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Hypocritical Humor / Literature

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  • From Artemis Fowl - The Opal Deception.
    Opal Koboi: (meditating) Peace be within me, tolerance all around me, forgiveness in my path. Now, Mervall, tell me where the filthy human is so that I may feed him his organs.
  • Near the beginning of "Dream Street Rose" by Damon Runyon, the First-Person Peripheral Narrator remarks that in his opinion anyone who bets on horse races has something wrong with their head. Near the end of the story, he buys a newspaper so he can check the racing results and see if his latest bet has paid off.
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  • Katt vs. Dogg: While Oscar and Molly are hiking towards a landmark, Oscar spies a small animal and immediately starts to chase it, which Molly yells at him to stop doing. When Oscar stops, Molly spies a small insect and immediately gives chase, ignoring Oscar when he yells at her to stop it.
  • From Darren Shan's Lord Loss, we have the following gem, courtesy of Grubbs' mother in the first chapter:
    "How long has he been smoking? That's what I want to know!"
    "A few months maybe. But only a couple a day."
    "If he says a couple, he means at least five or six," Mum snorts.
    "No, I don't!" I shout. "I mean a couple!"
    "Don't raise your voice to me!" Mum roars back.
  • In The Wide Window, the third installment in A Series of Unfortunate Events, Captain Sham says, "There ain't nothin' better than good grammar!" Guess what's so hypocritical about that.
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  • The book of Layer Cake combines this with the Unreliable Narrator idea when the protagonist, a London drug dealer, expresses self-consciousness that himself and his Affably Evil (and Ax-Crazy) associates are perceived by outsiders as dangerous criminals (he thinks of himself as a businessman).
  • Used for a quick in-joke in the Little House series, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder (paraphrased slightly):
    Mary: I am planning to write a book someday. But I also planned to teach school, and you're doing it for me! Perhaps you will write the book!
    Laura: I, write a book? I'm going to be an old maid schoolteacher! Write your own book!
  • One of the Running Gags of James Herriot's semi-autobiographical series of memoirs was his boss Siegfried Farnon's habit of advising James (and others) to take a certain course of action — only to turn around and advise them against it a short time later, or do the exact opposite himself. Sometimes in the same scene. At one point he notes that James has been dillydallying about courting Helen, and bullies James into proposing; after Helen accepts, Farnon promptly berates James for rushing into marriage. The kicker is that when confronted, Siegfried feigns complete amnesia re: the previous conversations, then gently, maddeningly, chides the other for getting so upset. On more than one occasion Herriot describes wanting to hit him when this "saintly look" comes over his face whenever he prepares to forgive one of his underlings for something he's just done.
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  • In the Young Adult novel Sprout, the eponymous character shares a heartwarming first kiss (In a tree no less) with his best friend, Ty. After they kiss for a few minutes, Sprout makes a comment about homosexuality to which Ty responds by frowning and saying "I'm not gay." Before kissing him again.
  • Mocked in one of Scott (Dilbert) Adams' parody textbooks, when he points out that someone in a book he read used twelve words, two languages, and two brackets to say "don't be wordy". He goes on to point out that it does sound quite smart, even though someone who spoke that language probably believed you could cure leprosy by eating mud.
  • Dave Barry Slept Here:
    In fact, the book you are now reading was written on a personal computer, which is why it is devoid of the "typos" that were so common in the days of old-fashioned wersp oidop gfegkog pl;gpp$R$%!%.
  • Discworld
    • Sergeant Jackrum from Monstrous Regiment is in the habit of saying "Upon my oath, I am not a (adjective) man!" and immediately proving it untrue - e.g., "Upon my oath, I am not a violent man!" followed by him punching someone. The way he uses the line implies, "...but now you've forced me to do this.", and as it turns out, Sergeant Jackrum is not any sort of man.
    • In Jingo, Sergeant Colon spent the entire book as The Clavin, telling Nobby Little Known Facts about Klatch, the ocean and, at one point, tattoos. When someone else in a crowd started expounding on donkeys and minarets, he muttered "There's always a know-all". Nobby agreed.
      • In the same book, a conversation between Colon and Nobby about Klatchians relies heavily on this. For example, Colon says "They don't know how to do an honest day's work!" and Nobby points out that Mr. Goriff, the owner of the Klatchian take-away, nearly never closes it. (Colon himself is rather lazy and dim, and would rather "guard" note  a bridge than do anything difficult or dangerous.)
    • Back in Guards! Guards!, Colon was already doing this:
    Colon: All this business about lords and kings, it's against basic human dignity. We're all equal. It makes me sick.
    Nobby: Never heard you talk like this before, Fred.
    Colon: That's Sergeant Colon to you, Nobby.
    • And he repeats the above line in, again, Jingo, after Vimes has a word with him about calling Goriff a "raghead", and he tells Nobby he's never minded what people call him.
    • At the back of the Discworld Emporium's Unseen University Student Notebook is a guide to wizardly behaviour, including an injunction to avoid coarse and ungentlemanly language that concludes "SET A SODDING EXAMPLE!"
    • Magrat in Wyrd Sisters is incensed by being treated as a Wicked Witch, and responds thusly: "Witches are benevolent and peaceful, and live in harmony with Nature, and it's sinful of them to say otherwise. We ought to fill their bones with hot lead."
  • In American Psycho, Patrick Bateman and some other guys are appalled that the only thing their dates can seem to talk about is clothes (furs, specifically), when they talk about much more important things... like business cards.
    • Also:
    If she likes me only for my muscles, the heft of my cock, then she's a shallow bitch. But a physically superior, near-perfect-looking shallow bitch, and that can override anything, except maybe bad breath or yellow teeth, either of which is a real deal-breaker.
  • There is a poem in Russian called The Chatterer, about a girl complaining that someone made it up that she was one, and the truth is, she has no time at all to chatter... over forty lines follow of her explaining why.
  • Hypocritical one-liners are a staple of Jack Handey's books: "If any man says he hates war more than I do, he better have a knife, that's all I have to say."
  • Jane Austen frequently indulges in these:
    • The Deadpan Snarker narrator of Pride and Prejudice more than once describes the Grumpy Bear Elizabeth as naturally inclined to be happy. "But it was her business to be satisfied — and certainly her temper to be happy"... less than a page after sharing her philosophy that happiness requires disappointment: "By carrying with me one ceaseless source of regret in my sister's absence, I may reasonably hope to have all my expectations of pleasure realised. A scheme of which every part promises delight can never be successful; and general disappointment is only warded off by the defence of some little peculiar vexation."
      • It's not just the narrator either; Mrs. Bennet is very fond of retroactively trying to rewrite history to make it look as if she's always in the right (particularly with regard to prospective / not-so-prospective sons-in-law), which fools no one. Wickham, for his part, takes pains to stress that he takes no pleasure in revealing the 'truth' of his history with Mr. Darcy... while taking every possible opportunity to reiterate the 'truth' of his history with Mr. Darcy.
      • At one point, while dancing with Mr Darcy, Elizabeth makes multiple attempts to initiate conversation with Darcy after finally telling him that they are both very much alike; they don't like talking. Darcy simply replies that this does not seem to apply to her.
      • Darcy's first attempt at proposing to Lizzy has him lay down a Long List of reasons why it would be a terrible idea to marry her, personally insulting her background, money, and her family. When she proceeds to tell him where to stick it, he takes umbrage at her "incivility." (He, of course, is simply being honest.)
    • "Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody, not greatly in fault themselves, to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest." This statement comes from Mansfield Park, her token Darker and Edgier novel that dwells on guilt and misery and denies the heroine tolerable comfort longer than any of her other novels.
  • Joan Hess uses this a lot in her Maggody comedy/mystery series, most often when locals boast of being the soul of discretion, swearing not to blab some secret they've been entrusted with, then immediately pass it on to a third party.
    • Brother Verber, whose internal monologue suggests he's honestly convinced his forays to strip clubs and porn theaters are for "research" into potential moral threats, can act out this trope all by himself.
  • At one point in The Last Camel Died at Noon, Amelia Peabody Emerson pats herself on the back for nagging her husband into a certain course of action. When it goes badly a few pages later, she notes that if he'd listened to her, he would never have taken that course. Apparently, she forgot to edit the relevant portion of her journal.
  • In Great Expectations, Pip attends a very bad amateur production of Hamlet. At the point where the actor playing Hamlet speaks the line "Don't saw the air thus", a heckler points out that the actor is doing exactly the same thing.
  • In Catch-22, Chief White Halfoat decries racism thus:
    "It's a terrible thing to treat a decent Native American like a nigger, kike, wop, or spic."
  • Sherlock Holmes sometimes humorously attributes his own faults to Watson (though this seems to be intentional irony on Holmes' part). E.g., in "The Veiled Lodger" —
    Holmes: Mrs. Merrilow does not object to tobacco, Watson, if you wish to indulge your filthy habits.
  • The eponymous thousand-year-old Djinni Bartimaeus from The Bartimaeus Trilogy is absolutely prone to this, and he generally sums up his own traits here in his thoughts about his fellow Djinni:
    "To be fair, a few of them were all right. Nimshik had a spent a good while in Canaan and had interesting points to make about the local tribal politics; Menes, a youngish djinni, listened attentively to my words of wisdom; even Chosroes grilled a mean imp. But the rest were sorry wastes of essence. Beyzer being boastful, Tivoc sarcastic, and Xoxen full of false modesty, which in my humble opinion are three immediately tiresome traits."
    • Bartimaeus actually has a bit of a right to be as boastful as he was, however, and for that reason he strikes some as a clever Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass.
    • Although there are quite a lot who know that he's more of a Chaotic Neutral in practically the purest sense.
    • In The Amulet of Samarkand, seeking a way to confine Bartimaeus, Nathaniel pulls out a tin labeled "Old Chokey," which Bartimaeus recognizes as being a tobacco tin, asking Nathaniel "Don't you know smoking kills?" Nathaniel replies that it no longer contains tobacco, but rather rosemary, a potent herb for repelling demons, and lifts the lid to give him a whiff of the scent.
    Bartimaeus: I'd turf that out and fill it up with some honest baccy. Far healthier.
  • See the entry of Brevity Is Wit for the full version of the verse by Shakespeare, which is anything but brief about talking about brevity (then again, when has Shakespeare done anything that wasn't in the form of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness?). Polonius was supposed to be a dottering windbag, so it's intentional.
  • In Harry Potter, hypocritical humor tends to follow the format of this Prisoner of Azkaban example:
    "Ah, well, people can be a bit stupid abou' their pets," said Hagrid wisely. Behind him, Buckbeak spat a few ferret bones onto Hagrid's pillow.
    • In the very first book, Vernon believes that wizards will be unable to deliver Harry's letter if he nails the mail slot shut because: "'These people's minds work in strange ways, Petunia, they're not like you and me,' said Uncle Vernon, trying to knock in a nail with the piece of fruitcake Aunt Petunia had just brought him."
    • Lampshaded in the second book: when Ron is rescuing Harry by a magic car, he chastises Harry for (allegedlynote ) using magic outside school. Harry wryly replies, "bit rich coming from you." The Weasley boys clarified that it was their father who enchanted the car, which is a fine distinction that doesn't help since they were risking exposure with a flying car
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix while Harry is listening to the television at Privet Drive, there is a mention of a socialite, and Petunia says "As if we were going to be interested in her sordid affairs", while Harry internally notes that Petunia has been following said "sordid affairs" with great interest.
  • In The Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce provides this definition for 'Platitude':
    Platitude, n. The fundamental element and special glory of popular literature. A thought that snores in words that smoke. The wisdom of a million fools in the diction of a dullard. A fossil sentiment in artificial rock. A moral without the fable. All that is mortal of a departed truth. A demi-tasse of milk-and morality. The Pope's-nose of a featherless peacock. A jelly-fish withering on the shore of the sea of thought. The cackle surviving the egg. A desiccated epigram.
  • In The Monster at the End of This Book, Grover spends the entire book being afraid of the monster. At the end, after learning that he himself is the monster, he turns around and berates the reader for having been so terrified when there was nothing to be afraid of. There's an Hypocrisy Nod at the very end when he berates himself for his own silliness.
  • The Wheel of Time does this from time to time, most frequently if Nynaeve is the perspective character, or is being remarked about by another character. Particularly, she tends to complain of people being unreasonably violent, and then propose to hit them until they stop it.
  • Don Quixote: When Don Quixote reads some pages of the Second Part of Don Quixote of La Mancha (an unauthorized Fanfiction), he claims there are obvious errors from the author, the most important is that he errs on the name of Sancho’s wife… Cervantes, the original author, give her five different names in his two parts of the novels.
  • There's an Aesop's fable that uses this to make its point: a mother crab is watching her son scuttling back and forth sideways along the beach, and then scolds him for it, demanding he walk properly back and forth like everyone else. When the son asks her to show him how, she attempts it, and, being a crab, can only walk sideways herself. The actual lesson varies according to the version; most often the mother realizes she's being a hypocrite and the moral is "don't be a hypocrite", or the mother finds some way to justify her sideways walking and the moral is "that which someone despises in others, they are quick to excuse in themselves".
  • The Great Gatsby: Tom, a long time after he has cheated Daisy, discovers she could cheat him with Gatsby:
    "I suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere make love to your wife. Well, if that's the idea you can count me out... Nowadays people begin by sneering at family life and family institutions and next they'll throw everything overboard and have intermarriage between black and white."
    Flushed with his impassioned gibberish he saw himself standing alone on the last barrier of civilization.
  • In John C. Wright's The Hermetic Millennia, Lady Ivinia talks of how, as a Chimera woman, it is her place to be silent and obey, and how she is meek and gentle, in the same long speech where she effectively orders the men to deal with the enemy they face, and commit suicide if they fail.
  • In Stephen King's novel Dolores Claiborne, Vera is pretty insistent on not putting the hot baking on the windowsill to cool like 'shanty Irish' would do. Guess which country Vera Donovan's surname comes from?
    • Earlier in the novel, Vera says her (now-grown) son is a pretty good guy for all that he's a "Goddamn Democrat." On the last page, she proudly describes herself as a "lifelong Democrat."
  • Paarfi, the Lemony Narrator of the Khaavren Romances, will sometimes spend a paragraph or more stating that he's not going to waste the reader's time with pointless filler.
  • The Dresden Files: Dresden has complained about The Fair Folk's seeming inability to give him a straight answer, but has stated that being mysterious and illusive is "like crack for wizards." His allies will generally call him on it if he complains about the former to them.
  • In Paper Towns, at one point Q notes, "I wanted to berate Ben for using chat-speak IRL."
  • In Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis, the title character's opinions on unions are said to run as follows:
    "A good labor union is of value because it keeps out radical unions, which would destroy property. No one ought to be forced to belong to a union, however. All labor agitators who try to force men to join a union should be hanged. In fact, just between ourselves, there oughtn't to be any unions allowed at all; and as it's the best way of fighting the unions, every business man ought to belong to an employers'-association and to the Chamber of Commerce. In union there is strength. So any selfish hog who doesn't join the Chamber of Commerce ought to be forced to."
  • Vampirocracy: Leon drops a doozy when he explains that he doesn't want to be the guy who accuses his ex of being some kind of demon monster just because she broke his heart. When Ling asks why Leon isn't handling her case:
    Leon: Because there's not enough money on God's green Earth to make me spend one more second with that clawed, fanged, scaly man-bat than absolutely necessary.
  • Journey to Chaos: Grey Dengel says that he is not as crude as Eric's other mentor and that is why he refrains from smacking the boy for interrupting a lecture in order to poke fun at him. A second interruption prompts a smack.
  • In Johnny and the Bomb, Wobbler tries to convince his future grandfather, who is due to die in a motorbike accident, that motorbikes are very dangerous and he doesn't want one, and gets very upset when the kid won't listen, insisting he'd have listened if someone gave him a dire warning like that. Shortly afterwards, Johnny remembers the note he was supposed to give Wobbler from Wobbler's very ill possible-future self, and Wobbler throws it away, because it's just some rubbish about healthy diet and exercise.
  • My Vampire Older Sister and Zombie Little Sister begins with Erika and Ayumi ordering Satori to let them use his AI, in order to simulate a battle between them. Satori protests that his AI is meant for simulating the effects of natural disasters on a city, not for unrealistic scenarios like a vampire and zombie fighting. The sisters immediately reveal that they're aware of Satori's own misuse of the AI: to simulate alien invasions and battles between Humongous Mecha, and to simulate a model of his childhood friend in a bikini.
  • The Candidates (based on a true country) is built on this. About the first thing we learn about is the Republicans throwing a Kill the Abortionists pro-life rally (complete with a planned public execution of a kidnapped abortion doctor), and the Democrats responding with a counter-rally where they fire oil-drenched birds out of T-shirt launchers to protest the Republican candidate's environmental record. Oh, and when they find themselves short on ammo, they quickly raid a nearby zoo for endangered birds, drench them in oil and fire them out of the T-shirt launchers.
  • In Lawrence Block's The Canceled Czech a French businessman on a train to Prague complains that Vienna was the only place on his trip where he found someone who spoke French. Later on in the journey he derides American tourists who expect everyone else to speak English.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid:
    • Greg says that at his school there was an "No Smoking" poster contest. Ironically, though, the guy who won actually smokes a lot himself.
    • Susan frequently calls out Greg for lying to her but she lies occasionally too, such as the one time she pretended to call the dentist when finding out Greg wasn't brushing his teeth.
    • One of the books shows that there is no playground equipment at Greg's school. Despite this, the kids are not allowed to sit down at recess, and one illustration shows a teacher yelling at a kid for sitting down when she's doing the exact same thing herself.
    • In Old School, Greg complains about a kid copying his lemonade stand even though it wasn't his idea in the first place — his father did the same thing as a child and suggested it to him.
  • In a minor incident in The Thirty-Nine Steps, Hannay encounters a Scotsman who is clearly drunk but proclaims himself to be a teetotaller. Further conversation reveals that the man has sworn off whisky, but sees no contradiction in getting smashed on brandy instead.
  • In The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, Dirk is awkwardly attempting to inform a teenage boy about a family loss, but the boy won't stop watching television to listen or even acknowledge his presence, even going so far as to break Dirk's nose when he unplugs the set. When a highly-outraged Dirk returns from tending his nose, the news has come on and the boy has lost interest sufficiently to ask what he's doing there ... only now, a news story attracts Dirk's notice and he tells the boy to shut up: he's trying to watch this.


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