Adjusted to represent viewer perception!
"One bad apple spoils the whole barrel."
— Commonly used idiom when it comes to a person's perception of a group upon seeing its Vocal Minority.
When it comes to fans of certain things, there are many people who are sane, down-to-earth individuals; individuals who understand that if they talk about a subject, and the other person's not interested, they'll stop talking about it. These people know how to keep their hobbies under control; how to differentiate between reality and their interests.
Unfortunately, these people aren't news. That's because Weird Is Interesting - Like any other program on television, the news has to be interesting
or else people won't watch it. Why talk to an individual who works in an office, who occasionally picks up a copy of Spider-Man
, when you can talk to the 300-pound guy who spent $7000 on his exact replica of a Scarecrow
The problem is that because only the weirdos get interviewed, this causes non-fans to believe they're all like that; that all comic fans are clones of the Comic Book Guy
from The Simpsons
, for example. This is also the main reason why people would hate something just because of its fanbase. It's like the old saying: "The squeaky wheel gets the grease".
Not just limited to Comic Books
, this phenomenon extends to other hobbyists, other groups and races as well. Although there can be odd immunities: compare how your average American treats a guy in a Spock
costume versus how he treats a guy with his face painted in team colors.
Sadly, this concept serves very well for Chewbacca Defense
. Someone complain about you doing something wrong? Stigmatize them as a Vocal Minority – you instantly prove they are wrong and make it look like everything is alright and everyone agrees with you on this, and complainers delude themselves thinking otherwise. That's Argumentum ad hominem
, but what is more important – history tends to avert this entirely
; i.e the mere fact that someone complains really
hard means something is going very, very wrong. The poem “First they came…”
by Martin Niemöller is all about supporting this point of view. It’s about Nazis
. Specifically it's about how groups unhappy with Hitler's rise of power (like communists or trade unionists) were considered Vocal Minority
so no one really cared about their persecution and imprisonment. You know what happened next.
Due to the nature of this trope, many fandom-related tropes are induced solely by this. The only members of a fandom who vocalize their opinion are the ones who feel so strongly about their opinion that they feel the need to vocalize it. The Scrappy
, the Ensemble Darkhorse
, the Fan Dumb
, the Hate Dumb
, Fan-Preferred Couple
, etc., are all based on what is commented on by the Vocal Minority
. So, characters like Scrappy Doo and films like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
both sound like the spawn of Satan when described by people on the internet, but usually have a much more positive description via Word of Mouth (in other words, asking someone on the internet about the two will get long winded rants, asking a guy on the street will get much more praise than on the internet). So, Scrappy Doo and Wesley Crusher could've very well been fairly well liked by the silent majority. However, just because they're the Minority, doesn't
mean they're a small group: In large fandoms, the minority could number in the thousands. As such, sometimes you actually do need to pay attention to them; while blindly kowtowing to their protests and demands is obviously a stupid and often harmful idea, there are plenty of times where they may
actually be onto something even if it isn't phrased in the most polite or reasonable manner, though it does require extensive analysis to see if this really is the case.
This trope can occur in multiplayer internet games of nearly all types. One example would be an MMORPG in which most people can see that a given class or ability is overpowered compared to others, sometimes to the degree of being a Game Breaker
. If the creators try to remedy the imbalance, the most dedicated players (many of whom have been using the imbalance) may dominate the bulletin boards and insist that the changes are highly unfair. On occasion, the players will be polled on the topic and if that happens, it's not unusual for those who object to be found to be no more than a Vocal Minority.
This is a major reason why Pandering to the Base
can be so problematic; even if the other pitfalls are discounted, the writers may only be serving a small but vocal minority. A Broken Base
rises when two groups of Vocal Minority members have opposing opinions hitting against one another. Contrast with Silent Majority
. See also Stop Being Stereotypical