Trope Decay and Misuse: Jumping Off The Slippery Slope

Deadlock Clock: 27th Mar 2012 11:59:00 PM
Total posts: [81]
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1 Ghilz18th Feb 2011 09:51:02 AM from Canada, or the Moon , Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Jumping Off the Slippery Slope is a specific plot trope, according to it's definition:

"Protagonist encounter character X who has similar goals to them, but far more morally grey method. Rather than questioning if X is right or wrong, the authors have X abruptly do something outright evil (Hence jumping off the slippery slope rather than slowly degrading) to show that X is bad and your protagonists are right to stay on the course they are"

Ths trope has a TON of wicks. And most of them are misuse (I seriously would not bat an eye if the misuse reached 50%). These tend to fall as follow:
  1. Character A becomes more and more evil as time goes on. (Some sort of prolonged gradual Face–Heel Turn. There's no "jumping off" part) (See the pothole under Burn Notice or the entry of Merlin)
  2. Character X has noble goals but evil methods. (Related to this trope, but not exactly this.
  3. A mix of the above. (again, no Jumping Off)

Heck, some of the examples on the page itself are bad

edited 18th Feb '11 9:58:08 AM by Ghilz

Maybe part of the problem is that we don't seem to actually have Slippery Slope or Going Down The Slippery Slope as a trope?

People know that the phrase "slippery slope" means "gradually descending into evil", but Jumping Off the Slippery Slope is the only trope using that phrase that could plausibly be interpreted that way, so it gets used for that.

Wolves, wolves, wolves!
You know, I always thought the trope was about people suddenly jumping off to conclusions rather than someone being a shallow-evil type character.
Lone wolf? Hah! "Lone" wolves die out of hunger and loneliness. The wolf needs the pack, and the pack needs the wolf.
4 Ghilz18th Feb 2011 10:45:48 PM from Canada, or the Moon , Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Theres those misuse too
5 nrjxll19th Feb 2011 12:46:55 AM , Relationship Status: Not war
I've never really understood how this is different from a The Same, but More Specific for Debate and Switch. It's definitely a subtrope.
6 Ghilz20th Feb 2011 09:17:56 AM from Canada, or the Moon , Relationship Status: Drift compatible
7 Ghilz24th Feb 2011 03:42:39 PM from Canada, or the Moon , Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Bumping this again. No one else has any thought on this?
I went to read it and got lost on a week-long wiki binge, but now that I've been rescued by this whisky-bearing St. Bernard, I've come back to report that this page definitely, definitely has major issues.
BTW, I'm a chick.
9 Ghilz25th Feb 2011 12:09:01 PM from Canada, or the Moon , Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Maybe part of the problem is that we don't seem to actually have Slippery Slope or Going Down The Slippery Slope as a trope?

We do. Slippery Slope Fallacy.

I've never really understood how this is different from a The Same But More Specific for Debate And Switch. It's definitely a subtrope.

It most certainly is. A specific way to dodge the debate.

edited 25th Feb '11 12:09:25 PM by Ghilz

10 Ghilz26th Feb 2011 07:24:48 PM from Canada, or the Moon , Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Le Bump.

Seriously, why is it so hard to get people in this thread?
It's not really "slippery" anyway if people aren't undergoing a slow degradation, is it?
My Thoughts:

This is pretty tricky. Originally, the Slippery Slope is supposed to mean that if you make a small step towards X, you will end up moving much farther in that direction. So, if X is "expanding the definition of marriage", then the Slippery Slope argument states "If we legalize gay marriage, then soon we'll legalize polygamy and soon after that we'll legalize marriage to turtles." Thinking that something is a Slippery Slope when really it's not is called the Slippery Slope Fallacy.

Originally, the Slippery Slope doesn't really define whether the steps of the process are occurring quickly or gradually. (Though the word 'slippery''' probably implies "quickly")

So let's look at Jumping Off the Slippery Slope as it stands. We start with "someone who engages in behavior that is an uncomfortable shade of gray". Already we have a problem. If this person is to jump off the Slippery Slope, it's implied that they are already on the Slippery Slope. But simply being in a gray-zone doesn't put you on the Slope. To be on the Slope, you have to be getting worse. Actually, rather than getting worse, you just have to be changing. The Slope isn't about going from good to evil; it's about going from here to there in a way which is faster or further than originally predicted/intended. You could slip into virtue just as well as vice.

Anyway, let's return to the turning-evil example. If a hero vows to kill nobody, and then later kills just one guy who really deserves it, and soon he's killing all sorts of people with barely any justification, then that guy could be said to be on the Slippery Slope. But if there's some other hero who's always had a habit of killing bad guys who deserve it, and his policies on killing aren't changing in any particular way, then he is not on the Slope. He's just in a moral gray-zone (compared to the pacifists, anyway).

Have set that up, several variations occur:

1. Character who is changing in some way. This is basically just Character Development 2. Character who made a small change in some direction, and soon finds themselves changing more and more in that direction, moreso than they originally planned or intended. I would call this On The Slippery Slope. It's a Super Trope of the next two examples, and it also covers cases where characters aren't becoming good or evil per se, but rather they're just becoming different in some way. (Like, a guy who always thought dancing was dumb tries it out once or twice, and pretty soon he's dancing all the time.) 3. Just like #2, except more specific: The character is becoming more Evil. This could be Slippery Slope Of Evil 4. The opposite of #3; a character embraces morality a little bit and soon enough they've changed their whole outlook. This would be Slippery Slope Of Good 5. Character who is on the Slippery Slope Of Evil, and then suddenly completes the process and turns Evil. I think the moment of changing is pretty well covered by Moral Event Horizon and/or Face–Heel Turn 6. Opposite of #5, related to Heel–Face Turn. 7. Character who was in a Gray zone, but not necessarily on a Slope. Said character then turns Evil. We could call this one From Gray To Black, and it pretty much fits the current description of Jumping Off the Slippery Slope. 8. The opposite of #7, From Gray To White 9. The logical fallacy of thinking that something is a Slippery Slope even when it's not is covered by Slippery Slope Fallacy

(Any of these could technically be fulfilled by fictional organizations or other entities, rather than just characters)

Whew, that was complicated. I'm not going to set up all of that myself, but if others want to run with these ideas (or just some of them), be my guest.

13 Ghilz27th Feb 2011 04:27:13 PM from Canada, or the Moon , Relationship Status: Drift compatible
I think you are putting more emphasis on the title than what the trope actually is.
The analogy works - the author is setting up a Slippery Slope argument (Bob kills flies, then rabbits, then mooks, and soon becomes a serial killer, thus all killing is bad) but has him take a swan-dive into the black pit of abysmal behaviour instead of going down the slope, skipping all the steps in between (Bob kills a fly, then commits genocide because it's all the same to him).
BTW, I'm a chick.
We do. Slippery Slope Fallacy.

No, that's about the logical fallacy. I'm talking about your bog standard slippery slope plot: a character starts with a slightly morally questionable action, which gradually leads them into worse and worse acts until they're irredeemably evil.

As Yamikuronue alludes, Jumping Off the Slippery Slope is actually a specific subversion of Slippery Slope: a character looks like they're about to head down the slippery slope, but then they just skip right to the end. So it's particularly odd that we have the former but not the latter. How Did We Miss That One?

Edit: We can't nest quoteblocks? That's annoying.

edited 28th Feb '11 10:28:12 PM by tbarrie

16 Deboss1st Mar 2011 02:17:08 AM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
You Are What You Hate maybe.
I don't see how that relates.

18 nrjxll2nd Mar 2011 01:06:05 AM , Relationship Status: Not war
[up][up]That sounds like a redirect for Boomerang Bigot. What does it have to do with this trope?

And why is it bluelinked?

Edit: Huh, it's an actual trope. Still don't see the relevance here, though.

edited 2nd Mar '11 1:07:18 AM by nrjxll

19 Deboss2nd Mar 2011 07:13:28 AM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
That was as close as my addled brain got to a related trope. I might have been thinking of He Who Fights Monsters.
20 Fighteer11th Mar 2011 12:56:07 PM from the Time Vortex , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Hmm, this one's been sitting around way too long, and I agree entirely with the problems established with the trope. I had to jump on an example that was basically disguised Complaining, but the trope itself is not about what I thought it was about either.

To the argument that people shouldn't use the title to judge what the trope is: I say that's an indicator of a very serious problem. A title should be indicative, especially if it's going to reference something in the public consciousness.

The way I see it, we need to put stuff that belongs in Debate and Switch back there, and redefine this trope to be about characters taking actions towards evil which accelerate of their own accord until a Moral Event Horizon is crossed.

I'd say there are two major definitions for this trope. Either:
An action which causes a character to go from morally grey to unquestionably extreme
The process in which a good character progresses into more and more morally reprehensible actions

The first definition is already covered in Moral Event Horizon, and the second is already covered in He Who Fights Monsters. A possible third definition is that this trope refers to the process of the moral transformation itself, He Who Fights Monsters refers more to the character's personality during and at the end of Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, and Moral Event Horizon refers to an act which would be perceived as signalling that the character has turned from a Good Is Not Nice Anti-Hero to a Knight Templar or Complete Monster. Perhaps a clearer definition on the page would help lower the amount of misuse?

edited 24th Apr '11 3:10:15 AM by tropetown

I would say that sonicsuns has a good inspiration. As for He Who Fights Monsters, it would be a subtrope of Evil slippery slop, but it isn't that trope: Lord of the flies would be a good illustration of this.
I don't think a clearer definition will help a lot. It's been proven time and time again that a large number of tropers simply don't read descriptions, and only add stuff based on names.
24 Ghilz31st May 2011 09:31:34 AM from Canada, or the Moon , Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Bumping this. Issue not solved
Seeing this potholed in another TRS thread as Exactly What It Says on the Tin reminded me of this.

So what are we doing about this?

Single Proposition: Jumping Off The Slippery Slope
26th Mar '12 11:23:32 AM
Vote up for yes, down for no.
At issue:

Total posts: 81
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