Eyes Above The Waves

Robert O'Callahan. Christian. Repatriate Kiwi. Hacker.

Sunday 18 June 2017

Lazy Religion Tropes In Mass Media

I'm enjoying season two of Orphan Black. I hope Tatiana Maslany got paid a separate salary for each role, because she deserves every penny. Unfortunately the show falls down where so many others do: every religiously-identified person is either a chump or a psychopath. Disappointing, but expected; with few exceptions, the Christians portrayed in mass media are like none I've ever known.

I've just finished China Miéville's The Last Days Of New Paris. It's a bit over-Miévillian for me: one hundred and fifty pages of rampant imagination, but too many clever linguistic obscurities for maximal reading enjoyment. It hosts a very crisp example of the "hell exists but heaven does not" trope. Miéville frames it explicitly:

Everyone knew it helped it have a priest perform certain absurdities of his trade if it was demons you had to fight. "Why?" Thibaut asked Élise when they left again. "Why do you think it does work? It's not as if any of this stuff is true."
(Miéville's Parisian demons are explicitly of Hell.) Isn't this ... unfair? Yet it's a very common trope. Likewise I remain a huge fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but it feels like a raw deal that the heroes wield crucifixes but the few ostensibly "religious" characters are villains.

I know, I know; the only way to fix this is to write my own novels and hit TV show. I'll get onto it.


I agree, an evil religious leader is the sign of very lazy writing. I made it through a season or two of Orphan Black and the religious cult just didn't make sense it terms of the over all show. The two Hollywood tropes that annoy me are 1: card board cutout evil religious leaders who have no depth to their actions 2: Female characters who, in order to show their strength, do something very foolish. Most of the pastors/priests I have meet in real life are very ethical men and women. Most of the feminists I know in real life are very smart and smart enough to avoid the stupidity that Hollywood seems to push on their characters. Sorry for the rant but this is a hot button topic for me when writers are being lazy and really have not fleshed out their plots and instead use tropes like this.