Give me examples of books where characters use teh googles.
August 9, 2010 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Character googles her paranormal boyfriend. Fake wikipedia article reading ensues. Is there a TVtropes article for this cliché, or, alternatively, what are some examples?

I've been reading quite a bit of young adult paranormal romance (think Twilight and its clones), and I've encountered a trope that I really really dislike several times--the google scene, which happens when the main character starts to suspect something spooky is going on with the boy she likes, googles "vampire" or "angel" or whatever, and finds an encyclopedia article which either explains precisely what's going on, or gives the author an opportunity to talk about how her version of supernatural creatures is different ("Edward doesn't have fangs!" or what not). I'd imagine that the pre-internet equivalent would be to have the character go to the library and read the World Book or something.

I've stumbled across this in at least four books over the past year--the aforementioned Twilight, Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush, Aprilynne Pike's Wings, and Kelley Armstrong's The Summoning. I could have sworn that I once read a TVtropes article about this very thing, but I've looked through all the articles related to infodumping and wasn't able to find anything. Apologies for pointing anyone to TVtropes, but do any of you mefites recall such an article, or, alternatively, do you know of any other books that do the same thing?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
It happens in "I Know Who Killed Me". It happens in "Catwoman".

And it happened in a lot of books/movies before the internet came to be, only back then you'd see the character at the library looking at microfiche.
posted by hermitosis at 9:05 AM on August 9, 2010


Not a paranormal version, but a first season episode of The Sopranos involves Meadow explaining to A.J. that their father is a member of the cosa nostra via a Geocities (tiled background and animated GIFs abound) that features both real mobsters and the fictional ones from the series.

The protagonist of Godfather of Kathmandu uses Wikipedia to research the high-profile Hollywood director whose murder he is investigating. I believe the Wikipedia article is reproduced inside the book, but I may be getting it mixed up with some other false document.
posted by griphus at 9:07 AM on August 9, 2010


Were you thinking of It's a Small Net After All?
posted by kindall at 9:09 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


It happens in the movie "Summer Wars". Natsuki has corraled Kenji into pretending to be her fiance, and she's told all kinds of lies about who he is. One of Natsuki's aunts researches Kenji on the web and finds out the truth about him.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:18 AM on August 9, 2010


I believe the ur-example of this is Bram Stoker's Dracula, as Van Helsing explains to everyone what a vampire is, and he references old books and journals.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:23 AM on August 9, 2010


I think of it as one click computing.

In the same way that you don't generally see people in movies or TV taking a 10 minute dump (I'm talking to you, chronically constipated Jack Bauer) or charging their cell phone, or spending 15 minutes on hold with their power company, so teh internet just gets compressed into its simplest form: computers boot almost instantly; email flashes up as a big envelope on screen; even the toughest passwords can be brute forced in 3 goes or less; and rather than show the character piece together things from four different articles it just helps if it's all on one page.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:24 AM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'd imagine that the pre-internet equivalent would be to have the character go to the library and read the World Book or something.

A lot of times characters would find one specific book (possibly at the library) that would have all of the answers they would need for any situation. TVTropes calls this the Great Big Book Of Everything.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:27 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


It happens in Deep Impact in a scene with Tea Leoni. 1998 was too early for Google, so I think the character uses some other search engine.
posted by aabbbiee at 9:31 AM on August 9, 2010


I agree with muffinman. We don't see realistic interfaces and realistic time spent for good reason. Its too much of a distraction in movies and books. I don't want to read a chapter on how someone spent three hours googling random terms. Just deliver the results. TVTropes calls this the viewer friendly interface, at least in visual mediums.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:34 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, magical database gets an honorable mention.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:34 AM on August 9, 2010


Were you thinking of It's a Small Net After All?

Close (and it's often a problem that happens simultaneously--some writers, at least, are savy enough to have the character find the info on the second or third search result, not the first), but not quite--I'm referring more to the trope of having the character do net research generally.

A lot of times characters would find one specific book (possibly at the library) that would have all of the answers they would need for any situation. TVTropes calls this the Great Big Book Of Everything.

Argh, that's not quite it, either. Perhaps I assumed that TVTropes itself was the Great Big Website of Everything?

I believe the ur-example of this is Bram Stoker's Dracula, as Van Helsing explains to everyone what a vampire is, and he references old books and journals.

Awesome! That explains, at least, what it was doing in Twilight--and probably why it was a little better done there (I suspect, though I can't know, that the other authors did it because SMeyer did).

I agree with muffinman. We don't see realistic interfaces and realistic time spent for good reason. Its too much of a distraction in movies and books. I don't want to read a chapter on how someone spent three hours googling random terms. Just deliver the results. TVTropes calls this the viewer friendly interface, at least in visual mediums.

Honestly? Even when results are shown instantly, I find this sort of scene tension-killing and drab, which is why I don't like it. That it's not realistic--particularly when authors are trying to show how tech savvy they are--is just icing on the cake.

Anyway, will bow out now. But keep the examples coming--these are great so far!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:39 AM on August 9, 2010


They do this all the time in South Park.

The first one that comes to mind is in "It Hits the Fan;" the boys go to the library to look up the origin of curse words. And in "The Snuke" they bring down a terrorist plot by looking people up on google (and myspace and youtube and so on).
posted by phunniemee at 9:51 AM on August 9, 2010


This is pretty much the plot of The Ghost Whisperer. Well, that and boobs.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:55 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Honestly? Even when results are shown instantly, I find this sort of scene tension-killing and drab

The very, very generic term you might be groping for here is "suspension of disbelief".
posted by MuffinMan at 9:58 AM on August 9, 2010


Closer to Infodump, if we're going general. Thanks, though!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:02 AM on August 9, 2010


Happens in Deadly Little Secret, the slightly less obnoxious Twilight rip-off.

But seriously, what do you expect us to do when we suspect that our chauvinistic, glittery boyfriends are vampires!?
posted by karminai at 10:28 AM on August 9, 2010




In William Gibson's Pattern Recognition, where people ask each other what a Google search of their name would reveal.
posted by Kattullus at 10:52 AM on August 9, 2010


In the first episode of the Doctor Who reboot, Rose searches for "doctor blue box" (on "search-wise.net") and helpfully finds an entire website detailing the Doctor's mysterious appearances.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 11:09 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


... and 'tv tropes "doctor blue box"' is exactly the search I used to find the TV Tropes page "It's a Small Net After All" I linked above.
posted by kindall at 12:40 PM on August 9, 2010


Much of Moby-Dick? It begins with the "Extracts," which is a list of quotations pertaining to whales, and Ishmael goes on for pages about how whales are depicted in text and image, citing a variety of (real) treatises on whaling.
posted by synecdoche at 1:41 PM on August 9, 2010


I think I recall that you've read this book because I saw your GR review when I reviewed it, but Tithe by Holly Black has something like that. I'm not sure if it counts entirely: iirc, it's not that she doesn't know her romantic interest is a faery, but she doesn't know all that much about faeries in general and once stuff starts getting weird she Googles it.

For what it's worth, she also got a bunch of noise results for faerie stuff that was just myth and not "real." The Google trope bothers me a bit too; it's realistic enough nowadays that people would Google anything like that to the point where I may wonder why if they don't, and I understand making the presentation direct, but it makes me roll my eyes a bit when they find only applicable stuff or it explains everything. The way Black did it was less clumsy than usual, at least.

In movies, though, oh my god. It seems like we're growing out of it in the past couple years, but for the longest time EVERY computer interface in a movie made me cringe, and searches were the most unrealistic thing ever.
posted by Nattie at 11:34 AM on August 10, 2010


There's also InfoMole on Arrested Development.
posted by mippy at 5:44 AM on August 11, 2010


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