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Sweetness Aversion

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"Imagine eating a giant bag of Skittles, then throwing it all up in a fit of sugar-induced nausea and you'll have some idea of what it feels like to sit through My Little Pony: The Movie."
Christy Lemire of www.rogerebert.com

This is an audience reaction to works that are strongly attempting to be kid-friendly — using almost all the tropes of cuteness and idealism, like there's some kind of checklist. "Saccharine" is the watchword.note  Viewers react to this by avoiding the works in question.

Always, there will be fun, colorful settings, Narm or generally hammy voice acting, an aversion to anything resembling death except for that one final and dramatic battle (if there are any battles to begin with), and no matter the situation, if you have friends, you will win because you can only win with friends. The sun shines a lot, and when it's night, the moon is full and bright. Also, there is smiling. Tons of smiling. Even when it's not appropriate, there is smiling.

The Big Bad (if the show even has any villains in it at all) is Obviously Evil with no attempt to look otherwise, and flips between being born evil (maybe even worse) or redeemable, depending on the story. Chances are, they may not like it there. Alternatively, the Big Bad and any other villains may be completely harmless, with any scheme they have being no more elaborate than mildly annoying everyone.

This attitude is often rooted in Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!. Can be invoked when there are way too many resolutions.

See also Super-Cute Superpowers. Compare Sickeningly Sweet, which is for when a character in a work reacts negatively to cute/sweet things, rather than the audience. A Crapsaccharine World is often deliberately designed to cause this. Contrast with Testosterone Poisoning (for this reaction's opposite on the stereotypical gender roles scale), Too Bleak, Stopped Caring, and Angst Aversion (for its opposite on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism).


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • During the early 1980s, Washington, D.C.. CBS affiliate WDVM (now WUSA) commissioned a tooth-rotting promo using the branding of "Ours to Share." The campaign was basically one they could have gotten away with if it was a smaller city, but certainly not in D.C., as the reaction was harsh enough for WDVM to fire their creative services director as a result. Watch and look for dentures.

    Anime & Manga 
  • This is one of the reasons why certain anime/manga genres, such as the Idol Genre and the Magical Girl genre, struggle to find a fanbase in Western countries. In regards to those two genres, they often rely on cutesy aesthetics, bright-colors, and childish goals such as "saving/giving dreams" that generally turn-off or even outright alienate a potential audience outside of Japan. It's really telling that works in those genres that are more subversive and/or Darker and Edgier tend to do much better in the west.

    Films — Animation 
  • DreamWorks Animation thought in the early 2010s that doing sentimental films à la Disney (totally inverting the studio's previous formula) would be a good idea. Due to some negative receptions from audiences, they snapped out of it and brought comedy back on the front (although far less gag-based than before).
  • The poor reputation of Home on the Range is partly pinned on this. While it isn't the worst example by most standards, by Disney Animated Canon standards it's agreed that this movie aims far more for the kid side of the equation, even when the Demographically Inappropriate Humor is taken into consideration. It's balanced out some by a few slower and more emotional moments ("Will the Sun Ever Shine Again?" being a standout) and some intense scenes, but the movie still generally has happy tones all around, and even the overall art style of the movie mirrors more like a picture book illustration rather than a Disney movie. The fact the movie starts with a sickeningly sweet musical number about how things are all sunshine and rainbows on the farm doesn't help that at all.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Craft: Legacy ran into this problem, coming off as significantly Lighter and Softer than the original Cult Classic. A few critics and audience members have noted that while the film's emphasis on everyone being kind, inclusive and only using magic for good is wholesome and idealistic, it also results in large chunks of the film feeling like plot fluff — if not downright dull — due to a lack of meaningful conflict or dramatic tension, especially considering it was marketed as a horror/supernatural thriller. The heavy use of sparkles doesn't help.
  • The childhood films of Shirley Temple (e.g. the 1937 adaptation of Heidi) banked on the appeal of her cutesy persona, which comes off more like a cartoon or a doll than an actual child. To many modern viewers who expect a more natural acting style, they can feel sappy or downright irritating.

    Literature 
  • Many people react in react in disgust to the over-the-top, frequent love scenes, love phrases and love acts in the Twilight series.
  • The late Dorothy Parker, reviewing books under the name Constant Reader, made her feelings about the Winnie the Pooh book The House At Pooh Corner plain: "And it is that word 'hummy', my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader fwowed up."
  • Lewis Carroll's lesser known duology, the Sylvie and Bruno books. The overly-cutesy perfection of the title children is probably the main reason these books are not given the same love as Alice in Wonderland.
  • Most of the challenges and potential problems Alessia and Maxim encounter in The Missus (the sequel to The Mister) get resolved fairly quickly and neatly, with few to no long-term negative effects. While some readers were relieved that the book didn't mine all its drama from the main couple constantly fighting and mistreating each other, the downside is that there's not much in the way of conflict or tension in the book, at times making it feel like an overly-long, slice-of-life cosy romance with not much else going on; this is in spite of the book being advertised as a "passionate and thrilling love story" and including sex trafficking and dark family secrets as plot points (which tend to be glossed over or pushed to the background). Many readers find that this causes the story to drag in places, while also avoiding exploring some potentially interesting conflicts in-depth; some readers have gone so far as to state The Missus can feel less like a true sequel and more like an extended epilogue detailing Alessia and Maxim's Happily Ever After.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Full House's syrupy tone was a major complaint back in the day. But hey, if the show didn't fit this, it wouldn't have been the Trope Namer for Full House Music. Seasons 6, 7, and 8 toned down a bit on this, though, only having that occur whenever Nicky and Alex are involved. On an interesting note, any moment on a show that is overly sappy (even if the show itself is not normally) is called a "Full House Moment" outside of TV Tropes.
  • Barney & Friends, is sickeningly saccharine to most people over the age of four. Some of these folks become parents and the "purple freak" is forgiven as being an instant thirty minute babysitter. Practically everyone loved to hate their signature theme song in particular, so much so that parodies invariably began: "I hate you,..."

    Music 
  • Biffy Clyro:
    • "Re-Arrange" can come across as overly sentimental. It doesn't help that Simon Neil maintains soft, high-pitched vocals throughout the entire song.
    • "Space" is also this as well, due to being an electropop love ballad. Depending on who you ask, its cheesiness can somehow border between Sweet Dreams Fuel and Narm Charm.
  • Schnuffel (also known as Snuggle Bunny) was a mascot for Jamster/Jamba. He and his girlfriend Schnuffelina were very deliberately designed to be as adorable as possible in every way they can, combining tropes such as Bunnies for Cuteness, Silly Love Songs, and a Sugar Bowl setting. The result was a flood of criticism and mockery from everyone who wasn't into this uber-saccharine aesthetic.

    Theatre 
  • The Sound of Music, despite its success on Broadway, became regarded as treacly and old-fashioned because of its saccharine nature. The movie made some attempts to tone this down (e.g., changing the placements of some songs, casting actors who could try and add dimension to their roles) without completely eliminating it. Christopher Plummer still famously described the film version as "The Sound of Mucus" because of this trope.

    Video Games 
  • The original Drakengard quickly gained infamy for being an incredibly bleak and twisted Dark Fantasy Hack and Slash that upended a lot of the tropes typically associated with the genre. The sequel however faced pressure from higher up to tone down the grim tone to make it more marketable. This resulted in a game that while darker than the usual fantasy game at the time, was a far cry from what the original was and as a result alienated a lot of the series fans. As it turned out, the bleak nature of the original game was what made it stand out and attract a fandom in the first place. When the series was revisited years later the bleak and twisted tone was brought back much to the fans delight.
  • Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE is a crossover between Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem franchises, both of which are known for being rather dark. Shin Megami Tensei games are commonly set After the End and feature dark storylines with plenty of people dying. Fire Emblem is lighter, but it's still stories about war, where most characters can be Killed Off for Real. This game, meanwhile, is set in modern Japan, and focuses on Idol Singers, with an extremely idealistic view on the profession at that. The game ended up being so much Lighter and Softer than both of its parent series have ever been that both fanbases were alienated by it, and the game bombed in retail.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • ChalkZone is considered by many to be the sweetest and cutest of all the Nicktoons. This initially hurt its reception amongst viewers who thought it was too saccharine, but the show would later earn itself a decent-sized fanbase over the years and be overall Vindicated by History.
  • Obscure Looney Tunes star Sniffles the Mouse is this for many fans who enjoy the series for its memorable writing and humor and more well-known characters. His shorts were slower-paced, more cutesy, and lacked the chaotic humor of the shorts of the more well-known Looney Tunes characters, instead feeling more like the cartoons from Disney, Warner Bros.' competitor. Sniffles himself is a cute, yet talkative mouse with a kind-hearted personality. His creator, Chuck Jones, considered him something of an Old Shame.
  • Elmyra was a character who appeared in some episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures. Her defining traits, where she has the behavior of a five-year-old in a teenager's skin, were clearly meant to be taken only in small doses when she was first created. Therefore, when she was promoted as a main character in the show Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain, it opened all sorts of floodgates for this to happen. Having to listen her cutesy childish talk for a half hour at a time very quickly grated on viewers' nerves, and is a good example of why some supporting characters are better left in that role.
  • While none of the cartoons made by Famous Studios are particularly well-regarded because of their Strictly Formula nature (and in the case of Popeye Seasonal Rot compared to the cartoons made by Max and Dave Fleischer), the cartoons starring Casper the Friendly Ghost and Little Audrey are the most derided by critics for combining Famous' tendency for formula with overtly mawkish sweetness. Within Casper's series (particularly in the comics), Spooky and the Ghostly Trio became Breakout Characters for being an antidote to this trope.
    • Within the Fleischer output itself, the Color Classics and the Betty Boop cartoons starring Pudgy are often looked down upon by critics for being much more cutesy and sentimental than the cartoons the Fleischers are most known for, and for highlighting just how badly the studio had been affected by The Hays Code.
  • Super Why!. Even considering that the target audience is little kids, this show suffers pretty harsh pushback for this. While somewhat expected with its fairy tale aesthetics, conflict-free storytelling and cutesy designs, more often the not the complaints come from how they Bowdlerise the original fairy tales to have the most safe and boring resolution possible. While it makes sense to do that relative to some of the source material, some will say they manage to sanitize the already sanitized version of the story, resulting in an edge less cutesy overload that can cause some parents’ eyes to roll.
  • Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go is a particularly infamous example of this. It basically took the charm of the original Thomas & Friends series and turned it into a wacky, saccharine, and sugar-coated Canadian preschool cartoon with cuteified 2D designs for the characters, a complete disregard for basic logic and physics, the adult engines acting friendlier with little-to-no sign of their usual personality flaws, and the five main characters (Thomas, Percy, Nia, Kana, and Diesel) turned into child characters that are voiced by actual kids. This gave the show a far worse reputation than the already-contentious HiT Entertainment model and CGI eras, Thomas and the Magic Railroad note  and the Big World! Big Adventures! era.


Alternative Title(s): Audience Alienating Sweetness, Too Sweet For Audiences

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