The government, or a
government, is fully run by stupid, ignorant, or crass invididuals. Often they are very good at giving long-winded speeches (sometimes logical, sometimes banal), but otherwise, don't know their ass from a teakettle.
If they are self-centered and can't ever agree on anything, the government may also be a Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering
Does not have to be evil or malevolent or even deliberately negligent.
Sometimes it is because they are corrupt. Sometimes it is because The People Are Stupid
, and can't elect smart people -- or because there aren't any to elect.
There may be one or two smart people in government. They may take advantage of the situation, they may even actually be Running The Show
. Or, they may be sincere, but their efforts are constantly neutered by the idiocy of his superiors or colleagues. They may often Tell You So
, but nobody seems to catch on.
Naturally, No Real Life Examples, Please!
The list of works in which this trope appears is so infinitely numerous, I'm surprised I can't find any trope for it here.
- Birth of a Nation - Skewers Reconstruction Era politicians, particularly carpetbaggers, and more particularly, black politicians.
- Doctor Strangelove - Many issues, but especially the general's obsession on "gaps": Nuclear missile gap. Mine shaft gap. And the eponymous Doctor being deemed an expert advisor by them.
President: You men can't fight in here, this is the War Room!
- The Great Dictator - Skewers Nazi Germany in this way. Chaplin's pseudo-Hitler is obsessive and comedic.
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Trope Namer, though a technically non-governmental version. But it's the namer because the term has become ubiquitous in critiques of government.
- Mars Attacks!
President: I'd like to remind the American people that they still have 2 of the 3 branches of government working for them -- and that ain't bad!
- Parks and Recreation
- Spin City - Particularly the mayor is a bumbling idiot, trying at worst to mildly abuse his position, and at best being way too naive about public opinion. If it weren't for his staff, he'd be helpless. As for them, his press secretary Paul is also fairly naive and dim to the point of childishness.
- DC Follies - Politicians (and other celebrities) portrayed by muppets, and parodied. Nuff said.
- Idiocracy, to a logical extreme. To be fair, pretty much everyone is dumb, and the government is simply dumbness elevated.
- Blazing Saddles - Lamarr is pretty dumb, but La Petomaine is even dumber.
- Spaceballs - Mel Brooks really has a dim view of government...
Scroob:' 1-2-3-4-5? Remind me to change the combination on my luggage.
- The video for Genesis' "Land of Confusion". Like D.C. Follies, the U.S. government leadership is portrayed by caricatured puppets, particularly Reagan, who bumbles and dodders and believes he is Superman. He nukes Russia by accident when he hits the wrong button to call for a hospice nurse.
- Since the puppet design and work was done by UK parodist puppeteers Spitting Image, their own show would qualify as well.
- Pretty much anything involving Ronald Reagan's presidency.
- Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister
- Endless bits from Monty Python, but most blatantly, the election results sketch. ("Silly Party", etc.)
- Such as the Ministry of Silly Walks.
- Also the People's Front of Judea et al, as well as Pontius Pilate, in Life of Brian.
Pilate: Centuwion, Why do they... titter so?
Centurion: ...Stupid Jewish joke, my lord.
- Star Trek VI when the Federation President is being advised on options to rescue Kirk. Luckily, he's not as dumb as them.
- Blackadder, especially II and III.
- In II, Elizabeth I has the mental age of a five year old.
- In III, George III is insane, and the Prince Regent is an out of touch noble and effete fop.
- W - Pretty much everyone in the government is a caricature of their real-life examples. Condi Rice is perhaps the worst, performed with an extra-annoying voice and persona. Colin Powell likewise is made to be wimpy. W for his part, is made to look completely moronic. Even his preacher appears to realize this after W has his epiphany. Karl Rove is downright Aspy, and Cheney, while not clearly stupid, is megalomanaical and catty.
- That's My Bush - A farce imagining of George W. Bush as a sitcom character.
- Any Saturday Night Live sketch involving government or politicians.
George H. W. Bush: Let me sum up. On track, stay the course. Thousand points of light.
Michael Dukakis: I can't believe I'm losing to this guy!
- Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, when the boy's irreverent use of the PA system causes the entire Congress to break into adolescent laughter.
- Hogan's Heroes - Nazis again. Klink is inept at his job, and even his sligthly less inept superiors, like the cocky Burkhalter, knows it. Schultz is a big dumb oaf who knowingly ignores the prisoners' plans in order to keep his job. A group of scrappy PO Ws basically run the entire camp, and routinely go off grounds, completely under the nose of the witless and neurotically self-obsessed camp administration.
- "Springtime for Hitler", especially as performed, in The Producers. In the Play Within a Play, as ultimately performed, Hitler is blatantly camped up, implying that he's really a fun-loving evil goofball.
- Heil Honey, I'm Home, somewhat; Hitler is portrayed as an embattled sitcom father.