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"No one can be told what the Matrix is" - "complicated" media that isn't

Grumpygoat

Give a damn
Validated User
Eh - comic continuity is overcomplicated. It's just that it doesn't affect most day-to-day reading. Nextwave mocks some of the stupidity of the Marvel universe, but you don't need to know all the convoluted backstory or even characters in the story to appreciate the humor. Grant Morrison's JLA run has blue-frickin' Superman throughout chunks of it. Frankly, it makes those stories weaker - but the stories are strong enough to stand on their own that it just becomes this annoying side-bit that looks out of place when you're reading the trades 20 years after the fact. But if I were to go down the rabbit-hole of finding out why he was blue, or why we have Kyle instead of Hal, and why it's Wally instead of Barry, and so on...it'd be exhausting. But a lot of those details don't matter in the moment.
 

Q99

Genderpunk
Staff member
Moderator
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Not sure if this counts but... maybe the idea that the heavy continuity of Marvel and DC comic lines makes it hard for newbies to get into?

It seems heavily believed enough that Marvel at least tried to launch a whole new continuity to attract new readers.

But I'm not really sure it's true at all. Most of us here will have gotten into comics well after their continuity was established. Was it really that much of a impediment to us? I don't really recall it being so for me.
I’m reminded that comic reviewer Linkara and I both had the Technis Imperative as one of our first event comics.

For those who don’t know, TI has *every Titan ever* as well as the current JLA, and dealt with the history of the team somewhat. Rather than confusing, it was far more ‘these people have an interesting history!’.

I find things usually only get confusing when creators decide history itself is the problem and then ‘fix’ it, usually in a half assed way. The nu52 was honestly far worse in this regard than the pre-reboot continuity because “oh they have a history- you can track it down if you want but they just conveyed the jist” really is a satisfactory answer most of the time, where ‘it’s ambiguous whether or not they have a history and what they did in it’ is not.

Anyway, yea, most books? Really not that hard to jump into. Some ones that are low on context can be, but most books make a ton of sense even if you don’t know the details because people talk about what’s relevant for *that story*. And you keep reading and after a number of these you get a rough mental picture of the wider universe and history- with gaps and such but no need to pour through an encyclopedia of stuff or a dozen books to get it.
 

Logos Invictus

Registered User
Validated User
"Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself."
Good line, well-delivered by Lawrence Fishburne. Perfect for using in trailers and promotional material.
It's also demonstrably incorrect. Most people can be told what the Matrix is in a sentence or two and will understand it without too much trouble. "The seemingly modern world you live in is actually just a virtual reality simulation run by robots, your body is actually hooked up to a bunch of wires in a vat in the dystopian, futuristic, robot-ruled real world". Compare to an actually complicated IP, like trying to explain the plot of the Kingdom Hearts franchise, and conveying the basics of the Matrix is actually quite straightforward.

What are other media properties have unearned reputations for being complicated or hard to understand?
To be honest, I would say Kingdom Hearts is way less complicated in terms of plot than people make it out to be. What makes the plot seem complicated is the fact that its spread out over multiple perspectives and we only ever have as much information as the central protagonists do at any one time, which makes it feel complex when actually its a pretty simple heroic narrative.
 

Dweller in Darkness

Excelsior
Validated User
I'm glad to hear that. I only saw it recently and all the hype made me think that it was going to be a lot more of a mind screw than it actually is.
I really dislike the "mind screw" reputation because as a movie, it's a pretty darned fine movie. It's just also pretty darned straightforward if you pay attention to exposition and know a bit about genre movies.
Eh - comic continuity is overcomplicated. It's just that it doesn't affect most day-to-day reading. Nextwave mocks some of the stupidity of the Marvel universe, but you don't need to know all the convoluted backstory or even characters in the story to appreciate the humor. Grant Morrison's JLA run has blue-frickin' Superman throughout chunks of it. Frankly, it makes those stories weaker - but the stories are strong enough to stand on their own that it just becomes this annoying side-bit that looks out of place when you're reading the trades 20 years after the fact. But if I were to go down the rabbit-hole of finding out why he was blue, or why we have Kyle instead of Hal, and why it's Wally instead of Barry, and so on...it'd be exhausting. But a lot of those details don't matter in the moment.
Much agreed. Heck, I just picked up the 100 with this season, where all I know about the show is what I saw while walking through the living room when my wife was binging it (I work from home and she often works evenings, so this happens quite a lot - she's currently binging Jane The Virgin), and I'm enjoying the heck out of it even though there's, like, 14 characters with rich back stories that I'm basically ignorant of.
 

q_3

Ge.
Validated User
I would think the machines would have adjusted the Matrix to make the idea of the Matrix less plausible to its residents - censoring similar stories and theories, limiting virtual reality technology, etc. The Matrix would be far less intelligible to someone inside the Matrix than someone who had grown up outside it. I doubt that was an intended reading though.
 

Ikselam

may one day be worthy of your grace
Validated User
To be honest, I would say Kingdom Hearts is way less complicated in terms of plot than people make it out to be. What makes the plot seem complicated is the fact that its spread out over multiple perspectives and we only ever have as much information as the central protagonists do at any one time, which makes it feel complex when actually its a pretty simple heroic narrative.
Any story that's told in a deliberately disorienting way - out of chronological sequence, spread across multiple POVs, etc - will seem complicated and confusing when you're right in the middle of it, even though it appears simple when presented as a straightforward list of plot points.

This goes back to the description/experience dichotomy (as well as the highly debatable notion that the most significant part of a story is its plot).
 

LordofArcana

Registered User
Validated User
Eh - comic continuity is overcomplicated. It's just that it doesn't affect most day-to-day reading. Nextwave mocks some of the stupidity of the Marvel universe, but you don't need to know all the convoluted backstory or even characters in the story to appreciate the humor. Grant Morrison's JLA run has blue-frickin' Superman throughout chunks of it. Frankly, it makes those stories weaker - but the stories are strong enough to stand on their own that it just becomes this annoying side-bit that looks out of place when you're reading the trades 20 years after the fact. But if I were to go down the rabbit-hole of finding out why he was blue, or why we have Kyle instead of Hal, and why it's Wally instead of Barry, and so on...it'd be exhausting. But a lot of those details don't matter in the moment.
Look at Buckaroo Banzai. It has a bunch of stuff that implies all sorts of continuity that will never be detailed yet it remains fundamentally comprehensible.
 

Logos Invictus

Registered User
Validated User
I don't think Kingdom Hearts is that straightforward even when presented as a chronological series of events.
I think people trying to understand it is as a series of events and not just one central event spiraling wildly out of control is what makes it seem complicated. At least somewhat unintentionally the shifts in perspective between games (and the fact that more than a few characters are lying/being lied to regularly about events) makes it seem like an extremely complex plot when in fact it boils down to pretty much one dude making a series of Skeletor-like power plays that keep getting shut down by one or more plucky teenagers and/or cartoon mice.
 
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