Activist Fundamentalist Antics

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Let's say that you are right and everyone else is wrong, but everyone outside your little group of like-minded righteous people is simply too dumb to understand that you are superior. Surely, you would be tempted to try to reach their hearts by methods that might seem a little silly and counterproductive?

A character doing Activist Fundamentalist Antics is likely to shout all the wrong slogans at all the wrong places: religious gatherings, family holiday dinners, even funerals. They might make botched attempts at Easy Evangelism or Epiphany Therapy, coming across as a general Jerkass. They are likely to step on all toes, including their own, and trip over their own feet in all sorts of ways. One hallmark of this mentality is the desire to forbid other people from living their lives — not because they involve the character in the violation of some taboo and not because they disobey some "universal" morality derived from the faith, but simply because they exist and isn't a part of the character's Small Secluded World. Some psychologists have argued that the reason why some cultists are behaving like this is that they are desperately trying to convince themselves of the righteousness of their cause.

When The Fundamentalist (or any other fanatic) is played this way, they can still be scary. There might be a real risk that they'll go off the deep end and bring out the Torches and Pitchforks or resort to Honor-Related Abuse. Then again, it might also turn out that whatever Windmill he was fighting was No Mere Windmill after all.

Extra bonus points if two or more groups are doing this at the same time against each other. This might lead to spineless authorities giving in to both sides, resulting in particularly surreal and hilarious cases of Political Correctness Gone Mad.

Silly, scary, or both, while the person doing Activist Fundamentalist Antics is often genuinely unsympathetic, it is not always so. They can have other redeeming qualities, or be on the right track but are taking it too far. They might also be wrestling with their life, conscience, and/or world-view.

Note that a character doesn't have to be an organized activist to be this trope, taking an activist attitude is enough.

Please note that this trope relies on how attitudes and behaviors are portrayed within the narrative of a work, and is thus incapable of having Real Life examples: While everyone agree that there's a lot of silly Activist Fundamentalist Antics in Real Life, there will never be a consensus on which groups are this trope and which ones are not.

Compare Straw Loser and Black and White Insanity. Contrast Against My Religion, where the character personally refuses to do things that he considers to be against his religion, rather than trying to bully everyone else into behaving the same way. Also contrast The Soulsaver and Soulsaving Crusader, which can contain behavior that would be this trope if it weren't justified within the narrative. A particularly over-the-top Soapbox Sadie might act this way for every new cause that pops into her head.

While there are people like this, No Real Life Examples, Please

Examples of Activist Fundamentalist Antics include:


Comic Books[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In The Verse of Chick Tracts, a real Christian would never resort to this kind of behavior. (They sometimes do stuff that would be this trope if it wasn't for the convenient power of Easy Evangelism - such as using people's personal tragedies as a good time to tell them that they are going to hell unless they join the one true religion. But never mind that.)

Film[edit | hide]

  • Easy A: Marianne's group is shown doing this. First against the basketball team, then against Olive. Picketing fellow students with hateful slogans, Westboro Baptist Church Style, yay...
    • Interestingly, Marianne and her lancer, Nina, are shown to be really loving and caring people. This strongly indicates that the reason they are such jerks with their antics is that they believe they don't have a choice - that it's somehow their holy duty to act as if they were psychopaths.
  • Inverted in Never Let Me Go: no matter how horrible things get, no one ever show any outrage against the system. Two of the three protagonists have emotional outbursts of dissaproval and almost hate, but always aimed at themselves.
  • Saved. The entire movie. They're all religious fundamentalists, but some are more saved than others.
  • God Bless America: Not only Westboro Baptist Church and the other groups featured, but also Frank himself.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Archbishop Loris is very much given to this. His interactions with the Mearan Pretender, Caitrin, and her husband, Sicard, are frequently punctuated with streams of invective against Deryni generally and Kelson and Duncan in particular, along with darkly dismissive assessments of the fates of Caitrin's daughter and younger son after they are taken to Kelson's court. Unfortunately for Henry Istelyn and Duncan McLain, Loris goes far beyond verbal pyrotechnics.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • One Boston Legal episode had two religious groups suing each other for blasphemy-related charges.
  • On True Blood, we have the Fellowship of the Sun, a cult running on a quite scary flavor of silliness.
    • Except that Rev. Steve Newlin, the leader of said cult, is now a vampire - the very creature he campaigns against.
  • Virgilia in the North And South miniseries is a particularly scary example. At first, she was merely ruining family dinners and such, but she eventually goes off the deep end and even calls down a lynch mob on her own home. The saddest part is that her family actually agreed all along with the core of her political agenda, what they can't stand is her extreme Black and White Morality.
  • Penn and Teller Bullshit portrays various groups this way. For example, PETA.
    • Or rather, they are very fond of making sure to get the footage of the groups acting this way, rather than a more "rational" response stated at another date. As per Penn's own description, "Fair, and EXTREMELY biased."
  • In Parks and Recreation, there is the minor recurring character, Marcia Langman, the spokeswoman for the Society for Family Stability Foundation. In "Pawnee Zoo", she tries to get Leslie to annul a gay penguin wedding since "when gays marry, it ruins marriage for the rest of us." Later in "Time Capsule", she denounces the Twilight books as "There are girls quivering. There are boys staring deeply into girls' eyes as they quiver and so forth. There really is a tremendous amount of quivering. It is anti-Christian. It is pro-quivering."
    • What makes that second example even funnier was that another group also denounced the Twilight books for the opposite reason: they found the books too Christian (presumably because they were written by a Brigham Young University graduate).
  • In one Law and Order SVU episode, a guy has tried for eight years to get his kidnapped brother back. The police and everyone else stopped caring many years ago, so he resorted to kidnapping and raping a woman just to get the police's attention. Oh, and the woman is, of course, in on it, pulling off a little Romanticized Abuse show to the audience as her "rape" gets broadcasted on the web.
  • In various Swedish shows, we have the comedy group Grotesco performing their song "Bögarnas Fel" ("Blame Everything On The Gay Men"). One of the most famous versions was held at the extremely popular show "Singalong at Skansen" just a few days before the Stockholm Pride Parade. Here, shown with English subtitles. (Click the "subtitles" button, one of the buttons to the right at the bottom.) Of course, the wordplay jokes and some other nuances are lost in translation, but it's still hilarious. (For example, the Swedish word for Double Standard technically literally means "twice as much morality", which is played with in the initial speech.) Note the cheering people waving pride flags.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In World of Warcraft, the Omnicidal Maniac cult Twilight's Hammer took on this role as they did their recruitment drive just before the release of Cataclysm. Oh, and [insert your own character's name here] got to run around shouting silly slogans as s/he infiltrated the cult.
  • Slave Maker: As a result of their constant Abuse Mistake, the would-be rescuers end up "freeing" slaves against their will, resulting in slaves escaping from "freedom" and running back to their master or mistress.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Seymour of Sinfest often fall into this territory. See the trope illustration, where even God dismisses him as a "loony fanboy".

Web Original[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • One South Park episode ended with a ban on secular Christmas as well as religious Christmas, all thanks to Kyle's mother. They ended up staging a production by New York minimalist composer Philip Glass, which included all the children in black leotards and doing interpretive dance.
  • On Drawn Together, Princess Clara is prone to this. At one point, she wishes Xandir and his new boyfriend live happily ever after...until God throws them both in the fiery pits of Hell, of course.