Sunday, December 10, 2006

When Fictional Characters Don't Read Enough Books Or Watch The Right Movies

Anna Louise has a great rant about meta, or, when characters act as if they don't read any books or movies, ever.

Example: it bugs her that Brennan in Bones can be so pop culture illiterate and still have written a best selling book. Full quote from Anna Louise: "we're supposed to believe that the title character has gotten through 30+ years of life without learning anything practical about "the human condition" or whatever? And that despite not understanding human emotion, common motivations, or popular culture, she wrote a bestselling book?"

I laughed because it's true; I laughed because despite it, I still enjoy the show; and what bugs me about "I don't know pop culture" Brennan is how come she dresses in the latest style, yet acts as if she has never heard of Vogue?

It's a fun read, in part because Anna Louise is so right. It bugs the heck out of me when a character should have certain common knowledge available to all. She points out that it is hard for an author: "on one hand, we have people who aren't aware at all of what's around them (television, media, people), and on the other hand, we have people who are too aware of what's around them."

When I read YA, I can excuse ignorance of "what's around them" because teens and kids are younger; haven't had time to be as aware of what is around them. But, I do want to give teens & kids credit; they aren't stupid.

Anyway, the whole thing is brilliant, so take a look. Anna Louise is an editor, but concentrates mainly on TV in the post.


Anonymous said...

Actually I can defend Brennan on all three points. There are people like Brennan completely oblivious to pop culture because they just don't care. Brennan isn't completely oblivious she saw those old silent films, a star wars movie, knows what an oscar is, and she know Will Ferrall is even though she got it mixed up with Colin. It counts for something. It was mentioned that even before her parent's disappearance, she wasn't in touch with the outside world, when she said that polo sometimes was the only word she said all day -women in limbo.

About her books, her books don't need to contain an ounce of pop culture. I see it as her outlet to all her creativity (also to her views and desires that she cannot express on her own- her views on Booth and her team), she very "articulate on paper". She has been around the world, she has experience most things that people (all the cases she has been on being chased by the Chinese army in Tibet, been to Cuba lately meeting some mysterious person that sudden his name stops a state interview? list goes on) wouldn't go though if they had five lifetimes to experience life. I think she is better qualified them most other people, plus she has that built in emotions that she isn't able to get out in real life what better outlet then writing a book? The whole thing is really an inside joke with Kathy Reichs, the creator behind Brennan the Book series and the inspiration for the TV show

About the clothes, I say her wardrobe is Angela's doing, best explanation.

Don't take this as offensive which I don't think it would be taken but anyways, just a little informational thing, to show another view on it. I love Bones.

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Liz B said...


Not offensive at all! As I wrote, I enjoy the show. I think my main problem with Brennan's characterization is that they have two things going on: the ignorance of Pop Culture plus the unique way she has of looking at the world. My favorite part of her is when she is looking at the world as a scientist, in a very clinical, matter of fact way. Her analysis of people & their motivations is different from others -- sometimes right, sometimes wrong.

I think with the PC stuff they overplayed it & have been a bit too heavy handed with it. I think the writers have more fun with "oh, what doesn't smarty Brennan know this week" than deciding whether or not that lack of knowledge truly fits with the character.

And I agree with you about her clothes; either Angela does her shopping, or she has a personal shopper, or there's a crossover fan fic about when when Brennan was on What Not To Wear.

But my truly favorite part of the show is David Boreanaz. The Brennan stuff is just minor annoyances; the true joy is watching him. He does a great job with this role.