Genre Savvy

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

    "Get in there and flush whoever it is out, Trevino," Owens hissed. "We'll cover you. Use the laser."
    "No, sir."
    "No, sir. I won't take point."
    Owens glared at the man. "Why not?"
    "Look at me, sir." Trevino pointed at his face.
    "What the hell are you talking about?" They were almost whispering, but with considerable force.
    "I'm black."
    "So?" Owens raised an eyebrow.
    "I've seen this movie, I know what happens to the black guy. Fuck that. Someone else can take point. I'll cover them."

    Taylor Varga, chapter 283
    Let's not tell Pepper what's going to happen in two pages...

    The exact opposite of Genre Blindness. A Genre Savvy character doesn't necessarily know they're in a story, but they do know of stories like their own and what worked in them and what didn't. More sophisicated versions will also know they can't tell which genre they are in (and are often in far more realistic or complicated genres that the stories they remember), or which characters they are.

    They know every Simple Plan is doomed to failure from the start and instead of participating, sit back and wait to get in their "I told you so", or even a "We Could Have Avoided All This". They can spot someone being controlled by Puppeteer Parasite from a mile away (usually). They're more likely to listen when they catch someone in a compromising position who sputters "It's Not What It Looks Like!".

    They can tell fairly early that the strange old man who's offering free lollipops is probably best avoided. And they've seen enough Horror movies to know that when there's an ax murderer on the loose, the last thing you want to do is either split up, boink your significant other, or investigate strange noises in the Sinister Subway. They know how to avoid getting a bad rank on the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality.

    The Genre Savvy live to hang lampshades, give Aside Glances, and say, "You Just Had to Say It, didn't you?" right after use of a fate-tempting Stock Phrase. Their exasperation with the sheer stupidity of the entire universe usually makes them a Deadpan Snarker. They are likely to be told that This Is Reality or just ignored, and likely to be the one who always wanted to say that. A useful person to have around if you get Trapped in TV Land.

    They will often try to take advantage of tropes, either to fail embarrassingly (often because they're actually Wrong Genre Savvy), or to achieve remarkable feats to everyone else's astonishment. The sophisticated savvy can realize that they do not know what characters they are playing, or whether they are exactly in the same genre as the books they read.

    Genre savviness sometimes occurs when And You Thought It Was a Game shows up. This is a Justified Trope in situations where the character was initially recruited for their knowledge of the genre. (Galaxy Quest, The Last Starfighter, Three Amigos!) It can also be justified through experience -- hopefully, after going through dozens of Let's You and Him Fight scenarios a superhero will eventually see them coming and start trying to avoid them ahead of time.

    There are two finely-distinguished varieties of genre savvy. The first comes form being familiar with fiction. A good example of this is the Scream series, where the genre savvy characters are savvy because they've watched horror movies. The other kind comes from being a character in some sort of serial fiction, and having a good memory. For example, many modern comic book superhero characters exhibit a lot of savviness, simply because they can remember all the weird things that've happened to them, and thus are not surprised when yet another evil twin shows up.

    Like playing with the Fourth Wall, having one or more Genre Savvy characters is indicative of Post Modernism.

    The most extreme, who know what Genre Blindness is and that they're supposed to be, remain Contractually Genre Blind. On the other hand, when they're incorrect in their assumptions on what they're supposed to be, they're of the Wrong Genre Savvy persuasion. Clever characters can be well aware of the possibility of Wrong Genre Savvy and additionally that they may not realize what roles they are cast in, and launch many a quip and discussion about whether a certain trope is or is not in play.

    While Genre Savvy can be used to add spice to a tired old plot and create self-aware, intelligent characters, it's not always the right thing to do -- a character who is too Genre Savvy can risk puncturing their story and turning it into a joke, which is a bit of a problem if it's supposed to be taken seriously. Furthermore, it can also ruin drama and suspense; some genres require a certain amount of Genre Blindness and Willing Suspension of Disbelief to effectively function, and if a character knows exactly what to do to get out of their story in a quick, easy and painless fashion at every turn, they're going to do it, and consequently lead an easy, trouble-free life, and... why are we watching them again? The more sophisicated frequently contains as many references to how this story differs from the ones they have read, just to keep everyone on their toes.

    When a villain instead says "screw that!" and dodges every trope and Idiot Ball that comes their way, they are Dangerously Genre Savvy. When they don't, it's Death by Genre Savviness. If a character uses his Genre Savvy just to make humorous observations, he's a Meta Guy. When characters are just Genre Savvy enough to accept the premises of the story, they are Functional Genre Savvy. When an entire story is built around the audience being this and the characters subverting or showing it, it's often a Cosmic Comic Story. Compare with Medium Awareness.

    Examples of Genre Savvy are listed on these subpages: