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Bad science and the grandma test

13 Oct 2016 12:36 - 13 Oct 2016 17:57 #50690 by five_red
Bad science and the grandma test was created by five_red
David Kirby: Science on the Silverscreen

TwiceOnThursdays noted that Supergirl season two has continued the tradition of making schoolboy errors with physics and science. I recently attended a lecture by David Kirby (Manchester University, UK), who has written about how science is communicated in popular culture. The above link, unfortunately, is an abridged version of the same lecturer I saw him give -- sadly I couldn't find an example of him giving the full version online.

Btw, 20m in, David briefly addresses scientific realism in fantasy worlds like superheroes.

Specifically relating to Supergirl (and other Belanti properties) , in the full lecture David talks about the value of paying attention to science, even in science fiction films and shows. He noted that when Paramount got feedback on box office flop, The Core (2003), they discovered that the audience didn't find the premise scientifically credible (the Earth's magnetic core has stopped rotating), and this tainted their view of everything that transpires in the film after the set up. It seems audiences were simply unwilling to commit to suspending their disbelief based on such a blatantly flimsy scientific premise. Compare that to Ang Lee's Hulk (2003), which has the most outlandish premise, but nevertheless worked with audiences because film makers had consulted with scientists to invent some plausible sounding (but not scientifically accurate) reasoning behind Banner's transformations.

I recall one episode of Doctor Who -- I think it was the first Matt Smith one -- where the Doctor creates a computer virus to reset all clocks to 12:00. Even antique grandfather clocks, and Big Ben. Problem is, even your grandma knows computer viruses can't affect Victorian clockwork. It's not like Steven Moffat needed a scientifically accurate explanation, he just needed an explanation that your grandma couldn't see through.

Sadly, I think too much of CW's superhero output fails the grandma test.


R5

Supergirl Pre-Crisis Chronology: www.superwomenmania.com/supergirltl/
Supergirl: the Life and Times of Kara Zor-El: maidofmight.wordpress.com/
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Last edit: 13 Oct 2016 17:57 by five_red.
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13 Oct 2016 19:42 #50703 by TwiceOnThursdays
Replied by TwiceOnThursdays on topic Bad science and the grandma test

five_red wrote:
Sadly, I think too much of CW's superhero output fails the grandma test.

R5


Yes, this puts the right frame on it.

I don't need entertainment to be 100% factually correct (and this is impossible in a Superhero show, because of the suspension of disbelief to allow the show in the first place). I just need it to be correct enough that I can ignore it and focus on the story. The better the story, the more I can ignore. A classic example is in Matrix, using humans as power sources is .. blatantly idiotic. But the rest of the movie is so cool that when that plot point rolls across the screen, you ignore it, and pay attention to the kick ass. And everyone draws that line in a different place, but if grandma won't swallow your plot point, it's failing.

If trying to make something 100% factual gets in the way of a good story, ditch it and move on. But be careful that there wasn't some other way to block the story out. I think some tweaks to Supergirl and it wouldn't be so jarring, but the story would be just as fun.

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13 Oct 2016 20:10 #50705 by castor
Replied by castor on topic Bad science and the grandma test

TwiceOnThursdays wrote:

five_red wrote:
Sadly, I think too much of CW's superhero output fails the grandma test.

R5

.


This is generalizing but i would say there are three ways to science fiction:

1. This Science!!! and its cool, and where going to show you the steps of how something works and if yeah the plot is really more important, where going to shape the plot so it works with the science. Star Trek did this a lot, not always perfectly but you know.

2. Science Smisend- Heres the ray guns, the monsters lets go. Star Wars is the prime example of this, and like that this doesn't mean its dumb but it theres.

3 Somewhere in the middle, often with a magic trick- this is the approach of Doctor Who, where they do tell yo the science-but they make a point of having it move so fast that if the details are wrong well thats part of the trick. A Sonic Screwdriver can't do much. Reversing the polarity not much, but well you can believe it somewhere.

the CW shows try for somewhere between 2 and 3, but they get the magic wrong. All of the shows are clearly inspired by Doctor Who-like Legends of Tommorow hyper obviously, but the others its there-as is the cast which i like cause it gives people work. But if the shows move fast they don't get the magic waves wrong. It hurts that they don't have a doctor who like fast talking smartest guy in the room hero to kind of be the central magician. It most often comes to(especially in supergirl) of well "Hey we need the bad guy here!!! Doing this!!" and it doesn't always work.

i think there argument is "well Girls can't fly in real life" and thats an argument thats not without merrit. But there have been plenty of good Super stories that do push type one, where Supes has to use power-but be very precise about it, and logical. Sometimes like in the movie Superman Return the best story is when he you grab a plane thats falling down-but well it breaks apart cause there not that strong.

As i have said before-if Supergirl is Selling a punch thats usally an unintresitng thing in a super story, and she taken a lot of punches-if the show was more like TNG where the drama is how she does something or if-that could be more intresting. I would prefer it somewhere around 1.5 -but well, its what it is.

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