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. Also, sometimes things just have to be said in the most blatant way possible to be understood. However, when the message come across as forced or one sided, it may prevent some readers from enjoying the book and it will hinge upon where an individual put their line for where it becomes annoying.
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 and Take That.
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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?"
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.
Technically, in the end, she was only half-right. It was the Zentradi who wound up destroying most of the Earth and it's people, and the culture the humans had lead to the end of the war.
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.
Team Medical Dragon was written by Akira Nagai, a practicing doctor — and the manga basically centers 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 realize 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.
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.
Osamu Tezuka did this occasionally. 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. 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. The later (and sadly, final) Phoenix story Sun does something similar with Shinto.
Tezuka's science fiction book Apollos 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.
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.
This is a major theme in Hellblazer. Since the beginning of its publication, writers have been putting their own political and philosophical British ideals in it, and since it follows real time than Comic Book Time, a lot of those ideals are come from what was happening in contemporary UK. Examples of this include Jamie Delano's negative views of Thatcher's regime and by 2005, includes the War against Terrorism. When Garth Ennis took writing, he included racism, drugs, and religious fanaticism which was popular at that time. The most controversial writer, Brian Azzarello, tackled issues such as Neo-Nazism, prison rape, and homosexuality. During Warren Ellis' run, he included American school shootings in a one-shot issue which led to a major controversy. As such, much of Hellblazer's horror often comes in the crisis and controversies of its time.
Ken Penders' run on Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog had tones of this. Penders had a very active fixation on gun control laws and gun safety which he brought into the comic aggressively (which made little sense given the vast majority of the characters never used them in the first place) going so far as to turn accidental gun use as the whole reason for the plot-driving war to start.
Dave Sim's Cerebus the Aardvark 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.
Jack Chick's Chick Tracts, which have thin stories whose only purpose is to provide a framing story for an illustrated extract from The Bible and/or rant about how The Popesecretly rules the world and Dungeons & Dragons is a Satanic indoctrination tool. One 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.
In general comics are a popular form for propaganda because illustrated stories can reach across linguistic boundaries.
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.
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).
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.
"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!"
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.
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 70s.
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 utmost respect, unlike Wolverine who is the superhero Ennis HATES the most.
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.
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.
Reginald Hudlin. His primary messages in Black Panther: Africans (and thus African-Americans) are good and genetically superior, while white people are inferior and evil.
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.
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.
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.
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 of 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.
Chatoyance's stories set in the The Conversion Bureau universe have been 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 an outstanding example. It is 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 author happens to be a transwoman. Make of that what you will.)
"Harry Potter Turns to the Lord" is a fanfiction about a Gary Stu teaching Harry Potter that witchcraft is evil.
Similar to and inspired by Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Luminosity is designed to explain luminosity—i.e., self-awareness.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Averted in The Avengers with writer/director Joss Whedon having newly awake Steve Rogers (Captain America) giving his views (which were Whedon's own) on what was wrong with modern society, then cutting the scene out himself due to pacing. Joss Whedon:
"One of the best scenes that I wrote was the beautiful and poignant scene between Steve and Peggy [Carter] that takes place in the present. And I was the one who was like, Guys, we need to lose this. It was killing the rhythm of the thing. And we did have a lot of Cap, because he really was the in for me. I really do feel a sense of loss about what’s happening in our culture, loss of the idea of community, loss of health care and welfare and all sorts of things. I was spending a lot of time having him say it, and then I cut that."
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.
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.
Richard Linklater's film version of the non-fiction book Fast Food Nation went from an exposé 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.
Glen or Glenda? is essentially Ed Wood's apology for crossdressers like himself; he even played the crossdressing title character under a pseudonym.
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.
Jonathan Demme was reluctant to direct The Silence of the Lambs because he didn't want to glorify the FBI, who he regarded unfavorably because of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover wiretapping Martin Luther King. Never mind that Hoover had been dead for nearly 20 years. You can see his anti-FBI stance in his previous movie Married to the Mob where Michelle Pfeiffer's character is secretly bugged by the FBI and they are seen as big as villains at the mob. Pfeiffer even has a line after she's forced to be a witness or go to prison, to the "You and the mob, you're just the same!" In Silence of the Lambs they mention Clarice asked her boss about Hoover's illegal wiretapping when she was a student and he was lecturing at her university.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is devoted almost entirely to discussions of race, racism, nationality, and immigration, and most of the scenes in it exist to make a point on one of those topics. Sometimes the author simply eschews the narrative altogether to include "blog posts" on those topics by the protagonist.
Anarchaos by science fiction author Donald E. Westlake comes off as this concerning anarchism, with the main theme being that Anarchy Is Chaos (as the title kind of implies). He posits a world entirely colonized by anarchists, which quickly breaks down into, well, chaos (in the story the world is named Anarchaos by the anarchists themselves, which seems very unlikely). Despite this, it's a good story.
Orwell's Animal Farm is also a thinly veiled satire of the Russian Revolution, and more generally of the nigh-universal Full-Circle Revolution cycle as every new regime becomes corrupted and winds up like the old.
"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.
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...
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.
Kurt Vonnegut does this a lot. Cat's 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...
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Four kids are punished for their flaws, 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 Jerkass behavior which, as Dahl also points out, is indulged by their parents.
Christian Nation by Frederic C. Rich is one that speaks against fundamentalist Christianity and their promotion of Dominion Theology, as portrayed through the Alternate History of the United States that follows Sarah Palin becoming its president.
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.
Self-proclaimed libertarian P. J. 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".
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 author places Eastern people high up on a pedestal over Western people to a point of othering them.
Everything Flows is basically one long statement by Vasily Grossman on Stalinist oppression and the necessity of freedom, with story to help the digestion.
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' culturesnote 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 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.
The Green Face and later novels by Gustav Meyrink were an Author Tract plus a bit of plot.
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 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).
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—and more generally, a Take That at Utopian fiction in general, satirizing the idea that you can write a book to "prove" your social theory will work in practice. In other words, it's an Author Tract about Author Tracts (specifically saying that if your tract is about the real world—rather than fiction—it's pointless).
Tom Clancy's Executive Orders has President Jack Ryan remaking the U.S. government, after most of its Legislative and Executive branch were killed at the end of Debt of Honor, by a Japanese Airlines 747 crashing into the Capitol Building while Ryan was being sworn in as Vice President.
The Jakub Wędrowycz 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 a European Union official.
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 at the public's heart and by accident I hit it in the stomach."
Often unappreciated is the fact that the day-to-day struggle of Upton's protagonist, Rudkus, became an accurate prediction of the right-wing capitalist dictatorships that ascended in Taiwan and elsewhere Free World, right down to the interpersonal conflicts of the vast, debt-jailed undereducated peasantry that other authors predicted would be wiped out by modern economics by then (rather than in Upton's homeland)....a half-century later.
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.
Among these were his son, whose death many saw as part of the reason why Doyle became a Spiritualist, including close friend Harry Houdini, who was inspired to debunk mediums because of Doyle's conversion in hopes of proving to Doyle he was mistaken about said alleged evidence. This did not work, with Doyle only becoming convinced that Houdini himself must have had supernatural powers to disrupt those of the alleged mediums, and that his underwater escape trick was made possible through "dematerializing." Houdini was appalled, but unable to convince Doyle otherwise, even after offering to reveal how he did his trick, something he had always refused to do for anyone. Their friendship ended over this. Before he died, Houdini gave his wife a code word and told her to conduct seances with mediums, so that he would be recognized by it. None ever gave her the word. Even after dying, Houdini was on the case.
In a short period of time, Doyle lost not only his son, but his brother, two brothers-in-law and two nephews. It's not surprising that he turned Spiritualist.
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 abortions anymore!
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).
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 heart-wrenching.
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.
"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.'
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
It's a bit confusing, since Silver Key implies there's a time loop of sorts, the middle-aged Carter who's lost his ability to dream going back in time and becoming his child self, and living his life again but this time retaining the magical imagination he originally lost. So while the story takes place after The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, it kind of also predates it.
A minor example from 1632: Almost 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.
Starship Troopers is an Author Tract, all right. Robert A. Heinlein wrote it in protest of America signing a nuclear treaty with Russia—whom he did not believe would keep nuclear treaties.
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.
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 were always slightly present, but really 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, in a manner which contradicts earlier books.
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!
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 which 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.
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.
Vita Brevis: A Letter to St Augustine by Jostein Gaarder consists of letters criticizing the works of an early Christian theologian, written from his fictional lover's point of view. His beliefs about sex and joy are contested in particular, and often in a way that might be seen as an appropriate reaction to mindsets still relevant, thus instrumentalizing 1500-ish year old texts to point out present day hypocrisy.
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.
A Wolf In The Soul is ultimately the author's treatise on what it means to be Jewish and what it means to be a human being.
Youth in Sexual Ecstasy is a novel dedicated to young people that heavily promotes sexual abstinence and a strong pro-life message.
1984, by George Orwell, is nothing but an extremely AnviliciousAuthor Tract based on his vision of the Soviet Union and on what rampant ideological totalitarianism can lead to.
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.
This trope was Charles Dickens's 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. Most of these were cases of Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped, though.
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, which is another common stereotype regarding atheists).
Given that the Green Witch is an immortal, supernatural liar, she could be read as more like a demon than an atheist. Though it is certainly true that she is tempting the protagonists to atheism.
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 according to the principles 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 politics, Wheatley also held forth in favor of his religion, a kind of cross between Christianity and Buddhism that actually does make sense.
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.
There's also a passage of about a page or so in The Purloined Letter in which the protagonist, Dupin, explains why mathematicians aren't very good at reasoning. This is tangentially related to the story, but one does wonder if it needed to be explored in such detail.
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 nihilism ("nihilists in Russia also meant radicals who wanted to violently "remake" society by destroying all the existing institutions).
Crime and Punishment is an Author Tract in the same vein, with the main character being a cruel nihilist who kills an elderly loan shark to rob her of the money he needs for university, justifying it on the grounds that "great men" such as Cesare Borgia showed no qualms about doing such things in pursuit of their goals. He winds up repenting and becoming Orthodox Christian. Not surprisingly, this was Dostoevsky's religion.
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 unlikable, 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.
99% of everything that John Milton wrote (including, tautologically, his political tracts).
John Ringo (a self-described Tea Party Republican) does this on a fairly regular basis, more so as time goes on.
The Last Centurion, written in a blog-type format, takes issue with various issues held dear by liberals, including universal healthcare, interracial relations, and "government knows best" attitudes.
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. Later, 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. He never intended to publish it, but it got published due to pressure from the fans, 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. Later volumes in the Paladin of Shadows series, which tone down some of the more extreme elements of the first book, take aim at extremist Muslims, bureaucrats, and assorted other issues that bother him.
Ringo uses Troy Rising to lay into some of his usual Pet Peeves: Pacifism is dumb, the military is extremely important, Nepotism is the bane of humanity, liberalism is evil, the Mainstream Media cannot be trusted. New(ish) ones include "space is really dangerous", "Science Is Good", and "maintenance is very important." The storyline features most "big city liberals" being wiped out when the cities are destroyed, most Muslims (at least, the ones not smart enough to be "modern Westernized Muslims) being wiped out by an alien plague, the free market being enforced, and most Hispanic males being shown to be a pack of ignorant macho yahoos.
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.
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 supporter of 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. The first two had conducted investigations of Scientology, earning them his animus.
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.
Michael Crichton's books sometimes veer into this. In many of his books, he 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. State of Fear was 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.
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.
More recently his novella Hamlet's Father, a retelling of Hamlet, has been accused of this. In it Hamlet gets portrayed as staunchly Christian with a firm belief in the afterlife, very different from his doubts about this in the play, but in keeping with the author's beliefs. These revisions would be controversial enough themselves, but it's also shown that his father was a predatory pedophile who sexually abused Hamlet and many other male characters. In fact, his father was not killed by Claudius, but Horatio, in revenge for this abuse. Worse, it's implied this turned Hamlet and the other victims gay. Card has disputed this view, but it agrees with his publicly stated theory on what causes homosexuality.
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-choice 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.
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.
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.
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman is to teach about atheism and vilify the Catholic Church.
Hybrids by Robert J Sawyer spends a lot of time talking about how evil human males are, and how they've done nothing but bring evil into the world.
Jan Guillou digresses in The Bridge Builders on American railroads mistreating Chinese "slaves" building railroads in the American West, and draws the conclusion that Americans in general are "the world's most brutal people" — even though the novel has no scenes in the US or China and none of the characters have any connection to the US or China.
Ray Bradbury uses his story "The Toynbee Convector" (title story of his mid-80s collection) to rail against his society's defeatism and negativism at the time. It is out of character for Bradbury, but works if you view the big lie of the story as representing the writer's art. In that view, Bradbury is just saying how he hopes his writing will influence the "real world" (or bragging that it has had that effect).
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's Law seems to be another David E. Kelley example, utilizing the characters of Harry and Thomas Jefferson as soap box preachers in court room scenes.
Jack Webb was known for this. Most of Joe Friday's rants on Dragnet were Webb putting in his own views.
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.
In "Sick And Tired," 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.
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.
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.
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.
Penn & 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.
Is it coincidence that the soapboxing quotient on Quincy increased as Jack Klugman got more script control? Er... no.
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.
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).
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.
Aaron Sorkin's follow-up to Wing, 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."
In projects where he's served as showrunner, Russell T Davies constitutes a mild case of this (for sufficiently flexible values of 'mild'). While he does tend to harp on about homosexuality and atheism a lot, he rarely cops out.
Averted 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.
A Perfect Circle's album Emotive, which could probably be renamed 'take this album to an anti-war protest.'
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.
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.
Diary of an Unborn Child is an anti-abortion Author Tract.
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.
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.
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 the Discovery album specifically, but the music video Interstella 5555 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.
Several of John Lennon's works from '72 and '73. "Woman Is the Nigger of the World" is a good example. There is even the Nutopian International Anthem- which is silent...
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."
"Long Leather Coat" by Paul McCartney, issued in 1993. If you are not in animal liberationist, you will get chills listening to this.
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.
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".
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.
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.
And causes are ashes where children lie slain.
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.
System of a Down lost a lot of their fandom after their concerts became political talk-downs instead of politically charged music.
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.
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. Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" has been 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.
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. 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.
With that said, at least 70% of post-"The World Needs A Hero" Megadeth is frontman Dave Mustaine taking personal potshots at the American government.
Terre Thaemlitz has a habit of releasing albums full of tracts – which contain extensive essays in their liner notes.
Since she couldn't include liner notes in early albums, she protested mindless ambient music sonically on Tranquilizer, which includes an entire ambient piece designed to sound like a jerk-off session; another song grows progressively darker and sinister in tone until the true nature of the piece is revealed in a dialog sample about murder.
Her album Couture Cosmetique was subtitled, Transgendered electroacoustique symptomatic of the need for a cultural makeover (Or... What's behind all that foundation?)
Love for Sale: Taking Stock in Our Pride, released in 1998, was ahead of its time in criticizing the media and retail worlds' attempts in repackaging and selling queer culture back to LGBT people.
Soullessness meditates on transsexuality, wage labor, spirituality, and the decontextualization and repackaging of cultural and subcultural mores.
Her entire body of work as DJ Sprinkles is about the re-appropriation and homogenization of queer culture for heterosexual masses. The song "Sloppy 42nds" was about and dedicated to all the transsexual people and bars that were thrown out of Times Square when it was revitalized into the tourist trap it is today. Her album Midtown 120 Blues begins with a three-minute filibuster on how house music's origins in physically suffering, poverty-stricken black and latino LGBT circles have been swept under the rug in favor of a white hetero experience encompassing dancing and drinking all night long; later on, she rails against Madonna for repackaging baller culture in her song "Vogue" for her own financial gain, without giving back to or even acknowledging the community it came from.
Todd Rundgren's 1975 album Initiation was a retort to his fans who wanted him to ditch the synthesizers and Buddhist symbolism that had crept into his crunchy rock sound. Instead, he went on for 68 full minutes about it, telling his fans that he was a "Real Man" "Born to Synthesize", and taunting them to follow him or lose him forever. Then came the 32 minute synth freakout that closed the album, containing movements named after the seven chakras.
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.
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. However, he always tried to keep the tone of the comic consistent, and would scrap ideas that diverted too far.
Dick Tracy's later years often had quite a few blatant tracts where Chester Gould railed against reforms to due process and the expansion of the Rights of the Accused where sadistic and psychopathic criminals were often getting Off on a Technicality.
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.
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."
BioShock and its sequels seem to be one big Author Tract against Extremism, in addition to having more mainstream anti-slavery and anti-discrimination themes.
Several members from the GTAForums community pointed out efforts of a Russian hacker named Dageron, which began as a series of fan translations for the Grand Theft Auto series of games that eventually ended up as a means to turn them into a platform for him to push his extreme right-wing, Russian ultranationalist/monarchist ideology, replacing billboards with author-tract messages about the purported dangers of gaming and censoring or nulling out missions and references he deems sacrilegious or offensive.
In the first Left Behind, 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.
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.
Kojima isn't just anti nuke, but anti war in general. Everything from the story down to the gameplay (such as the fact that from MGS2 onward, you weren't required to kill anybody) reflects a certain reverence for human life not typically found in video games.
The Odd World games have shades of this. The save the environment aesop being essentially the point of the entire series.
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.
This whole comic has been a setup for me to push my views on you that man should not fly.
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.
While he's tried avoiding this with its sequel comic, Original Life, the operative word here is "Tried" - The Muffin Arc in particular showcases his views regarding the free market.
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.note It worked - Dinobot was the first elected Transformer into the Hall of Fame
Generally Willis places what he considers the "right" opinions into the mouths of minority characters and the "wrong" opinions into the mouths of blatantly strawtastic white straight males. Generally the more of a minority the character is, the more sacrosanct their opinion is to be considered (so you know when the black woman and the lesbian have a conversation, we're meant to take them seriously). Except for Maya, who's generally just a Jerk Ass despite being a minority and (apparently) a lesbian.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
While in previous years Sinfest tended to stick towards light humour and general satire, it gradually adopted a more preachy feminist propaganda tone. These days, it's rare to see a comic that doesn't in some way promote Ishida's views.
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. The reasoning given is that this comic partially exists to educate and dispel BDSM myths.
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.
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).
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.
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.
On the subject of Demo Reel, the series was tailor-made for intersectional feminism, with a tribute to a real-life actress (Elizabeth Hartman) who committed suicide because she was too getting too old, Played for Drama rants about how much Slut Shaming sucks, interracial male/male flirting and a whole episode dedicated to shoving bisexuality in your face while another was dealing with white privilege.
Discussed by Worst Muse: "Don't think of it as a novel. Think of it as a chance to retroactively win every argument you have ever walked away from."
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 as hopelessly inept with the intelligence of a child. Brian finds him hiding out in a treehouse reading Superfudge after Hurricane Katrina, Brian tries to tell him what happened and Bush tells him to go away and not to make him "do stuff".
And then there's the one where Brian keeps 9/11 from happening, so Bush, not having any huge anti-American event to ride on creates a second Confederacy and starts American Civil War II: Time for Nukes.
Family Guy's most notable occurrence is "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven", where Brian goes on a rant that says a loving God can't exist because Meg is ugly and has a bad family.
Brian also seemed to serve as Mac Farlane's mouthpiece for a very long time, mostly whenever the subject of religion or politics came up with the show. This was one of the many, many things that Quagmire brought up in his "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
DuckTales occasionally delved into this territory. 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.
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.
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" is also that of Matt Groening.
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.