6 new, fresh, modern, secular alternatives to the angel and devil on your shoulders trope
an incredibly dumb list
Do you struggle with expressing how you simultaneously have opposing sides to your personality and tendencies without evoking the tired—and overtly religious—angel and devil on your shoulders trope?
Who hasn’t been there countless times before? Except for, well, religious people I suppose. So without further ado, here are some new, fresh, modern, secular alternatives to spice up your analogies!
1. Mr. Rogers vs. Gordon Ramsay
Who could possibly be more nice, caring, or loving than Mr. Rogers? Nobody, that’s who! Great angel choice to add to your repertoire. On the other hand, Gordon Ramsay takes a certain pleasure in berating just about everyone—including his own family, I presume.
Let’s say you’re struggling with whether or not to polish off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. He would make you hold the pint on one of your cheeks and the spoon on the other and say, “What are you? You’re an idiot ice cream sandwich, that’s what! Now finish that pint!”
2. Philanthropist Guy Fieri vs. super annoying Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives Guy Fieri
This might be the freshest, most modern duo on the list. Be careful using it with anyone who isn’t woke enough to know that Guy Fieri is apparently a nice person who doesn’t just talk too damn loud, yell “Welcome to Flavortown!” any chance he gets, and tempt you with ridiculously huge portions of tasty, tasty, not-at-all-healthy-for-you slabs of meat.
He wouldn’t just tell you to finish the pint of ice cream, he would say, “Let’s add some bacon to make it bombtastic! Winner, winner bacon ice cream dinner, my man!”
3. Gandhi vs. Stalin
I know what you’re thinking, “What about Hitler?” Don’t get me wrong, Hitler was certainly evil. But if he was on your shoulder, would you really listen to him? I mean, he would look at the pint, then look at you and say, “Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live.” Geez, relax man, it’s just ice cream.
Gandhi is an obvious choice for the angel, and not only since he kind of dressed like one. And Stalin was sort of like Hitler Light. Need I say more?
4. Girl Scout vs. Frat Guy
Notice I didn’t write Boy Scout. That’s because you can’t join if you don’t believe in “a God or comparable higher power.” I guess only believing in God can help you tie a square knot. Who knew?!
Girl Scouts don’t get hung up on what you believe—or don’t believe—and instead promote compassion, courage, confidence, character, leadership, entrepreneurship, and active citizenship. I’ll be honest, I had to look those up. I mostly like their cookies and it seems like they do good things.
Do I really need to explain Frat Guy to you? Frat guys are notorious for making really bad decisions, especially with their hazing rituals. You wouldn’t want Frat Guy perched on your shoulder slurring, “Dude, what if you added vodka to that ice cream?”
5. Michelle Obama vs. Ann Coulter
Barack said it best himself: “I couldn’t have done anything that I’ve done without Michelle.” She sounds like a pretty solid angel who would whisper some good stuff in your ear like, “When the ice cream gets low, we go high…up in the freezer where we can’t reach it.”
Where do I even start with Ann Coulter? I mean, she thinks a little exposure to radiation after a nuclear fallout could reduce cases of cancer and she believes God gave us the Earth so we could “take it” and “rape it.” In other words, she sounds like one of those frat guys.
6. Lisa Simpson vs. Mr. Burns
I originally thought of Ned Flanders as the angel but then remembered he’s a super religious character and would likely be fond of the angel and devil metaphor. Plus, hearing him say, “Why don’t you diddly-do the right thing and save the rest of that ice cream for tomorrow, okilly dokilly?” might make you want to smash the pint over his hi-diddly-head.
Lisa would no doubt dish out some solid reasoning backed by extensive research. While Mr. Burns would not only get you to finish the ice cream but somehow convince you to buy his knock-off Burns & Gerry’s ice cream made by underpaid workers—and sold at inflated prices.
Please use these fresh, modern, secular alternatives wisely1.
Which one was your favorite? Do you have any other ideas for alternatives? Let me know in the comments.
And by all means, eat as much damn ice cream as you want2.
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