As we all know, a work's title doesn't always give a reliable indication of its contents
. In some works which try to make a point
, the title deliberately and sarcastically contradicts the work's message. Often, the title will be (part of) a statement by a character
who is clearly shown to be wrong
(from the creator's perspective, that is - not necessarily from the audience's
Done well, this serves to ram the point home in a brutal yet funny way (thus making it a lot more likely that the audience will pay attention to, and remember, the message); done poorly, it will only confuse the audience.
For some reason, this crops up particularly often in Protest Songs
, in which it may well overlap with Hail To The Thief
. Compare Ironic Episode Title
, when the contrast between title and content is one of mood rather than message.
- Fair Game is about the decidedly unfair things (from the creators' point of view, anyway) which have been done to Valerie Plame and her husband. The title is a play on words, because the phrase "fair game" also refers to animals that are able to be hunted.
- The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: The film actually shows the injustice of Robert Ford's reputation as a cowardly assassin as well as James' reputation as a murdered folk hero.
- Workaholics. The guys are total stoner slackers who try to do as little work as possible. You can almost hear the title snarking, "Yeah, these guys, reeaal workaholics they are."
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- "Another Day In Paradise" by Phil Collins is about a homeless woman who is either ignored or rejected by whomever she begs for help. The title applies to the much more fortunate people who ignore her. Collins was inspired to write the song after witnessing homelessness and poverty in Washington, DC in The Eighties.
- "With God On Our Side" by Bob Dylan.
- "Für meine Fans" by Knorkator. The title means 'for my fans' in German, implying that the work is meant as a tribute to the band's fans; however, the chorus starts with Ich schäme mich für meine Fans - 'I am ashamed of my fans'. The song is one big long Take That, Audience!
- "Jezus Redt" (Dutch for 'Jesus Saves'), by Robert Long. It's a long rant against religion in general and the Roman Catholic Church in particular. Interestingly, it shares its title with a Slayer song which is also an example of this trope; see below.
- "Land Of Hope And Glory" by Madness. The title was borrowed from a well-known British patriotic hymn; the lyrics cynically tell the story of a young man imprisoned in a Borstal institution.
- "God Save The Queen" by the Sex Pistols pulls the same trick with the British national anthem.
- "Jesus Saves" by Slayer.
- "Born in the U.S.A." by Bruce Springsteen. It's a cynical song about a poor and disillusioned Vietnam veteran, but the title makes it sound like a patriotic song - Ronald Reagan was among the many who didn't pick up on the sarcasm.
- Swamp Dogg's song "God Bless America For What" would have been an example if he had titled it simply "God Bless America", as he intended to. He had to change the title to avoid looking like he was plagiarising the well-known patriotic song by Irving Berlin.
- "Mr. You're A Better Man Than I" by The Yardbirds. All the verses follow the same pattern: 'if [insert opinion The Yardbirds didn't agree with] is true, then mister, you're a better man than I.'