What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?
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.
A subtrope of Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory
, 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
Even the most innocent or netural 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
- 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
Compare to Dystopian
literature, Writer on Board
, Author Tract
, and Author Filibuster
, for cases where the author makes no secret about the political intent. See also Faux Symbolism
and What Do You Mean, It's Not Didactic?
are asking each other 'What do you mean, it's not political?', that's All Issues Are Political Issues
May overlap with Wild Mass Guessing
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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...
- Witchblade Takeru, hoooooo boy. Falls in line with the 'history recycling scripts' below. Depending on the age of the reader, the crazy warmongering US Senator can stand-in for any number of America's foreign jaunts from Korea onwards, with Takeru and her little village representing the oppressed peoples fighting back and driving them off. Most commonly due to how the village looks, however, and the choice of weapon deployed, it winds up being analysed as a Vietnam parable.
- 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 it's 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 enviromental agendas along with the upcoming The Lorax.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
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.
- This could be a genuine case of Small Reference Pools but many Brits find it deeply irritating that Americans, having only seen the 2006 film version of V for Vendetta tend to assume that both it and the comic were about the Bush administration. The comic was written over twenty years before and was, according to Word of God, about the Thatcher administration while the movie simply made Norsefire more "generically" fascist (and stripped out most of the ambiguity).
- The debate can get ugly when those Americans then assume Fawkes was a hero; he's hated in the UK to this day as a religious terrorist, to the point where there's a holiday devoted to burning him in effigy. Fawkes was actually a counterrevolutionary, admittedly an extreme one—he did try to blow up Parliament—but at the time, Parliament was the ruling committee of the single bloodiest political revolution in European history up till that point. The early English Reformation killed people at four or five times the rate of the Spanish Inquisition, with (according to a British historian) less fair trials. And nobody killed by the Inquisition ever had a book of the charges against him bound with his own skin, the Elizabethans did that at least once.
- Not to mention that in the real world, Guy Fawkes was only a minor figure in the "Gunpowder Plot".
- It's also clear from the context of the movie that the story takes place in the far future: while it's possible that today's issues will still be relevant when that time comes, it's quite unlikely that the Bush family will be involved somehow. And even if the Bushes are still politically active, it's a good bet that their political and sociocultural attitudes will have adjusted to the changing times (as, in fact, they already did in the past).
- However Alan Moore was quoted as saying about the movie, "[The movie] has been turned into a Bush-era parable by people too timid to set a political satire in their own country.... It's a thwarted and frustrated and largely impotent American liberal fantasy of someone with American liberal values standing up against a state run by neoconservatives — which is not what the comic V for Vendetta was about. It was about fascism, it was about anarchy, it was about England." (And for the record, the comic's antihero is not a liberal and its villains are not conservatives.)
- It's also curious that, with Barack Obama now President, the movie/comic have lately been embraced by libertarians/Tea Party types who, just a few years ago, condemned it as "liberal propaganda."
- Also note that the script expurgates all the book's references to Thelema and Aleister Crowley, who has been called many things, but never a "liberal" battling "conservatives". And obviates that Codename V had been driven MAD by his treatment at Larkhill, and was prepared to do the same to Evie if "necessary".
- 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. 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.
- 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 right wing people, 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.
- If The Incredibles had been pro-Objectivist, Syndrome the millionaire tech genius would have been the hero who worked not for the adoration of others but solely for himself. The political tone of the film is much closer to early-nineteenth-century anti-democratic Conservatism.
- 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?
Films — Live-Action
- 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 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" ethics... 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 Enders 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 much, much 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. This would make it a children's book that includes infanticide, main characters ripping each other to shreds, a character that sees fields full of blood, mass poisoning, and several characters being shot or torn to bits by larger animals.
- At risk of going against the idea of the page, George Orwell's Animal Farm is, on at least one level, a fairly direct allegory for the history of Russia from 1917 to 1945. But some of the analysis gets a little confusing. Does Boxer represent a specific individual, or just downtrodden yet willing workers in general? Is Benjamin a cautionary tale about those who know what's going on, but don't act on this knowledge, or an Author Avatar? Saying this, the simplest answer is "probably both".
- 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...
- Many people see Dumbledore and Fudge in the Harry Potter books 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).
- The movie version of Umbridge looks somewhat like Merkel. Ergo Rowling obviously intended her to be Merkel!
- Discworld gets a bit of this from time to time. For example, while Thud! is clearly about racial and religious hatred a lot of people think specific groups are direct stand ins for other groups. Weirder are the claims that Jingo or Monstrous Regiment are directly about the Iraq war (even though Jingo was written years before it).
- Jingo was written years before a Gulf War, but after the first one. But from a British perspective, a war over "some damn island that's only useful in case we have to go to war" is much closer to the Falklands.
- The background plot about the island is based on Ferdinandea, but the characters openly discuss the fact that this is only an excuse for the various other things that happen, which could map fairly well to several different conflicts and events.
- 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.
- 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.
- The same can really be said for any Evil Empire Plucky Rebel Group dynamic in fiction. Everyone wants their side identified with the underdog rebels fighting the big bad evil.
- This point was amusingly made on Coupling in which Sally was trying to argue that as a Leftie she was the good guys and come "the revolution" they would make significant changes. Patrick points out that her party is in power and thus the Tories are now representing the Rebel Alliance with the Lefties as the Evil Empire.
- A rather odd example is That's My Bush!. Despite being created by the people who did South Park 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.
- The second episode has a conversation between Skye and Ward that could be seen as a condemnation of middle class leftists who don't like to acknowledge that their pet causes can be just as violent and bloody as those they condemn.
- The character of Ian Quinn has been accused by some as being a parody of Libertarians. He's a self-made businessman who hates the government and its interference, but turns out to be just as dangerous and corrupt as the establishment.
- And then of course Episode 5 was read by some as commentary on "hacktivists" who frame their work as morally righteous, yet see no issue with selling secrets and technology out of purely financial motivations.
- Battlestar Galactica (Classic) 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 (Reimagined) 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 evil get 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 was white supremacist propaganda.
- 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.
- Christianity gets directly mentioned exactly once in the series, and then in a 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, 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.
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.
- 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.
- Doctor Who:
- 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 less as 'taxation is a way of punishing talent and achievement' and 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 distracted by using media to make them constantly afraid', modern critics tend to read it as a satire on the evils of privatisation, neoliberalism and peculiarly resonant regarding the Occupy movement. Privatisation and neoliberalism were just around the corner in 1977, and the Occupy movement was 35 years away. Was the writer an actually left-wing man who didn't realise it thinking about the dark future of economic politics and getting it bang-on, or trying to make his evil taxman as reprehensible as possible by 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 piss people off, lack of desire to make allegorical stories about the real world in favour 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 pitted two of the most political villains in the series's history against each other 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 (for just one example, Turlough's arc can be read as an allegory for homosexuality). 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.
- 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", the episode about Donna indirectly causing a racist, fascist government to take over Britain by choosing to submit to her obnoxious mother and 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 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.
- It should be noted, moreover, that the Fox television network (founded in 1987) and the Fox News Channel (founded in 1996) are two separate entities with differing agendas, even though they're owned by the same man (a man who, remember, was originally an Australian newspaper publisher with no ties to the Twentieth Century Fox film studio, which is wholly American). A lot of Fox's entertainment programming (most notably The Simpsons) regularly ridicules Rupert Murdoch and the political beliefs he represents - and Murdoch himself, a social conservative, has vehemently butted heads with his own entertainment division in the past.
- 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.
- 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's "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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Tetris has been seen as a metaphor for life in the Soviet Union. The "Complete History of the Soviet Union" song plays this angle for all it's worth.
- 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.
- 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.
- Super Mario Bros. is sometimes accused of promoting communism, because Mario wears red and has a mustache making him resemble Joseph Stalin.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 famous for its fondness of this trope.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
"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."
- 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 Internet Backlash quickly prompted Ms. Magazine to follow her article with a rebuttal by the show's creator, Lauren Faust.
- 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.
- There's at least a few Legend Of Korra 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.