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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Fiery Diamond's Avatar

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    confused What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    As the title says.

    (Willing) suspension of disbelief is an odd thing. When we read, watch, or otherwise observe fictional stories, and especially fantasy stories, suspension of disbelief is a necessary (and desirable) thing. However, we don't want to have to constantly force ourselves - we want to be able to adopt a mindset and enjoy. This is one reason why we tend to gravitate toward certain types of stories; these are ones that contain things it is easy for us to suspend disbelief for. It is also why changing up the genre (or certain other expectations) in the middle of a story is so jarring: we adopt a certain way of looking at the story where certain "unrealistic" (for whatever value of that word we're using) things are accepted but others are not. If you're reading a gritty WWII historical fiction and suddenly aliens or mages appear, it doesn't matter how much you like alien sci-fi or sword&sorcery fantasy, it will break immersion.

    But even if a story doesn't switch up the assumptions in the middle, there are some things we just can't bring ourselves to suspend disbelief for. Each one of us is different, and different things are "just too much" for different people. Examining what things are easy for us to suspend disbelief about and what things are hard or near-impossible can be an interesting (and sometimes enlightening) exercise. Sometimes a person has trouble with one thing but not another even when the two aren't all that different in how far removed from reality they are.

    So, what breaks you suspension of disbelief? And do you have any interesting pairs of "I don't have trouble with THIS, but I do have trouble with the related THAT"?

    I'll start with a small example:

    I don't have any trouble with virtual realities (such as a virtual MMORPG where people put on headsets that relay information to the brain directly) that are essentially "real" enough to be seen as separate worlds.

    But I do have difficulty with AI characters who are indistinguishable from humans in their apparent cognitive and emotional capacities. It provides mental conflict with my ability to view characters as people.
    I'm currently writing a story, titled "Zenith: Another World Saga."

    It's a fantasy/adventure story. Here's the summary:

    When I opened my eyes, I was in a fantasy world. I quickly discovered that it functioned off of game-like rules (levels, EXP, skills, and so on). Taking the name Zenith, I decided to make the best of my new world and live as an adventurer aiming for the top together with my new best friend Rozenskye. And I might be functionally immortal? An Isekai-style story.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    A story where the real world and a fictional world both exist, but the fictional world can be found in the "real" world's media. Breaks my suspension of disbelief almost every time. I wasn't bothered by Heinlein's The Number of the Beast, but most of the time it is explained much more poorly.

    Fortunately this isn't too common anyway.
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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    Deus ex Machinas are something that always break my suspension of disbelief. The idea of some random omnipotent being just happening to intervene on the hero’s behalf always strikes me as being so contrived.

    Another thing that can break my suspension of disbelief is the concept of “destiny” that overrides free will. I don’t mind things like self-fulfilling prophecies or vague predictions of the future. However once you get to the point where people are honestly expected to perform certain acts in a certain way for no other reason than “its destiny” it just gets ridiculous.

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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    As soon people start acting on the will of the plot, when what they do seems less their choice and more the writers. It doesn't show up so often as you'd expect, but it's still present.
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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    Lack of internal consistency is the biggest one for me.

    "Chosen one" scenarios where only one character is capable of doing whatever needs to be done and everyone else is largely irrelevent (it's fine that the main character is the only one who does do something, but it bothers me when he/she is the only one who can do that thing).

    Stories with a large number of characters and nothing bad ever happens to any of them. Have a small pool of characters who make it through unharmed? Fine. Have a large pool of characters but several die or suffer some other consequences of the story? Fine. Have a huge cast but no one ever dies or suffers permanant harm or gets a paper cut? I'll pass.

    In video games specifically, "gamey" elements. Things in the game that actively remind you that you are playing a game. Achievements are an example of this. Really hate those. Pointless little virtual tokens that only exist as a method of artificially lengthening a game.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    Things that break their own rules. I am willing to accept pretty much anything in the course of a film or book, but as soon as the already established rules get broken, especially when they dont bother to justify it, I am bumped right out of my cozy enjoyment.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheSummoner View Post
    Stories with a large number of characters and nothing bad ever happens to any of them. Have a small pool of characters who make it through unharmed? Fine. Have a large pool of characters but several die or suffer some other consequences of the story? Fine. Have a huge cast but no one ever dies or suffers permanant harm or gets a paper cut? I'll pass.
    This is a big one for me...Jim Butcher's fantasy series (Codex Alera? I forget the name) didn't get past book one for me because of this issue...several mooks died, as I recall, but despite the big bad battle, I don't think any named characters went down...on either side. Felt forced to me.

    Modern-isms in fantasy/historical fiction (or even future fiction), particularly in movies...you know, people spouting lines that are current colloquialisms ("Chill, dude!" in anything pre-1980 is a gratuitious example) is another.

    Finally, what I call "The Mallack" (from Conan the Destroyer) - the forced comic relief that the hero would never tolerate because all the clown succeeds in doing is making things harder on the hero.

    I'm sure I'll think of more...but those ring true for me.

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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordar View Post
    This is a big one for me...Jim Butcher's fantasy series (Codex Alera? I forget the name) didn't get past book one for me because of this issue...several mooks died, as I recall, but despite the big bad battle, I don't think any named characters went down...on either side. Felt forced to me.
    At least 4 named people died in the book, but they were people that cease to be relevant after that book.
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    Just one of those guys vs girls things. Guys like giant, fighting robots that shoot lazerz out their eyes while girls like pretty jewelry that sparkle in the moonlight after having a romantic interlude with a charming gentleman.

    Completely sexist, yes! Completely true, pretty much...
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    The biggest has to be characters breaking internal consistency. This one throws me out of it. As do events in the story just happening because "plot says so" without either previous events or character moments giving us a reason.


    After this though something that always ruins my SoD is when the universe just craps on a character relentlessly. To the degree that they can never catch a break and it all goes wrong. And my SoD is permanently scarred when all the people in the story just accept this and don't move on.

    I mean in Supernatural the universe treats the Winchesters like dirt when they are lucky. And worse most of the time. But they reflect on this a lot, react to it, are influenced by this constantly. And they still get wins, good moments and victories. Not too many but some. They get to smile sometimes (less so since the apocalypse started but still). So it is acceptable. But if the story has this happen with no actual light at the end of the tunnel my SoD is broken. Even if it does happen to people in real life it seems wrong in stories.
    If I cared about this, I would probably do something about it.

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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    An on-line collegue of mine was writing a story. It wasn't a bad story (he was still on the very early drafts), but at one point one of the characters - a vampire - was trying to drag a body. While in bat form.

    Not only was this a somewhat unfeasible situation in the first place, I immediately visualised it as a scene from some 1980's Hanna Barbara cartoon. After that I could no longer take the story seriously.
    Warning: This posting may contain wit, wisdom, pathos, irony, satire, sarcasm and puns. And traces of nut.

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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    My major break is lack of internal consistency, as others have said.

    The other one I have is more dependent on the tone and nature of the story, where if something purports to be realistic, subsequently breaking the laws of physics because reality and facts got in the way of a good story.

    Shonen anime in particular is bad for both - they strive for realism in order to add dramatic appeal, then they hit everybody with the idiot ball or gloss over physical impossibilities, because they've either written themselves into a corner or they didn't do the research.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    Failing internal consistency is a big one for me. I can tolerate a Deux Ex if the story mocks itself over it (the helicopter crash scene in the Adam West Batman is a good example) but failing to abide by your own established rules is a big no-no in Emerged country. The worst example of this I can think of off-hand comes from the Star Wars trilogy: Luke can't go fight Vader because he'll turn to the Dark Side, but then he has to face Vader to become a Jedi. Um, what? The only valid explanation for that involves Jedi Masters being habitual liars and, with thirty years of hindsight, maybe that's the only explanation needed

    Similarly, I can tolerate small failures of basic physics/science as long as the plot doesn't hinge on it. But show me a helicopter pilot trying to escape from a giant, non-flying monster that doesn't try to gain altitude? Yeah, that'll blow it for me. Same with the "I'm trying to escape a tall, thin object that is falling by running away in the direction the object is falling instead of moving laterally" thing.

    Another one that will blow it for me is showing a non-superhuman person, on foot, outrunning an explosion. No. Just... no.

    Final one? Any time a scene is too obviously set up for fanservice. I was halfway enjoying the Elektra movie despite itself, for example, up to the lesbo kiss complete with bullet-time.
    Last edited by TheEmerged; 2012-06-22 at 08:09 AM.
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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    internal consistency is an obvious one.

    the other big one is people not being, well, people. that's why i always hate the corporate head with the swat team. people really don't put themselves in those situations without conviction.
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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    One really bad one for me is when it turns out pretty much every single plot-relevant person is either related to another plot-relevant character or a childhood friend of one, or had some kind of life-defining encounter with one when they were a kid as a means to inject additional drama and cheap motivations.
    Truth resists simplicity.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    Idiot balls.

    Comes in lots of different flavors, and it's difficult for me to think of specific examples so here goes:

    The first Transformers movie (Yeah, I know it had lots of problems but focus on this one for a moment). The characters get to the secret Area 51-esque compound. They find the MacGuffin. They learn that the Decepticons will stop at nothing to get said MacGuffin. Said soldier (who up until now has at least been more tolerable than everyone else) suggests they leave the [/i]heavily fortified desert compound[/i] to go to a densely populated metropolis to fight heavily armed giant killer robots with lots of explosions. Way to serve and protect, bro.

    Jeeves and Wooster. I know, outdated example, but this particular scenario is common enough. Subject A is a socially awkward dense klutz of a man. Subject B is the woman of everyone's dreams: intelligent, beautiful, kind, everything. Subject A manages to win the affections of Subject B. Subject A makes a hilarious social faux-pas (leaning in too close to another woman because he's helping her get something out of her eye, needing a maid to reach a top shelf or the top of a window drape to close it so he's lifting her up from behind), Subject B walks in, sees Subject A in compromised position, and instead of bothering to ask what's going on for the completely innocent explanation, assumes adultery and runs out of the room crying ready to call the whole thing off. Conflict started, later resolved, everything's cleared up, then the exact same thing happens 2 episodes later, despite Subject A being clearly crazy about Subject B and having no history of fooling around whatsoever.

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    Goblin

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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    * When characters are acting unreasonable, just because plot says so.

    * Any refferences to world mechanics into the story. Order of the Sticks manages to somehow work around it, through not always, while in Goblins it really breaks me out of the story every time.
    ** On the same note: Estabilishing rules of the world in-story and then breaking them when it's convinient.

    * Stripterific female outfits, armors, costumes or just anything they wear that looks stupid - high heels in battle, unnecessary cleavage. (D&D, superhero comics)
    ** On the same note, ridiculous male costumes - underwear on pats, Space Marine shoulderpads, are equally stupid. (Superheroes, both Warhammers)

    * When whatever supernatural abilities people have doesn't cange every day life in the slightest. (DCU)
    ** And when they are used to solve every problem in five minutes (Tippyverse)

    * When I'm supposed to accept that characters with power are so far above normal people that normals become completely irrevelant in any conflict, even other heroes who doesn't have the power (D&D fans approach to the casters)
    ** When I'm supposed to accept that one normal human is better than anyone with powers and can beat every single powered being given prep time, yet at the same time he is more realistic. (Batman)
    ** Just generally when story promises me one thing to enjoy and then turns out it's a lie and tries to force me to enjoy something different (DC promises superheroes, forces Batman, D&D promises all kinds of fantasy heroes, forces casters)

    * When the numbers doesn't make sense and writer clearly has no idea about the scale of things he/she is talking about (Kaaren Traviss and Mandalorians starting war on galactic scale with less people USRR had in WWII, Geoff Johns and all life in the Universe starting on Earth that shouldn't even exist when it happened).

    * Trying to justify characters' amoral actions with made up excuses that only make them look stupid in comparision (Prime Directive)
    ** Trying to justify character's action while at the same time giving somebody else hard time for doing the same thing (Enterprise did this once)

    * When I'm supposed to care about unlikeable jerks because they are doing cool things.

    * All races being of one and the same nature (D&D "Always Chaotic Evil" BS)

    * Elves being always better.
    ** Or just Elves in general, they piss me off.
    Last edited by Man on Fire; 2012-06-22 at 09:48 AM.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    What kind of an error is it when someone uses a word that sounds like the one you want but it isnt? An example, "I like to do that two." It doesnt happen a lot, but I have seen that pop up in one or two books, and its the sort of thing that just shatters my immersion as my brain does a hiccup and tries to make sense out of what I just read. If I was saying the sentence out loud, there would be no mistake noticed, because two and too sound the same, but written down you go, "wait, what?" and it takes a bit to get past it.

    Another one that effects me oddly is the unusual word choice. Especially when its clearly used to show off your vocabulary. Best two examples I can think of, in a mercedes lackey book, she used the word, verisimilitude. Has anyone here, EVER used that word in a sentence? Hell, it still takes me two tries just to pronounce it correctly even years after learning it. Another one, this time in a young adult novel, an old woman refers to the main character as a disreputable tatterdemalion. Now, sure in this day and age I have the internet and I can look that up easy, but back when I read the story, dial up was still awesomely cutting edge, and not everyone had it yet, including me. It took me DAYS to track down the definition of that word, and I couldnt stop obsessing over it long enough to finish the book. I needed to know what she just called that boy.
    "Interdum feror cupidine partium magnarum Europae vincendarum"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerd-o-rama View Post
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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    I can go along with pretty much everything as long as the special rules and laws are applied consistently and the characters act in ways that appear reasonable given their situation and knowledge.

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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    Quote Originally Posted by Traab View Post
    What kind of an error is it when someone uses a word that sounds like the one you want but it isnt?
    That's a homophone.

    Heheh. I adore a door who knows where the nose should be on a bee.

    Quote Originally Posted by Traab View Post
    ... this time in a young adult novel, an old woman refers to the main character as a disreputable tatterdemalion.
    To be fair, I only knew what a tatterdemalion was because of that one Queen song.
    Last edited by Fragenstein; 2012-06-22 at 10:49 AM.
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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    Quote Originally Posted by Traab View Post
    Another one that effects me oddly is the unusual word choice. Especially when its clearly used to show off your vocabulary. Best two examples I can think of, in a mercedes lackey book, she used the word, verisimilitude. Has anyone here, EVER used that word in a sentence? Hell, it still takes me two tries just to pronounce it correctly even years after learning it.
    Verisimilitude is an unusual word? And it's pronounced phonetically.
    Another one, this time in a young adult novel, an old woman refers to the main character as a disreputable tatterdemalion.
    Ok, you got me there. Though at least it has the decency to mean what it sounds like to some extent.

    Also, dialogue is special case. For a character to use an unusual word in speech would certainly break verisimilitude, but, depending on the writer's style, it might be acceptable in narrative.
    Now, sure in this day and age I have the internet and I can look that up easy, but back when I read the story, dial up was still awesomely cutting edge, and not everyone had it yet, including me. It took me DAYS to track down the definition of that word, and I couldnt stop obsessing over it long enough to finish the book. I needed to know what she just called that boy.
    You don't have a dictionary?

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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    I thought lack of internal consistency was so obvious that it wouldn't make sense to mention it.

    Here's something interesting: there are times where something doesn't usually bother me when I'm by myself, but as soon as I share a story with someone else (especially a movie or TV show) I start seeing things that immediately pull me out of immersion. Because I want the person to like it, and now it looks ridiculous. This keeps happening with Batman TAS. I tried showing my sister the episode Beware the Gray Ghost, which I loved. Then,
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    SHOOT DA BOMBS! That makes sense! Now remote control cars are going faster than the Batmobile!


    Quote Originally Posted by Traab View Post
    What kind of an error is it when someone uses a word that sounds like the one you want but it isnt? An example, "I like to do that two." It doesnt happen a lot, but I have seen that pop up in one or two books, and its the sort of thing that just shatters my immersion as my brain does a hiccup and tries to make sense out of what I just read. If I was saying the sentence out loud, there would be no mistake noticed, because two and too sound the same, but written down you go, "wait, what?" and it takes a bit to get past it.
    Ugh, how about "defiantly" when "definitely" was intended?
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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    Harry Potter in general and how neither the protagonists nor villains can seem to defeat the other when victory could so obviously be claimed for one side.

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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    What about improperly used accents? For example, a character from ancient Greece is written into the script. How do we know he's from ancient Greece?

    Because he speaks with a Bitish accent, that's how.

    Or when Thor talks as if he's been reading the King James edition of the Bible.


    Thor: "Thou preperest to feeleth mine wrath!"

    Ultron: "Hey. I'm pretty sure that pre-Christian Nordies never said 'thou'. What the hell?"
    Quote Originally Posted by Scowling Dragon View Post
    How did you have that image on standby......

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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    Quote Originally Posted by Traab View Post
    What kind of an error is it when someone uses a word that sounds like the one you want but it isnt? An example, "I like to do that two." It doesnt happen a lot, but I have seen that pop up in one or two books, and its the sort of thing that just shatters my immersion as my brain does a hiccup and tries to make sense out of what I just read. If I was saying the sentence out loud, there would be no mistake noticed, because two and too sound the same, but written down you go, "wait, what?" and it takes a bit to get past it.

    Another one that effects me oddly is the unusual word choice. Especially when its clearly used to show off your vocabulary. Best two examples I can think of, in a mercedes lackey book, she used the word, verisimilitude. Has anyone here, EVER used that word in a sentence? Hell, it still takes me two tries just to pronounce it correctly even years after learning it. Another one, this time in a young adult novel, an old woman refers to the main character as a disreputable tatterdemalion. Now, sure in this day and age I have the internet and I can look that up easy, but back when I read the story, dial up was still awesomely cutting edge, and not everyone had it yet, including me. It took me DAYS to track down the definition of that word, and I couldnt stop obsessing over it long enough to finish the book. I needed to know what she just called that boy.
    Gods, yes! For me, it's when they use 'then' when they mean 'than'. That drives me up the wall!!
    “Wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair and all the terrible things that happen to us, come because we actually deserve them? So now I take comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the Universe”- Marcus Cole

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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    Yeah. idiot balls are my biggest problem.

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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    When a character does not have anything akin to a normal person's reaction to something just because they need to get involved quickly.

    I actually just posted this in a movie thread:

    I gave Inception an honest shot, but when it came to meeting Ellen Page's character i just about burst a blood vessel. "You kidnapped me, drugged me and are now jamming hallucinations directly into my brain, making me question reality and my own sanity. Yeah, I'm Ok with that."

    My epithets were loud and ear-shatteringly vulgar. I stopped the film and took it back to the library.
    Last edited by Gorgon_Heap; 2012-06-22 at 12:45 PM.

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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    What character is that? I only remember two women in the whole movie.

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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    Quote Originally Posted by JCarter426 View Post
    Verisimilitude is an unusual word? And it's pronounced phonetically.

    Ok, you got me there. Though at least it has the decency to mean what it sounds like to some extent.

    Also, dialogue is special case. For a character to use an unusual word in speech would certainly break verisimilitude, but, depending on the writer's style, it might be acceptable in narrative.

    You don't have a dictionary?
    I do now, I didnt back then. Also, keep in mind this was something like 15-20 years ago, I was like... 10 years old. And yes, verisimilitude IS an unusual word. I have never once heard it used in any casual conversation. I have only read it in that one book that one time, and only ever used it myself in scenarios like this one. It might have been jammed into that V for Vendetta speech in the movie, but if it was, I missed it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerd-o-rama View Post
    Traab is yelling everything that I'm thinking already.
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  29. - Top - End - #29
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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    @Movies
    I give movies a looooot of leeway on suspension of disbelief. Partly because I walk in going 'it is a movie' and partly because I posess the brain capacity to hold a detail in my head long enough for the movie to explain it or resolve it.
    If I am ever confused or lost, I always give the film the 5 minute rule. Maybe something seems odd or not consistant because we are unaware of the rest of the rules or something.
    I also utilize the 5 minute rule while watching films because I absolutely HATE people who will ask for an entire character backstory when the opening credits are still going, so I never want to be that guy myself.
    It's when the 5 minute rule turns into the 'answered in a quick sentence/handwave at the end of the film' that I get a bit iffy.
    If the detail is never addressed, I typically assume it is intended to be a myster or unanswered question. That is why it is unanswered. Usually this sort of thing is sequel bait, but I've often found that the films I enjoy most are the ones which do not answer all the questions, and encourage your imagination to extrapolate, speculate, and either answer the question in your own way, or never answer it at all.


    @Comics
    I sat through the entire Clone Saga back in the day with Spider-Man. At age 13, I was fully aware at the time that Marvel was producing a comic book with a business model that relied on subscriptions. As such I was pretty sure that unanswered questions were just going to be the name of the game for a rather long time. I learned then to be patient, pay attention for clues, but don't expect answers/resolution for a rather long time.
    Then the Clone Saga ended. My patience was rewarded, mostly.
    Otherwise, I again give comics a rather large margin for error. It's expected, it's a comic. And the writers of the past seem to have ignored scale on many an occasion. It still happens, but far less now. Either way, the precedant has been set, so I just expect it.
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    "Please consult your DM before administering Steve brand Aboleth Mucus.
    Ask your DM if Aboleth Mucus is right for you.
    Side effects include coughing, sneezing, and other flu like symptoms, cancer, breathing water like a fish, loss of dignity, loss of balance, loss of bowel and bladder control."

  30. - Top - End - #30
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    Default Re: What breaks your suspension of disbelief?

    Quote Originally Posted by Traab View Post
    I do now, I didnt back then. Also, keep in mind this was something like 15-20 years ago, I was like... 10 years old. And yes, verisimilitude IS an unusual word. I have never once heard it used in any casual conversation. I have only read it in that one book that one time, and only ever used it myself in scenarios like this one. It might have been jammed into that V for Vendetta speech in the movie, but if it was, I missed it.
    Really? It comes up a lot when discussing suspension of disbelief. Which is a nice coincidence it being the topic of this thread and all.
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