Monday, November 8, 2010

Comeback Fodder

I've noticed a trend in media lately. Everyone wants their characters to have a rapier wit and and attitude, but that's not what I'm referring to. I'm referring to the tendency to have other characters make take the role of a kind of strawman, to make comments that would otherwise make no sense simply so it can be a setup for the favoured character to make a witty comeback.
Because these characters are only saying what they're saying for the sole purpose of getting a witty comeback from another character, I have dubbed these lines "comeback fodder."
A good example would be in the Simpsons episode "Sideshow Bob Roberts" (in which Sideshow Bob runs for mayor). In this episode, the host of a gubernatorial debate asks presents a criticism to Sideshow Bob that he said originated from a councilman Les Whinen. Sideshow bob replied with a witty comeback, by saying that said councilman should do "more thinkin' and less whinin'." In this instance, the comeback fodder was canonically so; created by a character rather than by the writers.
Another example is from an episode of the Boondocks:

Herein, Mr. DuBois (a lawyer) is arguing with Riley (a child) about where R. Kelly is guilty of anything for having been caught making a video of himself urinating on an underage girl. However, everything Mr. DuBois says is lacking in any intelligence and exists solely to set up Riley for whatever clever comeback the writers thought up for him.