Ringing in the Generational Changes, One Trope at a Time

For a while, back in the 1990’s, there was a standard plotline. It wasn’t absolutely everywhere, but it cropped up in ‘Dinosaurs’ and some BBC murder mysteries. You can find whiffs of it in novels written at the time too.

The plot goes: Person is sick. Conventional doctor pushes the nasty pills. Person stays sick. Alternative, all-natural, healer offers the Herbs (TM) and person gets all better.

There are variations on the theme. Sometimes, it’s a plot point of the good guy using ‘only Herbs (TM).’ Sometimes it’s just demonizing doctors.

Some of this plot hangs around, popping up in more modern media. But there is also pushback. ‘House’ and episodes of ‘Leverage’ don’t let Herbs (TM) take on the aura of sanctity. There are whole websites picking apart problems with this narrative.

I think this is generational. The people who originated the above plot points are older. They grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, developed their ideas in the 1970’s, and came to spread them in the ensuing decades.

People of my generation suffered from these ideas.

We suffered from restrictive diets foisted on us that did nothing, but were supposed to cure failing grades. We were kept away from dentists and doctors as cavities grew to need root canals and learning delays festered. We were kept from the tutoring we needed, and the cognitive behavioral therapy we needed.

But there were always more Vitamin C chewable pills and Echinacea pills to swallow.

Lots of Herbs (TM) pills and associated treatments, some of them downright dangerous, were tested on us. None of it had been tested as full therapies in a controlled setting before being laid on us, but we couldn’t say no or get away from the experimentation because we were children. We didn’t know better.

So the narrative starts to change. Our parent’s generation is dying out, and their experiences no longer dominate the media. Tropes we got sick of, have a different take on, or just don’t work for us are phased out.

There will be no more Herbs (TM) magically curing everything, and somehow being different from your average drug. No more pretending that midwives and doctors weren’t using the same playbook to cure people in the past, and no more stories in which a patient is miraculously cured by the Healer (TM) with the Herbs (TM,) but the conventional doctor is flummoxed. None of that would ring true to me as a Gen Xer. Bet it doesn’t ring true to you, either.



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Vivian Yongewa

Vivian Yongewa


Writes for content farms and fun. Has an AU historical mystery series on Kindle.