Marsha Canham's Blog

January 20, 2011

Cliches you love to hate.

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 7:55 pm

The question came up on another board about cliches in books and movies that drive you crazy.

The Big Misunderstanding has to rank right up there at the top of the list…something stupid or trivial that drives a couple apart when, if they just talked to each other or asked a simple question, everything would be straightened out.  Whole books have been written around this, with the characters suffering immeasurable angst, back and forth, how can I ever trust him?  How can I believe that he loves cats when he owns a dog?  And of course at the end of the book, he gives her a dog and tickles them both behind the ears and all is well in blissville.

Which leads to… the TSTL  (too stupid to live) heroine who makes me throw a book across the room.  The perky, feisty, beautiful, most sought after girl in all of the city, country, world, who is far past the marrying age for that time period, yet no one seems to call her what she is: a spinster. And when that same perky, feisty, beautiful, most sought after heroine meets the uber sexy, over-sexed, dark eyed scoundrel/beast/hero, she gets all tongue-tied and blushing and constantly trips up or makes basic mistakes so the hero has to save her from her own stupidity.

Sort of like in the movies, when the background music starts to throb and the heroine goes into the dark, empty house even though she knows there is an axe murderer on the loose. Or when two people go to some creepy, smelly, fog-ridden old house/graveyard/whatever …and they split up to investigate a suspicious sound.  Seriously?  I’d be hanging on so tight to the other guy he’d have claw marks in his arm.  No. I wouldn’t be there in the first place.  I would call 911, which characters never do either even though they carry cell phones to check on text messages that say:  DON”T GO INTO THE HOUSE ALONE.

Some of the cutsey alternatives for simple words or actions slay me too.  Like *padding* across the room. WTF is *padding*?  Is someone implying the character walks on paws?  Or using *orbs* for eyes, or…and forgive me Virginia Henley (who is a very good buddy of mine and knows I mock this at every turn) but if I see *manroot* in a book, it goes staight into the pool.  I picture a long hairy carrot.  Bulging manhood gets a stab too, as do heaving breasts.  Who heaves a breast unless they are 44ddddd and need to be slung over a shoulder when someone bends down?  The very best…or worst, depending on your view…euphamism for a penis I ever read, serious book, was *purple-helmetted soldier of love.*  I kid you not.  I was by the pool in St Petes when I read it and all conversation around the patio ground to a halt because I was laughing so hard and so incoherently, they all stopped to stare.

Books where the hero is blundering around, nearly getting caught or shot for the first half then miraculously turn into superhero for the second half and manage to foil entire world conspiracies singlehandedly drive me nuts too.  It’s like he falls asleep stupid and wakes up brilliant.  I wish I could pop that pill.

In movies and TV, kudos to the characters who get beaten, stabbed, karate-chopped, shot, have chairs broken over their heads (can you imagine how that would hurt???) but show up the next day with a new bandage over a severed artery.

Raised eyebrows to the main character male or female who is the FBI or CIA or Navy Seal expert who keeps firing at the bad guys and never hits them the first time around, even if they have a machine gun.  Ditto the bad guys who outnumber the good guys 20-1 but can never seem to hit anything they shoot at.  Not to be neglected, the fact that all FBI agents are intrusive and stupid, usually hate the main character and are out to prove he is the real guilty one.

Ever notice that no one ever has to go to the bathroom in books or in movies. (Or in real life, as my ‘Merican friend Davey Dunn can attest…but only if you’re Canadian *G*)

And there is always a seat at the bar, a table at the five star restaurant and no traffic on a main street after 10pm at night.  Not in New York, not in L.A.  Nowhere.  And the hero always manages to find a parking spot right in front of wherever he is going.

Important characters always survive horrendous wounds/gunshots/falls from ten storey buildings long enough to make a death speech crucial to the plotline.  I would simply be screaming from the pain.

People returning home, unaware of the serial killer waiting behind their front door, always have the ubiquitous bunch of carrot greens sticking out the top of a bag to show they’ve been shopping.

And car chases…always with the prerequisite woman with the baby carriage crossing the road.  Or the vegetable cart that gets smashed to smithereens.  And how many broken overpasses can there be?  Don’t these guys see the construction equipment or the huge red road block signs as the road is going upward? Why do they think the flashing lights are there?  What do they think is at the end?

These are just a few…I’m sure there are tons more…do feel free to list yours.






  1. Thanks for the shout-out! I’m honored!

    Comment by David R. Dunn aka Davey Dunn 'Merican — January 20, 2011 @ 8:03 pm | Reply

  2. These made me laugh. Here is my BIG pet peeve. Romantic comedies/TV sitcoms where the heroine is about to walk down the aisle or is engaged and then the platonic friend, past boyfriend, childhood romance, new guy shows up and declares his love because she is no longer attainable and now he wants her. This drive me NUTS. Oh yeah I am going to throw away my fiancee just because some idiot bonehead finally decided I am worth it. I wish these writers would get a clue.
    One more that has been bother me lately on TV…everyone is sleeping with everyone else at work or wherever the show takes place. I know that these shows have to be about a main set of characters but it is get sooo boring. Do none of them have a sister, brother, other friends, hobby, life outside of their place of employment.
    One more for hell of it. I love romance novels. I just get really tired of that look…glance… or two words that the hero/herione say to each other and suddenly are ready to have an orgasm. I can understand attraction on a certain level but some people go WAY overboard and on another note most of the regency heroines are ‘supposed’ to be virgins. How would they even know how to register such a powerful lust.

    Comment by Juliet — January 20, 2011 @ 9:07 pm | Reply

  3. LMAO! I love your blog. I also learned a new word! TSTL (too stupid to live) Fab blog

    Comment by Abigail-Madison Chase — January 20, 2011 @ 9:40 pm | Reply

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