Created By: Megaptera on January 16, 2013 Last Edited By: Megaptera on April 1, 2013
Nuked

Fancy Is Not Good

It's expensive, but it's unexpectedly boring or maybe even unpleasant.

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Trope
The hero sits down to a Fancy Dinner that he's been looking forward to, and maybe even saving up for for a long time, but the food just lacks that certain something, or maybe is downright yucky.

Alternately, a Rich Kid finds herself among people of poverty, and finds that their simple fare, which she expected to be disgusting, is the best thing she's ever tasted.

This trope is primarily about the way characters (and the reader or viewer) perceive value -- specifically when they expect expensive things to be of good quality and cheap things to be of poor quality -- and the lessons learned when such ideas are turned on their ear. May often be found in stories about the poor and the rich trading places or one being otherwise thrown into the world of the other.

Examples involving things other than food are also welcome, such as beautiful clothes that are itchy and uncomfortable, a fancy car that turns out to be a lemon, or manual labour that is initially thought of as beneath the hero but that he ultimately finds fulfilling.

It's not the same as the one where the rich person eating poor food is so hungry that anything tastes good; assume that she doesn't have to eat what's put in front of her, but does it out of politeness. It's also not the one where the rich person is bored of rich food and needs a change.

Inverted if a jaded poor character sees rich expensive things as wasteful or empty frippery. He might even miss the real value of something because he perceives it to be something for rich people and therefore assumes that it's useless.

Real Life examples fall under Your Mileage May Vary, because ultimately perception of value is a subjective thing.

Inspired by a post by therugi in Lost and Found.

Literature
  • Prince Alexander in The Fairy Godmother learns when he finally agrees to wear "coarse, peasant" clothing that it's much more comfortable than his princely attire.
  • In Solo Command, Wedge Antilles meets with an Imperial Remnant admiral in hopes of getting an Enemy Mine against Warlord Zsinj. The admiral serves some sort of dish made using raw eggs that seems to Wedge to be something that rich people convince themselves they like because it's expensive.

Video Games
  • In one of the chapters in Phoenix Wright, a certain restaurant is known for selling expensive and very bad tasting food. However, one of the characters who happens to be poor makes a home cooked meal, and it is revealed to be very good.
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • January 16, 2013
    Megaptera
    If we have enough examples we could break this out into Fancy Is Not Good and Humble Is Not Bad, as is done with other similarly named tropes.
  • January 16, 2013
    MokonaZero
    Occurs in Fable legendary fancy weapons are not the most powerful.
  • January 16, 2013
    Antigone3
    If we're expanding this to include clothing, Prince Alexander in The Fairy Godmother learns when he finally agrees to wear "coarse, peasant" clothing that it's much more comfortable than his princely attire.
  • January 16, 2013
    Megaptera
    Mokona Zero, is the Fable example deliberate or is it a bug/accident of item spawning codes? I've noticed this in The Lord Of The Rings Online, where a particular 'purple' (uncommon) weapon keeps spawning with no particular damage bonuses or other enhancements. It's not deliberately made that way, it seems to be a glitch.
  • January 16, 2013
    StarSword
    Literature:
    • In Solo Command, Wedge Antilles meets with an Imperial Remnant admiral in hopes of getting an Enemy Mine against Warlord Zsinj. The admiral serves some sort of dish made using raw eggs that seems to Wedge to be something that rich people convince themselves they like because it's expensive.
  • January 16, 2013
    MokonaZero
    It's not an accident. A few gaming magazines questioned the developers about it, and they did it on purpose. Lampshaded here.
  • January 16, 2013
    Megaptera
    I'm still not getting whether it's deliberate for the Aesop reason of pointing out that humble things can be awesome or expensive things can suck, which is what my trope gets at, or if it's deliberate for a gameplay mechanics reason. I don't think that would be the same trope.
  • January 16, 2013
    MokonaZero
    Hmm I think I understand. The Fable example doesn't really fit that. The real life section should be added. A good number of clothes, food, and accessories can be listed.
  • January 16, 2013
    Megaptera
    If you've got real life examples, please suggest them. I can't think of how it would work in real life.

    Someone might manufacture a product to be inexpensive and excellent at the same time, for reasons such as making it accessible to the poor. For example, the One Laptop Per Child program manufactured cheap, durable computers that ran on free open-source operating systems and had hand-crank chargers. They were distributed as educational tools to kids in poor countries. The project was subsidized by periodically letting other people purchase the computers for themselves, at a standard netbook price point, and the profits went to support making and distributing more machines to poor kids.

    BUT. Again, this is a deliberate thing done for a reason. The trope I'm talking about doesn't apply to real life because it's a moral lesson related to how we perceive value. Nobody makes an awesome product and sells it cheap just to prove to people that cheap things can be awesome, and to change the way people think about cheap things.

    That said, people do make crappy non-functional things and sell them for extravagant prices. I guess the only real life examples would be expensive items that people spend a lot of money on but that turn out to be objectively crap. I'm thinking of a real-jewel-studded Hello Kitty cellphone case that I saw once. Someone who disapproves of extravagance might sneer and say that rich people buy it because they're crowd-followers and have money to burn, while spending a few dollars on a product that does the same thing without the bling. But it's not really anyone's business to say whether something like aesthetic value is enough reason for a person who has the money to buy something like that, even without added functionality.

    In other words, I think all real life examples are YMMV.
  • January 16, 2013
    therugi
    In Phoenix Wright, the whole food thing wasn't really a moral or anything. Trying not to spoil too much here: the entire trial centers around a restaurant everyone hates because the food is expensive and tastes terrible (even though it looks all fancy and probably smells of flowers and whatnot). In a distantly related event, one of the characters (who has been receiving numerous salary cuts) decided he wanted to make a very unappetizing looking lunch for someone he has a crush on. Turns out, the lunch was pretty good!
  • January 16, 2013
    Megaptera
    A moral doesn't have to be anvilicious. I just want it to keep to storyline reasons rather than mechanical ones.
  • January 16, 2013
    nitrokitty
    Slight correction to the Solo Command example, it's Face Loran who meets with the admiral, not Wedge.
  • January 16, 2013
    DRCEQ
    this is pretty much All That Glitters.
  • January 16, 2013
    Megaptera
    THANK YOU. Okay, it's already done. Never mind. :)
  • January 16, 2013
    randomsurfer
    There's a commercial for something (don't recall what) where a pair of women climb to the top of a mountain and then break for lunch. Lunch is a generous smear of peanut butter on a piece of bread. As they dig in, one says with her mouth full "this is delicious" as she gazes out over the view. The voiceover says it's the most satisfying meal she's ever eaten. The point being that the accomplishment of climbing the mountain was better than just going to a fancy restaurant. (I don't think the ad was for peanut butter. It may have been for some brand of athletic apperal. Or possibly a credit card.)
  • April 1, 2013
    Megaptera
    I think the ad was for a lottery, actually. Anyways, I'm discarding this.
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