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

kuyanJ: It seems to me that there is a difference between Power of friendship vs Bullet and Optimism vs Pesimism, even if the two are associated. For example Dr Strangelove presents an end-of-the-world scenatrio that tries to be feasible, but it results from a man deciding that evil must be destroyed. In many fairy tales, good triumphs and the world is not presented badly, but the evil people end up dying.

Ikkin: There's definitely a difference. In fact, I'd say that the trope described by the main article would be better described as Pacifism vs. Pragmatism than Idealism vs. Cynicism because of that. Idealism vs. Cynicism, alternatively, could be more about whether ideals give characters strength and good triumphs over evil than whether or not violence is necessary for victory. That way, pragmatic idealists (who consider their own ideals to be more important than keeping their enemies alive no matter what) could fit in somewhere.
Germaholic: I changed the Death Note example. The show is very cynical, particularly for a shounen series, but it's not because of what the creator thinks happens after death.
Black Humor: Does anyone have an idealistic quote to replace one of the cynical quotes with?

Killer Clowns: Did a bit of work on that. Cynical quotes tend to be funnier, unfortunately. Anyways, I think there's a better quote somewhere around for Discworld. And while it's sure to have some wonderfully idealistic quotes, I'm too lazy to go digging through Doctor Who's vast archives.
puritybrown: Tweaking the Firefly example, because the first sentence bugged me for both style-related and factual reasons. The fact that the characters are freelances with no organisational backup doesn't make the show cynical; the fact that they willingly off people for inadequate reasons in scenes that are played for laughs does. (For me, the killing of the henchman listed in the example was a Rape The Dog moment, not a Crowning Moment of Awesome. But mileage varies and I'm aware that I'm in the minority in this.)

Also, removing this:
If anything, Firefly is pragmatic rather than cynical - good deeds are rewarded, mercy is shown when possible and nobody really pulls a Karma Houdini, whatever their wealth or influence.

because either it's natter or a justifying edit, but either way it's not really adding anything that the counterexample didn't.

Germaholic: I've only seen the first five episodes of Firefly, so I don't know what happens in the rest of the series, but from what I've seen, while it's certainly not the pinnacle of Idealism, it didn't seem that cynical to me either and seems more middle-of-the-road. Captain Reynolds certainly doesn't fuck around and he doesn't take shit from anyone or anything like that, and some of the things he does might be questionable, but at the same time he probably means well at least most of the time, wants what he thinks is best for the crew (even when the crew doesn't necessarily agree with him, and sometimes they have a good reason not to agree with him), and generally will make the right decision in the end. Maybe one could argue that the show dips somewhat into the cynical side, but it's really not that cynical from what I've seen.


Lupis42: Whoa. Missed this one. I tell you, you get stuck without internets for a month or two... Anyways, reading over the forum discussion, I confess myself somewhat disappointed, since Romanticism vs Realism is both more literary and more alliterative. And idealism vs pragmatism seems more accurate. It's certainly not a change for the worse though.

Vampire Buddha: This page has been renamed following this forum thread. Hence, the following text has been removed:
This very wiki entry, by virtue of being titled Sliding Scale Of Idealism Versus Realism, rather than "Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism," is well towards the cynicism (er, "realism") end of the scale. But cynicism is better at snark than idealism, so that's OK.

Right, now all that remains is for the 27523563478560835 pages that reference the Sliding Scale Of Idealism Versus Realism to be edited. Also, it would be cool if somebody could

Desertopa: Done.

Oh, and here's the Discussion from the old name of the page:
Sunder The Gold: There any chance of making "Realism" the moderate middle of the scale, with Cynicism taking the proper place as the opposite of Idealism? I feel many people would agree that some works are more idealistic than realistic, and more cynical than realistic, so that idealism and realism are potentially as closely-related as realism and cynicism.

This could still leave personal perspective as to what exact median point between (or ratio of) idealism/cynicism results in realism.

In example, where Idealistically, you can always talk the Big Bad into turning over a new leaf, where Cynically, you always have to cap him between the eyes, in a Realistic work, it could fall either way based on a number of points, most notably the fact that people have free will and there's no telling (or forcing) what they'll choose to do, for good or bad.

Lee: I think realism should be thrown out of the equation for this trope and it should just be a spectrum of idealism and cynicism. Think about it: life is obviously better for some people than others and might be harder or easier for one person than it would be for other people. I mean, there are plenty of dysfunctional families but at the same time some families, while they might have their little spats and disputes, aren't constantly trying to screw each other over and abuse each other either. Obviously for someone living in a poor starving country, or in a concentration camp is going to have a shitty life, whereas someone in a nice suburban area that's really nice and peaceful might have a good life that is at least somewhat ideal, and both of these possibilities are perfectly realistic. Therefore I would say that series that are lighter, have really lovable and endearing characters, where everyone is happy, and you really can save everyone with The Power of Friendship would fall more on the ideal side and a series set in a Crapsack World where everyone is screwing everyone else over and people are generally miserable and there are absolutely no likable or sympathetic characters would fall very far on the side of cynicism.

I also think it makes absolutely no sense to refer to a show like Neon Genesis Evangelion as being realistic. It Just Bugs Me!. Having teenagers fighting in building-sized robots against building-sized aliens trying to take over the planet doesn't sound like a very realistic series to me. Yeah, I get what is meant by that line, but it still makes very little sense.

It's the same problem with fantasy series that might fall on the "realistic" end of the spectrum. It makes absolutely no sense because a realistic fantasy is an oxymoron. This wouldn't be a problem if it were the Sliding Scale of Idealism versus Cynicism because being cynical and being a fantasy are not mutually exclusive; it would simply be a cynical fantasy, one that is much darker than perhaps other fantasies might be. There would also be no need for quotation marks either, which might be used when referring a series as being on the "realistic" end despite the fact that it contains numerous magical, fantastical, or supernatural elements and just happens to be darker and bleaker in tone.

Sunder The Gold: The chief problem is that, we shouldn't have to hear or say that obviously Cynical shows are "realistic," and in doing so we have nothing to call a work balanced between the ends. This whole things feels like a Fallacy of the Excluded Middle (such as brought up in If Jesus Then Aliens).

The White Hat: I'm inclined to agree, but the main problem would be that someone(s) would have to hunt down every reference to the trope and change it. Its not that there is some huge group that thinks that realism is the One True Word, its just that few people care enough to make the alteration.

Bobfrank: Gotta agree with "Realism" being a badly inaccurate word for the concept being portrayed, especially as a contrast with idealism. Just look at Ghandi, at what he accomplished and how he accomplished it. You don't get much more realistic than something that really happened. "Cynicism" is a much better word. And it's not necessary to hunt down every reference, White Hat. Just make the current page into a redirect.

White Hat: What I'm saying is that even if we change the name here, now, thats all good and well, but most people will still know it as its present name, it'll still be referenced as its present name, and it will take a great deal of time and some zealous editors to stop the trope from still being called what is right now. Further, even though those of us discussing it here agree, I think we should probably post in the forum to make sure there aren't any serious objections to the name change.

Sunder The Gold: Well, we've got to start somewhere, and no time like the present. Please, go ahead and post on the forums. I don't know my way around them, otherwise I'd do it. But, I'm perfectly willing to edit this article and hunt down the wicks.
Guessmyname: Moved the Sailor Nothing entry to literature (it was in anime previously)

—-

Bluetooth The Pirate: I was thinking, maybe there's a Y-axis to this little graph, a complementary continuum, like the Sliding Scale of Realism vs. Slapstick?

On an unrelated note, it seems to me, from what I've actually set time aside to read, that Fan Fic writers really love to monkey with this slider, usually pushing it all the way to the "realistic" side. I think it may have to do with the writers in question taking the show really seriously.

Ununnilium: On the latter - yeah, I've seen that more than once. x.x But I've also seen it go the other way - for instance, numerous "Rewrite the Plot of Evangelion" fics.

As for the Y-axis, there may be one, but I don't think "Realism vs. Slapstick" is it; it seems more of a comedy-show slider, while this trope is more drama.

Looney Toons: As any disaffected teenager can tell you, angst is easy. Comedy is hard. That's why the vast majority of Ranma 1/2 fics (and thus the even vaster majority of bad Ranma 1/2 fics) all take it way, way too seriously. (Then again, there are the rare dark masterpieces like Zen's 1997 fic "The Bitter End", which succeeds despite a horrendously depressing concept and plot plus massive Flanderization of the characters.) It's a very rare author who can retain a comedy series' original comedic tone, or improve upon it. (See Rob "Kenko" Haynie's "Girl Days" for an example.)

osh: More generally, I notice it is very popular for writers to do fics that are a distinct polar flip in whatever series the story is based on, especially if the series has a strong mood already. At the time, I'm guessing Ranma and Evangelion simply represented the most famous extremes in the fandom, so the fanfic evolved in the opposite direction because of that.

Kendra Kirai: There's also the fact that some people believe that Ranma 1/2 had great potential for drama...and Evangelion had great potential to be..well...*anything* but what Anno made it into. Evangelion could've been much better if it got it's self-righteous stick out of it's metaphorical ass, and Ranma could have been a serious examination of gender issues or something...bu it was done for slapstick. At least, that's a valid theory, and I'm sticking to it.

Boobah: Visions... of Ranma x Eva... fan fic.... grk!

Tabby: We've started to nod towards the "it's about reversing the mentality of the original work" in the Fan Fic subcategories, but I'd also like to point out that we've also explored in a zillion other tropes that part of humor is playing off that which is unexpected and often taboo. Thus it's pretty easy to take something that's funny in the source material and twist it to show how much pain and trouble it could cause in the real world. One example that keeps coming up in the fics I'm working on: there have been nine Kim Possible plots focused around some kind of mind control, virtually all of them played purely for comedy. It's not a far leap to go, "Crap, that's kinda scary."

A Carlssin: This sentence: "Remakes of "cheesy" idealistic series will often be more "realistic", especially if the original series first aired in a time period that's seen as less self-aware." needs to be expanded upon, but I can't think of how to do without messing up the flow of the original page. The classic of course is "Star Trek" — STTNG was "medium-hard" sci-fi while the original series lived in the fuzzy line between sci-fi and fantasy. We also need to mention that some shows and comics like to pretend that they take place in the real world, but then they have huge, earth-shattering plotlines that should cause major changes. For example, "Doctor Who" is assumed to take place in "our" world, but the various invasions of earth make that impossible. But they gloss over it anyway.

Blork: "Realistic", in this page is not meant literally. It's not about how accurate a portrayal of reality the show is but how cynical it is, so "There's no time to negotiate, we must use our magic powers to destroy the evil subterranean mutants before they get a chance to attack!" counts as "realistic".
Shay Guy: Anybody up for a page like the Mohs Scale of Sci-Fi Hardness for this? Or has that been proposed and shot down already?

Cameoflage: I was actually wondering why this trope doesn't have something like that...


Zeke: I've taken out this line...

...because it seems misplaced. "Realism" here means pragmatism, not realisticness. However, I haven't read the book, so I may be misreading this.

AbuDhabi: You've got both in the book.

Ununnilium: Again, people, using This Troper is pointless if you just put your name in there. Replacing:
  • This troper (Cassy) doesn't view Evangelion as as cynical as it is often portrayed. Sure, the universe it shows is truly horrifying and gloomy, but most of the characters' (and arguably humanity's) problems stem from their deep and fairly touching longing for togetherness and love -and, indeed, existential inability to achieve them. Partly An Aesop on how industrialization and contemporary (westernized) Japanese culture can crush mercilessly the individual, and also on the ideas that human beings truly need each other and the world would be a better place 'if only'.

Bob: Cutting some stuff from the Code Geass example:

  • It says a lot that Lelouch is Chaotic Good and Suzaku is Lawful Evil.

Your personal opinion, however valid it may be, is to subjective to include like it was a matter of fact.

You forgot about Mao.
Austin: I haven't seen Grave of the Fireflies, but I've read that it's not meant to be a cynical statement overall, and that it's more a story of people than of war. A couple of the things I read are that the bombings at the start of the movie are presented as an abstract fact, like a natural disaster instead of a commentary on human nature. Also that the author intended the film to be an apology to his dead sister, and was surprised that people were so sympathetic to the main character, who didn't pull his weight and help contribute to his family's well being. —-

Wellington: Rewrote this:

  • Surprisingly, The Dark Knight, for all its darkness, is on the Idealistic side of the spectrum. In the end, The Joker fails utterly; his ferry plan having failed due to two examples of basic human decency, and his only high profile success in terms of his Humans Are Bastards / Chaotic Evil philosophy being undone by Batman's willingness to take the heat for Two Face's murders. In fact, a large portion of the dialog is about how best to deal with the evils of The Joker and the Mob, and discussing the fact that Batman can't actually do anything to fix the underlying problems on his own.

This is... a very generous interpretation, to say the least, given that Harvey Dent dies a monster, Batman is discredited, the authorities agree to perpetuate that lie because people Can't Handle the Truth, etc.


Dookie: Perhaps we could rearrange the examples not by media but actually scaling from idealism to cynicism the way we have on Moh's Scale of SF Hardness? Just a suggestion.

Anonymous Mc Cartneyfan: Good idea. It'll make the trope clearer.


Zephid: Not perfectly certain on the picture.


MikoGalatea: I've cut out the natter from the Bokurano/Naru Taru example and consolidated the important stuff into one paragraph. Here's what I snipped:

  • Bokurano is slightly less cynical than Narutaru, though, in This Troper's opinion. Despite the terrible situation, most of the main characters in Bokurano are genuinely good, well-intentioned, people, if rather screwed up. In Narutaru, on the other hand, Humans Are Bastards almost without exception, the only "good" character is subjected to Break the Cutie until she becomes as cynical as her Shadow Archetype counterpart, and the angst frequently reaches Diabolus Ex Machina levels.
    • In this troper's opinion, Bokurano is really not that cynical (at least the anime). While the world around the characters is horribly screwed up, all but one of the main characters manages to face their situation with strength and dignity. Narutaru's sliding scale, on the other hand, could be used to fling small planets with its pessimism.

To add my own 2p, while I haven't seen the anime version of Bokurano, I heard the director purposefully changed the latter part of the story to be more hopeful as he didn't like the bleakness of the manga (which is definitely far on the cynical side, but as has already been said, it's at least less so than Naru Taru).