Examples of Misaimed Fandom for historical figures and characters in various works.
Guy Fawkes certainly counts. V for Vendetta helped popularize him as a freedom fighter and an anarchist, especially with groups like Anonymous, but his goal was to kill James I, a Protestant, so that a Catholic monarch could succeed to the throne.
Che Guevara, Marxist revolutionary. Criticisms of the guy himself aside, there is something hypocritical about using a Communist leader's image to sell T-shirts to privileged middle-class kids. (That those privileged middle-class kids like to buy these in the first place seems to suggest that they either don't realize how hypocritical it is, don't care, or some combination of the two.) Their approval would probably fill him with shame. An article from Wikipedia on Che Guevara merchandise lists a variety of criticisms of it here, from both pro-Che and anti-Che perspectives.
Missing the point a little less, there are committed anti-capitalists who nonetheless don't do their homework; many anarchists and Trotskyists idolize Che despite his having fought to establish a regime both parties decry (as "statist" and "Stalinist", respectively) — not to mention that he famously had anarchists and Trotskyists shot.
Numerous rock musicians have sported the aforementioned T-shirts, and it's common to see people wearing them at concerts. Guevara himself disdained rock music (regarding it as an "Imperialist" form of artistic expression) and Castro banned it for some years.
For that matter, Che is not his name (it's Ernesto). It's a nickname based on a Verbal Tic of his—and one that is common in Argentine Spanish, no less. It would be like calling him "Eh Guevara" if he had been Canadian.
There are some shirts that hilariously parody this — sometimes you might see one with a caption such as "Brought to you by Capitalism!" or "I don't know who this guy was or what he stood for, but he looks good on a shirt."
It is, of course, totally possible that some of these shirts are being worn as a deliberate Take That to Che and possibly communism in general. Whether or not that's giving the general public too much credit is up to you.
This article from Cracked explores cases of people mistaking real-life symbols for their opposite meanings. Misaimed Fandom is implied by many if not all of these, but especially the Crazy Horse, Guy Fawkes and Che Guevara examples.
Pastafarianism originated out of an open letter to the Kansas Board of Education that parodied the idea of teaching Creationism as a science. However, once it gained notoriety, it developed its own Misaimed Fandom as atheists came out of the woodwork, praising the open letter's contents as a Take That to religion in general—which grew even more prevalent when Richard Dawkins considered the letter a valid anti-theological argument. The argument is simply "you can't prove a negative", as in "you can't prove the FSM doesn't exist/didn't create the universe", in response to those who claim that the lack of proof of God's non-existence is evidence for his existence. Russell's Teapot is a more classic example.
Actually, if one reads the God Delusion, Dawkins examines Pastafarianism only insofar as he critiques teaching the controversy. He also gives it secondary prominence to Russell's Teapot in his attack on negative proof, and basically admits to including it only because he finds it really funny. And "you can't prove a negative" is a valid theological argument - which the Flying Spaghetti Monster ably illustrates, hence its use.
Ultimately, Pastafarianism's creator subverted this trope: Although he had originally professed that he had nothing against religion, he embraced his atheist fans and catered to their desires. Now that Pastafarianism is a Straw Religion with the message that "Belief Makes You Stupid," it's attracted its fair share of serious followers. Somewhat serious, at least. Recently it has also started recruiting clergymen. For just $20 USD anyone can be legally ordained as a minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
It's not that their major argument was "You can't prove a negative." though it was a small part of it. They were against the "Teach the controversy" movement. Then you wouldn't be teaching science and Christian creationism, but also Pastafarianism, Scientology, Hindu creationism, the Great Green Arkleseizure, ad nauseum, until nothing ever gets taught.
Discordianism note fnord actually started as a silly but serious religion to parody other parodies of religion, and there are still "serious" Discordian followers out there. Anyone who says otherwise will rot in Thud.
As a funny aside, when Bertrand Russell was indicted for a vast array of offences in absentia for specious reasons, he claims that the university he was denied a position should have the decency to teach the controversy. His essays on the subject were later documented in "Why I Am Not a Christian", part of which seems to form the inspiration for Brave New World.
Mary Sue has a misaimed hatedom and a fandom, believe it or not. One of the most widespread usage of the term "Mary Sue" is to complain about a protagonist or character they don't like, as well as "They are cliche" and a tool to attack the author. note Yeah, some people don't take criticisms of mary sues too seriously, but one really shouldn't neglect how many people throw the term around merely as Flame Bait The term "Mary Sue" has begun to lose almost all meaning to some people, partly because of term abuse.
Common Mary Sue Traits should be mentioned; because many people assume that it's merely because of those traits that make a character a Mary Sue and avert them by making them look as boring as possible and turning them into an Anti-Sue, or immediately dismissing someone as having even one or two of those Common Mary Sue Traits as a Mary Sue, without even acknowledging that those are not the sole determinant of a Mary Sue. Many Litmus exams out there also have a tendency to pretty much list character traits the person who wrote the test doesn't like and wants to eliminate from fiction by listing it as a Mary Sue trait.
Tellingly, the actual Trope Namer from "A Trekkie's Tale" doesn't really have all that many of these traits (although the ones she does have are obvious and parodically over-the-top). Still, you may have noticed that "Mary Sue" is, in fact, a perfectly ordinary name and not something like "Serenity Jupiter Princess Moonlight Kirk". Although Time Marches On; as do names. Mary Sue wasn't as uncommon as a name around the time the story was written as it is now, but the same can be said about names like "Dorothy", "Blanche", "Ethel", etc.
And then there are those people who, because of the constant misuse of the term, misunderstand Mary Sue as a slur against strong female characters and attempt to reclaim it. Basically, they think that people should be proud to call their characters Mary Sues.
For her part, Paula Smith, the original author of "A Trekkie's Tale", has suggested that the term is so abused that it's become a de facto attack against strong female characters. In case you think this is a recent development, she said this in 1987.
KFC attempted a Battlestar Galactica related promotion, the "Frak Pak Sweepstakes". Considering what the word "frak" is a substitute for, this got a bit of attention from the fanbase, albeit not for the intended reasons.
What's worse is what they did when they realized their mistake: they dropped "Pak" and replaced "Frak" with "Can't-Say-That-Word-On-Television◊". So it became literally a "fuck pak". Way to go, KFC.
Poe's Law: "Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing."
There is an anthropological theory called "Culture of Poverty", which used to be quite popular, that basically says poor people by virtue of their position in society don't have the skills needed to advance in class, nor real opportunities to get them. This has frequently been misconstrued as blaming the victim. (If anything, it actually promotes the opposite.)
There are a number of historical/pseudo-historical groups that suffer from this to a greater or lesser degree, often to extreme levels of Fan Dumb. Ninja, Pirates and Druids come to mind, with fictional versions all but taking over the little-known reality in the eyes of popular culture, but almost any group probably fits into the spectrum somewhere.
Ugly example: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was an anti-Semitic propaganda-tract written to discredit anti-royalist movements, depicting them as the gullible puppets of evil Jewish bankers. Frequently quoted by Nazis, both original and neo-, even though its pro-royalist stance is no more compatible with fascism than with any other recent political system.
Of course, no discussion of unintended reactions to The Protocols would be complete without mentioning the truly odd way Japan took them. Most Japanese readers tended to be less interested in the bits about how evil the Jews supposedly were and more interested in how much power and influence they had, reasoning that being sympathetic to the Jews would help increase their nation's status.
Even though nothing vaguely resembling their ideologies appeared in the mythology, (well, except for the War Is Glorious trope, which the Norse myths do not actually emphasize all that much more than any other Indo-European mythology) many Neo-Nazis have hijacked Norse paganism as a vehicle for their beliefs, which has also on occasion led to persecution of neopagans out of misunderstanding.
Karl Marx would be banging his head at the usage of "Marxism" as well as "socialism", "communism", and other terms like "fascist", "totalitarianism" and "Nazi" being used interchangeably.
Marx, in 1883, saw where interpretation of his works were headed even in his own time, and said, "If that is Marxism, then I am not a Marxist."
The comment is actually ironic, referring to a French group that had appropriated Marx's name called the Marxiste. That's why the original quote was in French despite the fact that Marx was German and wrote primarily in German, Greek and English. Later when the Marxiste were forgotten (and the word came to refer to Marxists in general) conservative commentators started reading it as a catch-all dismissal of Marxists or Marxism.
There's an old Soviet joke about Marx being resurrected and shown around the Soviet Union. Afterwards, Marx wanted to speak on television, but the Politburo were afraid he'd say something they wouldn't approve of. They agreed to let him, on the condition that he only say one sentence. And so he said: "Workers of all countries, forgive me."
The website MyFootballClub.co.uk was aimed at allowing regular football fans to collectively purchase and run a professional football (soccer) club (Ebbsfleet Utd). The slogan was "Own The Club, Pick The Team", however the seeming majority only signed up for the social aspects (and more minor aspects such as choosing the colour of the shirts), and even actively voted against the "pick the team" aspect, resulting in most of the original members becoming disgruntled and abandoning the project at an early stage. The result? By the end of the first full season in charge, the entire first team had to be sold to cover the shortfall in membership fees. By the end of the second season in charge the club's finances were in ruins, members were leaving in their droves, and the club were relegated down to a local, part-time league.
Herbert Spencer, who coined the term "survival of the fittest" (no, it wasn't Darwin who said it) seemed to miss the point of Darwin's theories. Herbert Spencer rejoiced when Darwin came up with his theory of natural selection, because he took it to mean that rich people were simply "the fittest" and there is nothing wrong with the oppression of the poor and "inferior" races, since their plight shows that they are obviously just not fit enough. Thank goodness his attempts to stuff Darwin's theories into sociological theory were unsuccessful. Darwin himself was actually a very gentle and kindhearted anti-racist and member of one of Britain's great freethinking/liberal/progressive families, and was appalled at the ways in which his society interpreted his work.
Erwin Schrodinger concocted his "Schrodinger's Cat" thought-experiment in 1935, purely to hang a lampshade on the failings of the 'Copenhagen interpretation' version of quantum mechanics. Physicists who advocate this paradigm tend to portray his model as a serious metaphor for quantum states, rather than a critique of how the Copenhagen interpretation was inconsistent with, and irrelevant to, classical physics.
Ironically, in many ways he was proven to be right. Quantum Physics is so alien to our thinking that attempting to refute it by pointing out how absurd it is merely offers a fair example. While the example is not literally true, it provides a reasonable example for the human mind to comprehend. Quantum Mechanics being what they are, though, any understanding not rooted solely in mathematics is going to be limited by the human mind.
Fred Hoyle, a cosmologist who favored a "steady state" theory of the universe—because he was a firm atheist (!) and considered the idea of a sudden start to the Universe from a single point to be too suggestive of the existence of God (!!)—coined the term "Big Bang" to ridicule that idea (which incidentally was thought up by a Catholic priest, albeit one who was also a trained physicst). He wound up giving it a catchy, easy to remember name that is now learned by every child in English-speaking nations.
Thomas Edison invested in development of the electric chair as an execution device to try and show everybody the dangers of alternating current (the current model used by his rival Tesla) and discourage its use. It was supposed to be "an awful spectacle" as a witness to its first use famously remarked, but a few years later it had became standard in much of the United States.
Regarding some of those Deadpan Snarker characters who see themselves as Surrounded by Idiots and are unable to see the good in anything, a lot of people seem to see them as intelligent or good role models. Never mind that for the most part, a lot of them are actually complete jerks, and this is often the point of works to detail that acting like that is not a good way to make friends.
Some examples are Malcolm in Malcolm in the Middle and Daria. Are they book smart? Yes. But they're shown as having very few (if any) friends and not being particularly well liked by everyone else. In fact, part of Daria's Character Development was her learning not to push everyone away from her and insulting them every chance she gets.
People try to replicate a couple characters who happen to be jerks such as House. Never mind that in the case of House, you would not want to work with him and you would not want to work for him, either. There are in fact several episodes showing characters getting fed up with House's attitude or House getting called out on his shenanigans, and his personality being one of the reasons he's there.
Video game critics like Yahtzee and the ones mentioned above usually slam video games of their flaws to the extreme because that is a part of their character. Somehow, many people take nearly everything that is said at face value and use the nearly cartoonish criticisms as the basis on why no one should play a certain game. Just take a look at many user created video game reviews and you're bound to find a handful of people that can't seem to say at least one positive thing about the game they are slamming.
Anime is now forever tainted in eyes of many of the survivors (and their direct descendants) of Japanese atrocities in WWII in the Philippines. Why? Because anime is popular in the Philippines and has caused an upsurge in Japanophilia. Problem is, some of these self-declared Japanophiles go too much to one extreme and downplay Japanese atrocities in WWII as exaggerations or fabrications by Americans, and sometimes say that it would've been great that Imperial Japan had won since the Philippines would have been part of it. Understandably this horrifies and enrages the aforementioned survivors, as well as fans who aren't that extreme and don't want to get lumped in with said Misaimed Fandom.
What makes these crazies especially stupid is that anime as we know it wouldn't exist without the sweeping cultural changes wrought by Japan's defeat. In fact, many of the character features that come standard in most anime — big colorful eyes, fair hair colors, tall builds, etc. — would've been reviled as too "Western" in the rabidly nationalistic Imperial Japan of the mid-20th century. In the quintessential Alternate History where the Axis wins, Osamu Tezuka spent his life as a medic in a field hospital (or, worse, eventually transferred to Unit 731 and forced to cross the Moral Event Horizon) & guys like Hideaki Anno and Yoshiyuki Tomino were probably drafted into the military and promptly shot dead by native resistance fighters in some forsaken bamboo jungle.
Hideaki Anno could have gone the Osamu Dazai route of depression and suicide because you weren't allowed an emotional outlet in Imperial Japan. (Assuming, of course, that he would actually be born after the point of divergence.) Oh and most importantly, anime made in Imperial Japan would most likely be wave after wave of propaganda.
Even this is all ignoring the simple fact that you can like some or even most media output from one country without agreeing with everything said country has ever done. No one expects fans of Monty Python to be Anglophiles, do they?
Or by the rich to oppress the poor ("hey! it's my right! I was born superior to them!"). It's worth remembering that these attitudes existed word by word before On the origin of the species... was published and that they often go completely against what is actually written in it (ex. racists condemning interracial marriage because it lessens their "superior" race, when in reality a population is more healthy and likely to survive the more genetic variability it has).
NietzscheWannabes. He does not endorse nihilism or being a "might makes right" jerkass. He supported making your own rules instead of latching onto ones that are centuries old.
Nietzsche was also an outspoken opponent of nationalism and anti-Semitism, but a few decades after his death, he became the subject of misaimed fandom by the Nazis and this has left him forever associated with them. One of the main reasons for this is that his Nazi sister re-edited his later works before publication without his knowledge.
After Steve Irwin died, a couple of fanatics began brutally killing innocent stingrays to "avenge" his death. This is completely the opposite of what Irwin would have wanted. He would have said that the stingray that killed him was merely scared and was defending itself, and that we need to be protecting these animals, not killing them off.
A lot of dictatorships critical of the U.S. attract supporters from all over the world, as long as they're willing to overlook the odd genocide or two.
It goes both ways: some people support various pro-Western dictators. Granted, it isn't so common today, but was much more so during the Cold War.
A lot of support for both pro- and anti-American dictatorships comes with heavy doses of Enemy Mine.
Barry Goldwater, while often hailed today as a leader of modern conservatism, was actually quite liberal in many regards, especially on social issues. His ideology was less conservative and more libertarian, however many of his views seemed quite extreme back in the 1960s when he was running for President of the United States. He said numerous things that seemed too out of the mainstream, and this ultimately ended in his landslide defeat to Lyndon Johnson in 1964. However, later in life when the Ronald Reagan conservatives and religious fundamentalists dominated the Republican Party and treated Goldwater as a hero to the right-wing, Goldwater stated that today's Republican Party is not the same as it was in the 60s and he was ashamed to be part of such an extreme political party.
A case in point: Goldwater was actually an opponent of segregation. He voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act because he genuinely believed that it was simply not the federal government's responsibility to "legislate morality." As a result, he ended up attracting support from segregationists in the South.
The Nazis and their admiration for Frederick The Great and Otto Von Bismarck. Frederick the Great was a massive Francophile who hated the German language while Bismarck would have been horrified at the Nazis' insanely belligerent policy and called Hitler a lowborn demagogue.
The "Nintendo Seal of Quality". There have been people saying that Nintendo should bring it back in response to the "Shovelware" games on the Wii... despite that you can name a hundred So Bad, It's Horrible games that bear this seal of quality. It never meant "Good" game, it meant "Not a ripoff cartridge". It's also sad that this has to be here, despite how many games reviewed by internet critics like the Irate Gamer and the Angry Video Game Nerd that have the seal in the corner.
The misconception gotten so bad that there was at least one case of someone trying to file a lawsuit against Nintendo for false advertising, believing that the seal of quality meant Nintendo was endorsing that the video game was good. Nintendo removed "quality" from the seal so the seal just became the Nintendo Seal. Its meaning did not change, but it causes less confusion upon the meaning.
The whole concept of cynicism originated as simply denying the higher things in life such as wealth and fame and instead living a simple life to become one with nature. (Hence, cynic, which means "dog"; in other words, living like a dog.) In ancient Greece, cynics were like the historical equivalent of hippies. But somehow people have misconstrued this idea and over time "cynicism" has come to mean being a person with a great deal of distrust and dislike for humanity.
Since the controversial viral youtube video, Epic Beard Man got a lot of admiration from white supremacists for "finally standing up to black people". There are reports saying that Epic Beard Man does not want their support whatsoever.
Any time there's an act of Disproportionate Retribution in the news, there are a lot of cases where people actually defend the retribution and say that it was deserved.
In the 6th century B.C., Epimenides of Crete said that all Cretans were liars. In context, he is referring to the specific claim popular in Crete at the time that Zeus was a mortal and not actually divine. Epimenides, who sincerely worshipped Zeus, was appalled by what he considered a major heresy. Thus, in no way is he including himself in the set of Cretans who are liars, and he was claiming that his fellow Cretans were only lying about that one thing, and nothing prevented a Cretan from telling the truth about other things. However, modern audiences view this as a form of the liar paradox, assuming that Epimenides meant "all Cretans, including myself, always lie", when the original text shows he meant nothing of the sort.
The idea of Personality Blood Types is a pseudoscientific one created by Imperial Japan in order to justify its horrific mistreatment of Korea, claiming that the Koreans were fiercely rebelling against Japanese rule not because they were being oppressed, but because their blood type somehow made them unable to respect authority. (A similar concept in the antebellum South was "drapetomania", the claim that runaway slaves had a mental disorder.) Of course, nowadays, the idea is ingrained in Japanese popular culture, and almost every anime with supplemental material will include a character's blood type as part of their personality. Sometimes people get turned down jobs because of blood type, which makes as much sense as not hiring someone because your zodiac signs are incompatible.
The word "meritocracy" was first coined in an essay meant to satirize meritocracy. Specifically, it satirized those who achieved success through privilege but claimed to have gained it through merit.
Not a character but a work. The Conversion Bureau was written to explain the Blaze's (the author) own hypothesis on why Equestria had no humans as well as Wish Fulfillment. Instead, a fair amount of authors who came after him use the basic framework of the story to espouse their Humans Are Bastards view.
Neo Nazis have worn T-shirts from the brand "Lonsdale", because they can wear it in a way that the words "NSDA" are formed, the initials of the Nazi party NSDAP. Of course, this is stupid for four reasons. One: the final "p" of the word "NSDAP" is not present in the word "Lonsdale". Two: Many famous Afro-American boxers like Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson wore Lonsdale. Three: The brand itself doesn't support Nazism at all. Four: The founder of "Lonsdale", Bernard Hart, was of Jewish descent.
Ayn Rand has something of a misaimed fandom amongst some Christian religious-right types in America, to support some of their political views (small government, presumably); despite the fact that Rand herself was extremely anti-Christian and opposed to many values most people would consider core to Christianity (like altruism).
Rand also has a curious following among right-libertarians (who she loathed),note to such an extent that most people are unaware that Rand was not herself a right-libertarian and CEOs collecting government bailout money (or in Rand's viewpoint, "looters").
In 1962, a physicist and philosopher of science named Thomas Kuhn published The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which examined the ways scientific research and accepted knowledge evolves over time as scientist adjust theories and research methods in order to address new data they can't seem to account for. The take home message was that science doesn't take the straight path to truth, but takes pragmatic steps in its general direction by jumping from one approximation of the world to the next. However, rather than realizing that wrong is not an absolute value or that paradigm shifts toss out everything that came before, creationists, postmodernists, and just about everyone who didn't like the answers science came up with took it as proof that Science Is Wrong and that Intelligent Design and homeopathy are just as legitimate as evolution and germ theory. Also, everyone started misusing the word paradigm. Kuhn added a 1969 postscript that clarified that he was not arguing for relativism, but to no avail. The fiftieth anniversary edition of the book comes with a quite substantial forward assuring the reader that these people are Doing it Wrong (especially the word "paradigm").
Hacking: Unfortunately it was also abused by the wave of skeptical intellectuals who called the very idea of truth in question. Kuhn had no such intention. He was a fact lover and a truth seeker.
The Chicago Police Department used to show footage of the 1968 Democratic Convention Riot as an example of how not to handle crowd control. They stopped because too many of the officers would cheer at the hippies getting beaten.
The Deadpool article was written as if Deadpool was narrating because one of the character's defining characteristics is how he has No Fourth Wall, so the idea was that if he addresses the readers in the comic books, it's only natural that he would do the same on his TV Tropes page. Then people proceeded to miss the joke when the style caught on, and as a result there are many pages dedicated to individual Marvel and DC characters that are written with No Fourth Wall, even if the character in question doesn't behave as such.
Chris Rock actually retired his (in)famous 1996 bit, "Niggas vs. Black People" when actual racists used it as justification. The skit discussed stereotypical black people vs. non-stereotypical black people, and to this day you can look in the comment section of many websites and find racists saying they can use the n-word because it only means ignorant black person.