Star Wars Episode I was a very disliked movie. Jar-Jar Binks. Midichlorians. Blatant racial stereotyping. But, considering the litany of sins and misfires, you know what tore it for me? Anakin Skywalker building C-3PO.
I realize that might be a small offense compared to some of the others, but there it is. Things were silly enough to begin with, but it was absolutely stupid that Anakin built a protocol droid out of junk that looks and acts like every other protocol droid made in a factory. The hell? I would have forgiven it had he built him out of a kit or something. As it was: just dorky.
That leads us to the Dorkus Factor: The point in the reading and/or viewing of science fiction and fantasy where the reader is confronted with something so weird, awful, misplaced, or outright wrong that the entire work suffers. An Achilles heel of asinine, crippling an otherwise mighty tale.
The literature of the possible has a lot of subjectivity and while each of us has our own limits re: Dorkus Factor, there are many broad categories that they fall into. I present to you seventeen painful, awkward, and enraging mistakes that have burned sci-fi, fantasy, and horror movies, books, and fans. I added Latin-esque terms, like the original Monster Manual did for dragons:
1. The What the Hell (Dorkus Infernalis)
A moment when the reader is left wondering: Where the hell did that come from? Such as Santa Claus handing out weapons in Chronicles of Narnia
. Santa Claus handing out weapons. A psychic future-foretelling Santa at that.
The kids had Jesus (or one of his incarnations) on their side, but it was actually Father Christmas that got the job done.
2. The In Vogue at The Time (Dorkus Oldis Skoolis)
Bram Stoker's Victorian classic Count Dracula is a rollicking read up until the time Van Helsing shows up and starts going on and on about Dracula's Child Brain and his Man Brain.
Stoker had me with the blood transfusion (cutting edge for the time), but when he gets into the psychology of the undying, things got goofy quick.
3. Nobody is That Stupid (Dorkus Estupidis)
While Mary Shelley may be science fiction's mama, her book Frankenstein
hinges on an incredibly stupid decision.
To wit (and, uh, this is a SPOILER if you have not read Frankenstein). Our good doctor creates the monster, animates it, then faints dead away at the sight of his creation's hideousness. He wakes up and ignores the entire experience.
I want to be clear on this: he does not forget it. He does not assume it was all a dream. He does not double check that the creature is still lurking somewhere. He just ignores it.
Wakes up and walks on. At least in the latest movie, Frankenstein assumes that an ongoing cholera epidemic will fell his horrid creation. And speaking of movies:
4. That's Not How It Was In The Book (Dorkus Cinimatlis)
Frankenstein's monster was not made out of corpses. Herr Doktor studied corpses to understand and reverse decomposition. The monster was made of something else. That is why he's so creepy. She fucking says it in the book. Damn you, Hollywood, why must you turn Ms. Shelley's creation into a stitchwork of lies?
5. The Convenient Edit (Dorkus Fadus to Blackus)
Chronicles of Riddick has broken many hearts. Of particular interest to us is one scene where Riddick fights his way out of the brig of a starship and then EDIT he's running from the outside of the starship? How the hell did he get from the brig to the outside?
For bonus points, the speculative fiction benchmark Gattaca has the same problem. Vincent and Irene escape the twelve-finger symphony, pursued by cops. They hide in an alley, share a passionate kiss then EDIT and they're back at Irene's ready to make sweet sweet luv. How did they get from the alley to their cars with with Vincent's chief-of-police brother, all on the same street looking for them?
6. This Movie is so Much Better than the Book (Dorkus Ciminitalus Perfectus)
Two words: Blade Runner
7. Got the Science Wrong (Dorkus Eggheadus)
. Something basic regarding chemistry or biology is all f'd up.
Examples: The Island Of Dr. Moreau. Dr. Moreau and his henchman/lab-partner capture UN worker Edward Douglas, holding him prisoner for an extended period of time, solely for the purpose of obtaining his DNA. That's the long way around the barn for something you could have gotten just by offering him a free haircut.
8. Got the Magic Wrong (Dorkus Abracapoooocus)
If you turn a troll into a dragon is that transmogrified troll then smart enough to act like a dragon? Wouldn't it try to crawl back to its lair? Yeah, I'm talking to you, Willow.
9. Unforgivable Soundtrack Selections (Dorkus Bardus)
Music can make or break a movie, especially through the strange alchemy of time. I submit to you the regrettable pairing of Ladyhawke
with Alan Parsons.
Might as well have been 70s wacka-chica music. Awww yeahhhh.
10. Improbable set of Circumstances (Dorkus Damnus Luckious)
Sometimes they ask a bit much of our suspension of disbelief.
Example: In Star Trek Nemesis Picard has to (1) be cloned by the Romulans, that clone has to (2) rise to be leader of Romulus's slave-planet Remus, and then the Remans have to (3) throw off their chains and take over Romulus, (4) find a prototype of the android Data, and (5) develop a doomsday weapon. And now the movie can start.
11. Maybe Use a Stick with a Sharp End (Dorkus Spearus Usefultaliss)
Why is it that nobody being chased by dinosaurs, aliens, what have you, ever just makes a crude spear to keep them at bay? If human history has taught us anything, it's that until we had bombs, the spear was da bomb.
12. He's Obviously Evil (Dorkus Motivatus Obvious)
Secondary character type who is in every scene, but hardly ever says anything. Hello, corporate slime-ball Burke from Aliens
. We get the search-image after a while.
13. She's Obviously the Bad Girl (Dorkus Babus Wickidalis)
Star Trek VI. Lieutenant Valeris was clearly up to no good. Why? Because there is always< a bad girl, dorkus!
14. Surely Someone Would Have Pierced the Disguise: (Dorkus Moodius)
I can see the disguise thing working short term, but long term? Like an entire semester (Mad Eye Moody in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
) or fifteen years (Wormtail in the shape of a rat in Prisoner of Azkaban
15. Radical Size Change (Dorkus Littlus Giantus)
A vehicle or creature's size changes inexplicably.
Example: Godzilla (1998). Godzilla is able to fit an entire helicopter, blades and all, into her mouth. Later, a car barely fits.
Also, she savors the car like a Jolly Rancher, pretty much the only time she eats anything slow the entire movie.
16. Logic, Damn You! (Dorkus Spockus)
Powers or abilities from an earlier part of the story do not match with those from a later part.
Example: Spider-Man. A concussion bomb goes off what? Three inches from Peter's face? He is a bit stunned, but mostly unscathed. Later, he is held at bay with, like, a .22 or something. Dude, you could so soak that!
17. Cannae Change the Laws o' Physics (Dorkus Scottius)
Blatant disregard of laws that govern the universe. Examples are too numerous to choose from. It hurts so much when they get so close and then screw it up.
Spider-Man again: Peter Parker is strong enough to hold up a cable car with one hand. Yet when he punches Doc Ock in the face, Doc's head does NOT come apart like a shot-gunned tomato.
Speaking of shot-gunned tomatoes: Army of Darkness. Good Ash shoots Bad Ash point-blank with a sawed-off shotgun, knocking him into the air and back about 15 feet. Brother, you want to see what a shotgun will really do to a guy in that situation, go rent Wild at Heart.
One cannot embrace sci-fi's glorious history without also embracing some of the tragic misfires, mistranslations, and missed opportunities that the genre holds, like little bombs, within its canon. I cannot give you shelter from the various slip-ups of the genre, only to name them and thus take some of the fear out of the process.
For who knows what horrid mistakes and inexplicable decisions are being made right now?
When you seek to gaze into the Dorkus, know that the eggs are putting you in the same black kettle.