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This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Single Envelope Syndrome launched as Rule-Abiding Rebel: From YKTTW

Working Title: Conservative rebellion: From YKTTW

J Random User: My take on the Dumbledore business: I think it wasn't important to the story being told. If JKR had brought it up in the text it would have reduced Dumbledore to Gay Gaywizard Mc Gay the Gay guy. Instead, she created a character who was in no way defined by his sexuality, a fully fledged character who just so happens to be gay.

Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Lale: The way I've read it, she didn't even make the decision until after Book 7 had been published for months, after she noticed the so-called subtext.

Duckluck: Wait, Dumbledore's gay?

Lale: Of course not — the author just caught the Ho Yay madness. Or, more likely, a publicity stunt to keep the series in the controversial limelight.

{{Ophicius: She said she'd "always thought of Dumbledore as gay". She also said that she had the scriptwriters remove a line in the Half-Blood Prince film where Dumbledore's reminising over an old girlfriend. It really doesn't seem like something she came up with on the spot - besides fans have been seeing subtext between Sirius and Remus for years and she didn't make either of them gay.

Milly: While not directly related to the discussion... who is Dick Wolf and why is he mentioned in the Harry Potter entry for this trope?


Steelhead Tsotha: How is this a different trope than Reactionary Fantasy?

Fanti Sci: They overlap, with many a Reactionary Fantasy becoming a Rule-Abiding Rebel once the Powers That Be start hailing it as an example of early radicalism. However, as far as I understand, a Reactionary Fantasy is specifically designed to be that way by the writers; a Rule Abiding Rebel's status hinges on critical or public reaction, often retrospectively. It's a reputation rather than a genre.

To be honest, I always thought of Reactionary Fantasy as being "there, there, all our traditional values will survive these crazy kids, don't panic!" while this one is less intentional, going for radical but falling back on the status quo. I see the similarity, though. Does anyone else think this is basically the same trope and that this one should be cut/redefined?

Robert: They're different routes to the same destination. Rule-Abiding Rebel is an author attempting to be radical, but failing to follow through. Reactionary Fantasy is a deliberate subversion of the radical.

Lale: The Reactionary Fantasy is a rule-abiding reaction in media to rebellion in culture.

Steelhead Tsotha: Ah, I understand now. There's also, apparently, no such thing as an unintentional Reactionary Fantasy whereas it seems that Rule-Abiding Rebel is just as often a case of reputation rather than anything else.


Fear Bag: I think it's good/fixed right now. Just thought I'd fix this page back up.

Fanti Sci: I may have to Glomp you. I couldn't find this page on Google and I was dreading having to rewrite the whole thing. Thank you!


Nezumi: Cut. Supposedly abandoning the concept for a different and more typical plotline isn't this trope, which is about more culturally significant things than "use a historical figure as a lead character in an RPG". And the troper who added it is just Complaining About Shows You Don't Like, adding Eternal Sonata at random to negative-sounding tropes just to show that he thinks it's bad and over-rated — he, only slightly less speciously, added it to Your Mileage May Vary as well.


re: Brokeback Mountain, I never really got that sort of message about the women, and even if it were there, it would probably be appropriate, right or wrong, for its setting. I also didn't pick up on any endorsement of gay extramarital affairs as "tragically beautiful" but rather just plain tragic. I'm pretty sure the viewer is supposed to feel sorry for everyone, not just Ennis and Jack (the fact that Michelle Williams picked up an Oscar nomination gives me hope that I'm not the only one who felt that way). Annie Proulx stated that the entire point of the story is to illustrate the destructive effects of rural homophobia. I think anyone looking for the events of such a story to be "progressive" is mistaken, quite honestly, and that when most people refer to the film as progressive, they are probably only referring to the fact that it made it to mainstream theaters at all. I think. The only thing I'd complain about in regard to the film is the fact that halfway through you never see them have sex or even kiss again (when Alma accuses Ennis of "not going up there to fish," you're not supposed to think, "Well, that doesn't seem quite so far-fetched"). At least the same can't be said of Proulx's short story.

CA Lieber: My mother told me there's a huge amount of Fan Fic—some sent to Proulx unsolicited—in which they have a happy ending.
Elihu: When did we arrive at the "Hurr Hurr, Moral Guardians are soooooo stupid for thinkin this is controversial!!111 it's really no big deal it rocks!!11" stage of things? Look at the Dogma entry. It has nothing to do with the trope. There is no Rule-Abiding Rebel. There are several more entries that similarly just talk down to people who made a hullabaloo about the work and say it was no big deal. Is that part of this trope? Doesn't the title imply a character or an author or at least a publisher who had the intent of raising a (rule-abiding) ruckus?

Antheia: Cutting it, and similar non-examples such as the Life of Brian example. This page really needs a clean-up.

(Later) There, cut lots, now it should look better.

arromdee: I'm not sure Farnham's Freehold belongs here at all, but these were especially bad and I've taken them out:

  • The book was written in 1964. Was there a big pro-slavery movement in 1964? If not, then why was it so necessary to write a book ostensibly to preach about slavery?
  • And the only one in the book who does a Face-Heel Turn (deciding that living as a cannibal slaveowner was better than earning a degree and becoming successful in his own society) is the modern black guy— who had previously been pretty subservient to his mentor/tutor, the lead White Guy. In general, Heinlein writes black characters pretty poorly; he grew up in a racist culture, and to his credit, he did try to overcome it. The only place he really succeeded was The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. All his other black characters are pretty much caricatures— especially in his earlier stories like Blowups Happen.
  • I totally agree that his earlier works suffered from him attempting to be non racist and failing, however by the time he got around to writing The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, you can read the entire book and not even realize that the protagonist is black (well, half white and half black but he identifies himself as black) until the end.

There wasn't a big pro-slavery movement in 1964, but 1964 was in the middle of the civil rights movement, and the relevance of a slavery story should be excruciatingly obvious, even if real-world oppression of American blacks fell short of actual slavery at the moment.

And it's pretty obvious why the black guy did a Face-Heel Turn: Because being subservient to isn't something that he liked all that much. That's a fairly direct comment on how bad it is to treat people subserviently.
CA Lieber: I'm not sure the Dumbledore belongs here rather than Straight Gay or the like. I'm not sure, either, the historical examples are this rather than Values Dissonance. A Doll's House was genuinely rebellious at the time; that we think it normal for a woman to own property is hardly Ibsen's fault (or, rather, it is Ibsen's fault, but hardly something he'd complain about).


fleb: Uh, what the second bit says.

  • The play Hedda Gabler is sometimes seen as proto-feminist. In it, the main character abuses her loving husband (Who could, at worst, be said to be a boring, and socially inept for not seeing Hedda's severe problems sooner), ruins a man's life, and in his depression, helps push him to suicide. BECAUSE SHE IS BORED. Then she kills herself. The audience is asked to pity her because she longs to be something other than a proffessors wife, but any sympathy goes out the window with her actions. While Hedda is certainly independant and driven, she uses this to sadistic ends that make the story seem far more like a warning about what happens when women are too motivated.
    • This troper completely disagrees with that last part - Hedda's problem is that although she looked up to Lovborg and the way he lived his life free without caring what others thought of him, she has always been too paralysed by fear of scandal to follow his example. She didn't pursue a romance with Lovborg out of fear, and married safe by marrying Jorgen Tesman. Because she has never controlled her own life, she seeks to control others - or at least to sabotage their control over their own lives out of spite. This is why she ruins Lovborg's life, and why she is so horrible and domineering over everybody else - and why she eventually kills herself, when Brack threatens to expose her involvement in Lovborg's death and cause a public scandal. If anything, the play Hedda Gabler is a tragedy that critiques the restrictions placed on women - and people in general - in the Norwegian society of the time, which keeps them from pursing any motivations they might have to in some way be exceptional. (Yes, this troper recently studied Hedda Gabler in high school Literature class.)
    • ...It makes sense now!


Cliché: Do we have to be so freaking judgmental on what is "feminist" enough? Seriously:
  • In the same vein, magical girls are usually described as being empowering figures for girls, yet many are ultra-feminine, docile young women whose main goal in life is to get married. However, subversions and deconstructions of this type are becoming common, though ironically towards a different audience completely.
Yeah, ignore the fact that a lot of them are written for girls by girls. I could easily write an example about how the Action Girl is touted as the epitome of empowerment, but in reality they are written as male Author Appeal since they end up losing their "female" characteristics to fit in the male idea of Badass. Heck, TIME Magazine even ran an editorial on this kind of personality showing up primarily to appeal to the assumed male theatre demographic. Also, if Girls Need Role Models is still considered "rebellious", what time period am I living in?

fleb: 1. That's the entire point, isn't it? That Girls Need Role Models is an attempt at being "rebellious" that really isn't.
2. A value judgment isn't automatically a bad thing. Dunno how we'd have anything opinion-like on this site at all if it all got cut for being "judgmental."
3. Not sure how who it's written by or what its target audience is affects the validity of the example. Seems valid: It's still touted as progressive and displays noticeably regressive tropes (In this case, loudly displaying What Proper Young Ladies Should Be Like).
4. You'd have to impose the artificial definition of what's naturally "female" on the character to say that they lose those characteristics for the sake of the males. That's not to say you don't have a point that it can be done for the audience's sake.

Cliché: I interpreted the Girls Need Role Models description as using female characters as a vehicle to drop anvils about empowerment. I suppose it could be considered a failed attempt at rebellion in the sense that it's simply conforming to another set of rules about how girls should act. Interestingly, the talk page has several female tropers flipping out about people Completely Missing the Point and using the page to deride female characters for not being feminist enough. It even got a Flanderization entry as a result of this happening. I have primary issues with TV Tropes making value judgments based on the Flanderized version of feminism, which is essentially reverse discrimination.

I reread the description and apparently it is talking about rebelliousness as an Informed Attribute while not specifically stating who is doing the attributing. I rather liked how the Jane Austen entry was written, taking into account Values Dissonance, and I only had issues with how the entries sounded more like generic complaining. And I still insist that Action Girl fits as much as Magical Girl due to the former being geared towards appealing to men when not being uses as an Anviliciousness vehicle. That's not the set of rules TV Tropes tends to take into account, but it is nonetheless present. Not saying all Action Girl types are used for those motives, but it depends on the writer as much as Magical Girl, and both do fall into the Most Writers Are Male trap.

fleb: I read Girls Need Role Models as sort of two-fold: First it's about how the public demands strong female characters who are good role models, and also complain if they're morally ambiguous; and the creators tout their female characters as progressive, whether or not they fell into the pitfall of projecting a specific set of values onto every female. The former drives the latter.
I don't see quite the same problem on the wiki, since the focus is on fictional characters, not judging real people's life decisions. Since there's a specific set of gender roles that have been enforced in society for a looong time, subtext of cultural reinforcement gets noticed and rightly pointed out. A Man Is Not a Virgin would be one of the male-centric examples of Things That Deserve To Get Complained About.

Fanti Sci: The reason Magical Girl ended up on this page is because many academic papers on shoujo manga (they exist, honest!) extol them as being feminist, since the girls are more powerful than the boys around them, failing to take into account the fact that most magical girls are pretty obsessed with getting married and having babies - the more "traditional" female role. Quite a few would put their boyfriend above saving the world (Sailor Moon, anyone?). Nothing wrong with wanting a life of domestic bliss (and notice that the entry didn't make a value judgement), but it's not "rebellious" - it's the traditional female norm, just with more sparkles and the occasional stuff-blowing-up. Will probably be putting this section back in, once my computer stops glitching on me.

fleb: I'll do it now, if there aren't any objections. (I realize I didn't reply to this part earlier: Yeah, it does qualify in a way the "Action Girl is an appeal to male audiences" thing just doesn't.)

Cliché: Well, now that I know it isn't merely something some person made up, I'm perfectly fine with the entry. I still think the page ought to be more diversified from the apparent Flanderization into gender issues, but since gender happens to be the biggest issue acceptable for discussion on regular sites, I can understand how it happened to take up half the examples.
Wascally Wabbit: In that Simpsons episode with Mel Gibson there is a brief shot of the movie Canadian Graffiti with a man spraying 'obey the rules' on a wall. Someone who knows about these things must find that picture.
Cliché: Discussion has been brought up on the forum regarding possible substantial changes to be made to this trope, primarily related to the amount of gender/politics wank on the page. Thank you, and have a nice day.

Whoever added the Valkyria Chronicles entry: Thank you. I agree wholeheartedly. 04/02/2009 17:31 MST


*** Yes, it would be unfair to say that, but no one did. The characters all go out of their way to attribute Tiana's success to her father's influence on her, but that opinion hasn't generally carried over to the audience. Though it's important to note that he never achieved his dream not because of any failing on his part, but because he died in a war before he could make it happen.

What characters attribute Tiana's success to her father? Eudora doesn't, she just talks about how he had love and she needs it to. Mama Odie talks about how he was a lovin' man but she doesn't talk about the restaurant at all. Naveen and her sidekicks don't even know who he is. Facilier mentions him as a way of baiting Tiana, but he really only talks about the failure. It's pointed out in the movie that James failed because he was providing for his family. Tiana is only nineteen, she still accomplished more than he did.

** The other Rule-Abiding Rebel aspect of the Princess And The Frog is the matter of Tiana's mother being alive, which is extremely unusual for Disney heroines; yes, she is, but she only has one scene with Tiana as a young adult— to give her her father's gumbo pot and sit in on a song number— and the rest of the time, she's window dressing. As is more typical of Disney fare, Tiana's father gets more screentime, provides more motivation, and has more influence on her than her mother; the only thing that makes this unusual is that he's dead and she isn't.

Eudora has twice as much screentime as James. Her purpose is the movie is to be someone who supports the "wish upon a star" fairy tale mindset that Tiana neglects, but to a more healthy extent than Charlotte. She's there to gently criticize Tiana while still being supportive of her dream. "Typical Disney fare" is to have the dad be a bumbling idiot or a stern obstacle keeping the heroine from her dreams with no mother at all. It's not wrong to have a dad with actual dignity, and nobody's walking away from the movie thinking James was better than Eudora except people who want to complain. Most people won't even remember their names.

More on Eudora: "EUDORA (voice of Oprah Winfrey) is Tiana’s foundation, both anchor and inspiration. Tiana sees in her mother the successful and respected businesswoman she aspires to be. As a girl, Tiana’s happiest moments are spent with her mother, playing in the home of one of her wealthy clients with a little girl named Charlotte. But where Tiana’s father James is a romantic, Eudora is a pragmatist. She knows the tough times Tiana will face as an independent woman."


  1. Shrek, which has beautiful Princess Fiona falling for the ugly, grumpy ogre Shrek...only for this to cause her to become an ogre herself (all the time), thus rather undermining the aesop. It could probably be argued that there is no real way to do the Beauty And The Beast story without either breaking a supposed aesop, or running into serious Fridge Logic.

  • That she's actually happier as an ogre than as a human arguably makes it something of a subversion.

I disagree with this analysis. I don't think Shrek belongs on this page. The work is a deconstruction of gender roles in fairy tales, and sold itself as such as far as I know. Shrek is a non-conformist who rejected the white knight ideals he traditionally should have upheld, instead being crude, gross, underhanded and violent as he deemed fit. Fiona shares almost all of these "undesirable" traits, but maintains a mask of civility and elegance to support her traditional feminine gender role. The dual nature of her curse is symbolic of this conflict between who she is naturally and who she thinks the world should see (note the ogre only comes out at night). When she becomes an ogre permanently, it is indicative that she has cast aside pretencions of what she traditionally should be obligated to do in favour of what makes her happy. Shrek is an indictment of gender roles and conformity, while spoofing the everloving hell out of their presence in fairy tales. I don't think it falls short of following through on this at all.