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Drinking the Kool-Aid
I think a good idea for a new Broadway musical would be Jonestown!, featuring the toe-tapping finale, 'Don't Drink the Kool-Aid!'
R.M. Weiner

Phrase used to indicate that someone has bought into a proposition, with the implication that they really shouldn't have.

The phrase originated with Ken Kesey's use of LSD-spiked Kool-Aid to entice people into the counterculture. It took on new meaning and popularity upon the Jonestown massacre, where many members of a cult committed suicide or were murdered by means of poison distributed via a similar beverage called Flavor Aid, which thanks to this phrase is often misattributed to being Kool-Aid. As a result, both brands, but especially Kool-Aid, have to endure this fact even today. It should also be noted that in the Jonestown incident, the victims knew the drink would kill them, and some were forced at gunpoint; today, Jonestown survivors consider the incident to be a mass murder, and really don't like it when this trope is invoked.

This phrase, and related connotations, are commonly used on all sides of Strawman Political arguments.


Examples

Comic Book
  • During the "Childhood's End" arc of New X-Men, Stryker's church is described as a "drinking the Kool-Aid" type of cult by the kids.

Literature
  • The Dresden Files: In Changes, Harry uses the phrase in front of the Merlin, leader of the White Council, about the Senior Council not directly meeting with a dangerous vampire as they don't trust her. He looks confused, until Captain Luccio says "the mass suicide in Jonestown last century," at which point he understands the term.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: The entire Sisterhood and their allies have this sort of mentality. They believe that Revenge, inflicting the Fate Worse than Death on their targets, and acting like all-around Jerk Sues are great ideas. Fortunately, Maggie Spritzer came to realize that this trope was going on, and essentially left them by the final book Home Free.
  • It's kind of used as a joke in the Baby Sitters Club snark community to say that the BSC are a cult and use drinking purple koolaid to control their members.

Live-Action TV
  • Used twice in The West Wing, both times referring to President Bartlet's senior staff.
  • On LOST, Sawyer uses this phrase to describe the followers of the Man in Black.
  • The Veronica Mars episode "Drinking The Kool Aid" sees Veronica investigating a commune/possible cult. Her Side Kick, Wallace, eventually does an episode Title Drop.
  • In What Not to Wear, a fashion show thing, Stacy London says this when the Victim of the Week starts to come around in one episode.
  • Invoked on Community during a discussion of Pierce's beliefs. Pierce's faith believes that when Buddha returns everyone will merge into shimmering ocean of knowledge that tastes like Hawaiian fruit punch. Lets hope it doesn't come to that.

MMORPG

Webcomics
  • Something Happens: "Oh NO!".
  • In Sinfest, Monique is offered some.
  • Exterminatus Now has an arc named after this that starts here involving the investigation of a seemingly abandoned town. At one point, Eastwood jokes that some cult of crazies committed mass murder-suicide at the behest of their nutty leader, and that the team should look for records of mass import of Cool-Ade. As it turns out, that's exactly what happened. The cult that spanned the entire town believed that if they were killed, freeze-dried, powdered, and mixed into the drink powder, the resulting liquid drunk by the last member would create 'some kind of gestalt psychic entity'. It failed before the team even got there: the drinker drank some of the drink, slipped into diabetic coma, fell in the vat and drowned.
Western Animation
  • Parodied on an episode of Family Guy. Meg unknowingly joins a cult trying to be popular, wherein the leader of said cult tries to initiate a mass suicide through... You guessed it. Stewie kills him.

Real Life
  • In the US Navy's Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) community, signing a contract to become a Department Head is often referred to as Drinking the Kool-Aid. Department Head is the next step up after the entry job, Division Officer, and officers face the choice to re-commit for DH or resign after 4-5 years of service. It's also seen as one of the most stressful jobs in the Navy, and by signing up you're committing yourself to at least four years of it; so the implication is that if you sign on and take the bonus, you've fully bought into the "SWO Propaganda".
  • Frequently used by comic book fans with regard to the corporate culture of CrossGen which, uniquely amongst comic book companies, expected writers and artists to come into the office like a 9 to 5 job; any writer or artist who agreed to such a system had obviously drunk CrossGen's Kool-Aid, as had fans of their highly diverse but closely linked books. By the time of CrossGen's collapse, one comics commentator discussing it lampshaded "Most of you are probably now waiting for the Kool-Aid joke."
  • Jonestown, as described above, is often invoked as an example of the manipulative techniques used by religious or political cults. In the case of Jonestown, the literal Kool-Aid (well, FlavorAid) had truly tragic results.


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