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Quotes / Tall Poppy Syndrome

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    Anime and Manga 

"Listen up! If you want to rid yourselves of Orthros once and for all, you're gonna have to cooperate! What do you do with a nail that sticks out too far to be pounded down? Any guesses? I'll tell you; you yank it out!"
Club of Heracles, Ben-To

Club of Heracles: You've gotta yank the nail that sticks out too far, OR THEY'RE NEVER GONNA LEARN THEIR LESSON!
Yo Sato: I don't think so, pal! There's another way to fix that nail; you get a bigger hammer!
Club of Heracles: What's that mean?!
Yo Sato: You get strong enough to beat them!
Ben-To

"...most students don't want to give Soma his due. Why is that, I wonder? Soma's culinary inspirations... those don't come to him because he has some kind of natural talent for it. He just thinks everything through and keeps plugging away through trial and error. Anyone can do that, though it's harder than it sounds. There's no way, it's impossible. No one can stand up to Ryo Kurokiba, he practices against Alice Nakiri everyday! Akira Hayama has an inhumanly sharp sense of smell! How are you supposed to beat that? Why even bother, no matter how hard I try, I could never do it. The most talented guy always wins. That's just the way it works. That's why everyone looks down on Soma. Because accepting his skills and accomplishments means they also have to accept that they themselves haven't even bothered to try."
Satoshi Isshiki, Food Wars!

"The nail that sticks out the most is the first one hit by the hammer."
Kakashi, Naruto

    Comic Books 

"Am I always to be thwarted, embarrassed, frustrated by Spider-Man? I hate that costumed freak more than I've ever hated anyone before! I'll never be contented while he's free! All my life I've been interested in only one thing — making money! And yet, Spider-Man risks his life day after day with no thought of reward! If a man like him is good — is a hero — then what am I? I can never respect myself while he lives! Spider-Man represents everything that I'm not! He's brave, powerful and unselfish! The truth is, I envy him! I, J. Jonah Jameson — millionaire, man of the world, civic leader — I'd give everything I own to be the man that he is! But I can never climb to his level! So all that remains for me is — to try to tear him down — because, Heaven help me — I'm jealous of him!"
J. Jonah Jameson, The Amazing Spider-Man #10

Mrs. Whedon: I knew letting her go to the academy was a mistake. She's a townie. She's always gonna be a townie.
Mark Cho: That's a very... interesting line of thought on class division in the local community, Mrs. Whedon.

"My people? Do you know what they're like, Rocket? My people? Those good, simple folk? Those river-dwelling fish farmers you think are so unspoiled? I was smart. Smart enough to make something of myself, even then. But you know what they think of smart people? 'Putting on airs.' 'Too big for her whiskers.' My own parents said that. They couldn't imagine a better life than gutting fish. For them, or for me. I used to look at that river - that beautiful blue river - and wish it were poison. It was all they deserved. So... answer's no, Rocket. They're getting what's coming to them. I will have the life I deserve. And so will they. And I'll do whatever I have to."
Otta Spice, Rocket (2017)

"They, society, hate you because they don't want your help. You remind them of how weak-willed and sheep-like and unspecial they are. How gleeful they are, deep down, to be ordinary. They don't want heroes. They don't want special people around them. Because if there are special people and they aren't one of them — well, who wants that? Who wants a constant reminder that they aren't even trying to be special? [...] See, the difference between you and I is that you really are just a child. You benefit from the wide-eyed optimism of youth. I do envy that, somewhat. But... like many of your decisions in life... it's just naïve. And I don't envy that harsh cold slap of reality that will come your way soon enough. But I guess it's inevitable. [...] People don't want to be special. I do think that. It is my philosophy. They — people want to be told what to do and how to live and they want men like me to tell them. They want to go to work and do as little as they can possibly get away with, and they want a big cookie at the end of the day for doing it. And they want men like me to give it to them. And if it wasn't me it would be someone else."
The Kingpin, Ultimate Spider-Man #80

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    Film — Animated 

Helen Parr: I can't believe you don't want to go to your own son's graduation.
Bob Parr: It is not a graduation. He is moving from the fourth grade to the fifth grade.
Helen: It's a ceremony!
Bob: It's psychotic. They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity. But when someone's genuinely exceptional, they—
Helen: This is not about you, Bob. This is about Dash.
Bob: You want to do something for Dash? Then let him compete! Let him go out for sports!
Helen: I will not be made the enemy here! You know why we can't do that!
Bob: Because he'd be great!

"It is time for their 'secret identity' to become their only identity. Time for them to join us, or go away."
Senator, The Incredibles

Helen Parr: The world just wants us to fit in and to fit in, we just gotta be like everybody else.
Dash Parr: But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of. Our powers made us special.
Helen: Everyone's special, Dash.
Dash: Which is another way of saying no one is.

    Film — Live-Action 

"If we let you carry on running around town, you'll continue to be exceptional... and we can't have that. You'll put us all out of a job."
Chief Inspector, Hot Fuzz

    Literature 

"The greater a man's talents, the greater his power to lead astray. It is better that one should suffer than that many be corrupted."
The Director, Brave New World

"In Scotland, there's an enduring hatred of people who are too successful."
Christopher Brookmyre, Caledonia Dreaming

"One did not accidentally graduate from top-tier schools. One strove to get in and to maintain grades once there, and to do that, one usually needed to be a master at conformity. To excel in all the accepted conventions. No, the truly different thinkers often went unnoticed."
Daniel Suarez, Influx

"Everyone, either from modesty or egotism, hides away the best and most delicate of his soul’s possessions; to gain the esteem of others, we must only ever show our ugliest sides; this is how we keep ourselves on the common level."
Gustave Flaubert, November

"The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently."
Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

If there pushed any ragged thistle-stalk
Above its mates, the head was chopped; the bents
Were jealous else.

Some people insist that 'mediocre' is better than 'best'. They delight in clipping wings because they themselves can't fly. They despise brains because they have none.

    Live-Action TV 

"Greatness is never appreciated in youth, called pride in midlife, dismissed in old age and reconsidered in death. Because we cannot tolerate greatness in our midst we do all that we can to destroy it."
Lady Morella, Babylon 5, "Point of No Return"

    Music 

"...one of the many fine things one has to admit is the way that the Army has carried the American democratic ideal to its logical conclusion in the sense that not only do they prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, creed, and color, but also on the grounds of ability."
Tom Lehrer, "It Makes a Fellow Proud to Be a Soldier", An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer

The trouble with the maples
— And they're quite convinced they're right —
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light
But the oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made
And they wonder why the maples
Can't be happy in their shade
[...]
So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
"The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light"
Now there's no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe and saw
Rush, "The Trees"

Ambition makes you look pretty ugly.
Radiohead, "Paranoid Android"

See when you're shinin', some chumps'll wanna dull ya
Always selfish jealous punks will wanna pull ya
Down, just like some shellfish in a bucket
'Cause they love it to see your ass squirm like a worm
Gang Starr, "Moment of Truth"

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    Video Games 

Sweet: What you done for our 'hood?
CJ: Man, what the 'hood done for me? Always draggin' me down. Ever since I got out the 'hood, shit been crackin'. That's everybody's dream, to get out the 'hood...
Sweet: Man, you sound just like Smoke now!

    Web Original 

"In any other town, Brady would be a god. But Pats fans hate being repped by a dude who does magazine shoots. No title means Brady goes back to being a FAG in their eyes again. They secretly can't wait for Janeane Garofalo to take over. NOW THAT KID LOOKS TOUGH!"

"Steven Spielberg, arguably the greatest director working today (arguably), cannot get $30 million to finish his Abe Lincoln biopic he had been wanting to do for years. Steven Spielberg no, but Son of the Mask; yes, yes, 90 million dollars YES!!!"

"If you need any further evidence that the gods can still be unkind, consider this: of the two Hercules films released into theaters this year, Brett Ratner was gifted with the meatier one where The Rock wears a lion on his head, while Renny Harlin toiled away with Kellan Lutz for a film that felt a half-step away from arriving direct-to-video."

"I'm glad Twin Peaks is being revived and I'm glad David Lynch is involved. But the last we heard from him he was out of the picture business. In a better world, making The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet and Mulholland Dr. would earn him some kind of emeritus status... A civilized society would recognize its gifts — in this case, its geniuses — and nurture them, not send them off begging for donations (for a crummy half million dollars, no less)."

"Mrs. Aschauer, my fourth grade teacher, was in the latter category, a problem that culminated in the absurd moment in which she suggested to me that many of my problems could be solved if only I'd stop being so smart."

"Your drunk friends do not want you to get sober. Your fat friends do not want you to start a fitness regimen. Your jobless friends do not want to see you embark on a career."

"The Marvel Universe has corrupted everything you stand for all in the name of high drama. Think about it, Kal-El. Your job is to be an inspiration for people, someone they can look up to, someone they can aspire to be like; in steadfastness, in character, in ideals. And what did Marvel offer? They said, 'don't worry; you don't have to aspire to anyone in our books. You just have to relate to them.' And now we have an entire culture that thinks that who they are is just fine, and how dare anyone suggest they can improve themselves? Why aspire to be Superman when it's so much easier to relate to Spider-Man? No one wants to look up to you anymore, Superman. They don't want to strain their necks. Instead they look straight ahead at the compromised heroes in front of them and say 'That'll do just fine'."

    Western Animation 

"Arthur, you're making the other accountants nervous. We all find this kind of... rampant individuality... very disturbing."
Mr. Widerspann, The Tick

Darwin: Anyways, [Carmen's] just trying to help you be a better person.
Gumball: Exactly! She's raising the bar! Which is totally unfair for someone like me, who liked the bar exactly where it was.

"Fascinating creature, the crab — got that hard exterior, but he ain't really dangerous, 'cept to another crab. Dumb as all hell; can't even walk straight. Matter of fact the only thing a crab is good for is holding back other crabs. A crab don't wanna see another crab make it. [...] Crab is like: 'If I'm gonna die, we all gonna die.' I admire that — we all gotta die sometimes, might as well help each other get there. After all, that's what you did to Stinkmeaner... Id'nt that right, Robert FREEMAN!?"
Lord Rufus Crabmiser The Boondocks, "Stinkmeaner 3: The Hateocracy"

Uncle Ruckus: Mister, I wanna be a doctor when I grow up!
Mister Ruckus: Nigga, did I just catch you wantin' to be shit?
[SLAP]

    Real Life 

"All serious innovation is only rendered possible by some accident enabling unpopular persons to survive."
Bertrand Russell, In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays

"I've never been certain whether the moral of the Icarus story should only be, as is generally accepted, 'Don't try to fly too high', or whether it might also be thought of as, 'Forget the wax and feathers and do a better job on the wings.'"

"The theory seems to be that so long as a man is a failure he is one of God's chillun, but that as soon as he has any luck he owes it to the Devil."

"Only in Britain could it be thought a defect to be 'too clever by half'. The probability is that too many people are too stupid by three-quarters."

"America is proud of what it does to its writers, the way it breaks and bedevils them, rendering them deluded or drunken or dead by their own hands. To overpower its tender spirits makes America feel tough. Careers are generally short."
Martin Amis, "The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America"

"It made me sad when she passed, and it made me mad at the time how available she was. Jan should have had a bigger career. Jan deserved a big movie career. Certainly as big as Rob Schneider’s fucking career. She was a bigger star on SNL."
Tina Fey on Jan Hooks

"You know who's not laughing at that quick burn to Rob Schneider's asshole? Tina's accountant and manager. Tina really stepped it in barefoot this time, because now she'll never get a call for the lady lead in The Animal 2."

"'Competition' is probably a misleading term. The politics of the show were such that the egos of the people in charge of the series were threatened by the people who worked for them."
Ronald D. Moore on Star Trek: Voyager

"In Britain, any degree of success is met with envy and resentment."

"Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish for its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking itself stupid."


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