Nine Tired Tropes

Then he directed a little movie called STAR WARS…

As a member of the entertainment industry and as a fan of entertainment, I read a lot of press, interviews, and analyses pertaining to same. I have found that too many journalists – and interviewees, and pundits, and human beings in general – fall back on the same lazy clichés. This is a roster of the tropes that bug me the most.

  1. "I'm just this kid from Podunk, Idaho." This is what rich and famous people always say when accepting an award or being interviewed: "To think, this is all happening to lil' ol' me, that freckle-faced goofball who used to fish for trout in the crick with her grandpappy!" Usually said rich, famous person has been living large in Manhattan or Malibu for years – possibly since childhood. Podunk itself is but a dim memory; grandpappy was probably a stockbroker.
  2. "Then he directed a little movie called STAR WARS." I don't get why this condescending, Sarcasm 101 phrasing hasn't yet been put out to pasture. (Variation: "And then he wrote Moby Dick. You might have heard of it.") Just write "Then he directed Star Wars" and move on.
  3. "We have a feeling she'll turn out just fine." Speaking of condescending... You'll often find this at the close of a fluff piece about an actor, musician, entrepreneur, etc. It's perfectly fine to wrap things up with an actual quote from the subject, e.g., "I'm a little nervous about taking such a career risk. I guess we'll see what happens." But then the writer has to get in the last word, so the article ends with some corny, ass-kissing pseudo-prophecy like, "At the rate she's going, she has nothing to be nervous about." Or "Career risks like this might just make her a superstar." Barf me out.
  4. "The new restaurant will drop next Thursday." A few years ago, I started seeing the word "drop" in reference to a record album's release date. I'm assuming it came from the hip-hop world, which churns out new slang by the hour. "His album drops on the 24th." It works in that context, as one can envision an album literally dropping onto turntables or record store counters. The problem is that "drop" is now being applied to everything, e.g., "The Avengers trailer drops on Friday." And yes, I have seen food bloggers talking about new restaurants "dropping."
  5. "If you stacked it all up, it would reach to the moon and back twenty times." (Alternative: "It would circle the world fifty times.") An oldie but a baddie. We get it: whatever it is, it's big. Now's the time to find a different way to express such bigness, because if I had a nickel for every time I've read that phrase...
  6. "New York is like a character in the film." The thing about characters is that they do something. Being a charming backdrop is not the same thing as being a character. A similarly clichéd phrase, which I have been guilty of using myself: "The film is a love letter to New York." Or Paris, or Sacramento, or wherever.
  7. "Hot take." It's a term so faddish that it may fall from common usage before I finish typing this paragraph. A hot take is someone's gut reaction to a piece of news, written in haste and with the writer's personal feelings overriding actual facts or perspective. The very existence of a hot take is bad enough, but the term somehow makes it even worse, especially when used self-referentially, e.g., "Here's my hot take on the film, which admittedly I haven't seen yet..."
  8. "Her YouTube video has over 2 million views." It can be useful to indicate someone's or something's popularity by citing stats such as YouTube views, box office gross, Billboard chart positions, and so on. But in a serious discussion of talent, intent, or point of view, such stats unfairly conflate artistic merit with public acceptance. Citing YouTube views is particularly unhelpful, since there are countless irrelevant videos you wouldn't dream of watching – video game play-throughs, teenage vlogs, political rants, etc. – that have nevertheless racked up loads of views.
  9. "Because we could all use some good news right now..." The antics of our current president have sent millions into despair (although I sense that, in 2018, mortal dread has been supplanted by schadenfreude). We have thus been so inundated with bad news that good news is like a unicorn sighting. But an uplifting story needs no introduction. Why put a damper on those good vibes by reminding us that things otherwise suck?