Monthly Obscure Trope Double Feature — Genre Blind & Genre Savvy

This month’s tropes are brought to you by that guy in the horror movies. You know, the one who goes into the creepy basement to investigate the horrible noise. Bonus points if the power is out. 

Or, how about a zombie movie where the protagonists in the movie have never seen a zombie movie? Things like don’t get bit, or shoot for the head seem like common knowledge to us, but the poor fools in these stories are Genre Blind

One of my personal favorites comes from the movie Galaxy Quest. The movie follows the cast of a Star Trek analog show. Throughout the course of the movie, the actors happen upon an actual alien civilization that saw transmissions of the titular show, Galaxy Quest, and thought the actors were real heroes. Now the actors find themselves aboard an actual working replica of their ship, playing out some of the drama from their TV shows. Of course, they’ll all Genre Blind, and falling for things that they should’ve seen coming, like cute aliens that are actually ravenous man-eaters. There is one character, Guy, who is Genre Savvy though, and is usually the only sane man in the room. 

At one point Guy gets so fed up with the other cast that he asks them, “Did you guys ever watch the show?”

Another example comes from The Last Action Hero, who’s main protagonist is Genre Savvy when he’s in the movie world, but Genre Blind in the real world. He goes from punching through car windows with ease, to nearly breaking his hand trying to do the same thing in the real world.

So, everyone knows the classic horror example that we started with… But how can you make it believable that a character would go into the creepy basement? Give them a really good reason. Maybe they have to rescue someone, or maybe the key to escape is down in the basement. However you have to swing it, giving the character a better reason than sheer dumb curiosity will help. 

Conversely, with Genre Savvy characters, use this sparingly. If your characters always see every danger coming, the stakes won’t seem very high and you risk boring your reader. Remember, we need tension to keep reading. That’s it for this month. Two tropes that are pretty self explanatory. What about you guys, do you have a favorite example of Genre Blind or Genre Savvy?

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