Glurge

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"You're sending virus-laden bandwidth-hogging attachments to every single person you know,
you're passin' 'round a link to some dumb thing on YouTube that everybody else already saw three years ago,
and wacky badly Photoshopped billboards were never that amusing to me,
and I just can't believe you believe those urban legends, but I have high hopes that someone will point you toward Snopes and debunk that crazy junk you're spewing constantly..."

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. These stories are meant to be parables for the audience to digest, but fall far short of the mark. 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 even for those who do believe in God or gods. On top of that, Glurge-y works frame their questionable message with such saccharine or Anvilicious presentation that it becomes even more hard to swallow (the word 'glurge' is meant to imitate the sound of someone gagging or throwing up).

Glurge is hard to describe, but easier to identify. This being a supertrope, it will involve one or more the following:

  • Aesop Collateral Damage: Glurge often features the suffering of other people to drive home a lesson. The work's message may be delivered by a dying child for whom it is "too late" — but not too late for you, Dear Reader! Protagonists who reject the work's moral (obey your parents, don't do drugs, or what have you) may see their family members injured/killed as a consequence. Or a character who witnesses another's suffering may walk away thinking that God/Fate/the powers that be must have wanted him to see it and change his ways (e.g. "Christmas Shoes").
  • Black and White Morality: Glurge-y works leave no doubt who is right and who is wrong. The sympathetic side will be entirely good, while the opposing side will be not only evil but actively hostile to all that is good.
  • Disproportionate Retribution/Disproportionate Reward: Since Glurge is there to teach a lesson, it will reward the characters who agree with the message while heaping abuse and suffering on those who disagree, making them an example to the others (see Aesop Collateral Damage, above). Laser-Guided Karma is usually also in play.
  • Easy Evangelism: This trope is often connected to works promoting a certain religion. The character who speaks the work's message will be impossibly persuasive, winning over all the sympathetic characters, while those who ignore or reject him will be portrayed as stupid, in denial, or evil (not, you know, living their own lives and giving no particular credence to the word of some stranger).
  • Green Aesop: Who is responsible for all pollution in the world (and also for saving nature)? HUMANS!
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: This trope ignores the real limitations a disability imposes, making disabled persons seem lesser or 'lazy' if they haven't developed some extraordinary skill or superpower. It also suggests that disabled persons who do not have some extraordinary skill are not worth featuring in a story.
  • Let Them Die Happy: Fridge Logic tends to hit this one pretty hard. Sure, the dying character may have been comforted, but the rest of us can't ignore the harsh reality...
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Apparently the terminally ill are only sympathetic when they are children.
  • Purity Sue: A character — set up to be admired and imitated — whose purity and saintliness are impossible in Real Life.
  • Stalking Is Love: Many "romantic" 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 love. Also, there is a distinct double-standard concerning stalking: if the stalker is portrayed as shady-looking or deformed, s/he is unsympathetic and the victim is in genuine peril; if the stalker is portrayed as physically attractive, the audience is meant to find them sympathetic and hope they win over the victim. Nerdy, unpopular stalkers are often played for both laughs and sympathy.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: The saintly characters are mercifully killed off to spare them any more time in this dirty, horrible world. There are a number of hiccups in this logic, like living in general is somehow terrible, and that you shouldn't bother trying to be good because you'll get killed for it.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Distorting and fabricating historical fact in the guise of offering "true stories."
  • White Man's Burden: A rich 'white'note  person helps out a poor 'non-white' person out of the goodness of their heart. The other person or group are portrayed as helpless, unable to overcome the problems themselves. This implies that the inherent genetic/cultural superiority of 'white' people (apart from their greater wealth and/or education) is something that 'non-whites' will recognize, accept, and welcome, especially as the 'whites' graciously enter their world 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 (ideally all of the above!) makes a wise and insightful speech to the white, able-bodied, richer and/or better-educated protagonist. If the epiphany-giving character isn't sufficiently well-developed in their own right they can seem like a mere plot device to spur the protagonist — who matters — to take constructive 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, (in)famous people can lie, say dumb things, and have bad ideas just like everyone else.

It should however be noted that using any one of these tropes will not necessarily lead to glurge, after all Tropes Are Not Bad.

A simple metric: The hero of the story is forced or decides to violate the moral of the entire story, often to save the day. If he already believed in the moral, the story doesn't make him do it just to learn his lesson, and the story didn't acknowledge that there can be exceptions, then it's a Broken Aesop. Glurge happens when the moral itself is built on flawed logic. If the hero's moral code changes from chapter-to-chapter (or episode-to-episode), it's a case of Protagonist-Centered Morality. Context is everything.

In other words, emotional manipulation.

When the Glurge is lampshaded (or the "moral" is deliberately cynical and selfish), you get a Family-Unfriendly Aesop.

Not to be confused with Tastes Like Diabetes, though that is a common feature of such stories. See also Unfortunate Implications, a faux pas which has nothing to do with ethics or slogans.

Believe it or not, some people are Glurge Addicts.

Examples:

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     Anime 
  • 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. Furthermore, Konami continually begs Mai to talk about the events leading her and her sisters to part, which she doesn't want to talk about, and the show basically supports her lack of respect for her wishes by having her give an anecdote to her when she finally does open up. 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.

     Comic Books 

    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.
    • God's Not Dead is about a religious student clashing with his athiest teacher over God. The glurge comes from the movie's badly written Black and White Morality that says all Christians are good and all atheists and non-Christians are either evil or sad people who pretend they don't believe in God after a tragedy in their life. It ends with the teacher getting hit by a car and just before he dies, he accepts God and admits he was wrong. Critics and audiences were not pleased.
    • 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 Oscar winnner Dustin Hoffman in Rainman, The Fool like Forrest Gump or Seemingly Profound Fool like Oscar noiminee 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 Channel Awesome 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 he saw the movie not long after one of his relatives actually did commit suicide. In his words, "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 truly believe in the magic of Christmas. 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 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.
  • From the same studio as Santa Paws there's The Odd Life Of Timothy Green, which also involves an infertile couple, but this time they somehow grow a child in their garden (It Makes Sense in Context).
  • 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.
  • Letters To God: Too Good for This Sinful Earth Littlest Cancer Patient? Yep. What isn't in the film? Julie Buchanan stealing the cancer fund money along with the kid's real life cancer (replaced with an alcoholic mailman who received his letters to God).
  • 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.
  • This is an accusation levelled at the film "Little Boy", a blond American kid's Coming-of-Age Story marked by the bullying he goes through, his father being sent off to World War II and the racism hurled at the Japanese-American neighbor the kid strikes an Intergenerational Friendship with.
    Youtube commenter, about the movie's trailer: "Little Boy is a ww2 movie implying that the bombing of Hiroshima/Nagasaki was because one little boy prayed really hard for his father to come home from the war, and God was so moved by his prayers that he decided to vaporize thousands of Japanese people."
  • War Room: ostensibly about a couple turning to faith during a rough patch in their marriage, it imparts the message that all a verbally abusive, adulterous husband needs is for his wife to pray for him, and Satan is ultimately responsible for his behavior. It becomes problematic as this is the very reason so many victims of abuse give for staying with their partners - they believe it's their responsibility to "save" their abusers.

    Literature 
  • 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.
  • Mark Twain wrote two stories parodying this: "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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kate Breslin's inspirational romance novel For Such a Time got some good publicity and was nominated for two 2015 Romance Writers of America awards — whereupon people not in its target audience of conservative Christians found out about it. It's a historical romance between a Jewish concentration camp prisoner and a Nazi commandant, the latter of whom is redeemed by The Power of Love and God's grace, whereupon they manage to rescue a train's worth of prisoners bound for Auschwitz. There's a lot that has since been written about it online, but this joint discussion sums up the major points of contention well: the extremely offensive use of Artistic License – History so the story can end on a Happily Ever After note, the Stockholm Syndrome nature of the lovers' relationship, the Jewish characters not acting authentically Jewish (to the point that a common misconception about the story is that by the end the heroine has converted to Christianity), etc.

    Live Action TV 
  • Viewers of 7th 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.
  • Parodied in The Middle. In the first Mother's Day episode, Sue Heck, who often tries out for things that she never makes it into, finds an inspirational fridge magnet with a dolphin flying a kite that says "Think of the thing you can not do and then do it." However, since her father Mike doesn't buy the fridge magnet for her (since Frankie may not have wanted it for Mother's Day), Sue thinks about stealing the fridge magnet. Later, when Frankie is driving to her mother Pat's house for Mother's Day, Sue (who's in the car with her) reveals that she actually stole the fridge magnet after thinking about stealing it, something that it's not in her nature to do, and feels very guilty about stealing it. Who's to say the person who made the fridge magnet wasn't actually secretly encouraging people to steal stuff? And not just the fridge magnet that had that message.

    Multi-media 
  • There was an ad promoting Proposition 8 (a law which banned gay marriage in California) featuring a cute, little blond 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 Cuarón (yes, THAT Alfonso Cuaron), hasn't publicly apologized or even spoken about it since.
  • The Values.com advertising campaign that's been going on for the past few years. While the ads, for the most part, do bring decent, if basic, morals to the table, such as simply "sportsmanship" or "honesty", the later ads began taking this to saccharine levels. The biggest offender would likely be one ad starting in 2015 that centered on a footrace for handicapped children. During the race, the runner in first trips, so the girl in second stops mid-race to help him up. Then, all of the runners lock arms and skip across the finish line together as one set of parents looks on with a mixture of pride and boredom.

    Music 
  • The song "Christmas Shoes" definitely qualifies. It's a song about a man not in the Christmas spirit who is changed for good when he purchases a pair of shoes for a boy who counts pennies for "what felt like years" and wants his dying mom "to look good if [she] meets Jesus tonight", just in case Jesus doesn't want to let her in if she looks poor. The song ends with the narrator saying he knew God sent the boy to help him change as a person (while simultaneously making his mom ill in the process). It's so infamous, even Christian radio stations have stayed away from the song these days. Patton Oswalt offers an Alternative Character Interpretation that posits the kid is a Street Urchin playing on the heartstrings of his marks in order to scam them. The Nostalgia Chick calls it the #1 disturbing and inescapable Christmas song.
    • 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" by T. Texas Tyler. So...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 performance, 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).
  • 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 '60s, 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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. Bonus points for making no sense in the context of the Enkindler religion, which is essentially deist.

    Web Comics 
  • This is the most pervasive criticism raised against Zen Pencils. For the uninformed, each comic is a Framing Device for a quote from someone famous and well-respected. The bad side of You Know Who Said That is in full effect, with the author often misunderstanding the context in which the quote was spoken, and/or being completely oblivious to any hypocrisies and failings of whoever spoke the quote. The comic thus paints them (or whoever else the comic follows) in a rosy brush as the ideal demonstration of the quote's alleged advice.
    If that weren't enough, a surprising number of comics depict someone leaving behind a stereotypical monotonous drone job in favor of pursuing their passion, as if to say that Doing It for the Art is the only way to do anything in life, completely ignoring things such as making ends meet, and painting anyone who expresses financial concern as a lost soul who sees only in monetary success. There's even one comic about a man who devotes as much of his life, money, and sanity as can to Game of Thrones beyond the point of obsession. His wife begs him to come to his senses and return to reality, but she (and the rest of the world) is apparently meant to be a sad fool who can't understand her husband's passion (AKA Binge Watching).
    By far the worst example came when the author tried his hand at an original Story Arc without any quotes to frame the comic around. The story depicts anyone and everyone who has something negative to say about a work as heartless trolls who cannot appreciate beauty. Their heads explode into green slime that amasses into a giant Blob Monster with "#HATE" on its chest, that only exists to devour budding artists. The Artist Resist Team, led by Hayao Miyazaki, springs into action and builds a Humongous Mecha with the Theodore Roosevelt quotenote  "it is not the critic who counts" emblazoned on its chest, and blasts the #HATE Monster with a "Creativity Beam" and paints the word "ART" on the Moon with its remains.

    Web Original 
  • 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.
  • The Nostalgia Critic has a tendency to choose really sappy music for rousing speeches delivered to straw villains. He even mocked this a few times, like in We Wish You A Turtles Christmas where he's spewing about Christmas but Tamara is getting gored by zombie Malcolm behind him.

    Western Animation 
  • The Christmas Tree: "Miss Mavilda learned that you always win when you are good."
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • In the episode "Husky Bobby", Bobby begins modeling as a plus sized child. Hank is extremely embarrassed about this as he was and still is prejudiced against overweight people. The whole episode centers around Hank trying to get Bobby to quit. He finally succeeds before a fashion show for plus-sized males which ends with the children who were not dragged out by their father getting pelted with donuts. Nobody does anything to stop it and it ends with a heartwarming moment between Bobby and Hank, and nobody is punished for their actions. A Weighty Aesop at its worst.
      Bobby: Wow Dad, you were right!
      Hank: Hell, when you get fashion shows, teenage boys and donuts in the same place this is bound to happen.
      (Scene fades to black and happy music plays)
  • The Dreamstone, especially in early episodes, concerns a Serious Business feud about spreading dreams and nightmares. The Big Bad's minions, the Urpneys, were sympathetic Punch Clock Villains who got beaten up and sent to face their murderous Bad Boss whenever they tried to ruin the heroes' dreams, all still depicted in a sickly sweet and righteous tone.
  • 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.
  • Another in-universe example can be seen on The Simpsons, where Bart becomes a co-anchor in Lisa's news show, and taking the advice of Kent Brockman, does a series of human interest stories of this nature, including one of a duck feeder who is upset that ducks stopped visiting him (even though there's another pond filled with ducks nearby).

    Real Life 
  • 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!".
    • In addition, some of the viral pictures can be some bad cases of Boomerang Bigotry. In particular, some posts will glorify America one day and condemn it the next.
    • For added fun, some users have styled one of those after Charles Manson.
  • 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. An analysis of Nightcrawler by Leon Thomas uses this example.
  • 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, she would go 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. Especially bad since the real story is pretty damn inspirational as it is; check out her entry on Promoted Fanboy.
  • This happens on Tumblr a lot whenever someone doesn't do the proper research, such as an infamous post of a long black object with pink on it that they claimed was a black man's burnt arm, calling it "tragically beautiful." Then it turned out that said "arm" was actually a horse penis.
    • Another Tumblr example is apparently a gif of someone dying whilst having an MRI scan. According to the original poster, death causes the brain to release "tons and tons of endorphins that make you feel a range of emotions. Tragically beautiful." After being reblogged and called "deep" and "beautiful" numerous times, someone finally pointed out that it was actually a gif of someone turning into a zombie from The Walking Dead. Made even better by the fact that the AMC logo is clearly visible in the corner.
    • There was another instance where someone posted a picture of a police officer with scars on the side of his face, calling it "Joker without makeup". Some users were visibly offended before someone pointed out that it was actually a screencap from The Dark Knight where The Joker was hiding out in a group of policemen.
      oh thats awkward
  • The BuzzFeed article 29 Signs You're The Lisa Simpson Of Your Family consist of images of, well... Lisa Simpson, accompanied by text obtensibly comparing the reader to her. Some of these images are taken out of context. Especially the final point, "You started from the bottom now you're here. [sic]" This is accompanied by an image of Lisa in a pool surrounded by other kids. What actually happened here is that the kids were exploiting Lisa, faking her popularity so they can swim in the pool itself.
  • The infamous "There's a reason erasers don't work on your heart" vine, which crosses this with Ice-Cream Koan.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Glurge