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This place matters

Friday, April 12, 2013

Rules Are Rules

One day, my friends and I were out antiquing, for reasons I'm not clear on. It's not like we can have nice things (see bit about Puck eating laptop cords in previous post). Luckily, this shop wasn't particularly full of nice things. Couple of ratty wigs, the same collection of broke down pillbox hats you find in every vintage store, some random high school art class assignments and, swear to god, a fur-lined chandelier (I'm not sure which is more shocking: that it exists, or that I didn't buy it).
In one room, we came upon a coffee table with something on it that appeared to be a vaguely vase-shaped arrangement of pointy glass shards.
Things you find when you Google
"glass shard vase"
The group of us happened to have recently seen the cinematic masterpiece Hologram Man about a dystopian future in which prisoners are put into holographic stasis instead of prisons. Because sure.
Now in this film, several people, holograms and non-holograms alike, get thrown very far. In all but one of these instances, the person being thrown landed on a coffee table, which subsequently broke. The reason the acting, special effects, premise, etc. were so terrible was that the movie used up all its budget on coffee tables. If only the director hadn't insisted on Faberge tables.
5000 Russian peasants starved
to death so you could smash
this table.
This made me remark to my friends that if the coffee tables in Hologram Man had held glass shard vases like this one, the movie would have been a whole lot more interesting.
One of my friends replied "Sure, this is Chekhov's coffee table."
Oh that's where I was going with this. Totally forgot.
Okay, well despite my having been a theatre major and an English major at points during my college career, I had never heard the expression my friend was perverting, "Chekhov's gun." Probably because I spent most of my high school and college years concentrating very hard on not learning anything. At least I succeeded at something.
The expression "Chekhov's gun" refers to the rule in drama, first articulated by Anton Chekhov,  that if a gun is shown in Act 1, someone will be shot in a later act.
I have come up with a couple of very important corollaries to this rule.
  • The Coughing Corollary: In any period film, if a character coughs even once, they will be dead of consumption before the film is over. Name me a single work in which this is not the case.
    • There was a sub-corollary for about two decades in mainstream films in which if a character coughed once, and that character was even a tiny bit gay, that character had AIDS. 
    • I mean, actually, for most of that time, if a man was gay in a mainstream film, he already had AIDS.
  • The Terminally Transgender rule: While TV and films make clear that transgender-ism isn't necessarily fatal, it can be, if untreated. Angel in Rent, Hillary Swank's character in Boys Don't Cry, an episode of pretty much every crime drama.
  • The Transgender Terminator: Those trans people - death and mayhem follow wherever they go. When they're not busy dying in touching and inspirational ways, it's because they're out on a killing spree. Silence of the Lambs, Psycho, The World According to Garp... Public service announcement: Trans people are no more likely to horribly murder people than, say, gingers. Okay, maybe gingers are a bad example, what with the soul stealing...
  • The Condom Curse: In the world of movies and books, if you have sex without using a condom, there is a 100% chance you are pregnant. Unless you're trying to get pregnant, and have sex without a condom, there's a pretty good chance you're infertile. Sorry kids.

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