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Complaining: Bias Steamroller

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Feb 16th 2017 at 3:43:11 PM

According to the description, Bias Steamroller is supposed to be "If the critic has a strong bias against or in favor of a genre, style, director, actor, or what have you, and they allow that acerbic vitriol or blind admiration to fill their review."

According to this, a typical example should be along the lines of, "John Criticman hates movies with monkeys, and his review of Panda Bear Funtime Extravaganza focused on nothing but how much he hated the monkey character even though the movie was all about pandas and the monkey was barely in it at all."

However, most examples don't fit the above description, and instead fit one or more of the following categories of misuse and/or lack of context:

  • No Element: They don't establish the element that the bias is supposedly against, just list reasons the critic didn't like the work with no real connective tissue, boiling down to Complaining about People Not Liking the Show. E.g. "John Criticman hates Cinema Movie: The Filmening! He goes on and on about what a bad movie it is, even though it is in fact a good movie!"
  • No Bias: They identify the element, but don't properly show that the critic has a known bias against it that applies across multiple works, as opposed to disliking its implementation in this specific work. E.g. "John Criticman hated the character of Molly Monkey in Panda Bear Funtime Extravaganza! Must be because he hates monkeys, amiright?" Or else it fails to show that the critic disliked the work due to the presence of the element as opposed to on its own merits, e.g. "John Criticman hates monkeys. Panda Bear Funtime Extravaganza has a monkey in it. John Criticman hated Panda Bear Funtime Extravaganza. Post hoc ergo propter hoc, amiright?" or, "John Criticman hates movies with monkeys! Except for Super Monkey Movie 2: The Sequelening, which he loved!" (Then... he obviously doesn't have much of an anti-monkey bias, now does he?)
  • No Work: They identify the element but don't give specific examples of the critic letting their dislike of that element bias them against one or more particular works. E.g. "John Criticman hates monkeys! He says so all the time! Always talking about how much he hates their prehensile tails and little monkey faces, that John Criticman!"
  • No Critic: Doesn't establish a bias on the part of a specific critic or outlet, talking in very vague terms about "critics," "audiences," or even just "some people" instead. Violates Examples Are Not General. E.g. "Some critics didn't likePanda Bear Funtime Extravaganza because it had a monkey in it!"

Even when used more-or-less correctly, many entries have a very complain-y tone, with descriptors like "painfully," "egregious", "reeks of this trope", etc.

Part of the problem may be that the description is very vague about what constitutes a "bias." A "genre, style, director, actor, or what have you" can be almost anything, especially when the description goes on to talk about tropes, meaning that almost any criticism leveled against a work, legitimate or illegitimate, could be labeled a "bias." Also, a lot of entries read like, "[Critic] is biased against [Work A] for not being [Work B]!" That's not a bias, it's a preference. Making value judgments of works and sometimes comparing them to one another is what critics do. One might almost say it's kind of their job.

And just as icing on the cake, many entries are for You Tube entertainers and/or Let's Players who merely express their own personal preferences as opposed to purporting to be giving a nuanced, objective critical analysis.

Going down the example list:

  • Bennet the Sage - No Element.
  • Nostalgia Critic - More-or-less correct, albeit rambly and with some terrible Example Indentation. Very complain-y.
  • Anime News Network
    • Saiyuki - No Bias, very light on context in general.
    • Hx H remake - No Element, complaining.
    • Mahoromatic - No Bias, complaining.
    • Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jogakuin Koutouka C 3 Bu - No Bias, complaining.
  • Anime World Order - No Work.
  • Studio Ghibli dubs - No Critic.
  • Confused Matthew - More-or-less correct, but violates Examples Are Not Arguable and doesn't give enough context to judge whether it's actually a valid example.
  • Mother's Basement - No Element.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall - More-or-less correct.
  • Equestria - No Work.
  • Fic Critic - More-or-less correct.
  • madmuffin14 - Not an Example, since the subject is a fanfic author and not a critic purporting to give an unbiased review of a work.
  • Peter Bradshaw - No Bias
  • Armond White - Really at least three distinct entries squished into one:
    • Noah Baumbach - More-or-less correct, although the bit about Anderson is a bit confusing and natter-y.
    • Pixar - No Work.
    • Steven Spielberg - No Work, complaining.
  • Rex Reed - Vague and rambly, talks about several things he doesn't like but doesn't nail down exactly how that biases his reviews.
  • Film Atheist - More-or-less correct.
  • - Correct.
  • Nostalgia Critic - A long list of ZeroContextExamples; knowing the NC's modus operandi, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of these weren't just silly Running Gags that some particularly humorless troper mistook for an attempt at serious criticism.
  • Roger Ebert
    • Slashers - More-or-less correct
    • Children committing violence - Correct
    • Atlas Shrugged - Zero-context non-example
    • Hard-R comedies - No Bias.
    • Pebble and the Penguin - No Bias.
    • Video game and comic book adaptations - No work.
    • Spaghetti westerns - Correct.
  • David Stratton - No Work.
  • Peter Keough - Not an Example if the element the critic is supposedly biased against only exists in the critic's mind and not in the work itself. That just makes them a crazy person, not biased.
  • Harry Knowles - No Bias, bad Example Indentation
  • Smash Hits: No Element
  • Nostalgia Chick: Not an Example; entry describes a critic who acknowledges her bias and then proceeds to make a well-reasoned argument despite it.
  • Feminist Frequency: Zero Context Example; doesn't show that her anti-violence bias overtakes her critical analysis of the films mentioned.
  • Forbes: No Element.
  • Brave Story: Not an Example; the person in question is not a critic attempting to present an unbiased viewpoint.
  • Dorothy Sayers: More-or-less correct, if rather context-light.
  • Analog: No Work, complaining.
  • "Religious Apologetics": No Work.
  • TV Zone: No Bias.
  • Edmund Wilson: No Bias.
  • Big Brother winners: No Element.
  • Penn & Teller: No Element.
  • Maureen Ryan: Complain-y.
  • Ginia Bellafante: Complain-y.
  • Power Rangers: Zero Context Example.
  • "music aimed at teenage girls": No Critic.
  • Lester Bangs: No Work, bad Example Indentation.
  • Blender: More-or-less correct.
  • Christian Clemmensen: No Work.
  • Piero Scaruffi: More-or-less correct, but very context-light.
  • Todd in the Shadows: Bad Example Indentation, with Chris Brown occupying both a first- and second-level bullet.
    • Chris Brown: No Element.
    • "White guy with an acoustic guitar": No Work
    • "mellow music": Correct
    • One Direction: Not an Example or a notable aversion / subversion / whatever.
    • Country: Ditto. Natter.
  • Jonathan Keefe: No Element.
  • Stephen Thomas Erlewine: No Element.
  • Greil Marcus: No Element.
  • Dave Marsh: No Element.
  • Rolling Stone: No Bias
  • Robert Christgau: No Work.
  • "Bro Country": No Critic.
  • Bullz Eye: No Element.
  • "Heel commentators": No Critic.
  • "WWE Commentators": Not an Example
  • WWE Diva: No Critic.
  • Eddie Mc Guire: No Element.
  • Nine Network: Zero Context Example. Identifies supposed bias but doesn't show how it takes over commentary to the point it compromises objectivity.
  • Ice Hockey: No Critic.
  • Gamefaqs reviewers: No Critic.
  • Yahtzee: Poor Example Indentation.
    • Wii Sports Resort: More-or-less correct.
    • Fighting games: No Work.
    • Modern Shooters: No Work, natter / bad Example Indentation.
    • Valve: No Bias, complaining
    • Silent Hill 2: No Element, complaining
    • Sequels: No Bias
    • Nintendo: No Work
    • Joss Whedon: No Work
  • Niko Nirvi: No Work
  • Game Pro: Poor Example Indentation, No Bias
    • Star Trek: More-or-less correct, but complain-y.
    • Homestuck: Not an Example, natter
    • No Bias (seriously, every game magazine in The '90s had a bunch of fighting game covers, because that was a very popular genre at the time)
  • Game Informer: More-or-less correct, but very context-light; it's hard to tell whether this is literally true or just complaining. Also poor Example Indentaiton.
  • Spoony One: Poor Example Indentation, No Work
    • No Bias, poor Example Indentation (trails off into an unrelated Captain America example, itself with No Element)
    • Serenity: Not an Example or a notable aversion / subversion
    • AD&D: No Element.
  • Angry Joe Show: Weird non-example.
  • AVGN: Rambling entry that wanders all over the place and doesn't have much of a point.
  • X-Play: Poor Example Indentation, No Bias
    • Skyward Sword: No Element.
    • A non-example with the "exception" problem; they have an anti-RPG bias "except" for the RP Gs that they like, meaning they actually don't have an anti-RPG bias.
    • Anime games: No Work.
    • Luigi's Mansion: No Bias
  • Peanut Butter Gamer: No Work, poor Example Indentation
    • My Sims: No Work
  • Cracked article: No Critic
  • Game Grumps:
    • Sonic: No Bias, poor Example Indentation
    • Nintendo Land: No Element
    • Metroidvania: No Element
    • Devil May Cry: No Bias
  • Common Sense Media: No Bias. Seriously, if the site's entire purpose is to rate games based on whether or not they're family-friendly, how can they possibly have a bias against non-family-friendly material? That's their entire reason for existing! Sorry, this might be a good time to admit to how biased I am against poorly-thought-out entries and how frustrating it is reading through an entire page of them.
  • USK: Context-poor, hard to parse what it's trying to say or what it has to do with the trope.
  • Official Nintendo Magazine UK: No Work, poorly-written in general.
  • Psyco the Frog: Okay, really? We're troping Deviant Art users now? Put me out of my misery.
  • Sammy Classic Sonic Fan: Natter-y, complain-y, No Element.
  • Third Rate Gamer: Not an Example, No Element
  • Fawful's Minion: No Element.
  • Cartoon Brew: No Critic, No Work
  • Cars: No Bias
  • Lion King: No Work


  • Total Entries: 126
  • No Element: 27 (21%)
  • No Bias: 22 (17%)
  • No Work: 25 (20%)
  • No Critic: 9 (7%)
  • Complaining: 13 (10%)
  • More-or-less correct, but with little context or other problems: 5 (4%)
  • Correct, I Couldn't Find Anything Wrong With It Worth Pointing Out: 9 (7%)


It's an under-defined, over-shoehorned mess and a complaining and natter magnet. I don't see anything worth saving here.

edited 16th Feb '17 3:43:43 PM by HighCrate

Berrenta Puzzles and archaeology from Texas Relationship Status: Can't buy me love
Puzzles and archaeology
Feb 16th 2017 at 4:11:27 PM

Nice solid OP!

Since you covered the vast majority of wicks examples, it looks like we got a good cutting candidate if that much wicks are problematic.

Edit: Thanks for the correction, Madru.

edited 16th Feb '17 7:31:46 PM by Berrenta

Feb 16th 2017 at 5:34:47 PM

So we're troping what critics say? Is that really a thing?

We don't need justice when we can forgive. We don't need tolerance when we can love.
Feb 16th 2017 at 5:44:47 PM

[up]Despite the old saw that critics aren't creators, we do trope them as such.

Madrugada Zzzzzzzzzz Relationship Status: In season
Feb 16th 2017 at 6:25:32 PM

[up][up][up] That's not the wicks. That's the examples on the page. There are 191 wicks, and 1691 inbounds. Even if the wicks have the same proportion of misuse, that's too many inbounds to just burn.

We don't trope critics as people, but things like this affect and show in their work as a critic.

I'd like to see a clean-up effort before we start talking about cutting or example Sectionectomying this page. The OP lays out the criteria clearly, if an example or a wick doesn't meet all of them :

  • A specific critic
  • A specific bias target (element)
  • At least one example of the steamroller in effect (work)

Then it's not a complete example. Doing that will clear out most if not all of the Complaining About Critics You Dont Agree With

edited 16th Feb '17 6:27:39 PM by Madrugada

...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
Feb 16th 2017 at 10:05:29 PM

I feel that this trope should be kept. Critics allowing their personal bias against a genre, style, creator, actor, etc. to affect their reviews is something that happens frequently. Though the misuse needs to be cleaned up. I feel giving Bias Steamroller a stricter definition would help prevent further misuse.

AnotherDuck No, the other one. from Stockholm Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
Feb 16th 2017 at 11:10:46 PM

I think getting rid of the examples without necessary context and shoehorns would be a good start. At that point we can see what's left and if we need to do anything else.

Probably the only example I noticed that didn't follow all those requirements that I'd keep is the Niko Nirvi one, as that's really more Conversational Troping, since he's talking about how reviewers score games according to the trope.

Check out my fanfiction!
Xtifr World's Toughest Milkman Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
World's Toughest Milkman
Feb 17th 2017 at 1:35:18 PM

Lots of things that happen frequently we still don't want pages about, since they're off-mission and flame magnets.

I'll say +1 to the idea of a cleanup to see what we're left with.

(And I'll also throw out the possible alternative option of making this In Universe Only.) [lol]

edited 17th Feb '17 1:35:30 PM by Xtifr

Speaking words of fandom: let it squee, let it squee.
Feb 17th 2017 at 7:06:27 PM

If the inbound count is too high to allow for cutting outright, I'd support making it a redirect to something like Confirmation Bias (although that page has its own problems).

A cleanup isn't fundamentally unworkable, but it would leave us with an anemic and off-mission page that's likely to attract more complaining and misuse if left alone.

A redefinition to impose a stricter definition of "bias" could conceivably help the shoehorning problem, but I'm not seeing any way of redefining such a negative trope to avoid complaining.

Feb 17th 2017 at 8:29:39 PM

[up][up] Have there been any Edit Wars or Flame Wars involving Bias Steamroller in the past? Because I feel it'll set a bad precedent if we decide to cut a page based on potential Edit/Flame Wars instead of actual Edit/Flame Wars.

AnotherDuck No, the other one. from Stockholm Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
Feb 17th 2017 at 8:51:21 PM

I've always thought that an argument about potential problems is potentially very weak so I can potentially ignore it.

Check out my fanfiction!
SithPanda16 I am the Senate Relationship Status: I know
I am the Senate
Feb 18th 2017 at 3:06:39 PM

Could we go for having the page left with no examples. And just the definition of the trope?

The Dark Lord of the Sith
Berrenta Puzzles and archaeology from Texas Relationship Status: Can't buy me love
Puzzles and archaeology
Feb 18th 2017 at 4:06:08 PM

[up] We can start off with that, then sort out the wicks.

Madrugada Zzzzzzzzzz Relationship Status: In season
Feb 18th 2017 at 5:04:51 PM

It's not anywhere near the same as Confirmation Bias. That's ignoring information that doesn't align wit what you already believe. Merging tham would just ruin another page.

I also don't haven't heard any good reasons for Example Sectionectomy-ing the page, let alone cutting it. Those are radical fixes for pages that can't be fixed any other way. The penultimate and ultimate options, respectively.

...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
Feb 20th 2017 at 2:20:35 PM

I'd consider a 93%+ rate of misuse (and that's on the page; wick misuse is likely to be worse) to be a good enough reason to at least consider drastic measures.

I'm not of the opinion that it's likely to be salvageable, but that's just me.

I think we've talked through most of the options at this point, so let's put it to a crowner.

edited 20th Feb '17 2:25:38 PM by HighCrate

Xtifr World's Toughest Milkman Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
World's Toughest Milkman
Feb 20th 2017 at 4:19:25 PM

Having a hard time voting, because my preferred option is to do the cleanup and then see what we're dealing with.

Speaking words of fandom: let it squee, let it squee.
Madrugada MOD Zzzzzzzzzz Relationship Status: In season
Feb 20th 2017 at 4:42:46 PM

That's covered by the Clean it up but take no drastic action at this time. Coming back again after a clean-up to see if it worked is always an open option. It doesn't need to be crownered.

edited 20th Feb '17 4:45:14 PM by Madrugada

...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
Feb 26th 2017 at 8:48:57 AM

Looks like I'm the one to blame here, since I'm the one who added the Mother's Basement example which started this discussion.

Welp, I'm done with TV Tropes. I tried to contribute as much as possible but I always end up making major mistakes that need TLC.

Berrenta MOD Puzzles and archaeology from Texas Relationship Status: Can't buy me love
Puzzles and archaeology
Feb 26th 2017 at 10:12:57 AM

~Divine Flame 100

It would be better if you learn from your mistakes. You will get nothing worthwhile from quitting entirely after realizing you did something wrong.

Feb 26th 2017 at 11:22:56 AM

This whole page needs major TLC. That Mother's Basement entry might have been the catalyst, but it was hardly the cause.

Anyway, consensus is overwhelmingly in favor of an example and wick cleanup effort over the other options put forward, so we can probably call this and move on with the cleanup.

I've already gone through the example page entry-by-entry and given my thoughts in the OP; if I were to clean up the examples myself, it would involve deleting over 90% of what's currently on the page. That's fine by me, but before taking such a drastic action, does anybody want to speak up in favor of keeping and/or reworking any of the examples above that I'd marked as bad?

edited 26th Feb '17 11:28:05 AM by HighCrate

Madrugada Zzzzzzzzzz Relationship Status: In season
Feb 26th 2017 at 1:37:41 PM

I'd say move the bad examples that are missing one aspect to the discussion page, since many of them could be good if the missing element/bias/work/critic is provided. Cut the bad ones either move to the discussion or comment out the ZCEs. I prefer to move them to the discussion page, because commenting them out means the only people who will see them are people who have the page open to edit something else.

edited 26th Feb '17 1:40:55 PM by Madrugada

...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
Feb 26th 2017 at 3:09:11 PM

That would be dumping a LOT of content on the discussion page all at once. A better solution might be to copy the entire page as-is to a sandbox page, put a link to the sandbox in Discussion so folks can peruse at their leisure, and make the cuts to the live page in the meantime.

Feb 26th 2017 at 3:15:41 PM


This isn't the first time I made a mistake that launched an entire page cleanup as a result. I don't know if you remember this but three years back, I made a huge mistake on the Complete Monster anime page by adding an example with no element, which started the whole cleanup of the pages. The mods called me out on it and gave me a warning. I'm sure they will call me out again for this mistake too.

pokedude10 Not Holier than Thou from Texas ya'll.
Not Holier than Thou
Feb 26th 2017 at 8:37:50 PM

[up][up] I agree with using a sandbox. It's clean, easy, and separate from the live page.

edited 26th Feb '17 8:39:20 PM by pokedude10

Generosity is one of the greatest business secrets of all time.

Page Action: Bias Steamroller
20th Feb '17 2:23:23 PM
What would be the best way to fix the page?
At issue:

Total posts: 66

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: