it's in the screenplay. This has happened before. Why is it necessary to spell everything out? As long as we're talking about whether writers or characters are stupid, why is the audience supposed to be stupid?
There are plenty of ways to rationalize it, but to my way of thinking, if the readers/viewers have to rationalize something so it makes sense (I think the band-aid I slapped on was that they were actually traveling through an undersea region called Planetcore), the writers failed.
If the audience has to think for itself at all, the writers failed? I don't think so. I think the litmus test is more a matter of just how convoluted the rationalizations must be. The idea that the audience should never have to work out anything in their own minds is pointlessly extreme.
It's exactly the same as Data saying "watts per second"; you can rationalize it as Data being stupid, or the definition of "watt" changing by the 24th century, or a glitch in the "magic translator", but in reality it's just a gaffe. At best, the writers wanted to establish Boss Nass as ignorant of geology (for no apparent reason), but totally failed to follow up; that might frankly be worse, because you expect writers to understand basic character development even if they're pig-ignorant about geology.
They totally failed to follow up? The Gungans are consistently portrayed as ignorant savages, right to the end. How is any of this inconsistent? Are you saying that Qui-Gon and Anakin should have had a scene where they joked about how stupid Boss Nass is, just so that there would be no ambiguity?

Let's also remember that this tangent started because someone was assailing the basic plot of TPM based on the assumption that the TradeFed forces were landing on the opposite side of the planet from the capital city, based entirely on that one piece of dialogue. The reality is that very few plots spell out everything for the viewer (and I'm not at all sold on the idea that they should), so viewers do rationalize things. However, you rationalize things based on what leads to the fewest stupidities, and rationalizing his dialogue so that it means the TradeFed forces landed on the exact opposite side of the planet from where they want to go is the worst possible way.
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