"One of Cusack's kids still wets herself at age seven, an endearing character quirk until we realize that it's her defining characteristic. In fact, as the camera pulls back through the clouds to bring us the end credits, we get: 'No more pull-ups!' she proudly tells a smiling Cusack. I forgot this was a plot point until she capped off the survival of humanity by reminding us of mankind's
real victory: bladder control."
Glurge is a catch-all term for any "inspirational" tale which conceals a much darker meaning
than the uplifting moral lessons
it purported to offer, or which undermines its messages
by distorting and fabricating historical fact in the guise of offering "true stories."
Glurge often contains such heart-tugging elements as sad-eyed puppies, sweet-faced children, angels, dying mothers
, privileged (white) folks selflessly aiding poor minority women and children
, or miraculous rescues brought about by prayer
. These stories are meant to be parables for modern times but fall far short of the mark. The best ones
can still be worthy entertainment, or even Tear Jerkers
, but calling something Glurge is never a compliment.
Glurge sometimes contains a menacing subtext
. In such examples, happiness and success are linked to following the message's religious or social beliefs — education, hard work, and achievement are irrelevant
or subversive. People who are not
members of the favored group are often portrayed as sinister and untrustworthy, and their pain, struggles, or even deaths are ignored (even celebrated) if even one of them rejects their old ways and 'converts' to align with the morals of the one who wrote the story.
Some common, intentionally used tropes in Glurge (and why they are problematic):
- Aesop Collateral Damage: In order to drive home the (intended) message, characters are killed off. More often than not, the deaths or injuries are portrayed as Laser-Guided Karma for disobeying parents, trying drugs, or what have you.
- Black and White Morality: This sort of morality tends to apply to kids and insane people. It's quite unreasonable to expect adults to simply believe that every single member of a group is completely good or bad.
- Children Are Innocent: It is generally true that children start out as innocent. However, they are also selfish and have need to be taught (by example) and/or made to be nice to other people. Morally bad children do exist in other words.
- Corrupt Church: Corrupt religious institutions can exist. The trouble with this trope is that no religious organization of any notable size could possibly be staffed solely by people who are thoroughly corrupt, evil, and possessed of zero redeeming qualities.
- Easy Evangelism: This trope is often connected to religion. The implication is that a person should immediately buy into what a stranger says just because they are correct; as well as that you must be a horrible, stubborn or stupid person just because you are sceptical of their ideas or stick to your existing false beliefs.
- Ill Girl: Everyone gets sick at some point in their lives, and sometimes the sickness is incurable. Having a child die of an incurable disease and die regretting that they didn't get to do this or that with his/her life can leave a bad taste in the mouths of some people.
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: The problem with works using this trope is that characters with disabilities are treated as though it is their fault their disabilities hold them back or treated as if they ought to have compensatory superpowers.
- Let Them Die Happy: The fact that it's a form of deception can make it leave a bad taste in the viewer's mouth, especially when the happy lie is contrasted with the harsh reality.
- Littlest Cancer Patient: It is possible for little kids to get terminal cancer. There is an underlying implication that people will only care about a terminally ill patient if the patient is a kid.
- Missing Mom: This trope can be considered a double standard. Usually they are treated as less important than the protagonist's father and they are considered incredibly pure and saintly. Also, if it turns the mother is alive and willingly abandoned the protagonist, then she'll be portrayed as a monster, unlike the missing dad.
- Purity Sue: Some religious fictional works may present the protagonist as this, in order to provide an example of how to live your life. However, people in real life cannot easily be as pure and saintly as a fictional character, and they can't actually be perfect.
- Saintly Church: This is the way any kind of religious organization likes to portray itself. Unfortunately, the reality of all religious organizations is that they're staffed by mostly-normal people who spend most of their time doing mundane things. Worse yet, there are dismally many real life examples in which religious institutions and officials have shown themselves capable of great un-saintly-ness. Accordingly, depiction of a Saintly Church can leave a bad taste in people's mouths.
- Stalking Is Love: Many romance stories feature this trope. Real Life examples have shown that stalking is a compulsion that is the result of social phobia(s) and/or mental illness(es), not a sign of how in love you are. Also, there is a distinct double-standard concerning stalking: if the stalker is attractive, then people will sympathise with them regardless of the creepiness, illegality, or immorality of their behaviour.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: A child gets killed off precisely because they couldn't fit in a horrible world. It has a number of bad implications, like living in general is somehow terrible, and that you shouldn't bother trying to be good because you'll get killed for it.
- White Man's Burden: A rich 'white'note person helps out a poor 'non-white' person out of the goodness of their heart; when are also portrayed as helpless, unable in any degree to overcome their problems themselves. This implies that there is an inherent genetic/cultural superiority to 'white' people, apart from their greater wealth and/or education, and that 'non-whites' need 'whites' to solve (all) their problems. Whenever social modernization is brought up, expect Unfortunate Implications that European culture was always inherently modern (and therefore inherently superior), and not just 'made' so in the last century-and-a-half since the Industrial Revolution.note
- Whoopi Epiphany Speech: A poor, ethnic-minority, disabled, illiterate or ill-educated character makes a wise and insightful speech to the white, able-bodied, richer and/or better-educated protagonist. While not bad in itself, if the epiphany-giving character isn't sufficiently well-developed in their own right they can seem like a mere living plot device to spur the protagonist into action.
- You Know Who Said That: A character uses a statement to make an argument for or against something, and tells us that they were quoting a(n) (in)famous person. However, the character rarely if ever tells us the context in which the words were spoken. This, rightly, leaves viewers to wonder if they've (deliberately) misused it or made it up entirely. Besides, famous people can lie, say dumb things, and have bad ideas just like everyone else.
Not to be confused with Tastes Like Diabetes
, though that is a common feature of such stories. Believe it or not, some people are Glurge Addicts
Compare Crapsaccharine World
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- Code Geass both lampshades and subverts this trope. The ending results in the world being saved from hatred, malice and endless war...through the time-honored arts of lying, scapegoats and acceptable casualties. But not only was Lelouch himself intentionally playing the role of a Villain Protagonist by that point in the story, without trying to hide that his actions would be classified as evil by history, he also gets called out by Schneizel & co. for a couple of the ironies present in his plan.
- There is a possible implication that the White Man - the Britannian Lelouch - is the only way that the Japanese and Chinese could ever defeat other white men. Even Lelouch's closest confidante and most skilled subordinate are white and half-white, respectively. Somewhat mitigated by race being very hard to determine at a glance, and being a Japanese series, so the implications are not necessarily a result of culture.
- China was doing pretty well on its own against Britannia, it only started to crumble because of some treacherous politicians, and Lelouch was able to start a revolution thanks to getting the Geass, which had nothing to do with his whiteness.
- Bennett the Sage has accused Grave of the Fireflies of being this, essentially exploiting the tragedies of World War II in order to guilt 1980s youth into falling in line and being more like their parents' generation.
- One of the main points of Popotan is that the girls always have to travel through time. Mai, in particular, hates it because she can never settle for any lasting friendships. Eventually, upon finding who they're looking for, they're given the option to either continue or return to any time of their choice. But, even after deciding to go back to those they felt closest to, they're now unhappy about not being able to see each other anymore. Daichi even calls Ai out for abandoning her purpose in life, and encourages her to reunite with her sisters and continue the journey. Nevermind that leaving their families and retiring from even fulfilling jobs is exactly what most people do at certain points of their lives. The intended moral is about how people who part still have each other in their hearts, but it comes off as "Forget about happiness and just repeat an endless cycle to make others happy."
- Many people felt the end result of Naruto ended up being this. The basic central lesson Naruto brings to the table is that friendship and cooperation can overcome anything, as long as enough people support it, but the delivery of this Aesop is so ridiculous toward the end that it's impossible to apply it to real life. This mainly has to do with the fact that toward the end, the story stops trying to actually redeem the villains and mostly just gives Defeat Means Friendship to what in real life would be at least on par with some of the worst criminals in history, including some whose goals were tantamount to human extermination. Most of these villains did very little, if anything, to earn their redemption and seemed to only stop doing evil things because their plan A fell through. The story also resorts to using a Hate Sink in the form of Kaguya, a Bigger Bad Physical God of sorts from absolutely nowhere, to retroactively excuse the crimes of the vast majority of the villains in the story.
Film — Animated
Film — Live Action
- Almost any "inspirational" movie about a teacher, especially of the Save Our Students type, actually implies: 1. A teacher can reach all students just by caring. Caring means not having a life at all. 2. All the other teachers those students ever had just didn't care enough. 3. The school system doesn't need discipline, funding, national standards, or any actual improvements. It just needs teachers who care more.
- Unsurprisingly, the "training" offered by school districts is filled with this exact type of inspirational story glurge. The moral to the story is that everything that goes wrong is the teacher's fault and the overcrowded classrooms, lack of a consistent discipline policy and leadership failings of the administration are never at fault for anything. This is portrayed perfectly in Up The Down Staircase.
- To Sir With Love avoids this very well — possibly because it's a true story — yet it still makes it clear that lowered expectations allowed Sir and his students to succeed.
- Lean on Me also avoids falling into the typical trap, mainly by Joe Clark's stressing discipline and control as the only effective methods of instruction. Also, because he doesn't quite manage to save everyone, just (presumably) the core student body. The principal also unceremoniously throws dozens of "troublemakers" out of the school, but faces this issue head-on with brutal practicality. Undermined By Reality in that the actual school never saw that much improvement in test scores, and was taken over by the state one year after Joe Clark left his position (because of resentment by fellow over his work, moreover).
- Half Nelson subverts this by making the aspiring inspirational white teacher a hypocritical drug addict. To the young black female student he'd like to inspire, her jailed brother's drug dealer partner is a better role model.
- Parodied in Tropic Thunder with the Film Within A Film Simple Jack, a movie about a mentally-disabled farmhand meant to obviously be an Oscar Bait role for actor Tugg Speedman. The movie becomes a total bomb since, as Kirk Lazarus puts it, Tugg went "Full Retard", playing the character as severely disabled rather than merely Inspirationally Disadvantaged like Dustin Hoffman in Rainman, The Fool like Forrest Gump or Seemingly Profound Fool like Peter Sellers in Being There and noting Sean Penn's performance in I Am Sam as an example of why you don't do so.
- The end of Knowing. The short version: Earth fries, everybody dies. Except for some 30-odd kids who are saved by aliens, whose reason for being there is never explained, and taken to some alien garden, surprisingly nonchalant about everybody they know having been horribly killed.
- Will Smith's Oscar Bait Seven Pounds. Atoner with God complex decides which patient to receive his saintly organs. He thinks that using fake IDs is a perfectly legit means to contact prospective recipients, and considers a worthy person someone who is rendered barely articulate by a volley of insults. The serious Glurge comes from the fact that he commits suicide and this is treated as some sort of beautiful martyrdom just because he donated his organs.
- Which is the main reason why Film Brain of That Guy with the Glasses despises this movie. It's a glurge-fest with the severely Family Unfriendly Aesops that "suicide can be a good thing" and "committing federal crimes, including identity theft and impersonating a federal employee is OK as long you do good". Not to mention (as said in the commentary) that one of his relative actually did commit suicide shortly before seeing the movie. As he said, "it struck a nerve."
- Plus some added Broken Aesop by way of research failure: his suicide method was a box jellyfish. Ten minutes on Google will tell you that box jellyfish venom would render many of his organs unusable anyway.
- As mentioned in The Boondocks: The film Soul Food which is about a grandmother who shows her love for her family by cooking delicious but unhealthy "soul food." She dies of clogged arteries and her family honors her by eating the same unhealthy food that killed her.
- Forrest Gump itself runs into some rather creepy implications if you consider that the reason why the protagonist makes good is that it never occurs to him to do anything that falls outside of conservative American ideas about morality. Michael A. Novelli at The Agony Booth has more information here.
- A Cracked: After Hours video also comments on the problems with the love story between Forrest and Jenny, particularly the scene where Forrest - a confused, mentally handicapped man - shows up at Jenny's dorm room and she tries to have sex with him. Try that scene again with the roles gender-swapped - a mentally handicapped girl and a promiscuous man.
- The novel it's based on, it should be noted, hits many of the same beats but plays everything in a more cutting, satirical manner, being mostly about Forrest applying his nuance-free worldview to the craziness and social turmoil happening around him.
- Patch Adams, which is especially bad because it's Based on a True Story, but deliberately ignored most of the real Patch Adams' philosophynote in favor of "funny doctor who shakes up the establishment." Said real Dr. Adams hates the movie for exactly that reason.
- Whats even worse is that the film uses a real life medical student who was a friend of Patch Adams, and changes him into a female love interest, implies that "she" was raped in the past, and then has her killed by a patient. All of this, except for the murder, was a fabrication and all for the sake of cheap drama.
- Radio Flyer, in which a boy escapes his abusive stepfather by building an airplane out of a toy wagon and flying away in it, presumably to his death.
- Rock: It's Your Decision is supposed to be an educational and supportive movie about a Christian teen realizing that he must stop listening to sinful rock music (i.e. all of it). As to the result...
- As far as Christmas movies go, it doesn't get much glurgier than The Search for Santa Paws. Featuring a Heartwarming Orphan who comes off instead as a Deliberately Cute Child, thanks in no small part to her absurdly high-pitched and breaking voice and unlikely naivety, who is sent to an Orphanage of Fear run by a caricature of what Pat Robertson thinks those who say "Happy Holidays" in shopping malls are like, only for said heartwarming orphan to find Santa's talking dog, who can only be understood by those who "believe in Santa" or something like that. The mere presence of Santa's dog makes the other orphans realize the meaning of Christmas, including the jaded older girl who has been in the orphanage long enough that she has no chance of being adopted. Meanwhile, Santa suffers Easy Amnesia and winds up getting a job as a Shopping-Mall Santa in a toy store run by a young couple with an Embarrassing Last Name. The couple in question is implied to be infertile, and the woman keeps bawling about it. This somehow causes the man not to be such a Scrooge, and the two plot points come together in a Race Against the Clock to recover Santa's magic crystal in order to prevent his death. The movie ends with the young couple adopting the heartwarming orphan. Despite the description, the film is completely serious.
- The Boy Who Could Fly has an uplifting message, but Eric's behaviors are not even close to how a regular autistic person acts. Being a popular classroom movie at the time, it may have given lots of students the wrong impression of how autistic people behave and look.
- North seems to think of itself as an uplifting morality tale of a kid who learns to appreciate his parents. Instead it comes off as a story of a raging egotist who abandons his parents but returns to them only because all the other ones he encountered were raging racial stereotypes. What's worse, the film tries to save itself by revealing it was All Just a Dream, but that just reveals North to be a huge racist as well.
- While Whatever Happened To Baby Jane wouldn't qualify, the song "I've Written a Letter To Daddy" sure would, if it weren't staged rather creepily.
- The Ultimate Gift. Sinful, jerkass man who disregards his father? Check. Said man must go through a series of trials that improve him in order to get the titular "ultimate gift"? Check. He falls in love with the single mother of the Littlest Cancer Patient. Double check. The kid dies? You bet it. The part where all this starts to go off the rails is the ending, where Jason receives 2 billion dollars for his efforts, implying that people only improve themselves in the hopes of monetary gain.
- Some of the earliest children's books published in English were stories meant for Puritan children. They primarily were stories about children who did nothing but pray and work, and finally had the "good fortune" to die young before they could commit any sins that would have gotten them cast into Hell. "Wasn't that a nice story? Sleep tight!"
- Parodied in The Areas of My Expertise with The Six Oaths of the Virtuous Child, which are more creepy than inspiring.
- Today shall not be wasted. I shall rise before the sun, so that I may then watch my family as they slumber, with intent, waiting eyes.
- I shall honor my mother today, and I shall tell Father he is powerful.
- Today I shall be clean. I shall not touch my teeth, knowing that the oils of my skin shall cause them to disintegrate. I shall instead hone them with a good steel twice after prayers.
- I shall be a faithful child, and I shall ever make science my enemy. Also eels
- At day, I shall perform my chores and duties happily, and if I see an eel, I shall kill it before it may speak to me seductively of its lazy life on lazy river bottoms.
- At night, I shall dream of more labor, and in my sleep I shall smile with sharpened teeth, knowing that today has not been wasted.
- Marcelino, pan y vino is a book (and movie) that most people in the Spanish-speaking world have heard about. It's about an orphan kid (the eponymous Marcelino) who befriends a living statue of Christ. Marcelino starts stealing bread and wine (the 'pan y vino' of the title) to feed Jesus. In the end Marcelino dies so he can go meet his mother. Oh, and dying was supposed to be a reward. No wonder some people grew to be scared of crucifixes.
- Mark Twain wrote two stories parodying these: "The Good Little Boy", in which the title character's life ambition is to be the star of a Sunday School book, and "The Bad Little Boy", in which the title character misbehaves and karma utterly fails to inflict ironic punishments.
- In his stand up routine, David Cross savages the book Promises to Keep: Daily Devotions for Men of Integrity for being full of Glurge and Warped Aesops.
- A certain critic wrote a rather scathing review of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones that essentially accuses the book of being this. Check it out here.
- The Nazi party published kids books, which were, unsurprisingly, full of this, presenting Jews and Romani as evil, conniving demons who wanted to ruin the lives of all the big-eyed Teutonic waifs. There was a Nazi children's book, which featured Hitler inviting a little girl to his private villa for tea and cookies, then giving her a hug and a kiss as she left.
- Invoked in The Fountainhead; Alvah Scarrett's career is built on writing glurge-filled newspaper editorials.
- The new emergence of dog books such as Saving Cinnamon, The Dog Who Couldn't Stop Loving, A Small Furry Prayer, What a Difference a Dog Makes, etc. As an Entertainment Weekly reviewer summed it up - "They are all blatantly, painfully the same exaggerated story of hope and triumph-of-the-humane-society spirit. You know the kind — a pit bull learning to love, a pug saving a nursing home, a chihuahua crusading for immigration reform! Not to be callous, but I've had it! I'm sure Oogy and Pukka are great pooches, but their cloyingly cute books are enough to give you a case of the canine diabetes."
- Edward Everett Hale's The Man Without a Country is quite Glurge-y, much as it tries to pretend to be a manly man's story set among the men of the Navy. The moral lesson is: love your country dammit, because if you don't have a country your life is worthless and you dwindle into a pathetic loner obsessed with the whole notion of "country." Never mind that patriotism for the sake of patriotism is naive at best, or that what happened in the story was a form of low-key brainwashing, making the man's life revolve around the lack of the United States — it's really nauseating.
- The Secret. Hoo boy. Good things happen if you really, really visualize them enough! It's the big secret to every success story in history! Never mind that by that same token, every failure or bad thing that ever happened was because someone didn't want to avoid them strongly enough.
- Critiqued in, of all places, The Goon, where the gangsters of the comic observe that, by this logic, rape victims and people who died in the Holocaust are to blame for what happened to them.
- The Love and Logic parenting books that used to be popular could fall into this pretty hard at times. Apparently, the best solution to problems between parents and children is for the parents to do whatever they want and just repeat the phrase "I love you too much to argue" when the child protests.
- The books written as "stories of saintly ill Christian children who were Too Good for This Sinful Earth" work as this. Double if they're written by the titular kids's parents, since many readers are left with the very cynical impression that they're getting moral/economic benefits coming from the deaths of their own children.
Live Action TV
- Viewers of Seventh Heaven are force-fed Christian morals like a baby. The version of Christianity was the vague, feel-good sort that could be described as 'spiritual masturbation.' You don't mention Jesus as anything more than a really hoopy dude, because people might feel bad and that would be terrible.
- The Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Faith" is a look at the darker side of glurge: the Victim of the Week is a benefactor who planned to stop supporting a girl who suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease and survived abuse to write an inspiring book about her experiences. He planned to stop because he found out she isn't real, and her "foster parents" are con artists. And this is actually inspired by Anthony Godby Johnson, supposed "author" of A Rock and a Hard Place. (The name is under spoiler tags to not ruin the episode for people who know about that but haven't seen the show.)
- MADtv's parody skit Nice White Lady subverts the "inspirational teacher saves inner-city students" story that shows up in so many movies by pointing out the racism underlying many such stories. MADtv's inspirational teacher doesn't DO much to inspire her black, Latino and Asian students except make random speeches and utter platitudes... but she doesn't have to, because, as the title says, she's a nice white lady.
- There was an ad promoting Proposition 8 (a law which banned gay marriage in California) featuring a cute, little blonde girl playing with Barbie dolls. While the ad seemed sweet on the surface, advocates for gay rights would see this as a way of using children (who don't really understand what it is they're doing) to promote homophobia.
- The notorious I Am Autism, produced by Autism Speaks and put on the Internet in September 2009. It starts out with a man's deep voice speaking over footage of autistic children playing at various activities as "Autism!", gloating about how he "work[s] faster than pediatric AIDS, cancer, and diabetes combined" among other things and then it switches over to various saintly neurotypical adults who all talk about how they will bravely fight autism, with one woman saying that "Autism!" "think[s] that because [her] child lives behind a wall, [she is] afraid to knock it down with [her] bare hands." Unsurprisingly, it got a lot of backlash from autistic people, autistic allies, and many disability rights organizations. Autism Speaks did pull it down, but the director of the piece, Alfonso Cuaron (yes, THAT Alfonso Cuaron), hasn't publicly apologized or even spoken about it since.
- Teenage Death Songs. All of them. (Except for the parodic "I Want My Baby Back" by Jimmy Cross.)
- The song "Christmas Shoes" definitely qualifies. We'll let Patton Oswalt speak (using lots of cursing, so be warned) for this one. It's so infamous that even Christian Radio stations are opting to stay away from this these days.
- Hard 'N Phirm wrote an over-the-top response song to Christmas Shoes called She Named The Pony Jesus, in which a guy steals a horse from a fair to give to his ridiculously ailing daughter. The song ends with the horse trampling the girl and running away.
"Can I have a pony, Jesus
your humble servant begs
you see my little girl breathes through a tube
and has a wheelchair for her legs
I'm not asking you to fix her spine
or uncollapse her lung
but I know she'd thank you for that pony
if she had a working tongue...
I know that horse won't stop her tremors
or reattach her nose
but I know she'd hop right on that pony
if she could move her shriveled toes"
- The Dolly Parton song "Letter to Heaven", where a little girl writes a letter to her dead mom. On her way to mailbox, she gets run over by a car and dies.
- Red Sovine made a career out of Glurgy songs, most of them about truckers:
- "Teddy Bear": a lonely little paralyzed boy with a dead father and only a C.B. Radio for company.
- "Giddy-up Go": an old trucker whose wife left him and took their son years ago because he was gone so much of the time meets a young trucker and recognizes the son, now grown, by the name of the young man's truck: "Giddy-up Go", the same thing the old man named his truck when the son was a small child.
- "Little Rosa": A father tells of buying a rose to lay on the grave of his little girl, Rosa, who was killed by a train.
- "Bringing Mary Home": the urban legend of "The Vanishing Hitchhiker"; this time the hitchhiker is a little girl.
- The Deck of Cards: playing cards in church is punishable by death?
- Michael Jackson was a Glurge Addict, so it's not surprising that some of his work falls into this territory. In particular, he always plays Children Are Innocent straight.
- The video for "Heal the World" posits that soldiers, terrorists, etc. would lay down their arms if they could just see how happy and peaceful children are and return to that state of giving innocence. Needless to say, the reasons for war and strife in the world are often far more complex than this solution suggests they are...not to mention that adults were children once, and couldn't solve all the world's problems then, so why/how should the current or next generation of kids be able to do so? Sadly, Jackson never does give an answer to this question in this or similar works, such as several of the pieces in his "Poems and Reflections" book Dancing the Dream.
- Ghosts was something of a response to accusations that his affection for children hid unsavory motives. It uses the framework of a black-and-white horror movie. An evil white mayor (played by Jackson) leads a Torches and Pitchforks mob on the supernatural Michael just because he was sharing ghost stories with some local boys. What results is a parade of horrors to drive the mayor away, and it has been argued that Michael is the real villain even though the idea is that he's the hero who teaches us An Aesop about not picking on others who are different.
- "Earth Song" is a Green Aesop guilt trip that attacks the listener for not even bothering to notice the suffering of plants, animals and people. In the video, war victims and natives wailing and gnashing their teeth somehow proves sufficient to magically turn back time and make everything all better. To make matters worse, live performances had Jackson singlehandedly stand up to a tank and reduce the soldier/driver within to tears by standing down the gun he aimed at him. And then there was Michael's Brit Awards appearance in 1996, in which the song became a ten-minute production number that climaxed with Michael clad in white, being treated as a messiah by the suffering masses. About midway through the peformance, Jarvis Cocker (of Pulp) crashed the stage to counteract the sappiness; hilarity ensued. For more glurge, check out this excerpt from an e-book about its creation.
- "Little Susie", from the same album as "Earth Song", isn't as well-known (it wasn't released as a single) but is at least as much of a guilt trip. The title character is a little girl who, thanks to a combination of death and abandonment on her family's part, lives all alone in an apartment. She spends her time singing a song to a tinkly music box tune — yes, the second (!) prelude to the actual song features a little girl la-la-la-la-ing — while no one in the building tries to help her; only one person is even aware of her existence. She's finally found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs, which is either a suicide or a murder (if the latter, clearly by someone in it For the Evulz).
- Finally, especially since his death, a Vocal Minority of his fandom sees Jackson as a universal ambassador for peace and love who was perfect as an artist and a person. Anyone who didn't/doesn't treat him with kid gloves is seen as racist, heartless, unenlightened, or some combination of the three.
- A lot of early-to-mid-20th-century pop can fall into this nowadays, given how completely sentimentality has been redefined since then. "Artificial Flowers" (best-known version by Bobby Darin) is a great example.
- The worst offenders were the many girl groups in the The Sixties, whose lyrics would be perceived as downright creepy if they were written today.
- One particularly chilling example is Neil Sadaka's "Next Door to an Angel", in which he delights in describing his young neighbour's physical development ("She used to be such a skinny little girl / But all of a sudden, she's out of this world!") and plans to "make that angel mine"; while the girl next door is explicitly identified as 16, the narrator is suspiciously not. And yet, it's all cheerfully sung to the most cheesy, goofy rhythm imaginable.
- Many songs advertised as father-daughter dances at weddings fall into Glurge; prime examples are "Butterfly Kisses" by Bob Carlisle, and "My Father's Eyes," by Amy Grant. Some brides are now catching on to how Glurgey and slightly creepy they are.
- "Diary of an Unborn Child", an anti-abortion Author Tract that would have been slightly more effective had the titular foetus not been a grotesque mix of sickening sweetness and Nightmare Fuel in equal parts, making its death more relieving than tragic. And then it starts singing.
- "The Little Girl", sung by John Michael Montgomery, is based upon a religiously-themed urban legend (similar to the above mentioned "Christmas Shoes"). Songwriter Harley Allen, when asked about the song's origin, stated that "if it ain't true, it ought to be" which has Unfortunate Implications: the eponymous "little girl" witnesses the brutal murder-suicide of her parents.
- Mass Effect 2 has a hilarious parody of glurgy chain e-mails called "IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!" It involves a terminally-ill drell (desert-dwelling green-skinned humanoid) lying in the ocean, praying to the Enkindlers, and being told that it wasn't the water but the Enkindlers who were keeping him afloat, then waking to find himself cured.
- The ending to Mass Effect 3 was raked over the coals by damn near everybody for going against the pro-diversity themes of the series up to that point and using a near-literal Deus ex Machina to resolve the conflict instead of the player and characters themselves.
- TheGamersCave's "I am a Gamer," which is supposed to be a celebration of the gamer identity. It begins innocently enough, talking about how video games allow players to experience a reality other than their own, but then it goes all downhill when he shuns Real Life altogether and talks about how video games are so much superior. In doing so, he reinforces the common gamer stereotype of being introverts that seek out imaginary relationships over real ones. The uplifting techno music in the background only adds to TheGamersCave's preachiness. This well-meaning video made him a source of mockery (even more so when he tried to get a parody taken down).
- Parodied by Rink Works' Pea Soup For The Cynic's Soul, a collection of tales whose beginning and middle are stereotypically glurge-like, but-as the name implies-end in rather twisted and/or horrific fashion.
- Parodied in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: in one episode, this is how Mac is able to tell which of the Bloos is his true best friend. The one that made the heartfelt speech at the end? He wasn't the real one, since Bloo would never say or admit something like that.
- In King of the Hill, Hank's mom Tilly collects figurines and Hank utterly despises them because of how much she loves them and how they seem to control her life. Then Hank realizes those figurines were the only things that kept her going while she was trapped in her marriage to Hank's Jerkass father Cotton.
- The Dreamstone, especially in early episodes. The Big Bad's minions, the Urpneys, were sympathetic Punch Clock Villains and actually had a more dire motive than the heroes (having bad dreams vs getting horribly killed by your Bad Boss). Even worse, the show still seems to try conveying the feud as being Black and White Morality, due to heroes' excessively pious and saccharine depiction and several awkward And That's Terrible rants concerning their contempt for the Urpneys' actions.
- Much like the example above for A Troll in Central Park, the public-domain Van Beuren short "The Sunshine Makers" really lays it on thick with the message of conformity — a group of cheerful gnomes who bottle sunshine and pour it on things to make them bright and beautifulnote run afoul of a tribe of gloomy and pallid goblins who hate laughter and fun. After some brief retaliation from the goblins, the gnomes bomb the village mercilessly, overrun the pleading inhabitants, and force them to bathe in and drink their sunshine until they're finally happy forever, effectively exterminating their entire culture. Who could've guessed that it would end so, well... dark?
- The Legend of Korra includes an in-universe example of Glurge with a historical tale where a heroine couldn't be with her beloved because he was the son of her enemy and had an Arranged Marriage with a princess. So she rode a dragon into battle, burned down the country, and jumped into a volcano. Jinora thinks it's the most romantic story ever, while Korra is completely nonplussed by it.
- Spam, chain letters and faxlore by the thousands. Snopes has an section dedicated to examples of these, with well over one hundred entries, and yet even that barely dips into the endless well of schmaltz, Narm and unexamined assumptions that winds up in people's inboxes daily.
- Parodied on Cute Overload!, in which the storyteller gets confused by the sequence of events in the pictures, leading to a very Lost Aesop.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic lampshades this among other things in his song, "Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me".
- Related to the chain letters, Facebook has its own brand, with so-called "inspirational", but mostly sentimental and preachy viral pictures with the added emotional blackmail saying things like "only 3% of your friends will be brave enough to share this!".
- Some of the crazy stuff people come out with on Fundies Say the Darndest Things are pretty glurgy. Thanks to Poe's Law, it's very hard to tell if this is actually serious or not. Example:
"After four years, our cancer warrior Alice
has left her earthly bounds and gone to heaven, where her body is healthy again, where the wind can blow through her hair, and where she can finally ride a horse on the beach and swim with dolphins. She was embraced in heaven by all the inspiring teens and children with cancer she met along the way." My question to atheists is: if her parents asked you for your true beliefs, would you really take that away from them? Would you really tell them that their daughter was just unlucky, and suffered heroically for years only to go out like a candle and be nothing more than dirt in the ground?
- The Self Esteem Movement that permeated much of academia in the 70s, 80s, and 90s could be categorized as an example of real-life Glurge, broadly defined. The theory was that all children naturally want to be good students, well-behaved, etc, but must be taught self-esteem to live up to this. Bad behavior, bad grades, bad sexual choices among adolescents, bullying, etc, were all supposedly symptoms of low self-esteem. It's generally considered that such a view mixes correlation and causality: that it is just as unhealthy for a students with skills and achievements to put themselves down as it is to artificially build up the self-image of those who have achieved nothing. If you're looking for people with healthy, but realistic self-images, rightly satisfied with their positive qualities, recognizing faults in ways that allows for future improvement, you're probably not going to find them attending high school... or in Glurge for that matter.
- There are plently of YouTube videos and Facebook posts of stories about preteens or even elementary school students falling in love, only for one of the members dying the next day in an over-the-top way (suddenly dying of cancer is a big one, as if cancer is just instantaneous).
- Along these same lines, there's one endlessly re-used script where a girl asks her boyfriend, "will u <3 me 4ever?" and when the boyfriend says "No," she runs crying and screaming into some some hazard or another and dies... only for the boyfriend to tearfully tell her corpse, "I <3 you 5ever". (Because 5ever is more than 4ever. So clever.)
- In addition to cancer being instantly cured, boys have ovaries... and ovaries can be donated... but the donation is somehow fatal.
- Um, I-It's a joke, sweetie.
- Socialist Realism and other totalitarian art forms have glurge as a primary stock in trade—endless scenes of happy farmers, industrious workers, and brave soldiers without conflict or human suffering or any of the imperfections that make real life real. This has led to some commentators using the umbrella term "totalitarian kitsch" to describe art used as propaganda in totalitarian regimes.
- Pinterest is especially hated in some circles for its extremely sentimental and preachy 'inspirational' quotes (like the Facebook example mentioned above). Pinterest's glurge can take a pretty nasty turn in the fitspo pins note which combine the glurge with emotional blackmail and guilt-tripping.
- There's a popular story that pops up from time to time that Evanna Lynch, who played Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter movies, got the role because J. K. Rowling promised it to her if she continued to seek treatment for anorexia. While certain elements of it are true (Lynch spent 2 years in and out of the hospital due to anorexia nervosa, and credits the Harry Potter books with helping her deal with the hospitalization, and, of course, went on to play Luna in the movies), Rowling had no role in Lynch's being cast, and while such rumors make Rowling look great, they carry with them the implication that Lynch did not actually earn the role that made her famous, but had it handed to her out of pity.