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Episode 94 - Unexplained Magic in Shows




Hey.  Y'know what really grinds my gears?  When shows can't decide what the hell they want to be.

So, I can't frickin' stand it when they throw magic into shows where it doesn't belong, for no reason, and with no explanation.  Okay, so I've gone on many a rant about this with friends and family, and I always need to make something clear from the get-go: I have absolutely nothing against magic in shows.  I mean, hello!  Equestria to Justin Case!  Duh-doy:muffins:  Magic is fine.  It's great.  But if you're gonna have magic in a fictional world, then you need to establish it from minute one and be consistent.  What I hate is when they establish a show as being more or less realistic, i.e. in takes place in the real world and doesn't have magic, and then they toss some magic in there for no reason and with no explanation, leaving the viewers wondering what the hell the show is suppose to be.  Either make your show magical (like Pony), or make it the real world (like, say, Hey Arnold!, for instance.)  Make up your damn mind and stick with it.  Decide what you want your show to be and don't change your mind halfway through!

Magic is fine, but you need to have a believable reason for it.  I've gotten into the weeds with my dad about this, and he never quite seems to get my point of view.  I argue that magic needs to be believable and realistic, and I rant and rave when I think it's not.  He'll counter by pointing out that something like Lord of the Rings isn't "realistic", but I still love that so I'm a hypocrite.  No, no, see, that's missing the point.  Magic in LOTR is believable and realistic because of one key reason: it's not Earth.  It's not our world.  It's a different world.  With magic.  Just like Equestria.  You don't always need a complex reason for the magic.  A good reason doesn't necessarily means a complicated one.  Just saying it's a magical world is often completely sufficient.  It's Middle-Earth.  It's a magical world with wizards and stuff.  It's Equestria.  Unicorns have magic 'n' stuff.  It's Bending world.  People there can bend elements.  Great.  Fine.  That's all I need.  But if the setting of your show is the real f*cking world, then you gotta give me a valid reason for magic.  Something.  Anything.  The characters find a long forgotten, ancient relic that bestows magical powers on them?  Fine.  That's fine.  Aliens?  Fine.  Superhero origin with mutation or radioactive sh*t or gamma rays?  Fine.  But you can't just do it for no reason.  You can basically do anything you want in fiction and break any rule of reality as long as you give a decent reason.  I hate when writers throw in magic for no reason.

Edited by Justin_Case001

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Also there should be some rules and limits. Otherwise you wonder why someone can't use magic to solve every problem. Especially if you have time travel.

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Indeed.  Every time travel movie ever made suffers from the glaring plothole of "why didn't then just try again?"  If they have the ability to time travel, then they could just keep going back over and over again until then get it right.

There was some dude (I forget who) that wrote some guide or thesis or some such about how to do magic correctly in fiction.  It was like a recipe on how to make good magic.  My friend told me about it.  One of the rules this guy wrote was that limitations are more interesting than power.  Very true.  It's always more interesting to see why a character with magic is limited in some way and can't use it rather than just watching a ludicrously OP character go Super Duper Ultra Sayajin and obliterate everything.  Restrictions, rules, and limitations to magic are key.

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What's an example of what you mean? What about something like Harry Potter where there's magic in the real world but it's secret?


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Harry Potter's fine because it's established from the beginning.  It's well crafted.  It makes sense.  They, or I guess I should say she, the author, had a vision from the start and stuck to it.

On 2022-03-09 at 7:25 AM, Fluttershutter said:

What's an example of what you mean?

Um... so, let's see... well, this might not be the best example, but nothing else comes to mind at the moment.  I've been watching Littlest Pet Shop lately.  (Spoilers!)  So, it's set in the real world, and it's established to just be the normal, real world, as in no magic.  Okay, so the pets can talk, and Blythe can talk to them, but I let that slide.  I don't count that as "magic".  It's not like casting a spell.  I mean, would you say that there's magic in the original animated 101 Dalmatians or Lady & the Tramp?  No, of course not.  But the pets talk.  Same thing.  It's just Lady & the Tramp if their owner could understand them.  Other than that, LPS is just the real world, except that, on a very rare occasion, they throw something in that breaks that lore.  In one episode, one pet basically teleports himself like Twilight and it's never addressed, never acknowledged, and never done again.  It's like... okay... so, you can literally cast essentially a unicorn spell and nobody's gonna comment on it?  Is this the real world or not?  In another episode, a cat plays a guitar which casts a love spell on other pets.  It's like freaking Hearts & Hooves Day, but there isn't supposed to be magic in this world!  Again, they never acknowledge that it was legit magic, they never explain it, never comment on it, never address it, and they never do it again.  Once again, the audience is left wondering what the hell the show is supposed to be.  Everything else in the entire show paints it as just the real world.  Just like Lady & the Tramp.  So is there actually legit magic in this world or not?!  Make up your damn mind!!

That's actually what prompted me to write the blog in the first place, and I started to write the example, but it just felt like it was getting too long and wordy for the OP.

Here's a related tangent.  I hate it when there's some glaring, unexplained, stupidly impossible feature of a fantasy or sci-fi that just doesn't fit.  For me, the greatest and quintessential movie sin is Superman flying around the Earth really fast to reverse its rotation, thus rewinding time to save Lois in Superman the Movie.  I don't think I need to go on a long rant here, but obviously the whole idea of traveling back in time by rotating the Earth backwards is the most asinine and nonsensical thing ever put to screen.  By that logic, it's like, oops, I just ran over someone in my car, let me just back my car up to reverse time and undo it.  Yup, cuz that's how things work.  :dash: 

This is where my dad and I again tend to argue.  He'll claim that a man being able to fly and have bullets bounce off of him is just as implausible as the rotating Earth thing.  This is the part he misses.  See, the explanation for Superman's powers is perfectly legitimate: HE'S AN ALIEN.  He's not human.  That's all you need to be able to explain everything.  The sky's the limit when you introduce something or someone from another world where things could have evolved in ways we can't even imagine.  I mean, sure, his powers are still rather silly and over the top, but we can buy into it because we just accept that that's how Kryptonians naturally are.  But none of that explains or excuses just moving physically backwards to travel back in time.  That kind of lack of thought and judgement in fiction drives me nuts.  A much more acceptable solution would have been for Superman to find some other Kryptonian artifact that crash landed on Earth that has time traveling properties.  I mean, I just pulled that example outta my ass, but it's already better, because then we can at least accept it and wave it away as being technology that we don't understand.  You can't have your fiction so flagrantly violate every basic law of the universe like the rotating Earth thing and get away with it.  Y'know, unless it's supposed to be a nonsensical comedy or satire or something.

So, there you go.  Longer than the OP.  Happy now?  :laugh:

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Yeah, the Superman thing was especially ridiculous. Okay, he has some abilities humans don't. That's a lot different from breaking all the known laws of physics.

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