Screenwriting : Look, You Hate Cliches, I Get It... by Derek Ladd

Derek Ladd

Look, You Hate Cliches, I Get It...

Okay, I need vent a little and my psychiatrist (who is actually a parking attendant) recently dumped me. So you're it! ~ What the f$%# is the deal with "I get it" at the end of every other line in movies and TV shows today? I've heard that same damn line like six million times in the past week alone and it simply has to stop. We HAVE to do something, people! Did Zuckerberg copyright this line? Are writers getting paid commissions for using it? What the hell is going on? If you don't know what I mean, here's an example: "Look, you're angry because your mother made you go to football practice in a pink bunny suit, I get it." Everyone is using this line. (cue Gary Oldman's voice) EVERY-ONE! Do you remember "Don't go there."? How about "Don't even think about it."? What other dialogue cliches (past and present) make you cringe? Please tell me I'm not alone here. Please.

Richard Toscan

Screenwriters and playwrights are usually tuned into the argot of the moment. Remember "whatever" and cool"? This last now replaced by "awesome".

Pete Luckhurst

"I know, right?" and (deadpan/sarcastic) "Really?" or "Dude, really?"

Monique Mata

"No, you di'in't" (accompanied with z-snap) ;)

Derek Ladd

Some of my favorites are these: ~"We've got company." ~"I'm your worst nightmare." ~"Really?" ;-D

Lisa Clemens

"You can't!" Followed by, "Just WATCH ME!"

Pete Luckhurst

"My dad said to only use this card in an emergency... and THIS is an EMERGENCY!" heads to the mall

Pete Luckhurst

"...but Billy's been dead for 12 years!" (actually quite like this one, always has me in fits of laughter)

Robert Broad

....and in reality some people still speak in cliches, just be sparing with them

Ardua de Potomac

Wow, I thought I watched too many shows and movies, but six million? Nice! I recently read the first couple of pages from two different novels written by the same author, and each of them featured a down comforter. Just that alone was enough to make me feel the guy was not a creative enough writer. I think creative writers are rare and/or we rarely see their writing produced--it's a lot easier for formulaic writing to get produced. That's why it's show business and not show fun, alas. The trick might be to put in enough recognizable stuff to make the producers feel comfortable, and also slip in some wilder stuff. I caught a few minutes of "Blackish", and there was a line where Lawrence Fishburne's character (a grandfather) told his adult son (a father) he shouldn't talk to kids because you can't find any kids talking in the Bible. It was totally unexpected, and I really laughed out loud! But they might also have thrown in a few "I get it" moments....

Derek Ladd

As much as I love movies I am guilty of indulging in a few series on Netflix DVD. Among my favorites are the following: ~ Sons of Anarchy ~ Criminal Minds ~The Walking Dead ~Supernatural ;-I EVERY one of these shows is guilty of overusing "I get it". Kinda bums me out sometimes when I'm 100% invested in a storyline and someone blurts out an "I get it". I mean, WTF?

Nancy Frazen

'There it is' ( usually said in response to a person admitting to something)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Technically, "I get it" is not a cliche, but rather a colloquialism -- an informal expression. It is an example of current American dialect. Sure, it is overused in scripts because its use reflects current language trends, I give you that. And, you may consider its use to be trite, but there are better examples of cliche or stereotypical language in film, such as: "Is that all you got!" or "She's right behind me, isn't she?" or "Don't die on me!" or "We've got company!" or my personal favorite, "We can do this the easy way, or the hard way." Get it? ;)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Oh, I forgot my other favorites: "It's not what it looks like." and "I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you." and "Get outta there!" and finally the best cliche line in any good guy bad guy action/thriller film, "We're not so different, you and I."

Richard "RB" Botto

And a recent one that keeps popping up everywhere. Something happens Pause "Well THAT just happened." Shoot me.

Beth Fox Heisinger

I don't know where your last comment went, Derek... but, I kindly disagree. Sorry to get crazy pedantic... a cliche is an expression, or an idea, or part of an artistic work which has become overused to a point of losing its original meaning or effect. "I get it" is an expression used in every day life. It's similar to expressions like "You bet" or "See ya later" or "Gotta go." Whereas an expression like, "We're not so different, you and I" clearly has ties to cinema or creative works. Its meaning and use has completely lost effect because it is so commonly used in film after film after film. When I hear that particular line I throw popcorn at the screen! Anyway, overuse of anything becomes irritating. I feel your pain! :) Best to you sir!

Derek Ladd

Well that's disappointing. I posted a comment and it showed up twice so I deleted one and it appears to have deleted them both. ;-Z En garde, Beth! I’m going to duel with you left handed. It’s the only way I can be satisfied. If I use my right, it will be over too quickly. ;-D ~ Anyway, what I had said in my deleted post was, "I get it" is not a colloquialism, it's an on-the-nose expression that is overused (IMO), which makes it a cliché according to Webster's: "cliché: 1: a trite phrase or expression; also: the idea expressed by it 2: a hackneyed theme, characterization, or situation." A colloquialism would be something like "I feel you, dog" in lieu of "I get it" -- it serves the same purpose without using those exact words and is, in a sense, a form of subtext. ~ When used in the manner I described initially, “I get it” is as much of a cliché as “We’re not so different, you and I.” Whether or not a phrase is considered a cliché isn’t determined by the number of words, it’s determined by the context within which it is used. I understand what you're saying, Beth. But the same logic could be applied to any other example in this thread, including your own. The assumption is that these phrases (clichés) are used in a context befitting a cliché. If a priest tells a joke to a rodeo clown and the clown smiles and says, "I get it.", that phrase doesn't fit within the discussion at hand. If a drag queen approaches a bible thumper on a street corner and says, "We're not so different, you and I." the same exclusion to the cliché rule applies because it falls outside the boundaries of what makes that phrase a cliché (i.e., it’s used for comedy rather than as an exploration of how an antagonist and a protagonist are similar). If a man comes home wearing only a g-string and a giant foam cowboy hat and his wife blocks his path and says in a horrified whisper, “We’ve got company!”, that phrase is not a cliché. ~ Lastly, I agree with you 100% that overuse of anything is irritating. Every gazillion-dollar super hero movie Hollywood cranks out nowadays looks the same to me, and that’s just damn depressing. A remarkable weekend to you, miss. ;-)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Really, left handed? You think you're that tough, huh? Well, I'm ambidextrous -- seriously. You clearly have underestimated me. (LOL!) Anyway, I'm not going to duel nor argue with you. I disagree. I'm coming from the standpoint of the literary definition, language and the use of phrases in film that are used for effect. Just because something is used frequently does not make it "a cliche," but rather a common expression. Number of words in a phrase has nothing to do with it. Have a great weekend as well. :)

Derek Ladd

Beth, I got some rope up here. But I don' think you would accept'a my help, since I'm only waiting around to argue with you. ~ Heh.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Keep it Derek, along with your ego. We're done here. Good Luck!

Shane M Wheeler

"I get it, you're fed up with cliches." "Don't go there!" "No, let's do this!" "I'm not having this conversation right now." slam, pause "Awkward..." An all cliche skit MIGHT be funny, but it'd have to be really well crafted. Also: "Then I'll see you in hell!"

Derek Ladd

Ego? Wow. Is that what you call it when someone disagrees with you? I find it interesting that you're the only one in this thread to argue about the definition of cliché (which seems pretty clear to everyone else). Maybe you're the one with the ego problem. ~ You have seen 'The Princess Bride', right?

Beth Fox Heisinger

Derek, your joke offer of your "rope up here" for "help" was pretty egotistical. That's where the conversation soured for me. I have absolutely no issues with disagreements. Nor do I have an ego. I absolutely love discussion -- as most who know me here on Stage 32 know and understand. :) I really just don't care for dismissive comments. Again, best of luck to you. I have left the thread (unfollow). No need to respond to me. :) Moving on....

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yes, of course, I've seen "The Princess Bride." Your use, or reference, was not clear.

Derek Ladd

Ah, I see. I wasn't thinking that way. I should have chosen a different quote -- didn't mean to imply a sense of superiority. ;-Z

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

I think a place should be reserved on the lowest rung of hell for whoever was the first to use 'Go!, Go!, Go! in action scenes (or perhaps I'd let the first one to use it off the hook and put all the rest there.)

Derek Ladd

That honor goes to James Cameron. He started the whole 'Go! Go! Go!' thing. ;-D

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

OK. Since I love Aliens and Terminator 1 and 2, I forgive him. :)

Cherie Grant

Love this thread. Made me laugh.

Wes Reed

How about visual clichés? Like for instance the one where the protagonist(s) are walking into the camera after a confrontation. An object(car, house or whatever) is burning in the background. You know it will explode. It does. Without flinching, they continue walking. Scene ends. Wouldn't it be great to see a piece of shrapnel blow one of their frigging heads off for once?

Lisa Clemens

My least favorite visual cliche has to be the cat in the closet that everyone thinks is the ghost/mass murderer etc. And not sure if it's cliche or just over used but how about the hit by bus "shocker" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmYrWXhFf4c

Derek Ladd

Wes and Lisa, YES! Those visuals have both been done to death. Same goes for a flock of birds flying away when a gunshot rings out or rain pouring down during a sad moment. The list goes on and on... And "You look like you've seen a ghost" is another good example. Why not replace it with something like, "You look you just got an ice cube enema."

Wes Reed

Funny Lisa. Isn't it amazing that movies with this repetitive junk are still being made? At least the bus scenes generally get rid of obnoxious characters. Your not being sure if the cat in the closet is one begs the question just what is considered a visual cliché? I mean if two people kiss in a scene, that probably doesn't qualify though it's been done thousands of times. It would interesting to compile a list of these visual clichés starting with the buses, cats and explosions we've mentioned. Maybe writers that read this list would not ever use them again and we could all watch movies that are a little better in the future.

Wes Reed

Those are good ones Derek, except "You look like you've seen a ghost." would be more just a cliché and not a visual cliché.

Lisa Clemens

Speaking of walking away from explosions, I love this video... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sqz5dbs5zmo

Lisa Clemens

This is a fun site you can get lost in for hours about tropes. Made for TV but applies to film too! http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Tropes

Wes Reed

Lisa , it looks like other people have already done the legwork on exposing these visual clichés. I looked up the definition of tropes on Wikipedia and this came up. "A literary trope is the use of figurative language – via word, phrase, or even an image – for artistic effect[1] such as using a figure of speech. The word trope has also come to be used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices,[2] motifs or clichés in creative works." Your trope website seems to be fairly comprehensive and should be read by all writers, myself included.

Lisa Clemens

Yes it is a great site. I've spent way too much time there sometimes !

Derek Ladd

"Those are good ones Derek, except "You look like you've seen a ghost." would be more just a cliché and not a visual cliché." Yup, you're right, Wes. I was commenting on Ronnie's post above. ;-D

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

People have mentioned visual cliches. I have to think about it but I suspect that VCs are a lot easier to get away with/go unnoticed because they are visual and not dialogue. They can go by faster and are perhaps less intrusive. Just speculating.

Wes Reed

I don't know Douglas. They say a picture is worth a thousand words (talk about a cliché)

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