Insult Dissonance
A character uses an insult the audience doesn't find offensive


(permanent link) added: 2011-08-27 16:14:13 sponsor: blueranger (last reply: 2011-09-08 23:49:05)

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An insult is meant to hurt and be offensive to the person receiving it. So it makes sense that most insults are made up of the foulest and most offensive words imaginable? Sadly one of the biggest results of Gosh Dang It to Heck! is characters using the mildest swear words and other phrases to insult each other. When watching this big put-down the audience will often roll their eyes when Alice bursts into tears after Bob calls her a witch and Narm often results. Some shows and films will save the big swear words specifically for scenes like these but then sometimes they will be edited to keep things family friendly and thus playing the trope straight. Now if the insult has a special in-story reason to be offensive to a certain character, then that's a different story. And of course take into account that Values Dissonance can apply as well. Compare What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?.

Examples:

Film
  • Achilles's big insult to Agamemnon in Troy: "You sack of wine".
  • In the film of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire the words "your father is vile and cruel" are enough to piss Malfoy off so much he tries to curse Harry.
  • In Planet of the Apes Taylor's big insult is "you damned dirty ape!" though the impact probably comes from the apes never hearing a human speak before.

Literature
  • In The Famine Secret after Matron slaps Fiona she yells "don't you touch me you horrible woman!" and ends up getting locked in the cellar for two days.
  • Invoked in Ash: A Secret History by Mary Gentle: According to the Framing Device, it's a new modern translation of a medieval manuscript. There's an author's note at the front explaining that, since medieval swears would just seem quaint if translated directly, they've been replaced with their modern emotional equivalents. Which is why medieval warriors are dropping the F-word all over the place and talking about the shit hitting the fan.
  • From the Poetic Edda, when Thor has just threatened to hit Loki with Mjolnir, Loki responds: "Along time still | do I think to live/ Though thou threatenest thus with thy hammer;/ Rough seemed the straps | of Skrymir's wallet, When thy meat thou mightest not get,/ And faint from hunger didst feel". Basically, he just reminded Thor of one time he got really hungry and couldn't open a container of meat. Two paragraphs later, and Loki is trapped in his daughter's realm, bound to a rock with the intestines of two of his sons, with a snake dripping venom into his face. The norse gods take this stuff seriously.

Live Action TV
  • Parodied in How I Met Your Mother when future Ted censors his past self and replaces an insult to Lily with "Grinch". The original word is never revealed.
  • From Scrubs with Elliott often replacing dirty words with weird euphemisms we have this weird line in a dramatic scene:
    Elliott: "Carla, sometimes you can be a major kaboodle-hole"

Professional Wrestling
  • Pops up all the time in WWE thanks to the new PG system. Sometimes wrestlers will be able to slip words like "crap" and "ass" past the radar but some promos have given us these gems:
    Kelly Kelly: "Vickie, you're a greedy power hungry witch!"
    Rey Mysterio: "All you are is a crybaby"
    MVP: "You are a monkey flinging poo!"
    Maria: "You are the most egotistical diva in the WWE"
    • Once they did slip "bastard" into a promo but the way it was said (by Michael Cole at that) sounded like a kid learning a swear word and using it for the first time.
  • CM Punk's big putdown that made John Cena fly off the edge? "You are the New York Yankees!"

Video Games
  • In Mass Effect, calling a member of the Asari alien race a "pure-blood" is a huge insult because in their culture, individuals not born from Boldly Coming carry a large social stigma. Liara (a pure-blood Asari member of The Squad) has to explain this to the human Player Character during her character arc.
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