In the strawmanfallacy, a debater constructs a weakened or just plain unrecognizable form of an opponent's argument, and in defeating it acts like he has defeated the real argument. This is likened to fashioning a dummy out of straw that acts as a stand-in and a scapegoat for the real issue, hence the term "straw man" fallacy. In other words, the go-to tool for someone, possibly driven by a dangerous ego, to create a fantasy outcome where they win.
A straw character is a caricature of a person, a character the author has set up in order to ridicule a particular viewpoint.
A strawman can have pretty much any viewpoint. Why bother addressing the real issues of, for example, gun control, when you can instead portray all firearms advocates as bearded, racist, hillbilly lunatics ranting about black helicopters and wanting to own their own nuclear warheads? And so it goes with other examples; capitalists literally worship the bottom line and would sell their own kids if they could; liberals are all secret Communists aiming to destroy morality and personal choice (think about that one for a minute); scientists shake their fist at God while plotting to surpass Him; the religious are wide-eyed, superstitious madmen; feminists want to kill all men; and so on.
This is not to say that such extremists don't actually exist, but the straw character presents extreme or minority views as the typical beliefs of a group rather than those of a tiny subset of it.
A sub-type of straw character is the sounding board, a character who makes points on their side purely so a character the author agrees with can reply with devastating comebacks that prove the first character's foolishness. The straw character is left stumped by the author's obvious wisdom, and will struggle to reply or explode angrily to show how unreasonable they (and anyone else holding such views) are. In some instances they'll go completely silent or avert their gaze, presumably rendered mute/ashamed by the author's "truth".
Characters of this type are extremely one-dimensional. Every aspect of them is geared towards advancing the views of the author. The presence of such characters is often jarring and sometimes offensive to people who actually hold the beliefs that are being misrepresented; in addition, strawmen are very ineffective tools to convert or convince people of opposing beliefs and tend to encourage Confirmation Bias. Their ability to always be right within the politics of their creator frequently makes them come off as extremely arrogant, condescending and unlikable. This is especially annoying when a normal member of the cast suddenly breaks the flow of the story to get on a soap box and deliver An Aesop.
Almost every evangelist tract by Jack Chick features strawmen liberals as villains. Often he proves his arguments by having a character argue down a Strawman Political.
A particularly bad one is "Big Daddy", which consists mostly of a blatant Gary Stu debating evolution with a Strawman Political science teacher. Guess who wins?
Jack Chick outdid himself in a Crusaders and Alberto comics, where the main characters meet new political strawmen every issue who state things such as the Catholic Church is really a front for The Illuminati or Communism is actually a form of Satanism.
Goldilocks, from the Vertigo comic Fables, seems to be this at first, with every negative stereotype about liberal feminists you can think of, spouting Communist rhetoric, exclaiming "Oh my Goddess!" at every turn; however, it turns out it's all an act to cynically manipulate her followers. Also, she's insane.
In an issue ofPreacher, Jesse was listening to a late-night debate between a Straw Feminist and a Straw Conservative which was so stupid he got pissed off, called the radio station, and used his Compelling Voice to make them confess what each really wanted. They both said they want cock.
The Corrupt Corporate Executive version of Lex Luthor occasionally edged into Strawman Conservative territory, though when the character actually ran for president the writers were careful not to describe his political leanings at all. Though it's worth noting that at one point, Green Arrow decries something President Luthor has done with "This would never happen with a Democrat in the White House!" (Green Arrow's own leftist strawman status is debatable; make your own decision on whether his statement there was meant as a strawman's or dead serious.) In his defense, approximately 100% of Democrats aren't Lex Luthor, so he's probably right. Although the whole "supervillain" issue is probably more relevant.
The animated "Batman/Superman: Public Enemies" avoids this by making Luthor a third-party independent.
The DCU super-duo, Hawk and Dove, were created to exemplify this trope. In the original stories, penned by Objectivist Steve Ditko, Dove, the pacifist, is portrayed as weak-willed, vacillating, and ineffectual, while his aggressive brother Hawk is the only one who manages to accomplish anything. Almost every writer since Ditko has portrayed Hawk as a thoughtlessly belligerent borderline berserker, with the rational, thoughtful Dove providing the only rational check on his action. Only rarely do we see a story where both viewpoints are treated with anything approaching equal regard, or a writer who admits the possibility that the different approaches might be appropriate in different situations. Ironically, this mainly came to the fore when Ditko was working with Steve Skeates, the more liberal co-creator of the duo. Characterization veered from side to side depending on who was doing the main plotting, until Skeates finally left the book over how Dove was being made into a wimp. When Hawk and Dove were later revived, the whole "conservative vs. liberal" thing was quietly dropped in the dustbin, and the two were recast as agents of Order (Dove) and Chaos (Hawk) meant to find a balance in tumultuous situations. Bonus Points: their father was a judge and always told them that they needed to see and understand each other's side. Later taken to extremes when Hawk murdered Dove and became a brutal militaristic dictator. And then taken to an even greater extreme during Blackest Night, where Dove I is apparently the only dead person in the entire universe who is at peace.
This all becomes rather strange when you consider that the peaceful, pacifist, Dove constantly telling Hawk that not all problems are solved by running around in spandex and punching people in the face is portrayed as unfailingly right by most writers, when the setting revolves around people running around in spandex and punching people in the face.
In the JLU episode Hawk and Dove, they were portrayed once again as Straw Conservative and Liberal respectively, and while Hawk was once again portrayed as an over-aggressive brute vs Dove's pacifist outlook, his behavior was tempered by his stated need to protect his brother, whom he saw as "weak".
The Daily Planet columnist Dirk Armstrong in Superman comics was created as a strawman conservative, though some later writers gave him more depth and sympathetic qualities, such as having to raise a blind teenage daughter on his own. His strawman status should have been obvious, given his physical resemblance to Rush Limbaugh. While he is portrayed initially as a Superman fan (for being tough on crime), he is the first to turn on Superman after he loses control of his powers and becomes an energy being... though in hindsight, he might have been the Only Sane Man on this subject! Thankfully, soon after that storyline ended, he was Put on a Bus and has not been seen since.
Some writers that handled the character seemed to think that any conservative leaning, at all, constituted being a wacko extremist. Meaning that when Armstrong vowed to devote his column to making sure a mayor with a poor gun rights record wasn't elected (at least until the election), it slammed straight into Strawman Has a Point territory so hard that if you weren't aware of the character's status as a strawman whipping-boy, you'd have thought they meant him to be right. For extra points, he said this while at a costume party and dressed as Lincoln... the mayor was dressed as Caesar.
Liberality For All is summarized as such: It is 2021, tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. America is under oppression by ultra-liberal extremists who have surrendered governing authority to the United Nations. Hate speech legislation called the "Coulter Laws" have forced vocal conservatives underground. A group of bio-mechanically enhanced conservatives led by Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy, Oliver North, and a young man born on September 11, 2001, set out to thwart Ambassador Usama bin Laden's plans to nuke New York City.As hard it may seem to believe, this series does contain one or two strawman liberal depictions.
normalman has both a Strawman Liberal and a Strawman Conservative, and they're technically the same character. That is, the malevolent, overzealous reactionary nut-job Ultra-Conservative, and his alternate personality, the radical, chaotic anarchist Liberalator. Ultra-Conservative eventually suppresses the transformation by thinking about "commie agitators", "pinko faggots", and the "death penalty" while shouting that he "will not change!"
The various X-Men and spinoff series semi-regularly feature intolerant, hate-preaching fundamentalist groups obviously based off televangelists and Southern Baptists with some Ku Klux Klan thrown in for good measure as villains. Several major arcs featured a Reverend Stryker becoming a major threat to the X-men. Less common, but still present on rare occasions, are religious folk shown opposing the extremist fringe. (Anti-mutant discrimination is often played to echo historic discrimination against Blacks in America. That the actual emancipation movement first took root in religious circles is not similarly reflected.) They also, especially in the last few years, represent gays, so religious persecution makes perfect sense. That's the X-Men - they stand in for every minority group ever. Any political view can be justified with the right interpretation of a religion.
The first arc of the Marvel NOWCable and X-Force relaunch has the team taking on the Marvel Universe's equivalent of Chick-fil-A. The only difference is they swapped out the restaurant chain's homophobic leanings for a hatred of mutants.
In Warren Ellis' Black Summer, Well-Intentioned Extremist John Horus assassinates the US President, who's actions bear a striking resemblance to the accusations leveled at George W. Bush. This is treated by many of the others with a reaction generally equitable to "Sure, man, we all would have loved to have done it, that doesn't mean you should have."
Green Arrow Oliver Queen was shown as a hero for the people in his earlier stories, and had a majorly left-wing agenda, referring to rich conservatives as fat cats. Occasionally though, in more recent stories writers will let Queen's negative qualities such as his self-righteousness or his contempt for aforementioned "Fat cats" get the better of him, and he comes off, intentionally or not, as something of a Straw Liberal. This is taken to extremes (and possibly played for laughs) in The Dark Knight Strikes Again.
Miller went overboard rather strongly in DK 2, but Queen had taken to cynically gaming the system in The Dark Knight Returns, which might explain his later histrionics as a means to keep a smokescreen up lest his cohorts turn on him like Superman had when he burned off Queen's arm with heat vision in the backstory. Like Ollie said, "You have to make the bastards work for you."
Perhaps most notable would be John Stewart's debut issue. Hal is basically called a racist by one of the Guardians of the Universe after he bashes Stewart for standing up to a bigoted police officer.
This was averted with the similar Captain America and The Falcon series. The Falcon was usually used to explore issues like classism and racism, but Captain America rarely came off as badly as Hal Jordan did. At worst, he just came across as a naive white guy who didn't understand racial issues in modern America.
An early Garth Ennis issue of The Punisher had the titular vigilante (of all people) threatening President Bush, claiming the US brought 9/11 on itself, and ranting about the military industrial complex a mere few weeks after the attacks happened in Real Life.
Any politician who appears in The Authority will be depicted as corrupt, greedy and too dumb to live. They also will be all Strawman Conservatives - and the more vocally they are opposed to the titular group of superpowered sociopaths, the more Straw they get.
Silver Age comics had a form of this in the Strawman Communist: for instance, Iron Man fought enemies like Titanium Man and the Crimson Dynamo several times. The focus wasn't on their ideology, which was hardly even mentioned: the focus was on providing an acceptable target for the hero to beat up— in those days, Communists were used much like Nazis are used in World War II shooters today. That said, it's not much of a stretch to conceive of an aggressive Soviet enemy responding to Tony Stark's escalation of the arms race, considering the Cold War nearly went hot multiple times in real life for similar reasons.
The American President doesn't mention what political parties the titular President or his opponent represent. The opponent, however, is portrayed as a pretty standard strawman conservative who sits around with his cronies smoking cigars and plotting evil. At one point he sings, "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas" when he discovers that the incumbent President's girlfriend has a checkered past. It was pretty clear President Shepherd was a Democrat. His opponent's methods were based on the Republican rhetoric of the Bill Clinton era and he was attacked on his alleged lack of "family values".
The Contender stars Joan Allen as a U.S. Senator (formerly moderate Republican, now a Democrat, and a pro-choice atheist to boot) who is nominated for the Vice Presidency after the incumbent veep is killed. A Republican Congressman tries to block the nomination by dredging up her sexual past, but is unsuccessful, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the (Democratic) President. The "good guys" and "bad guys" are easy to spot. (Gary Oldman, who played the Republican Congressman, and the film's producer subsequently accused DreamWorks Pictures executives of re-editing the film, which came out three weeks prior to the 2000 election, to make the Democrats more sympathetic.)
Shoot 'em Up featured both a Strawman Conservative and Strawman Liberal. Both of them kill babies, but like the rest of the movie their portrayal is pretty tongue-in-cheek. Though the Strawman Conservative was portrayed as being absolutely pure evil, and for extra anviliciousness had a monologue about how America having guns was great because it let cowards feel powerful, and seems to enjoy the idea of killing babies. The Strawman Liberal requires dead babies to continue living, and was being blackmailed by the Strawman Conservative into selling out his beliefs.
Although, the movie did give one of the best lines to use during a gun control debate:
Hertz: Come on, Smith, come on. Guns don't kill people - heh - but they sure help!
La Cage aux folles, and its American remakeThe Birdcage, feature an obvious strawman in the father of a gay man's son's fiancée. The French version has deputy Simon Charrier being played by Michel Galabru, who turns the straw into pure comedic awesomeness. This being a French movie, Sarrier was not meant to be a strawman conservative, but a religious extremist: unlike the US and its Two Party System, French religious extremists do not get along well with French conservatives and usually French conservatives do not feel they are targeted when watching the movie.
While the Senator in The Birdcage is pretty strawmannish, it's easy enough to view it as just a sign of the ridiculous exaggeration and silliness that pervades all the characters. He's a kooky, over-the-top example of far-right politicians because the family of his daughter's fiancé is a kooky, over-the-top example of a gay couple.
And his goals in the movie isn't that absurd: he wants to get reelected and is facing a scandal that REALLY isn't his fault. What he's against is seeming even more ridiculous in the eyes of the American public and especially HIS supporters. If you're against gay rights, it would be bad to see your senator's daughter marrying the son of a kooky, gay couple.
Blue State is actually more politically complex than the concept (two people moving to Canada after Bush gets re-elected) would imply, but the protagonist's father is a definite conservative Strawman Political: he greets his son by calling him "Comrade Lenin," locks him for voting for Kerry, and begins to act like a deranged Bill O'Reilly on mushrooms when his son argues with him, screaming out to "cut his mic," and eventually throws his son out of the house.
Mexican film Un Mundo Maravilloso was deliberately made as a giant leftist Take That to the liberal economic policies of recent governments in Mexico (but more specifically Vicente Fox's administration), the protagonist (a homeless, jobless hobo) and his friends several times blame "the system" and "the government" for his situation, and the minister of economy (the antagonist) in the end decides to outlaw poverty and for this he wins the Nobel Prize in Economy. Similarly, La Ley de Herodes (which is set in the 50s) from the same filmmaker has these two exchanges between an opposition party member and a strawman U.S. citizen:
Morales: Do you think democracy is the solution for poor countries like Mexico?
Robert: No no no, we Americans also like dictatorships like yours.
Morales: Is it true that your countrymen are still angry from the Mexican oil expropriation?
Robert: Well a little... yeah. But my countrymen know that one day we will recover all of that, and in time more, much more.
In Hiding Out, Jon Cryer is an adult accountant hiding out as a high school student. In a history class, the strawman conservative teacher gives a weak and histrionic defense of Richard Nixon as Cryer's character struggles to bite his tongue.
Team America: World Police features gung-ho, collateral damage causing Strawman Conservatives taking on Strawman Liberal actors who help terrorists.
Away We Go featured not so much a Strawman Political, but a Strawman Lifestyle, in showing a "crunchy" family as ridiculous and unfit parents, with an inconsiderate, rambly, condescending wife who screeches like a harpy when presented with a stroller and a husband who just agrees with everything his wife says and mumbles something about the family bed (and is entirely forgettable, probably intentionally). You're clearly supposed to be giggling along with the protagonist couple at the silly crunchies when, in reality, there are plenty of reasons to not use a stroller, breastfeed into toddlerhood, or have a family bed.
The documentary The Atomic Cafe compiles videos of World War II and post-WW2 era American pro-war propaganda. One of these scenes is a stereotypical Straw Feminist in huge glasses on a soapbox claiming that Communist countries want peace and are all-around great countries. She is a classic Straw War Protester.
If there's one thing that The Cell should be applauded for besides its visuals, it's the fact that it utterly averts this trope. Vince Vaughn's character blatantly disagrees with the film's overall view of treating criminals more compassionately, but his views (and any audience members who share these views) are still treated with respect by the director.
The movie Red Planet features a straw man atheist geneticist who offers no coherent support for his disbelief when debating with other characters.
The final sequence in 1936's Things To Come is based around the idea that anyone who questions Everytown's black-clad, arguably techno-fascist leadership is opposed to "progress". Not to ruthless, dehumanizing progress, not to an obsessively technological society completely cut off from the natural world (at one point a small girl asks her great-grandfather what "windows" were), certainly not to a government that has outlawed private ownership of airplanes and declared its opposition to the existence of independent sovereign states, but to progress itself.
In Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, Director Galloway reminds us a number of times that he's the National Security Advisor for President Obama. He spends the movie making bad decisions and going against the advice of the military, following typical right-wing accusations that liberals are soft on defense. Michael Bay is well known for his support of the American military, to the point where he films jets and tanks the same way he films Megan Foxstraddling a motorcycle.
Another Emmerich film, The Day After Tomorrow features hopelessly greedy Republican strawmen in denial over the imminent climate disasters. Lampshaded in the South Park episode "Two Days Before The Day After Tomorrow" where Randy refers to a critic of his environmental policies as a "cliché dissenting Republican".
Pick a movie, any movie, by Quebecer filmmaker Pierre Falardeau, and you'll find at least one, if not many, strawman politicals for federal government support or anti-separatists or just liberals in general.
President Stone of the 2009 Astro Boy movie takes every single strawman conservative stereotype, and pushes them beyond their natural extremes. "(The film) seems to have a political agenda" indeed.
Undercover Brother has wall-to-wall Strawmen, from Mr. Feather to Conspiracy Brother. (Don't worry, they are equal opportunity offenders.)
One of the villains of Machete is a Texas State Senator so virulent anti-immigrant that he occasionally rides along with a group of border vigilantes who shoot unarmed illegal immigrants coming over the border. Given that the movie is a loving homage to over-the-top Grindhouse-style movies where subtlety was not considered a virtue, however, this is arguably intentionally over-the-top.
Arguably every character in Saved! except for the protagonist and her friends (and the protagonist at the beginning of the film) is a Straw Character. Saved! depicts a fundamentalist Christian private school. Most of the faculty, students, and parents connected to the school demonstrate both judgmentalism and an obliviousness to obvious realities due to their entrenched indoctrination. One particular scene deliberately sets up the type of devastating comeback mentioned in this trope:
Hilary Faye: I am filled with Christ's love! [throws her Bible at Mary] You are just jealous of my success in the Lord.
Mary: [Mary hands Bible back to Hilary Faye] This is not a weapon, you idiot.
This cartoon from the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So gives us a painfully obvious Straw Christian by the name of - any guesses? - Christian.
The main antagonist from God's Not Dead, a Christian film that is basically one huge straw man against atheism. The villain is over the top and filled with hatred towards the perfectly decent Christian lead. As the movie progresses, he becomes more and more over the top. To add insult to injury, he turns out to be a Hollywood Atheist who is bitter about his mom dying. The film ends with him getting hit by a car and converting as he dies. This film may be the most over the top example of a straw man ever produced. And the worst part is that the Muslim father in the film beats his daughter making him another one and the film twice as offensive.
The global government in the Left Behind series starts out on the Straw-Lib end of the scale.
Edge of Apocalypse (written in part by Tim Lahaye, co-author of Left Behind) features a senator who is actually named Straworth. He and the majority of the politicians in the book (President included) are corrupt straw liberals.
Ayn Rand, as a Writer on Board promoting her philosophy of Objectivism, generally made the villains of her fictional works Strawman Socialists. In particular, not only does Atlas Shrugged have lots and lots of Strawman Socialist villains, but their political beliefs are repeatedly blamed for every single disaster that happens in the story. In one episode, a passenger train is held up just short of a tunnel unsuitable for its steam locomotive, but is ordered to proceed nevertheless by a corrupt politician who is late for a rally and unwilling to wait for a diesel locomotive to carry the train through the tunnel. This means death for every passenger on board — What a Senseless Waste of Human Life, right? No — the Strawman Political beliefs of the doomed passengers are illustrated to show how their catastrophic demise was justified, because they were allegedly each Not So Different than the politician. Even worse is Anthem, where the Strawman Socialists have eliminated the use of the word "I" in favor of "We," where everyone sobs themselves to sleep in despair, and where the protagonist is ostracized after rediscovering electric lighting both for stepping out of his assigned role as a janitor and for threatening the jobs of candlestick makers.
In a particularly Anvilicious case of Writer on Board and Author Filibuster, in the Sword of Truth books author Terry Goodkind has done the strawman routine on everything from liberalism to socialism to traditional religion to democracy. All other ideals can only stand in the way of the true freedom that comes about under the rule of a benevolent Objectivist dictator. One who exhibits his fine morality with such acts as ordering the implementation of total war, and riding down peace protesters "Armed with only their hatred of moral clarity." Similarly, all proponents of religion are shown to be foolish by contrast to said dictator, who espouses that all must live their lives free from backwards religious beliefs because there can be no proof of life beyond death... Despite having extensive personal experience with spirits.
His strawman routine on organized sports is particularly weird.
Most politicians in Honor Harrington get this treatment in some way - the good guys fall almost entirely into the Crown Loyalist or Centrist parties, while the bad guys and just plain nutcases/cowards are generally Conservatives or Liberals. That being said, Weber's more recent books have been rather more evenhanded in portraying political opposition, making a significant plot point out of Catherine Montaigne's reconstruction of the Liberal Party around sincere ideology instead of Countess New Kiev's hypocrisy. The two main non-strawman opposition characters are:
Catherine Montaigne, a Liberal and yet not a total nutcase (though many of her views overlap with those of the Centrists/CLs), though she first appeared in a side story written by Eric Flint. Her views overlap with the Crown Loyalists'/Centrists because their views are, obviously, in the center (both parties fiscally and socially conservative, so their centrism is relative). The only way to avoid finding at least some common cause with them is to be on either the extreme right or left, and extreme views rarely turn out well. CL's and Centrists are lumped together because the Queen herself is just right of center (when she isn't royally pissed), and you wouldn't be a CL if you didn't mostly agree with the queen, or at least think that what she says goes. Even New Kiev comes off as the best of a bad lot among the coalition government, to the extent that her partners hide things from her in fear of her ideals getting in the way.
Michael Oversteegen, notable for having the mannerisms of an aristocratic twit. He's the cousin of the leader of the strawman Conservative party, sincerely believes in the importance of a hereditary (or elected, or drawn at straws) aristocracy (the Conservatives' main reason for existence), was granted a senior grade captain's slot while still a captain jay-gee... and despises the corruption his cousin tolerates in the party, his cousin's stupidity, and his cousin(s) in general. He's also a very talented and extremely brave naval officer who more than proved that he deserved that captain's slot after that business at Tiberian, and won the enduring respect and admiration of his peers as a result.
The Graysons are early on are strawman conservatives, but are at least mildly open to new ideas, and whose views shift closer to center for fairly realistic reasons (many of which center around Honor saving their asses several times, though their leaders had designs on reshaping the society even before she came along and gave them a symbol to rally around). The Grayson ultra-conservative faction are Strawman Conservatives, but look sane compared to the formerly-Grayson ultra-extremists of Masada, who are effectively the Space Taliban.
The Graysons aren't really strawman types: they're very highly conservative, but it's a fairly natural development of their history and the extremely harsh conditions they live under.
Oddly averted in the case of Pavel Young, who spends most of his time being either evil or holding the Idiot Ball, but when he is invested as a member of the House of Lords, he breaks with the Conservatives to push for a declaration of war against Haven. It's partly motivated by political opportunism, but the fact that he was on the receiving end of Haven's opening salvo likely had something to do with it.
In another David Weber example, the Starfire novels (which, admittedly, are collaborative works) make it easy to tell who the sniveling mush-brained idiots of the Terran Federation are - they're the ones with 'Liberal' in their party name. The first novel written, Crusade, gives them the Idiot Ball, and it seems they're still playing with it decades later. Although the Liberals' staunchest political allies (for reasons of pure self interest) are the Core World business interests, who are Strawman Conservatives to a man, and carry the Villain Ball just as often as the Liberals carry the Idiot Ball.
Most liberal/Progressive characters in Tom Kratman's works are varying degrees of detestable, and serve only as punching bags for the protagonists.
The S.M. Stirling series Island in the Sea of Time and sequels have straw liberals (hippies who can't believe in Evil Natives who therefore die horribly at the Evil Natives' hands) and straw conservatives (who complain about the lesbian Coast Guard officer). His other books have other straw opponents, who exist solely to make ineffectual trouble.
Not only do the straw liberals in Island die horribly, they accidentally wipe out the very Mesoamerican natives they want to protect (by infecting them with mumps, to which the natives have no immunity).
Should be pointed out that the worst of the straw conservatives take themselves out Jonestown style rather early in the first book and that the black, lesbian Coast Guard Captain is the hero of the series.
And that a literal hippie blacksmith is an integral heroic character in the novels, And runs a secret free-slave operated intelligence network during his imprisonment.
Interestingly, one of the Straw Conservatives from the first book turns up later as a key member of the government, and the viewpoint character who once tangled with him over politics now values his unbreakable principles. One can almost see this as the hero realizing his personal in-universe strawman isn't.
Being a staunch socialist, Upton Sinclair's books are chock full of capitalist straw men.
In the novel Prayers for the Assassin, nuke attacks on American cities as well as Mecca result in blue America converting to Islam out of fear and compassion for the poor victimized Muslims, forming the Islamic Republic of America. Meanwhile, all the conservatives in those territories emigrate to the red Christian States of America. It's also a possible subversion as neither of the two are shown to be working particularly well, as they are overrun with armed religious extremist militias, ravaged by global warming and are being invaded by both Mexico and Canada.
The Guardians series is chock full of Strawmen of every possible political stripe, including some of the viewpoint characters— the original author seemed to be trying to be making the point that extremism of any form is bad (and if that's his message he sure did it in a muddled and confused way), but as new writers came in and the series got sharkier, it just got to be straw for straw's sake.
In Orson Scott Card's Empire the Blue states attempt to secede from the Union, funded by a Straw Liberal Billionaire (though this was all set up by a bipartisan moderate Magnificent Bastard). Any non-Christian in the sequel Hidden Empire especially Muslims and the pre-Christian Romans.
Piers Anthony's Bio of a Space Tyrant is chock full of these, especially the Nixon stand-in.
Dante put many of his political/religious enemies in Hell.
Richard K. Morgan's Th1rte3n breaks the United States up into three countries along stereotypical (extremely so in the case of the red states) red/blue lines.
Senator Sedgewick Sexton from Dan Brown's Deception Point, a Republican senator who starts out as an obvious scumbag and becomes worse and worse as the book progresses.
Strawmen can be found in all manner of classical literature. Plato regularly used strawmen as opponents to Socrates in his Socratic Dialogues, making this trope Older Than Feudalism.
The Illuminatus! Trilogy has strawmen left right and center. In the end, the authors have an Anarcho-Individualist lean, and its representatives are portrayed as completely insane... in a good way. Various strawmen include Knights of Christianity United in Faith and Simon Moon's parents (militant anarcho-syndicalist dad and anarcho-pacifist mom, which leads to embarrassing situations such as Simon telling his third grade teacher that the US isn't a democracy).
Mike Carey's short story "Face" is about a judge from a fictional empire who has to issue a decision in the case of two desert people - father and daughter. Their race (obvious Muslim analogue), for religious reasons, uses magic to take their women's faces, which are returned to them after they're married. The daughter doesn't believe in her people's religion and wants her face back. The judge decides that this tradition is disgusting and detrimental to women and orders the desert people to return all faces to women under threat of punishment. Everything is told from the judge's perspective, making the desert people look like strawmen. However, at the end of the story, we find out how big a hypocrite the judge is when he mercilessly hammers down his own daughter's dreams about being an explorer by saying that her destiny is to marry a man and become a mother.
One would have to dig deep to find a John Ringo work that doesn't have one of these, usually of the liberal variety. Ringo has himself acknowledged that he has problems with writing liberals, in a panel on politics in Science Fiction at the 2010 Dragon*Con.
Robert A. Heinlein's books all have strawmen since his presented political philosophies are black-and-white. They also jump between various extremes on the political spectrum, depending on the year they're written.
In Farmer in the Sky, Earth faces a state of starvation due to Chinese overpopulation, while Heinlein nevertheless advocates An Aesop policy of "share and share alike," by other countries— a strawman which even the most extreme liberals would consider absurd.
In Starship Troopers, Heinlein jumps to the opposite end of the spectrum, advocating disenfranchisement of all non-veterans, but also corporal punishment for convicted criminals, as well as capital punishment for insane persons who commit homicide. This is all justified with various arguments comparing people to dogs.
In Stranger in a Strange Land, Heinlein once again goes back to libertarian views involving a rich and famous Mary Sue writer/doctor/lawyer, protecting an even more rich and famous Mary Sue Martian/Changeling/cult-leader from a human society of fascist-politicians and religious-fanatics who want to stop/control/kill him — sort of an interplanetary version of Atlas Shrugged, along with arguments comparing humans to monkeys and God.
Kurt Vonnegut was also quite the Strawman Political writer - using absurdly simplistic extremes which make a strawman look like Iron Man: in Welcome to the Monkey House, he attacks population-control with a society that forces people to take drugs that kill their sex-drive. Meanwhile in "Harrison Bergeron" he attacks egalitarianism by featuring a society where everyone is forced to handicap themselves so that everyone will be truly "equal," with strong people being forced to carry weights, smart people being forced to wear noise-making headphones to disrupt their thinking and marry stupid ones, and good-looking people being forced to marry ugly ones etc.
"Monkey House" is attacking not "population control", but Sex Is Evil Strawman Conservatives. The "nothinghead" Good Guys reject their "Ethical Birth Control" for the unethical old-fashioned Pill.
Harrison Bergeron was likely a parody of this trope. It could have possibly been satirizing authors such as Ayn Rand.
Iain M. Banks in The Culture series portrays religion and traditional societies as one dimensional and morally grotesque...in a way only an anarchist could.
The character Joiler Veppers in Surface Detail seemed to represent various people online who criticize the Culture as weak, spineless, etc. and claim that it should have already collapsed for not following their own paradigm.
Cergorn, the senior Loremaster of the Shadowleague, is against any expansion of knowledge to lesser peoples, as he thinks it would be dangerous for them. More dangerous than letting them all die of plague, it appears.
19th century Russian novelists, particularly Dostoyevski, are fond of this trope and will very frequently work tangents about the philosophical/political issues of the time into the dialog, even when it doesn't really have anything to do with what people are talking about. Frequently this involves having a fashion chasing idiot arguing espousing Enlightenment ideals to somebody taking the side of simple virtues of the Russian peasantry/Orthodox Christianity.
The Doctor Who book Night of the Humans is essentially one long rant about how awful and evil religion is. The Doctor responds to a crash-landed alien race on a massive pile of space-junk that is threatening a nearby planet. The chosen 'god' of the crashed humans turns out to be a creepy, creepy, clown called Gobo, who's presence and use as a very heavy-handed metaphor for all religion.
The Wing Commander novels written solely by William Forstchen contain these in spades, particularly of the liberal variety.
Admiral McAteer in the Star Trek: Stargazer novels is a staunch conservatist. His dislike for Picard stems purely from the fact that he thinks the latter is too young to be a captain in his ideal Starfleet. He can't do anything directly because he's not Picard's immediate superior, but he spends plenty of time trying to sabotage Picard in order to give him the excuse to demote him. He even develops a strong dislike for William Shakespeare after watching Macbeth and deciding that Shakespeare's message that ambition is bad is just plain wrong. In one of the novels, Picard's Number Two tries to reason with the admiral, asking him to keep an open mind about Picard. McAteer promptly replies that open minds are for those who lack conviction. The other officer immediately aborts his attempts, reasoning that people who believe that can't be reasoned with.
In Death series: Some characters are certainly this, with Commander Douglas Skinner from Interlude In Death standing out in particular. "Instead, he'd put in his fifty and then used that as a springboard in a run for Congress. And had fallen hard on his face. A half century of public service hadn't been enough to offset views so narrow even the most dug-in of the Conservative Party had balked. Added to that, his platform had swung unevenly from side to side. He was an unwavering supporter of the Gun Ban, something the Conservatives tried to overturn at every opportunity. Yet he beat the drum to reinstate the death penalty, which alienated the Liberals from mid-road to far left. He wanted to dissolve legal and regulated prostitution and strike out all legal and tax benefits for cohabitating couples. He preached about the sanctity of marriage, as long as it was heterosexual, but disavowed the government stipend for professional mothers. Motherhood, the gospel according to Skinner stated, was a God-given duty, and payment in its own right. His mixed-voice and muddled campaign had gone down in flames. However much he'd rebounded financially via lectures, books, and consults, Eve imagined he still bore the burns of that failure." Apparently, Skinner is supposed to be a Straw Conservative with The Fundamentalist mixed in, but even the Conservative Party didn't like him very much!
This is hardly the biggest strawman character in the series... that honor goes to a conservative senator in the first book, who's a literal slobbering pedophile rapist (incestuous, at that). In general the series treats conservatives as being, nearly to a man (and they're all men), as misogynist assholes, while liberals (especially liberal politicians) are portrayed as being respectable if not likable. The series moves away from this a bit later on, able to treat at least some subjects considered conservative (such as religion) with respect, but at the same time goes back to referring to the conservative political party as the Republicans.
In Sing You Home, the Christians portrayed in the book are all die-hard conservative evangelicals who hate gay people with a passion and who agree with the Westboro Baptist Church.
This initially seems to be the case in the Science Fiction novel, Virtually Eliminated where the main villain is a serial killer with a very conservative outlook. Then, it turns into a subversion when the hero ends up agreeing with a lot of the villain's beliefs (but not with the crimes said villain has committed for the sake of those beliefs).
The English Dragon: Liberal characters are prone to coming out with comments such as "you're racist because you're White" and "how do you know that you aren't a fascist?". The ignorant youths who kidnap Oliver's son, meanwhile, have dialogue like "St. George - He's someat to do with England...a king or someat" and "Nelson? Didn't he fight the Germans?" - Strawman Apolitical, perhaps.
In Christian Nation, the evangelical Christians are seen as power-hungry, God's-wrath-driven, gay-hating people who want to take control over the country in the name of their religion, who only want "born again" males to be in control of everything, with Sarah Palin and Steve Jordan being the prime targets, demonizing those who would dare to oppose them.
Both the celibacy club and Quinn's parents also count. Obnoxiously so.
All in the Family had the character Archie Bunker, who was created by producer Norman Lear to be a Neanderthalesque caricature of working-class conservatives. It backfired. Bunker was based on Alf Garnett of Till Death Us Do Part and its sequels. Creator Johnny Speight claimed the character was based directly on his own father's POV.
In adapting Alf Garnett in Archie Bunker, Lear injected his own father's attitudes and catchphrases.
Alf Garnett also backfired, being a racist idiot who became an idol to people who seemed to miss that fact that he was created, scripted and acted by Jews.
Archie Bunker was balanced out with the strawman liberals of his daughter Gloria Bunker-Stivic and her husband Michael Stivic. These were token Strawmen, who usually got the last word and/or were proven right by the end of the episode, leaving Archie with An Aesop which proves it.
There are those who suspect that a Values Dissonance was at play as well. This theory holds that we were, originally, intended to see Michael (aka Meathead) as the voice of reason and Archie as the exemplar of the people who need to change, but that Norman Lear's view of things was so out of step with the audience that for the most part people tended to see Archie as the reasonable one and Michael as the twit. Or perhaps, Archie the one they tended to respect more than Michael, who almost universally became known as Meathead. This might have some truth in it, given that even by the generally left-leaning standards of Hollywood, Lear is well-known for his liberal views.
24 has featured both types in its run. Two examples include a lawyer for "Amnesty Global" in season 4 who exempts an arrested suspect from interrogation (having been paid by a terrorist leader to do so, although it's implied the lawyer doesn't know this), and deputy chief of staff Tom Lennox in season 6, who detains thousands of innocent Muslim Americans without presidential authorization and openly talks of "suspending liberties" to safeguard the country. (In later episodes, however, Lennox becomes more of a Magnificent Bastard than a Strawman Ball.) In quadruple irony the show is always ultimately geared towards the President's liberal and Protagonist's conservative values turning out to be correct. Detaining citizens of a radical religion HAS to be wrong, torturing terrorists HAS to be right. A restrained response to a downtown nuke HAS to be the right thing, despite the proven response to the much lower death toll of real life 9/11 being two wars and bloody hell in response to an errant nuke being the more likely consequence than a rogue maverick detaining citizens.
Averted in Family Ties, but unintentionally. The original idea was "Hip Parents, Square Kids", with each child representing a Strawman conservative stereotype. The show was intended to focus on the intelligent, liberal parents. Family Ties creator David Goldberg originally intended for the Republican character Alex Keaton to be a bad guy, but Michael J. Fox was just so likable that Alex became the favorite character of many viewers. This motivated the show's writers to abandon their plans to make Alex the show's Jerk Ass, turning him into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Mallory's airheaded materialism is also a remnant of this original plan— someone who embraced traditional gender roles and consumer culture, and was conservative because she didn't know or care about the world at large.
Even after they abandoned the original concept, the producers had every chance to knock down the views of either the liberal parents or the conservative Alex, but instead, both ideologies were portrayed positively. The liberals were made to look noble for their grassroots ideals, and the conservative was shown to be a hard worker. The show was reportedly one of President Reagan's favorites.
Hearts Afire featured a borderline-retarded Republican senator and frequently featured stereotypical "conservative vs. liberal" arguments, in which the conservative would present a hollow argument so that he could be intellectually trounced by the liberal character.
The entire premise of the 2005 CBC series Jimmy MacDonald's Canada was a Strawman Conservative current affairs show host trying to cope with the 1960s, until he went Ax-Crazy in the last episode and crashed a plane into Northern Ontario. Since everything that bothered Jimmy happened several decades ago, no one feels offended by his over-the-top right wing leanings, as (most) modern conservatives have no objection to zambonis or Italian food.
CBC comedy Little Mosque on the Prairie includes Fred Tupper, an offensive radio host who doesn't trust Muslims, as well as Baber, who believes that winegums, liquorice, and rye bread are part of a plot to trick Muslims into drinking alcohol. In one episode, Baber was able to patch up his religious differences with an ignorant redneck because they both felt equally strongly about same-sex marriage, or, as Baber called it, "The Abomination." It gets even more subversive when you consider that the imam, who would never conduct such a marriage, encourages the Anglican minister to.
The West Wing tries to avert or subvert this trope, though it's typically played straight. Generally, the more conservative or pro-corporate a character is, the less sympathetic the portrayal, with no sympathy for members of the religious right—the pilot of the show opens with the staff and President confronting some religious leaders who are shown to be hypocritical, anti-Semitic, and tacitly condoning very extreme methods. Some sympathetic Republicans are liberal-leaning, but there are also a number of characters (such as Ainsley Hayes) who were intended to be quite firmly on the right and valued for their status as intelligent and well-intentioned debate partners. Corrupt politicians of both parties were treated with contempt.
Generally, the intent was that the presence of opposing political parties and opinions is portrayed as necessary to a healthy democracy, even when they disagree with the main characters. However, the writers continually grappled with the problem of expressing views that opposed theirs in a positive light. Hence why the show was enormously popular among liberals and vehemently disliked by conservatives.
The show was at its worst with this trope when Aaron Sorkin was in charge. The final two series did a major aversion with Republican Arnold Vinick who not only contradicts the show's established view of Republicans (he is pro-choice, an atheist, and refuses to resort to dirty campaign moves), but whose conservative beliefs were treated respectfully and intelligently and who possessed the integrity that a politician should have.
On Mash, Major Frank Burns was a jingoistic, hypocritically pious, John Birch-style conservative Jerk Ass, while his successor Major Charles Winchester was a snobby Boston Brahmin type and Establishment Republican.
Frank Burns became so over-the-top that his strawman behavior was justified by the Rule of Funny. Towards the end of his run on the show, it had gone so far that Frank was almost a parody of a strawman conservative.
George W. Bush: And you must always remember that he believes what he does because of a strong moral imperative.
Parodied on The Young Ones with the character of Rick; so over the top, it actually seems to be making fun of conservatives who see liberals this way.
While he can be justifiably read that way, he's ultimately mocking people who are anarchists or socalists only because it's fashionable and are at heart as reactionary as any of the Old Guard. Hence, Rick's instant flip flop on the morality of the police when he's in trouble.
Averted in the episode "The Salon" of The Drew Carey Show. The issue of Internet censorship is brought up during a debating salon started by Drew and friends to impress Drew's boss Mrs. Louder, who is a devout conservative. Mrs. Louder appears to be a Strawman Political, as she responds in the affirmative, claiming that "any good conservative" would be in favour of Net censorship, and fires Drew's friend and fellow employee Kate over her disagreement. However, conservatives as a whole are not painted with this brush as Kate herself claims that she knows many conservatives who do not think that way, and later in the episode Rush Limbaugh (whom Mrs. Louder is a huge fan of) makes a guest appearance, reveals that he actually agreed with Kate on this issue - and convinces Mrs. Louder to rehire her.
Meanwhile, the rest of the family, who have a more conservative leaning, are shown to be just as shallow (or a workaholic in Michael's case), and materialistic to boot.
The Colbert Report has a straw conservative anchorman. He makes snap decisions with his "gut" rather than his brain, preferring to believe what feels right rather than what dry facts tell him. In early episodes, he had a straw liberal foil played by David Cross who was so obsessed with not offending anyone that he could barely function at all.
For the majority of the show Freaks and Geeks the character of Sam has a crush on a pretty, popular cheerleader named Cindy Sanders. When the two of them finally start dating, we find out that Cindy is a Republican. And her character suddenly changes into a person who is rude, close-minded, egotistical, and shallow.
Law & Order made a point to fulfill this whenever it delved into a topic remotely political. If you didn't catch how the defendant and/or defense attorney was a straw man during the episode, the ADA would be happy to explain it all in the closing arguments.
Law & Order: SVU does this plenty as well, though usually the reason we should hate the strawman and why he's wrong is explained to us by the detectives instead of the ADA.
The British No 2 AV campaign used Alan B'Stard as an example of the kind of arsehole who would inevitably saturate the UK's political life if AV was introduced. Unfortunately, most of his dickery could easily be attributed to the politicans of the status quo.
Britta Perry from Community is a Straw Anarchist with touches of Straw Feminist, most of the time coming out as a huge hypocrite. She's generally a sympathetic, yet annoying character.
Jeff: Everyone wants you to shut up!
A running gag seemed to be that despite her feminist leanings, Britta often drops the ball when it comes to race, which is a frequent criticism of American feminism. A memorable example would be when she insinuates that she can tolerate racism, but not animal abuse. Her black classmate Shirley was not amused.
And now Supernatural has Dick Roman, who somehow manages to heavy-handedly embody several straw stereotypes of both conservatives and libertarians at once.
On Smallville, the show brought in Cat Grant in Season 10 as a gratingly-annoying Straw Conservative and Blonde Republican Sex Kitten who was apparently meant to be a pastiche of...whatever the presumably-liberal writers thought that conservatives believe. On one occasion, she is sneaking around and sees Clark and Lois getting caught up in some ancient ritual (It Makes Sense in Context) and mutters "I will never understand liberals." Apparently, the Blonde Republican Sex Kitten thinks that anything weird must be "liberal," and we're supposed to laugh at her ignorance...if we weren't too busy groaning at how heavy-handed the liberal writers were being in their attempts to build a Strawman Conservative. Even worse, apparently the Straw Conservative position in the Smallville-verse is to hate superheroes, as we see repeatedly throughout Season 10, as a bunch of Straw Military characters show up to persecute the superheroes and drive the writers' point home even further.
Granted, Cat wasn't nearly as bad as Gordon Godfrey, who starts out as a right wing talk radio host who first gets possessed by Darkseid and then later willingly joins Darkseid's evil minion team. Cat Grant, meanwhile, mostly was just there to annoyingly lecture the cool liberal heroes in the most high-pitched voice possible.
The thing that makes the appearance of this entire roster of Straw Conservative characters even more annoying, aside from their Anvilicious-ness, is the fact that for NINE whole seasons, Smallville had managed to completely avoid Political Strawmen. So it felt very jarring for a whole bunch to suddenly show up in the tenth and final season.
In Godfrey's defense, he's an adaptation of Glorious Godfrey, an evil New God whose hat was poisoning the media against superheroes for Darkseid. If you write him as anything other than a Straw Character you're doing it wrong.
Gus sometimes plays a Straw Liberal, for laughs. In "Let's Get Hairy" he goes on rants against taxidermy (after being seen nuzzling a koala for charity), briefly forgetting that they're chasing someone who's committed a double murder.
JAG: Roberta "Bobbie" Latham, democratic congresswoman from Michigan is an arch-typical leftist liberal advocating of the advancement of women in the military for the sake of just doing it, is critical of excessive defense spending, claims to be a human rights activist, is a political oppurtunist in general, and a strong advocate of UN peacekeeping operations (even if the operation can't keep the peace in the first place.)
There are also several episodes where members of Congress or White House staffers in concert with Strawman News Media conducts investigations that turns into a politically expedient Witch Hunt. Also, the evidence behind it is always shown as nothing more than either conjecture or hearsay.
The Newsroom strode headlong into this from the first episode. Jeff Daniels' character is supposedly a conservative, but expresses views that are anything but, including spending more time savaging the Tea Party than reporting on a bombing in New York City. The antagonist is a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Rupert Murdoch played by Jane Fonda, who implies that she bought the network just so she could influence politics. At one point, when Fonda's character accuses Daniels of being biased, he responds "Facts are the center", quoting an interview Sorkin did only a month before the episode in question aired.
In 30 Rock, Jack and Liz have some straw conservative and straw liberal traits respectively. Although both characters are portrayed as flawed yet sympathetic, it's pretty obvious the writers are on the liberal side in real life. The pokes at conservatives have the feel of serious-ish Satire while the pokes at liberals have the feel of light-hearted Self-Deprecation. Not that it really matters since the show mostly runs on the Rule of Funny anyway.
Conservapedia: "The Trustworthy Encyclopedia". All articles on Democratic/Liberal/Evolutionary topics are built of straw. Their article on President Obama is a stewed mixture of straw, insults and long discredited smears.
Rational Wiki}} is a direct reaction against Conservapedia that takes constant potshots at conservatives, fundamentalists, Conservapedia, and especially its founder, Andrew Schlafly. Unlike Conservapedia, though, they make no claims to objectivity.
The Year Zero ARG, which promotes the Nine Inch Nails album of the same name, depicts the United States after 15 additional years of rule by Strawman Republicans and gets absolutely ridiculous. It's stated they're forbidding women to work, have genocidal bands of Christians killing non Christians in certain suburbs, they make their soldiers take drugs to both combat the drug the evil neocons poisoned everyone with (yes, that's what they did) and get Special Forces to take even worse drugs that forces the body to equate killing with sexual excitement, the local Mega Corp. exploits drug addicts to boost their profits, and they make up "terrorists" by creating a virus. This is what Trent pulled together when he decided to stop taking drugs himself and get back to making music, so it was forgiven. Given how over the top it was, it wasn't all that convincing.
Youtube series Epic Rap Battles of History, any time politics is even mentioned and always against the right. (Among other things, Lincoln slams Chuck Norris for voting for John McCain... no, that's it, voting for a Republican for President is apparently insult enough.) Probably the height of this was the inaugural John Lennon versus Bill O'Reilly battle, where the rapper playing O'Reilly does a verse about how evil he is and how black his heart is. Exact words.
Well. You can be a conservative and think the infotainment talking heads like O'Reilly are the worst possible spokesmen for conservatives.
Further into the series they seem aware of this, giving Mitt Romney several excellent jabs in their Barack Obama vs Mitt Romney skit ("We all wish you'd shut your mouth, but like Guantanamo Bay it's still open!"), although given the skit exists only so Lincoln can "bitch slap them as equals", even this welcome break exists only in terms of mocking both parties, never the Democrats solely, and always mocking Democrats for not being liberal enough. Heck, Lincoln even starts off his rap to Obama with "I want to like you!" after basically condemning Romney as a political nuclear bomb.
A Let's Play of "Life and Death 2: The brain", the Lets player does a subdural Hematoma operation...and intentionally holds the suction pump in the brain too long so part of the brain is sucked out. The player then proceeded to say "Oh, she was a Tea Party candidate! She wasn't going to need THAT!"
The site Derailing For Dummies is dedicated to providing a snappy generic response to counter a variety of tangential, emotion-based arguments. But the strawman? It's in the very intention of the site. By using this site, you invoke the strawman that paints your opponent as a common troll who argues with only the over-the-top prescribed fallacies featured. And unless you are responding to a post that uses those arguments exclusively and word-for-word, you've just obstructed any valid arguments from being addressed. If the irony isn't quite potent enough, just consider when it's used in advance to address "arguments I hear all the time".
Just say that any political cartoonist has done this; in fact, their profession demands it.
Rat in Pearls Before Swine is also used as a conservative strawman. Given that Pearls creator Stephan Pastis and Fuzzy's Darby Conley are close friends, it's hard to guess who's copying who. In the notes to the treasury collections, artist Stephan Pastis indicates that Rat is simply himself with less self-restraint. Whether that still qualifies Rat for Strawman status is debatable.
Royboy in Soup to Nutz is also used as a conservative strawman. This usually doesn't work too well, because he's often just used to spout whatever the writer believes are right-wing talking points, such as anti-vaccine propaganda, while the other characters laugh at him. The character rarely actually acts like the 8-year-old boy he is. His younger sister is often used as a left-wing straw man, making anti-war, pro-vegetarian comments. The strip is rather Anvilicious in its politics.
Winslow the coyote pup from Prickly City. In one early story, he suggested that he and his human companion, Carmen, get married, so that the author could equate gay marriage with bestiality.
Going further back, Little Orphan Annie and Lil Abner frequently served up liberal versions, while Pogo featured them on both sides (though more often as conservatives, given Walt Kelly's politics).
Use of the trope in newspaper editorial cartooning is satirized by The Onion's "Stan Kelly" (actually, Ward Sutton). In the persona of a cranky conservative, "Kelly" returns again and again to caricatures like the New-Age Retro Hippie (here), Teens Are Monsters (here), using The Grim Reaper to symbolize disliked trends (throughout) and so on. Actually not too far off from the technique of newspaper cartoonist Chuck Asay. And half almost all the comics have the Statue Of Liberty crying (when things are going well for Kelly, she's weeping with joy)
The reason we have newspaper comic strips is that during the 19th century editors discovered funny, topical, easy to read drawings helped sell more papers—and the artists were expected to adhere to the paper's editorial slant.
Many realists, especially by Atton Rand during the idealist/realist conflict, were depicted as Straw Characters to show how "wrong" and "evil" the realist views were. These include, among others, Cam O'Cozy and Sherlock.
On the other end of the spectrum, Elite Agent French Fries is a straw character initially representing the idealist side of the team, ordering that the Antarctica mission be exposed for no other reason than because it had been kept secret. Later he is depicted as oblivious to everything around him as well as extremely prejudiced.
Soldier appears to be racist and sexist, occasionally aiming insults at foreigners and women. Given that he is depicted as comically inept, his moments of racism and sexism are not intended to be taken seriously, especially since they result in Soldier getting hurt by whomever he happens to be insulting.
Mr Birling from An Inspector Calls is a prime example of a British conservative straw man. J.B. Priestly gives the audience no doubt that he is wrong about everything, including his political and social views.
The rock musical version of Two Gentlemen of Verona had the Duke of Milan's entrance song making him a Strawman Conservative Militarist.
"I sent 'em over and I can bring 'em back. Re-elect me!"
Mr. Henderson the IRS agent in You Can't Take It with You. When he interviews Martin about his 24 years of income tax evasion, at no time does he present a reasonably persuasive argument about paying taxes such as supporting the New Deal programs that unemployed people like Donald are using to get by. Instead, he blusters impotently about relative remotely aspects of government and tries to throw his authoritarian weight around.
The Weasel News Network of Grand Theft Auto IV is a direct Take That against the Fox News Channel. (Get the pun?) Everything about the network is portrayed as Crossing the Line Twice. For that matter, 90% of the satirical media in GTA IV is Straw Conservative (at the cost of laughs). GTA: Vice City had a talk show where right and left-wing strawmen tried to out-straw each other.
Also in GTA IV there is PLR, a rather blatant Expy of National Public Radio, where it has the Straw Liberal viewpoint, but not much of a Take That as it is a parody.
In a very early example, Infocom's A Mind Forever Voyaging was intended as a critique of the Reagan era of conservative capitalism. The part where they didn't remotely use any of Reagan's actual policies, save for tax cuts, didn't help it any. It also didn't help that Senator Ryder, the Big Bad, was written as so psychotically evil that when the aforementioned psychohistorical forecasting shows that the end result of his plan will be that within 20 years the country will be bankrupt, within 40 years his hoped-for government will be overthrown by an apocalyptic religious cult and he will be either a powerless serf or dead, and that within 50 years human civilization will cease to exist, he isn't deterred a bit — just so long as he wins the next Presidential election, who cares if he's dooming the human race and himself personally? A more cartoonish straw man you would be hard-pressed to find.
The freeware game by Tarn Adams, Liberal Crime Squad is entirely built around this. America is slowly becoming incredibly conservative, and you play as the titular group of criminals, who are willing to murder and sabotage society to get everyone to become liberal. Your main enemies are the Conservative Crime Squad, who are just as crazy as the Liberal Crime Squad.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six had strawman environmentalists, who wanted to save the Earth from humanity by killing off 99% of it.note aka Poison Ivy or Kyoto Protocol.
Dragon Age II has got an in-universe example, over the course of the third chapter the sanepeople are killed off, leaving only the Straw Mage and Straw Templar to lead the two sides of the final conflict.
The radio transmissions in The Conduit are full of these, with right-wing Timothy Browning, left-wing Jared X. Fulton, and Granola Girl Autumn Wanderer, all of whom use the game's Alien Invasion as a springboard for their straw views.
"Where are the Democrats on this matter? What have they done to make this country safe? What really needs to be done here is the Democrats allowing the GOP to take charge in this time of crisis so no more lives will be spent needlessly!"
Saints Row 2 features radio ads for an in-game gun shop called "Friendly Fire" that use extremely strawmanned arguments for protecting the second amendment. ("If you support waiting periods, you hate freedom!") Since you're playing a sociopathic Villain Protagonist who runs around shooting helpless civilians on a whim, the Strawman Has a Point about just how unsafe you are without something to shoot back with.
Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri: is a glorious aversion or deconstruction. After Unity reached Alpha Centauri, Captain Garland was assassinated, and the crew split up according to ideological belief, meaning that the straw types would logically be in charge. However, there is no obvious precedence among the factions, and the in-game quotes from the faction leaders have each one making some perfectly salient points and some... less so.
Every political webcomic features an abundance of nameless straw men political opposing the author's political alignment. Occasionally, they will try to add in straw men of their own demographic in an attempt to show that they're not biased, but these straw men are either too subtle and argue about very minor points, or are ridiculously exaggerated in a way that makes them not even remotely believable.
This strip beautifully summarizes so many political webcomics.
Cecania and Fairbanks in Sore Thumbs are hilariously exaggerated strawmen of liberals and conservatives respectively. Each of them seems to have taken their ideology to a ridiculous extreme, and then taken the ridiculous extreme to a ridiculous extreme, leading to such things as Fairbanks having once killed two people because "they looked like terrorists" (luckily for him, they were) and Cecania having been known to demonstrate outside abortion clinics because they won't offer drive-through service. Cecania is still presented as being a lot more sympathetic, though.
Chris Muir's Day by Day has characters on both ends of the political spectrum, but the conservative/libertarian characters (including product designer and Special Ops sniper Zed, black Republican Damon, and Redheaded Republican Sex Kitten Sam) are portrayed as both principled and cool, while liberal Jan is often portrayed as being a bit histrionic and over the top; however, the comic itself points out that the characters respect her because she actually believes what she's saying and says it because she's honestly trying to help others. This is pointed out in one comic where it's said Jan is a "dove", and that she's sincere about it (as opposed to many who claim the title and simply "sit around and shit all over everything"). There's even an arc chastising Damon for going too far with his arguing against her, where he acknowledges he needs to be more respectful of her ideals. Since having her go through an obligatory Opposites Attract romance with Damon, Jan has increasingly shifted to being a Fox News Liberal, with her position of Straw Liberal taken over by Sam's sister Skye, who has nearly no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
In Questionable Content, being a professional Strawman is Angus's occupation. This means that he gets paid to appear on debates with ludicrous arguments and lose... must be awesome. When he goes up against another professional Strawman, they end up actually competing as to who can give a worse argument.
Ctrl+Alt+Del had religious leaders from all over the world to temporarily put aside their differences to beat up upon Ethan's new Gamer Religion, and Lucas manages to dumbfound them with some minor piece of wisdom (along the lines of "Provide a reason that Ethan's gods don't exist that can't also be used to disprove the existence of your gods") that they are utterly slackjawed to answer.
Hackles has Marcus, their marketing mouse. He is used to support anything uncool, such as some conservatism (although they don't really get into politics, everyone is "moderate"), Windows users, poor web design, poor software design and marketing. He would be a Butt Monkey if he didn't deserve what happens to him (he is a mouse, and some of the characters are mice...including his nurse/date).
In The Adventures of Gyno-Star the Feminist superhero, Gyno-Star, faces an array of straw foes, most notably a straw Libertarian super-villain knows as The Glibertarian, created in a lab by an insurance company in order to spread pro-corporate ideology.
Justice League Unlimited: General Eiling is shown to have sinister straw-conservative leanings, he's eager to drop nuclear bombs on the Justice League, blames the "bleeding hearts in Congress" for not getting his way and eventually turns himself into a supervillain in order to "defend" America from heroes. The series also features a cowardly straw-Bill O'Reilly type character.
However, like the comic books, they avoid hinting which political side Lex Luthor leans toward in his policies when he runs for president. A quick line of dialogue revealed he was running as an independent.
"Polls among likely voters place Luthor within striking distance of both major party candidates."
Batman: The Animated Series features a villain not taken from the comic pages, Lock-Up, who is a straw-conservative and vigilante who despises the "liberal media" and enjoys throwing everyone he doesn't like into prison. Lock-Up may have been an attempt to make Batman seem more liberal by comparison, since Batman, a rich private citizen who succeeds where the corrupt public system fails, has been accused of being a conservative-friendly character. (However, it should be noted that Batman has always - and for good reason - famously harbored a hatred of guns. And, despite his nominal Catholic faith, he also adheres to some hardcore animist beliefs that he learned from Native Americans, which would be frowned upon by many Christian liberals, let alone Christian conservatives.)
The fact that Batman could be "accused" of not driving off conservative fans and that the writers (and fans) feel the need to "defend" his liberal bonafides probably says something about the extent of this trope's usage in the medium.
Wheeler was the only white male Planeteer, and his whole existence seemed to revolve around raising conservative-sounding viewpoints, only to have them shot down by the more diverse members of the team. (This would seem to raise the Unfortunate Implication that if you are white, you must be a conservative, or vice versa.)
South Park sometimes does this with its social and political-themed episodes. Not when both sides are made to look like asses (how the show normally deals with these issues), but when one side is unambiguously set up as wrong based on faulty pretenses, for the sake of dropping the episode's moral. Like the episodes about hate crimes and alcoholism.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker are known to be pretty right-wing libertarian. As a result, leftist people and causes usually get the brunt of the potshots. Witness their portrayal and treatment of "hippies", Al Gore, San Francisco, Occupy, the medical cannabis debate, and so on.
Though, as implied, South Park has no qualms with building a strawman of both sides in the same episode. This is exemplified in an in-universe TV debate (which might have been intended mostly to satirize how news channels tend to do this) between "Pissed-Off White-Trash Redneck Conservative" and "Aging Hippie Liberal Douche". As their actual names. They were discussing immigrants from the future.
Similarly, in Two Days Before The Day After Tomorrow, both sides make tits of themselves: "We know whose fault this is: GEORGE BUSH'S FAULT!"/"George Bush didn't break that beaver dam - it was Al-Qaeda's Beaver Dam WMD's!
Wingmen featured Dewey Ababaoo Mamasee Mamasay Mamakusa Jenkins, a fake Muslim who writes bad poetry because he's "down with the struggle." Huey, an actual leftist revolutionary, finds him disgraceful.
Huey himself is a strawman, but so is everyone else on the show and comic. One thing you can say about McGruder, he's balanced in his extremities. Except Caesar (comics), who is essentially the Closer to EarthStraight Man for whom Huey gets too extreme/obsessed.
Their portrayal of Ann Coulter: She appears on TV as a massively hateful ranter, but it's just an act for publicity.
By a similar token, Rev. Rollo Goodlove, a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Al Sharpton, is a self-serving liberal hypocrite who intentionally attaches himself to bogus "struggles" for publicity.
He and Coulter are good friends; they pull this schtick together pretty often.
Huey's neighbor Tom Dubois and his wife, though played as decent people, are milquetoast, establishment Strawman Democrats who live far away from Huey's reality. Tom once tried to kidnap Ralph Nader for taking votes away from Al Gore. (Thus earning the title of "the first moderate liberal extremist.")
King of the Hill skews conservative/libertarian (as per its creator Mike Judge), but in general it's pretty good about being equal opportunity. One of the first episodes has a Strawman Liberal social worker who's convinced that Hank is physically abusing Bobby, but ultimately gets Reassigned to Antarctica by his boss for not actually investigating Hank and operating solely off of gut instinct. (This character, or an Identical Stranger, returns in a later episode where he enables people to claim disability for ludicrous reasons.) On the other hand, another early episode has a Strawman Conservative woman who claims all forms of Halloween celebration are Satanic and gets Arlen to "cancel" the holiday; Hank ends up putting on an old costume and leading a protest against her, with all the adults of the neighborhood agreeing with him.
Another example would be the episode where Peggy takes up guitar lessons. Hank is treated as a Jerk Ass for not respecting Peggy, but the Riot Grrrl guitar teacher is similarly made out to be a Jerk Ass for trying to convince Peggy to abandon her son, as well as insinuating that Peggy is a bad feminist because she chose to have a child.
In earlier episodes Dale could be seen as a Strawman Conservative with his extreme distrust of the government; however, once Flanderization kicks in he's just treated as a lone nutcase who thinks "The Conspiracy" is behind everything bad in America.
The Simpsons uses these on occasion. The local Republican Party's usual meeting place is in a sinister castle, and their members include Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, Bob Dole (who favors them with a reading from the Necronomicon), Mr. Burns. In "Sideshow Bob Roberts", the Republicans nominate multiple-convicted attempted murderer Sideshow Bob as a mayoral candidate. They originally mistook a water cooler for the candidate. In the same episode, Quimby (as the democrat incumbent) is said by the Rush Limbaugh parody to be Springfield's "pot-smoking, illiterate, spend-ocrat mayor". Quimby's response (uttered while watering a marijuana plant): "I am no longer illiterate."
They did this to the Democrats in a more recent episode:
Democrat: With Ralph leading the party, I don't know how we will screw it up, but we will, because that's what Democrats do!
In one of the earlier episodes, Bart's elephant Stampy runs through a Republican convention and gets cheered. A sign at the convention says "We want what's worst for everybody!" and "We're just plain evil!", and then when he runs through the Democrat convention, one has a sign that says "We hate ourselves!" and "We can't govern!"
Especially notable for the Rand daycare center, where they deny the use of pacifiers and bottles:
Ms. Sinclair: Mrs. Simpson, do you know what a baby is saying when it reaches for a bottle? Marge: "Ba-ba"? Ms. Sinclair: It's saying "I am a leech"! Our aim here is to develop the bottle within.
Any episode where Lisa is played off against Flanders is almost guaranteed to do this. "The Monkey Suit" (about teaching evolution in school) and "You Kent Always Say What You Want" (about censorship), for example.
Professor August from "That 90s Show" is a particularly heavy-handed Strawman Liberal. He managed to convince Marge that Homer's honest love and devotion were just his attempts to make her Stay in the Kitchen, resulting in Marge dumping Homer for the Professor. In the end, he turns out to be just as bad, and Marge realizes her mistake and gets back with Homer.
Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law featured some Animal Liberation Nut Strawmen in "Free Magilla"; they freed all the animals from Mr. Peeble's pet store, even though this seemed to cause the creatures more anxiety than relief. When Magilla Gorilla later reunites with Mr. Peebles, he asks him to "Take me home- home to my nice, safe cage", the group who stole him splashes red paint on him and shouts "Animal freedom now!"
Futurama takes a crack at the Strawmen who surround the whole, "Gay Marriage" issue(s). This is particularly Anvilicious, because the issue is whether or not robots should be able to marry humans. It was explained in a previous episode that dating robots (and getting the cheap thrills of a robot programmed to love you) caused the collapse of society and the wiping out of life on earth by an alien species. Following this analogy, one might suppose that allowing gay marriage could wipe out all human life, actually justifying the strawmen.
The argument in the episode about dating robots was itself a strawman. It was presented as an after school special designed by the Moral Guardians to Scare 'Em Straight and was about as objective and truthful as a Chick Tract. The Earth was never destroyed by an alien species. It was, however, apparently destroyed twice, by Bender, for unrelated reasons. And if all life on Earth had been wiped out, how could people still be alive today?
The argument in the "Robot Marriage" episode was not "cheap thrills of programmed love", and instead about people (and robots) who honestly (with the exception of Bender, obviously) love each other being able to socially express their love. Or did I make up the parts where Amy and Bender had sex despite not being married?
American Dad! used to be this. Originally, the show seemed to be created solely for this, but eventually Seth Macfarlane switched all of his strawmanning and soapboxing back over to Family Guy, and apparently allowed American Dad to actually have a purpose other than "Conservatives are evil".
The opening of one episode taking place during Black History Month, has a teacher at Steve's school (a white guy dressed in a dashiki) screaming at his students that none of them have even seen a black person, even though four of the kids in the class are indeed black and as confused as everyone else. As the teacher is yelling at them, he's got a black woman banging on a drum each time he finishes speaking. He goes on saying that white men only think of sex with a black man once a year, and ends his lecture by stating that "the next time you privileged suburban white boys think Mozart wasn't black, you should look in the mirror!"
That said, Stan Smith does have some pretty heavy Strawman tendencies- a lot of episodes involve him learning some kind of lesson, often involving him seeing how his conservative perspective on an issue was wrong and becoming more liberal. Stan also exhibits a lot of positive tendencies associated with conservatives, like personal responsibility and work ethic but to what degree and how likeable that makes him varies from episode to episode.
Family Guy uses this trope to death; any time a character with conservative leanings appears, you can expect them to be a caricature in line of the most heavy-handed political cartoons; one specific example is Peter's father Francis, a typical Strawman Conservative religious zealot. Peter can be seen as a Strawman American thanks to his Flanderization from Bumbling Dad into self-absorbed Jerkass. Ironically, Brian (who is often thought of as Seth MacFarlane's Author Avatar, gets viewed as a Strawman Liberal by some fans due to his vehement hatred of anything conservative (among other less than pleasant traits).
In one episode, when Brian learns that Rush Limbaugh is in town for a book signing, he launches into a tirade about how the man is a monster and then marches down to the bookstore to chew him out. After Rush saves Brian from some muggers, he ends up going Republican...only to become exactly the same kind of Strawman that every other conservative is on this show, spouting off the most extreme caricatures of Republican ideology (free guns for everyone, execute every single person in jail, etc). The Snap Back ensures that he's back to being liberal by the end of the episode.
In defense of Family Guy, they even spell out that, regardless of political affiliation, there will always be a unbelievably biased Strawman Political who acts like a self parody (hence how radical Liberal Brian transforms into radical Conservative Brian; it's just how he is).
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