META: The Problem of Fourth Wall Breaking

Martin Phipps martinphipps2 at
Sat Aug 2 05:55:04 PDT 2008

On Aug 2, 6:51 pm, Tarq <mitchell_cro... at> wrote:
> On Aug 2, 5:34 pm, Martin Phipps <martinphip... at> wrote:
> > Again, if the villains wink at the reader and say "Ha ha ha!  I'm the
> > bad guy" then the story is lost on me.  You might as well bring in
> > talking snails at that point. :)
> I think that a villain could be quite powerfully written like that,
> really. "Your reality is 'higher' than mine, you see me as the
> villain, all you'll ever see me as is the villain, why shouldn't I go
> around killing people? It's not like it makes a difference anyway."
> Ken, the Digimon Emperor from Digimon Adventure 02, is a good example
> of this, in a way; he sees the Digital World as being 'fake', so he
> has no qualms about enslaving and torturing the Digimon.
> In everyday life, a person might squash an ant if it crawled on their
> leg. Their reasoning? It annoyed them. Something annoying a person
> seems pretty good reason to wipe out *real* life; 'dangerous' animals
> are put down, insects are sprayed and poisoned, and just because their
> location inconveniences a human. If a person wasn't real and they were
> being annoying, would you really care about whether or not you hurt
> them? No one seems to mind slinging insults at humanesque robots, or
> even hurling abuse at people on the Internet who they've never met --
> these people aren't 'real' to them. So if you were heavily
> disillusioned with the world and believed that it didn't matter
> whether or not you killed everyone, would you hold back?
> It makes sense to me that there would be some breed of person who
> wouldn't.

I think you probably argue that a person, in real life, who regarded
other people like ants and had no qualms about killing them would be a
psychopath.  We just saw a very good portrayal of just such a villain
in the movie... um... the name escapes me... it's doing very well
though... Dark something or other.

Anyway, this is a frightening kind of villain but the whole
effectiveness is lost if the villain is correct and there are, in
fact, absolutely no consequences to anything he does.  I mean either
there are consequences and the villain should reconsider his actions
or there are no consequences and therefore no drama.

> PS -- On a related note, are talking snails really that much more
> absurd than flying humans?

By about one order of magnitude, yes. :)  Anyway, it isn't ordinary
humans who fly in comics: it's either mutants or aliens or people
using alien technology.  Ordinary humans flying around would be around
the same order of magnitude of silliness as talking apes.  That's all
my opinion, of course. :)


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