Having expanded on my top five plot conceits, I’d like to add another five that bother me to no end.
Number 6. The obvious stakeout conceit. This conceit has many iterations, so I’ll share just a few of my favorites. The first is the stakeout in the car across the street from the person who must be observed. Those conducting the stakeout are in a vehicle, perhaps 30 feet from the person they observe. When the suspect exits his home, he looks around but fails to see the car or the two watching him because either he is severely myopic or blind (in that case, why the stakeout?). My next favorite is when a police officer is in the bushes across the street from the suspect’s home, but nobody is watching the rear of the suspect’s house. It’s probably because of an overtime pay issue! The third iteration of this conceit is the house’s secret passage unknown to the authorities but a favorite escape route known to everybody in the neighborhood.
Number 7. Gunshot victims who keep on trucking. Being shot is a traumatic event. Many surviving gunshot wounds often require extensive psychological therapy to deal with the emotional trauma associated with a violent injury. Nevertheless, when wounded in an arm, leg, or shoulder, our undaunted heroes miraculously keep soldiering on. If shot, you are not moving, and like me, you’re probably lying there crying and asking for mommy. You do not get up and continue the fight because you’re usually in too much pain and suffering too much blood loss to move your ass out of harm’s way. Moreover, notice that all the gunshot wounds suffered by our protagonists are flesh wounds since a more serious wound would require extensive surgery and rehabilitation, making them unavailable to continue their suspense thriller roles.
Number 8. The Indestructible John Wick Syndrome. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen any Keanu Reeves Wickian martial arts movies. The Wick series is a constant kaleidoscope of hand-to-hand, foot-to-foot, face-to-foot, face-to-face mash-up that would send all the combatants to the nearest ER center, followed by a long stint in a closed Psych unit. In reality, two minutes or less of this jumping around and hand-to-hand combat would, besides exhausting any human being, result in multiple injuries to all engaged. And yet, the Wickster participates in numerous such encounters, one after another, for 120 minutes of mayhem. He remains standing and ready for more, leaving many bloody victims in his wake. It’s not only silly but also poor and fatuous filmmaking.
Number 9. The standing tall against a wall sex scene. Here’s the scenario: Two people begin experiencing a period (a few minutes or so) of sexual tension. One evening early in their relationship, he takes her home, and she asks him if he’d like to come in, and he replies, “Come in where?” As soon as they enter her apartment, she strips off his jacket; he tears off her dress; she removes his shirt (no t-shirt, this guy); he removes her blouse, deftly releasing her bra; she undoes his belt, dropping his pants, pulling down his tighty-whities (hoping they are clean); he pulls her legs up so that they straddle his hips (strong guy, this one); and he pushes her against the wall and begins to make love to her aggressively. Unfortunately, his old back injury returns, sciatic pain rips down his leg, and he collapses. She lets out a gasp of disappointment while he lies painfully inert. She glances down at him with one hand covering her breasts and the other her…well, you know what. Interesting that she is so modest given that no one else is in the house. When was the last time anyone made love that way? Not me. I have a bad back, too! I mentioned this conceit to a young guy I know, and to my disbelief, he says he’s done it that way. According to Macho Man, you need the other party’s cooperation, and it helps if they are flexible. There you go. What do I know?
Number 10. Adorable children misbehaving. This conceit is a relative of an earlier one about the young woman who refused to stay in a safe place. In this conceit, a child or children are told not to venture outside where danger lurks. Meanwhile, the mother and father search for the threat. While the parents are away, the children’s curiosity gets the best of them, and they leave the sanctuary of their home only to be confronted by the evil that awaits them. Naturally, the parents rescue the children. Overjoyed that they are unharmed, the parents gush over the kiddies with hugs and kisses. When I view these scenes, I think of how my father would have reacted — he would have skinned me alive for disobeying him and being so stupid. Rightfully so, but not so in the land of a willing suspension of disbelief.
Have a favorite conceit? Please share on my blog.