Main Faux Symbolism Discussion

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04:15:43 AM Jun 19th 2017
In a scene where Wonder Woman sees a dragon like beast with 10 horns, she says the following:
  • And I saw a dreadful, exceedingly strong beast with large iron teeth, brass nails having 10 horns, and one of the horns speak boastfully.
Is this scene an example of this trope?
06:31:03 PM Dec 16th 2014
I've noticed some misuse, so I'm in the process of a wicks check.
07:53:02 PM Nov 23rd 2013
Is there any reason the entry for The Fantasticks (under Theater) has (faux) symbolism from the Halo franchise? Because I'm pretty sure there was nothing about an Ark, Forerunners, Covenant, or Flood in the play.
06:09:56 PM Oct 27th 2012
Would this addendum to Real life be proper or not? Can you explain why it is false symbolism? Maybe shortened, if so how? " Common conspiracy theories surrounding the Vatican often cite the upside down cross near the Pope in pictures as a symbol of the devil wherein reality it is a symbol of St. Peter a prominent Catholic saint. "
05:31:55 PM Mar 7th 2012
Does the Spongebob Squarepants episode "Choir Boys" qualify?

It has Squidward tying Spongebob to a tree shaped suspiciously shaped like a cross, and then driving away. Spongebob sings in a beautiful voice, and then some jellyfish come over, lift him up, and carry him over to the building Squidward is going to, which looks like a church. The jellyfish carry Spongebob in, and Spongebob sings in a beautiful voice and impresses the choir in the building.
09:17:39 PM Mar 21st 2012
It has two large branches, but does not look like a cross. And the jellyfish thing isn't symbolic of anything, unless you've been reading a weird translation of the new testament.*

I figured the building was a church. Can't tell if that's more symbolic or less.
09:12:18 AM Jun 29th 2012
Nah, I'd say it's an example.
12:56:19 AM Jan 9th 2012
I'm confused. How do we determine whats fake and whats real symbolism. i've seen several examples on here that actually seemed symbolic to me.
02:48:50 PM Mar 30th 2013
I agree with you that there needs to be a better way of defining Faux Symbolism. I also believe there should be two sub-categories of this trope: Type One should be when an author plays this trope unintentionally (e.g. Benjamin banging on the stained glass wall of the church in The Graduate and also the "Sodom and Gomorrah" incidence in One Piece) Type two should be Faux Symbolism that is done by an author well aware that it is not meaningful within the context of the story and does so solely out of Ruleof Cool (NGE references to Jewish and Christian folklore and legends, Death Note's references to various renaissance artworks).
05:15:54 AM May 17th 2013
I agree with making the subcategories. Go for it.
10:42:49 PM Sep 5th 2011
Removed this one:

  • An in-universe example in Phineas and Ferb is in the episode where Candace becomes mayor and the crowd believes that everything Candace says is some kind of metaphor, even her "busting" obsession. Another example is in "Brain Drain", in which Dr. Doofenshmirtz at one point gets glued to a turntable and starts an epic freestyle rap about how Perry is controlling his movements using the doctor's own mind control helmet. Of course, his audience, being a group of teenagers, interpret "there's a platypus controlling me" to mean that there's some kind of authority figure keeping him down.

That's mistaking something for symbolism, but it's not this trope. If, say, Doof's rap contained random religious imagery that vaguely painted Perry as the Judas to Doof's Jesus, that would be Faux Symbolism.
05:17:15 AM May 17th 2013
What do you think it would be?
11:43:17 PM Jul 23rd 2011
Cut this:
* In Wizards of Waverly Place there is an episode where Alex paints on a brick wall a big white circle that has in the middle the letter A, having the same proportions. She says that the painting represents her initial in a circle, but since she is an antisocial manipulator, she may send through the painting a not-so-surprising message... like she is a hard on anarchist.
Because when an anarchist paints a symbol for anarchy on a wall, that's actual symbolism.
10:53:02 AM Feb 16th 2011
edited by JayReich
  • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Link's sister Aryll is kidnapped by the Helmaroc King because Ganondorf ordered that all girls with pointy ears be brought to him, as one of them was the promised Princess Zelda. Meanwhile, in The Bible, King Herod ordered that all babies under three years be killed, as one of them was the promised Messiah.
    • A villain targeting a particular group of people based on one or more distinctive features or racial profiles is hardly new or original and not necessarily meant to be any kind of faux symbolism.
      • Targeting a group because it contains the special child of doom or the Messiah is though.
      • Not so much.
    • The series as a whole, especially when you consider how Christianity was supposed to be the main religion in Hyrule. A crusader hero (who had a shield with the Christian cross on it in the first game; later changed to a graphic representation of a "holy trinity") who gains power and support from a virgin princess, and whose primary enemy is a conquering Arabic sorcerer who becomes porcine when he infuses himself with the Ultimate Evil.
      • Christianity was never "supposed" to be Hyrule's main religion. True, gravestones and Link's shield displayed crosses in the original game, but at that point Hyrule was just supposed to be a generic medieval European fantasy setting, and in Japan the cross is typically thrown into such settings regardless of whether or not they are actually intended to be Christian. Just look at one of countless other fantasy games, manga or anime that contain crosses or cross-like imagery, yet have in-game religions that are obviously not Christianity (e.g. Dragon Quest).

Chopped from the article. Not only is it natter-filled, but I can't find any sources that say any of the pointed out symbolism was actually intended by the game makers. If anything, what the original example-giver was pointing out was more an example of Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory than anything.

If someone can find a way to collapse it and make it more relevant to the article, feel free but at the moment I say this particular example stays off.
10:34:53 AM Dec 20th 2010
"This... is particularly popular in Anime, because the Japanese generally only have a passing familiarity with Christianity,..."

I don't think it's just the Christianity. The end of Beserk wasn't overtly Christian, but it was absolutely crazy. The symbolism in FLCL might connect to some coherent analysis, just like people have filled books on analysis of Joyce... but it's at least a bit opaque.

Kyoko Mori taught writing in both Japan and the US. In "Polite Lies" she argues that while US students tend to have more technical problems, her Japanese students struggle more with coherent symbolism. She suggests it might be a consequence of recent cultural history... Japanese culture was pretty harshly severed from past values in WWII, and with the mix of modernity rapidly changing life there, there's not an easy well of universal symbolism and cultural identity to draw from that feels immediately relevant to everyone. Eh, just a theory. But "Polite Lies" is an interesting book for anyone who wants another perspective on the gap between western and Japanese cultural identity.
11:05:20 PM Jan 16th 2011
Interesting ideas. Certainly the approaches toward symbolism in Western and Japanese media are very different; I'm not sure if I'd necessarily say that the Japanese don't "get it", though. For example (I'm going to pull out the big one), in Neon Genesis Evangelion, there is a lot of religious and occult symbolism that is clearly the product of extensive research; its usage tends to be baffling to Western audiences since it appropriates symbols from Western religions for different meanings and in different contexts (sometimes drastically different) than any Westerner familiar with Judaism and Christianity might think to use them. However, I would argue that this is not due to the writers' lack of understanding of these symbols or how to use them, and more of a desire to exploit them for their own means and use them to illustrate ideas about religion as opposed to, so to speak, talking about religion "from the inside". Like FLCL, the usage of these symbols is indeed frequently opaque - also like FLCL, it can be difficult to differentiate which are there for the hell of it and which actually Mean Something, and also like FLCL, there are a number of viable and entirely legitimate analyses of these symbols within the context of the show (for a broad example, the recurring presence of and interplay between Adam, Lilith and Eva, and how the use of these concepts as symbols ties into themes of feminine power in the series). Even moreso than FLCL, the symbolism here, like many aspects of the series, is deliberately intended to be open to multiple interpretations, similar, for example, to the works of David Lynch or to one of Evangelion's biggest inspirations, The Prisoner. Anyway, my point is that it is symbolism, but of a very different kind than is seen in Western writing. Sorry if all that was a little incoherent. I probably don't know enough about literature to get into a high-level discussion over this, but I'm just typing out some thoughts. Anyway, that book sounds like a very interesting read; I'll have to track it down.
04:51:29 PM Nov 22nd 2010
edited by BritBllt

  • Silent Hill: Homecoming has a lot of sexually-related imagery. None of it seems to mean a damn thing, as sexual themes aren't part of the plot nor do they relate to any of the characters. This is a particularly grating example, because, as others have speculated, the most likely cause is the American development team simply failing to grasp that the symbolism the Japanese devs employed through the rest of the series, especially with monster design, was actually symbolism specific to those characters.
    • The entire series is also filled with occult references that include Metatron, Samael, the Olympic spirits and tarot cards, and eventually grows to include an entirely fictional mythology and pantheon featuring such names as Xuchilbara the "Red God" and Lobsel Vith the "Yellow God". The idea any of these references are truly relevant to the story lead to loads of fan theories which the third game then specifically had the job of Jossing.

Down to...

  • Silent Hill: Homecoming has a lot of sexually-related imagery. None of it seems to mean a damn thing, as sexual themes aren't part of the plot nor do they relate to any of the characters. The entire series is also filled with occult references that include Metatron, Samael, the Olympic spirits and tarot cards, and eventually grows to include an entirely fictional mythology and pantheon featuring such names as Xuchilbara the "Red God" and Lobsel Vith the "Yellow God". Whether any of these references are truly relevant to the story, or if they're just there to emphasize the fact that we're dealing with crazy cultist villains, is still a matter of debate among fans.

The second half of the first bullet point is just negative speculation on the development team's motives; we can simply note that there's sexual symbolism but no context and let the readers make of it what they will.

The second bullet point came about from condensing some natter, but in the process it lost a bit of accuracy - the Yellow and Red God stuff came from the 3rd game itself (where, true to the trope, it seemed to have absolutely nothing to do with anything). Whether any of it has any importance in the story still an open question (one popular theory is that none of it's relevant in itself, but that the series is powered by a Clap Your Hands If You Believe effect), so let's just leave it open-ended. The downside is that it might attract more "obviously the real answer is [insert favorite fan theory here]" natter which'll have to be trimmed, but it's the most impartial answer.
02:39:00 AM Aug 2nd 2010
Point noted in these discussion: this trope is about when there is supposedly symbolic looking imagery but no theme in the story that it actually represents. It is not actual symbolism done badly, it is not things that could be interpreted as symbolic, it is not "accidental" symbolism. If there is a description of the theme or idea that the symbolism is meant to present taken from the work, then you are doing it wrong. If you have to try really hard to find symbolism and if it isn't just a visual or other aesthetic consideration, you're doing it wrong.
10:48:45 AM Jan 8th 2011
Yeah, the name change kind of alters the connotations of the trope. Many of the entries here are just examples of overly blatant or hamhanded symbolism (that still IS symbolism), which would have made sense given the original title, but not so much under the current one. Perhaps a new page should be created for this?

Also, the header image kind of lacks context.
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