Created By: FantiSci on January 31, 2008
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Undermined By Reality

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This meta trope is when the premise of the show/song/book is undermined by the people who create it.
  • For example, Disney's trademark is family-friendly entertainment, promoting "wholesome values," but the politics behind the company are generally acknowledged to be anything but.
  • Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, had a bit of a red face when one of the families they helped (comprising of a basic nuclear family and another family they had apparently taken in after they lost both parents) seemingly had a fight with each other ten minutes after the production team left that ended with the adopted family kicked out and the original, smaller nuclear family with a hi-tech house all to themselves.
  • Blue Peter was put in an awkward position when one of its presenters was caught taking cocaine.
  • The fact that the woman who sung "Stand By Your Man" was divorced several times may also count.
Sometimes this is a result of out and out hypocrisy; sometimes it's just really bad luck or Murphy's Law. Companies can get so neurotic over this trope that their performers become Prisoners Of Pollyanna; when it strikes, it can result in Fan Disillusionment. Is this covered somewhere else on the site?
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • January 31, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    Would Pee-Wee Herman count? I mean, Paul Reubens being caught literally with his pants down in a XXX theatre did derail the series at the very least...
  • January 31, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    Ernest Hemingway often gets his writing bashed for the person, not for the quality of the work. However, since this is about the criticism, and not the work, this may not be a case of The Oldest Ones In The Book.

    Tom Cruise in the summer of 2005.
  • January 31, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    Tobacco companies funding anti-smoking ads.
  • January 31, 2008
    arromdee
    Along those lines, the Marlboro Man died of lung cancer. http://www.snopes.com/radiotv/tv/marlboro.asp
  • February 1, 2008
    Medinoc
    We can't do this trope without including a link to We Care.
  • February 1, 2008
    Medinoc
  • February 1, 2008
    Ununnilium
    I don't know; this is a really high-wire trope. For instance, is it really hypocritical for someone who plays a role on a children's show to do something that children shouldn't see? Prisoners Of Pollyanna says no. Tom Cruise's opinions may be controversial, but they don't have much to do with his film roles. "Stand By Your Man" and the Marlboro Man are more straightforward, since they're more straight say-one-thing-and-do-another, but...
  • February 1, 2008
    SAMAS
    The Beatle's song When Im Sixty Four, which I put there, given that Paul Mc Cartney. who wrote the song, was divorced from his girlfriend at the time of writing before they were 64. The answer, it seems, was "No."

  • February 1, 2008
    FalconPain
    That sounds more like a Funny Aneurysm Moment. A similar joke I heard, probably on bash.org, pointed out that Arne Naess (a former husband of Diana Ross's) died during a mountain-climbing incident. Apparently there was a mountain high enough.
  • February 1, 2008
    scooter007
    @Ununnilium: I think that depends on exactly what it is the person is doing. Is it something that's generally "socially acceptable, just should be kept away from kids"? Or is it socially unacceptable or objectionable? Pee Wee Herman and all of Fanti Sci's original examples fit with the latter description. On the other hand, you're right about the Tom Cruise thing.
  • February 1, 2008
    FantiSci
    I think this trope is better left out of "pure" fiction - that's Prisoners Of Pollyanna, where the real person is expected to live up to a fantasy character's standards. This is where the actual people on the show are being held up as role models (Blue Peter), or the whole show is one big promotion for a particular set of values (Disney/Extreme Makeover). In those circumstances, it's not unreasonable for viewers to expect the people preaching at them to uphold the virtues they promote (am I the only one who bursts out laughing when Tyra Banks starts lecturing prospective America's Next Top Models about humility?). Songs are borderline - we assume the person believes what they're singing unless it's satirical, even though logically we know they might not even have written the thing. Fiction can only cross the line into this trope when the crime actually is a crime...or morally reprehensible enough that it's not only the Moral Guardians who are going "wait a minute, this really, really isn't right." Where the line is drawn depends largely on the type of show, which perhaps isn't fair but reflects reality. A builder gets into a particularly violent fight outwith work and it probably won't affect his job too much...but if a teacher gets caught in the middle of a bar brawl then their career's probably on the line.
  • February 1, 2008
    Insanity Prelude
    Not just Disney- look how fast Nickelodeon pulled Zoey 101 when they learned Jamie-Lynn Spears is pregnant...
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