Most children are familiar with the line "Do as I say, not as I do." A Broken Aesop is this in aesop form.
Basically, a Broken Aesop is a story where a 'moral' presented just doesn't match the original moral that the story actually contained (and unlike the Spoof Aesop or Ignored Aesop, they don't do it on purpose). Sometimes the resulting moral feels so tacked on that it comes across as an AnvilEx Machina. Or just plain hypocrisy.
Common methods of breaking An Aesop include:
A Compressed Vice, a Reset Button, or a Snap Back: There's a lesson, but because the sequel/next episode/next installment forgets it happened or pretends it didn't happen, there are no consequences.
Saying anyone can do anything they set their mind to by their own resolve, when the character was born into royalty or privilege, born with some sort of superior genetic power, or otherwise revealed to be from a powerful, significant bloodline explaining their greatness.
Not to be confused with a Family Unfriendly Aesop, where the lesson is followed, but the Aesop itself is strange and/or non-standard, though the two can overlap. Compare Analogy Backfire, which is when an analogy (which may or may not contain an Aesop) makes a point that is the opposite of what it was supposed to. See also Values Dissonance.
Important Note:As tempting it may be, please do not add meta-fictional examples (which are more along the lines of a Clueless Aesop). Only add examples where the aesop is broken within the narrative itself. This means do not add examples such as:
"How many trees got cut down to produce that anvilicious book warning us about deforestation?"
"How much money did that film with the message against being greedy or about money not being everything or the anvilicious anti-capitalist message gross at the box office?"
"Howgreatlooking were the actors in that work telling us that looks aren't everything or that it's what's on the inside that counts?"
"Why is a television show/video game giving an aesop about how people need to watch less TV/spend less time playing video games?"
A PlayStation 3 commercial for the Move tries to say that motion control gaming is not just for children. It then shows a montage of about 6-9 games set to what may or may not be Chariots of Fire, about two of which most parents wouldn't let their child play. Even worse is the fact that a 12-year-old girl is seen playing one of the less child-friendly games. There's also the fact that the Wii made most of its money because motion control was successful for family gaming, which one who is a little more cynical could say is the entire reason Sony made the Move.
"Who says motion control is for kids?" You did, back when the Wii first came out.
Nintendo isn't immune from this either - in 1995 and early 1996, during the early years of the PlayStation, Nintendo put out commercials about their "arcade-perfect" Killer Instinct ports and closed each commercial with "So who needs a new system?" Later in 1996, when the Nintendo 64 was released, it aired commercials asking consumers to "Change the System." A lot of said consumers did.
This ad either says domestic violence is okay as long as the girl fights back, or that domestic violence is like a boxing match, where both parties have consented to it.
The Dove soap ads "Campaign for Real Beauty". They got a lot of praise for using models bigger than a size 2 and saying that all women are beautiful... But on closer inspection, it was found that in the casting calls, they were only looking for women with "flawless hair and skin". So all women are beautiful... if they have smooth, clear skin and shiny, bouncy hair.
The campaign suffered from massive Fridge Logic almost from the beginning. If Dove successfully convinces young women and girls that they're pretty just the way God/nature built them, they would have less of a reason to buy their beauty products. From an ethical standpoint, that's laudable. From a business standpoint, that's career suicide. For the having-your-cake-and-eating-it-too results Dove hoped for, the result would inevitably make them look hypocritical.
Dr Pepper made an ad campaign based on individuality and "I gotta be me"... but the commercials had most everyone wearing near-identical red shirts with white text. While all of the text was different, in most crowd scenes everyone looked the same. They sorta fixed this when you could buy your own customized shirt... but then they went around giving people pre-made shirts. I guess I don't gotta be me, I just gotta be my shirt.
Discussed in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is MagicFan FicTwilight Switch. After witnessing Applejack losing a large harvest of apples, Twilight feels guilty about not being able to help and tries to figure out a spell to fix it. Applejack eventually explains that she'd lost the apples due to her own hard-headedness; if Twilight just magicked up a solution, it'd be like a 'get out of stubbornness free' card and she wouldn't have to deal with the consequences of her actions, effectively ruining a hard-learned lesson.
In Fallout: Equestria, the reader is introduced early on to the concept of virtues: every pony needs a guiding principle to resist the corruptive influence of the wasteland. This is exemplified by Monterey Jack, who refuses to tell a lie under any circumstances. LittlePip is profoundly affected when he openly admits to attempting to rob her, which ultimately leads to his execution and provokes Pip to consider her own virtues. Little consideration is given to the fact that his children are now orphans, or that he tried to rob LittlePip to 'make sure his children still have a father' in the first place.
On top of that, the element of honesty spends most of the story under an alias, uses a fake voice to address the public, and spouts lines like "Sometimes being honest means knowing when not to be."
The Dakari-King Mykan wrote My Little Unicorn to try and prove that you don't need friends to succeed, and that friendship isn't magic, but rather useless. However, in the vast majority of the fights in the series, it's Lighting's friends who figure out how to defeat a monster or do most of the work, with Lightning only blasting the Rainbow Rod or the Uniforce at the end as a finishing blow. The Grand Ruler even says at one point that friendship is an important part of magic, completely contradicting the fic's intention.
Notorious B.I.G and Puff Daddy's video for Mo' Money, Mo' Problems stars Puff as a golf champion who laments over his recent acquisition of wealth in lieu with the song's title. For some reason, that doesn't seem to stop him from rapping for about three minutes about how awesome it is to be rich.
The Lemon Demon song "Geeks in Love" has a fairly good (if tired-out) message by itself, that it is better to be unique and spend time with the rare person who shares your own interests than to be hip and hang with the crowd. However, its music video by Albino Black Sheep functions largely as a tribute to every other annoying Internet fad in the world, and aligning them with the interests of the eponymous couple. It's not really individualism when you swap one dull set of pop-culture icons out for another just like it.
Parodied by the Flight of the Conchords song "Think About It", which takes a swipe at well-meaning but ultimately fatuous protest songs. The song raises moral issues but completely misses the point of them:
They're turning kids into slaves
Just to make cheaper sneakers
But what's the real cost?
'Cause the sneakers don't seem that much cheaper...
Why're we still paying so much for sneakers when you've got them made by little slave kids?
What is your overhead?
Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" teaches us that we're all children of God, all good, and have a right to live. It also says we should be comfortable with who we are. Which is nice, but then you remember that Lady Gaga uses a stage name and hides behind glitter and strange clothing, plus usually covers her face. You could argue that THIS is her true self she's expressing, due to Alternative Character Interpretation. Or that you have a right to be comfortable with who you are and a right to do it without the paparazzi invading your privacy when you're not "on".
Not to mention that the song also speaks for persecuted transgender people. People for whom "You're just fine the way you were born!" isn't exactly the best advice.
In the music video for "Macho Man", it depicts the macho singers working out on some weight machines—set to the lowest settings. "Macho, macho man" indeed.
Jennifer Lopez: Jenny from the Block. She wanted to convey humility and staying true to her roots; the music video clip did the exact opposite.
The music video for Pink's "Stupid Girls" contradicts the song's message by associating stupidity with make-up, fashion and anything pink, and implying that playing football makes you smarter and a better person while playing with dolls makes you stupid. The song teaches girls that they should be smart, not physically strong and unfeminine.
BarlowGirl's She Walked Away begins with a girl leaving her home and makes it sound like she was being abused and finally had the courage to leave after a Break the Cutie moment (If there were tears she laughed, it's time to kiss the past goodbye) but then suddenly has her family singing about how God should tell her to please come home, making the song's apparent aesop "Home is where the heart is, even if you're being abused." Alternately, she was just a plain ol' runaway. The lyrics are ambiguous.
The infamous Double Take song "Hot Problems" is about two girls "singing" that even though they're hot, they're still imperfect and have their fair share of struggles. At the very end, they laugh and say, "Just kidding; we're perfect!"
"Escape" (The Pina Colada Song) ends with the guy rekindling his romance with his wife...by answering a personals ad, thinking he'd end up with a new girlfriend. So, it's OK to take out ads in the personals because your marriage is boring, because it just might show you what you had in front of you: a great spouse who was perfectly willing to cheat on you.
Moonwalker opens with the pro-peace-and-love number "Man in the Mirror", but the segment of the anthology film everyone remembers — "Smooth Criminal" — not only has an extended dance number in which Jackson beats up and shoots thugs, even firing off a machine gun at the end, but also climaxes with him in the form of a giant robot and later spaceship mowing down mooks and the leader without a care in the world.
Like "Born This Way", "They Don't Care About Us" has an anti-bigotry/injustice message, even name-dropping Martin Luther King, Jr. at one point — and yet, in its original version, used anti-Semetic slurs.
Oingo Boingo's song "Capitalism": "There's nothing wrong with capitalism / There's nothing wrong with free enterprise / You're just a middle-class socialist brat / From a suburban family, and you never really had to work." Then, there is something wrong with capitalism, because it turns people into "middle-class socialist brats."
That's kind of a simplification (and a cherry-picked quoting of the song). After the "free enterprise" line it goes "There's nothing wrong with wanting to live nice/ I'm so tired of hearing you whine." The song is a Take That at college students who spout prepackaged socialism and talk about getting back to "the workers" when they've never done menial labors. Basically, limousine liberals.
Myth And Legends / Folklore
"Beauty And The Beast" in its various tellings usually ends up having a Broken Aesop (especially in modern versions) that is naturally an inversion of the complaint about Shrek. It's believed that the story was originally told to girls who were in arranged marriages to men they didn't care for, so Values Dissonance may be involved.
The story is supposedly saying that Beauty comes to see beyond the Beast's appearance and accept him for who he is... except that they're only able to live Happily Ever After when the curse is broken and he reverts to a perfect Handsome Prince (and thus comes off as "only beautiful people can love each other" instead... though this sort of neglects the fact that the transformation is the Beast's reward, not Belle's). Depending on how violent the Beast's personality is portrayed as being in the particular adaptation, it can also contain the Family Unfriendly Aesop that it's okay to endure an abusive relationship, he'll change. The story in itself is hard to tell well, and thus often subverted. Some versions of the tale avert this problem by having him remain in beast form at the end, but finding true happiness anyway. Kinda like Shrek, except the prince usually doesn't actually choose to remain in beast form, he and Belle simply learn to accept it, or it's shown that Belle still loves him and thinks he's beautiful even though the spell failed to be broken. So, the "Beauty and the Beast" myth is applicable to the contemporary refinement of the modern counter-traditional you can't change the bastard message, to your love cannot change him, it can only be supportive of him while he creates his own change, assuming he desires and is willing to work for it.
Needless to say, the Broken Aesop-ness and possible Unfortunate Implications of this tale in all versions have been heavily debated and still continues to be. At least one source argues that the original fairy tale is actually the one with greater Unfortunate Implications because it implies that the true monster is not the Beast himself but the Beauty who, despite her goodness, cannot see him for the kind man he is and does seem to imply that the Beast turning into a handsome prince as soon as she agrees to marry him is more her reward than his as the Beast was kind to her from the beginning and it was she who needed to change - and that the Disney film inverts this, perhaps a little too much, by making the Beauty closer to Earth and the Beast the one who needs to change to be worthy of her.
There's also the broken aesop that comes from the fact that in a story that is supposed to be about not judging people by their appearances, the most notable aspect of the heroine is her beauty. It can make the story seem a bit less about looking beyond appearances and more beautiful women should be willing to settle for ugly men. Some variants avoid this by making Beauty's name at least partially ironic, but usually she is presented as the epitome of both physical and inner beauty, while her less attractive sisters are just as ugly on the inside. Not to mention how many variants explicitly state that the Prince is not just handsome but the handsomest man Beauty has ever seen or even the handsomest one in the world, which can lead to Unfortunate Implications about how it's apparently not enough for the Beast to become human again because he has to be gorgeous beyond belief to be a proper husband/reward for Beauty.
There are countless legends (as well as other types of works) that feature the story of a young princess who is in love with a commoner but cannot marry him because he is not of noble blood. Different stories end differently, but in the majority of cases, this "commoner" will be revealed to have noble blood by the end of the story. The often spontaneous discovery that the commoner is a prince will suddenly lift all boundaries, put a satisfied smile on the king's previously-angry face, and be followed by the sound of wedding bells. In other words, while the intended Aesop is usually that "true love conquers all", it is in fact social status that conquers all, and must be properly matched before true love can do its magic. Now, this may have been fine in the days when most societies on Earth had a strict class structure - even commoners held the misconception that the nobles were somehow innately more elevated than they were, and thus should look after their bloodlines. In today's world however, these stories continue to be told just the same, despite Unfortunate Implications that true love only works when social stature is compatible. In fact, it's not uncommon for new works to be written based on the old ones without the writer even realizing how misguided this is.
Also Garak of Deep Space Nine manages to find a different meaning to the story: "Never tell the same lie twice."
It should be noted that Aesop never actually said what the morals of his story were, instead leaving it up to the reader to decide, so "don't lie" might not be the actual moral.
The fairy tale of Donkey Skin. It's not enough that the prince loves the beautiful mystery girl who is found hiding as a scullery maid; she has to be outed as a runaway princess before the marriage is acceptable. Even though her hard work, intelligence, and bravery note and sneakiness show her to be an amazing young woman.
The original story of The Bluebeard by Charles Perault seemed to be going for an Aesop of if you get too curious you may not like what you find. Here's the problem: Bluebeard's wife may not have liked what she found, but it still probably saved her life in the end, if what she found is any guide. If she hadn't looked in the forbidden room, she probably would have wound up getting on his bad side when her sister and brothers hadn't been around. The true moral should be please be curious.
Or, "Be curious and not clumsy."
The Dick Tracy "Crimestopper's Guide" feature that runs with the Sunday strip provides a number of generally helpful crime prevention tips. However, they often are, if not broken, then at least hypocritical in the face of the main action: It reminds that "you cannot spot a criminal by their facial features", while the strip is best known for its grotesquely ugly villains. It also has exhortations for people to "get involved" when they see a crime committed, while in the strip helpful bystanders tend to quickly end up dead. And so on.
While WWE's heart is in the right place, their anti-bullying campaign, "Be A Star," just doesn't really have any legs to stand on. Pro wrestling glamorizes being as overbearing, cutthroat, and even downright sadistic as possible as being a surefire way to get to the top quickly and effectively. So these same people doing whatever is in their power to make sure everyone else stays underfoot to them are also telling the audience that it's wrong to do this to the people you know...well, there's some dissonance to be found.
There's also the fact that the commercial featured the Bella Twins, who were heels when the commercial they were in was being broadcast.
WWE was called out on this dissonance in 2011 by The Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards by "winning" the award for "Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic" due to their mistreatment of Jim Ross in spite of this campaign.
In his stand-up, Ricky Gervais identifies the Broken Aesop inherent in a version of the children's folk tale 'The Lazy Mouse and the Industrious Mouse' that he was told by his headmaster, at a school assembly. In the story, the Industrious Mouse labours long and hard to prepare himself for winter, whilst the Lazy Mouse bunks off and has fun. When winter comes, the Lazy Mouse has nothing, so goes to avail himself of the charity of the Industrious Mouse — who, after beginning a lecture about how the Lazy Mouse should have done his own preparing, suddenly turns around and invites him in to share. Gervais notes with exasperation that the moral is mangled from being "work hard and be prepared for the future" into becoming, in his words, "fuck around, do whatever you want and then scrounge off a do-gooder". He also notes that most of the pupils at that assembly took the latter aesop and "kept it up" for the entirety of their academic careers. He also points out that, thanks to the Rule of Three, the moral of the tale of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" is not "never tell a lie", but rather "never tell the same lie twice." And rounds it off by inferring that the moral of "Humpty Dumpty" must be "don't climb walls if you're an egg."
We are told we should all live our lives to the full because we could die tomorrow, and there is no day like today. But if you do happen to die, you can come back to life through The Power of Rock.
The concept of there being "no day but today," which is sung about a lot, is subverted in the second act through the use of passage of time: the first act, in which the mantra occurs extremely frequently, takes place in one day while the second takes place over the course of a year (in which the mantra is shown to be faulty at best).
Rent also likes to complain about how hard it is to be an artist, but any kind of artistic job working for someone else would be selling out. One wonders what would happen if Roger actually starts selling CDs. Or, indeed, if Rent itself becoming so extremely lucrative means we shouldn't listen to it as it sells itself out....
For people who spend the whole time talking about love and loving life, the circle of friends seems to have a lot of cheating, poor communication, and emotional sniping at each other - no one is enjoying themselves very much, or following Angel's lauded example. And, for that matter, Collins, who spends his time loving Angel and loving life with Angel ends up pretty much broken because of Angel's death.
And then there's Angel: percussion genius, representation of unconditional love... and canine-killer-for-hire.
Wicked's primary aesop 'what makes one wicked' ends up mildly broken due to the Lighter and Softer adaptation. For all of Elphaba's problems, in the musical, she is never truly wicked, so the musings seem kind of pointless. Also, the (admittedly depressing) aesop of 'No good deed going unpunished' is broken by Elphaba getting a happy ending in contrast to the extreme Downer Ending of the book.
According to the finale, electricity and diesel fuel will eventually run out, but somehow steam power is sustainable. What exactly are we burning to get this magical steam? Also (presumably) coal burning steam engines are better than environmentally friendly options like solar and nuclear power. This last one may be because it was written in the 1980s.
In the closing number "Light At The End Of The Tunnel," the characters do briefly consider solar and nuclear energy, but then dismiss them because 1) How is one supposed to make use of solar power at night? and 2) People would get poisoned by nuclear fallout. Oversimplifications, to be sure - but, then, this is a children's story.
Richard Stilgoe, the show's lyricist, knew full well that steam engines polluted the environment; he claimed that it was far easier for audiences to sympathize with a steam locomotive than a diesel or electric one, since steamers had more of a historical precedent. But the finale, according to him, is meant to symbolize the triumph of "old-fashioned craftsmanship" over new technology. Take a moment to consider why a steam locomotive is not a suitable representative of "old-fashioned craftsmanship."
Moliere often has stories involving young people in love, wanting to marry despite being rich/poor, or noble/commoner, and most time at least one has his parents planning an Arranged Marriage for him. Stories always end with the poor revealed to be actually rich, the commoner a noble. In Les Fourberies de Scapin, he also makes 2 pairs of people revealed to be actually brother and sister. Remember Molière was playing for the king, so the twist endings can be interpreted as a means of Getting Crap Past the Radar: the whole story is about refusing the parental Arranged Marriage, last five minutes have the parents agree with the true love marriage.
Bionicle's Vakama was ridiculed by his fellow heroes-in-the-making for his weird dreams and visions. He always misinterpreted them, seemingly leading his friends into danger, which lead to him going emo over his situation, calling himself a "cross-wired freak". Yet in a Tear Jerker scene, his former hero, the wise Turaga Lhikan persuaded him to have more confidence, both in himself and his visions, and after he followed his feelings, he ended up saving his people. The aesop was somewhat broken when he became so reckless that he almost undid all the good his team had done so far, and then some. However, when the story began following a Doing in the Wizard -path, trying to squeeze in as many "all your beliefs will be turned upside-down" plot-twists as possible, it became permanently broken, since we learned that these visions were nothing more than glitches in his artificial intelligence, and he really was a cross-wired freak, who "lucked out".
Also the moral introduced in the first '06 novel: "You don't have to be a Toa to be a hero", meaning that even a small and powerless Matoran is able to do great deeds. There are two "set" of Matoran characters who independently make this their mantra. Come the next novel, and what happens? One team is zapped into Toa, because only with their new special powers could they stop that year's villains. The others are meanwhile dumped into the trash by said villains. However, the storylines of earlier years did manage to make this message clear.
Glasnost The Game is a Risk clone that requires you to disarm all your territories to win the game in an anti-war asoep. Of course, you need to first build arms so you can conquer territories.
The Wotch: Cheer. The main character does not want to undo his/her and his/her friends' Gender Bender because he/she feels they now have no reason for being dicks. Apart from the fact that they had none before either, her speaking about how they became good people after that is disturbing because a) it has a Ginormous Unfortunate Implication (Man= Jerk, Woman = Good) b) he/she is making his/her decision for his/her friends too, who don't remember who they were before and thus can't properly decide. In The Wotch, it was suggested that the other friends had some recollection of their actions as boys and were very ashamed of it, to the point at which they described the "bullies" (their former selves) as "jerks of the lowest caliber". That was probably an Author's Saving Throw though, and still has the initial Unfortunate Implications.
This is actually remarkably common in Gender Bender fiction; guy is a dick to a woman, and is turned into a woman as "punishment" or to "learn how women feel". For some reason, they tend to end up staying as a woman forever. It's rarely explained how the new woman is supposed to survive with no prior records, no money, and thus no legal existence, nor are the psychological issues examined, though this story takes a run at it.
The spinoff comic Cheer! does show some negative consequences of the choice, when the same girl breaks down crying because no one will remember any of the good things she and her friends accomplished as boys.
Shortpacked! constantly complains about fandoms (particularly The Transformers fandom), as do author David Willis' newsposts. Willis is not only a prominent part of said fandom, but also embodies many of the issues he complains about. This is often Played for Laughs.
The Achewood story arc where Philippe finally gets to live with his mom again ends with the moral that nothing lasts forever and everyone has to grow up sometime. But as readers have emphatically stated, Philippe will always be five!
Sabrina Online had a series of strips in December 2010 which were a reference to the sequence in Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back where the two heroes go on the road and beat up everyone who ever criticized them on the Internet. It works in the film because it's entirely in-character. In the comic, however, it's a series of Take Thats against the strip's critics. One notable strip involves Zig Zag, the viewpoint character for this sequence, beating up a guy who said mean things about her because he thinks he can say anything on the Internet without consequences. This isn't exactly true, but that's not the Broken Aesop. What's broken is the fact that Zig is the owner and star of her own porno company. You know, the industry that has historically relied on First Amendment rights to stay in business? And the "consequences" bit doesn't work either, because legally, Zig Zag committed real-world, premeditated, first-degree assault against a guy who knows her name, her face, and could easily press charges. The implication in the comic is that she'll suffer no repercussions at all.
When Sabrina brings this up later, Zig Zag admits that it cost her a small fortune to settle all the legal issues. (But it was "worth it.")
Sonichu is ripe for the picking of Broken Aesops. One of the most well known is when Sonichu and Rosechu preach forgiveness... shortly before Rosechu viciously maims Jason Kendric Howell.
A Princess Pi comic had Princess Pi learn to believe in herself and not let bullies' insults bring her down. The Aesop breaks when she starts believing her most mediocre attempts at fulfillng her royal duties suffice, and doesn't let her subjects' complaints bring her down until they tar and feather her.
In Ctrl+Alt+Del, the comic makes it clear it's wrong to be a "console fanboy," in one strip even having God personally squash one. Fine. We'll buy that; a bit Anvilicious, but an adequate Aesop of its own. However, there are issues with this, since the fanboys are always gamecube fans, the evil Gamer King in an early strip used a staff with a golden Gamecube controller on top (versus Ethan's Xbox one), Ethan playing a Gamecube is referred to as a "sin against the gaming gods," he mentions that turning the Gamecube into a robot would result into a girl robot, and doing the same to a Playstation would produce a gay one while the Xbox appears to be perfect and sinless.
Inverloch speaks out against the Fantastic Racism being perpetuated against the Dakor using the example of the kindly Acheron, who goes against the Dakor reputation for violence and agression. At least until The Reveal when we find out he's only nice because he switched bodies with an elf kid.
Homestuck - The comic arguably portrays an unintentionally justified example of Fantastic Racism. The trolls have different-coloured blood ranked on a spectrum; the closer your blood is to purple, the more power you have in society, while the closer it is to red, the less authority you hold, the rationale being that highbloods are superior due to the fact they're viewed as stronger. If memory serves, the author stated that he made the opposite ends of the spectrum so close to show how meaningless the whole thing was, and true to form, the audience is clearly intended to view the practice as wrong and side with the trolls opposed to it... except trolls do not differ only in blood colour, it is shown that highbloods are actually stronger, more psychically resilent, and longer-lived, albeit more violent (which the trolls would probably consider a good thing anyway) and having less powerful psychic abilities, than lowbloods. The highbloods are treated as being superior beings... because they are superior beings in several ways. If the Aesop was "it's wrong to treat people superior for being stronger alone", this might have worked, but the intended message seems to be "it's wrong to treat people as superior by the colour of their skin - er, blood", which backfires if having the right colour of blood gives you superhuman attributes. It's like saying it's racist to believe that Superman is stronger than an ordinary human.
Coming from The Angry Video Game Nerd, a character who is synonymous with Rolling Rock Beer, this line is actually pretty darned funny:
"... but I guess it's better than using drugs or alcohol, because with drugs and alcohol, especially drugs, you always lose, lose, lose."
"It may not feel too classy / Begging just to eat / But you know who does that? Lassie / And she always gets a treat"
"Everyone's a hero in their own way / You and you and mostly me and you"
As seen on Superdickery.com, in this PSA "The Kool-Aid man tells kids to buckle up, and then proceeds to walk right into the path of a moving car." And here's another one, about the War On Drugs:
Captain America: Remember, kids! Stay away from drugs, and you can grow up to be a superhero just like me!
Kids: But Cap, didn't you get your powers from drugs?
Whateley Academy stories regularly break their aesops. Characters that were created to explore gender issues in a superhero setting end up enforcing gender stereotypes on other characters. Gunny Sergeant Bardue, a strict gun safety nut, decides that the best way to ensure the safety of one of his students, "Loophole", is to fling a car at her head and then just hope that he manifests a mutation that can save her life.
Parents telling their children to "do as I say, not as I do" when they're caught doing some vice.
Parents ending an argument with "because I said so".
Parents telling their children that they're not old enough to try out some adult vice, which, according to psychiatrist Eric Berne, tells children that smoking/drinking will make them an adult.
Scroll down a little on this page to find an infamous newspaper clipping featuring a heavily pregnant smoker worried about the effect that loud noises will have on her fetus...
In practice, the common Be Yourself message aimed at children... sorta fails horribly. Being yourself usually comes at the cost of harsh teasing, bullying, and alienating your peers. In reality, unfortunately, you may have to force yourself into roles you are uncomfortable with in order to avoid these punishments. In truth, the only people you can really Be Yourself with are your friends.
The idea with that one is that being yourself will get you real friends, rather than people who kinda tolerate you but don't really like you for you. Although the above is partially true in that in human society it's a simple fact that a person can't just go around saying whatever they want, do what they want and so on just because they want to. That is taking "Be Yourself" or "Be True to Who You Are" a little too far. Practicing self control, and the ability to reign yourself in and do things you may not like are other equally important Aesops for kids.
On a related note, this applies to schools where uniform regulations are enforced. Basically, express yourself and be who you really are... but don't modify/wear your uniform any way other than the rules dictate, don't dye your hair any shade outside of the natural spectrum (and not a shade that's too bright/dark) or paint your nails or wear make-up, don't wear jewellery or piercings other than in your ear lobes and that's it. Remember kids, be yourself! Show the true you!
Then, of course, there's the old saw "How you look isn't important, it's what's on the inside that counts," which eventually runs into the problem that virtually nobody in the world actually behaves as though it's true.
In Spain, there is a place named after George Orwell. At this place, there is a shield stating this place is under surveillance.