I've had the theory that the moral depiction of dragons in popular fantasy gives a decent rough indicator of the global financial situation. In a boom, you see, the hoarding of gold is more likely to be considered to be a harmless eccentricity, even something desirable, and dragons are noble and nice. But in a recession, when everyone hates the people with all the money, then dragons are villains. Examples: Smaug is the archetypal asshole dragon, and The Hobbit was written in the Great Depression.When works are interpreted as being allegories for political issues (most often ones of war) at the time of the writing, with no prompting from the author. Sometimes, this is applied as retcon, with works written decades before the event being interpreted as allegories for it. (This may be a result of Older Than They Think.) Such interpretations may be instances of History Repeats, "Funny Aneurysm" Moments, Hilarious in Hindsight, and Harsher in Hindsight. Even still many people think that somehow everything has to be inspired by what is most recent and that the author is targeting Small Reference Pools — and furthermore that the writer wrote the work shortly before publication, when in fact it normally takes a year to get from completed manuscript to on the shelves even if the writer had no difficulty selling it, and the work may have taken years to write. Even the most innocent or neutral subject matter can take on political (or sociopolitical) connotations due to the associations people tend to make in the wider scheme of things. The following are seemingly apolitical topics that may be interpreted as political due to the "culture wars" of recent decades.
- Anything involving homosexuality, and whether it's depicted positively or negatively note
- Anything involving the evolution of life on Earth (or on other worlds, for that matter), and whether that's meant to be taken seriously
- Anything about killing animals, and whether that's okay
- Any depiction of a culture that's more than a little different from the culture producing the work, and whether that culture is "superior" or "inferior"
- Any out-of-universe Race Lift, at least if one of the two races is the majority race within the culture that produced the work
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Shortly after its release, many began suspecting that Code Geass's Britannian Empire and its resource-grubbing expansionism was meant to be a thinly veiled potshot at America and the War on Terror, to the point where some began calling for a boycott of the show's eventual US release. In an interview near the end of the first season, director/co-creator Goro Taniguchi stated that this is not the case, insisting that the whole reason he made the show was to tell an entertaining story and not to make any kind of political message. That the main character was Britannian probably helped reduce any backlash.
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex gives the Villain Ball to the United States of America in the 2nd season... or more specifically, the American Empire, one of the 3 divided American countries who places a high priority on military industrialism and right-wing conservatism. The anime doesn't clearly state that the United States of America is a different country from the American Empire, which may lead viewers into thinking that the United States in general is the villain. The truth is that Shirow Masamune divided the United States into 3 different countries (The United States of America, The Ameri-Soviet Union, and Imperial Americana) as part of the continuity that Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell both take place in back when he wrote both series in the mid-'80s and early '90s. There were no intentional implications, but it still makes the whole thing Harsher in Hindsight when compared to some of George W. Bush's foreign policies during his administration.
- The villains in the two series are, respectively, a corrupt politician trying to make a profit in the healthcare industry and a right wing agent trying to instigate a war for personal gain, while the two main Anti-Villain-turned-AntiHeroes are an anarchist hacker and a socialist revolutionary. It's not particularly hard to see the show's political slant.
- The American Empire in the series has a defense treaty with Japan which means Japan "technically" cannot have an army, just like present day USA and Japan. In the series, the American Empire is also portrayed as an openly imperialist power, invading countries like Mexico. Since many leftists (e.g. Che Guevara, Malcolm X) regards USA as an evil imperialist empire and considering how the series give the socialist revolutionary and anarchist hacker quite the sympathetic portrayal...
- High School Of The Dead: One of the most prominent examples would be Souichiro Takagi (father of Saya), whose a right wing ultra-nationalist who comes into conflict with some of the Straw Liberals who still consider "them" to be human. The protagonists themselves are emphasized to be more individualistic based on the ensuing conflicts.
- Upon its release in the U.S., the Studio Ghibli film The Secret World of Arrietty was accused as a pro-"Occupy Wall Street" propaganda film out to demonize the 1% and push environmental agendas along with The Lorax.
- Comparisons between the Ishvalans from Fullmetal Alchemist and the War On Terror are a dime a dozen. Word of God is that they're based on the Ainu people of Japan, not Muslims. The 2003 anime rolls with the similarities.
- Mark Millar continues to insist that any political allegory in Civil War, a plot in which superheroes who didn't want to register with the government were rounded up and shipped off to what's come to be called "Space Guantanamo" by both fans and the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics, was completely accidental.
- It's been suggested that Stan Lee intended the two mutant leaders to represent the competing tactics of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. (Professor Xavier) and Malcolm X (Magneto), and the analogy is very frequently mentioned in discussions of the books. Another comparison has been gays, or other specific or non-specific minorities, that some fans see it as a "violation" of what the story is supposedly about when a particular plot or character's behaviour does not fit in with their interpretation of choice. Some writers consciously or subconsciously fed this by modeling the mutants' plight in particular storylines on that of real-life minorities, which also led to fans squabbling amongst themselves as to whether the X-Men are more a metaphor for race or for homosexuality, and also to the tendency among some fans to consider "ugly" mutants "truer" mutants than "pretty" mutants. All this often loses sight of the fact that Marvel's mutants started out as a fairly standard science-fiction "super-race" melded with the standard Silver Age superhero conventions. Thus during the first two decades of the X-Men's existence the default was to maintain a Secret Identity and hide that one was a mutant from the public, which would have caused a different sort of blacklash if the feature had been intended as a metaphor of or a comment on the situation of a minority within society in the real world. More broadly, they represent alternative paths that oppressed people can follow: appeal to the consciences of the oppressors by taking the moral high ground, or defend your rights by force.
Make no mistake — these are some of the most beloved characters in comic book history, and it's specifically because of who they are. The X-Men are hated by the world purely because they were born different — it's not hard to see why that resonated with fans. Who knows how things would have turned out if Lee had spent a whole weekend inventing various radioactive animals to bite each of these people.
- Cracked did an article about how despite a good chunk of the franchise's popularity stemming from the fact that mutants can be seen as an allegory for people of color, LGBT individuals, or others who are considered "outsiders," Stan Lee came up with the concept of mutants simply because he didn't want to have to write a bunch of new origin stories.
- In any case, the mutant metaphor was not apparent in the early Lee/Kirby issues. It only came in with Chris Claremont's issues as pointed out by writer Steven Attewell. Others have pointed out that there are countless white, straight comics fans who have personally identified with the X-Men characters, and that the comic's themes arguably speak more to individual alienation from society rather than group persecution. This is especially apparent since the most popular X-Man is Wolverine whose stories rarely revolve around mutant prejudice and he's often presented in various media as a Not in This for Your Revolution type, and often affected this pose in the earlier comics.
- Smurf versus Smurf, where the Smurf village is divided in a mutually hostile Northern and Southern part because of language differences, gets a whole new perspective when you remember that it is originally a Belgian comic book. For the record, the northeastern part of Belgium (Flanders) is Dutch, and the southwestern part (Wallonia) is French. But this seems pretty superfluous when one realizes that the original Belgian name for "The Smurfs" (Les Schtroumpfs) combines both Latin and Germanic linguistic elements.
- The superhero Black Panther was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966, almost at the same time of the creation of the Black Panthers party. But Lee and Kirby were first. Marvel even attempted for a short time to rename the character to "Black Leopard", to avoid the misunderstanding, but returned soon to the original: they created it first, why should they give it up?
- The Avengers had a Bat Family Crossover named Operation Galactic Storm. The only similarity with the Gulf War ("Operation Desert Storm") is the name, and that's it: the actual plot has no relation at all.
- Iznogoud: Despite physical and psychological similarities, Iznogoud was not inspired by French president Nicolas Sarkozy.note (He did, however, meet Jacques Chirac at one point.) Which in no way prevented photoshops of Sarkozy dressed as Iznogoud from appearing on the Internet shortly after his election, mostly with captions on the subject of "Well, he finally succeeded." There was also a Google bombing mixing Sarkozy and Iznogoud. Moreover, an Iznogoud book written after Tabary's death in 2011 made extensive use of the similarity, and Sarkozy also won the 1999 Iznogoud Award, which is presented to the person who made the year's most high-profile failure.
- Tintin: Entire analyses and debates have been held to determine whether the comic strip is right wing or left wing. The accusations for its right wing position are the use of national and racial stereotypes and Hergé's own associations with far-right people like Léon Degrelle (leader of the Nazi collaborating Belgian party Rex during World War Two) and working for Le Soir during World War II, a newspaper that was owned by the Nazis. On the other hand Tintin has travelled the world and met people of various races and nationalities. Some of them bad, some of them good. There's no overt political undertone in the series and Borduria is portrayed as a cross between a Nazi and Communist state. Hergé himself always said: "The left claim I'm right wing, the right claim I'm left wing."
- Astérix: Asterix has also interpreted by xenophobes and racists as propaganda for an all white, all French, rural, traditionalist France that keeps foreign invaders out of the country. This claim is not in line with the creators. The series' writer René Goscinny was Jewish and survived World War Two, knowing firsthand what it feels like to be persecuted.
Films — Animated
- Some people argued that The Incredibles was pro-Objectivist propaganda, although the theory has since lost popularity.
- From A Bug's Life, Hopper's speech about "keeping those ants in line" has been interpreted as a metaphor for everything from the distribution of wealth to the alleged "New World Order."
- Ratatouille has a scene where Remy's dad tells him how they have to hate and fear humans because humans will never stop trying to kill them, and there's nothing that can be done about it, so stop hoping for peace and just fight the war, or sentiments to that effect. While it's written well enough that you could put his words in the mouth of any leader in the midst of a bitter and apparently endless conflict, it's almost impossible to watch the scene without thinking "terrorists". It doesn't help at all that Remy has a mild Shut Up, Hannibal! moment?
- Remy's father: This is the way things are. You can't change nature.Remy: Change is nature, Dad. The part that we can influence. And it all starts when we decide...Remy's father: Where are you going?Remy: With luck... forward.
- After watching Zootopia, one can't help but wonder if some writers at Disney were tired about the racism in present day society and decided to make a very Anvilicious point about how bad it is. Given that it's not just one side doing the racist stereotyping, one wonders if they frequent social justice spheres, too.
- The Lion King includes a scene modeled on Triumph of the Will where Scar and his hyena henchmen are equated with Nazis. This didn't go over well with some German critics, with Die Zeit actually accusing the film of endorsing fascism (which is Completely Missing the Point since Scar and his hyenas are the villains, so them being compared to Those Wacky Nazis is clearly not a pro-fascism statement).
- Some viewers see an allegory to the European refugee crisis in The Angry Birds Movie. It has references to Amnesty International and the "Coexist" logo, the 3 main birds are the colours of the German flag (and in at least one scene even in the same order), the pigs have beards which look strangely Arabian (especially odd considering none of the pigs in the original game have beards), there's a bald eagle that looks similar to a certain presidential candidate, a mime bird shows up (reminiscent of the Paris attacks) and various other such details.
Films — Live-Action
- Star Wars features a complex example. Word of God says the plot to the series was thought up in the 1970s and based on contemporary events, but many suspect George Lucas' storywriting to be somewhat of an Indy Ploy, the prequels storyline not crystalizing until later. Furthermore, there is Anakin's "If you are not with me, then you're my enemy" quote, which is an Older Than They Think quote, one from The Bible.
George Santayana: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
- The process by which Darth Sidious takes control of the Galactic Republic in the Star Wars prequel trilogy has been interpreted by some as a metaphor for the perceived centralization of power in the Bush administration — a claim George Lucas denies, and which is pretty blatantly not the case, seeing as the principal details of the story were sketched out in the mid-'70s, and summarized in the foreword to the novelization of A New Hope.
- Another way to read it is as a deliberate parallel to the Nazi party: everything from Palpatine being chancellor before assuming absolute power, to the name "stormtroopers" (the meaning of Sturmabteilung, Hitler's SA). Given Imperial Officers were wearing copies of actual Nazi uniforms it was probably intentional. Interestingly, this same idea could have been played with a different historical parallel: Augustus replacing a corrupt Roman Senate with himself, as (arguably) the right thing to do, at least in the short run.
- George Lucas has gone on in interviews to point out that much of the reason that the prequels, first thought up in the 1970s, seem so contemporary is that the contemporary political situation itself happens to uncannily mirror the 1970s. In both cases, there's an unpopular overseas conflict going on that has America being accused of empire-building by the rest of the world, while the Republican president's being criticized for overstepping his authority and trying to consolidate power away from the legislature with the rationale that desperate times call for desperate measures. It's not so much that the prequels were written about Bush, it's that they were written during the Nixon and Vietnam days - and then The War on Terror came along and recreated that situation just a few years after The Phantom Menace was released. Sort of a Life Imitates Art Imitating Earlier Real Life.
- And both situations mirror the founding of The Roman Empire, and other historical situations too numerous to mention. Real Life is using a Recycled Script.
- Not just The Roman Empire and Augustus but also Napoleon Bonaparte, who like Palpatine openly abolished the republic and made it an empire in name as well as fact with himself as emperor. Napoleon was inspired by Imperial Rome (with Eagles carried by his troops), while Hitler had them later as well.
- It doesn't help that Revenge of the Sith starts to drift into We All Live in America territory toward the end, when Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi speak of "a special session of Congress." In-universe the legislature is usually called the "Galactic Senate", "senate" being a more-or-less universal term while "congress" (especially with a capital letter-again going back to Ancient Rome) is more an Americanism.
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) is a famous example. Produced at the height of the 1950s anti-Communist paranoia, the movie has often been taken for an allegory for that, although nobody's clear about whether pod people represent Communists, or whether they represent McCarthyists who attack those who are different. The lead actor has stated on the DVD that the movie wasn't intended to be any kind of political commentary (since Senator McCarthy and his followers had already been discredited in the eyes of most Americans by the time filming began, it's unlikely that the allegory was anything but subconscious). Don Siegel, the film's director, was no liberal either.
- The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) remake starring Donald Sutherland made things a lot clearer, and kept the paranoia but changed the focus to environmental pollution.
- 300. Complicated again, as the (accurate to the comics) movie adaptation was made during The War on Terror, which Frank Miller supports, but the original comic was written a decade earlier. Notably, though, people who take this tack disagree on whether the Spartans are meant to represent the US and the Persians Islamic terrorism, or the other way around; it could be seen as brave Western freedom-lovers fighting Middle Eastern tyrants, or as a vast and diverse empire underestimating a local population and getting its butt kicked. At a March 2007 press conference, director Zack Snyder found himself nonplussed when asked by a reporter whether King Leonidas was meant to be George W. Bush or Osama bin Laden. Original author Frank Miller claims that his comic to a large degree was inspired by the 1962 film The 300 Spartans, which is often considered to be a metaphor for the Cold War. Whether such a message was intended or not is far from clear.
- The Dark Knight Saga:
"Gotham's time has come. Like Constantinople, or Rome before it, the city has become a breeding ground for suffering and injustice. It is beyond saving and must be allowed to die."
- Some interpret the sonar cell phone subplot in The Dark Knight as an allegory for modern day safety measures by the former Bush administration.
- While not as overt as TDK's themes of eavesdropping and extraordinary rendition, the speech in Batman Begins about how Gotham is beyond saving seems to be a metaphor for similar attitudes towards the Middle East. It doesn't exactly help that the character is, at that point, referred to as "Ra's al Ghul" (meaning "head of the demon" in Arabic-and the original character is vaguely Middle Eastern) and talking about a city that is presumably located in the Western world. Talk about turning the tables.
- The Dark Knight Rises got this in the week prior to its opening, where Rush Limbaugh claimed that the name of the villain, Bane, is a thinly veiled jab at Presidential nominee Mitt Romney's former company Bain Capital, which had been in the news for the past few weeks. This is a pretty obvious fact-check failure, as Bane has been around as a character for at least two decades. Bain Capital had only been in the news for a few weeks, and Bane was revealed to be the villain of the movie almost two years prior, when Mitt Romney himself wasn't even a likely presidential candidate. Furthermore, Chuck Dixon, Bane's creator back in the 1990s, is a political conservative (which is pretty obvious from the subtext of many of his stories), and he announced that he hadn't intended Bane to be any sort of political commentary; his only goal in creating Bane was to sell comic books and make money.
- The plot points about Bane pitting Gotham's lower classes against the well-off and those in power has been interpreted as being in reference to the Occupy Wall Street movement, though whether the film is meant to be either for or against OWS or free-market capitalism differs wildly depending on who you ask.
- Batman Returns (1992) was another Batman film that ran afoul of controversy, though it was presented to the public as just an escapist fantasy.
- The plot features a recall election in Gotham City as a major plot point and released close to election season in America, so many critics and pundits couldn't help seeing the movie as a commentary on all that. Director Tim Burton admitted in an interview that the Penguin was supposed to be an amalgamation of all the current political candidates.
- It also began shooting just a few months after the Persian Gulf War ended, making a climactic plot to destroy the city with remote-controlled missiles and the line "The liberation of Gotham has begun!" (a play on a Pentagon official's remark that "The liberation of Kuwait has begun" as Operation Desert Storm was launched) sound quite suspicious indeed.
- Then there is the Penguin's declaration of "Burn, baby - burn!" which was a quote popularly attributed to rioting blacks in 1965 Los Angeles. The film premiered a month after the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.
- Accusations surfaced that the Penguin's hooked nose was meant to make him look Jewish, purportedly turning him into a Jewish caricature.
- Anthony Lane at the New Yorker has a strange talent for looking at action movies and seeing endorsements for fascism. Take a look at his reviews for Speed Racer and Watchmen.
- Pauline Kael called Straw Dogs "the first American film that is a fascist work of art". Interestingly, it wasn't really a negative review; Kael just throws around the word "fascism" a lot.
- Though considered a classic today, Dirty Harry also earned the fascist epithet from Kael and other contemporary critics. Though director Don Siegel (a liberal) and Clint Eastwood (a conservative) both denied any intended political message, it's often read as an endorsement of police brutality despite showing Harry being nearly as violent and unhinged as Scorpio.
- Some critics have claimed that Showa Godzilla movies are Japanese nationalist propaganda revolving around WWII, though Ishiro Honda's pet themes were anti-nationalism and unification of enemies against greater threats. Other critics have claimed that the nuclear explosion that created Godzilla was a metaphor for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with the monster representing America. Godzilla was changed into a good guy in later films after relations between the two nations had markedly improved.
- Godzilla (2014):
- The Examiner wrote a piece speculating that the reason Godzilla seems fatter in this movie is for him to be a critique of the excesses of American greed and consumerism.
- Breitbart notes that "only Barack Obama's Hawaii, Harry Reid's Nevada, and Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco are destroyed" and jokingly speculates that this was intended as a Take That! against the Democrats.
- Clips from Spaceballs posted on YouTube tend to invite comments declaring that President Skroob is obviously Bush. They don't let the fact that the film was released thirteen years before Bush (and one year before his old man) was elected get in the way. Anyway, it's obvious based on his appearance that Skroob is based at least in part on Adolf Hitler (and, of course, on Emperor Palpatine, the Big Bad of Star Wars, which Spaceballs spoofs).
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End had shades of this, with the suspending of liberties and trials for suspected pirates by a corrupt government intent on wiping out a bunch of terrorizing marauders. Never mind that the suspension of civil liberties, especially in colonies and particularly for pirates, was a historical occurrence far predating any modern political situation. The screenwriters claimed to have taken the proclamation read in the film's opening from a real British colonial document circa 1800, but admitted that it was hard for viewers not to draw contemporary parallels.
- Some have interpreted Inglourious Basterds as an anti-American attack on torture and interrogation methods. Others consider it to be promoting war crimes. The film is morally ambiguous enough that it's hard to agree whether the Basterds were supposed to be heroes or not.
- The Two Towers
- Around the time of its release, there was an online petition parodying this phenomenon by arguing against it on the basis that it was an insensitive name in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy (whereas the title was thought up in the 1940s, before the World Trade Center even existed). Astoundingly, it drummed up some serious support from people who didn't check their facts.
- Some critics claimed it was a pro-Iraq War/Bush-supported propaganda piece. This is a little odd since the original source was written by a British author several decades ago and the movie was directed, written, and co-financed by a New Zealander. Oh, and the films were shot back-to-back and were going into production by the time Bush came into office.
- One of the reasons reviewer Armond White is a controversial figure (besides being a contrarian) is because he always does a sociopolitical analysis of a film while doing his review.
- Andrew O'Hehir's review of Secretariat was based around the premise that a feel-good Disney movie about a legendary racehorse was actually a "Tea Party-flavored, Christian-friendly yarn" which he even likened to Leni Riefenstahl's propaganda films. After massive Internet Backdraft led by the unquestionably liberal Roger Ebert, O'Hehir backtracked and claimed that the review was tongue-in-cheek and deliberately over-the-top.
- Monsters has a bunch of aliens from Mexico trying to get into America and succeeding despite a gigantic wall and security to keep them out. These aliens are stereotyped as villains in propaganda. These aliens are apparently not metaphors for Mexican immigration to the U.S according to director Gareth Edwards, but that hasn't stopped people from drawing the comparison. The fact that Mexican immigrants making the border crossing are characters within the story and there really is a wall being built on the Mexican-American border does not help.
- Magda Goebbels stalked out of the premiere of Die Reise nach Tilsit. It was about a foreign woman seducing the husband of a virtuous German wife under her eyes — while Joseph Goebbels carried on with the Czech actress Lida Baarova (the German wife won in the end, in both cases; Hitler sent the actress back to her native country and told Goebbels there would be no divorce).
- Battle: Los Angeles has a scene that could be seen as commentary on "enhanced interrogation" techniques in the war on terror: The soldiers have captured a wounded alien soldier, and they cut it apart (while still living), trying to find the vital organs so they can know where to aim to kill aliens. There is no dialogue condemning or justifying this act (although the information they find does put them on even footing in the battle).
- Some even call The Muppets political. Many people on more conservative news shows were upset that the movie's villain was a CEO who wanted to drill for oil, saying that the Muppets were promoting class warfare for children. They didn't do their research, since it later becomes clear that Tex Richman is evil not because he is a CEO, rich, or wants oil, but because he is unable to laugh and laughter, aka the third greatest gift ever, is necessary for happiness. In a possible Author's Saving Throw, Disney made the villain of the next Muppet movie a Russian war criminal, which Fox News could conceivably interpret as a Take That! against communism (even though Constantine Frog is not a communist).
- The Chinese historical/fantasy movie Hero was regarded as highly controversial particularly in America because of the conclusion of the main character accepting that a brutal dictatorship is the only thing that can stop the centuries of civil war and allowing the evil emperor to live is better for everyone than allowing the wars to continue forever, which was widely interpreted as Chinese political propaganda against human rights activists and the democratic movement. Mostly likely a case of Values Dissonance, as the Determinator is still a very highly regarded trope in America, while the movie's message of Know When to Fold 'Em finds much more acceptance in Europe.
- Planet of the Apes:
- Ever since Planet of the Apes (1968) hit theaters in 1968, people of all political tendencies have interpreted the franchise as a metaphor for black people rising and taking over white people (and let's leave it at that). The movies' antinuclear, pacifist message is far more evident.
- It's probably more deliberate in the sequels. For one, director J. Lee Thompson admitting to modeling the ape rebellion in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes after footage of the Watts Riot. A black character makes this explicit when begging the apes, as a descendant of slaves, to be merciful with humans.
- Critics and viewers interpret Patton as everything from a straightforward, patriotic war movie to a satiric condemnation of militarism. Critics regularly made comparisons to the then-ongoing Vietnam War, analogies reinforced by Richard Nixon's alleged obsession with the movie. Since the filmmakers wanted a warts-and-all biopic of George Patton, whose historical reputation remains controversial, some of this was likely by design.
- Iron Man: With Tony taking the fight to Middle-Eastern terrorists in the first film and refusing to hand his property over to the government in the second, there are some who see him as the ultimate conservative/Republican/Libertarian/Objectivist super hero. Which actually makes sense, considering that Stan Lee has talked about how he enjoyed the idea of creating a character like Tony Stark in the middle of The '60s, saying that he wanted to create "the quintessential capitalist," explore Cold War themes, and that "I think I gave myself a dare. It was the height of the Cold War. The readers, the young readers, if there was one thing they hated, it was war, it was the military.... So I got a hero who represented that to the hundredth degree. He was a weapons manufacturer, he was providing weapons for the Army, he was rich, he was an industrialist.... I thought it would be fun to take the kind of character that nobody would like, none of our readers would like, and shove him down their throats and make them like him.... And he became very popular."
- The plot of Captain America: The Winter Soldier involves S.H.I.E.L.D. creating a trio of computer-controlled Helicarriers in order to more efficiently protect and police the world, only for said Helicarriers to end up hijacked by HYDRA and turned against a civilian population. Many critics read this as commentary on the controversial use of drone technology in The War on Terror, even though the directors have denied this.
- Predator has been noted as an allegory for the Vietnam War — an unseen enemy who is well versed in camouflage, defeating a "superior" American force. (The Predator's technological advantage notwithstanding.) However, since the Predator is an alien from outer space, the argument can easily be flipped: a foreign invader, believing itself superior, comes to our planet and persecutes Earthlings, only to be slain by one of those "inferior" humans who relies on his innate cleverness.
- Some have referred to Ghostbusters (1984) as "the most libertarian Hollywood blockbuster of all time", because of how every government official is either too abrasive and/or ineffectual to save the day. It could be argued, though, that this slant approaches People Sit on Chairs territory, since any action film featuring vigilante heroes is naturally going to portray the Establishment as incompetent and/or corrupt.
- Jupiter Ascending: A powerful political/capitalist entity holds countless lives as chattel so as to provide society with an essential resource. Attempts to synthesize this resource and forgo the expenditure of lives have failed for some vague reason. Are we talking about Recode, the Green Rocks used to extend lifespan and engineer Splices, or petroleum, which powers every element of the world from personal vehicles to ocean and air transport, both of which require ruling producing territories without regard for the people who live there?
- A Brother's Price: As the book inverts most gender-related tropes, many readers initially expect it to have political meaning, despite the typical romance novel cover. It is really just a romance, or maybe an adventure, which leads to confusion and, in some cases, frustration.
- J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings has often been in various and conflicting way by different people, often seeing it as a direct allegory of something. Tolkien himself denied it was an allegory of anything, but that due to its archetypal quality it had lots of "applicability".
- Some have interpreted the Lord of the Rings as an allegory for World War II, despite Tolkien's explicit denial that he was into allegory, stated dislike of the concept, irritation at speculation over the one Ring's "symbolism" and the fact the storyline was conceived, in part, from World War I.
- There were also accusations of the reverse. The Shire was likened to idealized Germany, and the rampant racism-every good race is pretty, tall and blonde, as "Aryan" aesthics... Notwithstanding that most of the characters are not blonde or tall, Tolkien hated how the Nazis use of Germanic and Norse legends put them in bad light, and it is on record that he berated a German editor who asked him if he was "Aryan" (see Quotes page).
- According to Joe Haldeman The Forever War is only "about Vietnam" in the sense that that was the war that he had fought in; the points he was trying to make were equally applicable to any war.
- This review interprets the penultimate book in A Series of Unfortunate Events as a pro-terrorist, anti-American allegory for 9/11.
- A few people (well, at least two) have asserted that Ender of Ender's Game is actually Tiny Naked Hitler.
- There are many, many theories on how The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is meant to represent politics at the time. As usual, Wikipedia goes into a lot of detail. When asked, Baum said that his books were intended for children.
- Richard Adams has always claimed that Watership Down is simply a children's book. However, many fans disagree with him and see the book as a rabbit version of Animal Farm with the allegory taking aim at fascism and appeasement. Others see it as an attempt to fashion an English version of The Aeneid.
- Wicked (the book, not the musical) has been seen by critics as a metaphor not only for Nazism/Fascism but also for Nixonian politics. Then again, it may have been intentional...
- Harry Potter
- Many people see Dumbledore and Fudge as allegories for Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain respectively. It helps that Word of God says that the parallels between the Death Eaters and the Nazis were intentional.
- Some have claimed that Umbridge is Margaret Thatcher. The similarity boils down to "both are right-wing female politicians I don't like". Some have also compared Umbridge to Sarah Palin (who was largely unknown even to most Americans at the time the book was written) based on the same logic. Apparently being female (and conservative) is the all-important qualifier for declaring that a disliked politician "is" Umbridge (there are no comparisons to Angela Merkel yet, though).
- Discworld gets a bit of this from time to time. For example: The claims that Jingo or Monstrous Regiment are directly about the Iraq war (even though Jingo was written years before it), while Small Gods has been described as a critique of Christianity by some people and a defense thereof by others.
- The children's book The Rainbow Fish is about sharing, but many pundits accused it of being socialist propaganda written to turn children against traditional American values.
- Apparently the author of Enchantress from the Stars, Sylvia Louise Engdahl, got enough questions about this that she answered in on her website's FAQ. Many people were under the impression that The Federation's relationship with the Younglings (a primitive planet with medieval technology) was an allegory for how 19th century European scientists viewed other races as primitive animals.
- Vladimir Nabokov insisted that his dystopian novel Bend Sinister was not meant to satirize the Soviet Union (or any other totalitarian regime), even though it features a country called Padukgrad and a dictator called Paduk.
- The Power of Five: The Old Ones vote Republican. No, really.
- The first Chivalric Romance was written by French authors about Charlemagne and his knights. However, even in France, King Arthur and his knights took over as a favored theme. Many nobles and kings were related to one or the other figure in the Matter of France, and others claimed to be (even the fictitious ones). Arthur was safer. (Political use of him did occur, but was obviously derived from the romances, making their political implications less.)
- An in-universe example in It by StephenKing: when Bill Denbrough is in college in the early 1970s, he takes a writing class with a left-leaning professor who only likes stories that make a political point. For this reason, he dislikes most of Bill's apolitical sci-fi and horror stories. The only story he gives a good grade to is one about an alien conflict that he interprets as having an anti-war message.
- While Word of God has stated that Breaking Bad is a story of how "Mr. Chips became Scarface," the original driving force behind Walt's meth manufacturing; to help pay for his medical bills, has prompted pro-single payer health care advocates in the US to use the show to highlight the issue of health care costs in the United States,◊ as well as the War on Drugs. Even the creator has claimed that the show could not be set anywhere else but the United States.
- Both political parties, Democrat and Republican, see The Alliance in Firefly as the other and the Browncoats as themselves. Word of God says that was an accident.
- A rather odd example is That's My Bush!. Despite being created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone and featuring the former President's administration and family as characters, it wasn't intended as political satire, but rather a parody of cookie cutter 80s sitcoms. (Parker and Stone admitted that, just in case things had gone the other way, they also had a pitch for a sitcom about Al Gore, and said they would have used more or less the same jokes no matter who'd actually won.)
- The first episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a stirring speech from Mike Peterson that could be read as commentary on race relations in America, as well as the specific institutional discrimination faced by many African-Americans. The role was allegedly written as race neutral, with Nicholas Brendon from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (who is very white) being one of the contenders at one point.
- Battlestar Galactica (1978) had some great Writer on Board moments of lambasting Cold War era fans of detente, portraying anyone who'd rather try to make friends with the Cylons as a naive patsy for not realizing just how Always Chaotic Evil the Cylons were. The pilot movie, in turn, turned out oddly prophetic about events following the 9/11 attack.
- Battlestar Galactica (2003) takes this to new, but inverted, levels. The occupation of New Caprica, for example, was explicitly written to echo the American occupation of Iraq. The writers have said they purposefully wrote close to the deadlines to get their commentary closer to current affairs.
- The third season of Star Trek: Enterprise drew heavily on current events. Earth is savagely attacked, apparently out of nowhere, and the NX-01 (bringing along a cohort of Space Marines) heads into a treacherous region of space to find the culprits. Many fans were afraid this storyline would be untrue to Trek's philosophy, but they needn't have worried: the aliens aren't all bad (though there are a few problems - like that the most humanoid ones get a Face–Heel Turn but the reptilian Xindi stay evil (although you wouldn't say no to the head reptile, either) and the insectoids
stay evilget cold feet while in transit to Earth and are blown up by the reptilians for their troubles), Archer's new hard-edged attitude isn't always endorsed, and there's enough ambiguity all round to keep it from being Strawman Political in either direction.
- Prior to that, a couple of first-season episodes — "Fortunate Son" and especially "Detained" — examined elements of the war on terror. But contrary to a common assumption, the decision to name the first season's bad guys "Suliban" happened long before 9/11. They were named after the Taliban, but only because Rick Berman thought that name had the exotic sound he wanted; no one was expecting it to become a household name.
- A book claimed that Stargate SG-1 was white supremacist propaganda.
- This claim may be inspired by the fact that the only religion of old (and by extension its "gods", i.e. the aliens standing in as these gods, or who inspired it) that is portrayed as good is Norse Mythology. Said "gods" are a race of Sufficiently Advanced Grey Aliens called Asgard, who regularly help Earth (and the teams of the Stargate Command in particular, who earned their trust), while otherwise posing as benevolent gods to less advanced societies in the few times they show up on their planets. Basicly any other religion that shows up is staffed by Goa'uld, who are always evil and incredibly selfish (there is one exception in Lord Yu, who never claimed to be a God, and who was the first Chinese Emperor).
- There is also an exception for the Abrahamic religions. Christianity gets directly mentioned exactly once in the series, and then in a (more or less) positive light. The True Companions travel to a world where the people were culled from Middle Ages England. Daniel posits a theory (which turns out to be wrong) that the Goa'uld who controls this world may be posing as the God of the Abrahamic faiths. Teal'c dismisses this idea, stating that he's read The Bible and finds it impossible to imagine that any Goa'uld could be as benevolent as the deity from that book. Meanwhile the other two, Islam and Judaism, are never adressed at all. There is however a Goa'uld who poses as Satan and turned a planet/moon into hell just because he could.
- Others interpreted it as the final victory of science over religion, fought by heroic atheists and liberated ex-faithful against an amalgamation of the leaders of the world's faiths.
- The series does make the point that gods aren't defined by their powers, but rather by their actions and benevolence. The Goa'uld and the Ori, who abuse their positions of privilege over their subjects, are not fit to act as gods over the people they rule. This was probably intentional, but considering Daniel's statements about fire being bad (the Ori use fire as a good symbolism, even choosing to appear as it instead of the default ascended light form) coming from the Ancients, it doesn't seem to mean they were against Christianity.
- It's important to note that, while this is mostly in the background and not heavily discussed, the main characters themselves are shown as being on different wavelengths when it comes to religion. Jack O'Neill is snarkily irreverent and cynical towards religion in pretty much all its forms. Cam Mitchell tends to be positive about it, mostly through anecdotes about his very religious grandmother, but it's unclear whether or how much he himself believes the same things. Samantha Carter, in the face of her possible death, expressed the hope that after all of her work convincing enslaved people that they were following false gods, "somewhere one of those gods" was real. Her father, Jacob/Sel'mak, is openly a believer. The series supports religious tolerance (and the additional aesop that pretending to be a god in order to exploit people is bad), but it's hard to find a strong stance for or against religion per se. The series doesn't even condemn paganism, as it's never clear whether the Goa'uld created/inspired the ancient religions or simply decided to impersonate its deities (most clues given point at the former, though).
- This Slate article, which explains that Jerry Seinfeld and his comedy routine represents conformity and lack of identity in a totalitarian government. Um . . . right.
- Slate (and to a lesser extent Salon) absolutely loves this trope. Any even remotely popular pop culture phenomenon eventually becomes the victim of a pretentious, middlebrow Slate article that tries to analyze it and wring out some sort of important insight concerning our society. The nadir was probably this piece, an earnest, serious 1,300-word examination of....Ugly Guy, Hot Wife.
- I can has pretenshis midulbrow analusis?
- Heather Havrilesky, in her regular TV show review column for Salon.com, has a tendency to embrace this trope. Particularly when reviewing reality television, for some reason.
- What is particularly funny about the Slate article is that Ugly Guy, Hot Wife is actually a trope that can be analyzed - it is part the basic Odd Couple dynamic that provides comedy, and having one of them be ugly is a visual shorthand that enhance this. The reason the ugly one is male is because of society's traditional (and outdated) expectation that women should take pains to look nice. The article mentions precisely none of this (presumably because it is too bloody obvious), instead attributing it to bizarre subconscious desires by men and women, and the whole thing ends being patronizing to both sexes.
- Slate (and to a lesser extent Salon) absolutely loves this trope. Any even remotely popular pop culture phenomenon eventually becomes the victim of a pretentious, middlebrow Slate article that tries to analyze it and wring out some sort of important insight concerning our society. The nadir was probably this piece, an earnest, serious 1,300-word examination of....Ugly Guy, Hot Wife.
- Babylon 5 has been decried as leftist propaganda specifically made to decry the Bush administration. This moves into Critical Research Failure, since B5 ended two years before Bush was elected President. Oops.
J. Michael Straczynski: A lot of our episodes are constructed to work as mirrors; you see what you put into it. "Believers" has been interpreted as pro- religion, anti-religion, and religion-neutral... "Quality" has been interpreted, as you note, as pro-capital punishment, and anti-capital punishment. We do, as you say, much prefer to leave the decision on what things mean to the viewer to hash out. A good story should provoke discussion, debate, argument... and the occasional bar fight.
- President Evils are an atavistic evil archetype in what might as well be called American mythology. Practically every American president was roughly comparable to President Clark if you believe the opposition. Drawing from this folklore, is in a sense no different then appealing to Babylonian myth.
- Besides, President Clark bears a resemblance to Lyndon Johnson, particularly since he comes to office with the assassination of his predecessor (the image of his inauguration looks just like the famous photo of Johnson's), that he turns out to have orchestrated, as some Real Life Conspiracy Theorists claim happened with John F. Kennedy.
- JMS has written several episodes where he purposefully did not take a stand in the issue presented, but rather presented both sides and let the viewers draw their own conclusions. This hasn't stopped many people from claiming that such episodes are clearly (for/against) (their views/views opposing their own). One example of an inversion of this trope is the episode Confessions and Lamentations, which is about a fresh outbreak of an alien disease that was believed to be spread through immoral behavior. A lot of people claimed this episode was meant as an allegory for AIDS, missing the fact that it's a closer parallel to the Black Death (which is even discussed in the episode itself). JMS has gone on record as stating that the point of the episode was to say that politicizing a disease is never a good idea. He did, however, explicitly compare the Clark administration to George W. Bush in one of the DVD commentaries.
- The Visitors in V (2009) have been interpreted as symbolizing Barack Obama. This isn't helped by the fact that the show's plot (the alien Visitors, who receive the devotion of the people, are secretly plotting to destroy the world) bears a lot of similarities to various right-wing fears about Obama — compare the Visitors' alien nature to the "birther" conspiracy. Doesn't really help when the aliens provide "Universal Healthcare", and call it spreading hope... The writers have denied this, and claimed that the show is more about post-9/11 America than the current President.
- The children's television show Teletubbies was accused of promoting the homosexual agenda to children.
- It was also (more than once) accused of promoting communism, conformity, lack of critical thinking and a "the state takes care of everything" mentality (or a "everything should be free" mentality). Proponents of this tend to point fingers at Social Justice Warriors, which fit the bill more often than not, but there's definitely more responsible under the surface than a TV show made for babies.
- Doctor Who:
- At the end of "The War Games", the Time Lords ask the Doctor to choose his own face from a bunch of drawings projected on a screen. One (the one dismissed by the Doctor as 'too old') appears to be Karl Marx. Draw your own conclusions.
- The general line in fan analysis is that "The Web Planet" is a Red Scare allegory, because it's about the Zarbi workers rising up against their Menoptera masters. But it's a really big reach - there's no absolutely no indication the Zarbi are any more intelligent than farm animals, and even though the monster in the story has the power to control gold it doesn't work in any way analogous to any kind of economic system, which seems like it'd be a no-brainer for an anti-communism story. Maybe it's just a Planetary Romance Xenofiction runaround with pretty butterfly people fighting the ant people?
- It's well known "The Sunmakers" is about the evils of taxation and written by a Thatcher supporter, but, since the actual story presents the issue more as 'untouchable mega-corporations and corrupt bankers have bought out the government and are draining money out of the poorest to boost their own profits while keeping the population constantly afraid via media to distract them', modern critics tend to read it as a satire on the evils of privatization, or Occupy-style anti-capitalist. Privatization was just around the corner in 1977, and the Occupy movement was 35 years away. Is it more likely that Robert Holmes was secretly hard-left and able to see the future, or that he was ramping up the setting's systemic injustice to the point he accidentally broke his own right-wing aesop?
- In the Eighties, the showrunner purposefully tried to avoid political subtext as much as possible for a variety of reasons (lack of desire to offend, lack of desire to make allegorical stories about the real world in favor of interacting with the series' own history as a work of fiction, and several other reasons). This caused some Broken Aesop moments, like when the series bought back the highly political Silurians in an apolitical action story where nothing indicates either side is anything more than just a nasty lizard creature - and of course the politics ended up in there anyway. This restriction ended when the producer stopped caring, freeing the then-script editor to make clearly and transparently political stories about BBC politics ("The Greatest Show in the Galaxy"), Margaret Thatcher ("The Happiness Patrol") and lesbianism ("Survival").
- When the show came back in 2005 with the main writer being out of the closet gay, many people accused the show of trying to push the gay agenda. Especially when Captain Jack Harkness (Anything That Moves) arrived.
- Mark Gatiss is often criticized for reactionary racist/sexist/warmongering Family Unfriendly Aesops in his Who stories, but his real-world political leanings are known as left-wing. A lot of it may be down to bad luck - "The Unquiet Dead" (often read as an allegory for how war refugees should be treated with suspicion and can never assimilate into society) happened to come out at a time when asylum seekers were featured heavily in the news. "Cold War" accidentally portrays mutually assured destruction as good, which might have gone unnoticed had the episode not synced up with the death of Margaret Thatcher. "The Crimson Horror" has Diana Rigg playing the episode's Evil Is Sexy Noble Demon star, who (just before it aired) went in the papers saying uninformed things about feminists.
- This concept is made fun of in "Blink":
Sally: How can you know what I'm gonna say?The Doctor: Look to your left.Sally looks to her left, and sees Larry transcribing everything she says.Larry: What does he mean by "look to your left"? I've written tons about that one. I think it's a political statement.
- "Turn Left", an episode about Donna indirectly causing a racist, fascist government to take over Britain by turning right at a junction.
- The Daily Mirror published an article claiming that in "The Beast Below", the Doctor's line "And once every five years, everyone chooses to forget what they've learned. Democracy in action." should be read as a call to the public to re-elect Gordon Brown's Labour government. If so, it didn't work.
- The central dilemma in "Kill the Moon" was accused of being "an allegory for the abortion debate" by some North American viewers. Notably, viewers in Europe didn't notice such an angle to the problem and were baffled by the fixation of a part of the American viewership on this accusation. While debates about the morality of abortion occur on both sides of the Atlantic, the American ones generally tend to be more heated and divided, which might have contributed to such a reading of a narrative element in the episode.
- The Americans: A show that glamorizes Ronald Reagan and the Cold War with Big Bad Dirty Communists all over the place, on Fox? It's almost too easy...
- It takes a pretty nuanced view of what the KGB sleepers do, as well as showing the less-than-savory methods the FBI Counterintelligence people get up to.
- Babylon had as one of its central plot threads the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by police officers. Rather awkwardly, shortly after the series started broadcasting in Britain (and shortly before its American broadcast), this suddenly became a very, very, hot-button issue.
- Internet critics went wild claiming Luke Cage, the story of a superpowered bulletproof black man, just had to be commentary on police brutality towards black men, which was a hot button issue at the time. Some went as far as to claim Luke Cage was created entirely in response to said issue (he wasn't; the character was created decades beforehand). Some of the show's creators even encouraged this sort of thinking, doing things like having Luke wear a black hoodie in reference to the Trayvon Martin shooting. The actual show doesn't really say much about the matter; it focuses more on internal problems in the black community such as gang violence and Luke only comes into conflict with police after being framed for a crime (and even then they don't try to kill him). Ironically, this exact sort of "everything is political/racial" mindset is exploited by a villain in the show to turn the public against Luke and score easy points by getting people panicked.
- Radiohead maintain that their 2003 album Hail to the Thief was not named for the 2000 election chant. Although it is supposed to be about the rise of the scary right-wing.
- The Wikipedia article on Yatta used to include this:
"The sketch appears to be at least partly ironic commentary on attempts by the Japanese government and others to maintain optimism in the face of Japan's severe economic troubles, depicting men impoverished to the degree of having no clothing but the figurative fig leaf (though in this case the leaves are attached to the men's briefs) yet maintaining an irrational, irrepressible belief in their own potential for success."
- The Gorillaz song Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head from Demon Days. Listen to the lyrics, especially the closing lines.
- The Rush song entitled "The Trees" has lyrics about maples who feel they don't get enough sunlight and oaks who can't fathom the maples circumstances. Oddly enough, according to lyricist Neil Peart, the song is about trees. Really. He was watching an old cartoon about anthropomorphic trees one night and decided to write a song about it.
- "Dancing in the Street" by Martha and the Vandellas was taken as an allegory for the civil rights movement, which was in full swing at the time of the song's release. Martha Reeves denied any political meaning to the song, but it was popular enough at rallies that it became controversial anyway.
- "Helicopter" by Bloc Party (which features such lyrics as "Stop being so American" and "Just like his dad") is frequently misinterpreted as being about George W. Bush. Vocalist Kele Okereke has gone on record as saying he actually wrote it about himself.
- Dave Gilmour:
- "Blue Light", a song about a generic Femme Fatale, was thought by many to be about Margaret Thatcher (blue being the color of Thatcher's Conservative Party).
- "Cruise", from the same album, is a heavily sarcastic song on the common contemporary theme of protesting against the deployment of US nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on airbases in the UK. This didn't stop it being taken as a song supporting said deployment by people who didn't get the sarcasm.
- Viking metal bands are sometimes accused of promoting fascism, Nazism or white supremacism, largely because they make use of the same Norse and Germanic imagery which the Nazi party drew on. The bands are emphatic that this is not the case.
- Well, a large majority of them anyway. A few very much are promoting fascism, Nazism, etc.
- Manowar was accused of this as well because the song Blood Of Kings has the line "back to the glory of Germany", intended as a Shout-Out to their large German fanbase.
- Rammstein is occasionally accused of promoting fascism largely because their lyrics are angry and in German...Just like Hitler! To refute such allegations, they wrote "Links 2-3-4", "Links" being the German for "left". The song declares that politically, the band are to the left, one repeated line being roughly "my heart beats to the left". Just to troll, though, they made the song sound like a military march, and "Links 2-3-4" is an actual German marching cadence, so the album containing the song was referred to by a reviewer as "Music to Invade Poland To."
- The liner notes to Steely Dan's "Kings" invoke this trope for an aversion/subversion (depending), with a disclaimer stating (more or less) that "this song is in no way political." Sure, given that this song's chorus is "We've seen the last/Of Good King Richard...Raise up the glass/To Good King John", and that Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were very embittered '60s liberals writing in 1972...
- Russel Morris' Mind Screw "The Real Thing" was interpreted by many as a commentary on The Vietnam War ("Is there a meaning here? Is there a meaning there? Does it really mean a thing?"). Word of God was that was actually bemused speculation about Coca-Cola's slogan.
- The Doors' 1968 song "The Unknown Soldier" is usually taken to be a denunciation of the Vietnam War, which was at its height at the time. This is plausible, especially when Morrison describes the soldier's wife learning of her husband's death on the TV news (Vietnam being the first major war to receive extensive televised news coverage), but the lyrics are worded in such a way that, the television reference notwithstanding, the song could be applied to any war between World War I and today. And the Doors tended to remain silent on political matters, anyway.
- In order to counter the misconception that rock music and conservatism are wholly incompatible, the magazine National Review offered a list of "Greatest Conservative Rock Songs." Problem is, close examination will reveal that only about 40 percent of the songs are truly conservative; the rest are either libertarian or are just "old-fashioned" in a way that really isn't political at all. (For example, one song is considered "conservative" because it contains a Latin prayer.) Plenty of songs were included because they were at least partially anti-communist (did you ever hear of a popular song that was pro-communist?), as if conservatives have ever had a monopoly on anti-communism (and anyway, one of these songs is only "anti-communist" because it depicts the color red negatively!).
- "Disarm" by The Smashing Pumpkins has been interpreted as being about the abortion debate because of the out-of-context lyrics "what I choose is my choice", "the killer in me is the killer in you" and "cut that little child" (although if those lines were all meant to be about abortion, they'd be pretty self-contradictory). Lyricist Billy Corgan has said it's an autobiographical song about his relationship with his parents growing up.
- The repeated cry "Viva la liberta!" in the first act finale of Don Giovanni is read by some as Mozart's support for the French Revolution.
- More blatantly, the depiction of the corrupt and foolish Count in Figaro is definitely a statement by Mozart against aristocratic rule.
- All this despite the fact that Mozart didn't write words. Mozart wrote music. Lorenzo da Ponte wrote both libretti, the latter based on Beaumarchais' "Le Marriage de Figaro."
- The Magical Flute however, is generally considered a Masonic propaganda and a critique of Austria under the repressively Catholic monarchy of Maria Theresa.
- More blatantly, the depiction of the corrupt and foolish Count in Figaro is definitely a statement by Mozart against aristocratic rule.
- Giuseppe Verdi's Nabucco, with the famous Chorus of Hebrew Slaves (the Jews held captive in Babylon crying for the loss of their homeland), was written at a time where the movement to unify Italy was gaining momentum. The chorus became an unofficial anthem of the movement.
- Verdi's later operas Don Carlos and Aida both have fanatical priests with political power as the main antagonists.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution: The entire augmentation debate is just like the abortion debate. Clinics built for augmentations being protested and firebombed by detractors, supporters declaring that it is their body and they will do with it what they like, and people against it using religious statements to oppose it. In one protest, you can see signs that say, "I regret my augmentation" much like "I regret my abortion" signs. And much how in real life how people on the fence about abortion will say "I don't mind it in cases of rape, health issues, or incest," one can hear characters say "I don't mind it in the cases of amputees." The Humanity Front and Purity First has many real-world analogies, with a legitimate political group sharing goals and views with a terrorist organisation, such as Sinn Féin and the IRA or Animal Rights groups and the ALF. Conspiracy-wise, Sarif Industries is under fire for trying to end Neuropozyne dependency, and in Real Life, there are proposals to develop embryo transfer to the point that abortion would not be lethal to the fetus - these cannot get off the ground due to anti-technologists protesting stem cell research... and stem cell researchers would probably rather not have the supply of aborted fetuses for stem cells cut off. The anti-aug crowd want augs eliminated, and Versalife is making a killing on Neuropozyne.
- On top of that, the augmentation debate has a case of Enemy Mine, where those that object to it based on religious grounds are paired with those that object to it on economic grounds. The former see it as an affront to God by interfering with His design, while the latter see it as causing the gap between wealthy and poor to become even wider, as those that have augments will get preferential treatment because they're physically more capable.
- One fan's essay on Deus Ex: Human Revolution's Social Satire covers some of the issues nicely.
- He also wrote a sequel on the DLC. The Missing Link Social Satire.
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided takes it in the opposite direction, where those with augmentations are treated as second-class citizens after "The Incident", which was straight-up called "mechanical apartheid" in promotional materials.
- Halo has been compared to the War On Terror. The UNSC (Mostly played by Americans) vs. the genocidal, insane, religious Covenant. Bungie's religious references don't help. However, Bungie has denied this, and it is helped by the fact that they have a well known plan to take over the world.
- And the fact that Halo's main Myth Arc was plotted in the mid-nineties, several years before the events of 9/11 kicked-off the War On Terror. The first game in the series happened to be released shortly thereafter, but over four years of work had gone into it by that point, with trailers and interviews already establishing to the public the work's setup.
- Other's believe it's actually an allegory for the Crusades
- After the end of Apartheid in South Africa, the new multi-racial government set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights abuses under the old regime. In Halo: Combat Evolved, the multi-racial Covenant have a ship called the Truth And Reconciliation. Draw your own conclusions.
- Some believe that Jak and Daxter series were allegorical for the usage of child soldiers in African nations. A carefree youth is captured and mentally abused til his mind becomes violent enough to attack anyone a voice in command tells him to. Then someone hands him a gun for the first time in his life and he's a natural with it.
- Advance Wars throws up some interesting ones by having the various nations and COs represent different countries, with many of the parallels focusing on World War II. It can get confusing, though: it's generally agreed that Green Earth represents Germany, but their COs represent all of Western Europe: Eagle is World War II Germany (superior air force and Lightning Strike being the English translation of "Blitzkrieg"), Drake is probably Britain (naval superiority and various parallels with Sir Francis Drake fighting off the Spanish Armada), Jess is probably Napoleonic France (superior land forces and resupply powers: compare Napoleon's "An army marches on its stomach" quote) and Javier is probably Spain (because he talks and acts rather like Don Quixote). Olaf is obviously General Winter as well as a Communist defector, Grit the very embodiment of Soviet artillery doctrine, and Colin and Sasha, amusingly, are either kulaks or the NEP. Kanbei embodies samurai honour, Sonja an amusing inversion of actual Japanese military security (which leaked like a sieve), Sensei the IJA's own special forces and Grimm's focus on all-out offensive reflects the closing days of Japanese desperation in both Ichi-Go and kamikaze.
- Pikmin has been interpreted as an allegory to socialism.
- The Game Overthinker / Movie Bob satirized The "political analysis of video games... Twice
- Batman: Arkham City has at least one essay devoted to it being an allegory for the dehumanization of criminals: Social Satire Essay
- When Bioshock Infinite was first announced, people immediately thought the xenophobic and imperialistic Founders were an allusion to the Tea Party, which Ken Levine denied. And given the events that have been happening in the US since then, you can bet that when the game is actually released, the Vox Populi will be immediately be dubbed an allusion to Occupy Wall Street despite said group not even having had existed when the game started being developed.
- Although Ken Levine did go to an Occupy Wall Street rally to do research for the Vox...
- Of course Ken Levine also denied that Bioshock was a criticism of Objectivism, so he may just be a master of accidentally making scathing attacks on political ideologies.
- This game reviewer takes an Everyone Is Satan in Hell approach to gaming. One particularly hilarious review is of Tetris, claiming it to be communist propaganda. When he reads about a study showing playing puzzle games like Tetris is good for the brain, he decries them as "Darwinist", "militant atheists", and admonishes the head of the study for not using scripture in the treatment of PTSD.
- Someone ran with the theory that Tetris was about life in the USSR and made a song called "A Complete History of the Soviet Union As Told By A Humble Worker, Arranged To The Melody Of Tetris", which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, but actually includes Tetris references.
- Gears of War: It turns out in the third game that Imulsion, human society's main fuel source, was responsible for the entire conflict because it turned the locust into the lambent, who forced the surviving locust to seek refuge on the surface, leading to the war with the humans. Even before any of that had come to light, humans had been engaged in unending wars over imulsion resources.. Let me say that again. A rare and valuable fuel source (oil) is responsible for centuries of non-stop war, the destruction of society, and turning everyone into mindless zombies.
- Red Faction: Guerilla: Wide Open Sandbox game that uses its plot as an excuse for the player to be able to engage in guilt free destruction akin to the Saints Row series by the same developer? Or the most brutal indictment of the Iraq war in gaming history where you're essentially playing as the insurgents?
- Oddworld: Abe's Oddesee and its sequel Abe's Exoddus show us how putting Capitalism and Profits over Morality and Humility destroy society. The Mudokons have been compared to communism (Abe is Blue, Mudokons live with each other and share the same possesions) and the Glukkons are obviously a play on Gluttons as they are money hungry and have no problems torturing and even trying to kill and sell the Mudokons as food. All for profit sake.
- Some who had played Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War addressed the anti war posturing as commentary on George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. The plot itself is actually based on the Cold War where insiders on both sides are instigating the war with the real message being the characters are against war, but are willing to fight the ones who live on War for Fun and Profit.
- One could make a pretty sound arguement that many of the issues in the Mass Effect universe are based on current geopolitical issues. Just a few examples:
- Upon being discovered by the rest of the galaxy the Krogan were ruthlessly exploited by races far more technolgically developed than they were, and once they were no longer needed and became a problem, the development of their a civilization was neutered both physically and societally to the point of being almost totally untenable. The historically minded will note the similarities to the European colonization of Africa and the post-decolonization issues that continue to be a problem today.
- The story of the Quarians losing their homeworld and much of their population in a extremely violent cataclysm, and than using these past hardships (that no Quarians alive at the time of the game were alive for) to justify reclaiming their homeworld from its new inhabitants parallels the creation of Israel, Zionism and the current issues those caused.
- Note that the Quarians may also represent organizations such as Hamas, depending on how sympathetic the player considers either group to be.
- The Quarians' decision to shut down the Geth (a series of robots they created) once they began to approach artificial intelligence plays very well into the abortion debate.
- American audience members in particular will notice the similarities between the Alliance's reaction to the Geth and the American government's reaction post-9/11. In the second game especially, this actually approaches the point of parody at some points and the game takes numerous digs at it, from the laughably inept and pointless citadel security to thinly veiled codex entries.
Codex on spying on Geth space: Theoretically, the geth could be preparing a devastating attack against which the Council could be defenseless, or the geth could have died out, so that the defense budget against them could be gaining the Alliance nothing but economic ruination.
- Interestingly, this is despite the fact that Cerberus, with it's methods of funding itself, political activities, cell based command structure, and the types of violence it engages in, is actually a very accurate depiction of how modern transnational terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, operatenote . Cerberus is also portrayed as the only group with the ability to actually do anything about the problem of the Collectors. What this means is probably best left to the player to determine.
- The Octarian vs Inkling war in Splatoon has been compared to imperialism and other political issues. It doesn't help that one of the Sunken Scrolls shows Octarians in more traditional Japanese attire than the Inklings.
- Assassin's Creed: Unity: It is really, really, hard for a game about the French Revolution to escape this. Especially for a Franchise that has formerly prized itself for historical research and an even handed look at the American Revolution.
"The Revolution broke royal power, and rather than deterring populist politics, it encouraged them. If anything, the game's apparent stance that the Revolution was an Entirely Bad Thing seems nearsighted and one-dimensional."
- The reaction and charges of "propaganda" and the great number of errors in representation has brought a great deal of criticism as well. Jean-Clement Martin, the historian who has served as a consultant for the game, and a respected member of the Society of Robespierre Studies, while noting that the script had a "royalist" bias feels that the game should be enjoyed as "fantasy" and perhaps if it stokes interest, it could lead players to read history books.
- The author/historian David Andress who wrote "The Terror" also discussed the historical depiction and he noted that the game was largely counter-revolutionary. More generally, while admiring the largely accurate (if streamlined) reproduction of Paris, he dismisses its portrayal as largely cliche and noted that the Templar Conspiracy Theory instigating the Revolution was a famous right-wing myth that refuses to give credit to the popular movement and pay real attention to its Gray and Grey Morality.
- In The Order of the Stick Redcloak summoned a fiendish mammoth as a mount. Following the strips usual way of portraying fiendish creatures, it was red. Eventually the author had to specify that no, it was not supposed to be any kind of reference to the Republican party.
- With a higher potential of controversy was the duel between Miko and Redcloak at the watch tower. Right before the 2006's U.S. Congress elections. On one side, you had a blue-themed character that tried to do Good in the world, but for misguided reasons. On the other side, you had a red-themed character that is doing evil deeds but has a decent reason for doing them. The Blue-themed character won the fight (after the electoral results of Democrat victory).
- Terinu can be easily interpreted as an anti-colonialist story, given that Peta Hewett hails from Down Under and has stated that the Varn genuinely believed that they were bringing "Civilization" to the Earth when they invaded in the backstory. Never mind the Ferin being viewed by every antagonist as a resource to be harvested and not a free thinking race in their own right.
- Erfworld has also been subject to this, with multiple fans trying to claim that Stanley the Tool is Erfworld's take on George W. Bush. It's true that Erfworld is based on layer upon layer of puns and references, but claims like these just get annoying (especially in the face of more obvious puns and references concerning Stanley).
- And then Ansom was killed and turned into an undead to serve as Stanley's chief warlord. Have fun figuring out how that fits into either theory.
- Domain Tnemrot. The entire story is about rich people forcing the poor into slavery, and the main character goes on rants about how the rich should be using their money to help the poor rather than spend it on frivolous entertainment. On the page this rant appears, though, the author insists that this is in no way a political comic and it's all just a part of the setting, while the main character's views are just a product of the environment he's grown up in.
- One Homestuck fan went out on a limb and speculated that Eridan's character arc is an allegorical critique of Barack Obama's presidency. Memorably, it stipulated that Vriska Serket was actually a metaphor for Vriska Serket.
- There was particular guy in the comments section of Terra's early pages that saw leftist political metaphors all over the place in the comic. (For reference, the comic is about guerrillas fighting to put an end to a corrupt Forever War between two superpowers.) Author Holly Laing's response was surprised confusion.
- Some people have stated that the Socialist Block in the Chaos Timeline reminds them of the European Union. It controls Western Europe, its capital is Brussels, and its currency the Euro Pound. The author had intended no such thing.
- Mark Does Stuff is half boyish Keet excitement and half assumption that absolutely every narrative conflict is about "privilege" vs. "oppression".
- Tumblr is (in)famous for its fondness of this trope.
- Conservapedia gets into this quite often, especially with their "Greatest Conservative..." lists of things from popular culture. Some of them make sense, while others are so absurd it's just about impossible to interpret their inclusion as anything other than satirical humor. To give just one example: their affirmation that Ferris Bueller's Day Off is an anti-socialist movie, based on a mostly forgettable line by the protagonist about how he doesn't care about studying socialists in history class, rings hollow because it's pretty clear that Ferris Bueller doesn't care about any political system and has no grasp of political science anyway (such as when he says that socialists could be "fascist anarchists" for all he cares).
- An older episode of Renegade Cut is fairly blatant in its accusations of The Dark Knight being, among other things, "pro-surveillance propaganda". It doesn't end there.
- Chuck from SF Debris has called the show a "political Rorschach test" thanks to him consistently getting mail from people of all political leanings accusing him of making propaganda for the other side, usually about the same episodes.
- Parodied in this satirical article named "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Marxism?". It is about an in-story author named Cliven Irving who makes ridiculous claims that the tv show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a tool by the "Six Pointer Commission", which is not at all an antisemitic slur, to promote "Cultural Marxism" and LGBT activism.
- The Smurfs:
- The Smurfs have been interpreted as a metaphor for Communism.
- They have also been interpreted as a metaphor for the KKK, probably by Americans who have only seen the animated series, and were unaware that it was based on comics by a Belgian author, Peyo.
- Adventures of the Gummi Bears are about the evil Igthorn (who wears blue) trying to shut down an illegal brewery hidden in the forest. Igthorn's mooks are shown as dumb and ineffectual. The liquor Gummi Bears drink makes them crazily jump around. And they are friends to children! Anarchistic, anti-government and pro-alcohol/drugs propaganda, if you ask me.
- But Igthorn wants the juice for himself to make him and his underlings stronger. And what is up with the kingdom anyway? They hate Igthorn and his army, but are helped by the Gummi Bears again and again without their knowledge. Well, in my opinion, you missed by far, my friend.
- So you're saying those bears are not moonshining southerners fighting for the Confederacy and against that blue Union uniform-clad Igthorn yankee?
- In the commentary for Dog Days, Bill Plympton tells of how the French view his Dog Trilogy as a metaphor for George Bush, even though that wasn't his intent, nor does he even like to make political cartoons.
- South Park gets misunderstood all around. Its detractors point to its frequent use of politically incorrect material as comedy, saying that this "proves" South Park is racist and so forth. And some of its supporters (young conservatives and libertarians, mostly) see how South Park ridicules the politically correct and "enlightened" and love to think of the show as being a (somewhat ironic) defense of "traditional" American values - neglecting to notice that the show's creators try to offend everyone, regardless of where their political/social/cultural sympathies lie. Whether or not they do a good job at this is likely where the problem lies.
"We hate conservatives, but we really fucking hate liberals.""People on the far left and the far right are the same exact person to us."
- Co-creator Trey Parker is a Libertarian, and he and Matt Stone have expressed conservative views both in and out of the show, leading some commentators to coin the term "South Park conservatives". However, they have been quite outspoken about their desire never to be pinned down to either end of the political spectrum. Some choice quotes:
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Kathleen Richter of Ms. Magazine caused quite a stir when she accused My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic of promoting an anti-feminist, anti-intellectual, homophobic, white-power viewpoint, largely due to a complete lack of fact checking. The ensuing backlash quickly prompted Ms. Magazine to follow her article with a rebuttal by the show's creator, Lauren Faust.
- More commonly, sometimes trolling, sometimes not, Equestria gets analysed as a fascist dystopia under a Crapsaccharine World. Fans of this theory produce works with Trollestia at one time saving her 'people' from a rampaging monster, and the next she's positively dickish to her flock, such as Rarity's wings burning away in Sonic Rainboom being a direct result of her jealousy and powers. This interpretation even shows up in games!
- The Young Justice fandom on Tumblr has compared the revelation that M'gann is a white martian by Psimon is comparable to forcing a transgender person out of the closet.
- Legend Of Korra:
- There's at least a few fans that compare the Equalists' uprising to the Taiping Rebellion.
- Perhaps in smaller circles, but not unheard of, are the comparisons to the Occupy movement. A lot of the Equalist rhetoric has a similar ring, in any case (though there's really only so many ways one can preach that type of egalitarianism, and Occupy was hardly the first such movement).
- Overall, the goals of Amon (equality), Unalaq and Vaatu (tradition and bringing back the spirits), Zaheer (freedom) and Kuvira (order) are straight up allegories for the real world ideologies of communism, fundamentalism, anarchy (Zaheer himself stated to be one) and fascism. The fact that the show takes place in a 1920s style world where these four ideologies began to hold ground reinforces this notion. Furthermore, these villains are all known for their moral ambiguity and cases of The Extremist Was Right, lampshading the moral complications of ideologies itself.
- The Simpsons episode "Two Bad Neighbors" was based on one of the writers actually playing pranks on George H.W. Bush as a kid and wasn't meant to be a political attack on him. However, since George H.W. Bush and Barbara criticized The Simpsons during its early years for contributing to the alleged downfall of society, a lot of viewers have stated that this episode had political undertones.