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Otts486

Do plot holes matter?

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So after watching these two videos, I'm not entirely sure how to feel. On one hand they do make a valid point but on the other I can't help but can't shake this feeling that there's something wrong with the argument presented. I don't know my thoughts are all over the place and I wanted to see what other people think to more coherently organize mine.

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Plot holes reduce my enjoyment of the media, so yes,  I think they do matter.

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It really depends.

Minor continuity errors and stuff like "Oh, character X said they graduated from this college, but they don't offer that degree in real life!!!!!!!" don't. It could always help for writers and directors to go out of their way to make sure that stuff doesn't happen, but it's not the worst thing that could happen.

But stuff tied to the actual plot and things that break your suspension of disbelief? If a bunch of Earthlings land on a foreign planet and start acting in ways no normal human being would, let alone trained professionals, and seeing random plot devices pop up that really should have been explained or used earlier(See the recent Alien movies)? If every step of the way, I have to question EVERYTHING happening on screen because there's no narrative consistency, and it isn't intended by the director or writer? That stuff absolutely matters.

Edited by Slumber

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Anything that hurts my believability in what's happening onscreen hurts my experience.

I don't mean things like "that guy just jumped 20 meters", but things like "that guy used to be stranded to a wheelchair 5 minutes ago and then he magically got control of his legs back then jumped 20 meters". If it is not properly explained by the universe's own rules ("how did that guy get better all of a sudden?"), if it is overall incoherent with other plot elements ("the power of love doesn't cure other people's legs but now it unexplainably did"), and if said plot elements are incompatible with the rules presented to us ("this sort of magic does not cure disabilities") or make no logical sense ("the power of love cured his legs") given the setting, then yes, it hurts my experience enough to matter.

Basically, just ask if something makes sense. If the answer is no, it matters (negatively).

Edited by Rapier

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Spoiler

For me, watching movies is generally less enjoyable than analyzing movies, so plot holes, by giving me something to rag about, increase the enjoyment that a film's existence provides to me. In that regard, I don't think plotholes are a big issue, but on the other hand, that's in large part because I'm a prick and don't actually like movies.

I actually think Patty Wills has pretty engaging videos, but he can be kind of annoying and elitist sometimes, in my opinion. If a film has such a significant break in logic so as to make you question why the film is occurring at all, then that's an issue. Plotholes an unexplained occurrences can also feel like cheap resolutions to issues, or otherwise remove the story from the grounding which makes it possible to invest in its conflict. Inconsistent motivations and actions on the part of characters legitimately can get in the way of an audience understanding those characters, which is bad for their enjoyment of the story. You don't have to (and shouldn't) show everything, and ambiguity is an amazing tool, but sometimes explanations are as well.

Even if a film should be judged on the emotions it provokes or the lessons it conveys (and it really should), there's a sort of math to that which plotholes (and contrivances and blah blah blah) can factor into. I say that as someone who likes math and not really movies, but I do like the larger category of stories, and there are reasons they are effective or not at those important tasks. Art is a science, I would argue, which is why we have film schools, to teach what works and why and how it does so.

(This feels a little off topic but I wanted to say that, even if a character's foolish action can be explained by the logical argument "humans are not perfectly rational," that doesn't remove the more relevant logical argument that "something which detracts from the film's mission by distracting the audience is a flaw with the film." There's a balance between the two, especially since mistakes make excellent inciting incidents.)

Provided, I haven't actually watched any of the film his video discussed, except for like a couple which I've completely forgotten so whatever. Since I'm a young, white, straight male without film education I don't think he'd value my opinion too highly anyway, but I won't pretend that I have more than concept to disagree with him on here. Besides, it's probably more of a clickbait title than an absolute statement on his part.

Actually that original post was too long and not good so here's a hopefully better shorter version.

I kind of like Patty Wills' videos but I disagree with him on a lot, and this is kind of one of those things. Sometimes people call things that aren't plotholes plotholes but he gets too upset over the lexicon. With respect to actual plotholes and characters acting stupid, I want to diverge briefly and state that different people have different standards by which they judge films (saying "you're watching movies wrong," even reluctantly, and just kind of leaving it at that doesn't really work). Some people like movies because they like to nitpick them, some think a movie is good if the plot is very tightly constructed or if it has good action scenes.

To me, a movie is good if it conveys a good lesson or, perhaps less so, provokes a strong emotional response. If a film has gaps and leaps in logic which negate or call into question its ability to convey these things, that is a flaw on the film's part. If a character's foolishness is so brazen as to destroy your connection with it, then that mission can no longer be accomplished. That last part is more about stupidity and mistakes on the part of characters, but since Patrick spends most of the video talking about things that aren't technically plotholes (what hilarious irony), that's what I have more to say on.

Really, it's more a clickbait title than an absolute statement on his part.

Edited by AnonymousSpeed

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Like with a lot of things, I think the answer is "kind of" and "it depends", but those aren't helpful responses.

I do think that people tend to place too much importance on how well a story holds up under close scrutiny, because scrutinizing a story is just what a lot of people do when they look back on something to review or discuss it, and it's easier (and for some, more fun) to nitpick details than talk about fuzzy, complicated concepts like cinematography and characterization. But I think the most important thing is how enjoyable it a story is to watch or read or whatever, and internal consistency is only part of the overall experience. More attention should be paid to things like pacing and dialogue.

That's not to say it doesn't matter, though, and I think how much it matters depends on the type of both the story and the viewer. Some people are more sensitive to inconsistency than others, and the more problems they notice in a story, the more it's going to bug them and detract from the experience. I'm definitely not one of them, but strong, consistent writing can improve a story too.

For example, in one game I'll avoid naming for the sake of spoilers, there's a scene where a mysterious but normally allied character outright says he will be the protagonists' enemy the next time they meet. In a story with weaker writing, this might have been just a cheap "Haha! I was working for the villains all along!" twist, but this game did a good enough job of developing its world and characters, and of showing the player that this isn't the kind of plot where things just happen because of genre conventions, that the scene has real weight and gets you thinking about what is really going on. And it was pretty great to find out that my guess was spot on about the circumstances surrounding that scene, but I had completely underestimated that character and his real intentions. Some stories are more complicated and subtle than others, and they need solid, consistent writing more because they encourage you to think deeply about them.

There are other ways that a strong sense of logic can improve something, too. Fight scenes can be more exciting when you have a good sense of what everyone involved is capable of, and mysteries can be more interesting when you know the rules of the world and are given enough information to try to guess the answer. Plot holes can definitely hurt there, whether it's a character losing a fight they shouldn't or getting stronger out of nowhere, or the culprit pulling off a plan that seems like it shouldn't work.

Of course, I think it's the audience's perception that matters most in these examples, not the cold logic of things when you sit down to analyze it. But... there's way more that can be said on this subject than I want to write now. This post has already gotten pretty long, and I've... kind of lost the thread of where I was going...

But one last thing I want to note is that I think looking back on a story is an important part of enjoying it, and logic matters more there. Picking apart a thing's flaws can be fun, or watching others do the same, but plot holes can also sour your opinion of something in hindsight. At least for me. I enjoyed The Last Jedi well enough while I was watching it, but my feelings towards the movie got colder soon afterwards, when the whole thing had a bit of time to sink in... that was more because of general writing problems than logical inconsistencies, though. I guess "plot hole" can be a vague term.

Anyway, those videos were interesting. Thank you for sharing them.

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to be fair, plot holes really matter in serialized fiction and anything within a set fictional universe.

that, and SCI-FI/Mystery stories.

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