Tweet of the Day: Character Trait Entry: Ruthless
This trope is so simple and so overused I don’t know why I even bother to explain it to you or write very long sentences about it. It could be the pain medication talking, I don’t know.
Anyway if you really want to show that the baddies are, well, really bad oppressors of all that is good, decent and kittens (dogs are overrated, although puppies are alright as long as they don’t piddle in the floor, ooops!) then dress them up in black/gray, give them some jack boots and have them march by the thousands in front of adoring citizens waving tiny flags imprinted with even smaller bastardized former religious symbols now forever associated with evil.
In other words: Putting on the Reich.
Essentially you cut and paste Nazi fashion sense into your book/movie/video game and you’re done. Nazis are bad, these thugs look like Nazis, which means they are bad.
The irony of course is that the Nazis copied from others that came before them and that taken individually none of the symbols amount to much (except the flags, the flags are always a dead give away). Nor do the government in question has to be fascist. Any regime with authoritarian/totalitarian overtones will do. In fact, the trope displays said overtones in the most lurid way possible. Which can be a bit of a problem.
As in, “Shooting yourself in the foot before you step your first goose step,” kind of problem.
To invoke this trope fully you have to chuck any pretense of subtlety out the window.
Let me re-phrase that.
You just shot subtlety into orbit with a cannon.
And your reader along with it.
Can it be done? Yes.
Should it be done? Maybe….
This is one of those places were in you really want to step lightly. Very, oh so very contrary bloody lightly.
Better to do some research and understand how and why the Nazi’s came up with their visual language and use that instead of spraying the walls with swastikas and calling it a day.
You will thank me later.
(WARNING: Naughty language ahead. Press Play at your own risk)