The Stupid as Narrative Dissonance

  • Aaron KernerEmail author
  • Julian Hoxter


Different from a surprising plot twist, narrative dissonance pertains to narrative syntax. Like music, where dissonance is evident even to the completely untrained ear, narrative dissonance marks a narrative encounter that “feels off,” and in that sense stupid. The authors take Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time as their primary example. Episodes might end abruptly, feeling incomplete. The program also draws from Bakhtinian principles, including what is termed, “adventure time”—internal-diegetic moments where characters embark on various quests, but these individuated episodes have no bearing on the overarching narrative. And these quests, because they have no bearing on the narrative writ-large, might be considered stupid. The chapter also reviews the videogame Gone Home, and its reliance on spatialized storytelling, which strike some as dissonant—stupid.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of CinemaSan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA

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