Speedsters, Hackers, and Tired Tropes
I have a dangerously unhealthy habit of watching bad content. It's something of a badge of honor to say that I was able to get through something that was exceptionally painful, almost more rewarding than the feeling of actually getting through something good. It's partially driven by arrogance along the lines of "I could have made something better than that," but mostly so I can learn the exact way to *not* create content.
I made it all the way through three-hundred-fifty pages (I spelled out the number of pages just to emphasize how long it felt to read it) of Fifty Shades of Grey before finally succumbing to the Wikipedia summaries of the sequels. I trudged through Lord of the Rings (yes, Tolkien is terrible at developing characters) and finally had a payoff when I read the Silmarillion. I stuck with The Big Bang Theory for seven seasons (three after it stopped being good), Girlboss for its only season (which was completely not-good), and through alternatingly good and bad seasons of long-running shows like House and Dexter. But that was a generic distaste, for things like bad plot, terrible dialogue, uninspiring characters, and the like. There's something, something specific that bothers me a little bit too much.
It's hard to care about someone when they're too powerful. It's hard to buy into the concept when there's someone who defies it entirely.
The television show The Flash is perhaps the most excruciating example of this. Flash is already an irritating enough character in the sense that his powers are never really defined, from simple things as 'how fast can he run' (the Wikipedia says that he can think and move at lightspeed) to 'why is he not always eating if his metabolism works so quickly?' (Note that Superman is pretty much as fast as the Flash and has a grab bag of additional random powers which make him so overpowered to the point that the entire DC cinematic universe is centered around resolving how completely overpowered their main character is.) It's not even necessarily a fault of the writing – though they could have taken the time to do just a little more exposition – but rather the premise of the character. Shouldn't someone that can move that fast never ever take a punch? Surely they'd never actually get captured. It's hard to come up with any kind of superpower that could rival super speed. Over the course of three seasons, he also gained the ability to throw lightning bolts, phase through matter, and generate wormholes to different planets, powers which should make him effectively unstoppable. But of course, some dude with an ice gun can almost beat him.
His powers introduce a lot of inconsistencies. The reason he has to wear the suit in the first place is because his regular clothes would burn off at the speeds he travels, but he can randomly zip around in his regular clothes whenever he really needs. He can heal from things like broken bones in a matter of hours, so shouldn't he heal from the pain or bruising from a simple punch in a matter of seconds? Even though he has a considerable amount of energy, that energy should wear out at some point, especially if he's phasing or generating a lot of lightning. If he's running really fast and insects in the air crash into him, wouldn't there be mild explosions every now and then? How does he breathe while he's running? Realistically, only another speedster should be somewhat of a match for him. But for the sake of television drama, we're treated every week to Barry Allen vs. miscellaneous bad guy, where we spend a half hour trying to figure out how to stop him and discover some weird logical loophole in the last act, when he should just run really fast at someone and cuff 'em.
In his own way, Harvey Specter from Suits was overpowered. He always had a way of getting what he wanted, and the rest he already had – looks, money, prestige, women. Harvey was an ideal, something to strive towards, but not someone to necessarily be. That's why it was refreshing to have him go through a mental collapse over something relatively dumb in a later season, because it humanized him. It made him relatable.
Almost worse than the superheroes are the hackers. It's somewhat annoying when someone who's expected to do insane things does insane things, and borderline maddening when someone average does something crazy. When a hacker can open doors, turn off lights, and crash the whole internet, why not make them the hero?
The absolute worst gimmick in any high-stakes television or movie scene is when everyone's staring at a computer and some dimwit asks them to "enhance" the picture. What the fuck do you think was happening? Computers don't just leave images on low-resolution for fun, trying to trick you so that you don't see what you need to. And haven't you tried the sharpen feature on Instagram? All it does is superimpose a mask with some edge detailing on top of the original image, and even that barely works. There's no such thing as an enhancement program, especially one that can suddenly see a reflection! Besides, they're always so damn spoiled – do you really expect a picture taken from a satellite or a security camera to be that clear? I can barely take clear pictures with my DSLR because every aspect of taking pictures introduces blue, and that's if the object is five feet away, let alone 300,000 feet away and through a bunch of clouds. The whole concept completely undermines all the work that went into getting the story to the point it was at.
Ugh. Might as well peek inside their pants too while you're busy enhancing.