Three levels of suspended disbelief


The illustration above shows a fairly sophisticated artistic deconstruction of juvenile adventure fiction. The character is not being sarcastic; the actor is not being sarcastic; the only sarcasm allowed is shared between the writers and the audience.

I have seen too much juvenile fiction. It grates on my nerves. I have trouble watching a juvenile show all the way through without screaming profanity-laced criticisms at the screen.

The screencap above is from a show (Ore Twintail ni Narimasu) that ably deconstructs juvenile adventures by supplying the criticism that the typical adventure show avoids like the plague.

In a typical adventure show, a teenaged boy might be approached by a gorgeous 25-year-old woman with an offer to accept superpowers and save the world. The woman is sexy to titillate the audience; a real boy would note and comment on her sexiness (but perhaps not to her face). But to please the censors, juvenile adventure heroes are stalwart and celibate and entirely oblivious to the charms of the sexy mentor.

There are at least three ways for the show-makers to deconstruct the aesthetics of a show like that. (Outsiders, such as the Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys, can also deconstruct, but that’s not covered in this post.)

1 – Make a serious show that doesn’t suspend disbelief. The young hero character is not supposed to notice the sexiness of the mentor. A bad director might allow the actor to underact – i.e. – allow the camera to catch the actor ogling the actress.

2 – Make a serious show in which disbelief is the rule, but the actors can break the fourth wall. In such a case, the actor might play a typical hero, until he gets a chance for double-entendre, at which point he will smirk at the camera and use unmistakeable sarcasm to show the audience that he, the actor, realizes how censored the script is.

3 – Make a farcical show in which the writers are in an adult time slot, so they don’t get censored, and they can intentionally deconstruct the censorship that happens in kids’ time slots. This is the route of Ore Twintail Ni Narimasu. The voice actors deserve great praise for delivering the farcical characters with serious quality and attention to detail. The writers throw the pitches right over the plate and the actors knock ’em out of the park. They don’t break the fourth wall: they are very serious about keeping disbelief suspended, so the jokes are much funnier when they hit.

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