Friends, there comes a time in everyone's life when they can no longer sit quietly and say nothing. Sometimes, a man's got to take a moral stand, even though it may not be popular and even though it might get him into trouble. Today, my friends, is that day. I won't stay silent any longer.
I believe that cancer is bad.
This is a trope for when characters are treated as brave revolutionaries by the other characters in the work for stating the obvious: that Eyepatch Q. Blackheartis a bad man, that the Nazis were evil, that cancer is bad, etc. Can also apply to situations or things instead of people. The important part of the trope is the reaction of others. This isn't about the work's moral message, it's about a character being treated as brave for making statements that are completely in line with the majority opinion around him.
Obviously there's Truth in Television here. Values Dissonance can sometimes result in this, if the Aesop really was revolutionary and controversial for its time/place. Also, some Aesops are uncontroversial when spoken as a plain statement, but have an implicit, less-widely-agreed-to message, such as "We're not yet doing enough about this." For example, it's easy to say "Prejudice is bad", but programs designed to help disadvantaged minorities, like affirmative action and hate crime legislation, are polarizing political issues with no clear right or wrong answers.
This trope is Played for Laughs quite often, hence why so many of these examples are parodies, but straight examples are still fairly common.
Compare Anvilicious, And That's Terrible, Stock Aesops, and Drugs Are Bad. Contrast Family Unfriendly Aesop and Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped.
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Many bumper stickers, website signatures, etc. As an example, there are a lot of variations on the theme of "I support a cure for cancer", or "I'm against child abuse". There aren't many people who want cancer to continue unabated, and being opposed to child abuse is the norm. Also, stickers against racism. Seriously, people, saying that you're "against racism" hasn't been revolutionary throughout most of the Western world since at least the late 1940s. It's all so absurd that a bumper sticker saying the driver is "for racism" would probably be interpreted as sarcastic by almost everybody.
A regular Aesop that's presented highly Anvilicious, with the entire opponent side being represented by strawmen can look like this. Since what the opponents want is pure undiluted evil, taking a stance against it isn't very controversial anymore.
Most of the Guinness "Brilliant!" ads were like this:
"Don't drink six beers at the same time? Brilliant!"
This article mocks the GroundedAborted Arc of Superman for this, pointing out that Superman appears to be making the statement that drug dealers and child abuse are bad and treating it as though it's some radical new idea.
Morgan Spurlock's experiment in Super Size Me, which demonstrates that excessive fast food isn't good for your health. Spurlock lampshades it and stresses that the point is to show just how bad it is for you, which surprises even his doctors. The film as a whole is about how fast food has become such an ingrained aspect of American culture.
Johnny: If a lot of people love each other, the world would be a better place to live.
Equilibrium argues that even if human emotion causes problems, it's still worth it. So if you were planning on turning all of humanity into emotionless automatons, think again!
Spoofed in the Tanya Huff novel The Better Part of Valor when the main character explains how she wound up with a terrible assignment and says the lesson to be learned is, "never call your commanding officer a bastard to his face."
We have become too civilized to grasp the obvious. For the truth is very simple. To survive you often have to fight, and to fight you have to dirty yourself. War is evil, and it is often the lesser evil. Those who take the sword perish by the sword, and those who don't take the sword perish by smelly diseases. The fact that such a platitude is worth writing down shows what the years of rentier capitalism have done to us.
Live Action TV
Lampshaded on Community at one point when Britta and Annie are staging a demonstration to raise awareness about the environmental effects of the oil spill in the gulf. Britta is angry and yelling about how horrible it is to people passing by when someone mockingly points out that she doesn't need to yell at them, nobody is on the other side of this issue.
Referred to in an introduction to the Father Ted scripts by Graham Lineham. Commenting on the Mistaken for Racist episode 'Are You Right There Ted?', Linehan says that it seems to be the only story that has a moral... but if it does it's only 'Don't be racist' which he sarcastically says is 'pretty strong stuff'
The original series had the Nazi planet episode, which involved a well-intentioned Starfleet officer converting an alien planet into a recreation of Nazi Germany because, from what he knew of history, it seemed to him like a good way to introduce order to the people. Kirk has to explain to him the Aesop of "What Hitler did was wrong. Don't do that."
Actually, the man was a historian, not a Starfleet officer, which makes it even worse.
He intended to only use the 'good' elements of Nazi Germany, unfortunately his second in command took over to make it into a full copy of Nazi Germany and kept him as a drugged figurehead. Still bad that as a historian he couldn't see that coming.
It happens quite often in Doctor Who, as well. One of the more obvious examples is the 2008 episode "Planet of the Ood" which appears to have the message "Slavery is a bad thing." How many of the audience didn't already know that is unclear.
An alternative one, only slightly less obvious (but in some quarters probably still necessary) might be: "Even if a people doesn't look like you, and seems more primitive than you, that gives you no right to exploit them."
Also, the anvilicious "slavery's bad, mmmmkay?" aesop seems to have been a deliberate attempt at amends for the Fridge Horror of The Doctor basically saying "okie dokie" when he discovered the Ood slaves in "The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit" and left them to die at the end of the episode.
Happens on Dr. Phil often. Usually he ends up telling people something that they should already know, like that it's not okay to cheat on your wife, or it's bad to abuse your family, or that child molestation is horrible. But the people on the show will act like he's telling them something radical that they've never considered and will be belligerent to the end.
Joked with occasionally on Mythbusters, when they warn against an obviously dangerous act due to a lesser-known risk associated with it that they had spent the episode proving was possible:
"Don't leave loaded guns in exploding rooms" - The myth was about a certain make of gun reputed to fire on its own if vibrated in a certain way. The original myth was about this happening via a car stereo system, but they had to eventually set off an explosion near the gun to make it happen.
"Don't stand near a car fire" - Because it's possible for the fire to make the car's bumper launch off at dangerous speeds. The Mythbusters couldn't make this happen themselves, but proved it was possible by finding a firewoman who had her legs broken as a result of this happening.
Joe Vogel's book-length essay Earth Song: Inside Michael Jackson's Magnum Opus argues that (to quote its back cover) the 1995 number "defied the cynicism and apathy of Generation X...it demanded accountability in an era of corporate greed, globalization and environmental indifference", which was a major reason why the song and video didn't catch on in the U.S. But the "challenging" message is that...pollution, environmental destruction, the killing of wild animals (especially endangered ones), and war are bad things. Those "cynical" Generation Xers, and most everyone else in the U.S., knew that already by The Nineties, a decade rife with green Aesops.
"Black or White" also gets praised for saying that racism, war, and the Ku Klux Klan are bad — in 1991. Even if the infamous crotch-grabbing "panther dance" coda is interpreted as Jackson showing solidarity with groups like the Black Panthers, he was rather late to the party on that one.
The Metal Gear Solid series collectively has the Aesop of "War sucks." Turned Up to Eleven in the fourth game, when it's shown that war sucks so much that the only way to deal with it is to be an emotionless soldier, and then explaining that that sucks just as much!
The Slacktivist refers to this as the "Anti Kitten-Burning Coalition".
...the weird part: Most of the commenters and letter-writers didn't seem to notice that they were expressing a unanimous and noncontroversial sentiment. Their comments and letters were contentious and sort of aggressively defensive. Or maybe defensively aggressive.
If you are on Facebook, you've seen your "friends" asking everyone to put in their status that they support things like "Don't abuse animals". Really kind of annoying.
There are also countless pictures going around with this message. The ones of a soldier or a soldier's funeral will say something like "1 LIKE = 1 PRAYER TO THE FAMILY", and the pictures of sick children (usually bald due to cancer, but for some reason children with progeria are also common) saying "Like if you think this kid is the most beautiful child ever!" It gets kind of weird because very few people would say that a soldier deserves to die or that children with terminal illnesses are ugly.
The Nostalgia Critic tends to rip into movies for this. He makes a lot of fun of Pokemon: The First Movie for showing an epic battle of Pokemon beating the shit out of each other... only for the protagonists to come to the realization of "fighting is bad". In his review of The Cell, he's rather baffled at what the audience is supposed to take out of the scenes which show that the serial killer was beaten as a child, by his father. The Critic seems to find it a given that most every one already knows that child abuse is bad.
Brought up in this strip ofSo... You're a Cartoonist? Andrew says he's thinking of making a comic addressing terrorism or gun control. His friend argues that criticizing something everyone already hates takes no real effort. Andrew thus decides to give himself a challenge and deliberately unleash a flame war... about Mario.
Redakai's pilot had the aesop "Slavery is bad." Really, there weren't enough plot points or other threads for the moral to be anything else. The "Taunting someone for a skin-blemish" potential moral is never closed. Nope. Slavery is bad.
Parodied on Family Guy when Congressman finally realize smoking is bad.
Congressman: Smoking is a horrible vice! It shortens life expectancy and pollutes our air. And according to recent polls, air is good!
And in the same episode: "Hey. We had a lot of fun today. But you know what's not funny? Killing strippers."
Sabrina's Secret Life has an episode where Sabrina "learns" that rumours are bad and the only way to stop them is to out them as a pack of lies. Did we mention she's fifteen and yet every character spends the episode behaving like a 6-year-old?