Have you ever watched a show where the main characters are faced with a huge problem? Like a fucking dragon or a black hole…
But amidst all of this chaos, someone just states “Cmon guys we need to resynchronize the erbium gamma-wave shifter” and would you know, the problem is gone and the day is saved. You are perfectly fine until the episode/movie ends and you start to think about it – wait did they say something about resynchronizing gamma-waves? What the fuck does it mean.
And the secret is that it means absolutely nothing, it’s just big words being used to solve plot problems. Of course, don’t mistake it for actual word building and real explanations. These techno/magic babble type of situations are a bit rarer now, most studios understand that you can rewatch and rethink something a character says.
This type of bable was popularized by Star Trek, so I’m I saying that Start Trek is a bad show? Of freaking course, no, but it was made in a different era for a different viewing experience. It’s a tv show released when you couldn’t easily stop and replay a scene over and over. Like most of today’s video analysis on youtube does. And Start Trek was always about characters and wacky sci-fi stories they get into, like the old tv movies where the most important fact was that something was happening. So I still think that even today this type of trope has its place.
The Good – it saves you time and can even allow you to just go nuts on the story side because you’re not limited by your own technology or magic rules. It also can be used in a comedic effect, where each explanation adds more confusion to the story.
The Bad – in some cases, it’s not only showing kind of disrespect for the viewer, like they’re not smart enough to even understand BIG words but to your own story. It shows a lack of worldbuilding, because you don’t have to base everything on logical technology/magic system, but you must establish how YOUR own systems work. So instead of random mumbo jumbo, it would actually make sense and be plausible in YOUR universe.
How To Spot This Trope? – Easy, just look for someone explaining a solution, any solution, in big words, and usually very quickly. The more big words the explanation uses the more noticeable it gets. Remember when computer mainframes were all the rage? Everyone was hacking or stealing one – “I’m just going to hack into this government mainframe using this core nano implosion technology that shifts the router on and off”. Oh and usually the writers know it’s mumbo jumbo so it’s said very confidently so that the audience wouldn’t stop to question the legitimacy of it all.
The ultimate goal of this series would be to make a youtube videos explaining these tropes in more detail. Oh, and here’s more of my rants.
If you want to learn more about Techno/Magi Babble click here.