This trope occurs when a character starts a political discussion on an issue which the other characters don't feel to be political at all. ('Political' here is used as an umbrella term for 'political, philosophical, economic, cultural...' - in short, everything people can get into a more or less intellectual argument about).
For example, Alice and Bob
are on vacation in France, and go to visit the Palace of Versailles. Bob marvels at the regal splendour of the centuries-old palace, when suddenly, Alice exclaims: 'Just think of all the misery and oppression the French people were put through so a small elite could live in such luxury! No wonder they revolted
.' Bob (and every other visitor in earshot who happens to speak Alice's language) stares at her dumbfounded, then mutters something along the lines of 'I hadn't looked at it from that
A few weeks later, back home, Alice and Bob are out shopping when they come across a seemingly innocent billboard for a certain line of women's clothing. Alice makes a remark about how the ad is degrading to women, leading Bob to ask, 'What do you mean, degrading to women?' Alice then goes off on a long tract about the ad's supposed misogynistic tendencies.
In both cases, Alice has employed this trope: she has called attention to the political side of something of which Bob, and most other people in their Verse
, were hardly aware that it has
a political side.
There is a sliding scale as to how sympathetically this is portrayed. On the negative extreme, Alice is an annoying pedant
, making Serious Business
out of a trivial matter; on the positive extreme, she's the Only Sane Woman
of the setting, and everyone around her is shallow and/or uncaring. Can lead to Good Is Boring
, as having a political opinion looks less cool
than not caring
Of course, this can be Played for Laughs
if the issue in question is silly enough.
Please bear in mind that, for non-Real Life
examples, whether something fits this trope or not is determined by the reactions of other characters
, not the reactions of the audience. Thus, if one character does this with an issue the audience would also feel to be political, it can still fit this trope if the other characters don't see it that way; and if most or all of the characters in a given setting see the political side of an issue which the audience considers non-political, it doesn't fit this trope. In other words, the disagreement "is this political or not" needs to occur between one character and the rest, not between the characters and the audience.
Not to be confused with What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?
, which is about the audience seeing a political message in a work
which wasn't intended to convey one. Supertrope of Everything Is Racist
. Related to Windmill Political
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- Inverted and deliberately invoked in a series of adverts for the UK's Electoral Commission (aimed at increasing voter turnout) which had a man who "didn't do politics" having to give up all conversations since everything, no matter how mundane, has a political connection somewhere.
- In the First Try Series, Hiruzen decides to enact an educational reform and retest the pass genin candidates after discovering extensive sabotage with the Academy. The other ninja village take it to mean that Konoha is remilitarizing
- In Reservoir Dogs, Mr. Pink gets an infamous Establishing Character Moment when he explains the political philosophy behind tipping, something the other characters had always done unquestioningly. However, Mr. White counters with his own argument about why Mr. Pink's philosophy is flawed.
- In Zwartboek, there is a scene in which a group of Dutch resistance fighters drinks to the Queen; one of them refuses to drink to her, because he is a Communist (and thus opposed to the monarchy). The others don't quite see what the big deal is. This scene was probably meant to symbolise the considerable tensions that arose within the Real Life Dutch resistance movement due to Pillarisation.
- In The Last Days of Disco, one character talks about how much fun she had seeing Lady and the Tramp with her little niece and nephew. Another replies by deconstructing the movie as promoting an unrealistic and self-destructive view towards relationships with the opposite sex, "imprinting on their little psyches the idea that smooth-talking delinquents recently escaped from the local pound are a good match for nice girls from sheltered homes."
Live Action Television
- Inverted by the Penguin in the 1960s Batman television series, when he runs for Mayor of Gotham City; his campaign features 'plenty of girls and bands and slogans and lots of hoopla, but remember, no politics. Issues confuse people.'
- Britta on Community does this all the time. To take one example, at one point Annie complains about how Britta once invoked the Freedom of Information Act to demand a copy of the notes Annie made in class.
- Beth on Pramface, repeatedly. In one episode she gets kicked out of a jewelry store because she gets into an argument about blood diamonds, in another she attempts to replace all the hymnals in a church with The God Delusion.
- Bernard Marx from Brave New World does this constantly. He is very much on the positive side of the sliding scale (i.e. the Only Sane Man variety).
- Similarly, Guy Montag from Fahrenheit 451.
- George Orwell - from whom this trope's name is a direct quote - was truly notorious for this. His friend Cyril Connolly once said about him that he 'couldn't blow his nose without moralising on conditions in the handkerchief industry.'
- Case in point: Orwell managed to end an essay about toads on a political note.
- In Ménage à 3, this trope is parodied in a Flash Back in which Yuki calls a banana flambé 'oppressive' and the waiter who is trying to serve her this dessert a 'patriarchal phallocrat.' It's parody because she does this out of her "phallophobia", not out of any genuine feminist conviction.
- Tajel from PHD often does this.
- Played for laughs in Sluggy Freelance here.
Gwynn: Anyone want to split an order of buffalo fingers?
: You know, the Native American Indians used to use every part of the buffalo. Nothing went to waste. Then the white man came and killed off whole herds of buffalo for only their fingers!
Gwynn: I'll have the spinach quiche.
Riff: Don't get Torg started on the sociological ramifications of wimpy egg-products!
- Homestuck- Kankri Vantas tends to go on long winded speeches about seemingly trivial matters that may or may not be important.
- Huey from the Boondocks always sees political conspiracies in everything. He's right roughly half the time.