Jun 2, 2009

Rule Of Thumb: The Toilet Rule

Jun 2, 2009
Now I know I'm not the only one bothered by this.

If you imply that something will be a continuing problem unless dealt with, you cannot proceed to ignore it and move on.

The most common example of this rule being broken (which you will see all over the place) is when a character expresses that he/she really badly needs the bathroom, usually done as a cheap joke. The story then moves on and you spend the rest of the movie/episode empathetically feeling their pain with no resolution.

In City Of Ember when Lina and Doon discover the boat deploying mechanism designed to escape Ember, they activate it only to discover that the water levels aren't high enough and the first boat is obliterated. They then fail to shut off the mechanism and move on as if the problem will resolve itself. As a result the viewer can't focus anymore because they are under the impression that every passing second another boat is being needlessly destroyed.

See, in normal circumstances this sort of tension would be used to ramp up the stakes in any given sequence or at the very least get a laugh. But all too often writers neglect that if your viewer is along for the ride, you can't have your side mirrors fall off and not acknowledge it.

Did that metaphor make any sense? Eh, you know what I meant.

22 comments:

  1. Sense? I'll give you sense!

    *Hands guru some cents*

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  2. Who is this "guru" you speak of? :P

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  3. Damnit. When did you change your name to Luke?!

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  4. The instant we started this blog.

    Or, technically, I've always been Luke.

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  5. Liar!!! Show me your birth certificate!

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  6. I understand your metaphor, but you should have chosen something more urgent and drastic than side mirrors, cause i've been on the bus plenty of times where the bus driver has taken out some poor fellows side veiw mirror whilst driving past and the bus driver has gone on pretending it never happened.

    Any of these might have worked in place of having your side mirrors fall off; getting shot in the neck, attacked by velociraptors, crapping your pants whilst on a date, or drinking a mug of 5 cent coins.

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  7. Zack, you are some sort of golden god. I love you, man.

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  8. ive been trying to remember a film and there are plenty that hav done this and i just cant recall,
    i dont know if this has to do with anything but in wolverine when his lover( i dont know her name) shows up at the end in the lab and she was never really dead i felt like he didnt grieve enough, because it was pretty traumatic that she died, more traumatic she pretended to die and shows up later, and the movie moves on quickly after this.
    i kept thinking he would be more messed up than he was. "that wouldn't happen in real life"(something i say often during movies sometimes)

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  9. Heh, I love how it took that moment for you to realize that it couldn't happen in real life. It's about a man whose power is to instantly heal any wound, but also grow bone claws for some reason. :P

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  10. Logan dosn't exactly strike me as the greiving type. A better example from that movie would be the relationship between colonel Striker and Deadpool, where the movie reveals at a random point towards the end that Deadpool just so happens to be Striker's son and killed Striker's wife, and then just ignores it, no flashback scene of Deadpool killing his mum, no emotion from Striker about how much he hates his son, no nothing.

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  11. Deadpool was Striker's son? I thought the frozen guy was? Or did he have two sons?

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  12. Deadpool was the frozen guy, the movie kinda warped the original fiction beyond recognition. Basicly, in the movie, Deadpool is Striker's son, and Striker uses all of the mutent powers he's colected and implants them into Deadpool, to create weapon 11.

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  13. Wait wait wait...

    The frozen guy was the wheelchair kid from X2 that messed with Professor X. Did you see his eyes? One brown, one blue. It was a nod and a wink to the fact that you know he comes back into it.

    I don't recall there being any reference to Deadpool being Striker's son, who we know is another character entirely.

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  14. Well now I'm utterly confused. Guess I'll have to go back and watch it again some time.

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  15. No! Spare yourself the pain!!

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  16. I dunno, since I've seen both the cinema version and the illegally leaked preview, it's fun to giggle at all the seens where they hadn't done all the special effects. Besides, I can tolerate almost any movie that has frequent violence in it, except for Windtalkers, god that was a shit movie.

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  17. Suddenly I think we need to see Windtalkers. We've got a thing for bad movies.

    Also, I saw an excellent example of the Toilet Rule today watching Voyager:

    Voyager was being sucked into a Blackhole, and Captain Janeway ordered Kim to set the engines to 120% - even though every second risked the warp core exploding!

    After they escaped the blackhole they moved on without ordering the engines back to normal power!

    It annoyed everyone in the room.

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  18. Trust me Helmutt, you do not want to see windtalkers!

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  19. I think we do! The more horrifically bad the film the better!

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  20. Maybe three episodes later the warp core will explode. They will all be like: "Oh yeah!" and then they'll break down laughing. And then they'll explode. And then Voyager's side-mirrors will fall off.

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  21. Watching DnD 2, found another excellent example.

    Woman, a swordmaster, throws her ONLY SWORD at this other guy as a joke. It disappears into this really long grass. She has pretty much lost it.

    It seemed such an obvious failure on her behalf, we were waiting for her to go after it. Or at the very least for someone to hang a lantern on it.

    Needless to say, we didn't hear anything anyone said for the rest of that scene.

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  22. You'll have to excuse me for continuing to add here, but I love examples - the more the better in my opinion.

    In The Prince of Egypt, which is one of my favourite films, Moses chases a lost sheep deep into the mountains. It is here he has that spectacular encounter with the burning bush. Afterwards, when he leaves the mountain, they add the detail of him bringing the sheep.

    Technically an unnecessary detail, but I found myself unconsciously ticking it off my list of things to worry about.

    If that detail wasn't there, then some people (definitely not all) would have been irritated by it.

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