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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Ballistic Armor Cliché "Trope"

   
Author Topic: Ballistic Armor Cliché "Trope"
extrinsic
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Noted for a while now that, whenever motion picture shootouts entail ballistic armor, the shot victim invariably opens the vest and looks at and touches the bullets embedded in the vest. An overt "show" addressed direct to an audience: see, the victim will live because of the armor, in case you couldn't understand that and were naive. This is a type of artless melodrama, necessary only to the plot moment and otherwise meaningless. The first few times such a scene appeared some decades ago, soon after ballistic armor debuted, maybe it was significant and necessary to show. Anymore though, it is trite and cliché, outworn and a derivative dilution.

"Bullet[-]Proof Vest" at TV Tropes

What other method(s) might more artfully serve a similar scenario situation? And, too, more related to prose than motion pictures? Appears to me that prose has far more latitude than TV, et al, for artful methods to show ballistic armor's dramatic significances.

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Jack Albany
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Ballistic armour is hardly bulletproof. Given the right type of round, various A.P. rounds for instance, you're still toast. How do you show the transference of kinetic energy from projectile to body? (broken bones, bruising etc..) Heat too? Interesting quandary.
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Robert Nowall
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Of course there's the basic "How didn't he know he wouldn't get shot in the head?" problem, too.
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extrinsic
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Ballistic armor's technological shortfalls are manifold, valid, society-wide misapprehensions, and notwithstood. TV Tropes, too, focuses on identification of recurrent, overt motifs, less, if at all, about aesthetics. The site itself and its contents are cliché. The misuse of the word "trope" is also cliché. Only the least part of the figure of speech's function presents, that is, recurrent. No discussion of a trope's aesthetic functions; no discussion of adjustments for greater, stronger, clearer appeal; no discussions of whether a "TV trope" is or is not actually a trope.

Yet the site has the useful function for writers of cliché recognition and documentation. Look it up; is a scene's function and drama otherwise cliché? Perhaps. How then to reinvigorate a tired yet cliché though necessary and natural dramatic action is left to writers' imaginations and craft skills.

The "bullet-proof vest" motif is common anymore, and a few depictions of it transcend its cliché status. Three occur to mind. One, the vests center around a Russian roulette-like betting pool; two, donning, or removing, a vest is part and parcel of another cliché, the weapon load-up or disarm cliché; three, a vest some way affects people's lives more so than the mechanical lifesaving function of it, and its lifeways effects more emphasized than what it is, does, mechanically functions, or how it looks.

The latter, that's Edges of Ideas territory, per Clarion workshops' David Smith "
Being a Glossary of Terms Useful in Critiquing Science Fiction
." "Edges of Ideas. The places where technology and background should come onstage: not the mechanics of a new event, gizmo, or political structure, but rather how people’s lives are affected by their new background. Example of excellence: the opening chapters of Orwell’s 1984. (Lewis Shiner)"

All well and good, though not what best practice to do about a cliché. Recognize it first off, of course. Note that its edges of ideas' context and texture be essential to the instant action and the extended action and be related to a relevant theme, so that it's not a once-and-done Chekhov's gun motif, and realize the gizmo, etc., is less, if at all, relevant than its affect on people's lives. Still, that's mere boilerplate template, not what a given scene requires in order for any part of it to transcend a cliché status.

The vest example, for instance, what's its instant and extended relevance and effect on any persona's life? Survive a gunshot is a concern for its wearer and aligned personas' lives. Well, duh. And ho-hum, seen it too much. Would a thought discourse serve, about, wow! it worked? He lived. The impact immediately hurt more than if the slug had hit the torso bare. The vest absorbed and spread some of the force, though nevertheless impacted hard and excited a large neural region that refuses to be ignored.

There is an example that uses irony's congruent contradiction function to note how the vest affected a life in a surprised way. Nor need that scenario be thought, a problem for film that's not per se an issue for prose. Speech between the gunshot victim and a helper, or foil, could discuss that irony -- though never declare it is irony. Like calling undue attention to a pun spoils the pun, or explaining a joke, or a satire, sarcasm, parody, lampoon, etc., too.

Yet missed from that scenario is instant and overall, at least extended, thematic relevance. The vest and gunshot are to, what, a locomotive and a railroad track? No. The congruent contradiction is the meaning space for relevance. Isn't it ironic that a gizmo made to save lives causes more intense immediate pain then if no vest were worn? Life is like that: short-term negative compromises for longer-term positive outcomes. Every word before that realization, perhaps more focused narrow, though, is preparation and suspension. The full realization of the moment or extended, delayed until later completeness, is the satisfaction and appeal of such a scenario.

Nor need verbal discourse be the action of the moment. There's opportunity for physical action to express as much irony as speech and thought do. Only that the vest as an edges of ideas object be an influence that underpins the real and true effects upon private and public lives, of the vest, the gunshot, and the immediate instant and aftermath.

[ October 31, 2017, 01:50 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Jack Albany
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My first reaction was to wonder how I would negate an occupation force wearing ballistic amour, even make its use undesirable by the troops it's meant to 'protect'.

I came up with a scenario for urban insurgency that I'll not detail here, but one which attacks an occupying force's force logistics, medical material and logistics, and troop morale: Who wants to go out and get their googlies literally all shot to hell?

All it requires is an understanding of anatomy and access to .45/9mm semi-automatic pistols.

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