Compassionate Critic

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To all their little weaknesses I open people's eyes;
And little plans to snub the self-sufficient I devise;
I love my fellow creatures-- I do all the good I can--
Yet ev'rybody says I'm such a disagreeable man!

And I can't think why!
King Gama of Princess Ida

A person who believes, or pretends to believe that being bluntly negative in any evaluation of another person or object is for their own good, far better than using tact or encouragement. This can be a sincere thing, or a thin excuse for being a Jerkass.

For example, a parent who tells their kid that their attempts at art are abysmal and worthless, because they want the child to go into the family business, which (the parent thinks) will be better for them in the long run.

Or the coach who constantly insults and demeans their players in order to motivate them to do better.

Or the person who is just plain unpleasant to everyone because other people won't fix their flaws unless you point them out in detail, repeatedly.

If the compassionate critic's victim actually cares about their opinion and wants to earn their approval, this overlaps with "Well Done, Son" Guy. Drill Sergeant Nasty adopts this technique during the early part of training, though the competent ones will vary the routine once their troops improve. This is also a favorite tactic of the Evil Matriarch. If the Compassionate Critic is actually paid to give their opinions on a field of endeavor, this overlaps Straw Critic.

A related Internet Persona is the "concern troll", who assures the group a forum is based around that he has their best interests at heart, and "you feminists would get a lot more done if you weren't always nagging about wanting equal rights" or "by being fans of shows that haven't been commercially released in your area, you anime fans are destroying the anime importation industry."

In Reality TV, the compassionate critic will always offer (hurtful) unsolicited advice to the other contestants; act as a talebearer, keeping any minor disagreements stirred up to a high simmer; and, in shows where someone is voted out, will often spearhead at least one effort to vote out another player "for their own good".

See also "The Reason You Suck" Speech.

Compare/Contrast Constructive Criticism. If anyone else tries to criticize the critic's target, may lead to Hypocritical Heartwarming.

Examples of Compassionate Critic include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Fakir from Princess Tutu speaks this way towards Mytho practically all the time, calling him an "idiot" and telling him what he can and can't do. It turns out that Mytho has had brushes with death in the past because of his heartless nature (well, his heartless nature and the whole 'jumping out of windows to save falling birds (that can fly)' thing), and Fakir believes that bossing him around is the only way to protect him.
  • Sailor Moon: Rei Hino and Luna in the anime.
  • Ranma ½: Ranma Saotome. Raised by a maniacal martial artist father who believes psychotic abuse is the only way to teach martial arts, Ranma grows up being very insulting and critical of Akane, his unwilling fiancee who also happens to be a highly insecure Tsundere. He never seems to understand the connection between referring to her as clumsy and unskilled and her subsequent hitting him in the head with a mallet or her Megaton Punch.
  • Naruto: Umino Iruka acts this way towards Naruto in the first chapter; he reveals this is because he recognizes himself in his student and wants Naruto to do better, so he's always pushed him. Of course, after the first chapter he's nice as can be, probably because he realized that Naruto didn't know why he acted like that and thought he was just a Jerkass .
  • In Chrono Crusade, Satella is this way towards Azmaria at first, since her own mother was this way towards her as a child. Chrono convinces her—with the help of a memory that her sister used to be much more encouraging—that this isn't the best way to help Azmaria improve.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Soul Music: Susan Sto-Helit. She constantly points out how stupid other people are and can't understand why they don't just change.
  • Twilight: Edward Cullen is like this towards Bella, often calling her stupid, fragile, weird, etc. Either he's very devoted to keeping her alive and improving her or he's just an asshole.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Simon Cowell on American Idol, when he drops his Mean Brit image. This trope applies to Ian "Dicko" Dickson from Australian Idol pretty much all the time—although he was originally hired as "the nasty judge" he's not mean for the sake of being mean. In any case, the role of "nasty judge" has been taken over by Kyle Sandilands (who initially replaced Dicko, then was a judge alongside him when Dicko returned to the show).
  • Chef Gordon Ramsay on Hells Kitchen. Of course, he's better known for being a Mean Brit (and thus this is the angle they push in his shows), but the compassionate side comes through on Kitchen Nightmares when he interacts with people who listen to him and respect his input, as opposed to the standard egotistical Reality Show Jerkasses he deals with on Hells Kitchen.
  • Dr. John Becker of Becker fame goes between this as Jerkass in his personal life, but in his professional life, he's this fairly exclusively, yelling at his patients in order to get them to listen and straighten up.
  • Dr. Cox in Scrubs is an excellent example of this, though at the same time he seems to put so much effort into some of his insults (i.e. calling JD by a different girl's name every day), it's hard to believe he doesn't derive some sadistic pleasure from it.
  • There's always at least one of these on just about every reality show, ever. Expect them to justify their behavior with "It's just who I am." and/or I'm Not Here to Make Friends.
  • Screenwipe Charlie Brooker comes across as this. Mind you, there's plenty of stuff he'll dismiss as irredeemable too.

Theater[edit | hide]

  • King Gama of Princess Ida by Gilbert and Sullivan introduces himself with a song that indicates he's this kind of person.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Whateley Universe: Jobe Wilkins, at the Super-Hero School Whateley Academy. He talks down to everyone, no matter how competent they may be. At the Whateley Weapons Fair (don't ask), most of his appearances are as he walks up to a student vendor and lambastes him or her for design flaws. Except for his last appearance at the Weapons Fair, where he demonstrates that he really knows what he's talking about.
  • The blogger John Solomon and his followers/commentors present themselves as this.
  • Zero Punctuation: Yahtzee Croshaw styles himself as this (in the vein of his inspiration, Charlie Brooker) when he takes the time to notice the endless accusations that he "just hates video games", retorting that he only rips on games because he sees "potential being squandered in mediocrity". Indeed, even with games he admittedly liked, he tends to focus more on the aspects he had a problem with, at least partly because that's what helps make his videos both entertaining and thought-provoking.

Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Most of the cast of Something*Positive are often like this, especially Davan and Aubrey.
  • In Red String, Kenta really seems to think that belittling Kazuo will make him into the man he wants him to be.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Jay Sherman, eponymous character of The Critic, only panned every schlock movie he ever saw because he believed that if people continued to watch bad movies, Hollywood would continue to make bad movies.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Norman Osborn mercilessly critiques his son Harry in this way, dismissing all of his problems while criticizing his sucesses. ("Football? Not really your strong suit is it?") He even manages to critique Harry by praising his best friend Peter Parker, in a way that makes it clear that Harry is a failure by comparison. As a result, Harry has issues.
  • Anton Ego of Pixar's Ratatouille could be one of these. He is the most feared restaurant critic in Paris, who brutalizes any chef who, he feels, doesn't measure up. However, it is also implied that he has simply lost his feel for the joy of food in general.
  • In Thundercats 2011, The Lancer Tygra is one to his adoptive younger brother, Rebel Prince Lion-O, frequently criticizing his many deficiencies and his failure to conform to Thunderian Proud Warrior Race culture or their father's expectations. This stems from Tygra's deep resentment that as The Dutiful Son, he has no chance at the throne, while Lion-O, an irresponsible Cloudcuckoolander, has the necessary Royal Blood and status as The Chosen One.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Every military drill instructor everywhere. They really do want you to succeed, no matter how it sounds.
    • It also essential that they figure out who just can't succeed. Failing to cut it in training is one thing. Failing to do so in the field can be dangerous to both the person in question and anyone else present.
    • Additionally, eliminating those who can't make it early is a mercy onto them, saves the taxpayers' money, and allows those with a shot more attention. This is true in any type of training with a decent wash-out rate, from military training to law school. Dropping a student who can't make it opens a seat up for another student and prevents a student from accumulating debt and wasting time.
  • Parents. Especially parents who are stricter and have high expectations for their children.