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Do Not Do This Cool Thing
aka: Truffaut Was Right

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"You're watching Futurama, the show that does not advocate the cool crime of robbery!"
Futurama, "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV"

You want to have An Aesop about something that we should avoid at all costs. Trouble is, just by showing or describing it in lavish detail, you end up undermining your message by showing just how damn appealing it is and cause the audience to get the wrong idea.

This trope is especially easy to fall into when a piece of media aims for a realistic portrayal of why people get lured into things like drinking, smoking, being promiscuous, doing drugs, getting into dangerous situations, fighting awesome action sequences, etc., thereby identifying to the audience what others see in it, possibly causing them to view it in a light they hadn't previously seen it in. Conversely, if you gloss over the very real appeal, you end up with a bad habit that it seems no rational person would ever pick up (akin to an ad reading "Stop Punching Kittens"). The trick is finding the balance between getting the audience to understand the appeal and understanding why these things are bad. If the negative aspects don't come across as outweighing the appeal, this trope comes into effect. This makes the vice into Forbidden Fruit and therefore much more appealing when the audience is told not to do it. While authorial (or parental) intent may be to use the tale to discourage something, this trope happens, because they're trying to get the audience to accept that something that was just being depicted as fun, easy, exciting, profitable, advantageous, or whatever, was actually bad; to the audience, this comes across as extremely dishonest and patently false. Many people and PSA's seem to forget that just because somebody was told so, or their "parents raised them right", doesn't mean they won't do something — nobody's parents told them it was a good habit to visit prostitutes, but many people do so and a number of them do it regularly.


If a work attempts to play down the attractive aspects and stick to the unappealing ones, the work itself may become unappealing as a result, which again undermines the goal of spreading its message. It's a tricky artistic balance: If you Show, Don't Tell, you risk showing something bad as cool, but if you just tell, you're left with a boring Author Tract saying "And That's Terrible." This trope was formerly called "Truffaut was right", named for French director François Truffaut who noted that you simply cannot make a truly anti-war movie.

This can be caused by, and often leads to, a Misaimed Fandom. Can also lead to No Such Thing as Bad Publicity, Rooting for the Empire, Sympathy for the Devil, Springtime for Hitler, Strawman Has a Point, or Unfortunate Implications. But Not Too Evil is often invoked to prevent this trope. You Bastard! is another option, whereby the creators let you enjoy the Cool Thing that's being Done, then try to make you feel bad by showing the horrific consequences. Sometimes a Spoof Aesop may attempt to show this trope in-universe.


A sub-trope of Broken Aesop. Sometimes the result of an Accidental Aesop or an Alternate Aesop Interpretation or Poe's Law. Can overlap with Clueless Aesop.

Compare & contrast Stealth Cigarette Commercial for when this is done intentionally. Also compare Do Not Attempt and Don't Try This at Home. If the Cool Thing is recognized as bad In-Universe, the characters may observe, "...And That Would Be Wrong."

See also Evil Is Cool, Evil Is Sexy, Forbidden Fruit, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!, Streisand Effect, and Television Is Trying to Kill Us.


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  • Anti-drug ads tend to fall victim to this, especially the ones aimed at kids and teens. In general they have the same problem as Stealth Cigarette Commercials. That is, the ads are considered so stupid and lame and insulting to one's intelligence, that people who watch them will want go use drugs simply out of spite. This is far from their only problem, however.
    • Some ads try to send the message of "Drugs aren't cool" or "Not doing drugs is totally cool". Except some of them do this by showing a person who does think drugs are cool, and the ad intentionally goes to great lengths to give them the traits typically associated with being cool (sunglasses, leather jacket, hot girlfriend, etc), which usually makes the drug user look a lot cooler than the other person in the ad who chooses not to use drugs.
    • Ads like this one that show embarrassing things happening to people who get too drunk or too stoned at parties. Hindered by the problem that getting up to crazy antics while drunk or stoned and telling your friends about them is part of what makes drugs (and, by extension, the people who do them) cool.
    • Many of these ads make use of The Aggressive Drug Dealer, a trope which was simply never an accurate reflection of reality even before it was discredited. Kids were being warned constantly to be on the lookout for these shady characters looking to corrupt the morals of today's youth for... uh... but as they were never encountered in real life, it caused these ads to provoke more laughter than fear. Probably the worst was an ad that had an obnoxious kid all but forcing his classmate to take a handful of marijuana cigarettes. Everything about the commercial was wrong, as the kid didn't seem to expect payment for the joints, both kids (especially the victim) looking about ten years too young to be in danger of rampant drug use being a thing among their peers, the pusher kid calling his victim a "chicken" and loudly making fun of him in a school hallway for not taking his drugs, and the kid's utterly wimpy response: "I'm no chicken! You're a turkey!" The takeaway most kids got from this is that marijuana users might be loudmouthed jerks but those who didn't smoke it were hopeless nerds.
    • By a similar count, many ads either heavily overstate or distort the symptoms of the drugs. Meant to scare people out of taking drugs, this only means the kids will discredit the ad in a single encounter with an actual user or five minutes on Google. How many times have you seen a marijuana user being violent and aggressive, as opposed to lounging on the sofa with a bag of chips, or giggling at nothing?
    • There are ads that show the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs. While these ones are more honest and may actually discourage people from doing so, the message that viewers get from this is "Just stay home and use drugs" or "If you're going to get high, be sure to take a cab or have a designated driver." Which, to be fair is also a pretty good message, just a very different one from the one that they wanted to convey.
    • The UK government attempted to steer kids off drugs in The '80s with a series of TV advertisements featuring emaciated youths in dingy surroundings. The kids in question are reputed to have thought they looked really cool. It doesn't help this was during the second wave of Goth pop music. If only they had known "heroin chic" was an existing underground fashion trend waiting to break into the mainstream.
    • Ads that show an accident happening because someone was using drugs, such as one where a kid picks up a gun and accidentally shoots his friend while high, or one where a little girl is shown getting into a pool unsupervised and a narration says, "Don't feel bad. Just tell her parents you weren't watching her because you were getting stoned. They'll understand." The only message that viewers get from this is "Make sure you're more careful than these people while using drugs".
    • An ad from the early 2000s depicts two kids in the bathroom at a concert getting high before a cop comes in and busts them. A caption appears on the screen saying "Marijuana can get you busted. Harmless?" It's telling viewers that the reason marijuana is bad is simply because it's illegal, without giving any adequate explanation for why that is, which leads the viewer to think that there would be no problem if it was legal.
    • Another ad from the early 2000s depicts dealing with peer pressure. It shows a kid walking into a room and getting offered some weed by a laid back stoner. The kid makes up an excuse, and the scene repeats several times with the kid walking into the room again, each time offering a different excuse. Finally he tells the stoner, "It's just not for me." to which the stoner simply shrugs and replies, "It's cool." The ad certainly portrayed the stoner as much more relaxed and laid back than the uptight other kid.
    • The Gruen Transfer pointed out that most anti-drinking ads look almost exactly like what advertising agencies would do for actual alcohol ads if they could get away with it.
    • There is the famously counter-productive anti-drug ad featuring Rachael Leigh Cook. The ad itself isn't so bad, but after watching it, how many people associated "drug use" with "Rachael Leigh Cook in a tanktop and tight jeans"?
    • An elementary school created and distributed customized pencils for their students to use. The pencils were emblazoned with the words, "It's Not Cool to Do Drugs." This lasted until a student pointed out that, as the pencils are sharpened, they begin to read "Cool to Do Drugs," and then later, "Do Drugs."
    • Some anti-tobacco and anti-drinking billboard, TV and radio ads emphasize the percentage of kids locally who don't smoke or drink. Apparently the adults who create these ads have completely forgotten how being "cool" works and think it has something to do with being in the majority, as if the Fonz was cool because everyone else wore leather jackets. If you want to be different, they just told you how.
  • One of the worst car advertisements ever was a magazine ad, "An Unfair Comparison Between the Javelin and the Mustang." And boy, was it unfair: anyone could look at the huge, detailed photos of each car and see the Mustang was more attractive and better designed. Which worked out badly for the makers of the Javelin, who placed the ad.
    • Although car makers are heavily prohibited from glamorising the performance aspects of their products most television car advertisements need the disclaimer 'Professional Driver on Closed Course. Do Not Attempt' to try to counter the fact that driving across a frozen lake or a desert or round a racetrack looks pretty damn fun.
      • Which is oddly extended to such crazy actions as driving normal speed down paved roads with leaves on it.
  • This upbeat commercial for Gofer Cakes, a fictitious snack cake akin to Ding Dongs. Aimed at children and teens, it is a PSA for The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports; the kids in the ad end up all sloppy and lazy from eating too much junk food. Unfortunately, many ads for real junk food work along similar principles — the real ones try to say "this food is so tasty that it's worth being anti-social over!" The comments on the PSA confirm that the satire element went over most kids' heads, and seems to have turned a lot of youngsters on to Gofer Cakes.
  • A lot of anti-gun PSA's and arguments. They start out by inflating the power and lethality of weapons currently available on the civilian market. Then they show someone somewhere being victimized by a criminal with that powerful gun. Wouldn't you sleep better if you had a weapon of your own to use if someone scary like that came at you?
  • The famous "You Wouldn't Download a Car" campaign became joke fodder for this reason - "download" and "steal" are hardly synonymous to most people the ad is actually targeted towards, between the lack of a physical object to steal, the free nature of the object being downloaded, and the many legal avenues of downloading. It doesn't help that in the commercials, they used the most epic sounding music and quick editing when presenting piracy as a "crime", making the target audience believe that piracy and other crimes would make you look awesome. In fact, one might even ponder how convenient it would be to get a car simply by going online and clicking a few links (something which is now possible thanks to Technology Marching On), rather than heading down to Honest John's Dealership and spending the better part of the day haggling with some douchey auto baron trying to buy something for less than several months' worth of savings.
  • The Joe And Petunia series of Brit Public Information Films during the early 70s featured the titular couple wreaking havoc because of their stupidity. The tone of the shorts was much lighter and humourous than the infamously scary fare (and the high body counts) PIF would be remembered for, to the point they became the cause for them. The duo was so popular that it was feared people would actually imitate them, so they were apparently Killed Off for Real in Worn Tyres Kill in their unorthodox style. The aforementioned nightmare-ish PSAs that followed were made as a reaction against this.
  • Hulu ads go on to say things along the lines of "don't do this, because it'll ruin everything else forever." And then it goes on to say that Hulu is the same way.
  • Many religious “kick-the-porn-habit” self-help books mention being turned on by lingerie ads. These books also have to walk a fine line because self help books usually tell stories so readers know they are not alone... but those stories can also be used for "poor man's erotic fiction", or "suggestions for porn", meaning they have to avoid depicting the act of enjoying Poor Man's Porn in too much detail, or else they run the risk of glorifying it.

    Anime and Manga 
  • The Black Cat anime took great pains to try to show the viewers that the way of life of an assassin was wrong, and that people who have pacifist ideals are, in the end, stronger. However, all this effort was undermined when Train was shown to be infinitely cooler and stronger when he was working for Chronos. His sleek black clothes complete with an awesome Black Cloak, the way he managed to effortlessly defeat every single person who ever stepped in his way, and the way he tended to remain calm and collected all made him seem like he was much better off before he became a pacifist. After he becomes a pacifist, he constantly ends up having to be saved by others, wangsts and throws temper tantrums, and wears clothes that aren't nearly as cool. One can understand why Creed goes to such lengths to make him go back to being the way he was when he was an assassin...
    • Also Chronos itself: despite being portrayed as a negative organization filled with "bad" people, the fact that most of the characters are badasses and some of the most rational characters in the series, doesn't help the Sweeper's case on their opinion on them.
    • It also shows that the good guys who just outright kill their opponents, like the Cronos Numbers against the Super Cyborgs, have a significantly easier time dealing with their opponents.
  • Most entries in the Gundam metaseries are meant to have an anti-war message - and many, especially those by Yoshiyuki Tomino, do a decent job of depicting how war can utterly ruin people's lives. At the same time, it has beautiful, brightly colored weapons of mass destruction that move with the grace and artistry of the Bolshoi, plenty of Magnificent Bastard villains you can't help but admire, gorgeous costumes on the forces of dangerous space-fascists, and perhaps worst of all, some of the protagonists actually find some kind of meaning to their lives through the war that they may not have had without it.
    • And the Gundam models, let's not forget the models of those "beautiful, brightly colored weapons of mass destruction."
    • This trope is lampshaded in Gundam 0080, where the 11-year-old protagonist Al - who started the series excited about mobile suits and space battles - ends the series crying his brains out after failing to stop Bernie from needlessly sacrificing himself to destroy the Alex, all while his friends are cheerfully talking about how the mobile suit battle that destroyed their school looked awesome, and that they can't wait for the next war to break out with even cooler mobile suits.
    • Gundam: Reconguista in G deserves special attention here. The anti-war message is quite strong, and it's probably the only one intended to deal with a current issue (Japanese remilitarization), but this is conveyed through a series that has a veritable parade of flashy mecha and the only character that doesn't seem to be having the time of his life fighting is the killjoy main character.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans subverts this in the second season, Mika slowly dehumanizes himself throughout the series to his death after blindly following Orga's orders that results in an undignified death by assassins after assisting a failed coup. The Gundam Frames were unceremoniously defeated by Boring, but Practical Dainslifs Mass Drivers.
    • Averted by an earlier production not involving Tomino by the same company, Armored Trooper VOTOMS. If anyone remembers the comical and disgustingly hideous suit of armor the bank robbers came up with in Reckless Kelly, this is essentially a macronised version of those suits. Everything about this series is gritty and depressing and practically uber alles (because anything else gets you killed). It doesn't help the hero begins the series just recovering from his own My Lai (he was ordered to flambé a group of children and did so unquestioningly), because their black ops unit worked on a principle of 'no witnesses.' Throughout the series he delves deeper and deeper into conspiratorial military intrigue on both sides, and also when his troupe runs low on funds, as a side venture he winds up being hired into the role of a mercenary in a civil war far more nasty and hateful than the war he just got out of. It is essentially taking all the cynicism Gundam at times lacks (especially in the more recent post-Tomino era), and piles it all into a single series. Because of the way the series starts, it leaves the price of Chirico's badassery always at the back of one's mind, which probably dumps out a lot of the people who would be on the fence about warfare. This was oddly in direct contrast to the manga, which played it more straightforward, and were it not for the clunky, ugly mechas, could be easily mistaken for Wing Commander: The Comic.
  • Throughout the entire Mazinger trilogy - Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger and UFO Robo Grendizer - and alternate series, Go Nagai tried to send the message of War Is Hell. Cities were destroyed and burnt to ashes, innocent people were hurt and suffered or died in horrible ways (there are several instances of genocide) or lost their loved ones or were enslaved or brainwashed... And victory always had a high price. Unfortunately, he did so by showing real cool battles between colourful, awesome Humongous Mechas and impressive, imaginative monsters duking it out among them with spectacular weapons of mass destruction, so a lot of viewers kind of missed the point.
    • He did manage to successfully get his point across in Devilman, when he showed that war has no real winners by killing everyone the viewers came to know and love. Unfortunately, that left another Cool Thing in its wake: the Devilman power itself. Sure, you might get slaughtered horribly in the inevitable apocalypse, but gaining the strength of a demon and the newfound confidence it brought Akira would be totally worth it.
  • Dan, the protagonist of Basquash!, succeeds at this within the show itself. He wants to destroy the popular sport "Big Foot Basketball" (Basketball... with giant robots!) because of a personal vendetta but also because the sport is really lame (the player robots move sluggishly, use basic moves and tend to fall down; the broadcast has to spice it up with special effects to interest people). Dan manages to obtain a Big Foot and crashes a public game, showing off real moves... then gets arrested and put away in juvie for a year. He's convinced he's "killed" BFB, only to find, on his release, his stunt showed that you can do kickass moves with a robot, thus making the game more popular than ever and "Dunk Mask", the Secret Identity he used to crash the game, a legend among those who play it. He's not happy.
  • The original Astro Boy story "The Greatest Robot on Earth" attempted to have an anti-war message while still being a shonen fighting robots series.
  • The original manga of Ghost in the Shell carries often painfully apparent warnings about the consequences of unchecked accumulation of power among not just government offices—including Section 9 itself—as well as commercial interests and, thanks to cybernetics, individuals themselves. The television series caries this further, demonstrating what happens when technology advances at a faster pace than the law can hope to keep up with. And yet, the Major and her comrades come off as supremely professional and awesome, even as they consciously abuse the powers vested in them by the state.
  • The manga of Dominion Tank Police comes right and says it: any society that not just uses tanks to police itself, but feels as though it has no other option, has crossed a line from which there is probably no easy return. Masamune Shirow acknowledged that he made the mini-tank Bonaparte deliberately smaller and cuter than practical as a concession to the misery of having tanks driving around, trying to establish some semblance of order.
  • Full Metal Panic!. War is bad and can seriously mess you up, but it's so awesome to do things like fight epic mech duels, compromise enemy bases single-handedly, and wrestle a Hind gunship out of the sky with a Humongous Mecha.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has similar War Is Hell themes and deconstructs the whole "Spunky teenagers piloting cool giant robots" trope by showing that they're basically Child Soldiers. The problem is, the Humongous Mecha the kids pilot are extremely cool and have been immortalized in tons of video games, toys, model kits and other merchandise. So even though the show is trying to say "No sane person would ever want to pilot an EVA," quite a few people walk away thinking it'd be awesome to be an EVA pilot. Or "I can pilot an Eva better since I am not a Shrinking Violet".
    • A common complaint about the show is that Shinji, the main EVA pilot, is "too whiny". Basically they're complaining that a show that's all about children suffering has too many suffering children, because they can't fathom the idea that giant robots might not be fun.
  • A major theme in the Area 88 manga and OVA is that War Is Hell because it devastates countries and turns soldiers into broken men. The problem is, the pilots look awesome as they engage in aerial combat.
  • Ramen Fighter Miki, being a hilarious deconstruction of the Fighting Series, where everyone states violence is bad and then solves the problems with awesome violence, manages to avert this problem in the very first short: After seeing two teens fighting, Miki's mother asks her to stop them with violence. Miki prefers to defer them to an Eating Contest. Things degenerate to a violent fight between Miki and her mother and after seeing two Man Children fighting, the two teens feel ashamed of themselves and leave as friends.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica has this going on both in-universe and out. Mami constantly tells Madoka and Sayaka that being a Magical Girl is very dangerous, while she skillfully beats the crap out of Eldritch Abominations with awesome giant magical guns. They clearly don't take her warnings very seriously, and even though Mami dies in action, Sayaka's decision to make a contract was partly for the cool factor. In the fandom, wanting to become a Puella Magi is very common, despite the nasty revelations that show up later in the story (which are partially negated by the ending, but not completely).
    • The third movie portrays Homura's devotion to Madoka as emotionally unhealthy and harmful to both of them. However, before Homura vowed to protect Madoka from the Incubators, she was a frail, self-hating victim who didn't have anything to live for. Comparatively, Homura's Mad Love strengthened her (both physically and psychologically) and gave her a purpose in life - which was to kill Witches with high-powered artillery and pimped-out time powers. It's kind of hard to argue that the net result is negative.
  • Although it didn't really come with a "message" per se, Shiki still fell victim to this a little with the character of Natsuno Yuuki. He's a cold, unfriendly high school student who has very few friends in Sotoba as a result, and although he's one of the first people to start investigating the vampires, once his best friend becomes one he instantly loses the will to fight and tells his friend to feed on him until he dies instead, despite having no way of knowing he would ever come back. Once he's reborn as a werewolf, he spends the remainder of the series organizing an elaborate assisted suicide in the process of bringing down the vampires. Unfortunately, all many fans of the series remember about him is that he was willing to fight off the vampires before anyone else, and so they think he's a total badass and Only Sane Man, even though he's not really any less of a flawed Jerkass than many of the other characters. It doesn't help that he doesn't face any lasting consequences for anything he says or does, while the other characters do.
  • Heat Guy J consistently promotes the message that violence and hate only beget more violence and hate, and that forgiveness and connection are the way to go. It even goes out of its way to point out that the two most violent major characters (Clair and Boma) are seriously screwed up in the head. Problem is, they both look awesome as they endanger other people's lives!
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • The original series' moral is supposed to be that games are a way of making friends and being a Stop Having Fun Guy is not the way to go. The resident SHFG is The Rival, Seto Kaiba, who is fabulously wealthy, physically attractive, a Badass Bookworm, and a master Duelist in his own right, with a host of powerful and impressive cards. The anime took this even further by adding a fair amount of Adaptational Heroism, and then the dub gave him all the best lines. He's essentially the card game playing equivalent of Tony Stark. Is it any wonder that he became the most popular character in the franchise?
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Aki's rejection of the cult leader Divine and her falling in with the good guys is meant to be a sign of growth and her thinking for herself, learning to live a healthy life. However, much like the Black Cat example, the intended messaging gets undermined pretty badly by the fact that when Aki was an antagonist, she was an absolute terror, pushing Yusei to his limit and dominating her Duels. She also had a sadistic side and deep-seated issues that made her unique among female characters in the franchise, and was generally positioned as the tritagonist. When she turned good and worked past her issues, she lost all her unique traits and intimidating aura in favor of being a Satellite Love Interest, fell Out of Focus and got displaced in the group by Replacement Scrappy Crow, and suffered a humiliating loss on one of the few occasions she actually did get focus again. Consequently, most appraisals of Aki that don't involve shipping her with Yusei tend to involve the observation that she was infinitely cooler back when she was a depressive psychopath taking out her rage on the world.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V tries to have the moral of ''dueling to make others smile is the way to go!", and contrasts this by giving the main character a Superpowered Evil Side who fights in Tranquil Fury and uses brutal tactics, with the intended point being that this is wrong. The problem is that other series had similar moments of the main characters losing themselves in anger, and it was always conveyed by having them either fail after pursuing suicidal strategies or win too late for it to mean anything. Meanwhile, Yuya's berserk state always wins, and usually in a way that significantly advances his goals, and even usually getting a few new cards that his superpowered evil side created from thin air out of the deal. Even after said evil side becomes the final villain and is defeated, Yuya still keeps using strategies that said evil side provided for him. And that's not even getting into the viewers who found Yuya's attempts to "entertain" people through Dueling to be saccharine and annoying.
  • Initial D's anime has a disclaimer pop up before each episode telling the viewer to follow traffic laws. Yet the whole show is premised on the fact that illegal street racing is cool, and proceeds to have 20 minutes of exciting, dramatic and just plain awesome midnight racing.
  • Of all the Japan Animator Expo shorts, "ME!ME!ME!" arguably fell into this the worst. The point was that holing yourself up and diving too deep into your usual pastimes to ignore the pain was extremely unhealthy, as the short begins and ends on Shuu staring dead-eyed while barely moving from his bed. But this is all offset by the sexy clones performing burlesque routines in his fantasy, the naked girl climbing out of his TV and getting close to him, the badass Space Marine campaign where he fights a sexy girl army, and the fact that we see more of charismatic, demonic general HANA than Hana-chan, the ex-girlfriend he went through so much hell to reconnect with. Sure, he's pretty much a wreck and the girls cannibalize his corpse, but some viewers got the message that you can get trippy dreams about cute girls climbing all over you with a sweet electro soundtrack in the background if you keep yourself from forming close relationships.
  • Digimon Tamers features an inversion of the trope. The show's episode previews keep ending with the words "you, too, should aim to be a tamer!" This is despite the series being Darker and Edgier than previous Digimon series with one of its main character's Digimon partner being murdered before she is captured and tortured by an Eldritch Abomination. On top of this the series has a Cruel Twist Ending where the main characters are all separated from their Digimon. In effect the show's preview said "Do this horrifying thing."
  • Naruto shows the horrifying system of kids becoming ninjas and the eponymous protagonist vowing to change it. While life as a ninja is frequently shown to be horrifying, with the characters becoming Child Soldiers, putting aside all of the cool fight scenes, Naruto's life changes for the better by becoming a ninja - he starts off ostracized by his village and ends with several friends and a loving wife. Not to mention many other characters see their lives improve, even if life as a ninja was difficult, so for all the horror the series demonstrates in the system, it maintaining a hopeful atmosphere means that the system it derides as terrible still sees people leading healthier lives by becoming ninja.

    Comic Books 
  • Since Word of God finally made up their minds that the anti-registration side was in the wrong, this means Civil War was one of these for the message they were trying to send... whatever the hell that was.
    • The Aesop was something along the lines of "If you aren't doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide." Not a good aesop to use when your main readers are nerds, particularly (in America anyway) Liberal nerds who distrust the government on social issues, Conservative nerds who distrust the government on economic and Second Amendment issues, and Libertarians who really distrust the government on all issues.
    • It also doesn't make much sense independent of the audience's political leanings. None of us are perfect, so we're all doing something wrong and all have something to hide.
    • And in addition to all of the above, the "intended" pro-registration aesop of Civil War goes completely against the anti-registration aesop that the X-Men comics had been running with for decades. Marvel spent years preaching to their audience that mutant registration is wrong, and then turned around and tried to argue that superhero registration is good... without making it at all clear that that was what they were going for. And then they acted surprised when the audience sided with the anti-registration side.
    • Another problem is that the pro-reg side were depicted as committing multiple atrocities, especially in the tie-in books (unleashing some of the universe's most notorious Psychos For Hire on unregistered heroes, creating an evil clone of Thor, running a concentration camp where the commandant tortured people for fun), while the anti-reg side were shown as largely morally pure.
    • They didn't do themselves any favors by putting Captain America, probably the closest thing Marvel has to a hero made of Incorruptible Pure Pureness, on the anti-registration side. They doubled down on not doing themselves any favors by giving him the awesome "Plant yourself like a tree beside the River of Truth, and tell them 'No, you move'" speech.
    • They also ignored the numerous stories where various supervillains infiltrated the US government and were able to access all kinds of dangerous information, like one in which the Red Skull actually got himself elected to the US Senate and started a secret bioweapon research facility in Mt Rushmore, which had only happened a couple of years before Civil War was released. The Pro-Registration side offered no assurances that registered supers would have their personal information protected from such acts. In fact, The Hood was able to blackmail Pro-Registration hero Tigra by way of threatening to kill her mother. Mind you as well, many supers' reason for choosing to have a Secret Identity in the first place is to protect their loved ones - and, yes, the Hood made clear that her being registered was the reason he was able to access information about her family.
    • And that's just government infiltration. Plenty of people wouldn't want superhuman beings in the hands of the US government in real life, and the US government hasn't built Sentinels. Pretty much every story where the Marvel Universe government is involved has it either failing at its job or actively trying to make things worse, so a bit of tentativeness in giving them leverage over all of America's superbeings seems pretty reasonable. Hell, that was exactly why the SHRA eventually got repealed; the enforcement of the act was given over to a Villain with Good Publicity who promptly ran the whole thing into the ground.
    • The last issue - the head writer of the anti-registration side was J. Michael Straczynski, who has a long and distinguished track record with these particular themes, and arguably ended up far more eloquent in his arguments than the pro-reg writers.
  • The Invisibles attempts a subversion—it shows us memorably exciting action sequences, and then gives us equally memorable depictions of the suffering inherent in that flashy violence, most notably A Day in the Limelight showing us the sad life of one Mook.
  • Powers goes for something similar. Many of the characters have rather cavalier attitudes towards violence, indulging in black humor, but on-screen violence can be very uncomfortable and jarring despite (or because of) the cartoony art style. Word of God has it that Bendis and Oeming want viewers to be faced with something unpleasant and ugly when characters get violent. Despite all that, the darkness of it can be compelling because Powers relies on a grim-and-gritty, street-level view of supers as its driving premise. If the whole work is darker and edgier, then showing that the violence is dark and edgy is not necessarily gonna work.
  • This was very much the reason for crime comics in the 1950s, particularly EC Comics. This got them (and American comics in general) busted and led to The Comics Code being imposed.
  • In Batman #1, Batman had Robin fight a bunch of unarmed crooks to see how tough they really were without their guns. Robin trounces them with ease, leaving one of the crooks to say "If only I had my gun!" Batman breaks the fourth wall to point out that the readers shouldn't emulate crooks. Sadly, the aesop and the story were probably overshadowed because the comic book also introduced both The Joker, one of the most popular, and psychotic, comic book characters of all time, and Catwoman, one of the most popular Anti-Hero characters of all time.
  • DC Comics' war books were often gritty, dark, and featured tortured protagonists (especially those written by actual veterans, such as Joe Kubert and Robert Kanigher). They often ended with the sign-off, "MAKE WAR NO MORE!" But they were and are exciting adventure stories.
  • Chick Tracts fall into this quite heavily to the point where they have been believed to be parodies, and Jack Chick had to point out several times that this is not the case.
    • In general, the antics in the tracts often send unintended messages like "God is a dick who will send even good people to hell for not accepting my religion, meanwhile serial killers who do get off with no punishment" and "You can kill as many people and steal and burn as many things as you want, if you accept Jesus right before death, you'll be marked as a good person and thus won't have to face any consequences".
    • Depending on the tracts, he'll even make the devils funny or sufficiently clever to provide comic relief... until the Big Boring White Guy In The Sky throws them into hell in the last panel.
      • The notorious "Dark Dungeons" made roleplaying out to be an exciting life-or-death scenario that introduced real occultism and gave players fabulous supernatural powers that they can use to brainwash their parents into... gasp... buying them stuff. Also, apparently it's a great way to meet women since most of the players in the comic are female. More than a few roleplayers love the tract and it has been parodied and affectionately referred to in innumerable ways among the subculture. One group of roleplaying fans even made a film adaptation — with Chick's permission! — that parodied the source material simply by playing it completely straight.
      • In his anti-Catholic tracts, he shows very little downside to being one of those dastardly papists, since they seem to have nothing but crazy sex parties, oodles of cash, and secretly run the world.
      • The Contract: Feel free to make a Deal with the Devil; you won't have to hold up your end.
      • Wounded Children: You should do what a demon tells you. No, really. When some people attack Brian, the demon tells David to help him. Brian dies because he didn't.
    • Wounded Children is ridiculous. David follows his demon friend's advice all his life, and is happy, out gay man with a thriving social life and a sweet boyfriend. The supposedly godly Christians attack and kill Brian completely unprovoked and even portrayed as morally in the wrong (this in a Fundamentalist comic strip preaching the evils of homosexuality). David's life only starts going down the drain when he ignores or rejects his nice supportive demon, and in the end he still dies of AIDS, but having repented and accepted Christ, he goes to his heaven filled with self-hatred as the perfectly nice demon burns for the mortal sin of telling him to be proud of who he is. It's very difficult to accept that the tract is not a parody.
  • One of the comics epitomes of this trope is The Punisher. Just about every writer who has depicted the character on a long-term basis has established in their works and backed it up with Word of God that Frank Castle is a deeply disturbed and damaged man who barely even qualifies as "human" anymore, whose mass murders do nothing to actually improve society, whose activities only don't cause massive innocent casualties because of extreme authorial favoritism, and who should not be considered a role model by anyone. However, go anywhere in comics fandom and you'll stumble across people who think that Frank Castle is the coolest guy ever and it's a terrible pity that nobody's taking out the bad guys like that in the real world. After all, for all his inner demons, he's still a gun-toting badass who's always portrayed as a well-meaning Anti-Hero rather than an outright villain. It's for this reason that his skull logo has become a popular symbol among pro-police activists, with one company even selling an entire line of Punisher-themed "thin blue line" merchandise. Part of this is that in a comic book universe where Thou Shalt Not Kill is the order of the day, it just seems like Frank is the only one who's actually willing to put down the bad guys rather than send them to the Cardboard Prison, even though in real life, the Cardboard Prison is not remotely a consideration when dealing with the crime Frank goes after.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW):
    • An issue of My Little Pony: Friends Forever has Pinkie Pie requesting Twilight Sparkle's help in weaning her from PheNOMNOMenons being sold at a carnival. When we see them, they're bright, colorful and delicious so it's easy to see just why Pinkie would get addicted to them. Twilight can't resist them either. The same would go for the jeweled pretzels that Spike gorges on in the end.
    • A similar occurrence happens in My Little Pony: Legends of Magic where Rockhoof is thrown numerous feasts in his honor after saving his village from a volcanic eruption. His gluttony endangers his health and nearly gets him kicked out of the Mighty Helm, but he was still having the time of his life pigging out.
  • This is one of the, if not the, biggest criticisms towards Secret Empire. Despite the fact that HYDRA and the Cosmic Cube-altered Captain America are effectively the bad guys of the storyline, Cap is shown as an Evil Is Cool character of Villainous Valour who is not only the Lesser of Two Evils between him doing this or the Red Skull as well as being worthy of Mjolnir, Marvel's marketing has been heavily leaning towards HYDRA and not their heroes, to the point where they were trying to get comic book shop owners to wear shirts with the HYDRA logo on them, making many question if Marvel knows what they're doing. This also wasn't helped by the waffling between downplaying the idea of HYDRA being connected to Nazis and invoking HYDRA's connection to Nazis whenever possible.
  • The DC villain Snowflame of The New Guardians is clearly supposed to be an example of Drugs Are Bad, given he gets his powers from cocaine. However, he's not shown to have any drawbacks from his source of power, he gives some of the most memorable lines in the seriesnote , and his premise alone is just so insane that people would probably want to do cocaine rather than avoid the drug.
  • The original run of Blue Beetle features a hippie sculptor whose modernist sculptures are portrayed as pathetic and self-pitying, especially when contrasted with the realistic art in another wing of the museum. The problem is, the modernist sculptures are a great example of the artstyle that made Steve Ditko a legend, and look much more interesting and dynamic than the realist ones, which could've been drawn by anyone.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Caravan by Kalash93 may actually avert this trope. It depicts the situation for the fighting men in Afghanistan rather accurately through the prism of an MLP fic. As a military veteran remarked, "I especially like the message towards the end: nothing has changed, despite the "victory". There will be more caravans, more insurgents, and more blood on the sand." This is exactly what the author intended.
  • Poké Wars depicts the gritty, brutal, gory and just nasty side of war and there is a fairly obvious War Is Hell message. Unfortunately, few of the reviewers notice this, instead choosing to focus on the dazzling fight scenes.
  • Tiberium Wars tends to depict intense, action-packed battles that nonetheless also contains a rather deep-down moral that War Is Hell. Some reviewers picked up on this, while others simply read it for the visceral combat.

    Films — War 
As these examples should demonstrate, Truffaut's assertion that there are no anti-war films seems to be right.

  • Afghan Breakdown — Афганский Излом (Afganskij Izlom) is called by veterans possibly the most realistic and accurate film about the Soviet War in Afghanistan. The film manages to gets its message across by not trying to play up anything for propaganda purposes, rather focusing heavily on the reality of what went on in the closing days of the Afghan War. It makes the point quite well, but audiences are prone to liking the sergeant, who is a bully, but also handsome and badass, and deals swiftly with insurgents. Major Bandura is also too cool and too competent of a leader to be unlikable. Still the final battle with the aerial bombardment of a village is one of the most brutal sequences in war cinema. No soundtrack plays. It's just showing a village get pounded continuously time and again by helicopters as everything is being destroyed and everyone therein killed. And, yes, it makes sure to demonstrate that many of the people killed in the village are just unlucky noncombatants.
  • Apocalypse Now. Francis Ford Coppola tried to make an anti-war movie, but the best-remembered scenes of the film are Colonel Kilgore's cavalry carpet bombing a village to the rousing tunes of "Ride of the Valkyries," then strutting around and giving a badass speech about loving the smell of napalm. Kick ass! The scenes are often quoted and imitated without irony by soldiers.
  • Samuel Fuller's The Big Red One was apparently an aversion according to the director. He boasted that during an army screening, generals complained that the movie had "no recruiting potential". Fuller, a real-life war veteran, was quite skeptical of people joining the army thinking it looks cool in the movies.
  • Das Boot: The author of the novel complained that the movie, grim as it was, undermined his anti-war perspective by being too engaging. This is one of the tiny handful of examples where the fans disagree with the author, as Das Boot is generally considered to be one of the more horrific depictions of modern warfare ever committed to film.
  • The Dirty Dozen is an even more extreme example than The Guns of Navarone. Casual viewers treat it as a straightforward tough guy action flick with rowdy but lovable prisoners killing loads of Nazis. Never mind that the criminals are mostly violent offenders (including murderers and rapists), or that they're mass murdering vacationing German generals, along with women, which point up a much more subversive intent.
  • Downfall depicts Hitler as a broken, delusional madman. Other top Nazis are just as bad. The war effort is denounced as a pointless waste, as untrained conscripts are being sent to die in a clearly hopeless struggle. Nevertheless, many neo-Nazis praised the film for depicting Hitler in a positive light, and for showing the tenacity and loyalty of the German people. This is counter-acted by the Memetic Mutation of gag-subtitling the "Hitler Breaks Down" scene, turning him once again into a figure of mockery by making it seem like he's losing his mind over the price of the PlayStation 3 or the latest Game of Thrones episode.
    • Actor Bruno Ganz, who played Hitler in the film, mentions in an interview that when a German kid asked Ganz for his autograph as Hitler, the kid went up and down the street waving the autograph in his hands, and shouting that he had finally gotten "Hitler's" autograph.
  • Dr. Strangelove has a strong anti-war, anti-military message... but the scenes of Major Kong and his bomber crew are pure awesome. SAC crews (that is, people who fly bombers) were some of the biggest fans of the movie. The way you're sort-of rooting for Kong and his crew, even though the completion of their mission would mean the end of the world, is actually neatly summed up by the film itself in this scene.
  • Dunkirk seems like a deliberate effort to avert this trope by avoiding the cliches of most war movies in every way possible: unlike most WWII films (and war films in general), we never even see a single German outside of the faceless airplanes bombing the beach until a single shot at the very end, and except for Farrier, not a single character manages to land a shot on any enemy unit whatsoever. In fact, of the two major character deaths in the film, neither actually gets directly killed by the enemy, both dying in intentionally undramatic fashion, one suffering a Death by Falling Over and the other drowning in a sinking ship. Adding to this is the fact that the film centers around a military defeat for the Allies, and most of the soldiers don't care about anything except getting away alive - the most traditionally "heroic" characters are the civilian boatmen coming to the soldiers' aid. The result is less of a traditional war movie and more of a nerve-shredding exercise in tension that reviewers have compared to a suspense thriller or even a horror film.
    • That being said, the movie does have some very exhilarating sequences, especially during the Old-School Dogfight , and ends in a rather rousing note as the characters read Churchill’s famous speech calling the British population (and the world) to join the fight against Nazi Germany, making this film to fall more in line with the trope.
  • Fahrenheit 9/11 manages to actually deconstruct this, if only in passing. In the short clip of US soldiers talking about the music they invade Iraq to, they mention "Fire Water Burn" which then becomes the background music played over clips of rioting people and politicians speaking that they will not surrender. There is also a brief interview with another soldier who says that real war is much less exciting than video games. In this film, War Is Hell in general - it is portrayed mostly by clips of injured civilians and soldiers, street riots and news reports, ironically contrasted with politicians' speeches.
  • Full Metal Jacket drove director Stanley Kubrick crazy because of this trope. He wanted to make his idea of an objective anti-war film. He got viewers enjoying things like the helicopter door gunner shooting civilians. However, unlike the other war films on this page, the film's battle scenes don't get too elaborate, but rather, this trope comes into play because of the attitudes of the characters; they're quite positive for a war movie, especially for a Vietnam one. The door gunner is shown shooting civilians and clearly enjoying it, which is supposed to be horrible, yet because he's enjoying it and making funny comments about itnote , the audience ends up enjoying it as well. Additionally, none of the Marines in the film are ever really shown lamenting the fact that they're at war or in Vietnam. Even when characters are killed, not too much drama is made of their deaths, such as when Cowboy's squad is shown standing over the body of two killed Marines, and Cowboy just comments on how one of them was a chronic masturbator. Joker responds to being informed about the severity of the Tet Offensive with a humorous comment. Rafterman laments being stuck in the rear and wants to see combat and is incredibly happy when he gets his first kill.
  • The Guns of Navarone, written by leftist screenwriter Carl Foreman, is clearly intended (in its film incarnation anyway) as an anti-war movie. Hence David Niven's many speeches about the futility of war and Gregory Peck's callous actions as team leader, or the scenes of Navarone's civilians being subjected to brutal reprisals. Balance that however with lots of exciting action, a cast of near-indestructible heroes overcoming impossible odds, villainous Nazis and the message gets lost.
  • Inglourious Basterds lampshades this in a subtle, creepy way: there is a scene where Germans are watching a Nazi propaganda movie about a German sniper who killed massive numbers of Allied troops while behind enemy lines. They are laughing and enjoying themselves watching people from our side get slaughtered, while you're laughing and enjoying yourself watching people from their side get slaughtered. Similar to the helicopter door gunner example above, some audiences even laughed and hooted while the allies were being slaughtered. Laughter, she is an infectious drug, is she not? And the funniest part is that both reactions were probably predicted and intended.
  • Jarhead also lampshades this trope. It's largely about that and the mindset of the Marines (such as author Anthony Swofford) stoked up and eager to lose their battlefield virginity with a kill. When they hear that they're about to be sent to the Persian Gulf, they rent a load of war movies to watch the cool battle scenes, including Apocalypse Now, where the irony of liking anti-war movies for the violence is explicitly pointed out and reveled in. In a Double Subversion, this was misinterpreted by audiences, who cheered along with the Marines. Additionally, the film ends with none of the main characters killing any enemies in the war, which they are extremely disappointed about. In the book Swofford points out how "It doesn't matter how many Mr. and Mrs. Johnsons are anti-war. The actual killers who know how to use the weapons are not."
  • At the time Platoon came out, Roger Ebert opened his print review by mentioning the Truffaut quote and adding that "If Truffaut had lived to see Platoon, the best film of 1986, he might have wanted to modify his opinion." Since this film has encouraged people to recruit, apparently not.
  • Saving Private Ryan falls victim to this trope, partly because of Misaimed Fandom who have no personal war experience watching the visceral first 30 minutes for the violence, but also because of the increasingly melodramatic last half of the film, where the Naïve Newcomer Desk Jockey temporarily freezes up, only to kill the assailant later, and the main characters sacrifice themselves one after another in Rambo-like fashion to rescue one man. In this case, while the film is clearly anti-war, it does also try to encourage the viewer to understand and respect the soldiers who died during the war, but it goes a bit too far and falls into this instead.
  • Small Soldiers is supposed to be anti-war and anti-violence, and a satire of the normalization of marketing both to kids. But the Commando Elite, who are supposed to be the villains, are by far the most remembered part of the movie for the sheer Evil Is Cool factor, and they got a real-life toyline marketed towards kids. It's a strange case of life imitating art, as in the film itself the Commando Elite are marketed towards kids as the good guys.
  • Starship Troopers: An intentional example on director Paul Verhoeven's part. He wanted to make it seem awesome, badass and alluring on first glance, but to be horrible when one starts to actually thinks about it. The film is anti-war/anti-militarist, intended to be a parody of the fascist elements in our society, but many viewers couldn't see past all the cool bug killing scenes (or the co-ed shower scene). Even for the viewers who are paying attention, the message is further hampered by Poe's Law. There are obvious spoofs of the Federation propaganda, but the rest of the movie is easy to take seriously because it suggests that the Show Within a Show is understating the Federation's case. And ultimately, the implications that the government of the film is Fascist, but Inefficient are left to implication and Fridge Logic, the protagonists never question or fight against the system, and they're presented as achieving victory at the end.

    Considering the book's portrayal of the Federation, it's unsurprising. Heinlein intended the book to portray the positives of civic duty, necessities of war and capital punishment, etc. This led Heinlein to be accused of fascism, among other things. The movie's creators decided to remake it as a Take That! against militarism and fascism, but by even superficially sticking to the book, they made the 'evil, fascist government' look awesome. Even at the end of the sequel, when a recruiter jokes about a newborn male infant as being "new meat for the grinder." Most sequels and followups to the film just play the whole thing straight.

There are at least two war films (both, so far, thankfully Speculative Fiction as well) that have managed to avert the trope to some extent. The Day After and Threads, both films about nuclear war, having managed to severely avert the trope to the extent that they actually encouraged Real Life nuclear policymakers to rethink whether a nuclear war was survivable. Come and See is a likely third example, being about the horrors of war as opposed to the glory of it, featuring little in the way of dramatic battle scenes. Paths of Glory is another contender for averting this trope, focusing on the injustice and dehumanization intrinsic to the institution of military command.

    Films — Gangster 
History has demonstrated time and time again that this trope could easily be called "Mobsters Love Mob Movies". Interestingly, attempts at averting this trope were actually enforced in Hollywood cinema for a long time due to The Hays Code, which stipulated that films could not depict criminals profiting from their crimes. Hence the "rise-and-fall" narrative in gangster cinema, which is such a fundamental trope of the genre that it persisted long after the Hays Code was abolished. Not that it stopped this trope from coming into play:

  • Angels with Dirty Faces has this happen In-Universe. The lead gangster and one of the two main characters, Rocky Sullivan, steals the show and makes being a 1930s-era gangster look awesome, and the other main character is trying to get him to stop making impressionable kids look up to him. But even during Rocky's few (mostly halfhearted) attempts at this, the kids all still think he's cool and want to be like him.
  • Contraband: Some critics complained that the Mark Wahlberg film promoted this message as the protagonist and his family end up with a better life at the end as a result of his criminal activities, even though he was trying to resist going back to crime in the beginning.
  • The Godfather, as stylized and operatic as it was, was meant to be about the horrors of the mob. Instead, it kicked off a new generation of fascination with organized crime and even inspired actual mobsters to model themselves after it. It doesn't help that Michael Corleone, in attempting to be a Family Values Villain but tearing his family apart in the process, was only trying to do the same thing that his father pulled off successfully, making the message come across less as "crime doesn't pay" and more as "if you're going to become a mafia don, make sure you're really good at it first" (or more charitably "even when crime pays, it doesn't last").
  • Goodfellas portrays the thrill of being a gangster through the first half, but the thrill turns sour over the course of the second half, as Henry Hill becomes a strung-out junkie with a wrecked marriage and friends who are either murdered or want to kill him. The trope is pretty much lampshaded at the end, where in spite of it all, Hill still pines for his glory days as a gangster. The film was based on Hill's memoirs.
    • Martin Scorsese has generally criticized the concept of things being too cool or not, since he feels that Viewers Are Geniuses and that having a movie tell the audience what's good or wrong is the worst idea of getting a point across. He notes that human beings are complex enough to do things without having to see it in a movie.
  • Johnny Dangerously a gangster movie parody, pokes fun at this with a deliberate Broken Aesop. The title character uses his life story to convince a young thief that "crime doesn't pay"... and then has him hop in his expensive car with his beautiful gangster's moll wife and confess to the audience "OK, maybe it pays a little."
  • The trope goes back to the trio of films from The '30s that launched the genre.
    • Little Caesar attempts to show that hard, honest work will lead to success whilst crime does not pay. It makes the gangster cooler, more interesting, and more important than his strait-laced best friend.
    • The Public Enemy, which helped establish the gangster film genre, opens with a title card explicitly stating that the studio did not seek to "glorify the hoodlum or criminal". It makes the gangster cooler, more interesting, and more important than his strait-laced brother.
    • Scarface (1932) didn't give Tony Camonte any strait-laced companions (well, his mom); but the studio changed its title to "Scarface: the Shame of a Nation" and added dull scenes of bankers — not exactly heroes during the Depression — and a token Italian-American denouncing the Mob. All three films utterly failed to deglamorize their heroes, even in their fall, in part because all three showed them getting their comeuppance in shootouts where they faced off alone against more and better armed opponents. Scarface failed so badly at this trope, in fact, that it resulted fifty years later in...
  • Scarface (1983). Even though the entire film is set up to show that Tony's destruction is inevitable, even though he ends up losing or killing everyone and everything he cares about, and even though he ends up floating in his own fountain, it's hard to watch the movie and not want to be him. Especially during the Good-Times Montage, set to Paul Engemann's "Push It to the Limit" showing all the material wealth Tony is acquiring, which pretty much gives the audience a picture to give to their own If I Were a Rich Man fantasy. The movie is also very popular in the hip hop community due to this appeal and had a huge following among crack dealers in the 80's. (Hence the What If? video game in which you get to be him, and you get to survive, learn your lesson, and win by rebuilding an even bigger and better criminal empire.) An episode of Breaking Bad has Walt, a criminal drug dealer himself, watching the movie gleefully with his son and cheering at the final action scene of Montana gunning down his enemies en masse and shouting "Say hello to my little friend!" Unfortunately, it cuts off before we see his reaction to what happens right after.
  • Ironically, media-savvy FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover tried to counter this trend with movies such as G-Man and The FBI Story which portrayed law enforcement as good, decent, hard-working Americans who loved their families, God, and country. Then and now, critics just denounced these films as blatant propaganda from Hoover and the government.

    Films — Others 
  • Maybe not as bad as the examples below, but a lot of teen flicks about an average girl/guy who manages to climb the social ladder becoming popular to realize popularity isn't everything, tend to get lost when you show the before undesirable loser being invited to cool parties, surrounded and courted by The Beautiful Elite, all while walking the school aisle in cool clothes. This is lampshaded in Can't Buy Me Love by the character Kenneth, when former geeky loser Ronald Miller gets shunned by the popular crew after discovering he paid the Lovable Alpha Bitch to pretend to be her boyfriend. Sure, now he is a "social leper" but he was that before, and during a few months, he went out with the most beautiful cheerleaders of the school.
  • Most superhero movies that put emphasis on saving innocent people over killing villains fall into this. That message gets diluted when saving people is often glossed over unless the hero is romantically interested. Meanwhile, the villains get killed off at the end of an action-packed climax, after over an hour's worth of misdeeds to ensure that the audience won't mourn them.
    • Parodied with Deadpool. Francis was established to be a very cruel person and when Deadpool had him at his mercy, Colossus gives a dull, lengthy lecture about why heroes don't kill. Deadpool interrupts this speech by blowing the bastard's head off and raising a much more reasonable point on why he's justified in killing people.
  • American Beauty is a scathing indictment of suburbia with such gorgeous cinematography that it makes suburbs look, well, beautiful. Someone forgot that Beauty Equals Goodness to many.
  • American History X: The film's message is "racism is bad," but it portrays the opposite in some ways. Derek is portrayed as physically dominant over his adversaries, fiercely proud, and (relatively) articulate about his beliefs. Derek and some of the other Nazis make arguments about race issues, which are never refuted despite ample opportunity to do so. With the exception of Fat Idiot Seth, the Neo-Nazis are never shown to be weak, stupid, or foolish. The Aryan Brotherhood in prison are villains, but they split with Derek over not being racist enough. Ultimately the film ends with Derek's younger brother murdered in cold blood by a black youth. It's not hard to imagine neo-Nazis and other racists enjoying this film for unintended reasons.
  • American Psycho's message on the banality and meaninglessness of mindless consumerism and dedicated following of fashion was undercut somewhat by how glamorous and stylish the characters looked strutting about their swanky penthouse apartments in designer suits. This is an interesting case as this trope only emerged in adaptation: in the source novel, the clothes the characters were wearing were described in exhaustive detail, but any reader who knew anything about contemporary fashion would realize that their outfits were clownishly mismatched. Its related point about the dark side of modern masculinity was also not aided by members of the audience cheering Patrick Bateman on while he gleefully murders another prostitute.
  • Anti-drug Aesop films.
    • Christiane F. is a sad case. It's a rather depressing film about a 14-year-old girl who becomes a prostitute after getting addicted to heroin (with several other drugs along the way). But it has a performance and soundtrack by David Bowie! Many youngsters got curious about drugs—including heroin, the one drug about which the film is unambiguously negative—due to the movie.
    • Reefer Madness is a classic example of this backfiring, as the film is considered better to watch when high due to its goofy ineptitude. Its modern popularity is directly attributable to Keith Stroup, the founder of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (a pro-marijuana advocacy group). It's so popular for unintentional reasons that it even spawned an Affectionate Parody, Reefer Madness: The Musical.
    • Trainspotting. Renton and his friends have quite a lot of fun and hijinks in the early parts of the film. The villain of the film is the only one who doesn't use drugs. However, the depressing squalor of the junkies' lives is definitely lingered upon, mostly in the middle to late parts of the story. Ultimately the hero's ability to turn his back on the lifestyle is fittingly triumphant.
    • Limitless. The wonder-drug Eddie takes immediately makes him a high-functioning genius, but is shown to have awful side-effects that include blackouts and debilitating dependency. However, audiences probably latched on to just how awesome a magic pill like that would be. Nor is the message helped by the shiny ending for Eddie, where he weans himself off the drug in controlled doses and still retains the intelligence and special abilities gained by taking it in the first place.
    • Black Dynamite: In-universe parody example. a children's show song warns kids that drugs (shown in explicit detail that averts the usual Clueless Aesop) often have harmless-sounding slang names, and it's because the dealers are "trying to make it look like..." (musical pause, followed by ensemble singing) "... DRUGS ARE FUN!"
    • Not directly a "Drugs Are Bad" movie (even if the MacGuffin is a drug shipment being smuggled out of Mexico), but Evel Knievel uses his Viva Knievel vehicle to make a speech about performance enhancing drugs. He compares their use to that of nitro in car racing ("yes, you go faster and harder for a while"). The problem with the analogy is made clear by the RiffTrax commentary. Kevin is going "Yeah? Cool!" at all the exciting bits; Mike just comments "This man is single-handedly losing the war on drugs".
    • The Trip (1967) was not originally intended to be an anti-drug film, but American International Pictures insisted on an Opening Scroll warning audiences of the potentially fatal consequences of taking LSD, as well as a Freeze-Frame Ending of Paul's face shattering, symbolizing his broken and traumatized mind. This completely conflicts with the rest of the movie, which makes tripping on LSD look incredibly fun, and has nothing to suggest that Paul was harmed by his trip.
  • Invoked In-Universe in Batman Forever. Bruce Wayne takes in Dick Grayson, an orphan who saw his parents die in front of him (due to the machinations of Two-Face) during a crowded circus event, and attempts to teach him that going down a quest for vengeance is the wrong path to take. However, this is spoken by an individual (and a rich playboy billionaire) who has a sprawling underground complex underneath his home, utilize the latest tech and gadgets, is fawned over by (most of) the public and attracts women like flies to honey via his work as Batman. Even after Dick assumes the mantle of Robin, Bruce tries to dissuade him, though by this point, Dick is kitted out with high-tech armor and gets to pilot an advanced Batski in his quest to take down Two-Face. Later highlighted when Dick steals the Batmobile for a night of joyriding and rescues a Damsel in Distress while fending off a gang of hoodlums, only to be railed at by Bruce for his actions.
  • Tim Robbins, the director, writer, and star of Bob Roberts, anticipated this trope and went out of his way to avoid it. The film is a political satire whose Villain Protagonist is a right-wing folk singer who rejects his hippie upbringing but embraces the music, and runs for Senate and performs several songs throughout the film expressing his views. This is why Robbins, a staunch liberal, chose not to release a soundtrack album, even though there would be a lot of demand for one, because he feared that the songs would be used out of context as genuine right-wing propaganda if he did. (As seen below with Far Cry 5, he was probably right.)
    Robbins: I didn’t want to be riding in my car and hear some right-wing shock jock playing my music and hearing my voice.
  • Bruce Almighty and Click try to make it clear that you shouldn't want fantastic solutions to your life's problems like God's powers or a magical remote control because you're selfish and you'll end up screwing up your life (and everyone else's) even more. But let's face it, people walked out of those films thinking "I Wish It Were Real", due to the fact that both films show how much fun the protagonists' powers are, and the fact that Adam Sandler's problems in Click are caused by the remote being intentionally designed to screw him over, while Bruce's problems are caused entirely by God's rules and Bruce's sheer idiocy, since they should be pretty even to get around. So really, all these movies taught is what NOT to do if it did happen to you.
  • Caged is about a bright-eyed young woman who becomes corrupted after spending time in prison. The film ends with her a jaded woman, smoking more than before and going off in a car with criminals to either become a pickpocket or a prostitute depending on your interpretation. It's supposed to be sad to see Marie losing her innocence, but with the Film Noir tone of the film it looks more like Marie just became cooler after spending time in the prison system.
  • Carrie (1976) much more than the Stephen King book it was adapted from. There, the book establishes Carrie as the Villain Protagonist who has revenge-filled thoughts and the reader already knows she's going to snap. The film softens the character greatly, portraying her more as a Shrinking Violet who just wants to be accepted by everyone. The villainy of her classmates is ratcheted up, so that numerous bullies were involved in the prank to humiliate her at the prom. Therefore, Carrie snapping and using her telekinesis to murder her classmates looks very cathartic. Plus she doesn't destroy the town like she does in the book.
  • A Clockwork Orange features scenes of violence and rape intended to be morally repulsive, but actually inspired some real-life copycat crimes. Director Stanley Kubrick and the original author of the novel Anthony Burgess both renounced the film for its sensationalized violence, being banned in the UK until Kubrick's death in 1999.
  • The Condemned. The "Stone Cold" Steve Austin star vehicle, revolves around a shady producer who arranges for death row inmates from around the world to be dropped on an island and forced to fight to the death while the "show" is broadcast onto the Net under the name "The Condemned", hence the movie's title. However, WWE Films made the bizarre decision to turn this into a moralist tale by having several characters berate the brutality and senseless violence of the show... all the while showering the audience with scene after scene of brutality and senseless violence. To top it all off, it culminates with this quote: "All of us who watch... are we The Condemned?"
  • Confessions of a Shopaholic spends so much time lovingly showing off gorgeous, high end fashion that it's a bit hard to take seriously its moral against irresponsible Conspicuous Consumption. A TV promo on TBS said over the end credits of Sex and the City says something like "Can't decide what to wear? Go see Confessions of a Shopaholic, now in theaters!"
  • The Count of Monte Cristo (2002). In the final scene Edmond professes that his revenge was not worth the steep moral and physical price he paid to achieve it. On the other hand, we just spent two hours watching him enjoy every minute of his bloody revenge and it was awesome.
  • Cuties was supposed to be a criticism of the over-sexualization of underage girls in the internet age, with the proliferation of of suggestive, sexualized clothing marketed to young girls as well as sexualized Memetic Mutation fads like twerking. However, the film depicts girls twerking and engaging in sexually suggestive behavior so blatantly (and fails to show them suffering any real consequences for it) that it's all any viewer actually remembers the film for.
  • Death Sentence pulls this off, and rather clunkily at that. The film is a beautifully shot ode to violent vigilante justice, that tries to speak against violent vigilante justice. It was made by the director of Saw I. It doesn't come off right.
  • Death Wish, which glorified vigilante killing to the point of making several sequels, and turning actor Charles Bronson into a cinema action hero icon for decades to come. For better or worse, Brian Garfield, the author of the original Death Wish novel, absolutely loathed the movie adaptation for this reason, while being relatively satisfied with how Death Sentence turned out.
    • In fact, this trope is, in many ways, what ended up killing gritty "Men's Action" pulp movies like Death Wish and Dirty Harry; one of the genre's key scriptwriters, Dardano Sacchetti, grew to hate his own work and its imitators, feeling they had started to cross the line between depicting vigilantism and encouraging it. He saw the Unfortunate Implications ("the law won't help, so get a gun and kill anybody who wrongs you!") coming from a mile away, so he began to actively undermine and sabotage the genre from within, steering it into self-parody until it had been Condemned by History.
  • The Devil Wears Prada far more so than the book. It's a parable about the evils of the fashion industry, and how Andy gets corrupted by the politics and back stabbing. Except as film is a visual medium, The Makeover Anne Hathaway gets merely makes her look like a functioning adult compared to the laughable attempts at dressing her down beforehand. Andy's friends are also quite insufferable, making the staff at Runway look better by comparison. Andy also suffers no bad consequences from her time at Runway, since she gets to keep her designer clothes, gets a glowing reference from Miranda when she leaves the job and the experience separates her from her unlikable friends. Plus there's the endless Costume Porn and the other employees being dressed to the nines in designer brands (which actual fashion journalists disputed; citing that most of them were on minimum wage).
  • Fahrenheit 451. François Truffaut himself directed a film adaptation of the novel which is about an anti-book dystopia. The film makes a world without written words look attractive even as our protagonist rebels against it. In fact the book also does this to some extent, aided by an intelligent, charismatic Well-Intentioned Extremist villain.
  • Fatherland shows a Europe where Germany won World War II. It is prosperous, clean and green, with posters advertising a concert with "Die Beatles" on the walls. Europe seems to be doing quite well, now without half of its economy ruined by communism. While German rule eventually falls because the American president refuses to sign a peace agreement, so that the strain from the continued war against the remnants of the Soviet Union brings down the whole empire, it certainly doesn't look like a doom-and-gloom world to live in.
  • FernGully: The Last Rainforest is a rather infamous example for many a '90s kid. An animated film that shoves its message of "save the rain forest" down your throat without a trace of subtlety has, as its main antagonist, a charismatic incarnation of pollution, who has the best musical number in the movie. He makes pollution seem more "fun," and when he turns into a black skeleton wearing a cloak of tar, who cares about the faeries and their forest anymore?
  • Fight Club: Tyler Durden is presented as an articulate counter-culture rock star. He even lampshades the fact in the end. In spite of being the villain, many viewers took his message as the aesop of the film. In fact, the film is not recommending terrorist cults against consumerism, no matter how cool or fun it might be. There's also the fact that, soon after the film, several Real Life fight clubs started springing up.
  • The film adaptation of Going Postal wants to beat you over the head with An Aesop about smoking: Moist feels bad when he finds out his cons drove a man to suicide and caused the deaths of several others, but he feels really bad when he discovers that this set the man's daughter to smoking. But damn if she doesn't look good with that long-drag cigarette. Particularly with the melodramatic flashback, it's possible this one is something of a parody. But it could be of either genuine anti-smoking campaigns or of Stealth Cigarette Commercials thanks, at least in part, to Poe's Law.
  • Flight with Denzel Washington, about a pilot named Whip's struggle with alcoholism is... odd. Firstly, because despite/because of the subject matter, there is conspicuous product placement for various alcohol brands making a film about abusing liquor be filled with liquor ads. "Watch this man's horrifying descent into addiction... assisted by Budweiser and ABSOLUT (please drink responsibility!)" But while alcohol use is portrayed negatively, cocaine on the other hand (in a manner like a certain scene in The Wolf of Wall Street) is made out to a be an insta-sobering wonderdrug that not only allows Whip to fly competently while blackout drunk but be lucid enough to save his damaged, crashing plane and everyone onboard. On finding him shitfaced on the morning when he is supposed to testify about the crash, his friend and his lawyer call his drug dealer and get Whip high on coke to hide his state from the investigators (and it works!) and the whole thing, in contrast to darker scenes of him drinking, is presented comically. The film seems to say alcoholism is deadly serious but drug abuse is a light-hearted matter and the latter actually improves the former.
  • The Great Gatsby (2013) was criticized for lingering too long on Gatsby's wild parties and failing to show how Gatsby himself is a lonely and desperately unhappy man at the center of them. Thus, the parties seem fun, when they are supposed to feel rather empty and pathetic.
  • Heartpower: The entire point of the Villain Song "Tobacco Man", where the eponymous smoker raps about how smoking is cool and the kids refuse to fall for his temptations.
  • Heat. The go-out-in-a-blaze-of-glory actions of the criminals in the movie have been suggested as one of the reasons why, in the real-life 1997 North Hollywood Bank Shootout, the robbers caused unnecessary mayhem and provocation with the police, rather than making a swift getaway.
  • Hot Girls Wanted, a documentary about the amateur porn industry in Florida and the women involved in it, portrays it as a deeply exploitative industry that chews up talent and spits it out. Riley Reynolds, a porn creator who was profiled in the film, has said that, even though he was afraid that the film would make him look bad, in the end at least one young woman wound up working for him specifically because she saw him in that film.
  • I Am Cuba: The first section of this Soviet propaganda Anthology Film was meant to condemn the excesses, debauchery and economic exploitation of capitalism on Cuba. Instead, with its Epic Tracking Shots of pool parties and stylishly-shot jazz clubs, it made capitalism look awesome. The film was not a success and was virtually forgotten in the Soviet world, while many years later, Hollywood filmmakers rediscovered it and honored its filmmaking techniques.
  • I Spit on Your Grave. All those extended rape sequences, just to say that rape is bad? Roger Ebert noted to his horror that some of the audience members at the screening he attended actually cheered on the rapists.
  • It's a Wonderful Life. Every year around Christmas, the website Salon runs an article by Gary Kamiya about how the film's portrayal of Pottersville, the corrupt, morally bankrupt Alternate Universe version of Bedford Falls that the villainous Henry Potter presides over, makes it look downright glamorous with its abundant nightlife and entertainment options, while life in the 'real' Bedford Falls can seem stultifying and even outright toxic, especially to modern viewers.
  • Jurassic Park. The novel was intended as a warning about the dangers of playing God and tampering with nature. But let's face it: When it was adapted to film, thanks to improved special effects of the time and an epic score from John Williams, most people walked out of the theater after seeing it thinking, "Awesome! I wish we could bring dinosaurs back to life! Get cracking, scientists! Increase dinosaur DNA research!" Changing the disaster from the result of a series of oversights based on the scientists not knowing what the dinosaurs were capable of with Nedry's betrayal setting off the Disaster Dominoes to it being entirely the result of human sabotage didn't help.
  • Kidulthood: the scene where Trife and his friends get revenge on school bully Sam is a favorite with fans of the film who often comment how cool what they do is despite their actions leading to Trife's death.
  • Lolita. The story is intended to be a condemnation of pedophilia with Dolores being 12 years old in the novel. However, in both of the film versions her age is raised to 14, which was to lessen the potential heat from the censors and the Moral Guardians, a move supported by the novel's author, Vladimir Nabokov, who said "To make a real 12-year-old play such a part in public would be sinful and immoral". While the age difference may seem small, it can end up making a huge difference in the minds of the audience. It doesn't help that the actress in the first movie looks about 16 (and indeed the actress was chosen in part because of her large cup-size), and that the second Dolores was 16, which isn't an uncommon age to start having sexual relationships (sexual relationships with much older men, not so much, but still). Also, the films play up Dolores as a Fille Fatale while playing down Humbert's role as a self-centered abusive sexual predator, in order to create a more sympathetic protagonist, when much of the point of the original book is that Dolores honestly wants nothing to do with Humbert.
  • The Lorax certainly has a Green Aesop. However, it depicts deforestation through an upbeat Disney Acid Sequence musical number where the villain wears a nice suit, rocks out on an electric guitar, and sits at a desk covered in piles of cash. Possibly intentional: we're seeing this bit from the Once-ler's point of view, and he isn't aware that he's doing anything wrong. (The song is titled "How Bad Can I Be?") Also, considering how he's been treated up until this point in the movie makes it pretty darn hard to not sympathize with his situation. And his rather seductive dance moves don't help either.
  • Teased and flipped by Nighy's character in Love Actually: "Hey kids, it's your Uncle Billy. Don't buy drugs. Become a rock star, they'll give them to you for free!" Spoken while closing a radio interview where he admitted his latest song was a blatant rip off and cash grab which will likely do very well.
  • The first Mad Max film was meant to depict the dangers of reckless driving. The hoons and rev-heads who saw it left feeling that their lifestyle had been legitimised.
  • Marie Antoinette arguably incorporates this into the story. The titular queen is remembered in history as frivolous and extravagant in a time when France was in extreme poverty - but the film depicts her as a lonely teenager with an indifferent husband and a lot of boring duties. Therefore the Good-Times Montage showing her at balls, gambling, drinking, guzzling cake (which never seems to make her or her friends gain weight, mind you) and indulging in excess looks very appealing. The film also doesn't show the poverty outside Versailles, since Marie wouldn't have seen much of it either.
  • In Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas, the "Christmas: Impossible" short has this both in and out of universe. In-universe, Scrooge tries to tell Huey, Dewey and Louie to be nice. When they point out that Scrooge became rich, and he says it was because he was selfish, HD&L's reaction? "We want to be rich and selfish, too!", followed by talking about some cool stuff they want to buy. Out of universe, it's easy for a viewer to be left with the same feeling as HD&L, as the only drawback to Scrooge's greed was that Santa never got him a bagpipe, which (1) is a weird thing to be sad about (Couldn't he just buy a bagpipe from a store? And why care about a bagpipe when he can buy any expensive toy he wants?), and (2) is rendered moot when Scrooge does get the bagpipe in the end anyway.
  • Natural Born Killers, which has been accused of having inspired enough copycats to have an entire Wikipedia page devoted to the subject. It isn't entirely a straight example though, since the aim of the movie was to point out that the media is fascinated with serial killers. That it ended up contributing to said media isn't unexpected.
  • Much like the Count of Monte Cristo example listed above on this page (from which it drew probable inspiration), Oldboy (2003) is an absolutely savage deconstruction of the blind pursuit of revenge and the horrible consequences it has not only on its victims but also on its perpetrators. It also has one of the absolute best "one guy versus many guys" brawls in the history of cinema, wherein a scruffy, overweight middle-aged man beats the absolute shit out of an entire hallway of dudes with nothing more than a claw hammer and doing so with a kitchen knife sticking out of his back half the time. And it's done with no cuts to boot. Draw your own conclusions.
  • The 1965 Perversion for Profit, supposedly intended as a "diatribe against pornography" meant to discourage its consumption, instead shows barely-censored, beautiful erotica and simply tells them "this is right on your street corner!" without explaining why exactly its existence "weakens our resistance to the onslaught of the Communist masters of deceit". And, of course, no mention on any ways in which it harms the women who take part in the production of it, since it's 1965 and therefore nobody really cares.
  • The Prince of Egypt is like this with regards to the Ancient Egyptians and their culture. Yes, they're the bad guys in the movie, but those pyramids and statues look so cool. It doesn't really help that Ramses II is depicted as a genuinely relatable Anti-Villain, to the point that the writers were actually concerned he came off as too nice!
  • Rififi is one of the most influential heist films ever, and even upon its initial release some worried that its very detailed depiction of planning and executing a jewel robbery (techniques that actually worked, because they were based on a real robbery case) would inspire copycats. The Los Angeles Times reviewer called the scene a "master class in breaking and entering as well as filmmaking". Other critics felt the film dipped in quality in the final act, where the fallout from several bad decisions results in none of the jewel thieves getting to enjoy their ill-gotten gains—for example, Dave Kehr of the Chicago Reader called this finale "moralistic and sour". Director Jules Dassin nevertheless argued that his film was supposed to discourage crime by showing how hard it is to pull off such a heist. Viewers apparently didn't catch that part, because a string of copycat robberies actually did happen in Mexico, which led to the Mexican government banning the film.
  • RoboCop (1987), another film of Paul Verhoeven, suffers from this, much like his film, Starship Troopers (listed above under Films-War), and like the latter, also on account of Poe's Law. Verhoeven intended the film as a spoof of 80's action films and the factors frequently found in them: gore, violence, fascist tendencies, mindless consumerism, and shameless pandering. However, he ended up creating a film considered one of the best action movies ever.
  • The novel The Running Man was intended as a warning as to what happens when society goes too far in thinking that violence is entertainment. The nation's most popular show is one where contestants compete for their lives and can be killed legally, live on television nationwide. Yet, in the film version, it ends up making this evil show look pretty damn cool and entertaining. A show where Arnold Schwarzenegger takes on gladiators trying to kill him? Sounds awesome. It's also hurt by how, in the novel, all the contestants are volunteers who willingly choose to be on the show, whereas in the movie, the "contestants" are criminals who are forced to be on the show, and the show is advertised as giving them "exactly what they deserve". While in the movie the audience knows they aren't deserving, the idea of this show being real and using criminals who actually do deserve it can certainly come off as appealing. Not to mention how hard the film works to get you cheering to see the villains who operate the show get violently and spectacularly offed ... because they, of course, do deserved to get murdered live on television.
    • The German movie, Das Millionenspiel, based on the similar novel The Prize of Peril by Robert Sheckley (which probably also inspired Stephen King to write The Running Man), plays this straight. The movie is made with a known TV moderator of the time as moderator of the show and simple camera positions, creating an extremely convincing illusion of watching an actual show. The protagonist looks just like an average guy and so do the killers hired to stop him. In fact, when the movie aired, people phoned the channel and asked if they could be "hunters" or "hunted" in the next show. Sadly because of filming rights problems between this movie and The Running Man, it's forbidden from being aired, having only been shown 4 times on German TV. So don't go looking for an illegal copy of this tantalizingly interesting forbidden show.
      • Further evidence suggests it outright inspired the Japanese show Run For Money Tousouchuu and the British Show Wanted.
  • Saturday Night Fever portrays the protagonist's disco lifestyle as shallow, violent and ultimately pointless. It didn't stop millions of new fans from being drawn into disco culture after watching the movie.
  • Scream (1996). Director Wes Craven made the first film to kill the slasher genre once and for all, by parodying its tropes and making it impossible to take seriously anymore. Its objective may in fact have been pointless to start with. The slasher genre was arguably already pretty much dead before Scream came along, as the only films being made in the mid-90s were really cheap DTV efforts (Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday being the last slasher film to get a theatrical release up to that point). Not only was it a smash hit, it revived the slasher genre, spawned three successful sequels, and kick-started a wave of post-modern teen horror films (many of which were, you guessed it, slashers) that ran for the rest of The '90s and much of the 2000s.
  • Discussed in the 1934 film Search For Beauty, in which the publishers of a health magazine, realizing that Sex Sells, starts publishing steamy romance stories with "just enough morals to sneak them through the mails." Their female readers see right through the tacked-on "paying the price" endings.
  • Seven Psychopaths: Parodied, where Sam Rockwell's character, trying to come up with an ending for the screenplay Colin Farrell's character is writing, pitches a cool slow-motion gun fight set to beautiful music in a graveyard, claiming that it will show how terrible violence is.
  • Sex and the City ostensibly had a message about how we shouldn't let labels (both in the designer sense and for relationships) determine how to live life — Carrie gets married in a label-less vintage dress in the end. But the rest of the movie is a love letter to designer labels and fashions, with a practically orgiastic scene of Carrie trying on designer wedding dresses. U.K. Film critic Mark Kermode backed up this sentiment in his podcast review of this movie.
    "The film has the gall to shove handbags down your throat for 120 minutes and then turn around and say "Hey, we aren't just handbags, you know."
  • Shish O Besh is about two con men who are being played like fiddles by The Chessmaster and end up in jail. Davood is lovable, if not too bright, and Sami, while a thorough Jerkass, is also The Charmer. The film makes a life of crime look pretty exciting.
  • Shoot 'em Up a 2007 action film, could be easily be the Trope Codifier, since it is possibly the most egregious example of this. The film is both a parody of the genre it takes its name from, and by Word of God, an anti-gun movie; an extremely anvilicious one, that stops just short of pulling a Family Guy and saying that everyone with a gun has a tiny, tiny penis. Except, like the Broken Aesop page quote, the hero, Smith, solves every single problem he's faced with using guns; saving the baby? Guns. Beating the bad guys? Guns. Defending his new family? Guns. By itself this wouldn't be too bad. After all, someone can be extremely anti-gun but still believe a gun can be used for good if in the right hands or that using one in self defense is still justified. However, the movie takes it Up to Eleven in several ways, and if it's meant to turn its viewers off of guns, it fails in levels equivalent to trying to put an abstinence message into a porn movie.
    1. The whole reason the movie is anti-gun is because of who its villains are; they're the hired muscle (led by a wonderfully hammy Paul Giamatti) for a gun manufacturing corporation that wants to stop gun control laws from getting passed. Again, not too bad by itself. After all, that's what corporations do; use politics to protect their interests. Except they cross the Moral Event Horizon including killing pregnant women and babies and making statements that are anything but subtle in regards to guns such "Guns don't kill people, but they sure help".
    2. Don't think saying "Smith solves every single problem he's face with using guns" is an exaggeration. It means just that; Smith solves every. single. problem he's faced with using guns; not just for self defense and beating the bad guys; he also uses guns for common everyday activities like opening beer cans and spinning a merry-go-round. Oh, and not just guns; lots and lots of guns. Lots and lots of extremely powerful guns. For an anti-gun movie, Smith and everyone he cares about sure would be dead a lot of times over if he didn't have enough guns to arm an entire military.
      • Well, he does use carrots a couple of times...
  • Played for laughs in Spider-Man: Homecoming, where high school students are required to watch public service announcement videos presented by Captain America. The gym teacher makes the remark that, despite his clean-looking image, Cap is likely a war criminal (due to previous events). Peter Parker also watches another PSA during detention, but breaks the rules by leaving the classroom.
    "Take it from a guy who's been frozen for 65 years...the only way to really be cool is to follow the rules."
  • The Stepford Wives remake was obviously aiming for the message that the men were in the wrong for replacing their wives with robots. Joanna is a Corrupt Corporate Executive who couldn't care less about the welfare of her own family as well as created shows that explicitly promote the ideas of Women Are Wiser and Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male is a good thing, Bobbie is a moody Deadpan Snarker who can't speak a civil word to anyone and demeans her husband all the time, and Roger is an over the top Camp Gay stereotype who embarrasses his partner in public constantly. So with three unlikable characters, the movie seems to be saying "hey, we replaced three bad people with nicer robots". Plus add in the ATM wife and the adjustable boobs, and the movie seems to be suggesting how cool it would be to have robot spouses.
  • Super Size Me. Morgan Spurlock's documentary exposing the evils of junk food. The film tries to make it look unappealing, but some viewers will inevitably get a craving for some burgers. Spurlock was likely aware of this as he described his experiment as "every 10-year-old's dream".
  • Unfaithful illustrates the negative consequences of female infidelity. But Diane Lane reports that several women have thanked her for her role as Connie Sumner in the film, because Connie sleeps around because she can, and not because she's miserable. Lane elaborates further by saying "I mean she was cheating and lying. Then I realized it was because she wasn't a victim. She made a choice to have an affair. It's not something you often see.".
  • Some critics believe there's one thing worse than a Torture Porn film - a film that tries to make a point about torture porn by focusing on long, drawn-out, salacious shots of human suffering, such as Funny Games or Untraceable. "Oh, Jesus, look upon the sensationalization of violence and despair, HERE HAVE A MAN BEING BOILED TO DEATH IN BATTERY ACID."
  • Parodied in regards to various drugs in Walk Hard. Dewey frequently opens a door to find Sam behind it, indulging in some illicit narcotics in the company of some beautiful women. Sam always insists that Dewey wants no part of it, only to then insistently list all the benefits of doing that particular drug. Dewey inevitably ends up hooked on it.
    • But he really doesn't want none of that stuff that gives you a boner.
    • "It's marijuana, Dewey. You don't want no part of this shit." "It's cocaine, Dewey. You don't want no part of this shit." "We're doing pills— uppers and downers. It's the logical next step for you." "I want me some of that shit!"
  • Pink Floyd's Rock Opera The Wall, both in movie and in music form, depicts an unstable rock star named "Pink" who builds a metaphorical wall around himself to defend himself against things that emotionally hurt him. He then becomes insane, delusional, "comfortably numb" and consumed with anger and fear as he gradually cuts himself from society. Onstage, he turns his concert into an almost Neo-Nazi rally, leading his "Hammers" to destroy the city and terrorize all those that Pink mistrusts. Although this is meant to show the horrors of shutting yourself off from the world and becoming antisocial and paranoid, many true Neo-Nazi groups were formed around the "Hammers", based on the film The Wall and Gerald Scarfe's Deranged Animation depicting literal marching hammers smashing things and people to pieces.
    • Further Misaimed Fandom involves interpretations of Pink's frustrations with women, particularly Pink's unfaithful wife, which is depicted in the animations as shrewish and snake-like.
  • Wall Street has had this happen: although Gordon Gekko is clearly portrayed as the villain in the movie as a ruthless corporate raider who leaves companies gutted and many unemployed in his path, his "Greed is Good" speech is popular among many (often young) finance professionals. The speech itself - criticizing the management running their own company into the ground - almost leads to Strawman Has a Point. It doesn't help either that Michael Douglas carries the role with characteristic swagger and panache and leads Charlie Sheen into a world of cool. In Boiler Room, the leads (who basically go around conning little old ladies out of their money with stock scams) spend one scene quoting Wall Street from memory, basically living this trope on screen - although that movie, which has its share of bling, might fall into this trope as well. It turns out it's almost as hard to keep from Do Not Do This Cool Thing in finance movies as war movies.
    • When Michael Douglas went to the UN to lend his support for nuclear non-proliferation, the press asked him if Gordon Gekko was there to give his support for corporate bailouts.
  • The Wolf of Wall Street has been accused of this, with supporting evidence from Business Insider, while the daughter of one of Belfort's business associates accused the filmmakers of glamorizing his crimes and inspiring others to do the same. As of mid-2014, Belfort is doing the lecture circuit in Australia and Asia, billing the sessions as "an afternoon with the real Wolf of Wall Street". Director Martin Scorsese, for his part, believes that Viewers Are Geniuses and can sort out their moral compass for themselves.
    • There's an in-universe example as well. Shortly after Belfort starts his own company, a magazine article is published which is intended by its author to be strongly negative and to denounce the immoral ways in which the company makes its money. The day after its publication, Belfort's office is overrun by eager job applicants who clearly got the point about "make lots of money" and don't seem to care about the immorality.
  • xXx: Even though it ultimately portrays the anarchists as evil and wrong, their hedonistic lifestyle is pretty damn awesome. Show of hands, who wouldn't want to party all night in a castle, doing whatever you want and not having to worry about being in the office in the morning?
  • All of the Star Wars baddies radiate this. The 501st Legion is the world's largest costuming fan club. The stories were originally entitled "The Adventures of Luke Skywalker" and changed to the "The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of Anakin Skywalker" when the prequels were released.

  • The Berenstain Bears series sometimes falls into this.
    • The Bad Dream, which was about how being an obsessive fanboy and having a Gotta Catch Them All mentality for all the toys will lead to nightmares... somehow. But damn if those action figures didn't look cool.
    • Get the Gimmies, where we all genuinely wanted those toys, games, and candies that Brother and Sister acted like hellions in public in order to get.
    • The Trouble With Junk Food. All the candy they learned was bad for you was so colorful!
    • Not to mention the disastrous sleepover that took place in one of the books, where the kids pretty much trashed the house and the police were contacted. Though the chaos of the party was only shown on one page, and there were consequences for the kids' actions... it still DID look pretty awesome.
  • In Phenomena, Alk kills a soldier (in self defence) in the 6th book, who taunted him and made him afraid, much like a bully including that he wants to kill Alk, while laughing at him. The fact that both Millian and Kheiko say it's natural and he would probably have to learn how to do it soon anyway making it seemingly natural for one to kill one's bullies, which of course is very tempting, but also very wrong to do. Made worse by that Alk had so far been a Vanilla Protagonist, and him doing this made him somewhat cooler...
  • Slaughterhouse-Five. In-universe. Discussed early on. Vonnegut's war buddy's wife is pissed that our narrator is writing 'another war book'.
    "You were just babies then. But you won't write it like that, will you? You'll write it like you were men, and you'll be played by men in the movie, and everyone will think it's wonderful and have more wars and send more babies off to die, like those babies [their children] upstairs."
    • It works out OK though. He promises her that it will be called Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade (which is indeed the full title of the book), and no one reading it gets any idea that war is good.
    "I have told my sons that they are not under any circumstances to take part in massacres, and that the news of massacres of enemies is not to fill them with satisfaction or glee. I have also told them not to work for companies which make massacre machinery, and to express contempt for people who think we need machinery like that."
  • The scenes of sinful revelry and luxury (like the island of Acrasia) in The Faerie Queene are, to many, the most appealing parts of the work. This is largely due to Values Dissonance.
    • According to C. S. Lewis in The Allegory of Love that was the way it was intended—in a complex manner. Spencer was influenced by Puritans who thought married sex was real cool but were down on both the Courtly Love and the Celibate Hero traditions. He was saying effectively that Good People Have Good Sex; when it's good sex that is.
  • One of Disney's kiddie books featured Donald Duck eating a poorly balanced, junk-filled meal that the mouth waters just in childhood memory of it.
  • John Milton's Paradise Lost has infamously run into this problem with its Misaimed Fandom. Satan is intended to be appealing, but Milton expects his readers will be mature enough to realize that underneath all his charisma, Satan is a vain, petty and incestuous bully who picks on people smaller than him because he lost the fight against someone bigger than him. Sadly, Milton expected too much of his readers. Many just drool over Satan and think he's The Hero.
    • Not helped by a strong case of Strawman Has a Point, where Satan's arguments are actually quite logically sound even if his motives aren't pure. Compounded by the fact that Satan is presented as fallen (i.e. human), meaning that his flawed motivations can easily be attributed to heroic flaws instead of overall weak character.
      • Basically, Milton's intended point is somewhat undermined if his readers know more about the classical references he's making and contemporary philosophy than he expects, as well as if they know less.
  • K.J Parker's The Scavenger Trilogy and Parker's work generally. There's just so much detail and vivid fightin' action that the anti-violence message can be obscured at times.
  • The first series of Warrior Cats covers the early life of a "kittypet" as he struggles to fit into his Clan, overcoming all of the racism and prejudice he faces because of his background as he grows into a hero. Of course, in order for this to work, the majority of the cast has to express some racist sentiments, meaning a lot of the more popular characters twist this lesson into "racism is good".
    • The same could be said for the battles, which, combined with their irrational hatred for a pacifist character, doesn't just inspire reactions of "War is cool and pacifism is for pussies", but the occasional "Any book that doesn't contain as many gratuitous fight scenes as possible instantly sucks".
      • The latter lesson can probably be connected to their love of The Darkest Hour, the most violent book in the series. It is indeed one of the best books in the series, but not because it's the most violent.
  • Songmaster by Orson Scott Card ends up making a young boy and his male pedophile master seem sympathetic, and the novel was criticized heavily by conservatives for glorifying homosexuality. Anyone who knows Card's opinions on homosexuality will know that this was not his intent.
  • In an interview celebrating the launching of his then-most recent book, Imperial Bedrooms, Bret Easton Ellis recounted how many fans of his work would come up to him and say "You're the guy who wrote Less Than Zero, that's the book that made me want to live in L.A." Anyone who's read the book in question (or indeed anything by Ellis) will appreciate just how ridiculous this is.
    • One of his aims with Imperial Bedrooms was to respond to all the readers who perceived Clay as the hero in the first book, by placing far more emphasis on his near-sociopathic narcissism. YMMV on how much it worked, although Ellis certainly shows him doing some horrific things, but gives him one or two very small Pet the Dog moments.
  • A weird borderline example in Interesting Times. Rincewind describing sticking fireworks up his nose is followed by a footnote saying Don't Try This at Home... which goes on to describe official municipal firework displays in a way that makes it clear they're very boring. Terry Pratchett is on record as saying that if stupidity kills, then it's better if it kills the stupid firstnote . This could be a stealth joke on that.
  • Anthony Horvath's book Richard Dawkins, Antony Flew and Mother Theresa Go To Heaven is supposed to make Dawkins look like an arrogant Jerkass, while Flew and Theresa are supposed to be viewed as good. However, the way it's written, Theresa comes across as a pathetic sycophant and Flew like a doddering simpleton, while Dawkins sounds downright courageous and noble as he stands in defiance of this frankly unsympathetic deity. It doesn't help when Heaven is depicted as a place where everyone spends the rest of eternity unable to do anything except praise God, and that's supposed to be desirable.
  • Happens in-universe to a Nazi spy in Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. He starts out reporting to his superiors about a dangerous series of American comic books, but his later reports become more or less reviews of his favorite comic book series.
  • In Epic, the Aesop is that you shouldn't get so involved in virtual worlds that you don't do things that need to be done in the real world. However, you can't deny that the game Epic would be freaking awesome if it were real. And the idea that doing well in video games = getting a good education and being rich is an appealing one to gamers out there. It also strays into a Broken Aesop as the reason everyone plays so much is because they have to, as Epic is the colony's source of livelihood.
  • Robert Heinlein intended the message of Podkayne of Mars to be that parents should take better care of their children and not let them go gallivanting around the Solar System getting involved in espionage intrigues and having awesome adventures and ultimately being heroes by saving an entire planet from a villainous plot... because that would be wrong. Or something. To be fair, in the original plot she dies from those adventures. Heinlein was forced to change the ending by his editor because the book was intended for adults but made too good of a teen novel, and Heinlein himself seriously worried that changing the ending would undermine the Aesop. He was right.
  • Lolita. The whole book is one big condemnation of pedophilia (even the pedophile himself, narrator Humbert, can't stand his actions), and yet it's a Trope Namer for a fetish for underage girls. This is because Humbert is Unintentionally Sympathetic and is probably the accidental Trope Codifier. Humbert comes off as a completely nice guy despite his despicable actions because throughout the whole book, he casually explains his actions to the reader, and while it may not be meant to justify them, it certainly can. It doesn't help that while Humbert's arguments really don't add up when you think about them or try to tie them all together, most readers just aren't smart enough to do that. This book has a huge Misaimed Fandom among pedophiles and child molesters who have undoubtedly used it, not only to justify their actions, but for tips on how to avoid getting caught (i.e., be sure not to write down your attraction for young girls and your plans for them in your diary, and if you do be sure to do a much better job of hiding it).
    Now, plainly Humbert did a very wicked thing. There is no doubt that the author knows this — I have just quoted him calling Humbert a pervert. Humbert himself knows it, too, through the fog of his solipsism. He refers to himself as a "monster" or a "maniac," wearing "polluted rags," and so forth. "But never mind, never mind, I am only a brute, never mind, let us go on with my miserable story."
    To drive the point home Nabokov inserts oblique, but cumulatively impossible to ignore, references to the fact that the sexual relationship causes pain and perhaps actual physical injury to the object of Humbert's "love." And yet this cruel tormentor is redeemed a little in our eyes by the surpassing power of his creator's art, a thing any educated person in 1958 could understand. In an interview, Nabokov said that he thought Humbert should be given one day's vacation from hell every year, to stroll a green country lane in the sunlight. Such a judgment makes sense only from a grounding in some mature moral vision. It cannot be fitted at all into the infantile who-whom dogmas of our own time.
  • If The Hunger Games is meant to be a condemnation of reality TV culture... well, all the action in which the in-universe audience revels is the same stuff that we're enjoying as readers. We are supposed at once to feel contemptuous of the audience for lapping up the romance presented to them between Katniss and Peeta but also care about the same romance as readers. While no one at this point would wish for death-based reality TV shows (probably), there are many Hunger Games fans who would love to see a non-lethal version of the Games brought to reality. Not to mention that the movies inspired a whole raft of merchandise, including make-up based on the Capitol's aesthetic.
  • Star Wars gives us the Darth Bane trilogy. Where there are (allegedly) attempts to make Bane look bad. Instead a lot of readers get caught up in how much cool seems to radiate off of everything he does.
    • All of the Star Wars baddies radiate this. The 501st Legion is the world's largest costuming fan club. The stories were originally entitled "The Adventures of Luke Skywalker" and changed to the "The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of Anakin Skywalker" when the prequels were released.
  • The Game, which chronicles the author's experiences in the "Seduction Community", leads the reader to the conclusion that the teachings of the pick-up artists will serve only to become a dehumanized "social robot" and that the techniques are worthless for finding true love; however, after seeing how the author transformed from an "average frustrated chump" to a pick-up artist capable of seducing almost every woman he desired, it's no wonder why this book became the go-to source for men for becoming initiated on the "Seduction Community".
  • The Help Me Be Good series by Joy Berry are juvenile books that examine a Compressed Vice in each title such as fighting, tattling, destroying possessions, and overeating. Each book would talk about the misbehavior, explain its aspects, how it hurts you and others, and strategies for overcoming it. While intended as education and self-help, some Moral Guardians have protested that the books glorify and promote the bad behavior by showing kids how to misbehave.
  • Coda avoids this with the distinction between the Corp's mass-produced tracks and Anthem's band's music.
  • The plot of Stephen King's Apt Pupil begins with an In-Universe example: Todd Bowden first acquires his morbid fascination with The Holocaust when he discovers World War II-era magazines condemning the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis... right next to advertisements peddling Nazi paraphernalia. This inspires him to discover his elderly German neighbor was once the commander of a Nazi concentration camp, and things go downhill fast.
  • Ready Player One lavishly describes the OASIS: a virtual world that is not only the ultimate in entertainment, but a hyper-efficient means of communication, education, and even jobs… before condemning the entire concept as “a self-imposed prison for humanity. A pleasant place for the world to hide from its problems while human civilization slowly collapses, primarily due to neglect.” There is little consideration that making every intellectual resource ever created by the human race accessible to every human being alive just might be the only reason civilization still exists despite the sad state of the environment and the scarcity of physical resources.
    • Not only does the OASIS seem like an objectively useful piece of software, it also looks really cool. There's a reason that all the advertisements for the film dwell on the mess of pop culture characters, the car chases, the adventure. Sure, the creator of the OASIS was ultimately a deeply miserable dude who couldn't properly live in reality, but he was also fabulously well-to-do. Just about every point the book tries to make for any reason whatsoever is undermined by both its own text and the entire reason that anyone is reading the book.
  • In Worm, Taylor uses this to her advantage when talking to middle-schoolers about why being a supervillain sucks. She explains that while, if you're one of the few who make it big, you can make truly insane amounts of money, the chances of dying are also high.
  • The Triflers by Mumkey Jones actually manages to avert this in regards to the school shooting of the book. The main shooter, for all his issues within, is portrayed as a colossal jackass with delusions of grandeur, and while one can relate to him to some extent, his goal is far from justified with a personality that’d drive anyone away from liking him. His ultimate shooting that he planned to get vengeance doesn’t even happen, and he’s pathetically killed by his own grenade, taking out a grand total of one kid that happened to be nearby.
  • An in-universe example in Jabberwocky: The boy's father tells him to beware several dangerous monsters, and his immediate response to these warnings is to grab a weapon and go out to kill them. Downplayed, in that the father is very much proud of his son after his success.
  • Go Ask Alice is more or less written as a screed against the evils of drugs, and to a lesser extent, just about everything else teens did that the author disapproved of, like questioning their parents, foul language, casual sex, or bisexuality. This made it a very popular choice for "scared straight"-type storytelling. Like many a "scared straight" attempt, it ended up being many kids's first real exposure to these things, and made them curious, especially when they end up being by far the most interesting parts of it. It certainly doesn't help that the author tried to pass it off as a real account despite it being completely fictional, giving it an air of "well, if she lied about this, what else did she lie about?"
  • Joe Abercrombie's The First Law is built on this. The point is constantly made that a life of violence will make you end up broken, alone, and despised by all decent people... but the scenes of grizzled badasses chopping each other to pieces are just so cool. Abercrombie seems to be aware of it too, as he mentioned in the foreword to The Heroes that the novel is not so much about how War Is Hell as about why, seeing as how War Is Hell, stories of it still fascinate us.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Similar to the "Marijuana is bad because it's illegal" commercials, there's an episode of House in which a drug dealer is being disparaged by the team. His response is basically "So your big problem is not that it's immoral but that it's illegal. Sounds like we've got the same problem."
    • House in general had this problem with the titular character. Dr. House was suppose to show it was bad to be a misanthropic, drug-addicted Dr. Jerk, but the show never showed a serious problem with that. His boss once commented House was paid in peanuts because no one else would hire him, but you wouldn't know it from House's nice apartment, or wardrobe, or the surprisingly attractive prostitutes he hires. His drug addiction never seriously affected his ability to do his job unless he took way too much Vicodin (which usually only happened when some dramatic plot twist happened). And his terrible personality never stopped his co-workers from respecting him, his boss having the hots for him, or his best friend interacting with him.
  • Although bigoted, Alf Garnett from Till Death Us Do Part was intended to be a figure of fun showing the stupidity of racism. He became a cult hero for misogynists and xenophobes. The same goes for the show's loose American remake. All in the Family was, officially, intended to show that bigotry is bad, but Archie Bunker came across as a fairly fun, likable guy in spite of it. The more progressive "Meathead" often came across as self-righteous.
  • Mad Men is about deconstructing the myth of the good ol' days and is supposed to be about the 'dark side' of social conformism, corporate careerism, and white male privilege in '60s white collar America. The show demonstrates this by endlessly displaying hot (and frequently undressed) women, acts of debauchery, plentiful alcohol, smoking without guilt, fabulous outfits, and snazzy Jet Age decor. Wait, there's a dark side to making tons of money and being able to tell people what to do?
  • Life On Mars, series one. The impression the viewer gets is that the first series of Life on Mars was written to paint Sam's contemporary attitudes as what the viewer was supposed to sympathise with, but the public response was overwhelmingly in favor of Gene Hunt's Good Old Ways. The second series and all of Ashes to Ashes (2008) was written accordingly.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • The show had a subtle anti-smoking message for the first season or two — every character who smoked either turned out to be a villain or died soon after they were introduced. But Spike, who started out as a villain, ended up being a regular and a well-liked character... who often smoked cigarettes. Sexily. Faith took up smoking in the last season.
    • The fourth season episode "Beer Bad" tried to show that beer was evil by turning anyone who drank it into cavemen. But the transformation ends up mostly positive for Buffy, who finally gets over being dumped after a one night stand because of it. The concept might be seen as parody, but the episode was written as a sincere grab for government anti-alcohol PSA dollars. (It didn't work.)
  • The show Manswers, on Spike TV, when talking about illicit drug use or other criminal activities or dangerous acts, will include a disclaimer to not do so. But if you do do it, you can get laid, according to them.
  • Fox News, while more fiscally conservative than socially conservative, pays lip service to the Moral Guardians by doing stories condemning various media as "immoral" (especially on The O'Reilly Factor). But they punctuate these condemnations with lurid video clips and bring on Ms. Fanservice-type anchors and nagging correspondents who are more amused than angry. Thirty years ago, much of what we see on Fox News would have never been shown on basic cable. No, not even CNN. Fox going after spring break might just take the cake.
  • When Communist Romania broadcast Dallas, the idea was that the people would be disgusted with the pettiness and decadence of capitalism. This was, in fact, part of the reason the series was created in the first place — you probably are supposed to be vaguely disgusted with the way the Ewings live. It didn't work in either country. What was seen was, "Ooh, shiny! I want!" In a few years, communism fell and the USA had a Misaimed Fandom for Wall Street.
  • Dollhouse: Turning people into objects is bad! Even when they're hot, attractive objects with blank stares and bare feet... oh hey, it's time to show Sierra getting raped again!
  • Done intentionally on an episode of Community. The main characters put on an anti-drug show for a group of elementary school children, but they love Pierce's performance as "Drugs" so much it backfires. The situation is ultimately remedied by forcing Pierce to leave and replacing him with Chang. It ends up being a more effective portrait of addiction as a result, because the children loved drugs then drugs turned on them.
  • The Wire: For all of its social criticism on the dysfunctions of modern society, a significant portion of the show is given to the gang wars waged between extremely colorful and badass drug lords. While almost all of them come to bad ends, the big shot dealers sure seem to have a lot of fun while they're on top.
  • Similarly, Breaking Bad has the same effect of showcasing the appealing aspects of the drug business, even when the bad parts are fueled with endless paranoia, and by contributing to the business in some form or fashion, you'll hurt so many different people along the way. And oh yeah, Drugs Are Bad. But boy is it tough not to reap the rewards of selling pure meth, ain't it?
    • The show's protagonist, Walter White, has been described as a deconstruction of the Escapist Character, by initially seeming like a fun character for the audience to project themselves onto, only for the show to depict his gradual transformation into a ruthless, vicious monster. Despite that, he is nevertheless depicted as an extremely intelligent and powerful villain, and one feared and respected by his peers and by the police and DEA, while the show's voice of reason, his wife Skyler is widely reviled by fans. Many viewers not unreasonably perceive White as cool (indeed, the show's creator Vince Gilligan has used the term "badass" to describe the character).
  • In-universe example in Arrested Development when George Sr. is invited as a "Scared Straight" speaker to talk teens out of committing crimes and going to jail. He accidentally picks the wrong Scared Straight tent and ends up talking to a group of gay teens who feel increasingly enticed by the thought of being locked up in a jail full of bad boys.
  • The Sopranos was even MORE realistic and de-glamorized than Goodfellas. It lampshaded that mobsters love The Godfather and Goodfellas. Guess who loved it? And many viewers who weren't gangsters also missed the point and saw Tony and crew as heroes and anyone who ratted on them as deserving of death.
  • Mandy Patinkin left Criminal Minds because he felt that this trope was in play. Criminal Minds is about people who catch horrible criminals by figuring out the mindset of those criminals — how they think. It is a long-running, popular show. Patikin thought that the show was becoming sick fantasy fulfillment for people and couldn't be a part of it anymore.
  • Occasionally played with on Top Gear when, for instance, the presenters solemnly (and with perfect insincerity) state that they strictly obey the speed limit at all times, or state "this is something we mustn't do" before engaging in impromptu drag races on public streets.
  • In-universe in Malcolm in the Middle; Hal would tell his sons about his youthful escapades, supposedly as cautionary tales. As Lois puts it, "Cautionary tales do not end with 'It was so cool!'"
  • MythBusters has become the living embodiment of this trope, the hosts and cast reminding the viewers multiple times per show not to attempts the awesome and ridiculously dangerous experiments they show. Adam even promised to track down and kick the ass of anyone who tried to reproduce the million match heads burnout experiment. Their cold open and ad break cards have become "Do not try this at home" warnings after the first few seasons.
    Adam: Remember, kids, no matter how much fun I'm having, under no circumstances should you try this at home.
    • A great example would be when they were test whether drafting behind a big rig to see if doing so could increase mileage. Despite the fact that they spent nearly as much time stressing how crazy attempting to draft a big rig is as they did actually testing the myth, for some people, that's just not quite enough to balance out the simple fact that it actually works.
  • On Degrassi, Ellie's storyline was meant to show people how cutting is not okay and should never be done no matter what the circumstances. However, despite this, many fans were inspired to cut after seeing Ellie do so.
  • Saturday Night Live's false ad for "Amazin' Laser" was full of this. While Chris Elliot exalted the virtues of using this precise, powerful and ridiculously powerful disintegrator raygun, subtitles gave more and more precise instructions. "Do not use Amazin' Laser on live targets." "Terrorists, please do not use Amazin' Laser." "On second thought, please do not buy Amazin' Laser."
  • On the Investigation Discovery channel, this happens often with the dramatizations of real crimes. The most egregious examples are the shows Sins and Secrets, Wicked Attraction, and Deadly Women. They usually discuss how sick and wrong the killer(s) are, but they then show reenactments of their scandalous affairs by attractive actors in about as much detail as you can have on cable TV. It's so bad that some of the shows have Content Warnings. Sometimes the softcore is accompanied by the narrator and interviewees going on about the unfaithful spouses' sexual needs and how they were being awesomely fulfilled by their lovers. And also that cheating and murder is bad, really.
  • Downton Abbey can really make living in The Edwardian Era look appealing, despite occasional attempts to portray how bad women and the lower class had it. It doesn't help that most of the servants are portrayed as perfectly happy and content in their jobs, and with the sole exception of Gwen, the few who aren't are either petty and cruel, or stupid.
    • In addition, in order to make the characters sympathetic to modern audiences, the creators tend to give them more modern views than most people of that era actually had. This creates the impression that Edwardian views weren't that different from our own.
  • In-universe example on Everybody Loves Raymond: Frank pays off his mortgage and invites the family over to celebrate. As he burns the paperwork, he declared that the bank can kiss his ass. Debra reminds him that the grandchildren are listening, and Frank replies, "Oh yeah. Kids—don't say 'ass'".
  • Power Rangers Wild Force has strong environmental themes, as do a lot of Power Rangers seasons, but, as Power Rangers is also a marketing vehicle for toys, quite a bit of screen time is devoted to how awesome their motorcycles are and making riding motorcycles like that look fun and cool. A motorcycle even defeats Serpenterra. The message to reduce the carbon footprint is somewhat undermined by showing how great it is to drive around in fast vehicles like this. It's not helped that the motorcycles, save for the Silver Ranger's, do NOT come from the Japanese series Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger, so the Power Rangers producers can't play the "we were stuck with what was in the Japanese footage" card.
  • Played with in the anti-alcohol episode of Glee. The Glee club is asked to perform a song showing the dangers of underage drinking, but they end up getting really drunk, having a great time but screwing up the assembly. The attitude of the episode is best summed up by Coach Beaste, who tells their teacher Will that drinking is fun, and kids are going to do it and it'd be hypocritical of him to lecture them on the dangers of drinking when he himself falls into the same pitfalls the students do. The lesson? Drinking is cool and fun, but you have to be responsible about it.
  • Lampshaded and played with in an episode of The War at Home, first with Dave's speech at the beginning:
    Dave: When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was sneak into "R" rated movies. In my mind, "R" stood for "really good." Nowadays, there's warnings and ratings on everything; video games, music, booze, cigarettes. You think these warnings would keep kids away from all these things. When, actually, it's sending up a flare saying, "Hey, look. Good stuff over here.
    (Disclaimer appears on screen: "Due to the mature subject matter, the following episode may not be suitable for all family members.")
    Dave: (glances down at disclaimer) See? Makes you wanna watch even more, doesn't it?
    • Then the main plot of the episode involves Hilary and her friend Brenda getting drunk off her parents' liquor, then Vicky worries that their drinking is a bad influence on Hilary and to Dave's annoyance, implements a rule that no one in the house can drink. Vicky only lasts two days before secretly drinking in the garage, then both Dave and Vicky get drunk off free liquor and make a scene in front of Brenda's parents, causing much embarrassment and end up lecturing Hilary that they can drink because they're the parents.
  • Professional Wrestling is built on this. See that awesome 720 corkscrew suicide dive? Don't do that.
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:
    • He pokes fun at a Singapore anti-gambling ad aired the week before the 2014 World Cup in which a young child despondently tells his friends that his dad bet all their money on underdog Germany to win. The problem? In an upset victory, Germany DID win, meaning that the kid and his family are set for life! A follow-up ad was aired the next week in which the same kid reveals that his dad turned around and spent all of their winnings on more gambling, but, as Oliver points out, as long as the dad's streak keeps up, this isn't much of a problem. Even if we assume it doesn't, the Aesop could easily be interpreted as "quit while you're ahead" or maybe "take half of a big windfall and put it into something responsible like a college fund or a house and then let the other half ride" as opposed to "gambling is bad."
    • Another episode where he talks about the drug scare of the 1980's features a segment where he tries to deduce the message of Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue.
      John: Listen, if you do drugs, all your favorite cartoon characters will show up and talk to you. Is that what you want? Is that what you want!?
  • Sons of Anarchy is yet another example of this, like many modern crime series. The series is suppose to show the stressful, painful, and tragic lives of SAMCRO and the people whom are associated with them, because of secrets, lies, backstabbing, and murder. The storyline is based off Hamlet. However, the show also glamorizes the biker gang culture. SAMCRO are shown as misunderstood, anti-heroes whom are protecting a small town from negative outside influences - when they are just career criminals. Drugs, booze, and loose women are promoted as being plentiful and great fun for inspiring bike enthusiast. Even being a Corrupt Cop is cool, as long as that cop is being corrupt for their friends.
  • In the anti-marijuana Afterschool Special episode "Stoned", Scott Baio plays an uptight and unpopular high school student who starts smoking pot moderately and then learns to loosen up, makes some friends, meets a pretty girl and saves his brother's life after a potentially fatal boating accident.
  • Narcos ran into some similar problems like Breaking Bad only this show is based on real-life drug lords such as Pablo Escobar. His son, Sebastian Marroquin, accused the show for glorifying drug lords after young people are asking him on how to be like his late father.
  • 13 Reasons Why caused this reaction among some critics, leading to schools sending warnings home to parents and Netflix adding extra Content Warnings. The show's graphic depiction of Hannah's suicide, as well as the tapes she left behind explaining how the people at her school caused her suicide is part of the reason. Critics claim that, instead of raising awareness of bullying, this may cause already vulnerable teens to think that suicide will solve all their problems (since, in the end, Hannah's tapes achieve her desired outcome of making everyone who wronged her feel guilty).
  • An episode of Joan of Arcadia had an in-universe deconstruction of the trope. The Girardi kids learn that Will once shot and killed a robber during a bank heist. Luke remarks "Dad blew a guy away. That's so cool"—and Will immediately rips into the teen for saying it. He goes on to explain that the fact that he killed a man is the precise opposite of cool, and how he's still struggling with the guilt of leaving a man's family to bury their loved one, regardless of his being a criminal.
  • In-Universe on the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Underbelly". Belinda says she got the idea to go into prostitution from watching Pretty Woman over and over.
  • Parodied in Parks and Recreation when Andy and Leslie go to TP the house of the kid who broke into City Hall and TP'd their office:
    Leslie: This is really fun! (Looks at camera) But I don't condone it!
  • Played with in The Inbetweeners when the boys (bar Will) decide to experiment with marijuana:
    Jay:You're a mummy's boy. Go on, petal, have a puff. Show us you're not scared.
    Will:I would, but I don't actually smoke because...what's that thing you get when you smoke?
    Neil: Sex?
    Will: No, cancer, Neil.
    • Subverted by the end of the episode, as Will caves into peer pressure and ends up embarrassing himself, while Simon gets a mouthful of someone else's vomit, Neil blacks out and Jay has an attack of paranoia.
  • The Shield often got accused of this. as while it wasn't trying to endorse Vic Mackey and the Strike Team's long-list of crimes (as evidenced by the fact that he kills a cop in the FIRST episode so he won't rat on the team), they ended up with a lot of defenders. This included many real-life cops, much to the disturbance of Shawn Ryan, many of whom said that Terry deserved to be killed for "being a rat". Part of this is the fact that Vic's methods—while extreme—are often shown to be justified: the criminals he kills and brutalizes are often FAR worse then anyone on the team, and it's made clear that several criminals would've gotten off scot-free without Vic's illegal methods. Plus, the team are often shown reaping the rewards of their criminal enterprise with hot women, money and other benefits. When Forest Whitaker played IA agent Kavanaugh, who was trying to take down Vic, he was shocked by how much hate his character got and how much hate mail he received from Vic fans (which was rumored to have been the inspiration for his infamous "pissing" speech).

  • Parodied in MAD magazine's July 1994 Super Special issue, which had a sheet of fake magazine subscription stamps (for such periodicals as U.S. Nudes and Weird Retorts and Modern Insanity) that looked exactly like the genuine ones used by such outfits as the Publisher's Clearing House for their sweepstakes entries. On the page facing them, Mad printed this warning:
    AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING MAD'S SILLY SWEEPSTAKES STAMPS: Please DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE affix these bogus MAD stickers onto AN ACTUAL SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY FORM, despite the deep-rooted urge in the very core of your being which inspires and calls upon you to do so! You must resist the temptation, even though it would be a truly wonderful prank that would surely cause chaos and havoc for the Magazine Sweepstakes Company(s) who have been badgering you mercilessly for years (and who have recently been sued for making false and misleading claims about their cheesy contests). Yes, it will take every ounce of your willpower, but you must NOT remove a bogus MAD stamp by carefully tearing it along the perforated lines, licking it, and then affixing it onto a REAL MAGAZINE SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY FORM in place of one of THEIR stamps. You must ABSOLUTELY NOT think of your own PERSONAL PLEASURE and the TREMENDOUS SATISFACTION you would get from pulling such a deviously ingenious stunt. The bottom line is that it would be wrong — morally, ethically, uncategorically, deliciously wrong. We trust that we can count on you, our loyal readers, to do the right thing.

  • Anti-war songs are just as susceptible to this as anti-war films. The message of the song may be about the awful aspects of war, but it may have either too subtle of a title or a catchy, positive or cool sounding beat, as well as Lyrical Dissonance to keep it from getting its message across. This goes double if it's a popular song that many of the listeners only know the chorus of without knowing any other of the lyrics, often leading to cases of Isn't It Ironic?.
    • Edwin Starr's "War". The lyrics denounce the act of war quite anviliciously, but it sounds like a good song to kick ass to. It was used for fight scenes in Rush Hour, Small Soldiers, and Agent Cody Banks 2, and Hellsing Abridged lampshades this by using it to underscore a nazi vampire invasion of London.
      • The cover by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, which was also featured in Small Soldiers, takes this Up to Eleven.
      • Then again, the exact lyrics are "What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!" - and kicking ass is, well, bad. So the song falls short by not clarifying that warfare doesn't make one a badass.
    • Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls". Despite being about the futility of war, it's a totally kick ass song that gets your adrenaline pumping.
    • Rise Against's "Hero of War" is definitely intended as an anti-war song. It tells the story of a teenager who joins the military because he'll get to see the world, carry a gun, and he'll even get paid. The war psychologically destroys him, going through brutal basic training, being involved in the beating and humiliation of a POW, and finally killing a surrendering civilian woman by accident during a firefight. However, along the way he makes friends, learned a lot, came to love his country, become a decorated veteran, and at home everyone respects him (it's likely the lyrics are supposed to take a more sarcastic tone in the end).
    • While not exactly a "catchy" song per say, Bob Dylan's "With God On Our Side" tends to get people thinking that it's a patriotic statement, despite being more about how having God on your side is little more than an excuse to go to war and force your ideals upon others because both sides will always claim this.
  • Black Sabbath. Many of their early lyrics dealt with the horrors of things like violence, war, Satan and so on. This has inspired legions of metal bands to write lyrics about how awesome these same things are.
  • Marilyn Manson. The fact that his concept albums aren't obvious to non-fans have created so many problems. Half of his songs on the album Mechanical Animals are from the point of view of the character of Omega (pronounced O-ME-ga), who is a space alien fallen to Earth and forced to be a rock star who sings empty anthems of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll and has retreated into copious drug use to cope and has cut himself off from emotion. The other half are by Alpha, who is just beginning to feel emotion and is curious because of it. So, of course, most people listen to Omega's message, ironically doing the same as the mindless sheep In-Universe. It's not much better with Antichrist Superstar, in which the title character ends the universe. It's not supposed to be supported, people. Mr. Manson himself was so pissed off by this that the song This Is The New Shit is about the fans that do this, with the chorus containing the lyrics "Do we get it? NO! Do we want it? YEAH!" just to make the point more obvious, and this this is the song that starts with "Babble babble, bitch bitch, rebel rebel rebel, party party party, sex sex sex and don't forget the violence". It doesn't help that people have their own preconceived notions of Satanism (which are wildly inaccurate) and he's an ordained Reverend in the Church of Satan. So yes, properly, he is Reverend Marilyn Manson.
  • In fact, a lot of heavy metal bands of note either treat these themes negatively, ironically or with a sort of horrified fascination; while a lot may seem like they glorify violence or death, it's often necessary to tune into the particular subcultural lens of heavy metal to understand them properly. Unfortunately, some of the fans (especially for bands that hit the mainstream) and more than a few of the bands don't seem to get this.
  • Megadeth's album "Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?" led to a rumor that the band members were Satanists or endorsed Satanism due to nearly half of the album being explicitly about Satanism. But all three songs detail horrific things happening to those who dabble in it. The songs stem from a bad experience that Dave Mustaine had with "black magic", where he put a hex on someone and was convinced it worked, plaguing him with guilt. After that incident, he tried to make songs warning against the dark arts, but they ended up so badass-sounding that the message was ignored.
  • Slayer "Angel of Death" is often called a pro-Holocaust song, but guitarist Kerry King notes that the lyrics are as brutal as they are to reflect the real horror of the Holocaust, not to glorify it. The band is not trying to glorify the Holocaust — but they're not trying to dispel it, either. They enjoy causing controversy.
  • Bruce Springsteen's "Born In the USA" is about the issues faced by returning veterans of The Vietnam War. Because of the refrain, the subtle title, and it being one of the catchiest songs musically the Boss has ever done, it's constantly mistaken for an American patriotic song. It is frequently played at 4th of July events. US President Ronald Reagan — a president who had threatened Mutually Assured Destruction on the Russians — wanted to use it as his 1984 campaign theme.
    Baby this town rips the bones from your back
    It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap
    We gotta get out while we're young
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" is about the class bias of The Vietnam War — lower and middle class kids being sent to fight and die while rich kids get to stay home. This doesn't stop it from being extremely catchy, and many listeners don't really get more than the first couplet of the lyrics. It also gets mistaken for a patriotic song, thanks largely to the opening lines of "Some folks were born, made to wave the flag, ooh, the red, white, and blue".
  • Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" is a sarcastic song that, if taken unironically, would send the message, "If you're a girl who follows the Rule of Cool and likes a taken boy, it's okay to throw yourself at the guy and steal him away because you know he likes you back, and his girlfriend is 'like, so whatever.'" The video points out it's okay to humiliate said girlfriend because she's a nerdy girl with glasses. Lavigne has said it's criticizing shallow boy-crazy girls who act like that. But the song doesn't make this clear, and try telling it to the song's Misaimed Fandom.
  • The Dropkick Murphys cover of the old Irish anti war song "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya", when viewed on a particular AMV, makes one want to go to war.
    • The same tune was reused for "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", a song from the American Civil War that glorifies soldiers returning home from war.
  • Gangsta Rap.
    • The videos for gangsta rap in particular are guilty of this. What was said above re: gangsters in film & television goes double for many gangsta-rap music videos. Even when the lyrics are explicitly about the dangers and harshness of street life, expect the videos to be full of images of diamond studded cars, gold jewelry everywhere, beautiful women, and champagne overflowing.
      • This was on account of the standards of MTV and other "music" channels at the time. They refused to allow any video with gunplay or shooting imagery regardless of context. This was particularly notable in the 1990s during the genre's rise to prominence (since they were airing more videos then).
      • This trope is deliberately invoked in Juvenile's song "Ha". The lyrics are a Take That! against the glamour of rap excess (the chorus says, "You're a paper chaser, you got your block on fire, remaining a G until the moment you expire"), and in the video itself, the scenes are of poor and near-homeless residents living in housing projects in New Orleans... except during the chorus, when Juvenile and his crew visibly sing in front of expensive cars, stacks of money and visible jewelry.
      • The Roots' "Never Do What They Do" is another classic music video that tries to shade light on how Mainstream Rap videos are glamorized. They do this three fold by first showing a typical "big baller" video with the big mansion, complete with huge swimming pool, bikini clad women, and high priced cars. Next they show the urban street scene, complete corner gang bangers and drug dealers. Lastly, they show the club scene with attractive women and a Jazz band on stage. Afterwards, they spend the whole video deconstructing all three settings, mostly by using box text to show how these videos are faked.
      • Atmosphere has written a few songs attempting to address this issue too, including "Apple" which has a repeated refrain of "Just cause you're an MC doesn't mean you get to be an asshole" and "National Disgrace" which begins with the following dedication:
    Peace to Rick James, Anna Nicole Smith, Bill Clinton, and Mötley Crüe, and anyone else who has ever utilised their 15 minutes of fame to realise their true dreams of being an absolute jerk-off, just to keep the masses entertained. This goes out to learning from the mistakes of others.
  • Scavanger. Used for Black Comedy effect in Assassins of Ankh Morpork. "Here in Ankh Morpork they're saint", indeed.
  • Visual Kei as a genre has this problem: the point of the genre is artistic freedom and using shock value to express your artistic message. Except a large percentage of the fans, looking at the beautifully stylized bandmen, seem to be convinced that to be truly Visual Kei, one must be as pretty as they are - thoroughly breaking at least one of the major Aesops in a belief that art is only for the beautiful and sexy. The second problem, especially with Eroguro Kei, is the Misaimed Fandom factor - people that don't get that some of this stuff is meant to shock and disgust, not glorify. Which can be a very big Unfortunate Implications minefield with, say, the GazettE's Taion, which is meant to be a condemnation of rape and a lashout at the Japanese society for allowing such a rape to happen. When people start singing along, though... Squick.
  • At the beginning of the track "Tipsy", J-Kwon makes a short statement: "Yo, teen drinking is really bad!"note 
  • Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys.
  • The Beastie Boys' "Fight For Your Right To Party" was intended as a parody of party anthems and to mock lazy and unmotivated people with a "party all the time" attitude. It ended up become a party anthem as well because... well, no one can deny that the narrator is having fun, and his attitude is a lot more fun than actually doing homework, chores, and going to school on time. That the video looks like so much fun too is another big factor.
  • "Beans In My Ears" lampshades this. The song starts with (ostensible) kids singing how their mommy said not to put beans in their ears ... followed by them wondering why they'd want to put beans in their ears ... followed by them putting the beans in their ears ... followed by them telling their mother they've done so, to which she responds "That's nice, boys, just don't put those beans in your ears." It ends with them concluding that all grownups have beans in their ears. Ironically, the hit version by The Serendipity Singers was banned in some markets because of concerns that it would actually encourage children to put foreign objects in their ears.
  • In 2002, VH1 aired a special called Inside Hate Rock, an investigation into white supremacist rock bands. While it was intended to show how these bands are funding hate groups, it instead made them look like part of a cool, underground music scene. Scheduled repeats of the show were cancelled, and it has never aired on VH1 again.
  • "Cocaine" by Eric Clapton is anti-drug but it sounds more like an advertisement for nose candy.
  • According to British comedian Harry Enfield, this was one of his gripes when he created the character and chart-topping song of Loadsamoney - the character was meant as a parody of Thatcher-era upper-middle-class materialists who cared about nothing in the world and in the government besides what made them in particular the most money. Consequently, Loadsamoney is an incredibly obnoxious nouveau riche asshole who hates the poor and loves Conspicuous Consumption and waving around stacks of cash; his catchphrase being "Shut your mouth and look at my wad!" But the character was such a ham that a lot of people just took him at face value as an Awesome Ego. Turns out shallow and shortsighted people aren't too good at noticing subtlety...
  • Sabaton, who sing Power Metal about military history, are aware of this problem and do their best to strike a balance. Their customary opening number is "Ghost Division", which is about Erwin Rommel's 7th Panzer Division during the invasion of France, and about two-thirds of the songs praise war heroes. On the flipside, they have several songs that are staunchly anti-war and anti-Nazi, including an eight-minute ballad about Hitler's rise to power called "Rise of Evil" on their second album. "Carolus Rex" is a particular example: it sounds awesome, but the lyrics describe the eponymous 18th-century Swedish king as a megalomaniac.
  • Kiely Williams has claimed that her song "Spectacular" was intended as a warning about binge drinking and unprotected sex with strangers. However, the song's protagonist keeps raving about how amazing the sex was, and the only attempt to mention the negative consequences is "I hope he used a rubber/Or I'mma be in trouble".
  • Rodeo by Garth Brooks is a notable example of this trope. The verses are about how being a rodeo cowboy will ruin your relationship with your wife, and your health, and your life in general... and then the chorus is a rocking anthem to how awesome it is to be out there participating in the rodeo!

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Ricky Gervais. In one of his routines, he identifies the Broken Aesop inherent in a version of the children's folk tale The Lazy Mouse and the Industrious Mouse that he was told by his headmaster, at a school assembly. In the story, the Industrious Mouse labours long and hard to prepare himself for winter, whilst the Lazy Mouse bunks off and has fun. When winter comes, the Lazy Mouse has nothing, so goes to avail himself of the charity of the Industrious Mouse who, after beginning a lecture about how the Lazy Mouse should have done his own preparing, suddenly turns around and invites him in to share. Gervais notes with exasperation that the moral is mangled from being "work hard and be prepared for the future" into becoming, in his words, "fuck around, do whatever you want and then scrounge off a do-gooder". He also notes that most of the pupils at that assembly took the latter Aesop and "kept it up" for the entirety of their academic careers.
    • He also points out that, thanks to the Rule Of Three, the moral of the tale of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" is not "never tell a lie", but rather "never tell the same lie twice."
  • Norm MacDonald pointed out the problem addressed in anti-smoking ads mentioned above with showing the effect of smoking on organs.
    MacDonald: My doctor tried to scare me out of smoking. He showed me a picture of a smoker's lung. Oh! It was gross and disgusting. Then he showed me a picture of a healthy person's lung. Oh! It was gross and disgusting!

    Tabletop Games 
  • Parodied in Magic: The Gathering with Fat Ass.
    "Our lawyers say no matter how funny it would be, we can't encourage players to eat the cards. Hear that? Whatever you do, don't eat the delicious cards."

  • In Wicked, the song "Dancing Through Life" is meant to paint the singer as having the wrong idea about life in general; but it also seems to go out of its way to make his philosophy sound appealing. Then again, when he chooses to follow the heroine instead of keeping to that attitude, where does it get them? Dancing through Life might have been the better option - YMMV on this one.
  • This is true of Ben Jonson's plays. Both Volpone and The Alchemist make fraud look fun, although in the former play, harsh punishments are dished out to all the "villains" right at the end.
  • The musical Catch Me If You Can runs into this — it's supposed to be ultimately condemning Frank Abegnale, Jr.'s, fraudulent and lawless life, except that the songs involving Frank's wild con artist life are much more enjoyable than the ones preaching strict Lawful Goodness. It's a common problem — you're trying to send the message "Stay within the law, don't be outrageous and dashing" — in a musical? That said, Hanratty's opposing viewpoint song "Don't Break the Rules" is pretty good.
  • West Side Story does a fair job of showing there are consequences to the gang life... but then it has "Jet Song" and "Cool" and "Officer Krupke", all of which are a lot more fun than the more serious songs.
    When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way from your first cigarette to your last dyin' day
    When you're a Jet, let 'em do what they can, you got brothers around, you're a family man

    Video Games 
  • Ineptly done Anti Poop-Socking features have a high chance of being one of these. In an attempt to limit people's gameplay, rewards sharply drop after a certain amount of time. The hope is that instead of the player spending four hours a day on a game, they only spend two after they realize that the third and fourth hours don't give much of a reward. This leads to some particularly dedicated players increasing gameplay time to SIX (or more) hours in order to keep up.
    • Even a correctly done measure can have this effect regardless. World of Warcraft encourages players to log off and rest by providing Rest Experience: for every eight hours your character spends logged out at a city or rest area, that character will gain twice the monster killing experience for one xp bar bubble (or 5% fragment of your experience bar), up to a maximum of ten days' worth (or a level and a half). This has led players to level up multiple characters at once, cycling through them to level up a single character as long as any rest experience remains and then switching to the next rested up character.
  • The Metal Gear series (particularly from Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake and onward), which is heavy on anti-war messages in the plot, avoids this trope by making it possible (albeit extremely difficult) to complete each game without killing anybody (intentionally, at least). On the other hand, there's tons of cool-looking, stylized violence in the cutscenes and collectible weapons just begging to be used, and most of the boss characters talk about how Snake is an honorable warrior and, if they die, do so in glorious, noble and/or bombastic ways. So really, it still has it both ways.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is the only main game after Metal Gear Solid that requires you to kill a character. Said character is the mentor and essentially a mother figure for Snake/Big Boss who he shares an incredible bond with and is written as a highly sympathetic person. Needless to say, the act of shooting while she's on her back is presented in a relentlessly tragic manner that basically kills Snake on the inside and is essentially the true starting point for every single horrible thing that happens across the rest of the series.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots includes a massive arsenal of weapons which, ironically, manages to avoid one of the above problems, as that expanded arsenal means players who want to play without killing people are no longer forced to rely on two dedicated non-lethal weapons or punching people out for the entire game - in addition to the returning tranquilizer-converted pistol and sniper rifle, the knife can shock people into unconsciousness rather than cutting or stabbing them, Metal Gear Mk. II can sneak around under stealth camo and stun enemies in cover, and all the shotguns and grenade launchers have the option of using non-lethal rounds. On the other hand, though, especially in the third game of the series, there are many, many fun ways to make life hell for the bad guys without actually killing them, which may be just as bad in the long run.
    • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker may be the best inversion in the series, as going through the missions killing everyone actively penalizes you - you lose "heroism points" for it, and every soldier you kill is a potential recruit for Mother Base lost. In-story, Big Boss is also idolized for his aversion to killing his enemies, and it's very rare that enemies captured during a mission will ever have any qualms against working with you. However, while the game also has many non-lethal options like 4, those playing the game in a non-lethal capacity will still find approximately three-fourths of their arsenal to be completely useless.
    • The Hitman series has the same problem. As a silent assassin, Agent 47 is supposed to kill no one save for his targets while being unnoticed and firing the least amount of shots. But hey, there's tons of guns to collect & fire, though most of them are noisy, hard if not impossible to conceal, or fire more rounds than needed.
  • A more successful example might be Def Con. Almost everyone who has played it tends to feel pretty guilty.
    • The conceptually similar Balance of Power, from 1985, also tried hard to portray nuclear armageddon as a bad thing. If the player failed to prevent war, the game ended abruptly with the text "You have ignited a nuclear war. And no, there is no animated display of a mushroom cloud with parts of bodies flying through the air. We do not reward failure." Unfortunately, it didn't reward success, either - your reward for shepherding the world through eight years of brinkmanship was simply a message stating "You have kept the peace". Maybe the real message was "Running a power bloc is difficult and unglamorous."
  • Army of Two and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots suffer from this. The games aren't intended to be anti-war, but rather, there is a specific aspect of war they're trying to denounce. Both games are based around of the concept of the military-industrial complex, the privatization of the military and turning war into a business. Yet, they both fall victim to Truffaut's theorem, just as the anti-war films do. To clarify;
    • In Army of Two, protagonists Salem and Rios eventually realize that the Security and Strategy Corporation, the Private Military Contractor Mega-Corp they work for, is doing a lot of evil things in their attempt to get the US government to pass a bill that will dissolve the US military and replace it with a completely privatized one. To do this, they're attempting to discredit the US military by working in league with anti-American terrorists, as well as leaking sensitive troop information to insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and even trick Salem and Rios into killing a US Senator who opposes the military privatization bill. However, after you spend the majority of the game as a badass mercenary using the PMC's awesome weapons (which you can upgrade and stylize to make even more awesome) and using them to take down hoards of enemies, the game certainly manages to makes private militaries look totally awesome and badass. Additionally, SSC's executives do make numerous good arguments to justify increased military privatization, which while undermined by the fact that they're using them to justify an evil plan, are valid points nonetheless and receive very little refutation. Then to make it even worse, it's only in the second to last level that Salem and Rios catch on to the scam, and the whole taking down your bosses to prevent their evil plan is crammed into the final mission. And to top it all off, the game ends with Salem and Rios starting their own PMC business which they use in the sequel to do the same badass stuff again.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4 takes place in a future where the military has become mostly privatized, and the world's economy is dependent upon continuous war. While this time, the player isn't a PMC, and the game does a good job of showing the Crapsack World this has brought about, it again manages to make PMCs look extremely cool, thanks largely to the awesome technology they use, such as the Gekko robots, as well as the nanobites that turn even barely-trained ground troops into super soldiers.
  • Max Payne does a pretty good job of getting its point across well, assuming that its point is that a Roaring Rampage of Revenge is lots and lots of fun. If it's trying to be anti-violence, not so much. Max Payne 3 tried to avert this by showing how badly Max's quest for revenge has affected him, but ran into the problem that the gameplay was still all cool, stylized, and Bullet Time-laden, which made Max's angst come across less as the laments of a man driven to horrible actions and more the whining of an insufferable stick-in-the-mud.
  • Valkyria Chronicles: War Is Hell, everyone suffers, and the bad guys feel pain too. Except it's a strategy war game where the good guys are all adorable, everything is rendered with a soft, unthreatening watercolor filter, and half the fun of playing the game is watching your squad's Potentials activate and listening to the stuff they say as they turn enemy mooks into greasy stains on their darling cobbled streets. It also doesn't help that "good guys", "bad guys", and "good guys in a bad situation" are so clearly defined they might as well have nametags, and the protagonists never have to get their hands dirty to kill every single person who could possibly be blamed for the war.
    • Lampshaded by Unskipable's commentary on the game.
    Paul: You know, I know people are dying and stuff, but with these pastel colors and fuzzy frame... I can't help but think everything is going to be okay.
  • Spec Ops: The Line may come closer than most for averting this trope. The game makes its message very brutally, deconstructing military shooters not by trying to make the players say War Is Hell, but rather make the gamers look at the hero power fantasy in what they are doing, and the cost of what being a shooter hero would actually do to a person. Even Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation could hardly find any jokes to make about it, and it showed in his review.
  • Inversion: There were gamers who have gone as far as declare Modern Warfare 2 to be horrible just based on No Russian alone.
    • Played straight by other gamers who cheerfully laughed while mowing down the civilians, because it's fun shooting NPCs who can't defend themselves. Subverted by some players who refuse to shoot any civilians and "fake" it by shooting over the civilians' heads, if they shoot at all. Subverted differently by other players who, regardless of how they play the scene, find it a genuinely disturbing way of saying "This is where you're headed when you start believing morality is obsolete in the name of security." Then there's the people who just say "It's a game." and went through the level with some impatience for a challenge. Averted further by people who use any of the game's numerous opportunities to avoid and skip the level.
    • Though it's far, far less infamous than No Russian, there are some players who see General Shepherd as a total badass and don't understand why we're not supposed to root for him because of it. For that matter, a good portion of the people who do realize they aren't supposed to be rooting for him probably only realized so after he shot the even more popular Ghost in the face.
    • The original Modern Warfare suffered from this with its attempts to show the horror of war. The game has several scenes of your protagonists doing reprehensible things, like killing enemies in their sleep and calling in an AC-130 to mercilessly dump heavy ordnance on infantry - even the Middle East missions as a US Marine are implied to be solely about keeping the unnamed country's oil - and famously had a player character die in the detonation of a nuclear bomb, ending one of the game's storylines on a low note while showing that soldiers can die at any moment. But the rest of the game has the player fighting against the villain responsible for detonating the nuke. Said villain is a Hate Sink the audience is meant to want to see dead, and the game ends on a bittersweet note as the use of violence has helped bring peace to the world by killing the bad guys, with the later games only having anything to say on the matter because they suddenly pretend the bad guys won all along to justify sequels.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance tries its damnedest to paint staying in Ivalice as a bad thing and Marche's desire to destroy it and bring back the real world as a good thing. Unfortunately, all the characters from "our world" that we see are better off in Ivalice, and the world itself is portrayed as a wonderland outside of the Jagds. Alternative Character Interpretation raised its head, and the result was "Marche the Omnicidal Maniac". Supposedly this was less of a problem in the original Japanese version, but even there the trope applies.
    • Even the Jagds themselves could be an example of this. Towns where laws have no effect aren't really a bad thing when the law system is so incredibly anal that you can be arrested for using certain attacks or even dealing damage to monsters.
    • It's the same debate that took place in The Matrix circles, and was implied in the films themselves. One realm is far less "desirable" than another realm whose existence the writers try to vilify, but the former realm is more "real" than the latter. Hence "real Crapsack World" versus "imaginary paradise."
    • However, there are subtle clues that not everyone is better off in Ivalice. Marche and friends may have gotten everything they ever wanted, but judging by the fact that a group of zombies in one mission have the same names as the bullies who picked on Mewt in the prologue, some of the townsfolk may have been turned into monsters.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV has plenty of anti-criminal motifs, it shows how crime and lust for money destroys the lives of opportunist gangsters and how it affects their friends and relatives. However, the missions involving contract killing are done in such a way that instead of making crime repulsive, actually makes it look attractive and fun. The characters we encounter, though they are criminals, are often comedic and very likable and not like those we are afraid of in real life. And thus the game became very popular, being one of the best selling games of 2008 and it's still played by millions of gamers who seem to not get its anti-crime message.
    • Red Dead Redemption did much the same thing in the same way.
    • Grand Theft Auto V also does this, showing that getting into "the life" will either bring you nothing but pain for years and destroy all your dreams (in the case of Michael) or leave you Lonely at the Top (in the case of Franklin). Only problem is, this also the game that gives us Trevor Phillips, who from the start of the game is shown reveling in wanton destruction, rape, torture, and murder, and cracks jokes about the mayhem he creates in his wake every time you tap the attack button.
      • On the other hand, Trevor's life is shown to be pretty miserable all around, and he only finds enjoyment in it because he's too unhinged to care. His Comedic Sociopathy is played up to the point he doesn't even seem to live in the same universe as the other playable characters.
      • Then of course, depending on the ending, all three protagonists can end up with all of their problems solved, ridiculously rich, and with no real repercussions to their actions. Only due to the fact they decided to work for themselves instead of cutting deals with everybody else to survive. Throughout the game, working for other criminals is a thankless and penniless affair. Every job they do for someone else ends with them being ambushed or betrayed. This is highlighted in the non Deathwish ending where the survivors are cast aside as pawns and their clients ends on the far better end of the deal.
  • Ace Combat insists often and firmly that War Is Hell. However, you play as an Ace Pilot, arguably the most glamorous combat role in existence, your arrival bringing hope to allies and sparking fear in enemies. Your distance from your targets means you never see in gory detail the aftermath of your passing and as a Featureless Protagonist (very often an unrelated mercenary, at that) you are spared the direct effects of deaths in the family. All these combine to dull the effect of the message.
  • Soul Nomad & the World Eaters: Best explanation for the popularity of Gig. He may be a Sociopathic Hero, but a hilariously entertaining Deadpan Snarker, too. And he loves hotpods, so he can't be 100% evil, right?
    • This trope is especially not helped by the fact that Gig ultimately makes a Heel–Face Turn, a Heroic Sacrifice and gets a Redemption Earns Life. Most of the characters still can't stand him, but he is enjoying life and may or may not become a couple with the main character.
  • Homefront somehow manages to mostly avoid becoming this trope. It bluntly and plainly shows that War Is Hell and since there is more focus on characters and the action is of a lower octane than in the Modern Warfare series, it really does deliver its antiwar message well.
  • Mystic Messenger has Jumin Han's route and his second Bad Ending. The writers' intent was to deliver An Aesop on how treating someone you love like a possession and hoarding them all to yourself is not true love. If the player chooses to enable Jumin's latent possessive nature, he will bind your hands and feet, make you wear shoes implanted with a micro GPS, and lock you up in his penthouse Christian Grey style. There, you will have everything you want except freedom, and he treats you as an object for his own amusement. This ending is meant to be seen as horrific as Jumin has chosen to succumb to his emotional issues rather than change for the better. The problem? He's filthy rich, classy, and very handsome. This caused the message to fly over the heads of a vocal contingent of the fanbase, with many of them finding this ending kinky, and even going as far as to say that it would be preferable to his Good or Normal endings.
    • This happened again with the V Route update, this time to Saeran, AKA: Ray, and Rika. The V Route storyline tries to deliver a similar message about the difference between obsession and love. However, by giving Ray and Rika Freudian Excuses and making them Affably Evil (NOT helped by the copious amounts of Les Yay the protagonist has with Rika, including a Bad Ending wherein they actually get together), they caused people to ignore the message once again. As a result, you have another group of fans wanting to romance Ray and/or Rika in spite of Cheritz' repeated attempts to showcase them as abusive and warn the players about how unhealthy a relationship with either of them would be.
    • And then Cheritz completely broke the above aesop all on their own by giving Ray a route of his own branching from the same Another Story created for V's route. This means that, in fact, it is perfectly fine to try to reform the mentally unstable man who kidnapped you with your love and encourage his creepily unhealthy obsession with you. Yay?
  • Heavy Rain: The story's awesome and dramatic and everything, but the single most awesome thing in the game is ARI - Cool Shades that do all kinds of awesome things via Cyberspace; Fingerprinting Air, accessing the FBI Omniscient Database, turning a prison cell of an office into Scenery Porn, and letting you bounce a ball off a wall like in a prison flick without a ball or a wall. They Eat Your Soul. The game itself just about crosses the Uncanny Valley and they're saying VR EATS YOUR FUCKING SOUL. What, are they saying anything more realistic than Heavy Rain are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know?
  • Iji is much more successful at averting this than most games because it's completely possible to play through the game without killing anyone. Also, if you do kill everything in sight like a normal game, the dialogue will make you regret it unless you're very callous.
  • In a meta example, this is what led to Destroy All Humans! being made. Matt Harding pitched the idea because he was thoroughly fed up with making typical shoot-em-ups and proposed the exact opposite of the game he would like to make. Naturally, it was approved and Harding effectively sabotaged his career, which led to him quitting his job and making Where the hell is Matt?. Not that we're complaining.
  • Saints Row 2 perhaps does an end run around this trope by avoiding the moralizing and continually plays up the fun and rewards of violent crime. Then the player character grinds a few rather sympathetic characters into the Moral Event Horizon, to demonstrate that he/she is every bit the vicious bastard the player is encouraged to be. Even some unsympathetic characters get terminated with much more cruelty than necessary.
    • Dane Vogel also suffers from this. He's cool, manipulative, wealthy, spends most of the game in complete control of the situation, and his plan would have solved Stilwater's gang problem. The fact that he's a ruthless, self-serving Corrupt Corporate Executive who simply wants profit and is out to crush anyone in his way to get it — especially the poor and disenfranchised — and that his plan to eliminate the gangs involved making things much, much worse before they got better tends to be forgotten because he's awesome.
  • Armored Core has you play as a mercenary mech pilot who works for all the wrong reasons (money and being the strongest). The earlier games tend to end fairly positively, but it's pointed out repeatedly most Ravens do not give a damn about how much carnage they cause on the job. Just because your client is an evil Mega-Corp doesn't excuse you from responsibility. In Nexus, your final mission results in millions of suicide robots devastating the planet. In 4, the mecha are Walking Wastelands and are ruining the world, and in 4A, you've got the option of killing millions as one mission. Despite that, piloting a mech is goddamn fun, and you're only ever called out on your actions once,note  In other words: That coworker you just murdered? What was his name again? Who cares, his bounty earned you money for new parts for your infinitely customizable robot. Yay!
  • Cooking Mama: Mama Kills Animals shows Mama from Cooking Mama brutally killing and gruesomely preparing a turkey with cartoonish graphics. Game developer Raph Koster explains that his kids found it gleeful fun. Even Majesco Entertainment apparently found it amusing, given that their response was to have Cooking Mama herself put out a press release complaining about it. It's like they said to themselves, "Nobody's going to get their message from it, we aren't going to worry."
  • Wings arguably subverts this; the game DOES use World War I for entertainment, but is stated to be dedicated to those who died in it, and also calls attention to the foolishness of various aspects of it.
  • In Pokémon, both the games and the anime, treating Pokémon as tools is wrong. The evil teams and the rivals all lose because they treated their Pokémon bad, you won because you care for them. Except the best strategy is to dump all the crappy Pokémon you catch into the PC forever and push the ones you keep in your party to their limits. Sure, they get sad if they faint and they get happy if you use Potions on them...but Happiness is a mostly useless statnote  and unless you horribly suck as a trainer they will simply be happy enough as time passes. The "best" competitive players even breed new Pokémon to train incessantly from the day they're hatched and throw the parents forever into the PC.
    • And any newborn that does not meet the expectations of the trainer (ability, nature etc.) is usually thrown into the wild without a second thought. Trainers can burn through dozens of baby Pokemon before they find the one that could become the perfect competitive battler.
    • Then there's Hidden Machines, moves that are required to get around the overworld but are useless in battle. The most common strategy there is to pick one or two mons on your team whose sole purpose is to carry the HM moves - meaning you are treating an ostensibly living being as a hedge trimmer / jackhammer / bulldozer / jetski.
    • Invoked in Pokémon Black and White by the bad guys, Team Plasma. Subverted in that only one of the members, N, actually believes in this; when he does fight you, he only uses Pokemon that can be found in the immediate area, and lets them go after he's done. By contrast, one of the first appearances of Plasma's grunts is kicking a Munna, and their true leader, Ghetsis, simply wants people and Pokemon separated so he can conquer Unova.
    • Hilariously, an ad insert in a children's magazine concerning Black 2 & White 2 had the following line:
  • One of the main points of Ryoujoku Guerilla Gari (Suck My Dick Or Die! in the English release) is that Lt. Prosper is an evil person for abusing his position and authority to rape women, and that in his bad end, Haresu is just as evil for buying into Prosper's lies. The problem is that, as an eroge, the sex scenes are a big part of the draw, and the most extreme ones are the rape scenes from Prosper's perspective and Haresu's bad, "join the army, meet interesting women, and rape the hell out of them"?
  • In-universe-parody in Kingdom of Loathing, with a chest labeled: "Magic equipment. Do not put on skeletons or they will come to life and it will be totally awesome."
  • Deliberately invoked in Night of the Raving Dead: as part of their plan to discredit Jurgen the vampire in front of his minions, Sam and Max turn a Very Special Episode of Midtown Cowboys into an endorsement for the garlic-flavored cigarettes they're supposed to be talking about the dangers of. Since the show is a big hit in Jurgen's homeland of Germany, he can't help but smoke the cigarettes even though the garlic makes him ill and embarrasses him in front of his zombie army.
  • An in-universe example in Mass Effect, as Shepard has to remind Conrad Verner at least once per game that War Is Hell and trying to do what they do without proper physical conditioning and military training would get a normal person killed very quickly.
  • Far Cry.
    • Far Cry 2 may actually be pretty good at being an anti-war game. The designers admit to having deliberately included elements which are not fun, such as weapons degrading and malfunctioning, needing to do tedious missions and drive around the entire map, and having to detour regularly to get more malaria medication. Of course, the game entails you becoming a badass and a hero. So what exactly is supposed to be so bad about all this badass mercenary business?note 
    • Far Cry 3 suffers from this. The majority of the game has minor morality (killing too many civilians in a row results in a Non Standard Game Over, and most of the sidequests involve helping good people by doing good things) and focuses on how well Jason learns to slaughter entire armies of pirates and mercenaries, with an underlying implication that Jason is becoming a tribal psychopath, regardless of how good he still is or how evil he secretly was, particularly when he rescues one of his friends in a particularly-exciting escape sequence and she is completely appalled that he seemed to be having fun during a life-or-death situation. The end of the game slams the full consequences of being a psychopath by forcing the player to make a genuine moral choice: save your friends and leave the island, or kill them to become the tribe's leader. These choices end up having serious consequencesspoilers ... and then the game continues beyond the ending, with Jason back in his normal clothes, only missing the finger the Big Bad took from him. This subverts the choice you just made: Made the Good Choice and left the island? No, you're still here, and you get to go back to killing pirates! Made the Bad Choice and died for it? Nope, Jason is still alive! After that it's back to business as usual as Jason continues kicking ass and having a blast doing it, now without the scripted story to tell you whether there are any downsides to what Jason is doing.
    • To promote Far Cry 5, Ubisoft released the album When the World Falls performed by the Hope County Choir, who are all members of Eden's Gate, the gun-toting, Christian nationalist Apocalypse Cult that serves as the game's main villains. Problem is, the songs themselves are pretty damn good country and Gospel music, especially "Keep Your Rifle By Your Side", a paean to arming up for a confrontation with the government, and "We Will Rise Again", a song celebrating the collapse of a decadent civilization while those that it oppressed inherit the Earth. When removed from the context of the game's storyline, these songs were quickly embraced by exactly the kind of people they were meant to satirize. As one top-rated comment on the video for "Keep Your Rifle By Your Side" notes:
    "If Ubisoft didn’t want us to identify with it then they shouldn’tve made it such a banger."
  • One of the games in Game & Wario has 9-Volt playing a videogame in his bed, while at the same time trying to make sure his mom thinks he's asleep. Before the game starts there is a long-winded message saying you should sleep early and not emulate what 9-Volt is doing.
  • An in-universe example appears in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Cyrodiil's only newspaper is The Black Horse Courier, and a number of pamphlets can be found on counters and tables in stores. One issue, Night Mother Rituals!, warns readers of an increase in Dark Brotherhood activity. More and more people in Cyrodiil are performing the ritualistic "Black Sacrament" to summon and hire assassins. Responsibly, the Courier explicitly details how to perform the Black Sacrament, so its readers can better prevent themselves from being caught with the materials necessary (such as a human heart, partial skeleton and pound of flesh) and be falsely incarcerated. You might be inclined to think the Dark Brotherhood themselves had the story printed.
  • The meth recipe shown in Payday 2 is actually for salt water, specifically because the devs know that people are going to try and make it anyways if it had real ingredients. Note that the chemicals used for it are still highly corrosive, so Overkill still discourages people from actually trying it.
  • Undertale for the most part does a pretty good job of discouraging players from killing anyone, going out of its way to provide fun, quirky, sympathetic enemies and bosses that the player will feel horrible about killing instead of trying to spare. However, there are two exceptions in the otherwise extremely dark, extremely grindy and extremely depressing Genocide route: Undyne the Undying and Sans. Both serve as massive Difficulty Spikes in an otherwise easy-but-fairly-tedious playthrough, and the latter is in fact the single hardest boss in the entire game. Unfortunately, both are considered to be two of the best boss fights in the game, the former due to being that character's biggest Moment of Awesome, and the latter due to being such an insanely brutal fight full of fun, sometimes even fourth wall-breaking attacks (and both of them due to having awesome themes). In addition, he, along with Flowey, will only show their true nihilistic natures in this route, and certain important pieces of context from said route are never given anywhere else. While many players were still successfully discouraged from completing the Genocide route due to all the horrible things they have to do to complete it, there's still a subsection of the fanbase who went through the route just for a chance to fight the two bosses and another subsection who did it to play a Villain Protagonist in a darker storyline (particularly since Flowey openly mocks those who would simply view videos of it rather than do the dirty work themselves).
  • Sands of Destruction opens with Morte and the World Annihilation Front attacking Viteaux like a bunch of Bomb-Throwing Anarchists. You're in control of Naja and are supposed to fight her off and save the town, but the girl is having way too much fun either way. With the way Naja and his jerkish superior Rajif keep calling her a terrorist, she'd make an excellent poster girl for any sort of terrorist group: "Be a terrorist! Blow stuff up! It's fun!" At least it does help you feel more sympathetic towards Kyrie for falling in Love at First Sight: that kind of enthusiasm can be infectious, even coming from a Psychopathic Woman Child. And, thankfully, she keeps her upbeat, determined personality even after changing her mind about destroying the world, proving that good doesn't have to be boring.
  • One level in Emogame 2 has you going onto the set of The Jenny Jones Show, where the use of this trope on tabloid talk shows is mocked for all it's worth. Today's episode revolves around "12-year-old hoochies" in a way that seems to be backhandedly promoting the Troubling Unchildlike Behavior of the adolescent girls featured while ostensibly condemning it, with Jenny Jones bragging about using softcore child porn as a Ratings Stunt.
  • Hotline Miami discusses the way people today tend to be desensitized to violence through the media and video games; yet this message is buried under the game's fast-paced, adrenaline-filled ultraviolence backed by a Synthwave soundtrack. The sequel is a bit better about this, but only just.
  • The extremely rare Atari 2600 game Pepsi Invaders is a Space Invaders clone where the aliens get replaced with the letters of the Pepsi logo. It was reportedly made by Coke, as a "morale boost" for their employees. One has to wonder if Coke realized that they were making a game where you stare at six versions of their competitor's logo for most of its playtime.
  • Fate/stay night revolves around the Holy Grail War where mages summon a hero in the form of a Servant in a battle royale where the winner gets one wish. The story goes to great lengths to show how horrifying the Holy Grail War is, how it puts innocent people in danger, how good people can get involved in the war and die, how the previous war was responsible for the main character Emiya Shirou's life getting screwed up, and how even the wish granted to the winner will be corrupted. The problem is that most of the endings have Shirou come out of the Holy Grail War better off than when he started by hooking up with a cute girlfriend, and even the ending where he Did Not Getthe Girl still has him overcome his emotional trauma. Later entries in the franchise continued to have this issue by having things end on an uplifting note for the main character, while also having a Servant as a love interest. Even the Darker and Edgier prequel Fate/Zero, despite its Downer Ending, still has the life of one of its supporting characters improved thanks to entering the Holy Grail War. In fact, the idea of Servants proved so popular that they've essentially become the main focus of the overall universe, simply because of how cool and universally-adaptable the concept is. Who wouldn't want to hang out with your favorite historical figure or fictional character, upgraded into a gorgeous magically-empowered superhuman?
  • The original series of God of War brutally deconstructs the idea of the classical Greek hero, showing that Kratos's Might Makes Right mentality causes him to progressively degenerate into selfish, violent, and vengeful individual going out of his way to kill as many people as he could just because he can. The stories by themselves make it clear that the world does not need someone like Kratos. The gameplay on the other hand requires that you slash up the various monsters in increasingly brutal ways, and Kratos just looks awesome doing so, so many players still root for Kratos despite the stories' portrayal of him. It certainly doesn't help that for much of the series, the Greek gods are framed as so corrupt and cruel that the conflict reads as Evil vs. Evil at worst and Kick the Son of a Bitch more frequently.
  • Yakuza 0 has an in-universe example. Shintaro Kazama knows very well what joining The Yakuza means, the burdens, the regrets and the sacrifices one must live with to live that life, and does his best to dissuade his adopted sons from following in his footsteps. His sons, on the other hand, want nothing more than to join, both to show respect, but also to get a taste of the wealth, power and respect he has.

    Web Comics 

    Web Animation 
  • Hazbin Hotel/Helluva Boss: Hell is almost exactly like Earth, has all the sex, drugs and booze you could want, you'll get a cool demon body with awesome powers, you're restored to perfect health, you'll get to see your loved ones again if they end up in Hell but most of all, there's no sign of any kind of eternal punishment. Aside from the yearly extermination, there doesn't seem to be much reason why people should avoid going there, much less be redeemed.

    Web Original 
  • The Rifftrax short 'Safety with Animals' has a scene telling the proper way to handle snakes, by way of showing a young child picking a wild snake from the ground, only to go back and say that you should never go near wild animals. Mike quickly mocks this.
    Mike: Here's a kid doing cool stuff! (beat) Don't do that stuff.
  • Any time you see a viral clip headed "SHOCKING VIDEO", it's odds on that it will be an example of this.
  • Deliberately invoked in this video, showing different driving situations with a "Yes" or "No" signs supposedly indicating how things should be done. Since this is intentional, the "No" examples usually lead to better results than "Yes", frequently because the other drivers are not following the rules. For example, one "No" situation shows a car racing down the middle of a road with a divided line. The "Yes" version then shows a car properly driving on the right side... and killing a little girl's dog that has wandered onto the road.
  • This trope is discussed by Lindsay Ellis, who describes this as "the satire paradox", claiming that people tend to only take the intended message if they already hold the view, while people who hold the opposite view tend to take the opposite message. After all, even if they notice the critical elements of the work, they can easily dismiss them as the story simply being self-aware that its side isn't perfect. She specifically discussed the above example of American History X - in her view, in trying to show horrifying fascists, the film ended up also making them look like physically impressive badass alpha males who proudly uphold their beliefs and drip with the imagery that made the Nazis march to war. The Producers, on the other hand, is praised for averting this trope, as the Nazi imagery in the film has the piss firmly taken out of it, and the only actual Nazi character is portrayed as a pathetic buffoon.
  • Binging with Babish will often tell the viewer not to try making the more Nutritional Nightmare-style dishes featured in the series, only to then grudgingly admit that most of the dishes in question are actually really tasty.
  • This video shows an elephant standing in the road expecting travelers to give her food, and getting some. The video description says you shouldn't feed a wild elephant but doesn't explain the consequence. While it's true getting close to wild elephants is dangerous and the elephant is putting herself and others in danger by standing in the road, the video doesn't show anybody suffering for it. All the vehicles slow down enough to safely pass the elephant, and nobody who feeds the elephant gets hurt; one person even touches her on the nose. The result is that a number of people don't understand the dangers the video is warning about and want to feed the elephant. It comes off as a rare chance to get close to a magnificent wild animal who looks so cute when begging for food.

    Western Animation 
  • Beavis and Butt-Head. Spoofed in the Season 4 episode, "Safe Driving". The boys watch a grisly driver's-ed film featuring two guys who seem to be grown-up versions of themselves (albeit handsomer). Naturally, they think it's cool and get into the same accident seconds after taking the wheel.
  • Parodied heavily in Clone High, where an anti-drug speaker comes to the school and talks about his experiences, advising the kids to not do drugs and recounting a particular bender. However, he notes that during said bender, he wrote a song that turned out to be hugely successful. He tries to justify this by saying he mostly spent the money on more drugs, but he also had enough left for a house for his mom, a motorboat, and a charity donation. He also muses that he smoked so many types of drugs (all of which are actually just synonyms for marijuana) that he'd have probably smoked raisins, which, naturally, convinces the student body that smoking raisins can get you high and has them immediately try it out. (It later turns out he was doing it on purpose to make teenagers buy raisins.)
  • Futurama dedicated an entire episode to parodying this: "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV." After scamming his way onto All My Circuits, Bender starts acting like his usual Jerkass self while smoking, drinking, and being a general nuisance. The network and public love it, and children start emulating Bender's self-destructive actions, much to the annoyance of their parents (who also repeatedly remark on how cool Bender's thievery and use of violence are).
    Bender (on TV, while lighting himself on fire): Try this, kids at home!
    (on-screen subtitles): Don't try this, kids at home.
    • Later, during his speech against himself, Bender gives the following golden lines:
      Bender: Do smoking and drinking on TV make me look cool? Of course! What about committing crimes and violence? Again, the answer is yes. But do we really want to teach our children these things?
    • At one point in the episode, Dwight, Cubert, and Tinny Tim, all of whom love Bender, try smoking, drinking, and cursing to emulate him, but just end up getting sick and in trouble. Tinny Tim suggests that they commit a robbery instead—specifically, stealing from Bender himself. The conversation that follows:
      Dwight: TV gave us the idea!
      Sudden cut to the Futurama logo
      Bender: You're watching Futurama, the show that does NOT advocate the cool crime of robbery!
    • The writers even managed to sneak An Aesop into the episode. Professor Farnsworth and Hermes decide to form a protest group against Bender, who takes issue with the idea. Both Fry and Leela point out that Bender does make a good argument by saying that his bad behavior isn't solely to blame for kids acting poorly (as Fry puts it, "Give a little credit to our public schools!"). Later, after making the speech mentioned above, Bender reminds both the in-universe audience and the actual viewers that it's ultimately a parent's responsibility to monitor their children's TV watching and set a good example.
      Bender: (looking directly at the viewers) Have you tried simply turning off the TV, sitting down with your children...and hitting them?
    • Bender also does this in the episode "The Problem With Popplers", where he tries to convince a crowd outside of a restaurant to not eat the titular aliens by listing all of the different sauces and snack deals available.
    • A deleted plot point in "Free Will Hunting" explains that Bender wrote the song "DE¢I$IONZ I MADE" (which was kept in the episode as an end credits gag) to warn children not to make the bad choices he did. The lyrics:
      Decisions I made! Thought I was a thug!
      Dropped outta school and smoked stuff that's like a drug!
      A broke-down dirty homeless substance abuser,
  • Home Movies: Parodied in an episode where Brendon makes an educational video telling kids not to put marbles up their noses. The kids think the idea is cool, so...
    • Made even funnier because everybody who saw the film immediately tried to put marbles up their nose. Even the teacher and Brendon's mom.
    • There's a similar situation in Little Men where Jo tells the children a story about a mother who warned her children not stick beans up their noses, prompting them to do just that. Jo says she stuck pebbles up her nose after hearing the story.
  • The Powerpuff Girls parodied this in the episode of "Mojo Jonesin'," where the mad genius chimp Mojo tempts a group of children with bootleg Chemical X which grants them superpowers. The first dose was free but to continue their addiction, they have to follow his orders. It's an obvious send-up of a don't-do-drugs episode complete with an ending when the kids decide to give up Chemical X and warn their classmates against "X abuse." Then another kid asks what it was like. "It was AWESOME!" This is further shown when you realize that the girls (and Mojo Jojo) are partly made of this chemical.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Directly spoofed: Lisa is shown a short film where rap stars in costume represent tooth decay: they stylishly and violently set about some giant teeth, rapping all the while. Lisa comments that while the film is against tooth decay it also kinda glamorises it.
    • Also parodied when Bart's class is shown a sex-ed video. "So now that we've shown you how it's done...don't do it."
    • In the episode where Bart is working for the Mafia and leaves at the end: "Sorry, Fat Tony, I've learned that crime doesn't pay". Fat Tony replies "Yeah, maybe you're right," and then leaves in an expensive limo filled with women. His henchmen have their own limos.
    • "Don't Do What Donny Don't Does", an entire book meant as a Goofus and Gallant-esque "what not to do" method. Most of these involve showing Donny Don't using his knife in all kinds of ways that most people would never consider, like shooting it out of a slingshot. Bart grumbles that they never let you have any fun.
    • Bart and Milhouse see a stunt on TV to which they want to copy. Milhouse adds "All those disclaimers makes me want to do it more!"
    • When Homer is prescribed medical marijuana, he quickly gets hooked and Lisa asks him why he suddenly loves her saxophone music.
      Homer: Now, daddy's special medicine, which you must never use because it will ruin your life, lets daddy see into magical places that you will never experience. Ever.
  • South Park
    • Another in-fiction example: In the episode "Pinkeye," when Mrs. Cartman sends her son to school dressed as Hitler, the principal shows him an educational film to scare him straight. However, the film consists solely of the message "Adolf Hitler was a very, very naughty man", followed by (untranslated) clips of his speeches and goose-stepping, saluting Nazis. There's no mention of anything evil he actually did. Cartman thinks the movie is "cool", to the point of seeing himself in place of Hitler in the video, and asks to see it again. However, given Cartman's stated anti-Semitism, he'd probably have thought it was even cooler had it been translated.
    • "Major Boobage": "Schoolchildren are often experimenting with dangerous ways to get high, like sniffing glue, or huffing paint, but they're all bad, m'kay...male cats, when they're marking their territory spray a concentrated urine to fend off other male cats, and that can get you really really, really, high...probably shouldn't have told you that just now, m'kay? That was probably bad."
    • "Butt Out'' also parodied this but in the opposite way. An overly upbeat anti-smoking group called Butt Out, which incorporates elements of terrible dance and hip-hop into its routine, performs at the school. All the students think it's really lame and disturbing. At the end, Butt Out enthusiastically calls out, "If you don't smoke, you can grow up to be just like us!" Directly after they say this, the boys start frantically smoking.
    • In "Sexual Healing," some of the kids ask what autoerotic asphyxiation is. The man they ask says he doesn't want to give them any ideas...but then describes it in detail, adding that it supposedly feels "really, really awesome". Three guesses how Kenny died in that episode.
    • "Kick A Ginger Day" is not something that should ever have been defictionalized!
    • Invoked in-universe when Cartman gets a fat scooter and Token and Kyle hatch a plan to make a documentary series about him. Kyle intends to warn people away from his self-destructive, fat-enabling behavior. Token, on the other hand, correctly predicts that it will become a hit along the lines of Honey Boo Boo and inspire imitators. Averted when James Cameron (The greatest pioneer!) raises the bar and everyone loses interest.
    • "Medical Fried Chicken" has South Park legalize medical marijuana. Randy Marsh wants to smoke it, and gives himself testicular cancer so he will get a medical referral to allow him buy marijuana for medical purposes. The result is that Randy, and his friends, spend most of the episode happier by giving themselves cancer, even finding their testicles being enlarged by the cancer to be a benefit. Their only issue comes from when they can't enter the building to actually get any of the marijuana. And then, while the show does frame them being in the wrong for giving themselves cancer for such a short-sighted reason, Status Quo Is God means that the Reset Button is hit in the end and none of them suffer any long term consequences from it.
  • Rick and Morty attempts to depict Rick's many vices, unstable nature, and Broken Ace characteristics in a negative light, as a kind of deconstruction of the idea of the Insufferable Genius power fantasy. But in the vast majority of episodes, Rick's flaws don't prevent him from being right or saving the day (in fact, many plots happen because of a character not doing what Rick would do), the series operates in a Crapsack World, meaning many of the victims of his actions seemingly deserve it, and while it's often shown that Rick's hedonistic lifestyle is leaving him an empty and miserable shell of a person, we also see all the incredibly fun and exciting bits of it where he's enjoying every minute—and top of all that, he gets all the best lines. Altogether, he's meant to be a satire of the hypercompetent Escapist Character, but most of the time, the audience is along for the ride—and when they're not, he's still usually somewhat sympathetic.
  • The Iron Giant tries to present the message that the use of weapons of mass destruction is wrong, and in fact, it was the Trope Namer for I Am Not a Gun. The problem is, when the titular Giant is switched into its weaponized mode, it also looks undeniably awesome, which confuses the metaphor somewhat.
  • Parodied on Archer with marijuana:
    Archer: And I advocate its use. As a potential role model, I advocate it.
  • Family Guy spoofs the trope in one episode where all the students at James Woods High are lectured on why having sex before marriage is a sinful act. Instead of taking the lesson to heart, the kids decide to have ear sex because it doesn't count and thus they still remain pure in God's eyes.
    You know the saying: once you go black, you go deaf.
  • The Boondocks lampshades this in the episode "The Trial Of R. Kelly" where R. Kelly is on trial for urinating on a 14-year-old girl on video, and a news reporter mentions that said video is "widely available" on the internet, even specifically naming the website it's hosted on. Of course, Riley Freeman immediately tries to sneak off and download it.
  • The Incredible Crash Dummies franchise started life as a set of public service announcements telling kids to buckle their seatbelts. This was conveyed by the dummies getting into spectacular car accidents and exploding in cool ways, before putting themselves back together in moments, and pretty much all the toys were focused around using these car accidents as a play feature, which undermined the message just a wee bit.
  • Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure: Tramp tries to convince Scamp of how good he has it as a house puppy, concealing Tramp's own rakish past as a street dog.
  • An episode of Transformers Animated has Prowl picking up a suit of powerful samurai armor that upgrades his strength and gave him new abilities, but also makes him reckless and causes him to rely more on his new upgrades than his actual skills. At the end of the episode, he destroys the armor, proving that he's grown past the need for it. The problem was that "Samurai Prowl" looked incredibly cool and people fell in love with the idea—so much so that Hasbro quickly got to work in turning it into a toy. Ultimately, Prowl even gets the armor back as a late-season powerboost, with the writers rather hastily having to explain why the armor is okay now.
  • DuckTales (2017) has an In-Universe example in the episode "The Outlaw Scrooge McDuck!" Uncle Scrooge is trying to teach Louie the value of hard work by telling a story from his past that juxtaposes Scrooge's resourcefulness and grit with John D. Rockerduck, a self-important Corrupt Corporate Executive, and Goldie O'Gilt, an underhanded swindler. In the end, Louie asks Goldie to mentor him behind Scrooge's back.
  • Reportedly, Veggietales ran into this problem with the episode "Rack, Shack, and Benny", where an evil chocolate factory owner who has a Villain Song demanding his workers worship a giant chocolate bunny and reject morality (an adaptation of the Biblical story of Nebuchadnezzar demanding people worship him instead of God). The problem was that said song ended up being the best part of the episode, so the biggest takeaway kids had was singing along with "I won't go to church, and I won't go to school!" and "I don't love my mom or my dad, just the bunny!" They ended up rereleasing the song and episode with different lyrics to downplay the more blasphemous parts and reinforce the episode's actual message...but now the song wasn't as catchy, so kids didn't care or even complained.
  • Arthur tends to run into this a lot, typically courtesy of Arthur's parents. In "Arthur Makes A Movie", we're shown that Arthur is banned from seeing PG-13 movies, and this is portrayed as a reasonable decision by his parents. "Tales of Grotesquely Grim Bunny" is even worse. It's a not-so-subtle condemnation of the idea of kids liking horror comics (Arthur reads one due to peer pressure, and gets nightmares), but the fact that the comic itself is Creepy Awesome means that its negative portrayal backfires on many viewers.
  • American Dad! parodies this in "She Swill Survive", where a plot point in the episode involves Stan and Hayley getting drunk to numb themselves from pain before doing dangerous things like crashing cars and jumping from tall buildings. The episode ends with a PSA from Stan and Hayley's "actors" to warn viewers... not against crashing cars or jumping off of buildings, but against doing so while drunk.
  • Hilariously used during an episode of Bob's Burgers, when an anti-smoking assembly has the exact opposite effect on Bob and Linda because of the juggling.
    Linda: I really want a cigarette.
    Bob: I really wanna juggle.
  • Kaeloo parodies this. In-universe, Stumpy and Quack Quack get addicted to carrots that have the same effect on their bodies as tobacco, and Mr. Cat tells Kaeloo that he can show them a PSA that is "terribly dissuasive" against carrots. The PSA in question has a doctor start to discuss the dangers of carrots, only to be shot by a cool cowboy with a gun who says that even though carrots are bad, they're "super cool". Stumpy and Quack Quack decide that carrots are actually cool because of the PSA, and immediately buy some... from Mr. Cat himself.

  • Mercilessly parodied in a theater warning featuring director John Waters. He's supposed to tell the audience that smoking is restricted in the theater but he does so by intentionally sending out mixed signals, like happily puffing on a cigarette himself and questioning the validity of the rule.
    John: (smoking) Hello, I'm John Waters, and I'm supposed to remind you that there's no smoking in this theater. Which I think is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard in my life. How can anyone sit through the length of a film, especially a European film, and not have a cigarette? But, don't you wish you had one right now? (inhales) Mmm-mmm-mmm. And I'm telling you to smoke anyway. It gives ushers jobs, and if people didn't smoke, there'd be no employment for the youth of today. So, once again, no smoking in this theater. (inhales again) Mmmm!

    Real Life 
  • There was a case where some cops took some pictures of an accident scene and, without the families' consent, started showing them to kids, apparently wanting to Scare 'Em Straight. Instead, the kids thought they were cool and posted them on the Internet. The families' attempts to get the pictures taken down have simply invoked the Streisand Effect.
  • This is basically the reason why abstinence-only sexual education tends to be somewhat less than persuasive to high school students: sex is very physically and emotionally alluring while readily available contraception has greatly mitigated its potentially detrimental physical consequences; and its long-term personal and social consequences are rather abstract and particularly difficult for a Hormone-Addled Teenager to comprehend. In other words, the gratification that having sex offers is immediate and obvious, while the risks are all delayed and uncertain, and teens are notoriously reckless and short-sighted about the future. Worse is that these programs tend to condemn premarital sex in all forms, protected and unprotected alike, either refusing to acknowledge protection exists or wildly inflating how often it fails. The result is that teens in these programs have just as much sex, but get pregnant and spread diseases much more frequently than those taught how to use those easily available contraceptives.
    • Which is not to say that every pro-contraceptive sex-ed class nails it either. Indeed, many can become inadvertent commercials for unprotected sex if they aren't careful. Portraying unprotected sex as reckless and worse, admitting that it feels awesome is an invitation for teenagers to try it. Some teenagers also have a romanticized view of teen pregnancy (or at least believe getting pregnant in their teens will let them get on television), especially the accidental sort. Really, any work that tells teenagers to not do stupid things runs into a risk of being this trope if they don't tread carefully and emphasis that the negative results of their actions also include being ostracized.
  • Similarly, this is why Driver's Education's attempts to dissuade reckless driving in teenagers is often ineffective. "If you drive recklessly, you'll have a ton of awesome stories to tell about all the times you almost died like a total badass. And if you do die, all your friends and family will spend all their time thinking and talking about you". The Texas DMV tried to subvert this by having PSAs claiming that if you are a careful driver, you'll be the one able to tell all the awesome stories about how your friends and classmates died. Morbid, but apparently effective.
  • Content Warnings can have this effect. They're supposed to serve as warnings to parents about what's appropriate for kids, but it's impossible to stop the kids from seeing them, and all they think is, "If I'm not supposed to be exposed to it then it must be totally awesome." Indeed, back in The '90s when the Parental Advisory warning on CDs was just becoming well-known, TV advertisements for rap albums would proudly flash the "Tipper Sticker" as a point of pride, and George Carlin even recorded an album titled Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics.
  • The Meese Report on pornography. The commission's conclusions on the harmful effects of porn were transparently determined by the prejudices of Edwin Meese et al. rather than actual analysis, while the report also included plenty of excerpts and juicy descriptions of otherwise hard-to-find material.
  • PETA wants to put a mural on the Mexican border fence to "warn" Mexicans not to come to the US because they'll get fat from all the junk food and meat. The painting makes the USA look like a carnival-land made of candy and barbecues, turning the actual message into "Hey, we've got all the awesome delicious food you could ever want!" Yeah, that'll scare 'em away.
    • It's not like they were starving, anyway. Mexico is the among the fattest countries in the world, second only to the USA with the rare case of overtaking it, such as in 2013. Combine this with the explosion in the last few decades of cheap, fattening, nutrient-poor junk food, and you have, for the first time in history, a situation where the poor are fatter than the rich on average. Indeed, many health workers in the developing world have witnessed cases of people who are simultaneously obese and malnourished because of just how awful the local diets have gotten.
    • Also, due to their reputation as putting animal rights above human ones, it brings the Unfortunate Implications of what they think about Mexicans.
  • Studies have suggested that kids who went through the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program were actually more likely to do drugs than if they hadn't; the suggested explanation is this trope. Specifically, that the program focused so much on resisting peer pressure that the message morphed to "everyone is doing drugs but you". This led to a joke backronym for the group, Drugs Are Really Excellent.
  • Hunter S. Thompson famously said, "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."
    • Well, up to a point, at least.
  • During the Cold War some Hollywood films were approved by the censors for release in the cinemas in the countries behind the Iron Curtain. Films were approved if they showed the US government in a bad light (evil CIA agents in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial or the authorities in the first Rambo), featured evil capitalistic corporations (Aliens), or had any theme that could be portrayed in an anti-west manner (the West caused a world-wide apocalypse in The Terminator). Inevitably, the audience would just end up impressed by the Western living standards.
    • The Grapes of Wrath: "This desperately poor family has its own truck?!"
  • Newspapers often carry lifestyle or entertainment features that glamourise trends that their political journalism, editorials and opinion articles condemn. In Britain this is particularly pronounced in left wing newspapers - Editorial: "Global warming sucks!", Feature: "Look at all these glossy photos of a new super-car!". How much of a problem you think this is depends on how much you think the rational part of the brain is influenced by the impressionistic part.
  • One of the Nazis' biggest propaganda mistakes was sending their "Gallery of Degenerate Art" on tour around the whole country so that all good loyal German citizens could see just how degenerate this art was for themselves. In terms of turnout, the tour was a smashing success: people turned out in droves in order to see for themselves just how degenerate all this art was. In terms of messaging, however, it was an abject failure: for some reason, this well-nigh pornographic degeneracy was always much more popular with people than the morally wholesome state-approved art the Nazis thought their loyal citizens ought to prefer.
  • Bill Lee is a former Chinatown gangster who has written about his experiences. When his own son got involved in a gang, Lee told him about his experiences to keep him out of the gang. The son's reaction was basically "My dad and granddad were gangsters! Awesome!"
  • Author Brian Solis offers this example of how someone can produce fake tweets that appear to be coming from celebrities, which of course is totally unethical and has disturbing implications for journalism, so you should never do it like he did to promote his first book.
  • During Prohibition, there was a loophole that allowed vineyards to indirectly sell wine. They would sell bricks of grape concentrate and yeast that, when placed in water for an appropriate amount of time, would become wine. They often had "disclaimers" which stated: "Do not add water and leave in a dark place or it will ferment and turn to wine." Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
  • One of the best selling books of the Restoration era was The Wandering Whore, a beautifully printed pocketbook that argues vociferously against prostitution in London's Covent Garden district. Except the booklet also includes long passages describing each one of the prostitutes working in Covent Gardens, their address, fee, appearance, and "specialty" in explicit detail...all such that "God-fearing men may better avoid them". It probably would not surprise anyone that this book later became Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies, the Yellow Pages for the sex trade of 1700s London.
  • In the tradition of a great many other anti-vice campaigns, anti-bullying programs are now showing signs of actually encouraging bullying by—for instance—inadvertently teaching potential bullies new techniques for teasing and harassing their peers online.
    • Same goes for books about social engineering. Sure thing, security personnel might benefit from reading these. But that is also true for con men.
  • In order to demonstrate just how cold it was during the US's "polar vortex" of January 2014, NBC News threw a pot of boiling water in the air, which immediately froze. Naturally, they warned viewers about doing the same at the time. When at least 50 copycat examples appeared on social media in which people scalded themselves or others, NBC even more urgently cautioned viewers not to repeat the trick... as they repeated showing that cool clip.
  • This was basically the essence of Marshal Marmont's lessons to the Duke of Reichstadt, Napoleon's son. He gave the Duke firsthand account of his father's brilliant campaigns, detailing his tactics and strategies, while emphasizing that this example was not to be emulated at all - partly because most of Napoleon's victories were at the expense of the Emperor of Austria, who also happened to be Reichstadt's grandfather. Needless to say, it did not prevent the Duke from dreaming that he could one day take power in France and restore the country to its former glory.
  • Anytime the RIAA or MPAA takes a public stance to warn internet users that downloading unlicensed media from torrent sharing sites because "they will get viruses from them", the general reaction from the internet is usually "thank you for telling us about these torrent sites we weren't aware of."
  • There are theories that this phenomenon is responsible for some school shootings and other high-profile mass killings, because much of the media reporting on such crimes focuses on the killers and their motivations. While the reports are intended to show that the kinds of people who would do such things are mentally ill and/or evil, some people (particularly those who are mentally ill to begin with) instead take the message as "if I kill a bunch of people, I'll get on TV and be famous!". Instead, some people advocate deliberately avoiding talking about the killers as much as possible in news reports, and instead focus on promoting the memory of the victims.
  • Many retail stores in the US have large posters in the employee lounge telling them to stop the meth problem by reporting "any large purchases of the following items" to the DEA. While it's meant to curb meth production, it also tells the low-paid worker "Here are the things you'll need to start a meth lab!".
  • Dorothy L. Sayers wrote a cycle of radio plays on the life of Christ for the BBC. The Lord's Day Observance Society thought that the idea was blasphemous, and inveighed against it. All this resulted in was more people than would otherwise have done so tuning in to see what all the fuss was about. Sayers, in the preface to the published book of the scripts, thanked the LDOS for the publicity; since in her youth she had worked in an advertising agency, she knew that there is No Such Thing as Bad Publicity.
  • Although Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmeister spoke openly about his vices (smoking, alcohol, drugs, groupies) and hard-partying lifestyle, he did not encourage others to follow his example because he'd seen too many of his friends die from living the way he lived (and on 28 December 2015, Lemmy himself finally joined them in death). It probably doesn't help, however, that the message "If you live like I do, you'll die young" is slightly dampened when you remember that Lemmy lived to be 70.
  • Legend has it that the reason lesbianism was never outlawed in the UK was because Parliament thought it would give women ideas. Or perhaps because, in the popular imagery, it didn't look bad.
  • Similarly, early gay and lesbian pulp fiction is a good example of this trope. Works had to portray homosexuals as disturbed, deviant and/or doomed in order to pass censorship, but the books were eagerly bought by many LGBT people who otherwise lacked representation in media or access to information about homosexuality.
  • Similarly to the "Degenerate Art" example above, the exhibition "Oto Ameryka" (This Is America), organized in Communist Poland back in 1952, was meant to show the degeneracy, racism, and all-around moral collapse supposedly widespread in the US. The exhibition was wildly popular — the people were glad to see anything American, and they ended up highly impressed by how high the standards of living seemed in America, even when depicted via a propagandistic lens intended to paint that lifestyle as a bad thing. Among other things, the notable Polish comic book artist Grzegorz Rosinski was first inspired to start drawing by seeing a fragment of an American comic in the exhibition catalogue; comic books were still considered capitalist degeneracy back then, and there was nothing like them available in Poland at the time.
  • Soviet media (and those of their satellites) focused a lot on jazz music, portraying it and the life style built around as being symbolic of the wasteful capitalist lifestyle. Russia and more or less other former Communist countries still have a taste for jazz long after it’s faded to a more niche genre in its country of origin. It's safe to say that the anti-jazz propaganda failed spectacularly.
  • Similarly, Romania allowed Dallas to be screened to showcase the evils of capitalism. The lesson learned was more along the lines of "Look how awesome it is to be a capitalist!".
  • The movement to legalize recreational marijuana in Canada (made official in 2018) led to a huge amount of this in the Canadian media, with outlets running stories like "How pot smoking could be a new bonding ritual for elderly parents and their children" and how pot is going to be a cash cow for Canadians alongside stories citing issues related to health concerns about second hand smoke and impaired driving. This despite the federal government indicating that one purpose in legalizing was to remove the "cool factor" from recreational pot.
  • In July 2018, the mayor of Los Angeles posted a video on Twitter to explain the city's ban on fireworks, showing how even a small firework can make an entire watermelon blow up. So don't play with fireworks, kids, or you might get to see some freakin' awesome explosions like this one!
  • The usage of flares in European football stadiums is both popular among the diehard fans as well as very forbidden. And whenever one does get smuggled inside and ignited during the match, the cameras will definitely linger on the impressive view of illegal pyrotechnics for a few moments.
  • This news story from New York City: "Federal Judge Wants to Climb Statue of Liberty Before Sentencing Protester Who Climbed It Last Year."
    "Additionally, if it were deemed possible and safe, the Court would like a ladder to be made available so the Court (and counsel if requested) can view, while remaining on the ladder, the surface of the area where the defendant was situated on July 4, 2018," the order read.
  • A somewhat infamous tweet by conservative commentator Benny Johnson had him travel to Cuba and go to a supermarket to show the poor state there. He claimed that the store seemed to stock nothing but Brand X items in identical packaging, claiming that this was a sign of an uncompetitive market and the evils of socialism. Most commentators just pointed out that the supermarket in question was exceptionally well-stocked, spotlessly clean, and had reasonable-looking prices, which isn't half bad for a country under infamously heavy embargoes. Others even said they found the identical packaging to look much more convenient than American supermarket's varied packaging. It was easy to assume that Johnson had thought the market would be poorly stocked or in a state of disrepair, and was now reduced to nitpicking when it turned out to be in top shape. Not to mention the vast majority of brands in the US are owned by a handful of companies, so they're not a good gauge of a competitive market anyway.
    • On a similar note, The Sun columnist Dan Wootton tweeted about the set menu at the 2020 Golden Globes being entirely vegan. His intention to make it seem like the vegans were forcing their lifestyle on others was mocked by many as A) the photos showed the vegan meals in question as being immaculately presented, and B) having a vegan-only menu at a ceremony that only celebrities could attend (many of whom, if not vegan themselves, were liberal enough to likely not care either way) is hardly an attack on civil liberties, where any of the 18 million people watching the Golden Globes from home could still buy and eat whatever they pleased while doing so.

Alternative Title(s): Anti War Movie, Truffaut Was Right, Dont Do This Cool Thing


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