Created By: LeighSabioDecember 23, 2009
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Cancer Is Bad

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Friends, there comes a time in everyone's life when they can no longer sit quietly and say nothing. Sometimes, a man's got to take a moral stand, even though it may not be popular and even though it might get him into trouble. Today, my friends, is that day. I won't stay silent any longer. I believe that cancer is bad.

This is a trope for when characters are treated as brave revolutionaries by the other characters in the work for stating the obvious: that Eyepatch Q. Blackheart is a bad man, that the Nazis were evil, that cancer is bad, etc. Can also apply to situations or things instead of people.

The important part of the trope is the reaction of others. This isn't about the work's moral message, it's about a character being treated as brave for making statements that are completely in line with the majority opinion around him.

Obviously there's Truth In Television here.

Also, I can't think of any examples right off the top of my head, but I know I've seen this before. Can anyone help me out here?
Community Feedback Replies: 67
  • October 30, 2009
    SevenOfDiamonds
    • Any high school show that has someone standing up and speaking out about cliques and bullying, with everyone responding as if this is some sort of edgy new statement that's never been done before.
  • October 30, 2009
    LeighSabio
    • The Slacktivist refers to this as the "Anti Kitten-Burning Coalition".
  • October 30, 2009
    random surfer
    Revenge Of The Nerds - Lewis's Stirring Speech towards the end of the film.
  • October 30, 2009
    Machiavellienne
    If we're accepting Truth In Television examples, a lot of Oscar Bait films fall prey to this- after all, there's nothing daring about pointing out that the Holocaust was bad.

    After the Brokeback Mountain vs Crash kerfuffle, a lot of articles pointed out that Crash's anti-racism message was a lot less threatening to voters than Brokeback Mountain's themes. (And before anyone busts out the 'liberal Hollywood' argument, actors and writers aren't the only people who vote in the Academy Awards.)
  • November 5, 2009
    Unknown Troper

    Sorry but this sounds whiny the way it is written. Just because you had heard of a moral before doesn't invalidated it.
  • November 5, 2009
    Pika_power
    No, but his point is that if I stand up and tell people that the holocaust was a dreadful event and that we need to recognise this, I'm not a hero, because that's widely accepted. If I'm treated as being a daring new revolutionary speaking out against the norm, I've fallen victim to Cancer Is Bad.

    I think that we should change the name to something else which is viewed as evil. (Cancer isn't really viewed as something that can be spoken out against.) A Holocaust related title is the obvious choice, but that's a tad cliché. Even so, I propose the title I Think Hitler Was Wrong.
  • November 5, 2009
    Deboss
    You might want to switch to I Think Nazis Are Bad instead. I Think Hitler Was Wrong strikes me as Godwins Law or Hitler Ate Sugar.
  • November 5, 2009
    STUART
  • November 6, 2009
    melloncollie
  • November 6, 2009
    Deboss
    Folks we have a winner. Thank you melloncollie.
  • November 6, 2009
    spideydude
    IIRC, most of the Guinness "Brilliant!" ads were like this:
    "Don't drink six beers at the same time? Brilliant!"
  • November 6, 2009
    FalconPain
    From a faux news ad in You Don't Know Jack: The Ride: "Nine out of ten celebrities agree that war is bad. Hear the details tonight."
  • November 7, 2009
    Pika_power
    @Melloncollie: The difference is that People Die When They Are Killed is when the person pointing out that the Nazis were bad is told to sit down and shut up. This one is when they are hailed as a hero for proclaiming such a radical, dangerous idea.
  • November 7, 2009
    Iphigenia
  • November 7, 2009
    Deboss
    Fair enough, sorry, I didn't catch that part either. If it's got enough examples let's go with Anti Kitten Burning Coalition.
  • November 7, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    People Die When They Are Killed deserves to be more than a redirect.
  • November 7, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn is hailed by some as a great anti-racist text, even though all it actually says is that slavery is bad. And it was written after the abolition of slavery, so it was never that radical an idea.
  • November 7, 2009
    Jallen
    Parodied in Extras:
    Andy Millman: I think, you know, you doing this is so commendable - you know, using your profile to keep the message alive about the Holocaust.
    Kate Winslet: My God, I'm not doing it for that. And I don't think we really need another film about the Holocaust, do we? It's like, how many have there been? You know, we get it - it was grim, move on. No, I'm doing it because I've noticed that if you do a film about the Holocaust - guaranteed Oscar!

  • November 7, 2009
    Unknown Troper
  • November 7, 2009
    Pika_power
    I still prefer I Think Nazis Are Bad to Anti Kitten Burning Coalition. I just think that AKBC is a tad too long and isn't as succinct as ITNAB.
  • November 7, 2009
    iwintheinternets?
    I wholeheartedly agree with Pika Power. ITNAB is pronounceable too.
  • November 7, 2009
    Pika_power
    Hmm. I was just trying to think of examples, and I kept getting this and Anvilicious mixed up. Take Captain Planet. Everyone knows that dumping an oil tanker in the ocean is a bad idea, yet everyone keeps going on about it. Are they telling me that Nazis are bad, or are they being Anvilicious?
  • November 8, 2009
    Luc
    Anvilicious is more about style. This is more about topic. It's possible to be Anvilicious about an unpopular topic (imagine a book trying to make the point that murdering your parents is good: Very much against the spirit of this trope, but it can be done just as Anviliciously as its more popular opposite); and it's possible to have this trope, and do it subtly (take, for example, The Dark Knight's minor theme about negotiating with [strike:Terrorists] The Joker: Every time anybody does what he asks, worse things happen than would have otherwise; the point being made is by no means controversial, but still, not an example of Anvilicious, since it has to be pointed out to some viewers.)
  • November 8, 2009
    STUART
    If it needs to be shorter just make it Anti Kitten Burning. That's both shorter and easier to pronounce than I Think Nazis Are Bad.
  • November 8, 2009
    Deboss
    If we're going with that, then you can put Captain Planet on there since, the bad guys were just gratuitously evil. No one wants to spill oil into the ocean, especially not the people who own the oil, cause then they can't sell it to you.
  • November 8, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    but they still spill oil. that's why they keep reminding the viewer It's a Bad Thing. It's the Never Forget attitude.

    Okay I can see where you are coming from Pika_power with widely accepted moral being treated revolutionary as long as we are clear on the different between the two.
  • November 8, 2009
    Dcoetzee
    Another vote for the (unabbreviated) Anti Kitten Burning Coalition. Besides referencing an actual detailed article on the subject, it's succinct and unambiguous even without context.
  • November 8, 2009
    Deboss
    But they don't want to keep spilling oil is the thing, it's just something that happens every once in a while. Car accidents kill how many people a year? But it's not treated like it's the manufacturers fault, it's just something that, statistically, is going to happen eventually. It'd be nice to avoid it, but thems the breaks.
  • November 8, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    One chould argue that the writers were (poorly) trying encouraging better safely regulations or simply trying to spread awareness, but we are going off topic.

    anyway the OP was widely accepted morals being treated revolutionary. if we lanch it that is what is going to be about righ?
  • November 9, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    If we're including Real Life examples, anyone who is praised for daringly protesting against war, climate change, puppy murdering etc. Not that these things aren't bad, but if you are marching with thousands of others and a sizable minority (or even the majority) of the country agrees with you then you can't really call yourself a rebel.

    Though having a real life section may verge into flame bait so it might be best to leave it out.
  • November 9, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    I can't even count the number of movies for kids and teens where "Bullying is wrong" and/or "You should be yourself" are considered revolutionary, game-breaker statements.
  • November 9, 2009
    Pika_power
    Is there a reference I'm not getting with the Anti kitten burning thing? While most people think that burning kittens is bad, if you walk up to someone and ask them what the most evil thing they can think of, they are more likely to say Nazis than burning kittens.

    Also, we must remember that drowning kittens only recently went out of fashion, so kittens aren't exactly the most sacred thing on Earth anyway. Sure, they're cute, but no one equates them to being worth millions of human lives.

    Nazis are more evil and iconic than kitten killers.
  • November 9, 2009
    Anthony Alexander
    I agree with Pika_power.

    Anyway, examples, um....hrm.

  • November 10, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Also, we must remember that drowning kittens only recently went out of fashion...

    the same chould be said about National Socialism
  • November 10, 2009
    Pika_power
    Yes, but when it went out of fashion, it went out of fashion hard. Kitten killing, while bad, isn't as iconic of evil as Nazis are.

    If I ask a random person what the most evil act committed by humans in the last two centuries is, I'll be told the Holocaust or the whole Stalin thing. I doubt it would be kitten burning.
  • November 10, 2009
    Deboss
    Uh, I don't think National Socialism itself went out of vogue, just the party. Oh and Rape Pillage And Burn in wars.
  • November 11, 2009
    melloncollie
    "The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn is hailed by some as a great anti-racist text, even though all it actually says is that slavery is bad. And it was written after the abolition of slavery, so it was never that radical an idea."

    I'm nitpicking, but segregation lasted all the way up until the 1970s, 100 years after the abolition of slavery. Slavery was legally abolished, but there were still people during Mark Twain's time who were upset that it was gone and both Northerners and Southerners were likely to be racist.

    Condensing Huckleberry Finn to "slavery is bad" is also oversimplifying, it was a critique of society's flaws i.e. prejudice in general, ignorant people, etc.


    For what it's worth, I vote I Think Nazis Are Bad. Anti Kitten Burning Coalition makes me think of PETA.
  • November 11, 2009
    Deboss
    Now, now, we all hate PETA. Just because the two groups are at odds is no reason to not form the Anti Kitten Burning Coalition. Although I Think Nazis Are Bad is still probably easier to remember.
  • November 11, 2009
    Tzintzuntzan
    Chiming in late, there's something wrong here. These morals are the anti-Family Unfriendly Aesop -- morals like Be Yourself or Drugs Are Bad that get a yawn when they appear on TV.

    Trouble is, these morals aren't that universal, or people would have stopped using illegal drugs decades ago. And stopped bullying. And stopped polluting. And...

    Yes, they're trite as morals in fiction, but blanket statements about how "oh, anti-racism morals are so stupid because everyone agrees with them" are flat-out-wrong. And the Mark Twain example above makes me wonder if this page is going to get cluttered with all the examples already on the Rule Abiding Rebel and Fair For Its Day entries.
  • November 11, 2009
    Cidolfas
    It all depends on how it's presented. We're not just talking about "old morals", because many of them are timeless and reflect human struggles. This is more about someone being hailed as saying something "brave" or "revolutionary" when it's really nothing out of the ordinary.

    Captain Hammer from Dr Horrible is a musical version of this trope, where he starts off acting supercilious by saying how bad homelessness is - only for him to (naturally) subvert it seconds later when he starts giving backhanded insults to the homeless people in attendance.

    One more vote for Anti Kitten Burning Coalition.
  • November 11, 2009
    bigboy
    @Tzintzuntzan: Yeah seconded.
  • November 11, 2009
    melloncollie
    Anti Kitten Burning Coalition doesn't just make me think of PETA, I just don't think it conveys the trope well. It makes me think of a brigade of well-intentioned but mislead citizens who get their panties in a bunch over something that rarely happens anyway.

    I Think Nazis Are Bad gets the point across. It's exactly what the trope is portraying. Someone being Captain Obvious.
  • November 12, 2009
    TheGunheart
  • November 12, 2009
    Arivne
  • November 12, 2009
    TBeholder
  • November 12, 2009
    Pika_power
    Doesn't have to be narmy though. It can be one of the most well-done, emotional scenes of all time, but if it is a person standing up to a bully, or a person denouncing Nazi practices, it's I Think Nazis Are Bad.
  • November 12, 2009
    Shrikesnest
    I'm going to go ahead and say "no" to Captain Obvious Aesop because this isn't about the work's moral. It's not an audience reaction. This is about a character who is hailed as brave 1) within the work and 2) by other characters, not just the narrator or the tone of the story, for saying something that takes no bravery whatsoever.

    In fact, the issue itself could be pretty controversial, now that I think about it. Being outspokenly anti-war in Hollywood is the example I keep coming back to. The only risk you're taking is that your particular anti-war statement will go unnoticed next to all the others. You'll be endlessly congratulated for speaking truth to power and bravely rebelling against the establishment. Even though, at least in the US, you are constitutionally protected from any repercussions so far as the object of your derision goes, all of your friends are going to treat you like you're in danger of spending the rest of your life in the gulag, and not making more money on one film than most people in the wealthiest country in the world are going to make in a lifetime.

    So to make another point, making an incredibly obvious moral statement can be brave if you actually face repercussions for it. Making a bold, public statement against an unpopular war in a country where you can get locked up for it doesn't count. Boldly confronting a bully and telling him that bullying is wrong could get the crap kicked out of you; as someone who was personally victimized by bullies and never had the guts to protest to their faces, believe me, it's hard. If, on the other hand, you are not someone who faces bullying and you make a speech about how bullying is wrong at a school assembly, where all that you risk is that the applause to your speech will be polite and scattered and not a wild, days-long, bacchanalian celebration, then no bravery is involved.

    I'm going to have to make sure that the description is concise, or else this thing is going to branch out into other, similar tropes, as has been stated. I'm also leaning very heavily toward no real-life examples. The concept is such that it has a concrete definition, but I think it'd get out of hand anyway. Oh well.

    In any event, it's launch time soon. I'm leaning toward Anti Kitten Burning Coalition, mostly because it reinforces the group mentality that is vital to the heart of this trope: you can't exercise this in a vacuum, someone has to think you're brave. I Think Nazis Are Bad, much like my original title, suffers from sounding just like Captain Obvious.
  • November 12, 2009
    melloncollie
    ^ I think the description should be clarified then. Emphasize the group-think aspect of it, please.

    Also, if this is mostly based on audience reaction, then does it count if it's simply Values Dissonance? Like the Huckleberry Finn example above, it seems obvious to us that racism/prejudice/slavery is bad, but at the time Mark Twain wrote it, the moral wasn't so obvious.
  • November 12, 2009
    Pika_power
    Anti Kitten Burning Coalition still sounds quite a bit like Captain Obvious, which is why I Think Nazis Are Bad was suggested. Both are just attacking something which is universally renown as unacceptable, but ITNAB does it with more clarity.

    But having read Shrikesnest's above post, I think I may have misunderstood the trope and now I'm a tad confused.

    Is this trope about the statement the story as a whole makes, or the statement that a character in the story makes? (And by extension, it depends on the situation they are in whether they are subjected to this trope.)

    Name suggestions: Undeserved Heroic Praise? Standing Up To The Nonexistent Nazi? Heroism Without Risk? How about Preaching To The Converted?
  • November 12, 2009
    bbofun
    Preachingto The Converted, although not as funny as other titles, has the virtue of being closest to what the trope is actually about- someone standing up for, and receiving adulation for, something that everyone around him agrees with.

    But I think the problem with the trope is the reason we haven't come up with many fictional examples. It's not really a commonly used trope. I can't think of any that I can name, specifically, but the ones I have vague recollections of are generally comedic, usually something about how politicians use "I want everyone to have good jobs and nice homes" sort of things, or "i think terrorists are wrong!' and getting applause and cheers. The only examples I can think of might be "Meet John Doe", or possiblt the Eddie Murphy movie where he becomes a congressman.
  • November 12, 2009
    melloncollie
    Preaching To The Converted gets my vote.

    Personally, I would put most Coming Out Stories here, but goodness knows that's not considered an "obvious moral" everywhere.
  • November 13, 2009
    Pika_power
    Okay, any chance that the original post can be updated a tad?

    Yeah, Preaching To The Converted was my favourite out of those suggested names.
  • November 13, 2009
    Deboss
    Since I apparently misunderstood the trope when I suggested I Think Nazis Are Bad I'll add some more suggestions. I like Preaching To The Converted. Preaching Popular Positions has Added Aliterative Appeal and allows for a similar meaning.

    This does make up a considerable amount of political speeches since that what political filth is good at. A lot of chain mails have this "let's lower gas prices by working together", "you can save the environment by working together." It's part of that whole "spreading awareness" thing that's so popular among protesters these days.
  • November 13, 2009
    NiceThief
    As this trope's related to Burning the Strawman we could call it Burning the Kitten. Distinctions: 1) Burning the Strawman is disproving an argument your opponent hasn't made as if it's his. It tricks fools into thinking you're right, a good debater, and your opponent wrong while you ignore what he says. 2) Burning the Kitten is arguing against an imaginary opponent to make yourself look good and/or think well of yourself. People making such arguments may genuinely believe the common man is for kitten killing. This belief allows him to feel righteous, morally upright compared to local yokels.
  • November 14, 2009
    Deboss
    That's too far a leap for me. Burning The Kitten sounds a lot like the original name for Moral Event Horizon, Rape The Dog. We could make it a straw kitten though.
  • November 14, 2009
    bbofun
  • November 14, 2009
    Shrikesnest
    I like Preaching To The Converted quite a bit, actually. Original post updates incoming.
  • November 14, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Tom Lehrer hangs a big lampshade on this in his intro to "Folk Song Army": "It takes a certain amount of courage to get up in a coffee-house or a college auditorium and come out in favor of the things that everybody else in the audience is against like peace and justice and brotherhood and so on." (And later, in-song: "We are the folk song army/every one of us cares/we all hate poverty, war and injustice/unlike the rest of you squares)
  • November 15, 2009
    Tzintzuntzan
    Preaching To The Converted implies something a bit different, I think. For instance, an American TV show with An Aesop that "abortion is always wrong" or "abortion rights are necessary" can easily preach to the converted -- the half of America that agrees. But this Aesop isn't as (officially) universally agreed on as Drugs Are Bad. Shrikesnest's post about the antiwar example is a good trope, but it seems different from the original trope (s)he proposed.
  • November 15, 2009
    Tzintzuntzan
    To Shrikesnest's new trope (such as the antiwar example), a nitpick: it actually was possible, early on, for celebrities to be punished for being against the war on terror. Nothing on par with the gulag, but constitutional protection didn't stop people from getting fired because the hate mail was pouring in. Of course, by now this isn't happening so much anymore.

    But it's a great point, and there's an obligatory George Orwell quote for this:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200305/hitchens

    (posting link because YKTTW won't let me copy-and-paste it in.)
  • November 15, 2009
    Shrikesnest
    @Tzintzuntzan: Yeah, listen, your audience or employer reacting to your public statements isn't the same thing as the government doing anything to you. Your concerts getting canceled because you pissed off your fanbase doesn't really recall the jackboot of tyranny.
  • November 15, 2009
    Tzintzuntzan
    Of course it isn't anything remotely close. Public opinion isn't anywhere near as powerful as government oppression. It's just that pissing off public opinion does have repercussions, and it's understandable (if pathetic) that someone might think they're oh so brave for defying public opinion with constitutionally-protected speech.

    Back to the title, do we have a trope for Preaching To The Converted in the sense of, say, a pro-abortion rights piece that will only be seen by pro-abortions rights people, instead of in the sense of Drugs Are Bad?

  • November 16, 2009
    Pika_power
    No.

    Also, the revision makes it obvious that it's only for people in a work, and not the work itself. So we've got an opening for this trope but for the actual work. Unless you count Anvilicious.
  • November 17, 2009
    DragonQuestZ
    "Back to the title, do we have a trope for Preaching To The Converted in the sense of, say, a pro-abortion rights piece that will only be seen by pro-abortions rights people, instead of in the sense of Drugs Are Bad?"

    That's Preaching To The Choir.
  • November 17, 2009
    DragonQuestZ
    BTW, the original point still could work. It just needs a name to make it clear about the key part, which is acting as though this thing is practically unprecedented. Something like Finally Someone Stands Up Against Cancer.
  • November 17, 2009
    random surfer
    Outside of TV Tropes Preaching To The Choir and Preaching To The Converted mean pretty much the same thing; since we've already got ...Choir I suggest using a title that doesn't imply it's the same thing.
  • November 17, 2009
    Caravelle
    I like Finally Someone Stands Up Against Cancer, or maybe "Speaks Out Against".

    As for examples, I can't think of a straight one offhand (although I'm pretty sure it occurs on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, both as "I think Nazis are bad" and "Finally, someone speaks out against cancer !"). But Shortpacked has a complete inversion : Robin's proposed law to ban cancer forever garners very little support... but the support picks up once the riders "Ethan must make out with Thad" and "Robin must make out with Leslie" are added, even though those would be totally controversial in real life.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable