"Canned orders over loudspeaker? Classy."One of the sure symptoms of fascism in the media is TV screens, radios and loudspeakers (occasionally mounted on vehicles) blaring propaganda and messages from the Glorious Leader reminding his subjects to obey. La Résistance may or may not get the chance to hack into the system and broadcast something more uplifting. Related to Big Brother Is Watching. See also Propaganda Piece.
— Zaeed Massani, Mass Effect 2
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- In Ergo Proxy, fellow citizens of Romdo are encouraged to consume and make waste.
- The third part of Genocyber has the citizens of what is implied to be the world's last surviving city being ordered to increase their production by 20% or be incarcerated.
- Father Cornello's radio broadcast in Fullmetal Alchemist has shades of this.
- Though not really propagandistic, the civilians aboard the Macross in Macross: Do You Remember Love? are on the receiving end of a couple throughout the film, usually warning that the ship is under attack/about to transform and that it would be a very good idea to seek shelter or shelter in place.
- A later sequence shows Admiral Global taking over the ship's civilian broadcasting network to announce the brokering of a peace treaty between the Macross and Vrlitwhai'snote fleet.
- In V for Vendetta, unlike the movie (see below), the public address system is used for a nightly broadcast from the Voice of Fate (which V enjoys toying with, first driving the man who provides the voice insane, and later hijacking it for his own address). Later, after Finch reports that V is dead, the government wastes no time getting that news out over the public address system.
- In Achille Talon: Le Roi des Zôtres, this is used as part of a Zero-Approval Gambit: the cheap-ass record is supposed to sound like adoring crowds mindlessly repeating their leader's call to war, but starts skipping in the middle. Every listener easily recognizes it as a fake (one noting it must be at least forty years old) and revolts — Just as Planned.
- In Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, the Republic Intelligence Service does this in areas they control. When Sarah stumbles on facilities in places nobody would think to look, a looped message issues warnings about violation of the law and resulting imminent boardings.
Films — Live-Action
- The infamous "Leave the Bronx!" sequence from Escape 2000.
- In Buckaroo Banzai, there's a public address system inside the Yoyodyne facility occasionally broadcasting brief messages and propaganda to the Red Lectroid workers.
- There are large loudspeakers all over London in V for Vendetta, which implies that the Norsefire government engages in this trope. However, they aren't actually used for this at any point in the movie, and the only use they get is when V hijacks them to provide a soundtrack for his fireworks-laden bombings.
- In Fight Club, Tyler Durden delivers some over a bullhorn to the first class of Project Mayhem.
Tyler Durden: Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else. You are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.
- The Nazi propaganda tower in Saving Private Ryan.
Capt. Miller: (repeating) "The Statue of Liberty is kaput." Well, that's disconcerting.
- Invasion of the Neptune Men's "DO NOT PANIC. DO NOT PANIC." gets lampshaded by Mike Nelson: "Yeah, right."
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country has a mundane example in the form of PA announcements aboard the Enterprise informing crewmembers to remain on watch due to the ship being outside of friendly territory.
- Used during the battle of Stalingrad by the Red Army as a means to bolster morale in Enemy at the Gates.
- Mister Roberts. At regular intervals an unseen crewmember laconically announces "Now hear this, now hear this" followed by Captain Morton's latest act of petty tyranny. This serves as a Chekhov's Gun for the Is This Thing Still On? moment, when the captain inadvertently broadcasts to the entire crew how he coerced Roberts into toeing the line.
- Mad Max. The unseen female dispatcher primly announces directives that bear little relevance to the brutal gang-plagued world the underfunded Main Force Patrol is trying to keep in line.
The Captains of the Hall have asked that pursuit officers refrain from using the slang "Bronze" for the Main Force Patrol. The word is considered disrespectful and citizens should be actively discouraged from its use.
- Dredd. Likewise in the crime-plagued dystopia of Mega City One, a recorded voice cheerfully announces that the food court will be ready in half an hour, as an automated sweeper removes the blood and dead bodies for recycling.
- Jonestown. While in Guyana Jim Jones had loudspeakers set up so the members of Peoples Temple would hear his voice constantly, no matter where in Jonestown they were. When he wasn't giving speeches himself, the speakers were playing recordings of his previous speeches.
- The film version of 1984 with John Hurt features an loudspeakers announcing production quotas.
- The original version of The Prisoner has the eternally cheerful PA announcer (Fenella Fielding) announcing public events and giving dire warnings of possible rain showers. Occasionally (as in "The General") the PA system is given over to other propaganda voices.
- The Mirror Universe in The Middleman has giant screens broadcasting propaganda messages from FatBoy Industries.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: This always seems to be happening on Cardassia Prime. According to the Star Trek Novel Verse, a permit is required to not have them playing in any public space, such as a restaurant. They even play them in mess halls aboard Central Command starships.
- At one point, Sisko, O'Brien and Jake were busy in one of the old ore-processing centers when they accidentally triggered a leftover Cardassian program designed to put down a Bajoran workers' insurrection; Dukat repeatedly popped up in pre-recorded videos telling the "workers" to quit before they get killed and such. It eventually sends out a pre-recorded distress signal.... which Dukat himself picks up.
- Non-villainous example in M*A*S*H, via Radar's various loudspeaker announcements. This also happens in the 1970 film, to the point where it's even employed in place of closing credits!
- While Community's loudspeaker announcements are usually basically the kind of announcements you'd get in a community college with as much craziness as Greendale, when a social rating app leads to Greendale becoming a dystopia straight out of 70s science fiction so does the loudspeaker announcements.
The Dean: Tranquillity is Advancement. A Happy Three is a Future Four.
- Blake's 7
- The pilot episode opens with a security camera panning over drugged and docile citizens walking zombielike through white-painted corridors to the cheerful sound of muzak and a voice announcing various government directives.
- In Season 4 the Terran Federation has spread its empire due to Government Drug Enforcement. A secret resistance video shows Federation citizens with zombie-like expressions and numerals stamped on their foreheads, moving listlessly up and down elevators while a soothing voice tells them, "You are cared for. You are loved." The voice continues even when the guards get bored and start shooting people for fun.
- Used by The Protomen. "WE HAVE CONTROL. WE KEEP YOU SAFE. WE ARE YOUR HOPE."
- The Wall: "We are waiting to convene at 1:15 outside Brixton Town Hall, where we shall be waiting..."
- A variation occurs in "Kilroy Was Here", the opening movie for Styx's Caught in the Act Live concert. Here, a holographic projection of Dr. Righteous' face gives an "uplifing speech" during a rock-burning bonfire.
- "Shut Up, Be Happy", the intro to Ice-T's The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech... Just Watch What You Say, samples the mock-dystopian announcements from Jello Biafra's "Message from Our Sponsor" over the riff of Black Sabbath's self-titled song. "SHUT UP. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO THINK, OR DEPRESSION MAY OCCUR."
- Negativland's song "Christianity Is Stupid" takes the piss out of a terrible Christian propaganda film (see it here) by Sampling a sermon by Rev. Estus Pirkle. The preacher describes what he thinks the U.S. would be like under totalitarian Commuist rule, with loudspeakers constantly blaring "Christianity is stupid! Communism is good! Give up!". The remix repeats these words obsessively and completely out of context over a musical backing of insistently pounding drum machines and ominous Heavy Metal guitars. Conceived and produced by the late Richard Lyons after he found an album by Pirkle in a thrift shop, it was later used to create one of the group's more massive scandals.
- Vocaloid: Utata-P's Hatsune Miku song "This is the Happiness and Peace of Mind Committee". A lot of the chorus is they line "BEING HAPPY IS YOUR DUTY" repeated over and over. They'll kill you if you don't comply.
- One episode of The Navy Lark has periodic announcements made on the ship's comm for Leading Seaman Riddle to report to the bridge, which leads to the joke near the end when the announcer realizes that he is Leading Seaman Riddle.
- In Paranoia, Friend Computer has always used the PA system set up throughout Alpha Complex to efficiently broadcast timely and pertinent official messages and mandatory quarter-hourly morale enhancement to the citizenry. The introduction of personal data devices to each citizen merely makes this system more perfect.
- In Dishonored, not only are there canned orders over loudspeaker, but you also hear one of the main villain's announcements. One of the Low Chaos options you have is to make the guy playing the recordings switch them out and play a rather revealing message that shows the main villain for what he really is.
- Mass Effect:
- The Trope Namer is Mass Effect 2, where you hear Jedore, a Blue Suns officer, doing this during the mission on Korlus. None of your team members are impressed, and one of them inevitably serves up a Lampshade Hanging. Here is a list of all the squad reactions to hearing the loudspeaker for the first time (including characters that you shouldn't have at that point in the game).
- In Mass Effect 3, as you storm through Grissom Academy, the Cerberus commander in charge for attacking the facility and abducting the last few students remaining attempts to demoralize and sway the students over the intercom. You can shut him up if you find and shoot the generator powering the computer that's hijacked the academy's PA system, which then allows Kahlee Sanders, the level's Mission Control, to do a heroic version of this trope.
- Mass Effect: Andromeda has two separate examples.
- During the side mission "Dissension in the Ranks", they find canned orders sowing discontentment and treason through the ranks of the kett. Ryder tries to track down the source of the signal, only to find that they were intentionally led to a bunker with a communications system set up by the Primus, the kett's second-in-command. The Primus wants to help Ryder take down the Archon (for her own benefit) and will attempt to strike a deal.
- During Jaal's Loyalty Mission, Jaals former friend-turned-Absolute Xenophobe, Akksul, has anti-alien propaganda blaring over speakers through his base. Ryder's team lampshades how annoying the repeated message is and that, knowing the type of person Akksul is, there's probably no way of turning it off.
- One of the first puzzles in Zork: Grand Inquisitor involves turning up the volume on a propaganda-spouting loudspeaker in Port Foozle to drown out the sound of a burglar alarm.
- The first Stalker game had these shouted in a military roadblock that led into the Zone, where a drunken officer would yell official warnings and scream at his troops. The other factions - namely, the militaristic Duty and the anarchistic Freedom - spewed propaganda and encouraged neutral Stalkers to join.
- Half-Life 2:
- The usual orders from Overwatch to the Civil Protection troops (which are transmitted over loudspeakers for everyone else to hear) are often mixed up with short motivational speeches.
- Doctor Breen's "Breencasts" certainly fit as well, since they praise the regime of "Our Benefactors". Sure enough, La Résistance hacks them at one point, and Dr. Kleiner begins broadcasting a message of hope, rebellion, and whatever else happens to come to mind at the moment of recording, including a very sesquipedalian recap of events thus far in the storyline and urgings to take advantage of the collapse of the Combine suppression field to, ahem, do your part for the re-population of humanity. Which is unfortunate, since it's supposed to be brief evacuation notice.
- BioShock features corny "Rapture Reminder" Public Service Announcements and messages like "Andrew Ryan asks: Are you a man, or a slave?" being broadcast over Rapture's PA system. The sequel has Sofia Lamb using the PA system to broadcast similar messages.
- In SimCopter, you can broadcast canned orders over your helicopter's loudspeaker by pressing the F-keys. These range from "Heavy traffic in this area. Use alternate routes." to "Get out of here now, before you all die. Or Worse!!" to "I'd like a room with a shower please"
- Chinese Speaker Towers in Command & Conquer: Generals. They heal friendly units who hear them. You can even install them on the Overlord tanks and Helix choppers to turn them into pseudo-Medics.
- In Borderlands all of the major arms manufacturers seem to enjoy doing this (particularly Atlas and Jacobs, who have both featured prominently in DLC).
- In Deus Ex, there are prominent screens displaying propaganda slogans in a data entry office of a prestigious biotechnology company.
- Enclave Eyebots roam the Capital Wasteland of Fallout 3 blaring propaganda and patriotic music from the Enclave radio station (while zapping raiders, vicious wild animals, and rampaging robots to build the people's trust).
- In Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, during the mission in Seoul, North Korean troops have set up a series of loudspeakers that are blaring poorly-translated propaganda. Sam can shoot up the loudspeakers as a bonus objective, and will eventually find the broadcasting station by a command vehicle on the way to his primary objective, allowing him to permanently deal with that annoyance.
- Baby Panau's broadcasting vans, in Just Cause 2. Absent from the rest of the game however; not even the bases have a PA system, just alarms.
- Red Faction:
- The EDF have... let's see... the Voice of Mars, an almost unnoticeable military announcer (usually drowned out by explosions or gunfire) for base PAs, the obviously-canned "Get out of the vehicle and you will not be harmed!" vehicle PAs, and finally another civilian announcer for the curfew timer and other minor notifications, such as asking civilians to report suspicious activity. After a sector is liberated, the announcements change to friendlier (and often pro-Red Faction) announcements.
- The first game has Ultor using the mines' PA system to boss miners around.
- City of Villains:
- The arrival area of Grandville, capital of the Rogue Isles, has large screens with Lord Recluse giving a rousing speech on his philosophy.
- Whenever the players visit the Axis Earth/Council Empire dimension in instanced missions, the streets are lined with loudspeakers. However, they are broadcasting motivating military drumbeats instead of propaganda.
- StarCraft II has Dominion holoboards on the first mission, which seem to be loudspeaker but with a hologram of the Emperor saying his own propaganda lines. A later mission on Korhal displays the classic loudspeakers.
- From several Valve games:
- Portal: Aperture Science CEO Cave Johnson made numerous recordings to automatically play as his valued test subjects navigated Aperture's Enrichment Spheres, offering his characteristic brand of encouragement. From the Lab Rat tie-in comic, it looks like even after Cave's death, the company modified speakers to issue orders in his voice.
- The Announcer in Team Fortress 2 will praise/berate the RED/BLU teams depending on their match progress.
- Jak 2 does this; Baron Praxis spends most of the game "motivating" the populace over the city's public address system. Occasionally he addresses Jak specifically, probably to the confusion of everybody else.
- Beyond Good & Evil: The leader of the Alpha Section on the floating screens in the market. He even comments on your missions, claiming responsibility for benefits and blaming you for damages.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: This is the way Mike Toreno communicates with Carl during missions. It's quite amazing how he manages to have a loudspeaker just where a plane-dropped package fell, despite it being carried away by wind quite a bit.
- System Shock: Xerxes is the Von Braun's onboard computer. It continually broadcasts prerecorded messages — all keyed in by Captain Korenchkin, both before and after becoming controlled by The Many. See if you can tell which is which!
This is Xerxes. Tri-Optimum reminds you that there are only one-hundred-sixty-three shopping days until Christmas. An extra work cycle just twice a week will give you the spending money you need to make this holiday a very special one.
This is Xerxes. Remember, replicator restrictions are in place for the good of all of us. All unauthorized database interactions will be dealt with to the utmost degree of the law.
This is Xerxes. Can you not feel the glory of the flesh? Do you not yearn to be free of the tyranny of the individual?
- In Batman: Arkham City, various rules were spoken out throughout the game by Dr. Hugo Strange throughout your time there, including the countdown to Protocol 10. Once Protocol 10 is initiated and Strange is later killed by Ra's al Ghul, the announcements stop.
- In Warframe, one faction, the Grineer, deploys Regulators in certain tylesets. They are basically sci-fi loudspeaker repeating propaganda. The propaganda actually buffs any of the Grineer Mooks that stand near a Regulator, making it a (small) threat. They are easily destroyed though.
- Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine has some in buildings that were not damaged too much by the Orks.
- In a couple of spots in [PROTOTYPE 2], a soothing voice reminds the citizens of the Green Zone that Gentek is their only hope for a cure, which is almost ready anyway, and at least they're not in the Red or Yellow Zones.
- Alice: Madness Returns has some mad orders broadcast in the factory levels of the first chapter.
- Federation Starbases in Star Trek Online have a pool of PSAs that play randomly over the PA, just audibly enough to remind players that, "unaccompanied tribbles are an environmental hazard," or that "starship traffic has right of way". One of them is, "security to the transporter room," intoned with a complete lack of urgency.
- Hyperion-controlled locations in Borderlands 2 tend to have this, although it varies depending on where you are. Mostly it's delivered by an automated voice, although sometimes it's a recording of Handsome Jack instead, and in Lynchwood it's always the Sheriff or Deputy Winger.
Overlook: Hyperion is proud to announce the size of your bi-yearly medicine shipment has [doubled]! Congratulations on your [second] bottle of aspirin.
Wildlife Exploitation Preserve: Exercise caution when unloading slag barrels. The life you save may be more monetarily valuable than your own.
Lynchwood: A few of you have learned that Handsome Jack is my boyfriend. If you think I'm just a pretty face who got this town as an anniversary gift, you know where to find me.
Opportunity: Hey kids, do you know what your mommies and daddies gave up to live here in Opportunity? Literally nothing! You're paid to be here! I provide all the food and protection you need. Remember, we should all love our parents, but love me more.
- Parodied in a quest of Borderlands The Presequel wherein an unfortunate female announcer is saying ridiculous stuff (like "booty salads") because she just sits in a dark room and reads what's she's given, and who's giving her stuff is some bored Dahl soldier Mooks. Naturally, in true Borderlands fashion, she hires you to kill them.
- For one day in October 2010, a loudspeaker was set up in New York City and connected to a cell phone, so that random people all over the world could issue their own canned orders via loudspeaker.
- Some villages in China had speakers installed in private homes during the Mao era for this purpose. This is reportedly still the case today in North Korea. It is hard to verify whether North Korea has propaganda loudspeakers at homes (radio and TV seems to suffice for most) but they are commonplace around cities and workplaces. Truck-mounted speakers were also reported by travelers. There was also the infamous "Propaganda Village" just north of the South Korea border, so called because there used to be loudspeakers constantly blaring propaganda about how much better it is in the North. The South Koreans retaliated by drowning it out with cheesy pop music and the situation escalated until neither side could stand the racket anymore and they called a ceasefire.
- Transit hubs worldwide follow this trope, with pre-recorded messages in multiple languages — usually that country's official language(s), plus English if that isn't already included — reminding travelers not to leave luggage unattended and to report any suspicious activity to the authorities. Such announcements come in for a lot of mockery from frequent travelers, as "unattended luggage" is much more apt to be stolen long before it'll be reported.
- In Japan, ultra-nationalists occasionally drive around cities in vans decked out in the imperial sunburst, blaring propaganda from speakers.
- Some modern fire alarm systems work this way. An alarm chime sounds, followed by a pre-recorded polite message along the lines of "A fire has been reported in your area. Please evacuate immediately."
- Done after a number of incidents where people died because they didn't know the alarm they were hearing was a fire alarm. A study done for British television showed that most department store shoppers hearing a standard fire alarm assumed it had nothing to do with them - many thought it was a warning that a shoplifter had been caught, while for others the alarm didn't even register.
- In some areas, such as the American Midwest, the loudspeakers won't even bother with the canned orders, but will instead blast out a deafening siren across the landscape. These typically serve a single purpose, which the local population will be familiar with. In the case of the American Midwest, that would most often be tornadoes, with the siren warning the population to seek shelter immediately.
- Since the year 2000, this has been used in those parts of Israel that were bombarded almost daily by rockets launched from the Gaza strip. When a rocket is detected in the air, a recorded female voice comes on the loudspeaker and repeats in monotone: "Color Red. Color Red. Color Red", over and over. If you hear this, it means there's a missile heading for you. You have less than 15 seconds or so to get to the nearest shelter (if there is one), or risk being hit by the bomb or its shrapnel.
- Grocery stores, shopping centers and malls on occasion do something similar, whereby the PA system is used to announce sales, employment benefits or in general just tell the customer how great the store they are currently shopping in is.
- There you go.◊ PsyOps HMMWV: Canned orders over loudspeakers in the field. Damn things are loud, too. You'll hear one long before spotting it. Also useful for throwing parties.
- Some communities have electronic warning sirens that can also issue voice messages.
- In Ireland, announcements that smoking is illegal on buses are regular on Dublin Bus. Also, several hospitals have an oppressive loudspeaker at the door telling people not to smoke.