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Asinine Alternate Activity

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An Asinine Alternate Activity is an extremely boring task, place, or entertainment that is contrasted against a way cooler or more fun thing the character would prefer to do.

If they want to ride an Over-the-Top Roller Coaster, they won't be tall enough and will have to settle for the kiddy coaster that barely gets ten feet off the ground. If they're a kid who wants to watch a horror film, their parents won't let them watch it and will get them an old cartoon instead. If they're an adult ready for a night of partying, they'll be appointed Designated Driver.

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Commonly found in children's media. Kids get told "no" a lot by a lot of different people, so they relate easily to characters having that experience as well. For kid characters, the cool thing will probably be mature and for adults and the Asinine Alternate Activity will be made for kids even younger than them. It may also be some kind of Sugar Bowl or generally Lighter and Softer. If they manage to enter/get the mature counterpart, they may find it too intense for them.

This trope lets the writer explore how a character reacts to frustration. They might try the asinine activity out of boredom, in which case it's just as boring as they fear, or they might be forced to do it. The character rarely accepts their boredom; they're far more likely to hatch a scheme to get what they really want.

If one of their friends loves the Asinine Alternate Activity, it's Incredibly Lame Fun or Only One Finds It Fun. If the old folk love it, it's A Good, Old-Fashioned Paint Watching. Real-life examples would be Tastes Like Diabetes or Complaining About Shows You Don't Like.

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Examples:

Film — Animated

  • In Finding Nemo, Nemo wants to play in a flounder's backyard with three other sea creatures, but Marlin wants him to play on some sea sponges instead. Nemo, however, thinks the sponges seem boring, and the fact that the fish playing on them appear to be the fish equivalent of toddlers and babies doesn't help.
  • The central conflict of A Goofy Movie comes from Goofy wanting to take his son Max on a family road trip doing stereotypical childish family things Max is entirely uninterested in when Max wants to go to a concert.

Literature

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg wants to get a cellphone in certain books, but his parents (particularly his mom, Susan), feel that it's too much responsibility for someone his age (and worried that he'll just rack up a huge phone bill like his older brother, Rodrick). Mr. and Mrs. Heffley's solution to this is to get Greg a "Ladybug Phone" (which he describes as basically being a "preschool toy"), which Greg can only home or 911 on.
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Web Animation

  • Strong Bad Email:
    • In "slumber party", while Strong Bad is sleeping over at Homestar Runner's house, he finds the parents' stash of Rated-M video games.
      Strong Bad: Whoa! Jackpot! Blood Bleeder, Head Chopper 2, Scab Wars, Blistergeist? Most of these things have been taken off the market!
      Homestar: Oh. Those are off-limits. We're only allowed to play Clapping Party.
      [Homestar shows off the game, which just involves making a pair of pixelated hands clap.]
      Apparently Clapping Party isn't as dumb as it first appears. There's a playable demo as an Easter Egg on the original website, and clearing two rounds unlocks "Blistergeist Mode".
    • In "theme park", The Cheat isn't tall enough to ride the park's coolest roller coaster, The Bowels of Trogdor. Strong Bad apologizes and tells him he'll have to go to Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Land instead.

Webcomics

  • Latchkey Kingdom
    • Zander drags Willa (level 5) into Posey Hill (level 1/2), a "dungeon" that's a meadow full of flowers and contains candy bracelets as treasure, instead of letting her go down into the level 25 dungeon that contains actual treasure.
    • The thimble museum and tacky tourist traps that Willa has to follow Bridget to are this, compared to killing things with her new sword.

Western Animation

  • In Spongebob Squarepants: Weenie Hut Jr.'s, a hot dog restaurant, as contrasted against the Salty Spitoon, a classic Bad-Guy Bar. Bright and cheerful colors, a wholesome family-friendly menu, and mild-mannered clientele set it apart from the promise of danger and combat in the Salty Spitoon. He finally gets into the Spitoon, only to immediately be rushed off the hospital after slipping on an ice cube and getting "covered in boo-boos". The doctor, on hearing his choice of words, tells SpongeBob he'd be better off in the hospital across the street:
    SpongeBob: Weenie Hut General?!
  • The Fairly OddParents:
    • Timmy's dad sets the child locks on the TV in the episode "Ruled Out". It causes the channel to change to a parody of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood just as "The Legend of the Sewer Gator" is about to get violent.
    • In "That Old Black Magic," before Timmy was old enough to go to the exciting amusement park Adrenaland, his parents took him to Escalator Land, an amusement park that just consisted of an escalator. Timmy was bored, but his parents were thrilled. At the end of the episode, Adrenaland sinks into the earth, so the Turners decide to go to Escalator Land for their day of fun.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Toph's parents were unwilling to let their blind daughter practice any tougher earthbending than controlled forms and breathing exercises. Toph's preference? Underground earthbender show wrestling. She snuck into those under her parents' noses.
  • Camp Lazlo: In "Movie Night", as the campers get ready to watch Mutant Zombies from Scab Lagoon, Slinkman reminds Scoutmaster Lumpus that Edward is too young to view it, so he takes him to watch Mr. Cotton Goes to Bubble Land with him.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Bart the Murderer", Bart leaves his permission slip to visit the chocolate factory at home, so he ends up spending the day in Principal Skinner's office licking envelopes; Skinner suggests that Bart could "make a game out of it", by seeing how many envelopes he could lick in an hour, and then try to beat that record.
    • In "Itchy and Scratchy Land", Bart and Lisa plead with Homer and Marge to take them to Itchy and Scratchy Land, the most violent theme park on Earth, but Marge is initially set on the family vacationing at the Highway 9 Bird Sanctuary, where they've just installed a new bird feeder that she's interested to see.
    • In "Marge Be Not Proud", Bart wants to get the new video game Bonestorm for Christmas, but Marge finds it too violent and suggests getting Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge. At the end, after their relationship falls apart and is subsequently repaired, Marge reveals that she bought him a certain video game as a surprise gift. Take a good guess what it was.
    • In "The Old Man and the "C" Student", Principal Skinner decides to make the students at Springfield Elementary do mandatory community service to teach them respect. When Bart gets taken to his placement, he at first thinks it will be at the "Fireworks, Candy and Puppy-Dog Store," but it's actually at the Springfield Retirement Castle next door.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: In "Game of Flags", Star wants to sit at the adults' table and participate in the deadly game of Flags, but her mother puts her foot down against her playing Flags and assigns her to the kids' table with her baby cousins. The kids' table is also sized for much smaller kids — it doesn't even reach Star's knees when she sits at it.
  • Rugrats: In "Reptar's Revenge", when the Pickles family visits the carnival, Angelica wants to ride a Gravitron-style ride called the Nause-O-Whirl. Didi thinks that the ride is too intense for Angelica, and suggests that Angelica ride the Snail Adventure ride instead. On the Snail Adventure ride, the children riding the bouncy snails look very bored, and Angelica screams, "I want to go on the Nause-O-Whirl! I want to go on the Nause-O-Whirl!". When Stu and Didi let Angelica go on the Nause-O-Whirl, it turns out to be too intense for her to handle, especially when Larry turns the ride Up to Eleven after mishearing Stu say "Stop it, she's gonna be sick!" as "Give it a kick!".
  • Bob's Burgers: In "Mother Daughter Laser Razor", Linda takes Louise to a bonding seminar, but Louise would rather play laser tag next door.

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