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Needs Cleaning Up: Humans Are Bastards get usage counts

According to Square Peg Round Trope, "Humans Are Bastards is supposed to be about how humans are complete jerks and worse compared to other sentient species. Humans being horrible people in general does not count as this trope. "

I'd imagine that there's been some misuse of the trope term in the past, but taking a casual look at examples that are on the page now, it would appear that this trope is as unwieldy as ever.

Several examples on the page have nothing to do with another sentient race of people viewing human actions as being evil, the trope's original function, and are just examples of human characters doing bad things to each other. Some examples only try to apply the trope to a single human character in a story that only features humans interacting with each other.

Misattributed examples include:
  • Vandread. Take much of the below and combine it. Then they started sending out fleets of killer robots to harvest their own colonists on other worlds for their organs; in the case of the protagonists, their reproductive ones. Note that the main characters are human as well, though, just a few generations removed.
  • Ga-Rei Zero- shows how cruel humans can be to others. After losing her inheritance, her father, as well as being branded a kin-slayer—doomed to a hospital bed for life unable to speak or move; the first thing Yomi's fiancee's father did was to cancel his son's engagement. This trope can also be said about Mitogawa, who enjoyed wrecking the lives of others just for the sake of resurrecting his mother.
  • The eponymous Doctor Horrible laments that most humans are sheep and can't think for themselves. Obviously, only a complete overhaul of the system can fix this problem. Captain Hammer really only exemplifies this trope.
  • The events of Being John Malkovich pretty much require this to be universally true.
  • Battle Royale shows that both teenagers and adults can be horrible. The premise is that to keep kids in school, the government kidnaps entire classes of kids and turns their lives into a game: Kill or be killed. The last student of about 40 to survive is allowed to leave the island and be free. While the adults are the ones that begin this contest and do nothing to stop it, many of the teenagers that are put in the situation enjoy it and go on killing sprees against their prior classmates.

Additionally, there are some examples which seem to exist in a GRAY AREA that have nothing to do with how other sentient species view humans but feature very cynical human characters expressing sentiments which reflect this trope. Personally, I think they're worthy enough to stay on this page, but I think it's worth discussing this one over because it doesn't exactly fit the trope description on a technicality.

Such examples include:
  • In Stephen King's The Cell one character described humans thusly "At the bottom, you see, we are not Homo sapiens at all. Our core is madness. The prime directive is murder. What Darwin was too polite to say, my friends, is that we came to rule the earth not because we were the smartest, or even the meanest, but because we have always been the craziest, most murderous motherfuckers in the jungle."
  • In The Punisher one-shot "The End, " Frank Castle's last surviving act in the wake of a catastrophic nuclear war is to wipe out the architects behind said war - the only known surviving humans in the world. After killing them, he explains his actions simply by saying "The human race. You've seen what that leads to."
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal had a particularly good example as to why Humans Are Bastards

Lastly, there's this odd Humans Are Misguided concept that has been shoehorned onto the page, claiming to be a related concept with this trope, but most of the examples described as such are credited to things like human ignorance and stupidity, which would make these examples much more at home on the Humans Are Morons or Hanlon's Razor pages. In fact, a few of these already appear on one page or the other.

Examples include:
  • Finding Nemo takes the misguided point of view. The dentist believes that he has rescued the lame Nemo from the dangers of the reef rather than separating him from his father, and the main antagonist is a slightly hyperactive little girl who simply doesn't realize that if she shakes the bag too hard she'll kill the little fish inside. It's clearly ignorance rather than malice. (In addition to potholing Hanlon's Razor in the description, this one appears on the Humans Are Morons page and is filed under Humans Are Morons on its work page)
  • Fraggle Rock stands dedicatedly on the "humans are misguided" side. Uncle Traveling Matt quickly dubs us "the Silly Creatures", which really says it all. On the few occasions Doc threatened the Five Races, he did so without realizing it (shutting down the pipes in his house shuts down the water supply for the Fraggles, Doozers, and Gorgs). When he finally meets Gobo face-to-face, he's careful to take this sort of thing into consideration.
    • Most behaviors that Traveling Matt observed in humans weren't silly at all — not even, in many cases, the way he misinterpreted them. For example, he thought paperboys fed hungry houses. The main exception is that when humans noticed him, they apparently mistook him for one of them. (None of this has anything to do with humans being bastards)
  • Several examples including Hellboy II and The Day the Earth Stood Still (both the original AND the remake) have nattery responses insisting that all of these attribute human actions to things other than willful malice and knowingly causing harm, citing both Humans Are Morons and Hanlon's Razor.

edited 9th Sep '10 8:53:09 PM by SeanMurrayI

I'd also want to point out that a related trope page like Aliens Are Bastards has a notice, "This trope does not apply to animalistic aliens without intellect. Violent as they are, they aren't knowingly being bastards."

Strangely, anything resembling a notice like that has been absent when describing how human actions qualify as bastardry, especially when Humans Are Bastards is overlapping with things that are already filed under Humans Are Morons for no clear reason.

edited 9th Sep '10 8:36:42 PM by SeanMurrayI

 4 Meophist, Thu, 9th Sep '10 8:28:44 PM from Toronto, Canada
As you've noticed, I kinda pointed out this problem before. I'm not sure if simply cleaning it up will fix the problem of the trope itself being confusing. I think something needs to change, but I don't really have any ideas of how to fix this.
 5 Tyoria, Thu, 9th Sep '10 8:41:39 PM from Portland, Oregon
rationally insane
Is there a "people are inherently evil" trope? Crapsack World doesn't seem to quite cover it, since it's about more than than just human behavior and because there are also occasionally good people - they're just in the minority.

I must confess I've misused this one myself. The title doesn't help — humans are considered the "default" species so if they're the only ones mentioned, it's not clear that they're actually being contrasted with the behavior of other beings.

...it's not clear that they're actually being contrasted with the behavior of other beings.

Right near the top of the page description:

"When compared to other civilizations, or another species, Humans are a bunch of bastards. They are all greedy, heartless, violent, cruel, selfish, egotistical, thoughtless, and in extreme cases, evil, as opposed to the other species, which will be better if not far superior: they are all peaceful, live in harmony with nature, are naturally good, floss after every meal, etc. Ironically the species in question almost always looks and acts just like humans anyway."

After that paragraph though, the description does appear to warp at the edges.
 7 Tyoria, Thu, 9th Sep '10 8:52:31 PM from Portland, Oregon
rationally insane
Right, but I'm talking about the title. From what I've seen most trope misuse seems to come from an ambiguous title and Humans Are Bastards is kinda ambiguous in that regard. Humans Are The Bastard Species might be clearer.

Personally, I'd like to try to salvage the current title as is, if at all possible. If we can just work to clean up the misattributed wicks and buff up the description to enforce the trope's true purpose, it should be in a decent shape.
 9 Meophist, Thu, 9th Sep '10 9:06:16 PM from Toronto, Canada
Well, hopefully anyways. I won't be opposed to that course of action.
 10 Tyoria, Thu, 9th Sep '10 9:23:01 PM from Portland, Oregon
rationally insane
Well then again I'd ask if there is a trope that means essentially what people seem to think Humans Are Bastards means — that humans default to evil, but not that humans in particular default to it where other races live in sacred holy harmony with nature. If so, the article should point people in that direction if that's the trope they're thinking of.

If it doesn't exist, one could be made — and I'd suggest Rousseau Was Wrong, which currently exists as a redirect for THIS trope, which seems pretty misleading in and of itself. Okay so granted I don't know all that much about the guy's philosophy, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't "humans rule, other species drool."

edited 9th Sep '10 9:26:39 PM by Tyoria

Basically, the purpose of Humans Are Bastards is that, when other sentient life forms enter the picture, we're the bad guys.

A lot of what some people are confusing it for, however, is something more like, People Are Evil To Each Other, and I'm not really sure if that can actually be a trope. Incorrect examples where humans are bastards in stories that are just about humans should be treated individually and categorized as whatever already existing tropes best fit it (be it Magnificent Bastard, Neutral Evil, Tested On Humans, or whatever other Evil Tropes work best).

edited 9th Sep '10 10:04:46 PM by SeanMurrayI

 12 Tyoria, Fri, 10th Sep '10 11:51:52 PM from Portland, Oregon
rationally insane
A lot of what some people are confusing it for, however, is something more like, People Are Evil To Each Other, and I'm not really sure if that can actually be a trope. Incorrect examples where humans are bastards in stories that are just about humans should be treated individually and categorized as whatever already existing tropes best fit it (be it Magnificent Bastard, Neutral Evil, Tested On Humans, or whatever other Evil Tropes work best).

ISTM that the misuse of the trope is more along the lines of "people's basic instinct is to be evil, unless they have the strength of will to fight against it" which is definitely tropable seeing as there are several real-life philosophies that take that stance. Calvin Was Right, if you will. Although people would probably confuse that for another Calvin...

edited 10th Sep '10 11:54:17 PM by Tyoria

The Demon Slayer
I'm also in favor of splitting this trope, being that there is definitely a trope in humans being evil in nature in regards to their dealings with each other (it's a hallmark of the cynical side of the Sliding Scale). Perhaps use Humans Are Bastards for that trope and use Humans Are The Enemy, Humans Are Bad Guys or some other name for humans being bastards to other species.

edited 11th Sep '10 3:26:58 AM by TwoGunAngel

 14 Tyoria, Sat, 11th Sep '10 4:13:39 AM from Portland, Oregon
rationally insane
Well, the other thread dealing with Humans Are Good / Rousseau Was Right seems to becoming down on the definition that Humans Are Good means humans > aliens while Rousseau Was Right means people (not necessarily exclusively human) are good by nature and only made evil by their environment. So if we were to split the trope it would probably be better to keep Humans Are Bastards as it is (humans < aliens) and make up a new name for "people are intrinsically nasty to each other, far more than the reverse." That way Humans Are Bastards and Humans Are Good are diametric opposites.

 15 Meta Four, Sat, 11th Sep '10 7:37:23 AM from the house of bread and battle
AXTUCE MUN AXTE INCAL
John Calvin (or at least his followers) referred to the idea of humans being intrinsically bad as Total Depravity, which might make a good title.

Or could just be confused with Complete Monster.
 16 Dragon Quest Z, Sat, 11th Sep '10 9:03:36 AM from Somewhere in California
The Other Troper
Yeah, Humans Are Bastards does look like what it's been misused for. This should have a name that makes it clear there are other species for comparison.
I'm on the internet. My arguments are invalid.
If it comes down to renaming Humans Are Bastards, I feel Humans Are The Bad Guys or Humanity Is The Evil Race could make the original trope's focus better understood.

Also, what does anyone think should become of the Humans Are Misguided concept on the page? It doesn't really fit with the trope's theme all too well, and most examples on the page that are considered this just sound more like something to file under Humans Are Morons, anyway.
 18 robert, Sat, 11th Sep '10 10:10:35 AM from Ynys Prydain
Pending
Hobbes talked about the natural state of society being a war of all against all, with only the state preventing people from slaughtering each other at whim, so he's the obvious contrast with Rousseau, if he's well known enough - Hobbes Was Right.

If we want more obvious names, how about Humans Default To Evil and Humans Default To Good?

Since which is actually true is one of the dividing lines between left and right, the real life section of these tropes will definitely need watching.

Cattle die, kinsmen die. You yourself will surely die. Only word-fame dies not, for one who well achieves it.
Hobbes Was Right could possibly be retooled to better reflect what robert is getting at, as it's currently written up like an addendum of Democracy Is Bad, anyway.

edited 11th Sep '10 10:15:02 AM by SeanMurrayI

 20 Meophist, Sat, 11th Sep '10 10:53:35 AM from Toronto, Canada
One this to note is that the Humans Are tropes are supposed to be about how Humans measure up to other species. At least, that's the impression I get.
 22 Deboss, Sat, 11th Sep '10 5:06:18 PM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Would People Are Asssholes work better as a title since it simply uses the generic "people" instead of the species equivalent human?
That's it... Humans Are Bastards should be split; make one trope Humans Are The Villains and another People Are Bastards.

^^First of all, the word "Assholes" immediately rules that one out as an option as we try to avoid using swear words in titles.

Second, examples don't define a trope.

edited 11th Sep '10 6:03:48 PM by SeanMurrayI

 25 Tyoria, Sat, 11th Sep '10 9:16:54 PM from Portland, Oregon
rationally insane
Humans Are Misguided sounds like Humans Are Flawed, to me.

For the sake of simplicity I would suggest keeping the title Humans Are Bastards for now, since we can change it later once all the definitions have been ironed out. Repurposing Hobbes Was Right to be Rousseau Was Right's antithesis sounds like a good idea to me too.

edited 11th Sep '10 9:24:00 PM by Tyoria

Alternative Titles: Humans Are Bastards
24th Feb '12 7:38:44 AM
Vote up names you like, vote down names you don't. Whether or not the title will actually be changed is determined with a different kind of crowner (the Single Proposition crowner). This one just collects and ranks alternative titles.
At issue:
What do we rename Humans Are Bastards, the trope meaning "humans are bastards compared to other sapient species"?
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