SUBVERSION!

The denouement.

For those who don’t know, the denouement is generally considered optional in story structure. It’s a chance for you tie up some loose ends and maybe show how your characters are getting on in with their new lives.

Unless you are an incompetent story teller and are using it as a chance to betray audience expectations by subverting them.

This is the original ending for the Gen-X classic film; Clerks

This ending would have absolutely ruined the light hearted coming of age comedy we had just finished watching. Anyone who saw the film with this ending in the theater during it’s arthouse indy run would have told all of his friends, “yeah, give this one a big miss. It really pissed me off!” It would have vanished without a trace. However, Kevin Smith’s distributer told him if he was going to release this thing then that ending absolutely had to go because it had no place in the story he had just told. For his part Smith says, he’s glad the guy made him do it.

Big Bang Theory just ended it’s umpteen year run on CBS, I can’t say I’ve been a steady fan. I’ve just sort of drifted in and out over the years but given the show’s nature I never had any real trouble catching up. It was a good last episode, it delivered everything it was supposed to, to make it’s audience smile and nod. Sheldon finally got his Nobel Prize and grew a bit as a person. Stewart got a girlfriend. Penny got pregnant and was happy about it.

You will note that at no point did Leonard commit suicide because Penny had suddenly left him having finally been discovered as an actress. Nor did Howard and Raj suddenly decide out of the blue they were really gay for each other after all. And Amy and Bernie weren’t raped and murdered.

This is called basic competence as a story teller.

Wanna see some incompetence?

Honestly, I don’t have a dog in this particular fight. I gave up on a Song of Ice and Fire lonnnng before it became a tv show. But that said, I can certainly get the anger of the show’s long running fans.

I can’t say, I like George R.R. Martin. He’s a good but over rated author. He turned the Sad Puppies Rabid when he virtue signaled by denouncing the campaign. Instead of playing elder statesman and possibly saving the reputation of the Hugo Awards in the process. All he had to do was say was, “everybody calm down and vote the ballot as is and this will all blow over.” He couldn’t do that because he is at his core a bad person.

But like I said, he is (or at least was) a good author. Honestly, his best work has been on the small scale like Sandkings. Something as big as Game of Thrones was too big of a bite to handle for a guy who doesn’t plot his stories at all. For Martin writing is an act of exploration and there is nothing left for him to explore in Westeros. This is why the last book was basically fan fiction that looked into the lives of side characters that no one gave a fuck about.

Since he couldn’t finish the book and the producers didn’t even have an outline to go on, they had to start writing the story for themselves and oh, my, did we get to see just how well dressed the Emperor was.

The shill media is claiming it’s all ingenious because they are whores and it’s their job to whore themselves out. But the fans hate the result.

The biggest problem with the show this season comes down to the showrunners using subversion to mask a lack of talent as storytellers.

They couldn’t come up with some exciting way for Jon to kill the Night King, so they had Arya do it, in the most deus ex machina way possible. Thus betraying Jon’s entire story and making Arya nothing but another superpowered pixie-ninja.

Subversion! The audience won’t see this one coming! We’re brilliant!

The War of the Night King was the climax of the entire show. The events of Kingslanding should have been nothing more than a denouement. Not a chance to blow up an entire story that’s been in the making for twenty-three years.

Subversion! The audience won’t see this one coming! We’re brilliant!

Jaime’s redemption arc thrown down the shitter so he can die in sister/lover’s arms?

Subversion! The audience won’t see this one coming! We’re brilliant!

Dany loses her shit for no real reason and kills everyone?

Subversion! The audience won’t see this one coming! We’re brilliant!

Now, I won’t say that subversion has no place in the writer’s toolbox. Two examples where it actually is brilliant.

The Sixth Sense was subversion in the classic sense. It was an entire story built around a major plot twist at the end. It was effective because the audience could look back at the whole of the story and say, writer played fair with us. I could have seen it all along but I didn’t. You got me. Well played, sir!

Second example. Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners. In this book, John Ringo stood Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter universe on it’s head by reversing two very big tropes. MCB was friendly and cooperative with MHI Team Hoodoo in the city of New Orleans. This had never happened in any of the other Monster Hunter books. The Monster Control Bureau were always the bad guys making things worse for the heroes of Monster Hunter International. But in this story they were friends and allies. The reason things were different is that the purpose of the MCB is containment of all knowledge of the supernatural and in New Orleans containment was impossible because everyone knew that it was real. This justified the plot twist.

In this second case of subversion, we got to see the some old tropes in a new light. They weren’t up ended for no reason at all. It fit with the plot that he had created and refreshed a property that frankly was getting a little thread worn. Well played sir!

The point and purpose of these subversions paid heed to the juggernaut of all art and this is entertainment. Sure, a lot of artists sneer at this but ultimately that is the purpose of all art. It has no other practical use and the only arguments I’ve seen to the contrary have all been circular as hell.

If you loose sight of trying to entertain your audience and start trying to mess with expectations that have been built up just to try and be different. You aren’t being a genius, you’re just being lazy.

Lazy and Gamma. No, seriously, you’re being a Gamma Male trying to prove that you are smartest boy in the room by spouting some bit of trivia that no one cares about and everyone loathes you for it. Being a Gamma seems to be the thing that all of these subversive artists have in common. In truth they are only pretending to be rebels.

From the Last Jedi to the Legend of Korra to this season of Game of Thrones, all of these writers are Gammas.

And in truth, so are their biggest defenders. Those champions of the mundane are being the special and smart ones by being the few who could see how smart the subversion really was and only they can appreciate it which makes them extra special.

Subversion is a tool for sophomores whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs. You may think you are a genius for using it when you can’t come up with an ending that has real punch. But the fact is you just couldn’t come up with something that would wow the audience with your brilliance so you opted to enrage them with bullshit.

Most writers recognize this as a phase in their development and grow out of it.

But Gamma’s simply cannot grow.

Note to George RR Martin. George if you are reading this and want to subvert your audience’s expectations…turn the whole thing over to John Ringo.

UPDATE:

8 thoughts on “SUBVERSION!

  1. I didn’t think there would be a way to save the GoT ending since the characters would be hard to mash together, but I realize there are far more imaginative minds that me, they just didn’t materialize in this case. The true fans of GoT got exactly what they deserved, gammas and bitchy women can’t get enough of their own medicine.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good article.
    The subversion trope is getting very annoying on pop culture. In my opinion it is getting so much use because declining author/ writer quality.
    They know they can measure up to the greats so they choose a cowards way out.

    Like

    1. Actually, I think they believe they are far better than the writers who created these properties. Then they think their subversions are brilliant because they have the logic skills of a two year old child.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s like the Cobra Kai show that YouTube did. They could have gone the stupid, Johnny is really the good guy route. Instead, they made him more sympathetic and fleshed him out. It didn’t destroy what came before to subvert what you expected. I was surprised at how well they handled it.

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  4. You had to mention “Sandkings” – it was the first and last Martin story I read, almost 40 years ago. After that sickening experience, I have never looked at his stuff again. But to give him his due, he was a talented writer.

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  5. Funny that you chose a clip from Mauler and Wolf, because I was just listening one of their recent discussions of the show, and Wolf, with a sigh, said something like, “I’m so tired of having my expectations subverted. I just want to watch something that follows a straightforward story.”

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  6. John Ringo?

    The Ice King is followed by his true ruler, the Kildar, through a spacetime vortex. Coming with Varangian Guard and his own Dragon, the Kildar takes over in a series of night strikes and daylit battle slaughters, then puts all the fertile female leaders in his harem, to satisfy their pleas for the One True Alpha.

    The next book gets … interesting.

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  7. If I were a chef, and when you came to my restaurant to eat I literally shit on a plate and served it to you, I would most definitely be subverting your expectations, but to what end? I wish I could meet a GOT writer so I could drop that analogy on them.

    Another good example of the proper use of subversion is Ex Machina. It leads you one way, playing off of the implicit expectations that other stories have trained into you, and then ends it in such a way that makes you ask yourself a lot of uncomfortable questions about AI. I thought Ex Machina’s writing was masterful as far as movies are concerned.

    While I don’t agree with every criticism you make of ASOIAF, I do agree that GRRM’s gamma nature fucks up the story he’s telling at times, robbing it of any balance. I actually don’t mind that bad things happen in his world – he’s a medieval history buff, and a lot of his stuff is pulled from actual events of the time period, albeit sometimes over-exaggerated.

    What I do mind is that the guy can’t seem to balance the abnormal with the normal, and the bad with the good. For example, Benioff & Weiss are getting a lot of flak over the way GOT ended, but I would bet my bottom dollar they ended it the way GRRM told them he would end the books. They just can’t get to the destination via the same route. I cannot imagine they made that ending for Daenerys, as it is much more difficult to get her to that point in the time they wanted to take and with the writing talent at their disposal. I’m sure they would have loved to do a happy ending with her and Jon marrying and ruling wisely as it would be much, much easier and would have saved them all this bullshit.

    But GRRM is a VERY SMART BOY and has to make sure everyone knows it. What will be interesting to me is if he changes course at all now, considering this reaction to the ending.

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