While walking to work one day I had an unusual revelation about the true insidious nature of TV Tropes. TV Tropes bills itself as a site where anyone can write about common facets of fiction that are used by writers in a fun manner. They bill the site encouraging casual language and discussion. That is merely their cover story. The site is nothing more than a candy coated factory for the subversive deconstruction and categorization of pop culture media with an agenda of guerrilla academic tactics hidden by a populist facade.
OK. That was just me being silly. What I did realize is that TV Tropes is sort of the Mirror universe version of traditional academic analysis and discussion of media. TV Tropes goes out of its way to make the site inviting, informal, and democratic in contrast to and atmosphere you would find in academia. TV Tropes much like Wikipedia as a site that anyone can use and contribute to. It is monitored and supported by the community with the concept that democratic policing instead of policing by experts. Snark and humor are highly valued as much (if not more than) critical content. While references to classic sources are used it is pop cultural selections that are mostly high prized. All of these things are antithetical to a scholarly paradigm.
At the same time you will see that both TV Tropes and academia use many of the same tools to analyze media. TV Tropes is based on the idea of using the English major’s greatest friend, deconstruction to break down a wide variety of media into small chunks and then classify and catalog all the similarities between the various titles into a database. When we use terms like deconstruction and databases of classifications we sound stuffy and academic but when we use terms like Deadpan Snarker and Xanatos Gambit we sound casual and fun. This might be an obvious revelation but it led me to some interesting thoughts.
I have seen many people on the Internet complain that they don’t care for the stuffy and rigid analysis of anime and other pop culture topics especially after talking about Mechademia. On the other side of the fence academia is infamous for looking down on casual crowdsourcing experiments on analysis as well. While individuals are more than happy to enjoy both styles of analysis traditionally neither camp is a fan of the other. While these two styles are very different how much do they share in common? How much would they benefit from the borrowing from the other one’s methodology? The goals of both school of thought are very similar. They both wish to gain a greater understanding of works they have passion for.