top five disturbing things in pop culture

This week on the show: As part of the Major Spoilers Fifth Birthday Celebration, the Major Spoilers Crew presents their Top Five most disturbing things in pop culture.


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  1. The one thing that I hate about Manga is the “rape as a character builder” trope. They have female characters be victims of rape for shock value and as a way to have the character be more likeable (a character that was considered nothing more then a tramp became likeable after she was raped in Tenjou Tenge). The one that killed what was otherwise a great anime was in Full Metal Alchemist a throw away teenage character that later appears mute and with a kid, all we know is that she ended that way after “what the soldiers did to her”. The author of the manga never did anything of the sort in the main story but the anime creators believes it would be good drama, add the fact her kid is put in dangers every other moment and we have Matthew’s hated trope on top of it.

    • Isn’t it even worse though (at least in my opinion) when the rape isn’t even used to build the girls’ character up at all, it’s actually used to show you what a righteous bastard the bad guy is and get you to hate him and feel vindicated when the hero of the piece rips his penis off and throws it to the dogs (oh wait, I think that was in a Sonny Chiba movie, either way).

  2. I don’t know if this counts as pop culture, but I’m deeply disturbed by the rampant misuse of the word “literally”. When I hear people screw it up, I literally go mental.

    • In conjunction with your gripe, I absolutely hate the word “fail” now, and my hatred is made ten-fold when paired with “epic”. This is especially so when it’s used to describe somebody typing something incorrectly online or making an analogy that doesn’t quite fit, those are just mistake or misunderstandings, NOT “Epic Fails”. Now it’s okay if it’s used to describe The Illiad’s ability to capture the minds of this generation’s youth.

  3. So if Rodrigo is tired of cliche insults does that mean will get Steven to stop using that horrible Southern accent?

    I know this comment will most likely make Steven do it more, but that doesn’t make it any less cliche or horrible.

    • So if Rodrigo is tired of cliche insults does that mean will get Steven to stop using that horrible Southern accent?

      Sorry. If I let anyone take away Stephen’s horrible accents, then I’m sure that mine are next, and I just can’t have that. :)

  4. This is a very very good episode. I normally only listen to the critical hit podcast but this was a great bit of critical observation and commentary. It is good to know that you guys are not just vapid gamer/comic guys… Well I didn’t really think that anyway. Good work!

  5. I have a question for Mathew. Are you disturbed only when children are put in danger as a gimmick or do you feel it should always be off limits?
    Example, The Incredible’s put the two kids in danger (though we knew they never really were in any since it’s Disney) but it was an organic element of the plot.

    • Not to speak for Matthew, but as far as I see it, at least in your example of The Incredibles, I think there’s a key difference. In that movie, yes the kids are threatened, but they always seem to have the upperhand and are constantly beating back the bad guys and making them look like idiots. I mean even the baby gets taken away by Syndrome and Jack Jack turns on his multitude of powers and takes the bad guy down. I think that falls into the same category as movies like Spy Kids, Three Ninjas (and then Kick Back and High Noon at Mega Mountain), Home Alone, Surf Ninjas and a ton of other movies like that where the kids are threatened but always kind of have that upper hand and beat back their bumbling foes.

      I do think there are times when if it feels like a natural progression of the story and for me, the end justifies it (meaning your John McClane type character dispatches of the bad guys in a most enjoyable way and saves the kid, then I’m fine with it. But using it simply as a quick shorthand to show just how bad some villain is, does get to be a little old.

    • Are you disturbed only when children are put in danger as a gimmick or do you feel it should always be off limits?

      I don’t feel that it should be off-limits so much as that it shouldn’t be used as short-hand for ‘evil.’ There are some stories wherein the jeopardy of the characters is intrinsic to the plot (such as the aforementioned Incredibles, but it’s also done well in other situations) and often those characters are children. Where it bothers me is that somehow, using a child has become a trope to show how sick/awful/beyond the pale the character has become. The first issue of ‘Crossed’ is an example for me. Sure, there is a lot of horror stuff going on in that issue, but when they wanted to show us how awful, how truly awful things were, they made sure to involve the mutilation of a child. ON. PANEL.

      The gruesomeness we had already seen in the issue (rape, torture, mutilation, murder, dismemberment) was quite clearly meant to build to that moment, and that her parents were still alive to watch that situation made it even more intolerable.

      It’s not that I think that no one should ever put a kid in danger for a story. I just want them to stop using it as what wrestlers call a ‘cheap pop.’ If the heel wants to get boos, he mocks the local sports team. If a writer wants to convey how terrible a character is, they get a kid involved. It’s the worst kind of literary shortcut.

      Mileage, as always, may vary.

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