Created By: HandsomeRob on November 12, 2011 Last Edited By: HandsomeRob on May 6, 2012
Troped

Silly Rabbit Cynicism Is For Losers

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Trope
(Reposting this since it got launched way too early, and didn't have enough examples.)

Needs a Better Name (Might still change the Name, but for now it's Cynicism Is Weakness)

A character is incredibly cynical. They are sporting a nice pair of Jade-Colored Glasses, and when the Wide-Eyed Idealist calls them out on it, they are quick to say I Did What I Had to Do, or Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!. They are convinced their attitude is more realistic, and that anyone without it is too childish to accomplish anything.

They are wrong. It turns out that their overly cynical attitude can blind them just as easily as an overly idealistic or optimistic attitude can. They missed golden opportunities due to their attitude and prove themselves to be just as blind and childish as they think the more idealistic characters are. He or she is summarily called out for his blindness, often by the people that he/she had regarded as fools. It can also happen when a character tries too hard to be what they think an adult is, like a Perpetual Frowner.

This trope is the Inversion of Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!, showing that being more cynical is not necessarily better. In fact, it can be seen as being just as childish and called out just as easily. This is to show that The Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism does not always stick to one end, but tends to lie somewhere in the middle, and that you need a bit of both to really see the world for what it is. Can be a trait of The Anti-Nihilist

See also Grumpy Bear, or Sour Supporter for character types that can fall into this.

Examples:

Literature
  • In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth's cynical outlook on life allows Wickham to completely dupe her about Darcy's true nature. The irony is that she acted this way in order to avoid being played for a fool, but it just happened in a different way.
  • In the Green-Sky Trilogy, the cynical Neric tells Raamo that Genaa cannot be trusted and is too stepped in Ol-Zhaan privledge to be sympathetic to their plans. Not only does Neric turn out wrong, but Genaa turns out to be the one with the tactical savvy to pull off their scheme.
  • This is what happens to the dwarves at the end of Last Battle -- they end up in Aslan's country with everybody else, but they're too cynical to believe it, and manage to delude themselves into believing they're still locked in a dark stable eating rotten food.
  • Somewhat common in Discworld, especially with Rincewind. The guy would be so obviously right in his cynicism...but Twoflower would come out fine anyway, leaving Rincewind looking like an idiot.
  • This is part of the entire point of Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit. At the end of the story, it's implied that the main characters could leave at any time they wished to, but their own character flaws and lack of empathy with each other prevent them from doing so.
  • In Animorphs, the team cynic Marco notes this to Rachel while Jake is out of commission. They need a fast, straightforward plan for a high-risk rescue, and he explains that that's not his territory -- his cynicism makes him too cautious to address that situation, so she needs to lead.

Video Games
  • In Mass Effect, the more cynical Renegade decisions the PC can make tend to go badly.
  • Fear Effect: Royce Glas is the cynical one. Hana Tzu-Vachel is the idealistic one. Glas is treated as the Butt Monkey and The Lancer. Hana is treated as the Iron Woobie and The Hero. It probably won't surprise you that the best ending in the first game essentially has Hana winning out without having to shoot Glas.
  • F Inal Fantasy VIII: Squall is a pretty great example of this. In fact, he seems aware that his dark attitude denies him opportunities for (what he thinks would be) brief moments of happiness, but he does it to avoid feeling further pain as a result of the loss of those moments.
  • In Oracle of Tao, Ambrosia at the end of the First Disc (so to speak) heads off for the second world. Unless she bothered to do the romance sidequest (or can get past the Beef Gate of skipping a key romantic scene and heading directly through the entrance without stopping at the vacation town first), the plot requires you to visit Nevras at his castle. If you decide not to, or if you didn't get the memo, the story suddenly gets much darker, most notably in the endings. Basically, the point is, because Ambrosia decided her love life with Nevras was doomed, things got a whole lot worse for her.

Web Comics
  • Gunnerkrigg Court in Chapter 29 has Paz (of all people) setting straight Kat, at the moment quite disenchanted with the Court after stumbling upon some of its old secrets.
  • Ian Starshine (and to a lesser extent, Haley as well -- she veered off from this just in time) from The Order of the Stick. Choosing to remain in prison because you think your little girl is being hoodwinked by a calculating, nefarious, deeply undercover mole linked to an Evil Overlord (Elan?!? The Chaotic Good Cloud Cuckoolander?!? You're serious, right?) is this. In spades. Even having met the guy.
    • By repute, this was also the case for Properly Paranoid Girard Draketooth. Possibly. Rogue-like types are subject to this, it seems.

Real Life
  • Basically the point of Existentialism. Sartre, the key thinker of the movement writes that "Existence precedes essence." Basically, you are born, and then you are defined. You are what you make of yourself. If you are a villain, you were not doomed to villainy,your choices made you so. If you are a hero, you were not destined for greatness, it was the combination of your choices that made you that way. Under this philosophy, great heroism and great villiany are both possible by choice. Thus, if you choose to be a Cynic, it proves you do not hav the strength to be a hero. Sartre however, did not always live up to his ideals.

Community Feedback Replies: 46
  • December 10, 2011
    HandsomeRob
    Restored Bump.
  • December 10, 2011
    Lawman592
    I hate to nitpick but Jean-Paul Sartre wrote No Exit.
  • December 12, 2011
    HandsomeRob
    I can't stop Bumping you.
  • December 13, 2011
    ScanVisor
    This is a good idea, but sorry, I have no examples.
  • December 13, 2011
    TiggersAreGreat
    Video Games

    • Fear Effect: Royce Glas is the cynical one. Hana Tzu-Vachel is the idealistic one. Glas is treated as the Butt Monkey and The Lancer. Hana is treated as the Iron Woobie and The Hero. It probably won't surprise you that the best ending in the first game essentially has Hana winning out without having to shoot Glas.
  • December 13, 2011
    ScanVisor
    Oh wait, FFVIII yet again! Squall is a pretty great example of this. In fact, he seems aware that his dark attitude denies him opportunities for (what he thinks would be) brief moments of happiness, but he does it to avoid feeling further pain as a result of the loss of those moments.
  • December 13, 2011
    ScanVisor
    Oh, and set up your AC's and/or Folders, I'll hat.
  • December 13, 2011
    TiggersAreGreat
    You know, I bet any fictional work containing a Grumpy Bear or Sour Supporter is going to have said character suffering from this very YKTTW!
  • December 13, 2011
    Unknown Troper
    • This could be considered the point of the "Unlimited Blade Works" Route of Fate Stay Night, Shirou is a Wide Eyed Idealist who is willing to sacrifice himself(mabye more than he should) to protect others, Archer is a Cynical Anti-Hero who betrayed his Master(on this route only) who preffers a more pragmatical approach, has aJaded View of the World and thinks shirou's ideology as stupid, the fact that Archer is Shirou from an alternate future who lived to his idealism and was betrayed and this Shirou has a sligthly bigger Determinator Stick makes their rivality the more tense, their final confrontation was more fueled by their mutual hatred and conflicting ideologies that by their strenght(in fact, they where pretty much barely on their feet by then)(altough the OVA version changed it into a Pretty good Scene, however in the end it was Shirou'sDetermination what gave him the victory
  • December 14, 2011
    HandsomeRob
    Hmm. I'm not sure about the Archer example. True, he's cynical, and he has a good reason to be, but I'm not sure if I would say it's clouding his judgement or preventing him from seeing the real solution to his situation. Shirou won through determination it's true, but he didn't really prove that Archer was wrong. In fact, seeing Archer makes Shirou finally recognize the fundamental flaws in his ideals.

    But maybe there's something about that fight that I'm forgetting.
  • December 21, 2011
    HandsomeRob
    Bump
  • December 21, 2011
    ScanVisor
    @Handsome Rob, I'd say Archer's cynical attitude is what causes him trouble with women and makes him drink too much. It gives him literal weaknesses. Plus, his nihilistic batshittery would get any real person killed.
  • December 21, 2011
    ScanVisor
    I'd like examples from more forms of media, but I'm still hatting. Also, a free example. Real Life: Basically the point of Existentialism. Sartre, the key thinker of the movement writes that "Existence precedes essence." Basically, you are born, and then you are defined. You are what you make of yourself. If you are a villain, you were not doomed to villainy,your choices made you so. If you are a hero, you were not destined for greatness, it was the combination of your choices that made you that way. Under this philosophy, great heroism and great villiany are both possible by choice. Thus, if you choose to be a Cynic, it proves you do not hav the strength to be a hero.

    I'd love it if that could always be the last example of the Real Life section at the bottom of the page. It sums up the Trope perfectly.
  • December 21, 2011
    HandsomeRob
    ^^ Wait. When did Archer ever drink. And he doesn't really show any interest in women even if he's the future Shirou, and had feeling for Rin. Though I suppose his plan was rather risky, and his nihilism is as dangerous as Shirou's Self Sacrificing tendencies.

    Still need to ruminate on this one.
  • December 22, 2011
    Unknown Troper
    In Animorphs, the team cynic Marco notes this to Rachel while Jake is out of commission. They need a fast, straightforward plan for a high-risk rescue, and he explains that that's not his territory -- his cynicism makes him too cautious to address that situation, so she needs to lead.
  • December 22, 2011
    Acebrock
    If you can get permission to take if from the Stephen Colbert page, this would make an excellent page quote:

    "Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don't learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us."
    —Stephen Colbert (the man)
  • December 26, 2011
    HandsomeRob
    Just out of curiousity, why would I need permission to use the quote?
  • December 28, 2011
    MorganWick
    Because it's already on another page. In other words, you'd need permission from the people running the page, not Colbert himself.
  • December 28, 2011
    bulmabriefs144
    Oracle Of Tao: Ambrosia at the end of the First Disc (so to speak) heads off for the second world. Unless she bothered to do the romance sidequest (or can get past the Beef Gate of skipping a key romantic scene and heading directly through the entrance without stopping at the vacation town first), the plot requires you to visit Nevras at his castle. If you decide not to, or if you didn't get the memo, the story suddenly gets much darker, most notably in the endings. Basically, the point is, because Ambrosia decided her love life with Nevras was doomed, things got a [[Anvilicious whole lot worse for her]].
  • December 28, 2011
    bulmabriefs144
    erm, remove that last link, since it broke, and it should be Oracle Of Tao or just Oracle Of Tao.
  • December 28, 2011
    HandsomeRob
    ^^^

    Alright then. Who would I ask so that I could use it?
  • January 9, 2012
    HandsomeRob
    This is a bump
  • January 11, 2012
    Frank75
    My first impression of your trope: That's just complaining about cynics[[hottip:*:realists]] you don't like.

    Second, since you mention Sartre: Looking up his page on The Other Wiki I learn that he supported the Communism of the Soviet Union and Mao for a long time, and also the leftist German terrorist group RAF. Are you so sure that this is the guy whose definition of heroism and cynicism you want to use?
  • January 11, 2012
    HandsomeRob
    ^ Not trying to come off that way. I feel that realists aren't too cynical or too idealistic, but a good blending of the two. As for Sartre's politcal leanings, I never thought about whether that should be an issue or not. I'll probably keep it for now however.
  • January 13, 2012
    HandsomeRob
    Just one hat away. Still want a few more examples before it gets launched, or gets sunk.
  • February 9, 2012
    HandsomeRob
    Bumping in preparation for launch
  • February 9, 2012
    HandsomeRob
    Also looking for more examples if possible.
  • February 12, 2012
    sliz225
    Bump.
  • February 16, 2012
    Frank75
    Nah... the more I read about Sartre, the more dislike him. You claim that he stated how essentially (pun not intended) everyone can be a hero, you only have to do the right choices. So why didn't Sartre become a hero? He was in WW 2, but his unit was soon captured by The Nazis, and in captivity, he had the chance to read the works of nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger. Some people claim he cribbed his philosophy, or the most important parts, from Heidegger. A hero? You Keep Using That Word. I don't think you know what it means.

    In fact, at the existentialism page I read nothing of that. I think that page has to be reworked thoroughly.
  • February 20, 2012
    HandsomeRob
    ^ Interesting. Do you think I should remove him then?

    Also, who changed the title? I tried a silly rabbit title before ( I originally called this trope Silly Rabbit Cynicism Is Not For Adults, but that didn't fly). This new one seems to work a little, but is a bit too negative as well.

    Still looking for more examples, as I don't quite think this guy is ready yet.
  • February 20, 2012
    Damr1990
    i preffered Cynism is Weakness Better
  • February 20, 2012
    Belfagor
    Can be a trait of The Anti Nihilist.
  • February 20, 2012
    HandsomeRob
    ^^ I do as well...

    How about Silly Rabbit Cynicism Is Weakness? I can't believe I never thought of that before.

    ^ Indeed. I may add that.
  • February 21, 2012
    Frank75
    You could mention that Sartre didn't exactly live up to what he preached.
  • March 3, 2012
    Euodiachloris
    Ian Starshine (and to a lesser extent, Haley as well -- she veered off from this just in time) from The Order Of The Stick. Choosing to remain in prison because you think your little girl is being hoodwinked by a calculating, nefarious, deeply undercover mole linked to an Evil Overlord (Elan?!? The Chaotic Good Cloudcuckoolander?!? You're serious, right?) is this. In spades. Even having met the guy.

    By repute, this was also the case for Properly Paranoid Girard Draketooth. Possibly. Rogue-like types are subject to this, it seems.
  • April 25, 2012
    HandsomeRob
    Bumped from your grave!!!!!! It's been a while, so this guy is going back up. I want to see if there are any more examples to put up.
  • April 26, 2012
    TheHandle
    Er, Sartre getting captured is not evidence against his heroism. It's only realistic that, were you to choose acting a hero, you would not have Plot Armour, and might well fail.

    I suppose you don't like him because he was a staunch Communist?

    By the way, Ayn Rand would also promote this attitude: people who complain and resent and see the world full of obstacles don't get anything done. Her ideal heroes weight difficulties properly, and then take the optimal route to achieving their goals, no matter how much effort it takes.
  • April 27, 2012
    Frank75
    Took the time to read up a bit about him.

    1) He could have become a La Resistance fighter, but didn't. Instead, the kind of "resistance" he did was more like that described on We ARE Struggling Together. Lots of talk and nothing more.

    2) In fact, while he was imprisoned by the Germans he had the opportunity to read a lot of philosophy (by the nazi sympathizer Heidegger, BTW), so his POW time essentially was Cursed With Awesome, at least for a philosopher.

    3) Of course, given the fact that he was very short and almost blind on one eye, one should think that he would understand that some people can't become (war) heroes simply for lacking physical conditions. But it seems he was too reality-impaired to see that.

    4) And yes, him being a Communist - a Stalinist, to be precise - is one of my reasons to dislike him, and a good reason too.

    5) He's the last person I'd take advise from, for whatever topic, but especially for becoming a hero.

    6) You're comparing Ayn Rand to Sartre? If they were alive, they would both want to kill you for that comparison.
  • April 27, 2012
    HandsomeRob
    I could simply state that Sartre was not perfect, but his thoughts were still valid.

    Same for Ayn Rand. I'll have to think about whether to put them in or not.
  • April 28, 2012
    HandsomeRob
    Bump
  • April 28, 2012
    HandsomeRob
    Another bump, until I decide whether to add more or launch.
  • April 29, 2012
    HandsomeRob
    Still bumping.
  • April 29, 2012
    HandsomeRob
    again with the bump.
  • May 4, 2012
    HandsomeRob
    ^ See above
  • May 5, 2012
    Elbruno
    I think it looks good enough for launch.

    Sorry, I got no examples on me.
  • May 6, 2012
    HandsomeRob
    You may be right. I suppose if there are anymore examples, or anything that needs to be moved, it can be done later.

    I'll launch it sometime later this week.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=dvxtxsp7fcnura9eiuengnl9