"They have an engine called the press whereby the people are deceived."
The Propaganda Machine a.k.a. The Ministry of Truth
delivers the The Truth from The Government
to the people.
At least, that's what they say. In fact, a Propaganda Machine is only employed by The Empire
and used to brainwash
people into Gullible Lemmings
who believe that everything is all right when in fact, it isn't, and that the very people who could help them are their enemies. Vigorously hated by La Résistance
because it turns the very people they are trying to do good for against them.
Habitually indulges in Malicious Slander
, Astro Turfing
and Divide and Conquer
toward its scapegoats
and enemies. Opposed by the Voice of the Resistance
. Tokyo Rose
represents them to the outside world.
When instead of propaganda, the government provides mindless entertainment for the people to lull them into contented apathy, it's Bread and Circuses
The concept of propaganda is Older than You Think
, stemming back to antics in 5th Century Persia. The word itself gained fashion around 1622, as the Catholic Church instituted a new department in its ministry to non-Catholics in new areas: Congregatio de Propaganda Fide
in Latin, or "Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith." Since religions naturally choose to spread their news of their faith as part of its function, one shouldn't see this as a good thing
nor use the otherwise neutral word as an accusation
of that institution. The Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement
Propaganda is not necessarily lies or even half-truths, nor does it imply that the promoter does not fully believe what they are preaching to be true. As noted, it's in fact a historically neutral word without any moral connotations, and virtually all forms of advertising or media represent propaganda in some form or another, including pretty much any work intended to condemn
propaganda. Virtually every piece of art, literature, music and film that has a point to make represents propaganda in some form, since that is what propaganda is
. Examples of this
trope tend to be extreme cases where the preacher is using a combination of extreme censorship and/or outright lies to hammer their point across.
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- Referred to as such in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.
- All the viral messages in Starship Troopers movies are a pastiche of propaganda recruitment tools.
- The Father's public adresses in Equilibrium, although they also use Prozium to enforce obedience.
- The Empire from Star Wars, unsurprisingly.
- V for Vendetta: Lewis Prothero, or the "Voice of London" acts as the charismatic, all-British face of the Norsefire regime. Due to his previous, somewhat dubious military career, he gets put the fuck down by V early on the film. The lack of him was probably a deciding factor in the people siding with V at the end.
- C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America: The Family Values Program is a series of propaganda films to brainwash slaves, keep women submissive, and root out homosexuals. In the movie's reality, American culture was pretty much nothing but propaganda.
- 1984: The Ministry of Truth. They edit all information- every song, story, news report, even porn so that it completely fits the Party's definition of truth; and they don't care if reality says otherwise.
- On non-fiction front, George Orwell's essay "The Frontiers of Art and Propaganda" makes the point that art in all forms is, indeed, propaganda, that "propaganda in some form or other lurks in every book, that every work of art has a meaning and a purpose—a political, social, and religious purpose—that our aesthetic judgments are always coloured by our prejudices and beliefs."
- In the later Harry Potter books, The Daily Prophet effectively exists to maintain the Ministry line and discredit anyone who disagrees with it. The Ministry line varies wildly between the three books in question, but it's always at least somewhat misguided.
- Monstrous Regiment: This Discworld novel is set in the small and incredibly confrontational nation of Borogravia. Throughout the book ranking officers decry any doubts, negative thoughts, or unpleasant facts as Spreading Alarm And Despondency, a crime nearly on the level of treason, and families at home are routinely sent pamphlets and updates telling them how splendidly the war's going. Of course, Borogravia has been at war for so long, with so many different countries, that the only people who actually believe the propaganda are the people putting it out; everyone else has done the math, and noticed that they're running out of sons to send to the front lines (as the climax approaches, the characters are told that Borogravia is so badly outclassed that her opponents have actually managed to get bored of slaughtering them).
- Atlas Shrugged: Apparently, the government has enough control over the newspapers that many significant stories can only be reported as Suspiciously Specific Denials. All radio stations are made to run frequent official broadcasts, but the much-promoted November 22 "report on the world crisis" is pre-empted by John Galt's speech.
- The Global Community-controlled media and press becomes this in the Left Behind series during the Tribulation, which causes Buck Williams to develop his Voice of the Resistance publication called The Truth to counter their news report spins with actual facts.
- Averted in the Millennial Kingdom, as God allows the La Résistance group The Other Light to have their say, despite how wrong they are in contesting God's Word.
- Squealer of Animal Farm is a pig version of this.
- Fade to White, an Alternate History short story by Catherynne M. Valente is set in a post-World War Three United States. The Department of Advertising and Information is the largest employer outside the military, maintaining the facade of The Fabulous Fifties so everyone doesn't have to think about how the most of the population is infertile and large parts of the world are a radiation-blasted wasteland where soldiers fight a meaningless undeclared war against the Dirty Communists.
- In It Can't Happen Here, the fascist regime exerts rigid control over all media, reporting rose-colored news to the masses. The media leaves out inconvenient stories such as revolts against M.M.s, refugees fleeing to Canada, and global events. One of the tasks of the resistance is importing factual news from Canada and secretly disseminating it to citizens.
- In Seanan McGuire's Velveteen Vs, the pith and essence of Marketing. It sells the public the superheroes, their carefully managed lives, the absolute necessity of their company, and the evil of any superpowered person who tries to escape.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek: The Romulans and especially Cardassians.
- Babylon 5. Used to denigrate Sheridan and his alien allies during the reign of President Clark, so Susan Ivanova became the Voice of the Resistance to counter it.
- In Doctor Who episode Full Circle, a handful of youngsters live in the wilderness, convinced that Mistfall is a myth put out by the Deciders to control. Then Mistfall comes. When they manage, through various ways, to get to safety, the Deciders solemnly consider their youth and their new knowledge and only put them to work.
- The Public Control Department in Wilfred Greatorex's "1990"
- Red vs. Blue. Apparently Command convinces the Reds to fight the Blue based on the information that "the Blues suck."
- In the RPG Paranoia, Friend Computer constantly reminds every inhabitant of Alpha Complex that propaganda is unnecessary, because everything is perfect.
- In Mutant Chronicles ,Bauhaus has its own department called the Ministry Of Truth which tells people what they want them to hear, mostly good things about their corporation, and bad news from the other mega corporation.
- 7.62 High Calibre: You can listen to two radio stations: the official military government news, and the pirate guerilla resistance news. Both will report on events that you are not directly involved in exactly the same (such as a noted celebrity visiting), but any events that further the plot are wildly misrepresented by both sides. If, for example, while working for the rebels, you happen to ambush a military convoy, killing all the soldiers and taking their weapons, the resistance will report that rebel fighters successfully took the convoy, killing many (which is truth but for the fact that you did most, if not all the work). The government, on the other hand, will report that the soldiers managed to drive off the attackers, successfully defending the convoy while crushing the rebel force.
- Beyond Good & Evil: This game is all about fighting a government propaganda machine.
- Bioshock Infinite: The "Voice Of The Prophet" kinetoscopes serve as this for Zachary Comstock's regime in the floating city of Columbia.
- Borderlands 2: Has the Hyperion Truth Network run by Hunter Hellquest, who runs a radio show that constantly slanders the Crimson Raiders while glorifying Handsome Jack. A late-game sidequest had Mordecai sending you after Hellquest to shut him up for good.
- Command & Conquer:
- In the first Command and Conquer, NOD has a determined go at collapsing GDI support via falsified news reports. Whiles't not precisely falling under this trope in most of the 'Western world' it is noted in the background that NOD effectively controls at least 2/3rds of the 3rd world nations of today.
- The Chinese in Command And Conquer: Generals can build Propaganda Centers and Speaker Towers to improve their troops' performance.
- You can also build Propaganda Towers which heal soldiers. Somehow.
- Freelancer: After Rhineland falls under control of the Nomads and prepares for war with the other nations, their government gains a Ministry of Information. All the news items available in Rhineland during your brief visit there are so blatantly propaganda that it stretches Suspension of Disbelief as to how the people are going along with this - after all, the prewar Rhineland government was supposed to be democratic.
- Guild Wars: The city of Ascalon was a real propaganda machine, trying to paint their foes (who were villians only by necessity) as mindless savages. Hiding the Awful Truth that really their foes aren't evil but rather misunderstood as they're a bit ticked off about having their homeland stolen.
- Heavy Metal F.A.K.K.2: The "Praise Gith!" Television Robots are a very literal example of this...
- Just Cause: There's LITERAL Propaganda Machines (Trailers, actually) all over the place in the second game which you have to destroy; you can hear when one is nearby by the distinctive anthem they play, followed by Baby Panay's talking. Although his "Propaganda" doesn't seem so much "lying to the people that everything is fine", and more of apparently stroking his own ego:
Panay: Listen most carefully, people of Panau. President Panay, your glorious and humble leader, must speak. Free photographs of the president and his staff are now available in all government buildings. REJOICE.
- Metal Wolf Chaos: The Government Policy Promotion Department, where the password is "Overflowing love, and daily benevolence."
- Red Faction Guerilla:
- Re VOLUTION: The Corporation makes use of this. You'll see more than one poster saying "Power And Control," as well as "The Corporation Is The Sun Of Your New Life!"
- StarCraft II: Mengsk's Dominion has one of these up and running, making Raynor and his buddies out to be terrorists. When Raynor & co. find damning evidence that confirms that Mengsk threw Tarsonis' population to the Zerg, they hack in and broadcast it sector-wide. The media quickly turns against Mengsk.
- Tropico: This Real Time Strategy game has this trope implied, especially in the third installment, as there are many news reels during gameplay, where the anchorman, Juanito, actually tells the people (and of course the player) how the political stability, the finances, citizen life quality, and other important aspects of the game, currently are. Although he sometimes deliberately twists facts, he can be quite openly skeptic at times. El Presidente CAN have Juanito executed in the expansion, however he is then replaced by a snarky anti-governmental anchorwoman, who unfortunately can not be rid of.
- Vietcong 2 has a VC propagandist who tries to convince the civilians in Hue to rise up against the Americans using the town hall's radio. His voice can be heard in the fifth US level and you can even sneak up to him and kill him two levels later.
- VVVVVV: Worth mentioning is a hazard in this game which is a machine that is shooting the word "LIES" at a television multiple screens to the right. The machine, television, and LIES can all kill you.
- Doctor Steel: Doctor Steel is a master of using propaganda and propagandic art to spread his Utopian Playland message, which his fans/followers (known as Toy Soldiers) happily disseminate. Doctor Steel is, in fact, the only mad dictator in the history of existence who can actually label his propaganda as "propaganda" and no one will care. Except perhaps Dr. Insano.
- Homestar Runner
- First we have Marzipan's kindergarten, named L.ifeblossoms U.ndergoing R.e-education N.aturally. Her children (i.e. grown men Homsar, Homestar, and Strong Mad) are referred to as "lifeblossoms", and the point of the lessons is parodically hyper-vegan (one of her blackboards reads "soy is also murder," as she says, "and that way you always feel guilty").
- In the short "Career Day" it's revealed Strong Bad treats his space program's promotional films as such - the vanity plate reads "SBASAF
propaganda indoctrination mind control edumacational films presents".
- The entire episode "Mindset" of Exo Squad was dedicated to Neosapien propaganda and Terrans who collaborated with it.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender : The Fire Nation. Their schools warp history and facts to promote the firelords agenda, like any good Evil Empire would. Subverted in the first season, though. Two Fire Nation guards are reading about how the avatar can supposedly "run faster than the wind" and one of them scoffs that its just Fire Nation propaganda. Guess who zooms past right at that moment?
- The Fire Nation has nothing on the Earth Kingdom capital of Ba Sing Se, whose propaganda is so thorough that they've managed to convince a significant chunk of the population (including their own king) that there is no war.
- In The Legend of Korra Varrick creates one against Unalaq with the Nuktuk film series, portraying him as a cartoonishly evil overlord with a Doomsday Device. Varrick doesn't know this, but while Unalaq's real plan isn't the same, it is as monstrous as the propaganda portrays.