Created By: neoYTPismMay 12, 2011 Last Edited By: neoYTPismMay 26, 2011

Dangerous Ideas

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"I never knew that idea would grow in her mind like a cancer..."
- Dom Cobb, from Inception, on suggesting to his wife the idea that perhaps the world they lived in was All Just A Dream, which led to her killing herself to "wake up" because she found it so convincing that even Cobb himself could not talk her out of it.

Do We Have This One... oh, and I am open to title suggestions.

This is for the notion expressed by characters in a story (and in some cases, even by the author) that specific ideas are, well, dangerous.

There are different varieties of this.

The story itself presents the idea as dangerous.

The characters refer to the idea as dangerous but the story does not.

  • In Beauty And The Beast, Gaston and the townspeople seem to treat in general as dangerous. Gaston saying "it is not right for a woman to read because she will start getting ideas, and thinking" may make him seem like a Politically Incorrect Villain, but he says to Lefou later on "I am afraid I have been thinking" and agrees when Lefou calls that a dangerous past times, so it is easily up to interpretation.
  • The Shawshank Redemption: Red's assertion earlier on that "hope is a dangerous thing." He changes his mind on that one later on.
  • In Babylon5, Earthforce establishes a volunteer militia-like group akin to rent-a-cops on Babylon 5 to "keep an eye on things, and protect the populace from dangerous ideas."
  • "A Man Can't Be Too Careful What He Signs These Days" from Stan Freberg Presents The United States Of America paints the idea of the Declaration of Independence as analagous to declaring oneself a communist.
    Thomas Jefferson: You're so skittish / Who possibly could care if you do [sign]?
    Ben Franklin: The Un-British / Activities committee, that's who!
    • On a sidenote, there are several examples of researchers asking people on the street (or at a mall) what they think about passages from the Declaration of Independence or Bill of Rights (without identifying where they are from) and having Americans tell them that they are communist trash.
  • More parodical/deconstructive examples of Appeal To Consequences would belong here.
Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • May 13, 2011
    Arivne
    A Sister Trope to Go Mad From The Revelation, which includes people going insane after learning something bizarre.

    Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing?
  • May 13, 2011
    neoYTPism
    That wouldn't be quite a fitting title, as it wouldn't describe the first variety of this.
  • May 13, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Seventeen Seventy Six: The representative of Rhode Island votes for discussing the possibility of declaring independence. Just having the debate is considered a dangerous undertaking.
    Well, in all my years I ain't never heard, seen nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn't be talked about. Hell yeah! I'm for debating anything. Rhode Island says yea!
  • May 13, 2011
    jaytee
    Bad snowclone, I know, but Knowing Is The Entire Battle.
  • May 13, 2011
    Fanra
    In 1984, the Party is actually changing the language to prevent people from getting Dangerous Ideas.
  • May 14, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Which varieties would you classify your examples as? @ randomsurfer and Fanra
  • May 14, 2011
    Fanra
    Well, I just added 1984 based on the trope title. Ideas like democracy, freedom, rebellion and such are dangerous to the Party.

    Note that there are a number of real life examples as well, with The Great Firewall of China being the most well known example. The USSR also had their own video tape format (instead of VHS) just to keep out foreign videos with porn and democratic ideas.

    In the USA, rock and roll was a dangerous idea at the time.
  • May 16, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Perhaps there should be a category for making the idea out to be more dangerous than it really is... then again, the distinction could easily be blurred between those and ideas that really are dangerous, and even then, on which basis (there are already two) the idea is claimed to be dangerous... hard to tell what to do with the categories.
  • May 18, 2011
    StarryEyed
    I think this may be over-categorized, especially as there are not many examples. Couldn't this be a bit more generally "ideas are/ are treated as dangerous" without having to slot it into a specific type?

    Gaston: It's not right for a woman to read. Soon she gets ideas...and thinking...

    Gaston: Nefou, I'm afraid I've been thinking... Nefou: A dangerous pastime. Gaston: I know.
  • May 19, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Reduced to two categories, then @ Starry Eyed
  • May 19, 2011
    ElaineRose
    In Babylon5, Earthforce establishes a volunteer militia-like group akin to rent-a-cops on Babylon 5 to "keep an eye on things, and protect the populace from dangerous ideas."
  • May 19, 2011
    neoYTPism
    ^ Am I to presume the story itself doesn't present the ideas as dangerous?
  • May 20, 2011
    randomsurfer
    "A Man Can't Be Too Careful What He Signs These Days" from Stan Freberg Presents The United States Of America paints the idea of the Declaration of Independence as analagous to declaring oneself a communist.
    Thomas Jefferson: You're so skittish / Who possibly could care if you do [sign]?
    Ben Franklin: The Un-British / Activities committee, that's who!
  • May 22, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Mentioned @ randomsurfer
  • May 22, 2011
    Fanra
    "A Man Can't Be Too Careful What He Signs These Days" from Stan Freberg Presents The United States Of America paints the idea of the Declaration of Independence as analagous to declaring oneself a communist.

    There are several examples of researchers asking people on the street (or at a mall) what they think about passages from the Declaration of Independence or Bill of Rights (without identifying where they are from) and having Americans tell them that they are communist trash.
  • May 26, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Mentioned, though I am not sure how relevant it is to the trope @ Fanra
  • May 26, 2011
    randomsurfer
    ^^Invoked in the song itself; the next two lines:
    Jefferson: Let's have a little drink-o and fill the quill
    Franklin: It seems a little pinko to me, but still

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