Created By: BradyLady on March 11, 2013

Reverse Aesop

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I went to Lost and Found, and they suggested I come here. I wondered what form of Broken Aesop it was, and none of them seemed to fit.

Situation, an older but dumber character teaches a "lesson" to a younger but wiser character. It is exactly the wrong message to send. The older, dumber character is blind to that fact, the younger, smarter character may or may not realize it, but it is glaringly obvious to the audience. The Aesop clearly communicated is, "This character is an idiot. Don't be like him."

Examples: My original Live Action TV citation, "Reba." Van wants to shave his head to fit in with his football teammates who have already done so. Wife Cheyenne doesn't want him to. Trying to reason her out of her objections, he goes on and on about fitting in and being part of the group. Jake picks up from this, "So, it's OK to do something just because everybody else is doing it?" Van scoffs in a "no kidding, Captian Obvious" manner, and answers, "Yeah. If you want to be cool." This is what Van wants Jake to learn, but clearly the audience is meant to see Van's Aesop for how stupid it is.

The Roald Dahl book "Matilda" is all about this kind of interaction. Matilda's parents and principal consistently promote wrong behavior while punishing virtue, and the audience is expected to recognize this. Nobody actually thinks that the authority figures Matilda answers to are giving her healthy life lessons.

The "A Fish Out of Water" episode of Family Guy. I seriously doubt most mothers would encourage a teenage daughter to flash her breasts at an adoring crowd. Also from Family Guy, the "Brian Sings and Swings" episode. Sarah offers friendship to a friendless Meg, for which the teacher scolds her. "Don't you know Meg is awful?" The audience is expected to know that any teacher would actually praise that gesture, rather than object.
Community Feedback Replies: 8
  • March 11, 2013
  • March 11, 2013
    I'm not sure. With Bad Is Good And Good Is Bad, the characters seem to *know* they are promoting evil. That doesn't seem to be the case here, where the character is oblivious but everyone else is painfully aware. In a Family Unfriendly Aesop, the characters are trying to teach healthy lessons, but the wrong lesson gets communicated. Here, the characters are essentially idiots who think they're right. However, this is closer to what I was looking for than the suggestions in Lostand Found, so you might be right.
  • March 11, 2013
    No, Family Unfriendly Aesops can be intentional
  • March 11, 2013
    If this is already Family Unfriendly Aesop, I'm OK with that, but it seems to me Family Unfriendly is a bit more subtle. I'm thinking blatant. What I have in mind is when the character says something that is obviously the opposite of what the audience is supposed to take away from it. I don't know of any character who has actually said this, but picture a parent telling a teenager that he should party rather than study for a test. Or is that Bad Is Good And Good Is Bad?

  • March 11, 2013
    Maybe the Anti Role Model is more up your alley.
  • March 12, 2013
    These suggestions are a lot closer than the ones in Lost And Found, but I think it's still separate. Anti Role Model is the character who would deliver the Reverse Aesop.
  • March 12, 2013
    Perhaps what BradyLady is proposing is an Aesop subverted. While it is possible for a trope subversion to become a trope unto itself, it will need multiple examples. Otherwise, the few that aggregate here can be migrated to the Aesop page as subversions.
  • March 29, 2013
    I believe oneuglybunny is right. I'm OK with closing this and just putting in my examples as a subverted Aesop.

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