While a good movie or show is fun, there's just nothing like the visceral pleasure of taking apart a bad one. And sometimes hating something popular is what defines a crowd, especially if, despite its popularity, it's actually pretty bad. Not terrible, not pitiful, just boringly bad.
Of course, in order to hate it to its fullest potential, you need to watch it and find out why it's so terrible.
Snark Bait refers to any popular work that evokes a desire to watch specifically to mock and join other people mocking. It's often a generic Hollywood blockbuster, or best-selling book. It's usually so formulaic you can see the trope list hanging off it, or so poorly fact-checked that 640k could pick it apart.
Either way, everyone is going to be complaining about it, and you wouldn't want to be left out of slagging off all those idiots who gave up their money and time for such junk. Or the derision of stupidity with the passwords halfway and the predictability of the ending. So, of course, you need to buy it yourself. That'll show 'em!
Sometimes this may be an inversion of "Get the Sensation" marketing: ostensibly the subject of transaction is a specific product (face value of which usually is presumed subpar in the first place), but what the audience actually wanted is validation of its views and sense of superiority over fictional opponents, and this value usually is received (which is why the participant is in fact a loyal customer of the purportedly "inferior" product).
As a Troper, good Snark Bait can lead to seeing how far off you can see the Treacherous Advisor, which characters are secretly related, or playing Trope Bingo or a trope Drinking Game with them. On the plus side, seeing a trope done badly can help you see what it is, and appreciate when it's done well.
It often displays some of the following tropes:
- Anachronism Stew
- Cliché Storm
- Did Not Do the Research
- Discredited Trope
- Hollywood Style
- Idiot Plot
- Follow the Leader
- Magical Computer
- Mary Sue
- National Organization for Marriage's "Gathering Storm" ad has gathered quite a bit of this. Just try searching for it on YouTube. Almost every result is a parody of some kind. This is not unexpected of course, given that it's melodramatic enough to be a Stealth Parody to begin with.
- An Italian spot with Manuela Arcuri promoting a book entitled Il labirinto femminile inspired countless Youtube parodies due to its amateurish direction, poor acting, creepy Soundtrack Dissonance and the overall bad quality of the book itself. It even contains a word ("strategismo") that doesn't exist in Italian. Here it is.
- It Got Worse. The most recent version of that spot featured Karima El Marthoug, a.k.a. Ruby, the girl (under age at the time) Prime Minister Berlusconi has been accused of having had mercenary sex with. During the spot, she gets undressed by a guy with a Phantom of the Opera mask. Oh, and the direction is still amateurish, the (rest of the) acting is still poor, the soundtrack is still creepy and the book is still bad, thanks for asking.
- Not to mention the one starring Lele Mora, the TV agent with Fascist sympathies involved in the Corona scandal.
- "America's Navy: A Global Force for Good". Whether you disagree or just think it's Narmfully Hammy, it's hard to deny this slogan's Snark Bait quotient.
- Many ads, posters, and articles from the 1940's and 50's weren't considered Snark Bait in their own time, but contain Values Dissonance that people enjoy laughing at decades later. Adding naughty captions to prim-and-perfect media of the period is also popular.
- Rick Perry's "Strong" ad has launched a meme based on making fun of it.
- Political ads in general are prone to this, since they seldom have the slightest hint of subtlety. Attack ads in particular have a tendency to be so melodramatic in their negativity that it leads to Narm.
- The "Head On" commercials. How can you not make fun of a commercial that consists of nothing but "Head On: Apply directly to the forehead" repeated over and over?
Anime and Manga
- Yu-Gi-Oh! is excellent Snark Bait, as evidenced by its abridged series.
- The School Days anime. The nature of the OVAs imply that the creators have either gleefully embraced this, or had planned it all along.
- Apocalypse Zero, MD Geist, Genocyber (to a certain degree), the Fist of the North Star movie, Cybernetics Guardian, Cyber City Oedo 808... old anime in general has this going on.
- Code Geass had a "trainwreck" following, especially during the run of its second season but also during the later stages of the first. Most of those people only watched it to see the show top its own over-the-top-ness, to pick apart the increasingly bizarre plot, and to laugh at the Narm.
- Guilty Crown seems to be, surprisingly enough, developing a proportionally greater "trainwreck" following than Code Geass despite not being quite as popular overall, as a result of the show having dull or unsympathetic characters, similarly bad twists, an obsession with rape or even more bizarre fetishes and perhaps equal or greater Narm fodder. There's not even a Broken Base this time around.
- Bleach is considered to have Jumped the Shark and has become Snark Bait even among the fandom. Kubo is considered a Troll so much that "Tite Kubo trolled my fandom" has sadly become a meme among bleach fans.
- In xxxHolic Watanuki is an in-universe example due to his Keet behavior.
- Kämpfer can be considered as this due to the fact that no matter how much dense Natsuru is to the point it's already irritating, viewers still couldn't stop watching the show week after week.
- All Star Batman and Robin. Comic book fans may argue over anything from Wolverine's degree of badassery to Supergirl's skirt, but the only argument about ASBAR (aka "ASSBATS") is whether or not its suck was intentional.
- Comics by Jack Chick. Here, look (possibly NSFW). Those, sadly, become much less funny when a ten-year-old girl, with fervent earnestness, gives you one.
- In the interests of full disclosure, we should note the excerpt in that link is a Gag Dub.
- Chris Sims has more than a few words to say about the Anita Blake comics.
- Fanfiction in general falls into this. Many people refer to it as "the proof of Sturgeon's Law", and few will deny that the vast majority of fanfiction consists of reprehensible Mary Sue wanking, paint-by-numbers romance with no real purpose other than a desire to attack another pairing/write about characters screwing, idiotic LOLRANDOM Crack Fic, potentially decent stories that last updated around the invention of fire, and unreadable vomit that could possibly have been written by banging one's head against a keyboard. Of course, that really just makes the good stuff all the better.
- Many online communities are devoted to the sporking and mocking of bad fanfics (especially Mary Sue fics).
- Celebrian, a Lord of the Rings fanfic consisting of lots of torture porn and little else, continues to get circulated in spite of being both squicky and dull because of the hilarity many people find in both it and the reactions it generates. It's sort of similar to The Eye of Argon in that regard.
- My Immortal is probably the single most widely circulated fanfic ever created specifically because of this trope. It's probably more Bile Fascination and So Bad It's Good than Snark Bait, but both still apply.
- Completely and utterly averted by Agony in Pink, which is so unpleasant that it is nearly unreadable.
- My Inner Life.
- Starkit's Prophecy. So Bad It's Good, with lots and lots of Rouge Angles of Satin, not to mention a Mary Sue as The Hero, it makes for a good platform for a snarky review.
- Pornographic fanfiction gets this a lot.
- Naruto Veangance Revelaitons; for the same reasons as the previously mentioned My Immortal, My Inner Life, and Starkits Prophecy.
- Batman and Robin is nowadays watched only so people can complain about its ungodly levels of Camp. And the Batnipples. You can't forget the Batnipples.
- Star Wars. Prequels just made the target bigger and more tempting. There's a lot of hits, from poking fun at retcons and the excess of Hollywood Science, Hollywood Tactics and/or Romantic Plot Tumors to fan theories and a whole webcomic aimed to re-interprete or re-render series in a way that would make more sense than the Canon. Or just "A Bit Silly".
- Once people realize how much cash Uwe Boll makes off of snarkers coming to his movie to make fun of them, the films'll probably start seeming a lot less funny.
- This is probably what Boll would like to believe, but his Hatedom really isn't big enough to put his profits into the positive. Not that he's motivated by the revenue at the box office end, so his works have become an Acceptable Target for piracy—people less often pay to trash them, they (allegedly) simply steal them to trash them.
- The Wizard (film) has a cult following in the video game culture dedicated to tearing it apart for its laughable inaccuracies and blatantly Merchandise-Driven nature.
- Asteroid movie. Probably worth watching - if you have bile deficiency and readily available can of Brain Bleach... or properly perverted sense of humor.
- Battlefield Earth starts off as Bile Fascination, but becomes Snark Bait on repeated viewings.
- The same goes with Gigli, if only to see the lack of chemistry between then-star couple Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck (and J-Lo's infamous and strangely prophetic "It's turkey time..." line).
- Anything by Seltzer and Friedberg.
- Also, anything by M. Night Shyamalan (except The Sixth Sense and possibly Unbreakable).
- Night Watch. Sergey Lukyanenko suffers this in general, in part for the same reasons as Dan Brown, in part for his behaviour when he doesn't like something. But The Movie took a cake. In the face. It was hooted at both for parts that are faithful to the original—by his critics—and parts that aren't—since even his fans consider it a terminal case of Adaptation Decay.
- The Garbage Pail Kids Movie.
- The So Bad It's Good Cult Classic, Troll 2. It almost a tradition at this point to say, with Arnold, "They're eating her! And now they're gonna eat me! OH MY GOOOOOOOOD!" More cynical snarkers enjoy the incredibly vague popcorn scene and the protagonist urinating on the family dinner for no apparent reason.
- On a similar note, Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. Watch some of it here.
- The Room.
- Cool as Ice, which can be best described as "The Room, with Vanilla Ice".
- Most of the classic Godzilla and Gamera films. Bonus points if you're watching the English dubs.
- Practically any movie by Ed Wood.
- Frozen can be considered this, with its unlikable Too Dumb to Live characters and wandering packs of wolves.
- Almost any film that was ever covered on Mystery Science Theater 3000, but perhaps most especially Manos: The Hands of Fate and Puma Man.
- Movies such as Freedom Writers and Dangerous Minds are often parodied because of their predictable Save Our Students plots (Lean on Me gets a pass because A: It's Morgan Freeman, and B: he inspires students by being a completely unforgiving hard-ass).
- Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle is one of the biggest examples, primarily due to accusations of being unoriginal.
- With all the crap Paolini gets, you have to feel a little sorry for the guy when you learn he started writing the series when he was only sixteen years old. It probably started out as some sort of fan-fiction-y amalgam of all his favorite fantasy series.
- The Sword of Truth series is a particularly big magnet.
- It seems that a Vocal Minority of Stephenie Meyer's "fanbase" only read Twilight for this reason. Or for the So Bad It's Good factor. Or both.
- John Ringo's Paladin of Shadows series, although it seems to be something of a Stealth Parody. Proven by the fact that he links to most of these reviews and will usually write letters not only supporting many of their accusations, but pointing out inconsistencies and logical failures they missed. Such as the main character would have died about 6 pages into the first book. He called it his Dark Fic. People liked it so he published it and made a shit load of money. Here is a review, which gave us the "Oh John Ringo No" meme.
- The Eye of Argon is possibly the worst fantasy short story ever written ever. Terrible in the extreme, only readable with the help of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew heckling it... yet somehow, impossible not to read (at least once). In places, it has become tradition to stage competitions of how much people could read with a straight face and expressive voice. Three quarters of a page is considered doing extremely well.
- The Da Vinci Code. It looks like a less-than-shiny book assembled from moldy pieces of cryptohistory is not going to be less of a target if advertised as a daring innovative idea and (whispering) maybe even really relevant theory.
- Tyra Banks is writing a fantasy novel about models. No, really.
- The book trilogy in question is titled Modelland, and ends up practically snarking itself. For example SM-ize is an actual word. Really.
- As far as Mark Twain was concerned, the entire body of Fenimore Cooper's work, and especially Deerslayer. This resulted in "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences," a hilarious Take That and early example of what we call Books on Trope.
- According to many Warcraft fans, The Cycle of Hatred.
- Though not remotely popular, the Maradonia Saga has become famous for being made of 100% pure fail. It's not just derivative, it literally plagiarizes from The Bible, has Random words Capitalized for no Reason, random italics, and 'quotes' where none should 'be'. Impishidea.com has sporkings and a drinking game, though it would be better to avoid the game if you don't want to die of alcohol poisoning and/or acute liver failure. The enormous ego of the author is the subject of as much, if not more, snark than the books themselves. SwankiVY sums the whole thing up nicely.
Live Action TV
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 (and its related Fanfic-mocking technique) popularized snark baiting (and pretty much invented the Alternate DVD Commentary community).
- In the UK, few annual events are more fun than gathering around a TV with your friends and/or family to watch and make jokes about the Eurovision Song Contest. Try it; a great time will be had by all.
- In Spain even the commentarist does this.
- American Idol has the "Vote for the Worst", er... party.
- 7th Heaven
- The Secret Life of the American Teenager
- Smallville had headed down that road.
- The Oprah Winfrey Show has this, with people claiming Oprah will or already has her own religion.
- Mob Wives
- Jersey Shore.
- Smash is quickly becoming this.
- News channels that cater to the political party opposite to yours, and that's all there is to say about that.
- Pretty much any show on the E! Network.
- The Oprah Winfrey Show. Common gags include her up and down weight and her cultlike following.
- Star Trek: The Original Series. Which is incidentally This Troper's favorite show, it's just so scientifically inaccurate, and then there are things like Red Shirts and how Kirk always gets away with flirting even the time she was already married, and just all kinds of stuff.
- In the heavy metal community, bashing Nu-metal bands is a popular pastime. Especially hated bands are Slipknot, Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park.
- I Hate Your Blog by MC FrontALot is this trope's unofficial theme song. The tale of a man who repeatedly posts flame comments on an "incredibly terrible" blog telling the blogger to get off the Internet, then complains with equal volume when the blog isn't updated for a while.
- Lampshaded by Jethro Tull on "A Passion Play":
Tell us, is it you who are here
For our good cheer?
Or are we here for the glory
For the story
For the gory satisfaction of telling you how absolutely awful you really are?
Lest one carp, Hilton has been quick to point out that singing is a vocation for which she is eminently skilled. "I know music," she reassured the Sunday Times children's section. "I hear it every single day." [...] While this obviously gives Hilton a massive advantage over those who have never heard any music and thus believe it to be a variety of cheese, there remains the nagging suspicion that this might not represent sufficient qualification for a career as a singer, in much the same way as knowing what a child is does not fully equip you for a career as a consultant paediatrician.
- In general, pretty much any Dead Horse Music Genre is going to be Snark Bait, period.
- R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet. It was so over the top Narmy that it became the source of so much parody and a result more and more people watched it so they could join in on the mocking.
- Rebecca Black's Friday.
- Not to mention, Rebecca Black in general.
- Justin Bieber is major Snark Bait for his Periphery Hatedom. It isn't possible to go onto any metal video on Youtube without comments saying that the only people who dislike the video are Bieber fans.
- Nickelback is the ultimate snark bait band.
- And of course, even Jesus hates Creed.
- Most Disney acts like Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers are also common victims.
- Kidz Bop.
Mythology and Religion
- Erasing Garfield's thought bubbles in Garfield strips shows exactly how much of a loser Jon Arbuckle is.
- Or better yet, erasing Garfield entirely.
- There is probably no one left anywhere who likes Marmaduke unironically... except perhaps Monk.
- Family Circus, thanks to Tastes Like Diabetes and the fact that it ran out of jokes sometime in the '70s. It's spawned several mutations, such as "Dysfunctional Family Circus" and "The Nietzsche Family Circus".
- Not only is there a blog devoted to snarking Funky Winkerbean on a daily basis, but the monthly "FunkyWatch" on ComicsAlliance.com selects the preceding month's "finest examples of crushing despair" for both said comic and Crankshaft.
- Plenty of other strips, due to the influence of The Comics Curmudgeon, who is the Caustic Critic of his chosen medium.
- Armond White's movie reviews, as can be found on The New York Press Website and Rotten Tomatoes, constantly bring vitriol upon those who read them. Seriously, just look at the individual moviepages at Rotten Tomatoes - his will, almost without fail, rack up the most comments. He's gained a reputation for being a completely predictable contrarian, and many suspect he's only looking to gain controversy and thus gain attention for himself (Roger Ebert even called him a Troll). Ironically, his reviews have actually become arguably the most reliable prediction of how good or bad a movie is; if he slams it, it's a good movie, and if he kisses up to it, it's a bad movie.
- Remember that Roger Ebert initially defended White, pointing out that not only is there nothing wrong with challenging consensus position, but White even agrees with the Tomatometer 50% of the time which he considered to be ideal. The biggest problem most people have with White is that the reasons he gives often go above and beyond Epic Fail - to the point that people question whether or not he actually saw the movies he reviewed. For example, he complained about the length of Rapunzel's hair in Tangled and comments that her hair never becomes a problem for her, which is flat out wrong (in the opening song, for example, she laments the length of time she has to spend brushing it).
- Microsoft's Zune player gets this all the time.
- Modern art as a whole, particularly due to True Art Is Incomprehensible.
- An article by Noah Brand traces this marketing strategy to at least 1842 (P.T. Barnum’s American Museum).
- This trope most likely accounts for the entirety of Philips CD-i systems that were purchased at any time during the past ten years.
- Resident Evil 1, the script moreso than the actual gameplay. "You were almost a Jill Sandwich" anyone? What about a gun that's "good against living things"? or "master of unlocking". Don't forget "Wow! What a mansion!", especially with the Fridge Brilliance of Wesker's role later in the game.
- |Sonic the Hedgehog 2006. Video commentaries of this game are for this reason and this reason only.
- Big Rigs Over the Road Racing, which gained infamy when gamers discovered just how hilarious broken it is.
- RuneScape gets this from a lot of people who view it as a poor man's World of Warcraft or EverQuest.
- This trope is so prevalent in regards to Dominic Deegan, sometimes you have to wonder if most of the fanbase is just reading it to make fun of it.
- Most of the "fanbase" for David Gonterman is based on this.
- A double team of The Wotch and Abstract Gender is the perfect bait for snarking, especially from Your Webcomic is Bad and You Should Feel Bad and the Bad Comics Wiki. Here's the BCW review of the Wotch for starters...
- A general rule amongst regulars of Image Boards is that nearly any Ctrl+Alt+Del comic ever made can be made up to 500% funnier by removing the second and third panels. Likewise, this is often done in reverse to other comics by padding the dialogue out into enormous balloons by meticulously explaining every single detail, including the joke, and manipulating all the characters' faces into the same bland expression used by Buckley in his comics.
- Quite possibly the only reason why anyone would willingly read Sonichu.
- There are a lot of people who seemingly read El Goonish Shive in order to bash on the creator suffering from The Chris Carter Effect and a massive Kudzu Plot, as well as mock the Furry Fandom.
- Many people only read Jack for this reason. A site that collects rewrites of the various arcs can be found here.
- Megatokyo is prone to this. Remix comics are very popular.