Alternative Character Interpretation/Real Life

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  • Like it or not, Adolf Hitler is also subjected to Alternative Character Interpretation. Is he a Big Bad so completely monstrous he deserves the name Eldritch Abomination, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who wants to save the Aryan race from a perceived Jewish threat, a misunderstood Ubermensch who tries to change the world through unconventional means, a compelling Magnificent Bastard Dark Messiah who wants to save the world from the Great Depression and end further imperialism by tricking everybody to consider him as the most evil man who ever lived, a Woobie who was just trying to use a Freudian Excuse (which failed spectacularly), or all at the same time? Your choice.
    • Or he may have just been a struggling painter who just really wanted to do what he always dreamed of... he just didn't achieve them.
    • How's this? Hitler was the man who ended racism as a viable line of thought in the western world. By taking it to its absurd conclusion (and setting Europe on fire in the process), he forever destroyed its validity and made it possible for the civil rights/decolonization movements of the 50s and 60s to flourish. Racism was absolutely fine before the war and disowned afterwards.
    • Reviewing some of the things Hitler and certain members of the high command (like Hess, Himmler, and Goebbels) believed about Aryan mysticism and Nordic mythology, one could say they were (unfortunately high-functioning) cases of criminal insanity -- i.e., crazy and completely disconnected from reality with no comprehension of their actions or the reality of other people and their capacity to suffer. Our bad luck they happened along in a perfect storm of political upheaval and took advantage. Would also explain their Epic Fail at extended mass murder and domination, while the equally-evil but less-clinically-insane Stalin and Mao got away with it for decades. It certainly would explain why even the Soviets figured Hess could rot in prison for sixty years instead of being executed (he was evil, but also completely nuts and therefore not entirely responsible for his actions.)
    • Thing of it is, when a guy's killing twelve million defenseless people and making a serious try at exterminating two ethno-religious groups wherever he can get his hands on them, you probably just want to go for the pure evil interpretation even if others are more accurate.
    • Or he could have been an incredibly stupid yet charismatic leader. Whenever he was the one making the decisions in the war it ended in failure his bad boss tendencies stopped people from trying to fix his bad decisions. In fact you could pin the failure at Normandy as his fault because he didn't believe it was the real threat.
    • Here's another one, you could view his invasion of France to be either an unjustified and horrible action, or Karmatic Justice. Specifically because France was the one who imposed the worst of the punishments on them for WW 1 and filled the Germans with poverty and a crippling lack of national pride, among a list of other things.
  • This Cracked.com article analyzes Kanye West's behavior under the assumption that he is an eccentric genius who won't be properly appreciated until long after he's dead (the interpretation West clearly wants you to take), then reinterprets that behavior and the implications thereof under the assumption that West is actually clinically retarded and means every word from the bottom of his heart. Under this interpretation, things suddenly make a lot more sense.
    • Or he's a real-life Troll.
  • The Chicago Cubs. They can be interpreted as either perennial underdogs who always try their best to win the World Series and end their century-long drought, or a team that deliberately plays off its reputation as "The Lovable Losers" and intentionally loses each time to preserve any benefits resulting from being underdogs. The Cubs make so much money off of that reputation that, if the Cubs win the World Series, they will no longer have the distinction of being "The Lovable Losers," and, as a result, will lose at least some of their sympathetic out-of-state fans.
  • In his classic microeconomics book Defending the Undefendable, economist Walter Block offers these interpretations for a wide variety of common Acceptable Targets. Block's goal seems to be to deliver a giant You Fail Economics Forever to the people who think these targets are acceptable. For instance, he argues that prostitutes and drug dealers are heroes because they risk jail time to provide people with a valuable service while the cops who arrest them are clearly evil because they are kidnapping people who have done nothing immoral. He also argues that corrupt cops who are bribed to ignore drug dealers and prostitutes deserve some respect because while they may be taking their money, at least they aren't immoral enough to arrest them. Misers are also regarded as heroic because by not spending their money they consume less of the world's resources. Other Acceptable Targets defended include unregistered cab drivers, slumlords, strip miners, blackmailers, advertisers, ticket scalpers, inheritors, moneylenders, middlemen, scabs, and many, many more.
  • Vote for the Worst gets a lot of this. People hear the title of their site and come to the conclusion that they're a bunch of trolls trying to sabotage the show by keeping legitimately untalented contestants from being eliminated--a position that the notoriously restrictive producers promote. However, their mission statement is to vote for "the most entertaining contestants", the ones that will make the show more fun to watch--and if all else fails, the worst one, since they admit to wanting to vote for the ones that they believe the producers don't want to see win. Arguably, they're just applying the MST3K Mantra to a reality series--or rather, directly to its uptight producers. A case of Gray and Gray Morality.
  • As suggested by Dave Barry: the Chevrolet Vega. Honest example of engineering overreach coupled with underdevelopment, or deliberate plan to smear the very idea of a car in its' size bracket?
  • Christopher Hitchens was notorious for criticizing many people often thought of as being peacemakers, such as Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama.
  • Paris Hilton is generally described as either a brainless Upper Class Twit whose success and popularity says something very depressing about modern life or an incredibly shrewd and ambitious practitioner of Obfuscating Stupidity whose use of a slutty, airhead party girl image to become famous says something very depressing about modern life. Oddly, very few people (or at least pundits) seem to consider her just a person of more or less average intelligence.
  • George Lucas has been suspected as being money hungry and out of touch with what made the original Star Wars trilogy so enjoyable, a victim of big egoness from merchandising profits or possibly having Asperger's Syndrome, resulting in the original trilogy having meticulously built sets and characters having little emotions along with all of it's success.
  • Similar to Christopher Hitchens above, Penn and Teller's Bullshit is also well known for presenting different viewpoints on a range of people, organizations and beliefs. Again like Hitchens one episode (which featured him) analyzed Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama and Mahatma Gandhi. They've also gone after PETA, The Boy Scouts, the Vatican, NASA and many others.
  • The Austrian school of economics has one of these of the business cycle as one of its most notable features: rather than being something evil, panics/depressions/recessions/downturns are viewed as the economy correcting distortions caused by the preceding bubble (like overinvestment in the housing market), with mass unemployment an inevitable consequence of the fact that capital isn't homogeneous and takes time to be reallocated. This also implies an Alternative Character Interpretation of government stimulus: it's completely incapable of speeding the recovery, delaying it instead.
  • Herbert Hoover is victim of the Hatedumb variety: the phrase "Liquidate, liquidate, liquidate" is only attributed to his Treasury Secretary by his own autobiography, where he also notes he ignored this advice. Hoover wasn't laissez-faire by a long shot; a better description would be "FDR-lite".
  • "Good" and "bad" IT companies, from a hacker (in the original meaning of hacker - not the popular black hat wearing type of person) point of view. Both SUN and IBM have been portraited on both end of the spectrum, as "hacker-friendly" and "anti-hacker". In the 1980's SUN was seen as a company that produced a lot of hacker-friendly hardware, and IBM was seen as a commercial, corporal gigant, in the first decade of the 21st century, the roles where reversed. IBMs roles in using Linux, and IBM-SCO war have played a role here.
  • Many people believe that Bill O'Reilly is a hatemongering uberconservative that sits in his tower and rages against his 'guests' if they do not share his misguided opinions. But what if he and others like him (Glenn Beck for example) are actually intelligent people that simply like being paid to be belligerent and stir up all sorts of controversy?
    • Well, Dunno about Billo, but that's the truth about Glenn Beck.
  • Has Charlie Sheen gone over the top in rudeness and lost his mind? Does he have some brilliant plan in mind that nobody has figured out yet? Many theories have surfaced as to what he really has in consideration.
  • Is Dan Schneider uncaring about the negative reception that critics and some of his fans have brought about on Victorious and only caring about its success or has he been worried about the show's ratings lately, and trying to do what he can to cater to iCarly fans and their complaints?
  • Christopher Hitchens posited that the reason George W. Bush uses his famous "Bushisms" is because he is dyslexic, not stupid. On the third hand, it's always possible that he could be both...
  • The academic discipline of history is this trope applied to real life. No specific examples, please.
    • After all - history is written by the victors.
    • Sometimes written by the victors, but not always. A rather alarming case was after the American Civil War, where the dominant histories of the war were often written by Southerners rather than the winning Northerners. Naturally, these Southerners were quite bitter about the Confederacy's defeat, and did everything they could to glorify the "Lost Cause." It was years before they were seriously challenged, and in the meantime, pro-Confederate propagandizing resulted in a novel that was later turned into a book: Gone with the Wind.
    • The traditional archetype to this trope in Europe (or at least Spain and Britain) is Sir Francis Drake, the man who led the British naval response to the Spanish Armada and defeated them by setting fire to his own ships and sending them into Spanish ports, where they incinerated the Armada before they even left for England. Heralded a national hero in Britain, he is better known in Spain as 'el Draco'.
  • Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings: The Ace or Badass Bookworm who knew a lot about many things (even drinks, despite being a teetotaler), or a Boring Invincible Hero who proved what a bad idea it was to have unlimited wins?
    • IBM Watson is a sapient, full sentient being, understands the symbols it handles, and deserves full US citizenship.
  • Pretty much any politician during an election campaign: the candidates you prefer are good and possibly noble people, while the candidates you do not prefer are bad people and possibly evil incarnate.

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