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Quotes: Tall Poppy Syndrome

Quotes from works

"Arthur, you're making the other accountants nervous. We all find this kind of... rampant individuality... very disturbing."
Mr. Widerspann, The Tick

"The greater a man's talents, the greater his power to lead astray. It is better that one should suffer than that many be corrupted. "
The Director, Brave New World

In Scotland, there's an enduring hatred of people who are too successful.
Christopher Brookmyre, Caledonia Dreaming

"One did not accidentally graduate from top-tier schools. One strove to get in and to maintain grades once there, and to do that, one usually needed to be a master at conformity. To excel in all the accepted conventions. No, the truly different thinkers often went unnoticed.”
Daniel Suarez, Influx

Chief Inspector: I know what you're going to say, Nicholas, but the fact is you've been making us all look bad.
Nicholas Angel: I'm sorry, sir?
Chief Inspector: Of course, we all appreciate your efforts, but you've been rather letting the side down.
Met Inspector: It's all about being a team player, Nicholas.
Met Sergeant: You can't be the Sheriff of London.
Chief Inspector: If we let you carry on running around town, you'll continue to be exceptional... and we can't have that. You'll put us all out of a job.

Helen Parr: I can't believe you don't want to go to your own son's graduation.
Bob Parr: It's not a graduation. He's moving from the fourth grade to the fifth grade.
Helen: (pleadingly) It's a ceremony!
Bob: It's psychotic. They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity! But if someone is genuinely exceptional...

"What I want to fix your attention on is the vast, overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence—moral, cultural, social, or intellectual. And is it not pretty how "democracy" (in the incantatory sense) is now doing for us the work that was once done by the most ancient Dictatorships, and by the same methods? You remember how one of the Greek Dictators (they called them "tyrants" then) sent an envoy to another Dictator to ask his advice about the principles of government. The second Dictator led the envoy into a field of corn, and there he snicked off with his cane the top of any stalk that rose an inch or so above the general level. The moral was plain. Allow no preeminence among your subjects. Let no man live who is wiser, or better, or more famous, or even handsomer than the mass. Cut them all down to a level; all slaves, all ciphers, all nobodies. All equals. Thus tyrants could practise, in a sense, "democracy". But now "democracy" can do the same work without any other tyranny than her own. No one need now go through the field with a cane. The little stalks will now of themselves bite the tops off the big ones. The big ones are beginning to bite their own in their desire to Be Like Stalks."

"Everyone, either from modesty or egotism, hides away the best and most delicate of his soul’s possessions; to gain the esteem of others, we must only ever show our ugliest sides; this is how we keep ourselves on the common level."
Gustave Flaubert, November

Quotes from Real Life

"All serious innovation is only rendered possible by some accident enabling unpopular persons to survive.”
Bertrand Russell, In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays

"The theory seems to be that so long as a man is a failure he is one of God's chillun, but that as soon as he has any luck he owes it to the Devil."

"[O]ne of the many fine things one has to admit is the way that the army has carried the American democratic ideal to its logical conclusion in the sense that not only do they prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, creed, and color, but also on the grounds of ability."
Tom Lehrer, "It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier"

"America is proud of what it does to its writers, the way it breaks and bedevils them, rendering them deluded or drunken or dead by their own hands. To overpower its tender spirits makes America feel tough. Careers are generally short."
Martin Amis, "The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America"

"TNG was just a happy place to be. It was the kind of place where there were no bad ideas in the room. Michael [Piller] created an atmosphere where you really felt free to voice your opinions. You could argue with the boss. I argued with Mike a lot, right to the point I thought I should be fired, but he never even came close to that. That’s a tribute to him...What I found on Voyager was suddenly it wasn’t about the work anymore. It wasn’t about making the best show that we possibly could; it was about all these other extraneous issues. It was about the politics of the show, and the strange sort of competition of egos within the writing staff and the producing staff and the management of the show. ‘Competition’ is probably a misleading term. The politics of the show were such that the egos of the people in charge of the series were threatened by the people who worked for was done was to keep the guys on the top of the pyramid feeling good about themselves."
Ronald D. Moore on Star Trek: Voyager

"After a riveting adventure in the Alpha Quadrant in 'Pathfinder'... we end up spending an entire episode watching Janeway personalise her own talking dildo in a mock Irish town...Unbelievably this episode spawned a very quick sequel. I can only assume that the town cost a fortune to dress and the producers never saw the rushes of this episode. I can think of numerous episodes this year that could have done with more time to flesh them out and give them space to breathe ('Dragons’ Teeth' wouldn’t have felt so rushed and 'Fury' might have been comprehensible if it had time to explain its motives, plot devices, sci-fi twists and character perversion) but this abusively meaningless lump of slime is not one of them."
Doc Oho on Star Trek: Voyager, "Fair Haven"

"That’s really TNA in a nutshell: so much crap going on that you need like six brains to try to handle it all. Or maybe no brains, as here’s a little known TNA fun fact for you: there have been very few people in this company that had the ability to move ratings at all. Believe it or not, for a period of time, an appearance by Daffney of all people did move the needle and get more viewers to tune in (or “pop a rating” as the kids used to say back in the ’90s). Those in charge of TNA knew this, and thus decided to stop booking her on television."

"There has never been a Hollywood director more successful than Steven Spielberg. Not Cecil B. DeMille, not John Ford, not Frank Capra or Alfred Hitchcock or George Lucas or Francis Ford Coppola or any combination of two of those names...Because you cannot be stupid and get far in Hollywood, the people who make bad movies are usually smart enough to know they are bad. Hollywood is such a competitive town that you need to be smart, gifted and luck to claw yourself up to the point where you can make bad movies. There is a lot of self-hatred involved.

Now here comes this kid who makes it look so easy. Who can't seem to fail. Who makes a movie like
E.T. that not only grosses hundreds of millions of dollars but is just as popular all over the world as here at home, and is even acclaimed as a masterpiece of popular art. There is something unfair about it. Nobody should get all the breaks.

...Spielberg made the first major movie in years that was entirely devoted to an aspect of the black experience in America, and the Hollywood establishment ignored the movie for reasons that had little or nothing to do with the movie itself! It's not even that the voters didn't like it. They probably did like it. But in the politics of Oscar (can't you hear them saying), 'This just wasn't Steven's year.'"

"I don’t care if you make a crappy sequel to The Mask with your even crappier Jamie Kennedy. We are talking about a cheap cash in. I get that. But if you are making a cheap cash in, why the f*ck would you give this schmuck more than $30 million, 40, 50, 60, 90 MILLION!? Where do you draw the line? Where do you stop? It just seems to me if I were the head of New Line, I would say 'You want your crappy cash in, you have $30 million to make it and no more.' There at least with theatrical release and DVD sales, you make a tidy profit. But with 90 million, you need at least 180 million dollars to make back your money... Think of the sheer number of low budget movies that could be made on $90 million dollars. Or the number of movies you could make with Evan Almighty’s budget of 200 million. Think of the number of wonderful directors that cannot get even a few million for their projects. Steven Spielberg, arguably the greatest director working today (arguably), cannot get $30 million to finish his Abe Lincoln biopic he had been wanting to do for years. Steven Spielberg no, but Son of the Mask; yes, yes, 90 million dollars YES!!!"

"Originally, Joel Soisson, the writer of [Highlander] Endgame, wrote the script. Not surprisingly, it sucked. He got dropped from the project, and Peter Briggs, the screenwriter for Hellboy, came in. In preparation for the project, Briggs actually did research and listened to fans, rewatching all of the movies and the TV series and signing up on the official Highlander message boards under an alias so he could figure out what fans wanted. With someone so dedicated to making a quality film, it’s not surprising that he got kicked off the project. Can’t have quality and a respect for the source material in this franchise, no sirree. His replacement was Stephen Kelvin Watkins, a guy who had never written a professional screenplay before and who I assume was hired because he came on the cheap."
The Screamsheet on Highlander: The Source

"Fourth grade, academically, was not what I would call one of the good years. Actually, it's decisively the worst year of elementary school. The issue was a teacher who was, and you'll have to forgive my profound lack of humility here, completely unsuited to having a smart kid in her class...Some teachers I had rose to the challenge, testing me back, trying to see if they could find my limits. Others treated me as an inconvenient barrier to what I imagine they saw as their real job, educating people who were not already smart. Mrs. Aschauer, my fourth grade teacher, was in the latter category, a problem that culminated in the absurd moment in which she suggested to me that many of my problems could be solved if only I'd stop being so smart."

"This behavior is hardly an anomaly. 'You think you’re so cool' became the basis for an entire book by Fox News pundit Greg Gutfeld, who wrote an entire book called Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War on You. So much for the conservative claim that striving individuals should be rewarded for their contributions to society. If you’re a successful scientist, writer, or even just an actor, you are now one of the 'termites of life' who presumably should be extinguished."
Amanda Marcotte, "Why they really hate Neil deGrasse Tyson"

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