Super Fun Happy Thing of Doom
aka: Super Fun Happy Trope Of Doom
The Ministry of Love was the really frightening one. There were no windows in it at all. Winston had never been inside the Ministry of Love, nor within half a kilometer of it. It was a place impossible to enter except on official business, and then only by penetrating through a maze of barbed-wire entanglements, steel doors, and hidden machine-gun nests. Even the streets leading up to its outer barriers were roamed by gorilla-faced guards in black uniforms, armed with jointed truncheons.
Something, often a company, that is described with an adjective in the title that is entirely at odds with what it actually does. Commonly, something evil will be paired with a nice-sounding adjective. This also applies when the title's implications are opposed to what the company/organization/Evil Overlord
does. Basically, when you apply a completely inappropriate adjective to something (often to make it seem better
), that's this trope. Look for characters exclaiming "Hey...this isn't happy!" or something similar.
This is a New Speak
trope. There is usually a rather pointed takeaway for the audience about the people doing the naming: a society that uses vicious irony like this is never, ever
nice or just misunderstood.
of doom that masquerade as harmless objects, see Happy Fun Ball
or the more prosaic Artifact of Doom
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Anime & Manga
- Eureka Seven:
- The Summer of Love was a worldwide catastrophe that sparked tremendous conflict and civil war. It is feared that, if it is allowed to occur, the Second Summer of Love could mean The End of the World as We Know It.
- Also, the research station that performs inhumane and usually fatal experiments on teenage girls is nicknamed "Joy Division" by the scientists there.
- The F.L.E.I.A. in Code Geass is named for Freya, the Norse goddess of love and beauty. Its function is to create a huge Sphere of Destruction using a combination of nuclear fission and Sakuradite.
- The bad guys of 20th Century Boys are the "Friendship Democratic Party". They're a front for an evil cult.
- Flying Ghost Ship has a very cheerful advertisment for the "Boa Juice". Which melts people alive.
- The Satchi, cyber law-enforcers in Dennou Coil. They look like giant brown standing peanuts with smiley-faces painted on. Yeah.
- This has to be the only reason King Dedede ordered monsters from Holy Nightmare in Kirby of the Stars (the dub doesn't have this, of course...making Dedede look like more of an idiot in the process, if that were possible). It doesn't help that a few of the soon-to-be-gigantic enemies are pretty cute at first.
- The Lemarchand puzzle boxes from Hellraiser. Their real name is the Lament Configuration.
- Consumer Recreation Services in The Game.
- In Django Unchained, the plantation of a particularly sadistic slaveowner, Calvin Candie, is called "Candyland".
Live Action TV
- The most famous of these is from George Orwell's 1984. The government has four chief buildings: The Ministry of Truth, in charge of propaganda, the Ministry of Peace, in charge of the military, the Ministry of Plenty, in charge of rationing supplies, and the Ministry of Love, described in the page quote.
- Arguably, the name of the Ministry of Love is very appropriate, given that its entire purpose is to make sure its inmates love Big Brother.
- And Big Brother itself, really.
- The Sword of Truth series loves this one. The titular sword's magic doesn't operate based on truth, but on the wielder's perceptions, whether or not they're accurate. A "death spell" doesn't kill people; it's used to save their life. And a "maternity spell" is nothing tender or nurturing; it's used to take the target hostage by creating Synchronization between the caster and the target.
- It's even lampshaded when one of the characters reflects on the fact that she suggested to the Big Bad he start styling himself "Emperor Jagang the Just".
- The trade paperback of Jhonen Vasquez' Squee series is called Squee's Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable Horrors, and not without reason.
- Mocked in America (The Book) by Jon Stewart, which contains a chart demonstrating how as the Congo's "Inherent Lies in Name" increased, so did its oppression level.
Sub-saharan Africa's largest nation has grown more oppressive over the decades, and its name has kept pace.
Congo. Lies in name; 0. Oppression level; bloody.
Republic of the Congo. Lies in name; 1. Oppression level; sadistic.
Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lies in name; 2. Oppression level; genocidal.
People's Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lies in name; 3. Oppression level; inhuman.
Shiny, Happy, People's Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lies in name; 5. Oppression level; hide.
- In the Strugatsky Brothers' novel Hard to Be a God, a lot a villages are renamed from their Wretched Hive names to this trope. Perhaps in hopes it will make them better.
- Animorphs gives us The Sharing, an organization full of nice, friendly people who do charity work and have a great time doing it. And after you are initiated, a parasitic alien crawls into your ear and you are a slave to the invading alien race.
- The Chronicles of Narnia:
- In "Little Harmonic Labyrinth" from Gödel, Escher, Bach, the Tortoise was promised by a fortune teller "a stroke of Good Fortune," and it happens to him and Achilles in the form of one "Hexachlorophene J. Goodfortune, Kidnapper-At-Large, and Devourer of Tortoises par Excellence."
- In The Grimnoir Chronicles, the world is protected by "Peace Rays," invented by none other than Nikola Tesla himself.
- In the novel The Tomorrow File the United States Twenty Minutes into the Future renames the government departments. The Department of Defense is called the Department of Peace. The Department of Health, Education and Welfare becomes the Department of Bliss. Other departments are also renamed.
- Hologram Fun World, in Galaxy of Fear and a few other parts of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. It's an amusement park, but attendance has been suffering and the Big Bad is testing his Nightmare Machine on the few people still coming.
- In That Hideous Strength, the evil organization is the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments, or N.I.C.E. Naturally, they're not very nice at all.
- "Super Duper Meteor" from Lemon Demon's Dinosaurchestra.
- Girl Genius:
- Done by Ridley in Planet Zebeth, with his bar's Super Happy Fun Slide. It is a slide, but the wall above the entrance disguises the fact that it leads down to a deep-fryer; any small enemies who enter the slide are cooked up and served to hungry bar patrons. Amazingly, none of the minions notice the deception; presumably due to the state of its riders, word-of-mouth recognition of the slide is based solely on its name.
- Sinfest has National Perfection Agency, Beelze-Bud and Illumi-nicey (the New Illuminati Logo).
- In a strip of Help Desk, in an attempt to get a better public image, The Dark Lord of Ubersoft legally changes his name to "Mr. Bunny, the Hoppy Computer Guy." It doesn't really work.
- The Simpsons:
- The Fairly OddParents. "Fun box, oh fun box, so small and square and dark. Fun box, oh fun box, check out these cool fun locks, hey!"
- In fact, anything to do with Flappy Bob and his two assistants, Happy Peppy Gary and Happy Peppy Betty.
- On Sealab2021, Shanks takes the crew on a "bonding mission" to hunt Chupacabra on "Happy Fun-Time Island", which is infested with talking tree cobras.
Quinn: "Happy Fun-Time"? Who the hell named this island?
- The French Revolution's Committee of Public Safety. Ho ho ho. By "Safety" they meant Reign of Terror.
- Actually, most of the latter fell under the auspices of Robespierre's Committee of Public Welfare.
- Many totalitarian regimes use this sort of technique as a form of propaganda. See Maximum Fun Chamber, People's Republic of Tyranny.
- Stalin's USSR had "the ultimate act of social security." Guess what that means? Death penalty. Later, they realized how stupid it sounds and changed the legal formula to the much more appropriate-sounding "ultimate act of punishment." More infamously, Those Wacky Nazis similarly referred to The Holocaust as the "final solution" (to the "Jewish problem").
- It's very common, at least in the U.S.A. and its member states, for legislation to be given names that are either unrelated to the legislation in question or, often, actually in contradiction to what the legislation does, purely for propaganda uses. This is especially common if the act in question is written by or for powerful business interests. Examples include things like "The Clean Water Act" or "The Job Creation Act" or "The USA PATRIOT Act". After all... who would want to vote against something called "The Clean Skies and Fair Treatment for Innocent Victims Act" or the "Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act"?
- The British Parliament gets around this by naming acts in Beige Prose, always of the form "General Topic (Optional Specific Subtopic) Act Year".
- In recent years there has also been a trend in the U.S. toward informally assigning girls' names to legislation (usually laws concerning punishment and/or registration of convicted sex offenders); e.g., "Megan's Law," "Jessica's Law." (Combines this trope with Think of the Children! as well as Missing White Woman Syndrome).
- The girl's name thing tends to be that the law is named after a girl who fell victim to the specific thing the law is addressing (for example, "Amber Alert" isn't specifically named after the color "amber", but Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl who was abducted and murdered).
- The National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 is this to some degree. On one hand, its most famous provision is one that allows warrantless indefinite detention for those suspected of terrorism in certain circumstances. However, most of the act actually really was about defense matters—that is, it was the annual appropriations act intended to keep the military fully supplied for the coming fiscal year.
- In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) decides whether or not a drug should be provided by the NHS — so NICE can be responsible for denying life-prolonging treatments for reasons of expense... although sometimes they do this to avoid having to shut down care in areas that affect more people. Let's leave it there.
- A "screw you, M.A.F.I.A.A." project, mass implementation of which would cause the litigous sort of publishers either lobby prohibition of WiFi as we know it or weep in futility?
- In France, it is frequent to add the epithet "social" to things… that are not. If you fire 1000 workers for the sake of profitability, call it a "social plan"; If you raise the VAT, making life more expensive for poorer consumers, call it the "social VAT", etc. Also, recently the term "videosurveillance" has been replaced by "videoprotection". Reassuring, isn't it?
- Speed Cameras in the UK are "Safety Cameras" except in one honest county where they are "Enforcement Cameras".
- Since the purpose of the cameras is to keep people from driving at what the government considers unsafe speeds, this is not terribly inaccurate.
- Imperial Japan's department of biological and chemical warfare research is called the Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department.
- Al-Qaeda puts out an English-language magazine called Inspire. Seriously.
- The United States' Department of War became the Department of Defense in 1947. It's arguable as to whether America has fought a truly defensive war since... ever.
- The planned "Data Protection Agreement" between the EU and the US. The goal is to grant US agencies legal wholesale access to data on European citizens (suspicious or not, nevermind).