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The Klansman costume: when no one is supposed to know you're racist.
How the hell are we supposed to introduce ourselves?! "Hello, we're the new death-dealing miltia of white supremacy, we're called the "Ku Klux Klan", affiliated with the "Wip Wap Wop" and the "Bingly Bongly Boo". We're easy to recognize, we're the ones wearing bedsheets and peeking out through the eyeholes of the massive pointy hats we wear over our faces!"
The Ku Klux Klan
has appeared a lot in fiction, especially in the Deep South
. As one of the most well-known hate groups in history, and with their distinctive white robes
and pointed hoods
, they are commonly found as Politically Incorrect Villains
. They almost always will have drawling accents
, be hot-tempered
, drop plenty of Cluster F Bombs
and - ironically - be as dumb as bricks
(ironic because its earliest members had been classically educated, and "Ku Klux" itself was inspired by the ancient Greek word for "circle")
Related tropes are Those Wacky Nazis
, White Gangbangers
, and Rebels with Repeaters
Not to be confused with The Clan
Anime & Manga
- Ironically, the traditionally Protestant Ku Klux Klan are one of two major inspirations for the Vatican's Papal Knights in Hellsing (the other being The Knights Templar and other Crusades-era knightly orders). Although the pointy hoods actually originated with the Spanish Inquisition, the white color and flowing capes are clearly taken from the KKK.
- Klansmen show up in Preacher. They're hired by a meat magnate, Odin Quincannon, to kill Jesse to prevent him from interfering in his business, but they prove to be an incompetent bunch of morons who fail to provide much of a threat. Jesse even puts out one of their burning crosses with a stream of urine. Odin himself is not a member, but he panders to the Klan to earn their loyalty by constantly spouting racial tirades to the point that even the Klan get tired of it.
- In the EC Comics story "Under Cover!" (Shock SuspenStories #6), a reporter who witnesses a woman captured and flogged to death by the Black Vigilante Society (who are the KKK in all except name and hood color) finds that he is their next target.
- The Arctic Nation in the Blacksad album of the same name is a mix between this and the Nazi Party. At the beginning they wear uniforms resembling Nazi party ones complete with red armbands, and later wear ones resembling those of the KKK. Because this is a setting of Petting Zoo People, they're white fur supremacists.
- Real American from All-Star Squadron was appearance-wise an Evil Counterpart to Commander Steel wearing a Klan hood, with one of his victims being Amazing Man, who because of his at-the-time matter-mimicking power survives the assault. As it turned out, Real American was actually a robot.
- Bamse: The adventure Något luktar—men vad? (Something smells—but what?) has Knocke and Smocke trying to drive out a just moved-in family of skunks. They get help from other characters by dressing up as Klansmen in white sheets, nighttime meetings, and carrying torches.
- Suske en Wiske: The villains in De Tuf-Tuf-Club are all dressed in hoods that make 'em appear like the Ku Klux Klan. They are not racist or in any affiliated to the Klan, however.
- Nero: A hooded Klan-esque villain appears in De Linkadoors, though he is not reprented as racist. In De Clo Clo Clan and De Wraak Van De Grote Clo another Klan-esque antagonistic secret society dressed in hoods lives on the North Pole and call themselves The Clan. Once again not racist.
- The Birth of a Nation was one of the earliest films ever, and portrayed the KKK as heroes. It garnered widespread controversy as well as critical acclaim, and it's credited with helping spark the revival of the Ku Klux Klan in the 20th century.
- The Klan appears in O Brother, Where Art Thou? as enemies midway through the movie, as Everett, Pete, and Delmar must rescue their friend Tommy from the Klan. They are generally mocked, and their cross lighting ceremony features a humorous reference to the Winkies in The Wizard of Oz. The Klan is also portrayed as not having the support of the local population. After a politician (who has already annoyed the crowd) lets slip that he's a Klansman, he gets literally ridden out on a rail. (This isn't entirely accurate for Mississippi in the first half of the century, but the movie is set in the 1930s—by which point the Klan's great popularity of the 1910s and 20s had faded—so it's not entirely impossible, either.)
- Featured prominently in Mississippi Burning.
- In Blazing Saddles, among the many criminals recruited into the outlaw army of the bad guys are a number of Klansmen. The heroes use their sheets to hide in the crowd, but Bart blows his identity when he reveals his black hands.
- In Forrest Gump, Gump says he was named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, although Gump, being Gump, doesn't realize this. (He's also apparently a descendant of Forrest).
- In the Samuel L. Jackson remake of Shaft, a black man named Trey was dining in a mainly "upper class" restaurant and was racially harassed by a Jerkass white diner named Wade. After ignoring the first few public insults, Trey walks over to Wade's table, cuts two holes in his cloth napkin, and puts it on top of Wade's head, where it resembles a KKK hood, to the laughter of some of the onlookers.
- Bad Boys II has Mike and Marcus shooting it out with a chapter of the Klan in the movie's first major shootout.
- The raunchy high school boys from the second Porky's film scheme to get even with some corrupt politicians and Klan members.
- In Quentin Tarantino's film Django Unchained there's a scene Played for Laughs in which a prototype of the Klan struggle to get ill-fitting hoods on.
- The Ku Klux Klan plays a pretty big role in A Time to Kill. They support Carl's conviction (he murdered two white rapists who were likely to get off scot free for molesting his daughter), and Freddie Lee Cobb (whose grandfather was a Klansmen) enlists their help to sow mayhem. They protest in front of the courthouse, starting a riot with a black crowd, which interupts the court's proceedings. The Grand Wizard is killed, but Freddie and the remaining Klan members continue to intimidate and send death threats to Jake to make him step down as Carl's defense attorney. He doesn't.
- Humorously portrayed in the Richard Pryor comedy Bustin Loose, as they end up helping a bus load of school children get out of a mud hole, only to fall face first into the mud.
- Fletch in the movie Fletch Lives disguises himself as a member of a local Klan group while he is working on a case in Louisiana about his aunt's lawyer's murder.
- In Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, the titular duo encounters a group of Klansmen engaging in a white power rally. They ambush two of them and steal their robes in an attempt to hide. Hilarity Ensues.
- In Storm Warning (1951), a model goes to a small town to see her recently married sister. Minutes after she gets off the bus, she sees all the lights on the town's main street being suspiciously switched off, and then witnesses the Klan carrying a man out of a local jail and killing him. When she meets her brother-in-law, she recognizes him as a member of the lynch mob.
- American History X: As a joke, the black prisoner Lamont holds up a piece of cloth as a Klansman's hood and mocks the Deep South hick stereotype associated with it. Earlier, Derek (a Neo-Nazi) also dismisses them as a bunch of disorganized idiots and claims to have higher standards. In fact, that describes his own gang quite well.
- The Sherlock Holmes story The Five Orange Pips features a client who unwittingly inherited secrets belonging to the KKK. Holmes figures out the Klan's game, but is unable to save his client's life. Quite possibly the only work ever to portray the Klan as scarily competent traceless assassins. Holmes still managed to essentially scare them from returning to land, resulting in them dying at sea, at least, so he got payback.
- A minor enlisted character in Destroyermen: Crusade is described as a "Kard-Karrying Klansman", and is noted to have put on shows in blackface on our Earth. He ends up being lynched by USS Walker's other enlisted men after raping a Lemurian female.
- The Clansman, the 1905 novel by Thomas Dickson, which inspired The Birth of a Nation.
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is about a black family in the 1930s and they have several encounters with the KKK.
- The father of one of the protagonists in Fool On The Hill was in the (Third) Klan, and brought his son into the children's auxiliary, which is described as not that different from the Cub Scouts ... from the perspective of a ten-year-old. Looking back, the college-age protagonist considers it a permanent stain on his character.
- They are featured in Gone with the Wind, portrayed as a gentleman's organization needed to protect vulnerable white woman from "bad" freed slaves looking to rape, rob and pillage—a major sequence finds them going out to avenge an attack on Scarlett.
- Langston Hughes' brief and disquieting poem "Ku Klux" is a first person account of being abducted by a group of Klansmen who demand to know "Do you believe in the Great White Race?"
- The Klansman is a novel by William Bradford Huie, made into a 1974 film starring Lee Marvin. The novel recounts what happens to an African American man in a small town in the South after a young white woman is sexually assaulted and beaten. Events spiral out of control when a sniper shoots a Ku Klux Klan member at a funeral.
- An episode of the History Channel series Gangland featured the Imperial Klans of America.
- On Boardwalk Empire the Klan are a problem for Nucky Thompson because he gets a lot of his political support from the black community and the black gangster Chalky White is one of Nucky's main associates. In season one when one of Chalky's people is lynched, Nucky allows him to torture a Klan leader for information. In season two, the Klan has its revenge when they attack Chalky's liquor warehouse and kill four of Chalky's men. When Chalky kills one of the Klansmen in self defense, Nucky has to pull a lot of strings so Chalky is not tried and executed for murder. However, the Klan has little power in Atlantic City so they are never too serious a problem for Nucky.
- That Mitchell and Webb Look features a sketch about how the KKK aquired their distinctive uniforms.
- Chappelle's Show featured the blind, black KKK member Clayton Bigsby, who was unaware of his own race.
- There's an episode of Mork and Mindy in which the titular alien meets the Klan. After discovering what they're about, he uses his alien powers to turn them into people of diverse ethnicities, which they discover when they remove their hoods.
- The Klan used to be frequent guests on daytime talk shows, especially Jerry Springer.
- An episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman has a Denver banker bringing them to town and enticing the men to join, in response to Grace and Robert E. buying a house in the middle of town. Things escalate to where he's nearly hanged.
- On My Name Is Earl, Joy's half-sister Liberty pays her neighbor to be part of her wrestling act. The neighbor plays the role of "The Klanimal."
- A hilarious example in the Switch! parody of Germanys Next Top Model. The models present Ku Klux Klan costumes to the jury. The jury-member Bruce Darnel , an american negro and Ambiguously Gay Large Ham (actual Hoecker in Black Face) says: This makes me feel so hot, I feel ... fire. Then Heidi Klum (who is married to the (black) rapper Seal say : I will take this ghost-outfit home, to suprise my husband.
- The Facts of Life; in one episode, Blair's deceased grandfather had willed a generous bequest to Peekskill to build a school library. After learning that her grandfather was in the Klan, Blair tried to stop the bequest, not wanting her school associated with the Klan. Mrs. Garrett suggested that she should instead enjoy the irony; that after a lifetime of promoting intolerance, her granddad's money would be used to educate.
- The The Adventures of Superman example sited in "Radio" below was mentioned in Qi, in the fourth series episode "Descendants".
- In a two-part episode of All in the Family, Archie Bunker joins a Brotherhood of Funny Hats only to be nonplussed on realizing that he's unknowingly joined the KKK, who are planning to burn a cross in "commie" Michael's front yard. Archie may be racist, but Everyone Has Standards, and he withdraws his membership on the grounds that he's black, because he once had a blood transfusion from a black woman.
- The Professionals has a notorious Banned Episode (never shown on terrestrial TV in the UK, although broadcast overseas and later on UK satellite channels) called "Klansmen", which has apparent Ku Klux Klan members acting as muscle for a violent landlord against his black tenants. The episode was banned because one of the two protagonists, Bodie, repeatedly expressed extremely racist views himself (which were not endorsed by the plot), and also perhaps because, in a final shock twist, the evil landlord behind the Klansmen, and some of the hooded Klansmen themselves, turned out to be black.
- An episode of Quantum Leap had Sam leap into a white man secretly assisting black voting registration in 1950s Alabama. The man's father-in-law and several of his friends were all Klan memmbers. The episode ended with Sam (with Al's help) foiling a church bombing that would killed several innocent children. Then, when the Klan is about to lynch one of the local black leaders anyway, Sam manages to shame the Klan into standing down.
- The Ramones' hit song "The KKK Took My Baby Away".note
- Elvis Costello's "Tokyo Storm Warning" mentions a KKK group "stranded at the bar", but being out of their element they're pretty harmless.
- Ku Klux Klan #1, #2 and #3 of AAA, CMLL and other Mexican promotions. Officially there are only three, but six men have worn the mask in actuality. Ironically, they wear black. There is also an unmasked wrestler named Ku Klux Klan who is not affiliated with the others.
- Fishman, Flama Roja and El Legionario also formed their very own Ku Klux Klan. "The Klan" seems oddly (un)popular in Mexico.
- Rockin Rebel took up a klan gimmick in CZW
- The Adventures of Superman had a famous story arc where the Man of Steel himself took on the "Clan of the Fiery Cross", a thinly-disguised version of the Ku Klux Klan. It's credited with hamstringing a revival by making them seem rather silly; this was mostly the work of Stetson Kennedy, a human rights activist who infiltrated the Klan and fed the writers of Superman detailed information on actual Klan rituals and code words in order to trivialize them. The Klan tried to retaliate with an ineffectual boycott of Kellogg's (one of the show's biggest sponsors), but the damage was already done; kids were playing games of Cowboys and Indians with the kid in the Superman jammies as the cowboy and the kids with white pillowcases over their heads as the Indians.
- The Humanis Policlub in Shadowrun is a human-supremacist organization that is very Klan-like in its overall manner. They despise all metahumans, but they hold a particular hatred for orks and trolls.
- Psychotic racist supervillain White Knight in Mutants & Masterminds dresses in something closely resembling a Klan uniform.
- In Clare Boothe's play Kiss the Boys Good-Bye, Southern Belle Cindy Lou is asked if her Senator father is a Klan member with "a nice new white shirt laid out in the attic somewhere," and she indignantly replies: "Oh, cos he hasn't got a new one. — He has my Granddaddy's which is seventy-five years old."
- In the climax of "The Foreigner", by Larry Shue, the Klan attacks Betty's lodge, led by the obviously evil Owen Musser. "This here's the Klan, y'all! Y'all don't fool with the Klan!" Later on, it is revealed that the Reverend David Lee, who was engaged to Betty's guest Catherine, was working with Owen, and only wanted Catherine for her money.
- The Fraternal Order of the Raven in Bioshock Infinite is a Klan-like group that wear blue robes and hoods and revere John Wilkes Booth as a hero and patron saint, referring to Abraham Lincoln as a traitor for freeing the Blacks.
- What makes them worse, is that they're sanctioned by the government of Columbia.
- In Liberal Crime Squad, the Ku Klux Klan is referenced in a free speech related new story (Free speech advocates fight to allow a supremacist rally to take place, complete with ASCII Art representing the KKK), and if one of your activists is judged by a very conservative jury, the game informs you of the mess you are in by saying "Three of the jurors are members of the KKK".
- EarthBound has the "Happy-Happyists", a cult which wants to paint the world blue. They wear robes similar to the KKK's robes, but in blue.