Thompson: It's the Rapture, Shauna, the Rapture! The virtuous have gone to Heaven, and the rest of us have been... Left Below! We were fools! And because we rejected God (tacitly accepting Satan), we must suffer through the Apocalypse. Buddhist Monk: I thought all religions were a path to God; I was wrong! Scientist: Why did I put my faith in science and technology?! Homosexual: Oh, why did I choose to be gay?!
All writers put something of themselves into their stories, but some of them go just that little bit too far. For them, the real point of writing is not to shape worlds or create characters, but to preach their ideological beliefs.
This is not always a bad thing. For some books, the premise is simply a way of putting a political point across in an interesting and imaginative way. However, when the message come across as forced or one sided, it may prevent some readers from enjoying the book.
Note that this only applies when the entire universe and characters have been created to put forward the author's viewpoint. If an existing fictional universe or character has been altered to create a medium for a tract, then it's due to a Writer on Board (Author Filibuster is an extreme example of that). If the author's just filling up their story with stuff they like, that's Author Appeal. If it's gotten to the point where the tracting (or whatever personal issues the author has) has all but taken over the author's work, then the author has entered Filibuster Freefall.
Contrast What Do You Mean, It's Not Didactic?. May overlap with Artistic License.
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Earth Maiden Arjuna starts out as a fast-paced mature Magical Girl series. Then it quickly veers into very heavy-handed ecological preaching. Tolerable, because the animation is freaking sweet, because Theresa is really Badass and because Juna's transformation is damn cool, but the storyline is still Anvilicious to the point of being distracting, and full to the brim of very bad science about why Science Is Bad.
Another Shoji Kawamori piece, Macross Zero, mixes spectacular mecha battles with the seemingly-opposite message that all warfare is inherently evil. It's set on an island that's a mostly-primitive Eden, inhabited by innocents. The shaman/priestess freaks out over the arrival of UN forces to defend the island, saying they're possessed by evil spirits that are prophesied to destroy everything. For the first half, this is played as "silly superstitious witch doctor". But by the end, you realize that she's absolutely right. The island paradise gets tac-nuked into a wasteland, and only her Heroic Sacrifice keeps the entire world from being obliterated.
You soldiers can decide to live and die by any rules you want, commandant. You can play any games you want, but civilians shouldn't have to lose their lives as a result.
Incidentally, most of this came about of it being based off of World War II.
Osamu Tezuka did this occasionally, but he usually managed to pull it off well. For instance, in Black Jack, Tezuka often criticizes the current state of the medical establishment, lent some weight by the fact that he was trained as a doctor before becoming a manga artist. It rarely feels heavy handed, though because of its wonderful characterization (Black Jack himself is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold with a convoluted Back Story) and the title character's amazing demonstrations of surgical skill. His science fiction stories, including Astro Boy often discuss the dehumanizing effects of modern society technology, but counterpoint it by showing all the good that can come of modern technology. Karma, the 4th (or 5th, depending on the localization) volume of Phoenix series is largely built around Buddhist themes, discussing Karma and reincarnation at length and lamenting the corruption of the Buddhist faith by political interests, but it is widely considered to be Tezuka's greatest masterpiece. The later (and sadly, final) Phoenix story Sun does something similar with Shinto.
Tezuka's science fiction book Apollo's Song did the same as Astro Boy, but touched on the nature of love and romance (not to mention Greek Mythology) as well.
Some of his stories that focus on nature like Kimba the White Lion tend to have a Green Aesop, but Tezuka tends to make it play back-burner to other aesops about family and sacrifice.
Team Medical Dragon was written by Akira Nagai, a practicing doctor — and the manga basically centres around a maverick (but exceedingly skilled) cardiac surgeon and his team fighting against bureaucracy and corruption in the Japanese health services. It's particularly jarring when you realise that all the protagonists are incredibly good-looking compared to most of the antagonists, who are practically caricatures.
The issue with the looks is somewhat taken care of in the live-action version, with the antagonists having a fair amount of attractive people, and Dr. Asada being the only one pointed out to be good-looking.
Only Yesterday sometimes comes across as a tract about the importance of Japanese farming. It avoids being irritating through the sheer quality of the animation and storytelling—and it helps that the monologues are sometimes being interrupted by the character saying that he is getting too serious.
Most of Hayao Miyazaki's movies have at least one segment that preaches the importance of respecting and preserving nature. That is, if the plot itself isn't completely built around the aesop. Miyazaki often protests that he does not make films with the intent of sending messages, he just makes them to entertain and for profit. Fans have a hard time believing that given his criticism about capitalism and globalization.
Additionally, a few of his films contain an anti-war message, which makes sense considering he grew up in the 1940s.
Code Geass has been (and still is) accused of being an anti-American Author Tract by director/co-creator Goro Taniguchi. When asked about the subject, his response was "I know some authors have political messages in their works, but that wasn't my intention; I just wanted to tell an entertaining story." Later, when asked again, he responded "You mean America and Britannia are exactly alike? I had no idea!" In case anyone's confused, it wasn't a "Well, duh" statement — it was more along the lines of: "The US is currently led by an Emperor with WTF-curls who believes that all men are not created equal?"
Having been inspired by its creator's battle with depression, Neon Genesis Evangelion (particularly the ending — both of them) contains numerous sequences containing in-depth discussions of the human condition and concludes with a lengthy expose on the thought process that leads the main character to overcome his own depression, go on living and reject the Assimilation Plot he finds himself a part of. Whether this makes the series impassioned and sincere or pretentious and pedantic depends heavily on who you ask.
The works of Alan Moore frequently stray into Author Tract territory, most notably Promethea, which was a 32-issue series explaining Moore's views on the nature of magic and V for Vendetta which was very much a vehicle for his political views.
Possible subversion: Moore has stated that he wanted to let the reader decide for themselves whether V is a noble freedom fighter or a psychotic terrorist, and portrays V's antagonist, a leader of a fascist party, as sympathetic. If it were an Author Tract, the morality would be more black and white.
If it were a bad Author Tract it would be more black and white. There's nothing saying an Author Tract can't be subtle or well-written.
Alan Moore: "The central question is, is this guy right or is he mad? What do you, the reader, think of this?"
It really doesn't help that most copies of V's trade paperback come frontloaded with Moore's eighties introduction where he quite thoroughly rails on the then-Conservative government in England.
"The Truth for Youth" by Tim Todd are comics done in Japanese style artwork. They're like Chick Tracts, but a bit more sane. It's pretty odd to read Japanese-style characters talking about the evils of porn. They still aren't that sane, however. For example, this statement about evolution:
Rashad: Did you know that evolution is basically a racist concept? Some evolutionists still teach that white people evolved from "negroes" who evolved from apes- meaning "white people are more evolved!"
One Chick Tract explains where the idea came from — Communist China found that Western children loved reading comics, so they decided that easy-to-understand comics would be an excellent medium with which to indoctrinate the people. Even though the comics in question are mostly Japanese.
That said, basically every piece of official publication in Communist dictatorships is an example of this trope.
Dwayne McDuffie would often include his thoughts on race relations in his work. One of the more notable examples would be an issue of Icon which talked about the historical importance of the Blaxploitation superheroes of the 70's, despite the fact that they were often embarrassing stereotypes.
Warren Ellis has specifically stated that Transmetropolitan is basically him venting about his various opinions on politics and consumerism, with the main character being a sort of author surrogate. This is particularly notable in the issue where Spider Jerusalem takes on religion, which doesn't even end properly—the issue concludes with him dressed up as Jesus, tearing up a sort of religious convention in a mall (while giving a long speech about why religion sucks, of course) and getting tackled by security. No mention is made of it afterward.
Transmetropolitan actually does this right, as Spider is just unsympathetic enough to avoid being a Mary Sue 'I am right, you are wrong' type of character. You are left free to disagree with his individual likes and dislikes while sympathizing with his basic humanity, as many characters within the comic itself do. Many of the characters close to Spider constantly complain about what a horrible and unpleasant person he is, frequently abusing and taking advantage of him when he's blitzed on whatever drugs he's managed to come up with. At one point, one of the characters closest to him gets sick of his crap and leaves; but later returns and comments that the worst part of working with such a bastard is that he's the good guy, and actually making a difference.
Well, its either that, or Ellis idealizes JerkassAnti Heroes who happen to be good guys (because they believe what Warren Ellis believes).
Most of Ellis' comics seem to have characters declaring their sociopolitical views, which always are along the same lines, and close to the author's own opinions.
Garth Ennis is fond of these — particularly concerning religion, the Irish and other authors he doesn't like. Above all else, however, he enjoys voicing his dislike of superheroes, beginning early with The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe, continuing on in his run on The Punisher proper and culminating in his current series The Boys.
Averted with Superman, of all superheroes, as while Ennis has written LOTS of Expies of the Man Of Steel in a lot of his comics that make fun of superheroes (The Boys and The Pro come to mind), when actually writing Superman himself (As seen in a issue Hitman along with the Hitman/JLA crossover), he treats him with the upmost respect, unlike Wolverine who is the superhero Ennis HATES the most.
Comically subverted by Grant Morrison when he literally shows up in Animal Man to (among other things) mention that he feels his own writing for the book has become too preachy and contrived.
Dave Sim's Cerebus eventually came to be dominated by Sim's viewpoints on the evils of feminism and his rather unusual take on the Abrahamic religions. An entire story arc was dominated by the title character reinterpreting pretty much the entire Torah.
David Mack's Kabuki started out as action-adventure (though already with some genre savviness and self-reflexivity) and eventually became a meditation on producing independent art (turning the self-reflexivity and self-reference up to 11).
In a borderline case, Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, was an incisive analysis of comics as a medium (though not without its own agendas and prejudices), while the 'sequel,' Reinventing Comics is much more of a personal manifesto.
Sky Doll by Barbara Canepa and Alessandro Barbucci often veers into this territory, which the overall story could be interpreted as an author tract against all religion in general.
Pat Mills was very fond of writing about the evils of Christianity and the glories of Neopaganism in the 80s; Sláine and ABC Warriors were particularly prone to simply becoming mouthpieces for his views on religion. However, he's gotten better about it.
Several times in Wilhelm Busch's stories. Best example may be "Pater Filucius". Gottlieb Michael (the good guy) is generally seen as a stand-in for the good German people, whom the evil Catholic church wants to harm.
Pater Filucius was Busch's contribution to the Kulturkampf, the period of intense conflict between Bismarck's government (supported by the Liberals) on one hand and the Catholic Church and its political arm, the Centre Party after the first Vatican Council declared the Pope to be infallible. Most characters in it are allegorical and have significant names. The German people had long been personified as der deutsche Michel ("German Mike"), rather like the British one was represented by John Bull, because St. Michael was Germany's patron saint. Father Filucius (from the French filou, "crook") is a Jesuit, Gottlieb Michael's two maiden aunts Petrine and Pauline stand for the established Catholic and Protestant churches (the Pope tracing his authority to St. Peter, while Protestants place greater emphasis on the teachings of St. Paul). In the end, Gottlieb marries Angelica, signifying Wilhelm Busch recommending an "Anglican" solution to the centuries-old Catholic-Protestant divide in Germany.
JLA: Act of God is entirely devoted to saying that Batman is right and the only way to fight crime is by being a normal vigilante with no special abilities. And also that superheroes are arrogant because only God should have power, it even goes so far as to have Wonder Woman convert to Catholicism, in spite of her being an Amazon, who has met Greek gods before. Worse when you consider that God explicitly exists in the DC-verse and clearly knows about and approves of them, even empowering some and taking a "light touch" approach supporting others.
His Justice League of America run is rife with his views on other characters, such as Vixen being referred to as a pathetic knock-off of Animal Man. This culminates in the final issue before the New 52 reboot where he has various League members tear into some of the stuff mentioned about the reboot, including Dick Grayson becoming Nightwing again and the no-show of Donna Troy.
Pretty much any time any fanfiction creates a Designated Villain based on the author's personal experiences/views/current events, it's getting into an author's tract. It can be excused in some cases, if it's related to the plot, but if it comes out of the blue it looks like a giant lecture in the middle of an otherwise unrelated story.
These books—this entire pile of books—was a collection of political and theological detritus littering the history of Equestria. Their authors were each just using the subject as a medium to push some unrelated ideological agenda.
Jennifer Diane Reitz's stories set in the The Conversion Bureau universe have been heavily criticized for their extremelyheavy handed attempts to preach the author's views regarding religion, human nature, environmental issues and sexuality.
In particular, "New Universe Three: The Friendship Virus" is possibly her greatest example of author tract. It is a In Name Only fan fic of The Conversion Bureau that spends 2,548 words pontificating on how testosterone turns men into Always Chaotic Evil savages. And how much better the world would be if the men were "feminized".
The entire concept is discussed in the Once Upon a Time fic All I've Ever Learned From Love. Henry has based his entire view of the fairy tale world off of the book, and has become convinced from it that Regina was always the Evil Queen. He is then shocked learn off her own tragic past, and that she really was a good persononce. He asks her why this wasn't included in the book, when every other villainous character was portrayed at least slightly sympathetically.
Regina: The thing you have to realize, Henry, is that every author has an agenda. And most of the time, they want their point of view to be… obvious. They want the reader to agree with them, to see their heroes as heroes and their villains as villains.
Regina: Villain? I'm not trying to justify everything I've done in the past. I know that some of the choices I made were wrong. But Henry… a good historian might not lie, per se, but the stories they choose to include still show their agenda. Maybe it is a subconscious decision, maybe they don't even realize they are doing it. But they are still only going to record events that they deem important – and what they think is important is going to be a reflection of their own beliefs and prejudices.
The author manages to avoid doing this in the story itself however. Regina is well aware of the horrible things she has done, isn't very pleasant, and makes it clear she is working with the heroes to stop her mother, she doesn't care about any other challenges they are facing. The other characters aren't very fond of her, and no one has yet commented that they misjudged/mistreated her.
Every chapter of the rewritten version of My Little Unicorn when it was first posted started or ended with a rant by the author of how much better this story is compared to the original show. It has since been reposted a second time without the author's notes, however.
The propaganda film Triumph of the Will was a tract for the Nazis. After World War II, director Leni Riefenstahl repeatedly insisted that she was not herself a true believing Nazi.
Most people assume Birth Of A Nation, which portrays The Klan as heroic saviors, was a tract by director D. W. Griffith. In fact, it's an adaptation of a then-popular novel by Thomas F. Dixon, Jr, which was itself a racist author tract. Being the son of a Confederate Army colonel, Griffith may have supported the tract, but evidence isn't exactly handy. Most likely, Griffith was interested in the story's profit potential. In response to accusations of racism, Griffith promptly filmed Intolerance, which criticized racism and discrimination. And bombed.
Glen or Glenda? is essentially Ed Wood's apology for crossdressers like himself; he even played the crossdressing title character under a pseudonym.
Actually, Chaplin's film denigrates military resistance to the Nazis, probably because it was made after the Hitler/Stalin pact, but before the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
A King In New York is largely a vehicle for Chaplin's views on nuclear disarmament and the Red Scare, with some comedy tacked on.
Tom Laughlin's Billy Jack was slowly overshadowed/overwhelmed by Laughlin's political views. Many a war is waged on Straw, specially if it's anyone on the opposite end of Laughlin's political views.
Richard Linklater's film version of the non-fiction book Fast Food Nation went from an expose of the practices of the fast food restaurant industry to a two-hour rant about why people shouldn't eat meat. Despite becoming an In Name Only adaptation of the book, author Eric Schlosser (who is not a vegetarian) still endorsed the final product.
Steven Seagal's On Deadly Ground caps off its green-friendly agenda with Seagal literally lecturing the audience on environmental problems and getting a round of applause.
Hayy ibn Yaqzan, an Arabic novel written by Ibn Tufail in 12th-century Andalusia, is an Ur Example of this trope. It tells the story of an autodidactic feral child, raised by an animal and living alone on a desert island in the Indian Ocean, who sets out on a journey of philosophical inquiry and self-discovery. Its plot somewhat resembles a more recent best-selling novel, Life of Pi.
The Human Stain by Philip Roth "Oh how difficult it is to be a rich white man in Academia! No one recognizes your true genius! Surrounded by PC nuts who think you're being racist for ENTIRELY innocuous comments and those women pretending to be smart like men with their twittering and their sensitivity... but they all really just want in your pants." The whole book is a beautifully written whine about how he wishes people would stop calling him a sexist racist jerk who's condescending and mean to everyone.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Four kids are punished for their flaws by karmic near-deaths, and the one perfect kid inherits a huge chocolate factory. Whilst no one would deny that Veruca Salt's brattishness probably got her what she deserved, obesity, gum-chewing and TV addiction (particularly the latter) are more personal bugbears of Dahl's. You could argue that these habits are symptoms of the kids' general Jerk Ass behaviour which, as Dahl also points out, is indulged by their parents.
With Augustus Gloop at least, his problem was less obesity and more gluttony. The film versions—and most especially the 2005 version—make the bad qualities of the other children rather sharper; for instance, in the 2005 adaptation, Violet's real problem is overachieving, while Mike Teavee's sin is self-absorption and being an arrogant know-it-all.
Ayn Rand is a great example. Several other authors here are noted as having many of their tracts derived from hers. She wrote several novels expounding of the virtues of her personal philosophy, Objectivism, culminating in her Magnum Opus — the DoorstopperAtlas Shrugged. With theAuthor Filibuster (actually only the longest of several in the book) lasting dozens of pages on end (exactly how many depends on which edition), anvilicious doesn't begin to describe it. Of course, like George Orwell, Rand never pretended her books were anything but author tracts.
The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind is often accused by detractors of being nothing more than Objectivist propaganda, particularly the later books. These themes only begin to crop up later in the series: Faith of the Fallen is two-fifths desperate battles and angst, and three-fifths clangingly obvious pro-Ayn Randsoapboxing on how individuals working for themselves in a free market works far better than your broken, inevitably corrupt socialism. Confessor also stumps for atheism.
Towards the end, the Ender's Shadow series also features numerous lectures from widely disparate characters on how the only way to really be a part of the human race is to have babies, culminating in one Battle-school grad stopping her troops in the middle of a battle and telling them to go home and procreate.
Pilgrim's Regress, which Lewis wrote this as a deliberate allegory when he thought his path to conversion was typical. He later found out it wasn't ... (Lewis later stated that he disliked Pilgrim's Regress, and considered it one of his weakest works.)
The Screwtape Letters. In contrast to Pilgrim's Regress, this is actually well-written, but since he deliberately used a Villain Protagonist, it's better as literature than as a tract. This is especially true due to Lewis noting in the introduction that, being a demon, Screwtape is an Unreliable Narrator.
At the end of The Silver Chair, where the Lady of the Green Kirtle is set up as a Hollywood Atheist of the "completely evil" variety and Lewis puts into her mouth some deliberately skewed philosophical arguments against the existence of Aslan. (Particularly bad because the Green Lady actually knows that Aslan exists, and is just straight-up lying.
The Left Behind series of religious novels are overtly based on the authors' premillennial dispensationalist views on the Rapture. Only Christians with their very specific beliefs are shown to be worthy of going to heaven. Like any didactic religious story, the plot is clearly just a vessel to convert the readers or reinforce their already sympathetic views. Helpfully, the two main characters are both Mary Sues of the authors, giving the reader a virtually unfiltered look into the authors' actual beliefs and point of view. Slacktivist illuminates many of these beliefs in his page-by-page analysis.
You know you're dealing with an Author Tract when you read a women's clinic employee saying that she's sad that all the world's children disappeared... because they can't perform any more abortions now!
The elves of the Inheritance books (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance) are atheist vegetarians who impart their 'wisdom' to the main character and the reader, by spending quite a bit of time expounding upon how 'stupid' religion is (particularly to the dwarves). Christopher Paolini denies that this was a representation of his own beliefs, claiming it was simply an attempt to portray various cultures and viewpoints in the series. This became a lot more plausible after the third book. However, in the fourth book Eragon devotes two paragraphs to discussing the stupidity of religion, and in many places it is hinted that religion is scoffed at by all the main characters except Orik (the dwarf king) and Nasuada (the human queen).
A large part of Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land revolves around nudism and polyamory, both of which Heinlein practiced in his real life (For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs , a lost early Heinlein manuscript which was first published in 2003, contains similar themes). Indeed, his works can largely be divided into pre-Stranger and post-Stranger, with the latter showing far more evidence of this. There's also a greater-than-average amount of incest, including a mention that in his distant future it's genetically safer in some cases for a woman to bear her brother's children than an unrelated man's — a couple's decision to have children together (or not) is based purely on their gene scans, not on consanguinity. Not that that necessarily stops them from marrying; there's a reference to a happily married couple who are raising seven children, "four his, three hers, none theirs," using donor sperm for hers and donor eggs for his because the genetic risks of having children together were too great. Apparently Hollywood Evolution leads to a world where whatever the creator thinks is hottest happens. Heinlein was probably unaware of the Westermarck Effect, or he would have been less sanguine about the possibility of genetic scans completely replacing the incest taboo as society's method of minimizing pregnancies and births marred by reinforced harmful recessive genes.
All of Robert A. Heinlein's heroes have the same views as he does. Some of his early writing was made solely for the purpose of Author Tract. However, even his stories that weren't solely designed for it still have plenty of it in there. It is just that he was such a good writer with good ideas that he could get away with it. He also does get you to think about the issues, as well. Starship Troopers is the most popular story of his that has been accused of being an Author Tract, with critics basically saying it is just about worshiping the military.
Starship Troopers is an Author Tract, all right. He wrote it in protest of America signing a nuclear treaty with Russia—whom he did not believe would keep nuclear treaties. Unfortunate Implications in that Reality Subtext, but this novel is good in itself. And it doesn't have the Squick that Stranger in a Strange Land does, which makes a difference: there are probably a lot of people who appreciate Heinlein's military politics, but not his sexual politics.
Or vice-versa — Stranger was well-liked by the hippie movement, for example, while they certainly weren't fans of Starship Troopers.
Starship Troopers is very pro-military in general, but it was more about Heinein's ideas of how the military should be (as well as the associated political/philosophical ideas being pushed) than being pro military.
Weirdly, given that it suffers from such a severe dose of Author Tract, Starship Troopers comes closer than any of his other major novels to breaking the main character out of the 'Heinlein hero' mold. The protagonist isn't an attractive resourceful polymath; he's just a regular Joe (well, Juan) who believes the political line fed to him in school.
Heinlein is an unusual author tractist in that his political opinions and issue of choice evolved over time. While he never stopped writing author tracts, has later tracts effectively contradict his middle tracts, which in turn contradict his earlier tracts.
Another point is, if you pay attention, it could be said Henlein is well aware of what a poorly written author tract can do to a story. There are even a few points where he hangs subtle lampshades on a few of the more infamous characteristics of them, such as Ben actively saying in stranger "Jubal, you have problems?I thought you were the one man to beat the game", which might be why he writes them so well, being aware of the pitfalls and logical problems that come with his philosophy and author tracts in general, and in a few cases, addressing them directly even in a world that is perfect by his standards, another such case would be Lazarus, despite sharing his creators incestuous habits, being well aware of the social, physical, and psychological price that may be payed for indulging in it.
Orwell's Animal Farm is also a thinly veiled satire of the Russian Revolution, and more generally of the nigh-universal cycle of revolution and corruption.
L. Ron Hubbard and his final novels, Battlefield Earth and the 10-volume Mission Earth. In Battlefield Earth psychiatry is what caused the evil space overlords to turn from their generally happy live-and-let-live prior existence, into amoral Planet Looters who regularly commit planetary genocide just so nobody will get in the way of their mining operations. Psychiatry is also the big-bad in Mission Earth, to the extent that every single antagonist is either a supporting the profession or a practitioner or exporting it off-world or using it to take over the world. It doesn't help that almost every character is a Strawman Political.
For example, the evil Psychlos. This isn't a play on 'psycho'—it's a reference to psychologists, who are considered evil in Scientology doctrine.
His earlier work Masters of Sleep promotes Dianetics and features as a villain a mad psychiatrist, Doctor Dyhard, who persists in rejecting Dianetics after all his abler colleagues have accepted it, and believes in prefrontal lobotomies for everyone.
Other common targets for Hubbard's ire include journalists, federal investigators, bankers, elected officials, policemen, doctors, college professors, and modern art.
Michael Crichton's books sometimes veer into this. Even in his best, most acclaimed books like Jurassic Park, he still includes a little author's note at the beginning about the real-world issues the book explores, along with an Author Filibuster or two somewhere in said book. He went completely overboard with it in State of Fear, an anti-global warming opinion piece veiled as a work of fiction. He devoted the last 50 pages of the book to a huge author's note, complete with bibliography and list of cited works. The story itself even has citations, and most of the villains are strawmen environmentalists.
And in Next, he used a page in the book as a Take That against someone who wrote a critical review of State of Fear examining his views on global warming. On said page, he devotes a paragraph to mentioning a character with the same name as the reviewer, who just happens to be a child molester with a small penis. The character appears and then vanishes as suddenly.
Fyodor Dostoevsky hoped to convey a new way to understand religion through exemplifying the themes of guilt and free will in writing The Brothers Karamazov. This can be seen in what many critics call the pivotal chapters of the book, which include the parable called ''The Grand Inquisitor''. The way in which events play out conform with the Elder Zosima's idea expressed throughout of "everyone is guilty for all and before all."
Notes From Underground is arguably an Author Tract; it highlights the societal chaos brought about by the then fashionable, and highly depressing, trend towards rational reductivism (often referred to as nihilism).
War and Peace was the means by which Leo Tolstoy wanted to share his view of history and historical forces. No no, the title doesn't give it away.
What gives it away is the 100-page epilogue that drops any pretense of plot, characterization, drama, or interestingness. It even critiques the rest of the book directly.
The Bill the Warthog series of children's detective stories are meant as biblical metaphors, including a whole book where the author just rips stories from Jesus's parables. Good thing the parables are in the public domain...
John Ringo does this on a fairly regular basis, more so as time goes on.
The Last Centurion blames the fall of American civilization due to bird flu on democrats and liberals, and the rest of the world on universal healthcare. Though this is partly mitigated by it being a first-person narrative.
In Through the Looking Glass, a grandmother ponders why her local Democrats can't be both liberal and patriotic, though this is also a first-person perspective. Lasts a page, but then there's a David Lynch-esque sequence that shows that an apparently minor creature that accompanied a little girl is God. Well, that, and it's part of a race that makes up part of the universe. It leads to questioning why science and religion can't co-exist. Then, after that, it turns out various Terrorists and Insurgent groups tried to use captured aliens as a bioweapon, which escaped of course and butchered most of the Islamic fundamentalist movement in the Middle East. It's a good thing to the characters.
He wrote Ghost as this deliberately. It was a horrible wank-fest that he just had to get out of his head and shove it in a drawer. When fans heard about it they asked for it and loved it, and it got published, much to his chagrin. To give you an idea, the main character pursues kidnapper terrorists to the Middle East, where he kills them all, coaches a group of naked coeds through a siege (while renaming them, because he can't be bothered to learn their names), kills Bin Laden and mails his head to the President in a bucket, buys a yacht with the reward money, has kinky bondage sex with some of the coeds and converts them to Republicanism. In the first third of the book.
The Land of Mist by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a novel-length tract justifying the author's conversion to Spirtualism, including the massive change in character of ultra-rationalist Professor Challanger, who converts to Spiritualism. There is a suggestion in chapter two that the deaths of "ten million young men" in World War I was punishment by the Central Intelligence for humanity's laughing at the alleged evidence for life after death.
Matthew Dickens spends the last hundred pages of the book Magnus telling the reader about his personal views on religious doctrines, evolution, theology, Superman Returns, etc.
This trope was Charles Dickens' stock in trade. All of his works are morality plays meant to drive home his socialist ideals. In A Christmas Carol, Ebeneezer Scrooge rails that the poor are lazy and inferior and deserve to die, on scientific principle, and then an innocent child almost does. In David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby, and Oliver Twist, more innocent children are mercilessly abused, either by predators that society chooses to do nothing about, or by the very institutions of that society. In Little Dorrit, citizens are reduced to professional beggars by the debtors' prison system. And the list goes on.
Piers Anthony does these occasionally. One story he wrote was basically a Take That explaining why the sci-fi publishing business was worthless (Anthony having struggled against it for quite some time before learning the tricks of the trade). One supposes that subjectivity enters in over where the line is drawn between Author Tract, Author Filibuster, and Author Appeal where his other books fall, though he's never been very shy about making his ideas on sexuality (and the ages at which people take notice of it), body modesty, and other things an important plot element of his stories.
The Arthur Hailey novel The Moneychangers has a recurring character to filibuster about how Gold is Good. Given that he's a pundit with his own popular newsletter, and is married to one of the secondary characters, and the book is about banking, it kinda makes sense. Then, after the 'real' ending, the US establishes a gold-backed dollar, and we are treated to the full text of one of said pundit's newsletters. Guess what it's about? The book ends with the lead putting the newsletter down and reflecting how wise said pundit is.
This makes even less sense in Overload, a novel about a power company, when the President establishes a gold-backed dollar. The protagonist, a power company spokesman, promptly comes up with a perfect comment about the dangers of America's dependence on foreign oil, as requested by the reporter who presented the story to him so she could get a soundbyte. Then she sleeps with him.
Hailey's novels in general often go into Author Tract territory, as the author has one or another of his character expatiate on a particular failing of the business he is examining in the current book. For instance, Airport goes into a lot of detail about aviation safety, how people who complain about airport noise are in fact sometimes deluded by real-estate promoters looking to make a buck, and the evils of "flight insurance" (a type of life insurance which, at the time the novel was published, could be purchased by passengers worried about whether they would survive the flight).
Much of Sheri S. Tepper's work reads as thinly disguised, feminist utopianism; particularly The Gate To Women's Country and The Revenants. Beauty paints a rather extreme picture of the human race's 'destruction' of Earth's environment.
Petrarch's unpublished final work, a poem on Scipio Africanus, was full of long Author Filibusters on how Ancient Rome was better than everything ever. Technically, this is true of all of Petrarch's work, and indeed, most things written during The Renaissance, but he took the cultural inferiority complex Up to Eleven. There's also apparently a fictitious bit where Scipio goes to see a fortuneteller, who speaks of a dark time when poetry will die out and only a man named Petrarch will be able to save it. After Petrarch died, some of his fans wanted to publish it. Then they read it, and decided that he never finished it for a reason.
Even Edgar Allan Poe wasn't immune to this, though to either his credit or his fault, he restricted it to philosophy—The Imp of the Perverse is entirely about his idea of a previously uncredited motivating force behind people's actions.
H. P. Lovecraft's short story Silver Key consists almost entirely of his Author Avatar Randolph Carter, who is exactly like Lovecraft except that his family didn't lose its wealth and prestige musing about all things wrong with the society. He bashes both religion and science for their obsession with order and structure, and declares that dreams are equal to reality, and that the only things worth valuing in a meaningless universe are beauty and harmony. The ending implies a romanticized view of suicide, as Carter abandons the Waking World, ironically in perfect opposite to the Aesop he was supposed to have learned in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.
King John of Canada by Scott Gardiner, although nominally a political satire, in reality consists of one Author Filibuster after another against Natives, Quebec Separatists, environmental activists, Saudi Royals, the Asper family, American-style conservatives...in short, everyone that the author doesn't like, all stuck together by a paper-thin plot and shallow characters. Even for someone who agrees with most of his points, it's painful to read.
The Turner Diaries, written under a pseudonym by William Pierce, who was leader of the neo-Nazi organization National Alliance until his death in 2002. Largely about eeeevilliberals and Jews enslaving America, and the actions of the Designated Hero terrorist cell 'The Order' trying to overthrow said eeeevil strawmen. For a scary note, a scene in which the Order blow up a federal building probably inspired the actions of one of its biggest fans — Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City Bomber.
The Order also inspired a real life terrorist organization of the same name that is responsible for numerous deaths.
And to which McVeigh may have had ties, according to Mark Juergensmeyer, author of Terror in the Mind of God — a book about religious terrorism.
99% of everything that John Milton wrote (including, tautologically, his political tracts).
Tom Clancy's Executive Orders has President Jack Ryan remaking the U.S. government, after most of the Legislative and Executive branch people in it were killed at the end of Debt of Honor, by a Japanese Airlines 747 crashing into the Capital Building when swearing in Ryan as Vice President.
Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream. An Alternate HistoryAdolf Hitler (who became a writer instead of a politician) writes Lord Of The Swastika, a pulp SF adventure with a plot that mirrors the real-world rise of the Third Reich. It's followed by a review where a scholar heaps praise on Hitler as a brilliant writer of rollicking good adventure stories, and whose only criticism is that he thinks it was a bit implausible for the protagonist to rise to power by creating a rather silly cult of personality and machismo. Naturally the whole thing is one giant Take That at the Broken Aesop morality of pulp SF and fantasy stories.
Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia, a depiction of an environmentalist utopia.
A great deal of Meg Cabot's books, especially her YA novels. It was especially apparent in Ready Or Not, where Ms. Cabot literally stopped the narrative to rant against the abstinence movement. Her other books contain some amounts of similar commentary.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is perhaps one of the most compelling examples we have of an author tract, or rather two tracts — first about the hellishness of the meat-packing industry in Chicago at the beginning of the 20th century, and then a defense of socialism. More literal than the usual author tract, because at first he had to self-publish. The meatpacking half (based on Sinclair's undercover observations) was so horrifying that it led to nearly-immediate regulation: the Meat Inspection Act, and the Pure Food and Drug Act (which established the FDA). The socialist half made little lasting impact in America, where the burgeoning movement was forcibly shut down by the government, but was part of a sweeping movement that radically transformed the politics of Europe and Asia.
These were not separate goals, but Sinclair couldn't control readers' reactions. After America panicked about food safety and ignored the plight of the workers he said, "I aimed for their hearts and hit them in their stomachs."
Nation, by Terry Pratchett, is unusually heavy handed with its themes. If one has read many Pratchett books or has ever listened to him speak on religion, it becomes extremely obvious that the book is almost entirely an Author Tract about humanitarianism, atheism, thought, and the role religion plays in society. This becomes even more obvious at the end of the book where Pratchett drops all pretense of writing a story and simply has a section that may as well be Terry himself making a speech about humanity. When you consider the fact that this obvious Author Tract was written after the author became aware that he has a fatal disease, the straight-forward nature of the book can be outright heartwrenching.
Joanna Russ's sci fi novel The Female Man is partly about Alternate Universe versions of the same woman meeting up and getting to know each others' cultures+
one is from the world as we know it, one is from a world where The Great Depression never ended, one is a warrior from a world where men and women are on opposite sides of a war, and the last one is a utopia where men were wiped out by a vaguely defined 'plague' in the distant past
, and it's about equally about Russ taking every opportunity to espouse how men are keeping her down. It's telling that one of the most detailed passages is that warrior woman literally tearing a man apart with her reinforced steel teeth and claws. It's also implied that the Lady Land utopia is the direct result not of a plague, but of the aforementioned gendercidal war.
Gustav Meyrink started out with a fairly decent, atmospheric novel, The Golem. The author's occultist views and rampant antisemitism were obvious, but still... then came The Green Face, and it was an Author Tract plus a bit of plot. He got worse about it from then on.
Uncle Tom's Cabin, "the book that started the Civil War," is a novel aimed at women in an attempt to get them to convince their voting husbands to outlaw slavery. Many times the narrator will address the reader directly to push her down this logical path.
Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson was a very popular didactic novel to teach young women the importance of feminine virtues, including piety, domesticity, and most importantly chastity. The main character is basically a Mary Sue of the feminine ideal who repeatedly asserts her virtue against the advances of a rakish suitor.
Even at the time the book was published, some were disgusted by the classification of "virtue" as "virginity". One author wrote a parody, Shamela, that ridiculed the concept by having long conversations over the heroine's "vartue", pointing out just how meaningless the word "virtue" is when used in the original.
That author was Henry Fielding, who also wrote Joseph Andrews, revolving around Pamela's brother and casting him in the role of the young innocent whose virtue is continually besieged. Fielding really hated Pamela, it seems.
Anna Sewell's Black Beauty was originally written as an Author Tract about the abuses suffered by carriage horses in 19th century England, not as a children's novel.
Only The Super Rich Can Save Us by Ralph Nader. Yes, that Ralph Nader. Although- consumer advocate that he is- he never pretends that the book is anything other than 'how everything could be so much better if a few rich people got together and implemented my program.'
Eugen Richter's Pictures of the Socialistic Future, which has the Strawman Political as the viewpoint character who celebrates Germany's slide into Stalinist Communism and saves the Author Avatar for the very end. Interestingly, it was published in 1891 and managed to predict much of the Crapsack World the Soviet bloc would become.
Kurt Vonnegut does this a lot. Cats Cradle not only talks about how the invention of nuclear weapons was a bad thing, but pretty much says that if we insist on inventing things without thinking first about what they might be used for after we invent them, then we're all doomed (one character has given up science altogether, since he's come to believe that anything he invents will probably be turned into a weapon somehow). The parts of Slaughterhouse Five set in Germany during WWII are unquestionably anti-war. The message of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater seems to be that society will not fall apart if the wealthy share their money with the poor. The very first page of Breakfast of Champions begins describing the country in which the characters live (the United States) and all the ways in which it is fucked up. And so on...
Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke is flagrantly plagued by the author's numerous holier-than-thou agendas. Every character we are supposed to like is a vegetarian, a pacifist, and will never stop bemoaning mankind's need to put animals in cages even though this theme has cursory relevance to the actual plot, at best. The problematic nature of this aesop is artlessly dodged in that the good dragons subsist entirely off of moonlight and breathe fire that doesn't burn. In one particularly obnoxious scene, a main character sneaks into the campsite of a scientific expedition and releases several caged chickens and a monkey, an act that was not only entirely inconsequential to the plot but also failed to explore the ramifications of the fact that the newfound freedom of these creatures was in the Egyptian wilderness (lucky, lucky chickens). The author is further guilty of putting Eastern people high up on a pedestal over Western people to a point of othering them, not to mention betraying that she probably isn't as familiar with Asia as she would have us believe.
The Jakub Wedrowycz stories are written by a conservative author, and it shows sometimes; in one of the stories, the bad guys are radical left-wing ecologists, and in another the heroes chase away an European Union official.
In Does My Head Look Big in This?? by Randa Abdel-Fattah, about a Muslim girl living in Australia who decides to wear a hijab regularly, this occurs a lot. The main character often has speeches about the fact that non-Muslims should just see it as a piece of cloth and not as her whole personality. While this is a worthwhile message, this is expressed through contrived situations.
Everything Flows is basically one long statement by Vasily Grossman on Stalinist oppression and the necessity of freedom, with story to help the digestion.
"August" by Bernard Beckett is a philosophic idea about free will (or the lack of) with a two main characters and storyline plastered on top.
Apparently, in The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (the original story, not the ballet), the portrayal of the royal characters as brats and jerkasses while "commoners" like Marie and the Nutcracker became beloved monarchs of the Land of Dolls was meant to attack and subvert the notion that royalty was inherently good and noble and that one needed royal blood to be a good ruler.
Youth in Sexual Ecstasy is a novel dedicated to young people that heavily promotes sexual abstinence and a strong Pro-life message.
John Grisham's books often feature this trope, targeting big business and/or conservative views. The Confession is an egregious example: the book attacks the death penalty by constructing a miscarriage of justice where the pro-death penalty side are all grossly negligent and unlikeable, in contrast to the anti-death penalty side. To top it off, once the message is thoroughly beaten through you, Grisham decides to dedicate a few pages to having a character rail against the death penalty.
The Appeal may even top that, featuring a long discourse on the need for an independent judiciary, how ads manipulate the truth, and how often big businesses will hide behind certain causes as an excuse to manipulate tort law to be more favorable. Including having a train of accidents hit the winning election candidate to get him to try and convert, but he stays bought.
Self-proclaimed libertarian PJ O'Rourke's Don't Vote — It Just Encourages The Bastards is a bit hammery with its fundamental message of "All politicians suck, but left-wing ones suck worse than right-wing ones".
G. P. Taylor's book Shadowmancer is a heavy-handed attempt to get the reader to convert to Christianity. It's filled with Hollywood Atheists. One of the characters, Raphah, is clearly an author mouthpiece who condemns all things the author dislikes such as witchcraft and coffee.
Her crews are babes or madmen? Her port is all to make? You're manned by Truth and Science, and you steam for steaming's sake? Well, tinker up your engines — you know your business best — She's taking tired people to the Islands of the Blest!
Philip K. Dick put varying amounts of his own beliefs into his stories, but his short story 'The Pre-Persons' is very blatantly his personal, heavily emotional response to Roe vs. Wade, set in a world where pro-abortion activists have legalized 'abortion' of children up to age 12. His mouthpiece characters claim abortion is all about powerful people deliberately picking on the helpless, or a certain kind of woman getting off on destroying men and children. He even depicts one woman wanting to get pregnant because she thinks an abortion would be fun and a turn-on.
Dennis Wheatley does this in just about every novel he wrote. His books often lapse into political polemic about the seductive evil of left-wing politics and the need for Britain to be governed by a strong benevolent dictator acording to rules of libertarianism and free-market economics. After all, the working classes are too docile and ill-educated, so people like us must shoulder the burden of ruling them, for their own good of course. Alongside the poisoned politics, Wheatley also polemics his religion, a kind of cross between Christianity and Buddhism that actually does make sense.
Astrid Lindgren wrote Pomperipossa in Monismania to make a point about taxes — the point being that it shouldn't be possible to have to have a marginal tax rate of 102%. Obviously not a very generic point, but it was relevant to when and where she wrote it (since it was written in reaction to finding out that her marginal tax rate was 102%), and it has the advantage of it being something that most people would agree with (it wasn't actually intended to be the case by the taxation system's designers, they'd just failed to anticipate the combination of being self-employed with having a high income).
A lot of Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's collaborative work have a message that technology and science is good, religion and treehugging liberal extremists who hate technology are bad.
A minor example from 1632: No down-timers... and I mean absolutely no down-timers... appreciate rock and roll music. Lots of down-timer country music fans. Lots of down-time folk music fans. And it goes without saying that opera and orchestral music are beloved. But... absolutely no down-timer fans of rock and roll. Not even relatively "light" rock and roll like the early Beatles. And the less said about the reaction to rap music the better. Coincidentally, these views happen to mirror the musical tastes of Eric Flint almost precisely.
Which is a bit odd, considering that the renaissance-era Irish had a popular format that boils down to basically 1980s rap music in the US and most rock, especially light rock, if played on an acoustic instrument like a lyre is pretty much indistinguishable from dominant medieval forms, and would even be called classy if you happened to know any French or German ones.
Saturday Night Live sometimes has this happening, most likely because the host differs from week to week. Christina Aguilera hosted in the midst of her Dirrty phase, and about three-quarters of the sketches where she played a central role (either as herself or someone else) had her character lecturing the others on how she chose to express herself as a woman. Some sketches in this style were Anvilicious, others were anvilicious but got the point across with a good punchline.
The West Wing varied a lot over time — the writing staff was mostly Republican in later seasons, leading to things like Arnold Vinick being the better candidate in the Season 7 election, to the point where he would have won had actor John Spencer not died, forcing a last-minute rewrite.
Sorkin's follow-up, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip took the preachiness and turned it Up to Eleven. And then squared it. This was parodied in the early episodes of 30 Rock, with Lemon ranting about something, then getting confused about the statistics before concluding, "I gotta read more."
MacGyver pretty much turned into a show protesting societal wrongs after a couple seasons. The most glaring was probably the one that opened with a warning about a graphic portrayal of a de-horned rhinoceros, then spent about half its running time explaining the poaching in Africa and ended with Richard Dean Anderson as himself narrating about what can be done about it. Very Special Episode, indeed.
Boston Legal frequently involved the writers concocting a storyline that would allow James Spader to sue and deliver increasingly lengthy closing arguments. Frequently lampshaded.
Harry'sLaw seems to be another David E. Kelley example, utilizing the characters of Harry and Thomas Jefferson as soap box preachers in court room scenes.
Russell T Davies is a mild case, for sufficiently flexible values of 'mild'. While he does tend to harp on about homosexuality and atheism a lot, he rarely cops out.
Joss Whedon touches on his existentialist(-ish) views in the the Firefly episode Objects In Space, through Jubal Early. Joss goes into much deeper detail in the episode commentary.
Speaking of things produced by Joss... "Smashed" and "Wrecked" from Season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer felt to some a lot like a great big 'just say NO to drugs' thing. Especially "Wrecked", which was written by Marti Noxon.
Season four's "Beer Bad" is not exactly pro-boozing either. It was written specifically to get reward money being offered to shows that dealt with the consequences of alcohol and drug abuse. This failed because the episode failed to deal with alcohol consumption realistically, instead having a magical potion in the beer turn drinkers into cavemen.
iCarly: Dan Schneider drops his Anti-Shipping anvil at the end of the episode iStart A Fan War, basically mocking the fans who made his show popular online, and then following it up with Carly mouthing something that could have come from one of his blog posts, which basically boils down to 'shut up about romance and watch the show for the comedy'.
He later expanded in his blog that he was in fact just mocking ship to ship combat and not shipping itself.
Penn And Teller Bullshit is completely blatant about its skeptical and Libertarian agendas from the very first episode. Teller has said (aloud, with his voice) that he likes the show being totally biased, but still fair.
Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, had a history of putting his atheist beliefs in his work, though this only became Anvilicious in The Next Generation (there are several affirmative mentions of a belief in God by heroic human characters in the original series).
To the point that traditionally religious morals are eschewed by the characters in The Next Generation even when probably most atheists accept them - Picard even at one point in the first series expressing puzzlement at some primitive planet's strange custom that men have some responsibility toward any children they father.
Is it coincidence that the soapboxing quotient on Quincy increased as Jack Klugman got more script control? Er... no.
Jack Webb was known for this. Most of Joe Friday's rants on Dragnet were Webb putting in his own views.
Next time you watch a M*A*S*H episode — particularly one from about Season 7 or later — check the credits. Is Alan Alda listed as writer and/or director? Then prepare yourself for a whole lot of this.
In a two-part episode of The Golden Girls, Dorothy realizes that she has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (something co-writer Susan Harris also has.) Since the disease was fairly new at the time, most doctors hadn't seen it yet, some didn't know about it, and many of them tended to blame the patient when they couldn't find the answer. She spends two episodes trying to get the diagnosis, dealing with doctors who call her hysterical, simply say she's getting old, and going to a specialist in New York (the show is set in Miami) who tells her to color her hair. After she gets the proper diagnosis, she runs into the specialist from New York, and delivers an epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech to him, which sounds like something Susan Harris might have wanted to say to her Real Life doctors.
(Given the large number of protest songs and other musical agitprop, this probably should only list notable or extreme examples)
The album Firestorm by filk musician Leslie Fish is intended as a set of instructions for surviving after a nuclear war. Many of her other songs are author tracts on the subjects of religion, anarchism, and civil liberties.
System of a Down lost a lot of their fandom after their concerts became political talk-downs instead of politically charged music.
Rush's Rock Opera2112 was heavily inspired by Ayn Rand's Anthem, and a number of the group's other songs reference Objectivist ideals, such as "Tom Sawyer", and (appropriately enough) "Anthem".
Not for nothing is the track "2112" known as 'the best Objectivist novel ever written'.
Their much later album, Roll the Bones, particularly the title track, can be seen as an Author Tract repudiating their earlier Objectivism, or at least softening it greatly; and propounding more of a 'life is random, you deal with what you get' attitude, incorporated with a strong anti-religion/superstition message.
In the 2000s, it has become chic to produce remixes of existing songs (protest songs in particular) containing soundbytes from the creator's political candidate of choice. This editor recalls hearing a version of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" mashed up with a John Kerry speech in 2004, and 2008 has seen a will.i.am-produced hip-hop remix of several Barack Obama speeches.
"Long Leather Coat" by Paul McCartney, issued in 1993. If you are not in animal-lib, you will get chills listening to this.
Several of John Lennon's works from '72 and '73. "Woman Is the Nigger of the World." There is even the Nutopian National Anthem- which is silent...
Much of Green Day's American Idiot album contains constant Take Thats against the George W. Bush administration. One song on the album, "Holiday", despite already being an Author Tract manages to still have an Author Filibuster where the song stops for the singer to Strawman PoliticalArnold Schwarzenegger and George Bush directly through spoken word, complete with pulling a Godwin. Only a couple of tracks on the album ("Holiday" and "American Idiot" especially) are explicitly political, though, with the main focus of the album being a narrative about disaffected youths. Most assume the entire album is nothing but political ranting because the two most Anvilicious songs were released as singles and, consequentially, received the most airplay
Not to mention that in trying to be strawmannishly Anvilicious, the creator portrays the mother as literally quaking in fear at the very concept of her child, implying that she hates it and despises it. Of course, if your unborn fetus was chirping at you about every stage of its development in a Chipmunk-esque voice, it might scare you, too.
There's also the fact that the stages of development are completely inaccurate.
Subverted by Alice Cooper. Despite being a Republican and Christian, he is vehemently against mixing his beliefs with his songs, both because he feels that rock is the antithesis of politics and because he doesn't think people should be looking to musicians for guidance on who to vote for.
"So when I see all these rock stars up there talking politics, it makes me sick. If you're listening to a rock star in order to get your information on who to vote for, you're a bigger moron than they are. Why are we rock stars? Because we're morons. We sleep all day, we play music at night and very rarely do we sit around reading the Washington Journal."
Likewise, Elvis Presley is known for his comment to a reporter who asked for his opinion on the Vietnam War; The King politely replied with "Ma'am, I'm just an entertainer," and he left it at that.
Neal Morse left his Prog Rock band Spock's Beard after becoming a Christian. His Testimony album is pretty much the story of his conversion, although he tends not to be didactic and simply calls it "my story."
Toby Keith's early albums were a mix of fun or melancholy country tunes, of above-average quality. For a while, they are mostly raucous instructions on blind patriotism, bible-thumping and how he's better than everyone.
Possibly subverted, in that he's a registered Democrat who has said that he personally never really supported the politics of going to war in Iraq, that he's in favor of timelines for troop removal in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and has been generally supportive of Barack Obama's campaign and administration. And then subverted again in that, "American Ride" aside, he seems to be largely reverting to his 1990s sound.
Just about all the music of Canadian far-left band Propaghandi is like this, although it's gotten to the point where they spend so much time at their concerts ranting to the audience instead of actually playing music, that their fans have been known to yell at them to shut up and play.
Parodied with a hint of deconstruction by Tenacious D in the song "City Hall", where the duo take over the world — first, they legalise pot, then they try to reduce pollution with an absurd and impractical tube system, then they start to lose steam, showing that rock stars aren't really the type of people who you should take political advice from. After they've settled down, the band tries to kill each other — and succeeds.
Most of the work of The Cranberries is about their political views stemming from The Troubles. Even their international hit song "Zombie" ("It's been the same old theme since 1916") is a cry to Please Think Of The Children and stop the fighting.
While normally Bob Dylan puts enough subtlety in his protest songs that you could naively assume they were made purely for the artistic merit, he didn't even try with "Neighborhood Bully".
His 1964 song "Ballad in Plain D" is a fairly straightforward rant about the end of his relationship with Suze Rotolo (the woman with him on the cover of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan), blaming her 'parasite sister' for breaking them up.
Ministry did an entire TRILOGY of a full-length albums specifically against George W. Bush.
A Perfect Circle's album Emotive, which could probably be renamed 'take this album to an anti-war protest.'
Many thrash metal bands moved in this direction during classic metal's Götterdämmerung between 1988 and 1991, trading sex and violence for left-wing politics and anti-war messages, and beer-fueled fury for punkish societal indignation. The lyrical style became derisively known as 'CNN thrash' by some fans, although some classics did arise out of this. Anthrax was the most famous example (the entire Persistence of Time album is a series of political songs), although Metallica flirted with it on And Justice For All. Some bands, like Sacred Reich and Toxik (whose second album is a Concept Album about how television is bad for you) made their entire careers doing this sort of music.
Not the album specifically, but the music video Interstella5555 is basically a gigantic middle finger to the celebrity system and the corporate world's exploitation of artists, which fits Daft Punk's core philosophies quite well.
Stereolab have a lot of songs espousing a Marxist / Situationist worldview. It's all but impossible to find a professional review of the band that doesn't mention this fact.
Dixie Chicks did this so much in 'Not Ready To Make Nice.' They basically come to terms with their now-dwindling fan-base (due to a disdainful comment by lead singer Natalie Maines after President George W. Bush was re-elected). They even recognize the death threats they received on their tour that year.
Stan Rogers sang unabashedly about many social issues, but really only dabbled tractfully into politics by taking on the subject of The Troubles with his song "House of Orange" — this despite being Canadian, not Irish. The song's still good, despite the occasional heavy-handedness of the lyric:
The Boondocks (also the animated TV show version). Often expresses the feelings of Aaron McGruder on race, entertainment, religion, and politics. Be warned however, that some of that is also just Huey being Huey. This is subverted, however, by Huey being the character that often voices McGruder's beliefs, making it difficult to distinguish what the character thinks, and what the author thinks. Michael Caesar's role provides a bit of realism or Lampshade Hanging to make the tract less Anvilicious or provide a more temperate view.
Bill Watterson admitted that he wrote a lot of his troubles with the syndicate into Calvin And Hobbes, as well as his opinions on comics, film, TV, commercial and other industries, humans' role in nature, art, and general philosophy. Fortunately, he was a good enough author to not let it get in the way of characterization or humour.
Doonesbury is really just Gary Trudeau telling people what he thinks about politics day-in and day-out, with occasional asides for other things. In its later years, however, the comic has become as much about exploring the gigantic cast of characters' lives as it has about politics. In the beginning it focused almost entirely on humor about the college life of the (much smaller cast of) main characters.
Mallard Fillmore started out as an attempt at a standard, character-driven comic, but quickly devolved into a platform for the author to state his conservative opinions on various current events. More often than not, Mallard acts as an Author Avatar speaking directly to the reader.
After its creator's conversion to born-again Christianity, B.C. became notorious for its pro-Christian sermonizing, including one infamous Easter strip showing a menorah transforming into a cross (Word Of God (ahem) was that this was merely his way of expressing a new religion coming into its own). Which may seem weird given the apparent setting, but there was a story in around 2000 or so that puts forth the idea that the setting was not prehistoric but rather post-Rapture.
With Hart's grandson, Mason Mastroianni, in the writer's seat, the preachiness has been dropped and the strip has returned to gag-a-day format. There was a strip ("Hey, I found this paper from 2004...") that implies B.C. merely takes place After the End.
Bill Hicks' comedy routines were pretty much nothing but this trope. He liked challenging mainstream beliefs on society, religion, politics and pop culture, often in a deliberately controversial way.
George Carlin's later concerts have tended to include at least one section that comes across as not so much comedy as a rant to the effect that "the very concept of religion, and in particular Christianity, is inherently illogical and overbureaucratic." Not that this is a bad thing, as these rants were always on point and filled with Carlin's usual healthy mix of obscenities and erudite observations.
Bat Boy: The Musical (based on the Weekly World News story) features a blatantly obvious anti-religion message as every single religious character is depicted as either being dumb and/or violent. It shouldn't come as a surprise that Brian Flemming (of The God Who Wasn't There infamy) co-wrote it.
Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear series has a tendency to pause the action for long cutscenes proclaiming the danger of nukes. Metal Gear Solid Thumbnail Theatre mocks this by occasionally substituting the name of the nuclear expert with that of Kojima:
Hideo Kojima: NUKES ARE VEDDY, VEDDY BAD. GRRR NUKES.
The Odd World games have shades of this. The save the environment aesop being essentially the point of the entire series. A proof that Tropes Are Not Bad in that even if one finds the whole thing heavy-handed it tends to be presented in an entertaining fashion.
The first Left Behind video game is painfully tract-y to the point of crippling some otherwise interesting gameplay ideas. Most every unit on your side is assigned a name and history complete with conversion story about how finding Jesus fixed their life. Neutral (and borderline hostile) units can be recruited by evangelizing at them, while the evil recruiters are (white) rap artists (because secular media are evil and will take you away from God). Every mission is even followed by an explicit tract on some right-wing evangelical Christian bugaboo that has nothing to do with the game, like why evolution is evil and wrong, or how archaeology is proving the Bible 100% accurate.
The online flash series Broken Saints is deeply immersed in Author Tract, all taken Brooke Burgess' new-found (as of the original writing) philosophical outlook on life. He also makes no secret of his political views, particularly as regards the relationship between the U.S. and Iraq post-Gulf War I. One of the main protagonists is an Iraqi 'freedom fighter' who is struggling to balance his desire for justice against the Western invaders and the peaceful teachings of his religion. It is worth noting that the series was well under way before 9/11, and was almost completed before the second Gulf War.
MAG ISA — this comic contains political and religious issues that reek of Jack Chick. The author is often suspected of being part of the "Christian Conservative Right Wing" but he is not if you read deeper into his work.
Fans! is a little too vehement in its defense of fanboys. Claim that they're valuable, intelligent and worthwhile human beings, fine. Claim that fanboys have the specific combination of strengths that makes them the only ones capable of defending Earth, and that the biggest, geekiest fanboys alive will be revered by future generations as heroes who made all of society possible... that's taking things a bit too far.
Shortpacked! seems to take the opposite tack in its satire and often portrays fans with complaints of any sort as self-entitled morons. Not surprisingly, what is considered unfair and what is considered perfectly okay seems to coincide with the author's tastes...
Willis often acknowledges that obsessiveness fanishness, even his own, is Not Okay. This was parodied when he shows up at the store and gets in an armed fight with Ethan over an Edit War. The arc ends with him and his girlfriend sneaking into Ethan's apartment—Maggie in a Transformers costume—and smashing up his computer so he wouldn't be able to edit the wiki. Then there was the time he made fun of people who said that the second Transformers movie sold out because of all the marketing. In case you don't get it, Transformers is probably the most popular and transparently Merchandise Driven franchise ever.
Willis isn't afraid to take shots at himself, but also loves slamming people who disagree with his opinion on various message boards. One storyline in the comic in particular is a major Author Tract- it's a poorly-disguised attempt by Willis to get Dinobot to win an online poll that will enter him into the Transformers Hall Of Fame. One character from the strip is campaigning for Congress by also campaigning for Dinobot's entry.
The Order of the Stick unashamedly pokes fun at gamer attitudes which Rich Burlew finds obnoxious, such as players whose paladins use the letter of the rules to act like Sociopathic Heros until their class status is endangered, then perform a token good deed to retain it. It works because this is a common complaint against D&D paladins.
Unicorn Jelly and Pastel Defender Heliotrope, both by Jennifer Diane Reitz, both start out as (respectively) amusing and cute fantasy and science fiction stories, but the Author's soapboxes about religion, homosexuality, and transgenderism overwhelm the plot more than once. It is revealed at the end of Pastel Defender Heliotrope that it was about anti-piracy legislation as well (which seems like an Ass Pull to boot since it only comes up in the last page or two).
Also played with when the plot stops so that Mantis can rant against banning gay marriage. The best part is that it is entirely in-character — he isn't so much arguing for gay marriage as he is saying that having sex with reproduction is just as gross as having sex without reproducing.
Tales of the Questor — While the comic has become incredibly more reasonable about this, earlier strips were suffused with a certain subset of Christian theology, culminating when the author updated with rants about other belief systems. Those rants have since been moved elsewhere, but the author still provides nods towards Christianity now and again.
Every other comic by the author, on the other hand, is still chock-full of pro-Christian, American (especially Southern), libertarian soapboxing and anti-pretty much everything else.
This whole comic has been a setup for me to push my views on you that man should not fly.
Critics of YU+ME: dream have branded it an author tract, saying that all straight characters are portrayed as evil, especially in the first section. Possibly justified because it's all Fiona's dream, and since she's newly out, possibly somewhat biased.
Kit 'n Kay Boodle is entirely a vehicle for Richard Katellis' views on free love, yiffing, and the plight of the furry community. The world outside of idyllic, nudist Yiffburg is full of monstrous dictatorships and ruthless capitalist states that criticize Yiffburg for being horny layabouts. Any character who doesn't constantly want sex with total strangers is either an evil fascist or an oppressed soul, and the answer is invariably anonymous sex, either to defeat or convert them to the yiffy way of life. It doesn't help matters that the story is occasionally interrupted by the author describing the sexual exploits he and his wife have with their parents.
The Flobots webcomic has varying levels of Anviliciousness, depending on the issue, but Chapter 1: Vote for Change was far enough over the edge to be narm. Chapter 2: Iraq, though, was a significant improvement (since it was an amalgamation of story's told by actual soldiers, it can be disturbing and touching at the same time).
Better Days started out as an author tract largely for conservatism and mild misogyny, but has gradually grown into an author tract for Objectivism as Jay Naylor discovered that particular philosophy and became a huge Ayn Rand fan. One chapter of the comic is basically a long rant against abstract art or any art that 'doesn't look like something', culminating with the 'good' artist whose paintings "look like what they're of" being given validation first in the form of a big check from a businessman, and then discarding her own search for fulfillment to move in with the male main character, whom she expects nothing of (not even fidelity). And guns are good.
Jesus And Mo is an unabashed Author Tract ridiculing religion. The comment box is headed with the note "This comments section is provided as a safe place for readers of J&M to talk, to exchange jokes and ideas, to engage in profound philosophical discussion, and to ridicule the sincerely held beliefs of millions. As such, comments of a racist, sexist or homophobic nature will not be tolerated."
General Protection Fault briefly delved into this in the 'Providence' arc in 2005, showing Akhilesh (a kindly doctor bordering on Ned Flanders-like religious outlook) witnessing to Trudy, with verse upon verse of scripture, accompanied by author commentary.
In Sunstone it is common to encounter short speeches from the characters' mouths about BDSM informing the reader of such things as the importance of considering safety, the responsibility of the Dom and the importance of trust and honesty in the relationship, but given the reasoning that this comic partially exists to educate and dispel myths these moments do not feel out of place, moreover the comic more often than not shows the reader why this is the case for the characters. It also helps that the comic shows a character who is both uninterested in BDSM and oblivious to its inner-workings yet doesn't look down on him.
The creator of the Global Guardians PBEM Universe carried around a burning hate for the New England Patriots football team, to the point that he had the entire team wiped out and their stadium burned to the ground by a supervillain team. The NFL then decides to not reconstruct the team out of "respect" for the fallen players.
And then lampshades it in Cartoon Wars. Repeatedly. Let it never be said that, whatever their views, Parker and Stone are not self-aware.
"And if you ask me, your show has become so preachy and full of morals that you have forgotten how to be funny!"
DuckTales occasionally delved into this territory, although it was generally done well and in a manner that could educate kids on issues they might not otherwise learn about until they were older. Some episodes dealt with themes such as capitalism vs organized labor (showing the importance of responsible management, without totally demonizing, when Uncle Scrooge lost his memory).
This was also a recurring theme in the original comics — making money by being stingy is OK. Making money by being totally unfair to consumers, the environment, or employees isn't.
Seth MacFarlane has bluntly stated that American Dad, a show about an extremely stupid conservative CIA agent and his family, was created primarily out of his frustration at George W. Bush's re-election in 2004. However, despite its overtly political premise, it has generally been far less preachy than the Family Guy episodes that have aired during the same years. An episode focused around Bush, while showing him to be pretty stupid, actually had him portrayed as a pretty decent guy who ends up delivering a heartfelt message to help Stan be more forgiving and supportive of his daughter.
For contrast, an appearance of Bush on Family Guy depicted him with the intelligence of a baby. Literally. Peter "performs at the White House" by putting on a clown nose and dancing in front of Bush, causing Bush to giggle and clap his hands wildly, until he knocks over his pencil holder and starts bawling.
A writer for The Simpsons admitted that the creative team has deliberately made Ned Flanders, in later seasons, less of a 'turn the other cheek' Christian and more of an intolerant Moral Guardian, as a protest against the growing influence of Moral Guardians in Bush's America. Much of this has been viewed as being massively out of character compared with earlier seasons. Flanders was de-Flanderized in The Movie, though, being portrayed as a genuinely caring guy who just has some annoying quirks.
Lisa's opinion about guns in "The Cartridge Family" are also that of Matt Groening's.
Parodied with the film Left Below from "Thank God, It's Doomsday"
Also parodied with the Itchy & Scratchy cartoon written and directed by Mr. Burns.
Burns: So remember children, nuclear power is your friend. And so is Monty Burns.
Groening himself stated in an interview that one of his favorite things about doing The Simpsons is how unfair (his actual word) they get to be to nuclear power.
While Fillmore! is usually good at avoiding these, the episode about standardized tests went a wee bit overboard. One of the recurring dialogues of the episode is that standardized tests are not only ineffective, but are damaging and counterproductive for more creative children (Ingrid noted a boy who was terrified of the test was also an amazing inventor "but that doesn't show up on the S.A.T.T.Y.9") and for others who do not test well. Although the points about "bad test-takers" are actually pretty valid, the constant reiteration of the observation reaches Author Tract levels when pretty much every child who takes the test either gripes about how pointless it is, or the children who actually want to take the test are depicted as rather neurotic overachievers.
Notably Ingrid, who is the smartest girl in school, was shown to not really care about the test, whereas the other "good test takers" were all obnoxious stereotypes of The Smart Guy who used words like "Machiavellian" and "reprobate" to describe the person who stole the tests and cried about them being lost to the point of needing a counselor who says things like "they may have stolen your answer sheet, but they didn't steal the answers" while Ingrid cringes.