|[Evanescence plays unironically in background]|
You tap your chin with your magical quill and set it to the paper. To your surprise it begins writing, all on its own! Before your very eyes it spells out these words:
Sometimes I find that ideas for articles drop into my lap. Last week I happened to seea post on Tumblr that facilitated that sort of topic drop: a post about “coma” theories. Wait, wait, that’s the wrong link, hold on, ah here we go, a post about “coma” theories.
If you’re not familiar with that trope of fan analysis the concept is fairly simple to explain:
Take a show, movie, story, whatever. Preferably something fantastical and beloved. Ok?
The story is all some character’s dream while the character is in a coma.
Or the characters are all dead, or they’re all just imaginary friends, or the character is having a psychotic break due to some trauma or other, or… whatever. That mode of explanation for the fantastic elements of a story. All the kids in Ed Edd and Eddy are dead, Ash has been in a coma since episode 1, Steven Universe’s mom died and he’s imagining all the adventures and Connie is his therapist… whatever.
This kind of theory tends to be really... well... bad. When used in canon, it tends to come off as a bit of a bait and switch--you become invested in a narrative that has no meaning, where events have no impact. You get sucked into a story only to have it turn out to be utterly pointless.
This badness carries over to the use of the trope in analysis. Tonight, I want to get into why it’s bad, but also why it’s both kind of lazy and also, sadly, inevitably ubiquitous, but first I want to talk a little bit about the post that prompted my own article.
Hurriedly you cast the quill away from yourself and crumple up the paper. What is this strange writing that haunts you in your definitely real paradise? It has given you an idea, though, for what your amazing, groundbreaking fandom post should be like…