I'd like to talk about self-awareness, which will kinda link into another topic, the idea that something being a parody justifies it being stupid.
To start, I'd like to point out that it seems to have become a trend for modern incarnations of classic characters to always point to themselves and have self-deprecating humour.
Whether it's a series that has been revived after a decade, or a series that just got a new spinoff, they seem to have gotten the habit of pointing at the original series and saying "Haha, that's silly, isn't it?"
Now, first off, there's nothing inherently WRONG about doing things like that.
I mean when you think about it, the tone of stories were different in the 80's and 90's. It's inevitable for newer incarnations to look back at it and have a chuckle at how silly things were.
And besides, where IS Sonic keep all those billions of rings? Why DOES Mario grow after eating a mushroom? Why IS Link's ultimate nemesis a friggin Pig? These questions are inherently funny, since it points out the leaps of logic that games had back then, and sometimes still do to this day.
What I want to point out to, though, is that it's a slippery slope.
Because as much as I'd like there to be more humour in these day's video games, the humour alone wasn't what made games great.
It gets more and more difficult for a player to be passionate and invested the more and more jokes you give your characters, especially when those jokes are at their own franchise's expense.
Suspension of disbelief comes from the characters still taking things seriously even when the thing in question is quite silly.
The reveal of Darth Vader being Luke's father was a big shock back then, but do remember that this is a guy in a full black suit and a cape with a mask that has a permanent "°Δ°" face, who just revealed to a pretty-boy with a LASER SWORD that he's his father.
Yet never did they point out Darth Vader's face for actually looking kinda silly, not even in the Prequels. In fact, give credit where credit is due, Anakin's transformation into the suit was played for all it's horror it could get away with and, the huge "NOOOOOO" at the end not withstanding, it really really worked.
Great writing comes from KNOWING when to point out something is silly, but to pick the right time and place.
One of my favourite animes of all time is Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and believe me, it definitely does not come from it's realism. Characters are hilariously over-the-top and so confident that it's hard to distinguish bravery and stupidity.
But you know what it also has? Passion.
The more passionate speeches come from the main characters, the more I get invested in them and the more I feel sad when someone dies.
Why do the big robot suits have faces everywhere? Why does everything powerful seem to involve drills? Why the HELL is the female character wearing such a skimpy outfit and how the HELL can she be 14?!
It all doesn't matter, because it doesn't matter to the main characters. They take it seriously, no matter how ridiculous everything is. They give so much passion to the drills in all those powerful moves that, if you have a heart, you can't help but have passion for it too.
You want to point out war is bad? It doesn't take a genius to make THAT clear.
You want to make huge giant drills something to be passionate about? Now THAT takes skill.
Which links me to the second topic, the idea that something being a parody justifies it being stupid.
There have been many times when something idiotic happens in a plot, and I commented that it's stupid and just doesn't fit.
Of course, like always, there's always someone there to defend it by saying "It's a parody!"
Which of course means that it immediately justifies bad writing.
No it doesn't.
If it truly was a parody that actually made it work, then I have just one question in return for it.
"Then why am I not laughing?"
The point of a parody is for a subversion to be funny.
If it's just to make fun of the original source material, then it's not a parody, it's a satire.
But most of the time it's not even that, a satire is supposed to critique the original source material to give some value to the crowd in return.
A parody is a movie like The Naked Gun.
It takes what makes Cop movies fun, and adds something that makes it especially funny, like the main character being an idiot, the world working like a cartoon, the villains being as over-the-top as possible and the gunfights ridiculously stupid.
Never, however, did it actually say Normal Cop movies were bad. In fact, they just reinforced what's so good about a Cop movie.
You can now appreciate how clever the main characters are in those movies when they figure out the mystery. The more realistic world now gets more of an appreciation since it reinforces how clever the main characters had to be to figure it out. The villains are now very subtle in comparison and you can now excuse yourself for actually falling for their charm. And Gunfights will now get appreciated for upping the ante, doing more creative stuff than the standard cover and fire compilations.
A satire on the other hand is a movie like Die Hard.
It takes the usual 80's action movie and puts it in a more harsh light.
Whereas 80's action movies have the main character mowing down hundreds of enemies with a machine gun that never runs out, THIS main character almost gets stopped by broken glass in his bare feet.
It criticizes the brainless nature of the genre it satirizes.
However, the critique isn't just there for the sake of critiquing.
The critique is there to add more meaning to the theme of the story, which is "How far will you go for your loved one?"
The whole journey becomes so much more satisfying after seeing the main character suffer so much through the whole thing, whereas another 80's Action Hero would have killed everyone in 10 minutes and then have taken their women to bed before the credits roll.
This however shows the problem with how people justify parodies/satire.
If it's not funny, it fails to be a parody.
If it's a critique on something, but ends up not doing anything with it, it fails to be a satire.
You can have your character panicking in a crowd in front of a bomb that's going off in an hour, but if previous scenes/episodes in fact showed that the character was supposed to be a bomb expert, that's not something you can justify by it being a parody or a satire.
Unless someone actually points out that the character was supposed to be a bomb expert, reminding them and then puts them in front of the bomb to deactivate it, which makes it a parody.
Or if the character was supposed to have been lying last time he said that and links into the moral that lying to show off will bite you in the ass, which makes it a satire.
Something simply being a plothole, however, does not get justified by it being a parody. It's just bad writing.