On People Disrespecting Logic in Plots

Over the last couple of weeks, I kept finding myself repeatedly exposed to stories that had plot points that made no sense. I’m not going to list all of them here, but please trust me when I say that there are enough of them to piss me off. Why do they piss me off?

Because they got produced, and people are paying for them.

Nerd rage activate. (Image from Wikipedia)

It’s like people decided that if you have enough pretty elements in the production, everyone else will completely ignore the fact that a whole lot of the story makes no goddamn sense. Who cares about logic in narrative? Narrative is all about FEELINGS, right? And visuals bring in more feelings, right? So fuck the story and let’s just throw in as many cool things as we can into this thing so we can give the paying public enough feels to make us rich and shit. Fuck the plot. Let’s just pander. Pander pander pander. Nobody wants to think when they’re watching a movie or a play, or reading fiction.

I guess this wouldn’t hurt me so much if I didn’t care about the craft of telling a story and didn’t work so hard at making sure that any novel I publish would make sense.

It’s just that I know, from years of experience, that the cool bits only become REALLY cool when it’s rooted in a solid, logical narrative. I don’t care what you say; you have to make sure that whatever happens in the story makes sense. Don’t deus ex machina all over the place just because. That’s just fricking lazy. You have to remember to take everything that’s happened so far into account before you get your character to do anything. Yes, this includes narratives in which you shuffle scenes around so they wouldn’t be happening in chronological order. Stuff needs to be explained. Hell, you can even use long blocks of exposition to do that if you want (though it’s inadvisable and it’s another pet peeve of mine) as long as you don’t have that one supposedly dead dude showing up at the end to kill the big bad FOR NO GOOD REASON. That just jars me out of the experience and makes me want to walk away.

Except, you know, I can’t walk away. Because I have this burning need to tell you and your descendants where you went wrong with this story.

Look, I’m a fan of fantasy and a bunch of other stuff that requires suspension of disbelief. But that doesn’t mean that I’m okay with you totally disrespecting logic in plots and throwing them out the window because it would be cooler that way or because you want it to end the way you always thought it should end, sense be damned. If you’re going to insist that Christine and the Phantom have a little boy together, then you damn well better make it feasible in the context of the ORIGINAL Phantom of the Opera story in which the Phantom seemed to have no real human connection until the very end, when Christine kissed him to save Raoul.

*cough*

I guess I should just fess up and admit that most of this post has something to do with the fact that I watched “Love Never Dies” (Andrew Lloyd Weber’s sequel to “Phantom of the Opera”) on HBO over the weekend and found myself screaming “why the name of hell did you have to do this?” repeatedly for two hours. The production looked amazing and some of the melodies really stay with you. But I just can’t get over the improbability of the child if you take the original into consideration. Which you should. BECAUSE THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A SEQUEL.

Other stuff inspired this post too, but I don’t think I want to bring them up anymore. They’ll just make me mad. The way Jonathan Kent in “Man of Steel” made me mad because that version only would have worked if they did “Birthright” all the way instead of just drawing bits of inspiration from it. Except they didn’t – they took the Jonathan and didn’t do enough of the Martha to make up for it. So they ended up with a Superman who had no real solid moral grounding upon which you can base his “super-ness”. If you try to bring up Jor-El, I will CUT you because he didn’t cut it as a father figure either. Don’t you dare tell me that he did. And I’m not even getting into all the OTHER stuff that made no real sense in the film. Like that kiss between Lois and Clark. Because WHEN exactly did they have time to develop the hots for each other?

Dammit. I said I wouldn’t bring it up.

My point is that logic is important in plots. If it’s not there, then there’s nothing for us to take in from all this. And that’s what’s making me angry. Stories, apart from making us feel something, help us LEARN something. Without the logic there, it’s difficult for us to learn anything. And it’s a waste. It’s a shame.

I think I’ll have that drink now.

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18 thoughts on “On People Disrespecting Logic in Plots

  1. Being a ridiculously OTT Phantom fan, I sort of have to view Love Never Dies as a completely separate entity to Phantom. Just with the same names of characters, and general themes. MY GOD I HATED THE ENDING. I cannot even begin to talk about the ending. I was just shocked, and angry. And, on the logic note, Raoul just did a COMPLETE 180 in his personality. I mean, he was totally obsessed and in love with Christine, and then in LND, he was just an ass. Did not make any sense. But like I said, if you can try and view it as a separate musical, you like it better (at least I do when I disentangle it from my favourite musical of all time). Sorry about this essay! D:

    1. No, it’s perfectly GOOD essay! (Thank you for the comment!) 🙂

      That is, of course, the HEALTHIER way to approach this – pretending that it’s not in any way associated with PotO (which, by the way was what got me into musicals in the first place – I was six when I first heard “Think of Me”) is the only way to stay sane in the face of LND. Unfortunately, I’m not a very healthy person XD

      And YES that ending! I don’t even know what to say about that. It just felt so, so, wrong. As did Raoul. I also have to point out that I hated what they did with Meg. Again, the production is hauntingly beautiful – that much I appreciate. I just hate that it’s supposed to be a sequel to something as awesome as PotO.

      As a friend of mine said, Weber could have just NOT made this follow-up. Phantom didn’t NEED a follow-up. It especially didn’t need a follow-up that failed to honor it.

      1. Phantom is my favourite musical of all time. I have been seeing musicals practically since infancy. I have seen so many, and Phantom still remains my favourite. I cry every time I see it, haha 😛
        I found it hard to separate the two in the beginning, but eventually, I could. And I’m glad, because now I can sort of enjoy LND a lot better.

        I can’t even talk about the ending. I was just sitting there, like: WHAT WHAT WHAT IS THIS! I was just so angry at ALW for doing that to me. They had their chance, and she made the right choice, and then nup. All gone.
        YES! I loved sweet little Meg so much in Phantom (I actually kinda shipped her with the Phantom), and then she is this horrible woman in LND.

        I actually got to see the Melbourne production live twice (I think that’s the production you’re talking about). It is hands down one of the best productions I have ever seen. The sets, and the costumes were amazing. And I loved the cast. I thought the Phantom did an amazing job, and I wish they would make a PotO with him in it. I would be there in an instant.
        I remember reading somewhere that ALW felt he had more to add to the Phantom story. And I guess I can’t begrudge him, because I always wanted to know what happened to everyone (I just wanted a different story to LND is all). And he’s the genius that created the most perfect musical ever, so I can’t be angry with him for making another pretty good musical (minus the things I do not like about it).
        I just wish I could have co-written it or something, and made it with a happy ending. happy endings are good, damn it! haha 😛

      2. *sigh* LND had good elements – I agree. But the PLOT. Jesus. THE PLOT and the CHARACTERIZATION, the insistence that this is a legitimate extension of PotO…

        I love Weber. I do. But this is bad PotO fanfiction, as far as I’m concerned. I’m sorry, I love fanfiction, but this is REALLY bad fanfiction. The kind that makes you feel that the author didn’t understand the original piece at all. Having someone like you – a fan who appreciates the original story – co-write definitely would have helped.

        PS: Ohgod Meg/Phantom shipping YES. It would have been a nicer, happier ending if they’d gone with the “Christine taught him how to care but Meg taught him how to love” thing. Because MEG. Poor, sweet, MEG. ;A;

      3. I know, I know. The plot makes me want to cry. But the songs were pretty awesome. I hated the introduction of the kid though. You do not have a kid in a Phantom musical! What were you thinking, Andrew! Ugh.

        Hahaha, a bad fanfiction. You could say that 😛 It’s like things in PotO never even happened, and they were just cut out of the story altogether. I mean, Christine CLEARLY chose Raoul; would she really have found the Phantom for a midnight rendezvous? I know it’s romantic, but I hated Christine at the end of Phantom for just kissing and ditching.
        Why, thank you, haha. I think it would have been awesome to help with the story or something And just go: No, Andrew, that’s not going to work. Haha 😛

        I would have been happy with that! To not bring Christine back at all, and have the Phantom realise that it has been Meg who has helped him through everything, and helped him build Coney Island, and it would have just been so nice, and cute. I would have been content with an ending like that. But the heartbreak in all of the characters? Meg, Ms Giry, Raoul, the Phantom, the kid. It was all so depressing. D:

      4. “No, Andrew, that’s not going to work.” THIS =))

        Seriously, the kid made no sense. And the bringing back Christine thing because not only are you right – the whole kissing and ditching thing just basically ruins it – it also dilutes the power of the Phantom’s choice to LET CHRISTINE GO near the end of PotO. Totally disrespects that moment, when the Phantom stops being a monster, when he finds a kind of redemption.

        PS: I would have preferred not having ANY heartbreak at all if we’re going to have a Phantom sequel. Because, you know, HE REDEEMED HIMSELF IN THE ORIGINAL STORY. 😦

        PPS: I’m still extra-mad about what happened to Meg – not just the fact that she went all dark, but the REASON for her getting all dark. WTF, man. WTF.

      5. I KNOW. He was so brave and strong, and I quote “it’s over now; the music of the night”. He knew it was over, he was ready to move on. BUT NO, she had to come back and ruin his life.

        Yes, the heartbreak is just all wrong. SO WRONG. I know depressing ending are emotional and everything, but PotO has a depressing ending, the sequel DID NOT NEED ONE, TOO. I did not even cry, I was so shocked. I was elated 5 seconds earlier: YAY Christine finally chose the Phantom, you go man! And then she’s dead. I just. No.

        I KNOW. I was so shocked. Little Meg D: I was sort of a little too shocked. Would the Phantom really have been a-okay with her using her body like that? I don’t know. And her Mum? Seems a little iffy to me….

  2. Finally I found someone who is a bit pissed with man of steel. I’ve been hearing everyone say ohhh its a kickass movie and the actor is gorgeous😶. No one ever commented on the plot guess its a bit on the shady side after all . I will have to watch it now 😜😜

    1. To be fair: Cavill looks delicious. AND he has acting chops. But I don’t think they gave him a script that gives Superman justice.

      And I’ve been exposed Superman since I was THREE YEARS OLD. I’m not saying I’m a bigger geek than anyone else; I’m just saying that there’s a right way and a wrong way to approach the character through narrative, and I strongly believe that they missed the mark.

      Also, some logical inconsistencies that they try to cover up with pretty cinematography and Cavill’s abs.

  3. THIS:

    “Look, I’m a fan of fantasy and a bunch of other stuff that requires suspension of disbelief. But that doesn’t mean that I’m okay with you totally disrespecting logic in plots and throwing them out the window because it would be cooler that way or because you want it to end the way you always thought it should end, sense be damned.”

    AND THIS:

    “the cool bits only become REALLY cool when it’s rooted in a solid, logical narrative. I don’t care what you say; you have to make sure that whatever happens in the story makes sense. Don’t deus ex machina all over the place just because. That’s just fricking lazy. You have to remember to take everything that’s happened so far into account before you get your character to do anything. Yes, this includes narratives in which you shuffle scenes around so they wouldn’t be happening in chronological order. Stuff needs to be explained. ”

    I would put this on a goddamned billboard along EDSA and make T-shirts of it, if I could.

    BECAUSE IT NEEDS TO BE SAID.

    THANK YOU.

    THIS POST. YES. YESSSSSSSS… +_+

  4. Found the relevant Tolkien quote. Took me a while.

    “Children are capable, of course, of literary belief, when the story-maker’s art is good enough to produce it. That state of mind has been called “willing suspension of disbelief.” But this does not seem to me a good description of what happens. What really happens is that the story-maker proves a successful “sub-creator.” He makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is “true”: it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken; the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then out in the Primary World again, looking at the little abortive Secondary World from outside. If you are obliged, by kindliness or circumstance, to stay, then disbelief must be suspended (or stifled), otherwise listening and looking would become intolerable. But this suspension of disbelief is a substitute for the genuine thing, a subterfuge we use when condescending to games or make-believe, or when trying … to find what virtue we can in the work of an art that has for us failed.”

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