Wednesday, September 06, 2006

As You Know...

Recently I've been hearing a certain phrase over and over in TV shows and in movies. It's the dreaded "as you know" line. It's a spotlight on upcoming exposition or infodumpage. And what makes it really annoying is that it's unnecessary. Why direct attention to the fact that you're about to spew information for the viewer's benefit that everyone on camera knows as a matter of course? I've been hearing it often enough that I'm in danger of developing a twitch. To prevent this from happening, I'm going to set up a drinking game and see if poking fun at the phrase will stop me from shuddering.

You can apply this game to any movie or TV show. You can substitute popcorn and anything else for the alcohol. You can do this by yourself, but for maximum hilarity, bring in a few other writerly types. The rules are as follows:

  • Every time you hear the phrase "as you know," drink a shot.

  • Drink two shots if the phrase is spoken by the character who always has the explanations, such as Colonel Samantha Carter or Dr. Daniel Jackson.

  • Drink three shots if the content that follows the phrase is information that is the basic premise of the show or movie, such as, "As you know, we've been traveling to hundreds of other worlds through the Stargate for a decade."

  • Drink four shots if the phrase is followed by a character's name, such as, "As you know, General O'Neill..."

  • Finish the bottle if the name that follows the phrase is Bob.

  • I used SG-1 as my example, but this show is most certainly not alone in this writing sin. And it's such a lazy, useless tactic, too. In nearly every instance, you can just get rid of the words "as you know" and have smoother dialog. In fact, you can often replace "as you know" with the word "because" to explain reasoning for the logic or solution that follows the infodump, or you can for the recent examples I've heard. And very often, the infodump is not necessary because the audience--even the casual viewer--is smarter than the writers give them credit.

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