Acceptable Political Targets
You don't have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference...
—Richard Nixon after losing a race for governor in 1962, six years before becoming President
First rule of leadership: Everything is your fault.
—Hopper, A Bugs Life
A subset of Acceptable Targets. This one deals with demonized political groups. It's gonna be a Long List, because politics is one arena where (in a democratic society, at least) all groups not only have to compete against each other, but have to publicly compare themselves with each other. This too easily leads to making the other guy out to be a Strawman Political.
It is important to remember that your opinion on how (un)deserving of ridicule or hatred a given political group is has nothing to do with whether it should be listed here; this is merely an index of how the group is treated in popular culture. (So ideally examples shouldn't be "These guys suck lol" or "We deserve to be on here because we're so persecuted.")
This is not That Other Wiki, so we're not concerned with what groups actually believe. It's also not just about groups that are disagreed with or controversial—the group has to be among the Acceptable Targets for mockery and derision.
See also Strawman Political. And do not forget the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment.
- In "Blazing Saddles", we see Nazis in line to try out for Hedley's army of thugs, and a (heavily implied) Jewish actor playing the dictator appears briefly. He is also visible repeatedly giving Nazi salutes in the background of the Great Pie Fight, as well as during the swearing in scene.
Hedley: RIGHT hands!
- This trope is the reason Inglourious Basterds was a hit.
- Even though its 'heroes' similarly believe All Germans Are Nazis.
- You Nazty Spy was the first film to ever lampoon the Nazis.
- The Manchurian Candidate makes that explicit by having its McCarthy analogue actually be a Soviet agent. They also have him pick the number of communists off a ketchup bottle.
- George Clooney's film Good Night and Good Luck, telling the story of news reporter Edward R. Murrow's attacks on McCarthyism, featured actual footage of McCarthy speaking. When screened for test audiences, most of them thought that it was an actor hamming up McCarthy's lines.
- This paranoia was brilliantly mocked in Stanley Kubrick's Doctor Strangelove. Also, chillingly, portrayed in Fail Safe was the dire consequences that many feared would be a result of the tensions between the USSR and the US.
- The film Network is all about satirizing these organizations.
- To a large extent they've replaced the USSR as the Communist Big Bad (see, for example, Tomorrow Never Dies). Interestingly, for a few years after the fall of the USSR, the new Russian Federation (often incorrectly called things like the "Russian Republic") became a brief stand-in for the USSR due to the common misconception that it remained as powerful. Crimson Tide and GoldenEye were good examples of this.
- This was very much a Cold War era trope. Consider the James Bond films: the Red Chinese are Goldfinger's backers (1964), and in they tolerate Scaramanga operating out of their country (1974).
- Sherlock Holmes is a good example for how this trope changes over time. At the time people complained over how Arthur Conan Doyle demonized the KKK, but no one raised a eye-brow over how the Mormons were painted as a Church of Evil in the first Holmes-story.
- The Last Continent takes a swing at politicians in general:
Neilette: We put all our politicians in prison as soon as they're elected, Don't you?
- How bad is North Korea? It's like this: Jon Stewart had on a guy who wrote about his experiences helping North Koreans escape to the Freedom-Loving paradise that is...The People's Republic of China.
- Fox News Channel's political leanings are at a complete disjoint to its sister entertainment network. For example, an episode of House in 2010 heavily criticizes the health insurance industry that Fox News is advocating to leave alone.
- Much of the political satire and lampooning that both Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart do tends to be around this.
- Notably, the KKK were featured as the villains in The Adventures of Superman... back in the '40s, when they were still considered kind of respectable. Well, the villains were called "The Clan of the Fiery Cross," but it's very clear who they meant. That show helped expose the truth about their racist agenda, which led to the organization as it was then being eventually completely disbanded. That's right, Superman defeated the Klan. Klansmen still exist nowadays, but are considered pale imitators at best.
- "A second flood, a simple famine, plagues of locusts everywhere, or a cataclysmic earthquake I'd accept with some despair, but no! You sent us Congress! Good God, sir, was that fair?"
"I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress!"
- Bear in mind that this comes from the mouth of someone who is both a member of Congress and a lawyer.
- Dragon Age 2 allows Hawke to make 'politicians' jokes at every turn, and at one point if you tell Varric that you are going to change the way Kirkwall works he tells you that entering politics is either "idealism or madness...so, either way, right up your alley."
- Crysis and Home Front both originally planned to have Chinese enemies, but later changed them to North Koreans in order to avoid being Banned in China and losing a large part of the international market.
- This Sluggy Freelance strip demonstrates that sometimes you don't even need to specify what political group you think is living excrement.
- In The Simpsons, Sideshow Bob, who has tried to kill Bart many times, had a tattoo saying 'die Bart die'. To explain it to his parole board he says it means in German "the Bart the". A woman exclaims that it's not like anyone who speaks German could be evil.
- Family Guy had an entire episode mocking Fox News.
- The country of Klopstokia in The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries episode "A Night Louse at the White House", whose ambassador and his wife were outed as spies attempting to steal classified information on the American space program, was a thinly-veiled jab at the Soviet Union, especially as it was customary to throw potshots at the Soviets during the Reagan era.
- Stalin is mentioned along with Adolf Hitler on the Godwin's Law page. Calling someone a Stalinist is seen as worse than just a Communist (in Western Europe, Communist is not seen as that bad. Stalinist, for similar reasons to the Nazis, would be.)
- Public service announcements were directed at English fans traveling to the 2006 World Cup in Germany not to mention the war. Special attention was paid to the fact that the German authorities wouldn't take kindly to people doing Hitler impressions and the like.
- Imitating stereotypical Nazi behavior is usually understood by modern Germans that a person believes these behaviors are still common in Germany and that rules and standards of society are still the same. Which is probably the single most guaranteed way to piss about every German seriously off. And the English are particularly infamous for doing it. In fact, it is illegal in Germany to make the Nazi salute in public.
- Also, being Hitler. Seriously, there is a Eddie Izzard routine that goes like this:
Hitler ended up shot in the head, drowned in petrol, set on fire, buried in a ditch. So...that's fun. I mean, it's funny...Because he was a mass-murdering fuckhead...as many eminent historians have pointed out. And it was his honey-moon too!
- This was helped in the U.S. by the backlash against feminism in the 1980s. Oh, and Rush Limbaugh helped cement this view by coining the term "feminazi."
- It also doesn't help that this is Truth in Television for a very very small and ridiculously angry minority who most actual feminists are ashamed to be associated with.
- On TV Tropes, the Double Standard and The Chick articles had to be locked as they were huge magnets for real-life feminism soapboxing and debates. Luckily, other articles that seem like Flame Bait for critics of Feminism like the Straw Feminist and Does Not Like Men articles avoided this fate (and so far continue to avoid this fate both on TV Tropes and here) but the former article no longer allows Real Life examples...if they were allowed to begin with.
- Similarly the British House of Lords, largely made up of political appointees but formerly with many hereditary aristocrats, is generally portrayed as full of incredibly ancient out-of-touch people who're either permanently asleep or actually dead.
- To some extent, this reputation was even brought to American awareness when Saturday Night Live did a sketch about it (or was it the House of Commons?) where, among other things, Will Ferrell's character kept pushing a resolution to declare Oasis the greatest band ever. The other points of order were equally trivial and/or outright rude.
- Recently the opinion of the House of Lords seems to be improving, because they're spending most of their time opposing nearly everything the government passes to them. The fights between the two are referred to as Parliamentary ping-pong, as both houses have to agree on something before it becomes law. (However the Commons can invoke the Parliament Acts to push laws through. There is also the Salisbury Convention which states that if something is in the ruling party's manifesto, it should eventually be allowed to pass.)
- Both are often portrayed as spoiled, wealthy folk who don't understand the value the working poor place on hard work (if liberal) or the hardships others face (if conservative). Both can be libertarian idealists who believe Rousseau Was Right or Ludd Was Right (liberals want to return to nature to save the Earth from man's machines, conservatives want to go back to a time before modern civil rights). Alternately, they are closet communists, nazis, elitists, etc. who believe Hobbes Was Right, because common folk can't be trusted.
- Liberals and conservatives who aren't rich aren't immune, either. Working class liberals are hippies who think that abandoning all the technological progress made over the past 100 years will save the world, while working class conservatives blame anything bigger and/or different from them for all their problems.
- Liberals also get portrayed as Cloud Cuckoolanders who don't see why others object to the Animal Wrongs Group or the You Fail Economics Forever politician. Or trying to make friends with people who very obviously will never be your friends.
- Conservatives are often portrayed as not really believing the positions they take; they are in it for the money. Alternately they are mindlessly devoted to outdated political, cultural, and religious beliefs and do not consider the consequences. Or they're sociopaths who vote against rape victims.
- Both ideologies are actually split between elitist and "common-man" factions, with a different set of stereotypes for each.
- Elitist liberals are crypto-Orwellian dogmatists insidiously transforming this country bit by bit into a totalitarian state. They think that everything should be illegal. "Common-man" liberals are scruffy New Age Retro Hippie hedonists who all have the mental capacity of a twelve-year-old girl. They think that nothing should be illegal. Naturally, the two groups hate each other - but they'll always join forces when it comes to bashing conservatives.
- Elitist conservatives are snooty rich country-clubbers who drink cognac and smoke improbably long cigars. "Common-man" conservatives are rabidly fundamentalist trailer-trash losers with no social skills and very few language skills. Naturally, the two groups hate each other - but they'll always join forces when it comes to bashing liberals.
- The fact that a small minority of both groups (far more on the internet, due to GIFT) actually are like the above doesn't help matters.
- Liberals get attacked by socialists, left-anarchists and other people on the "hard left" for only wanting to reform the system, not create a new one through revolution and being in their view Not So Different from the conservatives.
- Former South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson, the sole reason Australia doesn't have an R rating for video games. Unfortunately, his seat was pretty secure thanks to the votes of other old people who think video games are all Pac-Man. After he resigned, much progress was made on moving toward getting that R rating in place.
- Stephen Conroy, the former Australian Minister for Broadband and the Digital Economy, rapidly became a target of scorn and laughter from virtually the entire internet, and even the American government, among others, got in on the scorning action! It's not just because he was pushing a plan to instate a mandatory internet filter across Australia. It's not just said filter had been proven in tests to be ineffective and detrimental to internet performance. It's more to do with the fact that he kept pushing the filter plan at every opportunity even though it was overwhelmingly unpopular and had no chance of becoming a reality. His use of statistics apparently conjured from thin air to support his plans, demonization of those opposing him, and his declarations of unfettered power over all telecommunications in Australia all didn't help win him any support. He eventually he resigned in 2016, having failed to achieve his dream of a thoroughly-censored Australia.
- John Howard, who somehow managed to be the second longest-serving Australian Prime Minister in history (possibly because his opponents were either devoid of charisma or Mark Latham). Considered a toady to George W. Bush (who was an Acceptable Target overseas long before he was in the US), racist, miserly and looking kinda weird. It was a moment of glorious schadenfreude for a large part of the Australian public when not only did his party lose the election, but he lost his actual seat in the House of Representatives—becoming only the second Prime Minister in Australian history to suffer this (the first being in 1929).
- Speaking of hated Australian political figures, Pauline Hanson and One Nation are considered the national mascots of racist, xenophobic, idiotic, trashy bogans led by a fish-and-chip shop owner and 'celebrity'. Even long after the One Nation furore blew over, Hanson was still pretty much everywhere milking the "celebrity" for all it was worth, memorably leaving Australia to emigrate to England... because she didn't like Australia's welcoming attitude to immigration... and then returning to Australia within a matter of months...
- The Australian Family First party have a rather deserved reputation for being fundamentalist, homophobic, heavy-handed and a large part of its leadership coming mostly from the congregation of a church that is very exclusive and selective of its members. They're also known for issuing contradicting statements and flip-flopping between sides on an issue depending on whether being deeply conservative is fashionable with the public. Their press conferences are very much a case of Think of the Children personified.
- Though not a political party, the Australian Christian Lobby is derided for similar reasons, and also for its support for the internet filter and opposition to the R rating for games, again both cases of Think of the Children. More than that is their audacity in claiming and acting like they represent the interests of all Australian Christians, which they kind of don't. Their leader also gained some infamy for using ANZAC Day as an opportunity to denounce immigration and the legalisation of gay marriage as "unAustralian".
- Julia Gillard, the current[when?] Prime Minister, is susceptible to this owing to the circumstances which led to her taking the role; she's widely seen as The Starscream to her predecessor Kevin Rudd. The federal election which soon followed didn't help - her campaign was widely poked fun at for being inconsistent and unfocused, to the point that partway through she declared everything so far to be a mistake and said she'd change that and start being the "real Julia" (cue every Australian comedian trying to figure out who the "old Julia" was and what the "new Julia" did to her).
- Her opponent, opposition leader Tony Abbott, doesn't fare much better for almost the exact same reasons. That, and how the most publicised event of his election campaign was, for some reason, him burning a pair of his speedos on live morning radio.
- They[who?] are quite infamous for imposing Sharia Law. "Strictly". Immigrants in other countries rally to impose it. While they say they're doing it peacefully, they're quite mean to those who think differently.