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Playing With / Damned by Faint Praise

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Basic Trope: Some work has serious problems, which someone brings into relief by citing its minor aspects as "virtues".

  • Straight: Critic Bob writes, in his review of Alice's novel, "This book is good in that it features characters I have never seen before in this guise." Note he does not say whether she used Characterization Tropes well or not, and also that he left it open-ended as to whether they were very original.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Bob cites the fact that Alice's novel consists of words as its greatest virtue.
    • Bob praises Alice for something completely unrelated to the novel he’s reviewing.
    • Bob praises the book using an Overly Narrow Superlative taken Up to Eleven. For instance: "This is the finest book about an elderly cat's observations on life in Johannesburg just before the end of Apartheid that I've read this week."
  • Downplayed: Bob gives Alice a Stealth Insult or two.
  • Justified:
    • Bob realizes that if he presents his unfiltered opinion, people might perceive him as a snob who dismisses Alice unfairly, the actual quality of her writing notwithstanding.
    • Most of the time, when reviewing works he does not like, Bob can find some qualities that are able to mitigate the negative qualities, but in this case he can't find any and instead makes a snarky remark.
  • Inverted:
    • A minor critique being used to show that something is actually very good; i.e. Bob loves Alice’s book and regrets only that it is shorter than he’d have liked.
    • Bob favorably compares Alice’s novel to a well-loved classic, but Alice treats this as an insult, insisting hers is far better.
    • Bob gives Alice's novel a glowing review, but she misinterprets the whole thing as sarcastic.
  • Subverted: Bob writes, "What does this book do right?" ...and then praises its narrative structure as being "impressively original".
  • Double Subverted: "...because nobody else in the history of literature has ever built a story so haphazardly!"
  • Parodied:
    • Bob's review includes the phrase, "Clearly, aliens from a race that hasn't perfected the modern novel did not write this thing!"
    • Bob says the novel's best aspect is that it is completely asbestos free.
    • Advertisement:
    • Bob says something like "At least it doesn't give you cancer" or "It's better than a kick to the face."
    • Bob says "It's a book!"
  • Zig Zagged: Bob writes in complete honesty about how engaging the book's plot is, but awkwardly avoids talking about how flat the characters are.
  • Averted: Bob always says exactly what he thinks of a book or elements thereof.
  • Enforced: Bob works for a publication that’s heavy on the Four Point Scale, and his editors mandate that all critics on their payroll say something kind about every work they review.
  • Lampshaded: Alice meets Bob and thanks him for his good review of her book. Bob points out, “Every work of fiction has characters. If you had read the whole review, you would have gathered quite quickly that I didn’t like that book.”
  • Invoked: Bob knows Alice is inordinately proud of herself and wants to Break the Haughty.
  • Exploited: Just one way among many to Polish the Turd.
  • Defied:
    • To escape Executive Meddling, Bob quits his job and becomes an independent critic so he can present his opinions as he sees fit.
    • Bob rereads the novel, hoping to find something he can praise sincerely.
  • Discussed:
    Mike: You said Alice LaTropé wrote Being a Trope in a legible language. It's bad, isn't it?
    Bob: Mm-hmm.
  • Conversed: "I hope we're not watching this show because it advertised itself the way its In-Universe crappy media do."
  • Implied: When asked whether anyone gave her book a good review, Alice says only that Bob gave her a "sort of good" review.
  • Deconstructed: Alice realizes the critics don't like her output and stops writing.
  • Reconstructed: Alice strives to learn from her past inferior efforts and becomes a much better writer.
  • Played for Laughs: In his review, Bob cracks joke after joke about how anyone could have done the basic story construction job Alice did.

Damned by Faint Praise … lists examples of its appearances in media and real life. There. Are you satisfied?

Example of: