This article contains mild spoilers about jokes in Force Awakens, but considering this is the internet you should assume everything has a spoiler for Force Awakens these days.
Okay, so not exactly a gaming only topic for this article, but the issue I’ll be writing about applies to pretty much every medium, the overuse of jokes in serious material. If you’ve seen anything written by Joss Whedon you will be familiar with this type of humour and will either love it (and probably hate this article) or find it extremely irritating (and maybe send me your bank details over twitter).
If sarcasm is the lowest form of wit (it totally isn’t) poorly written jokes in serious mediums are what happens to wit when it gets roofied in a bar only to wake up hours later missing organs and covered in stab wounds from a sharpened toothbrushes. The latest hype train doing the rounds on the internet, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is full of these kinds of jokes and recycled humour, especially placed so that some nostalgia centre in the brain tells you what you’re seeing is funny because you remember it. With that said, TFA it’s probably the best place to start when launching this joke filled rant about jokes.
In no way am I knocking Force Awakens, I loved practically all of it, and I say practically because as you may have guessed, some things didn’t sit quite right with me. As much as I love Star Wars, I don’t need to be constantly slapped with reminders to older films when I am sitting right there in the cinema watching the new film with my eyes.
This is especially noticeable when these nostalgia morsels are played up just for laughs, “oh Han said that thing about parsecs from the first (fourth?) film, better laugh at it.” Yeah I get it, it’s funny, he said something you knew, but it’s just lazy writing. Give us something new to enjoy, don’t ride the source material into the ground with references. In many ways what JJ Abrams has done with the new trilogy, at least from what we’ve seen in seven, is similar to what George Lucas did in the prequels.
The similarities with both directors shoehorning in every iota of Star Wars they could into their movie is unmissable, albeit one did it far better than the other. George’s use of baby Boba Fett and juvenile Vader were masterfully done. Oh wait, shit, sorry wrong way round, they were hate crimes, what JJ did with SPOILER REDACTED was great, but he also overused nostalgia jokes. So where am I going with this? It’s more of a warning shot for over using something which is going to go off faster than Admiral Ackbar on Tatooine.
Much the same as adding a dash of salt to your meal, less is more with referential jokes, they’re going to date and they’re going to date hard. Since The Avengers flopped its way onto the silver screen and brought with it some “witty” banter between heroes, it’s become a trend to try and replicate that. And when you start to get a feeling every single joke in every film is being vomited out by the same guy, you’re going to get pretty sick of it.
I cant be the only one who wanted to purge my ears and eyes after seeing the latest Dawn of Justice trailer (the one that reveals Doomsday). Up until this trailer everything about the film had been serious, then in one bullshit exchange we see that Batman and Superman will be cracking witty gags together in the face of danger. NO. Please stop! Not everything has to be The Avengers.
I’m sure it isn’t just me that is getting tired of this type of humour, nobody can make a serious joke anymore without trying to be all ironic about it. When putting this in a film context it’s like the writers are too aware of themselves and the stories they’re writing to make an original joke, so instead they play it safe by trying to be witty with what they have available, which is something that’s been done before. Just back yourself and stop playing on banter and nostalgia, it’s the cheapest form of entertainment.
Now let’s bring games into it, because why the fuck not, this is a gaming news site. Actually screw it, that’s not the reason. I’m co-owner I could write about otters all day without mentioning games once, in fact one day I might. Did you know that sea otters can live their entire lives without leaving water?
Anyway games. Okay, Hideo Kojima. Remember him? He’s that loutish former Konami employee who had the balls to think he could go against the company in an effort to claim an award for a game he worked hard on. I feel like it’s becoming a hobby of mine to rag on Metal Gear Solid games, and in part that is because I like drinking the tears of fellow Editor Tom, who adores the games. Anyway, back to ragging on MGS. Man those games have terrible stories. I mean, atrocious. They have some of the best gameplay out there, but the stories… yuck.
I refuse to take MGS seriously because Hideo Kojima doesn’t take it seriously. In MGSV you could distract soldiers with porn while you scuttle around in a cardboard box covered in porn, while your pornagraphic sniper suppresses the shame of being objectified long enough to shoot some bad guys. These kinds of features, which I guess are supposed to be funny (correct me if I’m wrong) straight up reek of Hideo Kojima looking in a mirror smirking. They’re self referential in the sense that they are referencing the insanity of one man. Don’t agree? Please watch:
Yeah, that’s Hideo himself in the game. Look, I don’t know if this is actually a joke or is just what Hideo Kojima thinks gamers want, but holy shit, what the actual fuck. You expect me to play along with a game that has you in it, where the protagonist puts glasses on you, and then… that’s actually it. Why is that it? What happens next? How can this be part of a story?
The whole over dramatisation and overall silliness of MGS makes it one big cheesy joke in my eyes, but one that people for whatever reason take seriously. I refuse to believe that the Phantom Pain isn’t a complete parody of bullshit stories and awful action movies. Take the twist at the end for example, how is that not the biggest slap in the eyelids for everyone who played it? It felt as though the punchline of the game was that you played it.
To sum up this late night rant, (it’s 2:51 Christmas morning as I write this and far too hot in my room to sleep) can we please just leave shitty jokes in 2015 and be real in 2016. Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals.