Do Not Do This Cool Thing

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Just look at these losers.[1]
Cquote1.svg

"You're watching Futurama, the show that does not advocate the cool crime of robbery!"

Futurama, "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV"
Cquote2.svg

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 smoking, doing drugs, 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 to this trope, 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.

A sub-trope of Broken Aesop. Sometimes the result of an Accidental Aesop or an Alternate Aesop Interpretation. Can overlap with Clueless Aesop or Family-Unfriendly Aesop. Sometimes a Spoof Aesop may attempt to show this works. Occasionally the result of Poe's Law or Straw Man Has a Point.

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, or Unfortunate Implications.

But Not Too Evil is often invoked to prevent this trope.

See also Evil Is Cool, Evil Is Sexy, Forbidden Fruit, and The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything.

Note that this trope is never done intentionally, and as such, can't really be averted. Think of it as Getting Crap Past the Radar when the neither the creator nor radar was even aware it was crap. However, Moral Guardians or other critical people sometimes criticize these works as "glamorizing" the vice in question. This trope happens, for example, when a War Is Hell movie accidentally makes war seem awesome. But a War Is Hell movie that's actually, well, hellish, is just one that's doing a better job getting its message across.

See Stealth Cigarette Commercial for when this is done intentionally.

The 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.

Do Not Read These Cool Examples:

General

  • War Is Hell. Anti-war works suffer badly from this. The former Trope Namer was French film director, François Truffaut. He once said that "There is no such thing as an anti-war movie" because it will invariably look exciting up on screen". Another old saying is; "Soldiers love anti-war movies but never the way the maker wants", though these descriptions actually apply to war in other media as well as film. Plus, Truffaut's theorem isn't the only problem. Even if the work is intended to show how horrible war is it almost always backfires. While certain aspects of the war can be portrayed negatively, it's near impossible to make a work that is completely anti-war, regardless of what approach the creator takes, to the point where trying to make an anti-war work is nothing short of futile. There's a couple of reasons for this;
    1. The fighting ends up looking or sounding cool. If it doesn't, and the battles aren't exciting, then the work can't get its message across because no one will want to see/read/listen to a war work with boring battles.
    2. Even if #1 is avoided, and the work doesn't show any fighting and instead focuses on other negative aspects of war, such as the suffering of civilians or atrocities committed by one of the sides, it's a bit difficult to get the message across. Without showing the fighting, which is the actual war part of anti-war, the work can't actually show why the civilians are suffering or why the belligerents are committing these horrible crimes.
    3. While the war itself is meant to be seen negatively, the works often go out of their way to portray at least one side fighting it in a positive light. In addition to seeing the troops fighting cool battles, the audience sees them committing selfless acts of bravery and maintaining strong willed attitudes of hope and perseverance. So the very fact that war sucks brings out the best in people.
    4. Even if #3 is avoided and the work does focus excessively on the negativity of war besides just the battles, and shows demoralized troops driven committing horrible atrocities, there will inevitably be at least one character who withstands it and never breaks. So no matter how bad the war gets, hope always survives.
    5. This still happens even if #4 is avoided, and the work shows the battles and goes all out to portray the other aspects of war as horribly as possible with no redeeming features whatsoever; packed with obligatory war crime scenes, those fighting are complete monsters who constantly cross the Moral Event Horizon without hesitation, have no rules or customs, taking no prisoners, killing surrendering troops, executing the wounded, pillaging and burning, raping girls, killing civilians, killing children, and killing puppies and kittens.
      • A.) If only one side involved is like this, then it's only anti-war for that side. It's extremely pro-war for the other side because all it's done has justified them fighting, and the audience wants them to fight against the evil side.
      • B.) If all sides involved are like this, you get Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy. The audience hates all of them and wants them to fight so they can all kill each other.
  • Junk food is one of those things that it is hard to have An Aesop about because of how colorful and tasty it always looks. Any diet commercial will backfire horribly if they show the foods you shouldn't be eating and say that you shouldn't be eating them.
    • British TV chef Jamie Oliver tried to avert this by showing people their weekly intake of junk food all dumped together into a huge unappetizing mess. As Charlie Brooker pointed out, the resulting message was "don't eat your food that way".
    • This backfired again on Jamie Oliver as he tried to explain to children why chicken nuggets made from mechanically separated poultry are terrible and non-nutritious, as he carefully cut up a chicken and used the leftover carcass to make nuggets. The kids happily scarfed them down, to his sad amazement.
    • Dara O'Briain mocked this one as well, talking about Gillian McKeith's tendency to show people a table covered in all the crap they shoveled down their throats over the course of the week - and noted that the looks on their faces tended to be a mixture of pride and lust.
  • Any piece of anti-tobacco propaganda where the smoker/chewer actually looks pretty hot with a cigarette in his or her mouth or while chewing. Especially when it emphasizes someone trying to look cool by smoking or accuses the Tobacco industry of glamorizing the use and then clearly identifies how they've played up tobacco usage to look cool, which the viewer may not have noticed before.
  • Almost any video game that tries to remind us that violence is wrong. OK, here's your Godslayer Blade, Shootemup 6000 and a ridiculously complicated combat system that you must learn in order to see the story. Oh, and don't kill people, unlike the villain.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil. That would be pretty much why a good portion of anti-piracy propaganda just doesn't work. As one of the goons have put it...
Cquote1.svg

plastickiwi's submission: Wait... so you're telling me people download and burn their own DVDs... for free?

Cquote2.svg
    • In addition, pirating your DVDs is a good way to be freed from that annoying anti-piracy trailers.
      • And work around the region codes in a No Export for You situation. At least when you do not have to worry about a language barrier.
    • And one of the same companies that are pushing anti-piracy also distributed file-sharing software, promoting the ability of the software to download copyrighted media illegally: [1]
  • Teen Pregnancy. Shows like Teen Mom, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and Sixteen and Pregnant do little to discourage it. The cameras step into the house of a teenage girl whose life was ended by pregnancy only to find that, somehow, her life goes on. It's harder to fear something with which you've become more familiar. It doesn't help that most of the "struggling teen mothers" portrayed in many of these media are rich white girls who don't have to get jobs or miss out on school or social events to take care of their baby, and can often still get a guy (whether or not he's the father of their child) to go out with them.
    • Taking it further, there's almost inevitably- especially in documentary versions- a statement somewhere about how- at least in her own estimation- she's become twice the person she was and how it's really matured her, and how one just doesn't know what love is 'til one is a mother. Yeah, kids, don't do it!
  • Anti-consumerism or anti-materialism messages can easily fall into this. The story often has to show all the things that people shouldn't waste their money on or shouldn't define themselves by, and it's extremely difficult to portray these things without them looking cool. This goes double when the message is aimed at kids.
    • This happens a lot in Christmas works that try to reinforce the true meaning of the holiday, about family, about giving to the less fortunate, and how it's better to give than to receive, which is then undermined by showing all the awesome presents we shouldn't be so focused on getting.
  • Body weight related issues, either getting too heavy or becoming too thin.
    1. For example, this ad warning about the dangers of anorexia shows a cadaverous-looking young woman (Warning -- NSFW image). However, while people without weight issues might be disgusted by sights like these (but it's not like they were going to suddenly become anorexic or obese anyway), they can also give grounds for denial: "I'm not anorexic/obese: I don't look like that!"
    2. With weight loss in particular the works can become icons as a goal to reach, or for viewers/readers blaming themselves. "Look at her, I couldn't even go as far as she did!"
    3. In the case of some who have gone through the experience of having an eating disorder and managed to "beat" it, a lot of times they used pictures like these as "thinspiration" and seeing those images may trigger a relapse.
  • Sex Is Evil. Works that make arguments against sex or portraying it openly, whether its discouraging sexual immorality and promoting abstinence or if it's arguing against the objectification of women.
    1. The work inevitably has to show some sexual imagery, and it's pretty much impossible to show it in a non-appealing light, so it either the sex or the portrayal of women off as appealing.
    2. With works that promote abstinence they often get screwed up by trying to balance out the message of how evil and dirty pre-marital sex is with how great and wonderful sex is once you're married. Unless the work resorts to outright lies, it really has no argument to show any differences between sex within marriage and sex outside of it other than, "It's bad/sinful/immoral".
    3. Even if teenagers adhere to the message, they usually find loopholes to warp it anyway.
      • A.) It's no coincidence that the virginity pledge movement and abstinence trends like purity rings have coincided with rising rates of oral and anal sex among teenagers. While individual leaders and parishes have given their opinions on oral and anal sex, the churches of each sect have yet to take an official position on them. Because oral and anal sex can't result in pregnancy, this leads kids to believe they're just a little bit less sinful than vaginal pre-marital sex.
      • B.) Even with vaginal sex, kids can still find other loopholes, such as being engaged or being "spiritually married". They're not actually married, but they believe that you can still do it as long as you get married later. That part's prettymuch in the Bible: ancient Israelite (precursor to Jewish) law specified vaginal intercourse between a man and woman who were both unmarried as being exactly equivalent to marriage vows, the couple becomes instantly married (modern equivalent being "common law" marriage). Hence what seems to be a punishment for premarital sex (marriage) is actually a logical consequence (and hence no ban on fiancee sex).

Advertising

  • The UK government attempted to steer kids off drugs in The Eighties 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.
  • In general, 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, 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 telling your friends all the crazy antics you did while drunk or stoned makes you look so cool.
    • 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."
      • Of course, this is arguably a step in the right direction. At least now you will only kill yourself.
  • An advertisement to show the danger of anorexia shows a naked, cadaverous-looking young woman (Warning—a confronting image). However, while non-anorexics might be disgusted by the sight (but it's not like they were going to suddenly become anorexic anyway), young anorexics looked up to this icon as a goal to reach, or blamed themselves "look at her, I couldn't even go as far as she did!" It also gave grounds for denial: "I'm not (my child isn't) anorexic, look, I don't (he/she doesn't) look nearly as bad as that!"
  • One of the worst 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.
  • There was a series of PSAs aired by The BBC in 2007 warning against the dangers of excessive drinking, by showing people being ostracized and called names after getting massively drunk. It backfired: little did they knew, that telling your friends all the crazy antics you did while drunk makes you look so cool.
  • 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 somebody 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?

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...
  • Most entries into the Gundam meta-series 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 coloured 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.
  • 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! 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 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 out and says it: any society that does not just use 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.
  • Naruto, and how. During the eponymous character's thirty-odd recurring speeches on creating a world unravaged by war out of a world completely embroiled in war, he never asks himself what he's going to with all these Dangerous Forbidden Techniques he's accrued over the years once this unquestioned uniform peace is achieved. What's more, he doesn't have any other education to speak of, and neither do any of his friends. Just imagine the unemployment levels! Expect Full-Circle Revolution to occur, shortly.
Cquote1.svg

Naruto: "But being a ninja is the only job in Ninja Village!"
Jokage: "What about prostitutes?"
Naruto: "The prostitutes in Ninja Village are also ninjas, that's why we call them NINJA prostitutes!!!"
Jokage: "Oh yeah, nice..."

Cquote2.svg

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 - liberal kids who love freedom, conservative kids who distrust the government, and Libertarians who REALLY distrust the government at that.
    • It also doesn't make much sense independent of the audience's political leanings. We're none of us perfect, so we're all doing something wrong and all have something to hide.
    • It's also pretty stupid when your primary audience is in the United States, which has fundamental parts of its Constitution devoted to the idea that the government should need to show cause and get a permission slip before invading your privacy - i.e., that even entirely innocent people can hide stuff if they want, because that's part of being in a free country.
  • 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, Catwoman's debut, 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 over shadowed because the comic book also introduced The Joker, one of the most popular, and psychotic, comic book characters of all time.
  • Watchmen has landed in this trope because of Misaimed Fandom. Many people thought it was a conventional hero vs. villain story, only Darker and Edgier. For instance, Rorschach's violent tendencies were copied by Dark Age "antiheroes" to make them equally badass. Moore and Gibbons made Rorschach a dirt-poor homophobe raised by a prostitute mother, the Comedian a rapist who can't even connect with his own daughter, and a certain brilliant plan be rejected by a Physical God. Nonetheless, comics to this very day emulate it.
  • 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.
    • In general, the antics in the tracts often send the unintended message of "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." "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 to... gasp... buying them stuff. More than a few roleplayers love the tract and it has been parodied and affectionately referred to in innumerable ways among the subculture.
    • 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..
    • Lisa: It's okay to gang rape your children repeatedly as long as you accept Jesus and ask His forgiveness. The trauma will go away, just like the herpes. Children aren't even traumatized unless they're abused for more than several months. No one will even raise their voice to you when your victims out you as a child molester. It's normal for girls to bee abused by older relatives. Also, a real man provides for his family instead of relying on his woman, and disturbing this natural order is likely to cause resentment, frustration and rape.
    • A lot of fundamentalist messages in general can be boiled down to "feel free to indulge your darkest desires because you're probably going to Hell anyway", especially when Hell is depicted as a place where you can carry on doing this for all eternity.

Fan Works

  • 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.
  • Poke 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.

Films

  • There has been discontent among some (such as the writer of this article) that so many historical dramas released utilize the Holocaust as a backdrop (one could cynically suggest because Holocaust films are prime Oscar Bait). Some have expressed worries that people are being desensitized to the Holocaust, and that one day it would become that somewhat nasty thing that they keep making movies about.
Cquote1.svg

Manohla Dargis: But [The Reader] is neither about the Holocaust nor about those Germans who grappled with its legacy: it's about making the audience feel good about a historical catastrophe that grows fainter with each new tasteful interpolation.

Cquote2.svg

War

  • Apocalypse Now. Francis Ford Coppola tried to make an anti-war movie. What do people remember? Attack Helicopters coming in over the beach to the sounds of Ride of the Valkyries—kickass!
    • To elaborate, the helicopter attack is on a village, including a school, that they can't possibly hold. Why is it attacked? So the soldiers can go surfing...
    • Referenced in the movie Jarhead.
  • Avatar is another Apocalypse Now and Jarhead to some - the mercenaries are very obviously committing war crimes, but that didn't stop some people from enjoying that. It probably doesn't help that the Na'vi are demonstrably better than humans so that a lot of people see them as being a race of Mary Sue.
    • And that's not even getting started on the people that think that the Na'vi are worse than the humans, and that the humans' violence is hence completely justified.
    • On top of that, the supplemental material saying that unobtainium is an absolute necessity for maintaining Earth's infrastructure makes the Na'vi's position look even worse. By raising the stakes of the film to "the Na'vi's right to remain culturally pure vs. the continued survival of human civilization"... well, you can see how the Na'vi come off worse in the comparison, even with all the various sins the humans in this movie commit.
  • The author of the novel Das Boot 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 most horrific depictions of modern warfare ever committed to film. Nobody ever marched to war due to this film!)
  • 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.
  • 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 it, 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.
    • This trope also applies to the boot camp segment of the film as well as the Vietnam segment. While it's not meant to be an attack on the US military, it is intended to show how people have to become dehumanized in order to be effectively trained for war, and in the case of Leonard, is so bad he ends up going insane and committing a Murder-Suicide. Despite this, the film is hugely popular among the US military largely because of the Badass Gunnery Sergeant Hartman.
    • For that matter, the popularity of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman is an example of this - he's become such an iconic character that pretty much every Drill Sergeant Nasty in fiction since has been based on him (95% of them even being played by the original actor), despite the fact that getting shot and killed by one of his own recruits (who he continued verbally abusing despite the loaded rifle in said recruit's hands) means he's a demonstrable failure of a drill instructor.
  • 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... which is arguably also a subversion of the trope, because making the audience confront this mental realization is the entire reason Tarantino made the movie.
  • 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 Armchair Military character 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.
  • Starship Troopers. 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.
    • 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."
  • Iron Man has Tony Stark develop a conscience and an anti-war sentiment after he witnesses the atrocities indirectly caused by his inventions. In the second movie, the propaganda proliferated by military defense contractors is condemned. However, Iron Man and all his high-tech gear are just straight-up awesome, and they are by-products of the weapons development industry.
  • Avatar is another Apocalypse Now and Jarhead to some - the marines are very obviously committing war crimes, but that didn't stop some people from enjoying that.

Gangster

History has demonstrated time and time again that this trope could easily be called "Mobsters Love Mob Movies":

  • 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.
    • A large part of it was that the Mafia was made indistinguishable from a mildly idealized picture of Medieval aristocrats. They took tribute but it was made to seem justified by the services they offered and lived in a world of debts and patronage. Most of the violence was about either carrying out the duties of protectors or vendettas against other mobsters (or corrupt cops which amounted to the same thing). They were not shown engaging in sex slaving, drug trafficking or stuff like that. In fact they are never shown acting like, well, criminals.
  • Goodfellas was intended in a way to be the anti-Godfather. It was based on a true story and portrayed most mobsters as uneducated, crude, petty, sociopathic, and oftentimes downright incompetent and brutal. But it wound up having the same cultural effect as The Godfather anyhow. The gangster that Robert De Niro's character was based on was reportedly thrilled such a great actor was portraying him, and kept trying to get in touch with DeNiro from prison to give him pointers. Similarly, the real Henry Hill wrecked his witness protection because he couldn't resist bragging about the movie.
    • This one might have been partially because of the weird mixed messages the movie was sending. While the mob characters were usually portrayed as not so bright, unnecessarily violent, what have you, but Henry Hill's own comments at the end of the movie make it very clear that he wishes he was still in the life, and one would go as far as to say that getting caught is the only thing he regrets about being a gangster at all.
  • Scarface. Even though the entire film was set up to show that Tony's destruction was inevitable. Even though he ends up losing or killing everyone and everything he cares about. Even though he ends up floating in his own fountain, it's hard to watch the movie and not want to be him. (Hence the video game in which you get to be him, and you get to survive and win).
  • Angels with Dirty Faces, a classic gangster film, suffers from this. It's intended to show gangsters in a negative light, but the lead gangster and one of the two main characters, Rocky Sullivan, steal the show and makes being a 1930s-era gangster look awesome. Even the ending, meant to show that gangsters weren't awesome, failed to do that for parts of the audience because it was also meant to show it In-Universe and the gangster did it for that exact reason, making it a Zero-Approval Gambit and possibly a Senseless Sacrifice to the pro-gangster contingent.
  • 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 straight-laced best friend.

Other

  • 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.
  • 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 articulate about his beliefs. Derek and some of the other Nazis make make arguments about race issues, which while hurt by being taken to their logical extreme, still have at least some basis of truth in them and are never refuted despite ample opening to do so (Dennis Vineyard's arguments are particularly poor, since they revolve around heavily superficial analyses of complex situations). 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. There are numerous speeches, but barely any explanation of Derek's unrealistically neat 180 degree turn in prison. 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 murdered another prostitute.
  • While Blazing Saddles is primarily a comedy, Mel Brooks also wanted the film to make a point about racism. But this trope is exactly why nowhere in Blazing Saddles is there a message that racism is bad. The message is more like "racism is stupid." That's why instead of making the racists cruel and evil, Brooks decided to make all the racists a bunch of bumbling idiots.
  • Anti-drug Aesop films.
    • Christiane F is a sad case. Many youngsters got curious about drugs due to the picture movie.
    • Reefer Madness is a classic example of this backfiring, as the film is considered better to watch when high.
    • Trainspotting. Renton and his friends have quite a lot of fun and hijinks in the early parts of the film. It's also pretty surprising how easily and cleanly Renton manages to turn his back on the life when he's finally had enough.
    • 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.
  • Bruce Almighty and Click try and 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 Was Real" and if they learned anything, it was only what not to do if it were. Sure, that's useful...
  • A Clockwork Orange features scenes of violence and rape intended to be morally repulsive, but actually inspired some real-life copycat crimes. In fact, one could argue that the movie's popularity rests almost entirely on its sensational aspects.
  • 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". 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?" (To which several critics replied "Yes. Yes we are.")
  • Confessions of a Shopaholic spends so much time lovingly showing off gorgeous, high end fashion that it's a bit hard to take its moral against irresponsible Conspicuous Consumption seriously. 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!"
    • Trying to make compulsive shopping look like the hip thing to do during a recession didn't help much either. Nor was turning the debt collector into a Designated Villain by making him a jerk.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo film's final scene has Edmond profess 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.
  • Heath Ledger's Joker and his anarchist ideals in The Dark Knight Saga have raised a bigger fandom and acclaim than Christian Bale's Batman. That's probably attributable to his line in the hospital, though - it makes his character actually have a concrete purpose.
Cquote1.svg

The Joker: You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan." Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all "part of the plan." But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!

Cquote2.svg
  • 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. It doesn't come off right.
    • The ending makes that point debatable: although the protagonist's Roaring Rampage of Revenge was done in a somewhat glorified fashion, the ending doesn't suggest that he was proud of his actions when all was said and done. Given that the protagonist lost his wife and almost his youngest son after he went after the gang member that killed his oldest son during the movie's opening, he's left looking emotionally defeated, full of sorrow and remorse.
    • To say nothing of its Spiritual Predecessor, 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, [author] Brian Garfield absolutely loathed the movie adaptation of Death Wish for this reason, while being relatively satisfied with how Death Sentence turned out.
  • Downfall depicts Hitler as a sadistic, delusional madman, and 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.
  • 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 somehow brings down the whole empire, it certainly doesn't look like a doom-and-gloom world to live in.
    • Curious, because the book did a much better job of painting the Nazi Empire as place you could probably live with but would much rather be here - not East Germany, not today's world - but had a different and less black and white ending.
  • Fight Club: The film was really meant to be an anti-consumerist tirade, or a condemnation of the people holding these views. But if the latter, it sure made their lifestyle seem fun and cool.
  • G.I. Jane tries to make the argument that militaries should be completely gender-integrated, including allowing women into spec-ops. While it doesn't glorify sexism, it does manage to make completely the opposite point and show exactly why militaries were not ready for this during what is arguably the film's most powerful scene - the POW training scene. Lt. O'Neil is being brutally beaten up by Master Chief Urgayle in front of the other trainees to get information from them, and even starts to cut off her pants as if he's about to rape her. O'Neil bravely refuses to break and demands that her comrades do not either. The problem? During this scene, the other trainees are clearly about to crack and start giving out information, and look at Argyle like he's a real prick (while commenting as much) - yet, as he points out, he is saving their lives. This is just an exercise, so there are great limits as to what Argyle is allowed to do. If this scenario was real, a female spec ops troop would be used in the same way, and there would be no limits as to what her captors would be allowed to do, and they would probably not hesitate to do even more brutal things to her, including raping her, most likely causing the male troops to crack, give out vital info, and subsequently be killed themselves.
  • Heat. The actions of the criminals are proposed as the reason the bank robbers fought to the death during the North Hollywood Bank Robbery in 1997, rather than escaping.
  • 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.
  • 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, how many 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!"
  • 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: While the novel suffers plenty of its own issues with this trope (see the entry for it below under Literature), the two film versions also end up hurting its message. It's 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. The line between pedophilia and ephebophilia is a very thin one, yet the age of 13 is typically considered that line. While someone may still consider ephebophilia to be sick and wrong, they may consider it to be just a little less wrong than pedophilia, and this move certainly sends that message.
    • It didn't help that the actress in the first movie looked about 16, and that the second Lolita was 16, which is a rather common age to start having sexual relationships. These days, the abusive relationship between Humbert Humbert and Lolita's mother in Kubrick's movie appears far more disturbing to many than even the ephebophilia.
  • 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.
  • Natural Born Killers, which has been accused of having inspired enough copycats to have an entire Wikipedia page devoted to the subject.
    • That 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.
  • RoboCop, 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 80s 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 the audience knows they aren't deserving, the idea of this show being real and using criminals who are complete monsters who actually do deserve it can certainly come off as appealing.
    • The German movie, Das Millionenspiel, based on the same novel, plays this straight. The movie is made extremely realistic, featuring a known TV moderator of the time as moderator of the show and barely any unnatural 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.
  • 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. 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. 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 Nineties and much of The Two Thousands.
  • 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.
  • The Sex and the City movie 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 share similar sentiments in his podcast review of this movie.
Cquote1.svg

"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."

Cquote2.svg
  • The Stepford Wives remake was obviously aiming for the message that the men were in the wrong for replacing their wives with robots, but the three main characters are utterly horrible human beings. Joanna is a Corrupt Corporate Executive who could care less about the welfare of her own family, 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 re-sizable 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... Mmmm, burgers.
    • The first supersized meal was rather unappealing though, between a large hair found in the parfait and Spurlock vomiting spectacularly as he tried to force down the burger. Semi-lampshaded, too: When describing the rules of his experiment (summary: nothing but McDonald's, and always supersized if the cashier asks), he even describes it as "every eight-year-old's dream".
  • The Terminator series was intended as a warning that technology will eventually destroy humanity. While it does if a good job of showing a future Crapsack World, the problem comes with the robots who cause the apocalypse and want to wipe out humanity. They're AWESOME. The T-800's, T-1000's, TX's, HK's, and others; ask someone if they think it would be cool if these existed in real life or if they want their own. What do you think their response will be?
  • 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.
  • 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 it's 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 resort to Complete Monster lengths and 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 weren't better-armed than the Russian military.
  • The Hunger Games movies - the books themselves already had a sizable Misaimed Fandom of teenagers who think it would be so cool to fight in the Hunger Games (and who hated Mockingjay). Like an anti-war movie, Suzanne Collins' work carries a message against something that is a dreadful, scarring experience yet deeply visually compelling on-screen - while that's kind of the whole point, putting it into a visual medium can undermine it hard.

Literature

  • 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!
  • Slaughterhouse-Five discusses this early on in-universe - Vonnegut's war buddy's wife is pissed that our narrator is writing 'another war book'.
Cquote1.svg

"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."

Cquote2.svg
Cquote1.svg

"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."

Cquote2.svg
  • 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.
    • C. S. Lewis commented that one scene was intended to be sinful lust and another wholesome sexual desire (i.e. in a loving marriage) and so one would be played straight and the other an aversion. It was saying, "This is the cool thing you are supposed to be doing, that is an imitation."
  • The entirety of the Warhammer 40,000 Black Library manages to both embody and avoid this trope. On the one hand, the wars depicted are brutal and utterly hellish, the enemies often terrifyingly twisted and sadistic, conditions are generally miserable, and the heroes are surrounded by murderers, thieves and other lowlifes - often in the form of a superior officer or the protagonist himself; but on the other hand, every novel has the hero and his band of fellow soldiers being epic BAMFs and generally acting like the epitome of what a soldier should be.
    • This can even be seen in stories where the protagonists are actually the bad guys in the wider 'verse, such as the Chaos Marines. You find yourself rooting for the protagonist even as the story tells you about the world of innocent humans that their race has invaded, enslaved, tortured or brutally slaughtered.
  • 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.[context?]
  • 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 small-minded, 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, and a lot of them just drool over Satan and think he's The Hero.
  • K. J. Parker's works in general, with particular attention to The Scavenger Trilogy. 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 also one of the best, but not for those reasons.
  • Lolita. Oh dear lord, Lolita. The whole book is one big condemnation of pedophilia (even the pedophile, 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 for Lolicon. 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. 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).
    • Author and commentator John Derbyshire, for example, has written enviously about how misunderstood Humbert is, and how reading about him as a young man convinced him that it's only natural for grown men to be attracted to prepubescent girls, and darn the society that chastises them!
  • In an interview celebrating the launching of his 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 emphasising his near-sociopathic narcissism far more. 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. Of course, Terry Pratchett is on record as saying that if stupidity kills, then it's better if it kills the stupid first,[2] so this likely could be a stealth joke.
  • Deliberately invoked by the entire Lesbian Pulp Erotica paperback market of the 1950s and 1960s. It was a cultural requirement that the lesbian characters end badly, either dying, getting imprisoned, or turning straight. However, the point was to sell lesbian erotica, so the "consequences" are always jammed in the last chapter, with the rest of the book glamorizing things as much as possible.
  • Anthony Horvath's book Richard Dawkins, Anthony 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 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.
  • 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. Subverted in that this was a result of Executive Meddling: the original version, which his editor forced him to change before publication, has Podkayne dying a decidedly unheroic death at the end. That would logically be a tad off-putting to anyone else imagining themselves along her career path.
  • If The Hunger Games is meant to be a condemnation of reality TV culture... well, all the action that the in-universe audience is reveling in 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.

Live Action Television

  • 24 is a curious case which might have led to soldiers in Real Life being too violent towards prisoners, especially the earlier seasons. Violence towards prisoners existed before, but the government originally backed this series. But when the hero routinely saves the world using questionable techniques in a glamorous fashion that rarely backfired (the one person who lied to him that we know of, he shot), and when the scandals of Guantanamo Bay Delta Camp and Abu Gharib became public during the middle of the series' run, conclusions were drawn.
  • Although bigoted, Alf Garnett from Till Death Do Us 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 '50s 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 was written accordingly.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer 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 laid, according to them.
  • Fox News Channel, at least through the early 2010s, was more fiscally conservative than socially conservative, and paid lip service to the Moral Guardians by doing stories on sexual perversion (especially on The O'Reilly Factor). But they punctuated these condemnations with lurid video clips and bring on Ms. Fanservice-type anchors and nagging correspondents who are were amused than angry. Forty years ago, much of what we saw then on Fox News would have never been shown on basic cable. No, not even CNN.
  • Most daytime Talk Shows are guilty of this, especially if the episode is about people (mostly attractive young women) scandalized to discover that someone had been secretly recording them. They then have no problem when they show the video on national television so that you can see the evils that are in the world. As a bonus, you get to see exactly what the pervs next door were so interested in.
    • Even if they don't show the video, doing a story on it will guarantee that the number of people looking it up on the internet will skyrocket.
  • 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.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has come in for some criticism over this. The show focuses on the investigation of and effects of sexual-based crimes such as rape, sexual assault, child abuse, etc. The show usually goes out of its way to point out that these are horrific things with terrible effects, it has been accused of getting plenty of lurid and sensationalist entertainment value out of such offenses.
    • Not to mention, like the novel Lolita above, how many rapists, pedophiles and child molesters do you think watch this show for the purpose of drooling over the victims, getting off to the child porn shown, and getting tips for how to avoid getting caught or for their legal defense if they do get caught?
  • Many fans of The Wire tend to glamorize the gangsters of the show, talking about how cool they are, when the intent of the series is to provide a realistic view of the awful effects of crime and corruption in cities such as Baltimore.
    • As the good people at TWoP said in one recap, "The wages of sin are death - but the perks are amazing!"
  • 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?
  • 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 hornier at 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 and that the show was becoming some sort of sick fantasy fulfillment for people and couldn't be a part of it any more.
  • 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 became the living embodiment of this trope, the hosts and cast reminding the viewers multiple times per show not to attempt the awesome and often ridiculously dangerous experiments they showed. 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 became "Do not try this at home" warnings after the first few seasons.
Cquote1.svg

Adam: Remember, kids, no matter how much fun I'm having, under no circumstances should you try this at home.

Cquote2.svg
    • A great example would be when they were testing whether drafting behind a big rig could increase mileage. Despite the fact that they spent nearly as much time stressing over 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 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 ray gun, 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 in about as much detail as you can have on cable TV. It's so bad that some of the shows have Content Warnings.
  • The Winds of War and War and Remembrance‎ miniseries is a zig-zag. It actually does make war seem kind of, well, cool at times. But the Nazis are made so creepy that the only ones who could possibly want to be Nazis are Nazis.
    • On the one hand, the sheer efficiency of Auschwitz can make someone weirdly admire it before he catches himself. And the Nazis sometimes do look rather like ordinary people. On the other hand, they do not just sadistic, but just straight up fucked-up things, like bullying old men, threatening to tear a baby in half in front of his mother, and so on. Not to mention Adolf Hitler himself looks more and more like a witless idiot as the series goes on (the show does a "splendid" Hitler). So yeah, while the show does sometimes say war is cool (the avoiding of which was not a particular intention anyway), it succeeds in making it clear that being a Nazi is not cool.

Music

  • 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 too 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Ozzy Osbourne's attempt to clarify this in a 2004 magazine interview didn't really work. He claimed that he and his bandmates "were the last hippie band. We were into peace." Disingenuous, no? After all, if they wanted to be seen as hippies, why didn't they perform "hippie-style" music?
    • In the documentary, Metal: A Headbanger's Journey the band members talk about how they just fell headfirst into this trope. The audience saw what they wanted to see rather than what the band was really saying. They intended to portray Satanism as bad, but their use of satanic imagery and satanic references in their music made it seem a lot more awesome than bad.
  • 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's "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.
    • Even purged of its ethical, moral, racial, religious, and political implications, the Holocaust is still a real-life horror. What male between the ages of 13 and 30 doesn't enjoy horror?
      • When it reminds him to much of the worst parts of High School? There are arrogant officers that remind one of sanctimonious, dictatorial teachers, thugs that remind one of The Bully, humiliation, the feeling that one's life belongs to someone else, and all sorts of things that are intermittent flaws in school multiplied by a government that considers those things virtues rather than administrative errors. There is plenty about The Holocaust besides the horror of it and one is the sheer pettyness.
  • 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 4 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.
Cquote1.svg

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

Cquote2.svg
  • 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. 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.
    • MTV and other "music" channels refuse to show 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 jewellery.
      • 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:
Cquote1.svg

Peace to Rick James, Anna Nicole Smith, Bill Clinton and Motley Crue, 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.

Cquote2.svg
  • 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 Gazett E'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.

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 under "General" with showing the affect of smoking on organs.
Cquote1.svg

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!

Cquote2.svg

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40,000. Orignally intended as a parody of Darker and Edgier, the fans latched onto those aspects with such fervour the creators decided Sure Why Not and magnified those aspects until a new word (GRIMDARK) was invented to describe the result. Then, in typical WH40K fashion, It Got Worse when despite all factions being firmly established as thoroughly evil, the "Good" factions only so in comparison to their even more horrific enemies, there exist genuine supporters of almost everyone due to taking various elements of the fluff (at best heavy on the Unreliable Narrator and more commonly in-universe propaganda) completely seriously.
    • The two most glaring examples have to be the Space Marines and the Imperial Guard. To whit: the Space Marines are made up of (depending on the edition) everything from volunteers to inducted death row inmates; go through so much genetic, cybernetic and hypnotic conditioning that it's argued about whether or not they're even still considered human; are conditioned to be unwaveringly loyal but even more so to literally not feel fear or ever give up, so if they do something questionable they will go rogue and declare war on the entire Imperium rather than submit to due process; and for about 98% of the chapters out there, the average Imperial citizens, members of other military branches - hell, even members of other Space Marine Chapters - consist at best of an excuse to always be at war and at worse a burden, distracting them from killing everything to which collateral damage isn't even a statistic to be counted; the Imperial Guard teaches you from day one that not only are you expendable, but you will die in service and your mission is to make your death mean something. It's better to follow an order and die horribly than disobey an order and avert utter catastrophe (for which more than one hero who has saved an entire planet has been summarily executed), and if you have a choice between saving a dozen wounded squadmates and bringing back one piece of semi-arcane technology, you are legally obliged to leave them to their fates to save the tech.
    • Then there's the Tau, an animesque culture whose army is based off of BFGs and Humongous Mecha. Their melee combatants are an allied race of brutal but more-or-less Noble Savages. They were introduced specifically because of an outcry that there were no good factions, only visibly horribly evil and implicitly horribly evil. They were the Good Guys. Then the rest of the fandom cried out they were too good, so now there are more and more hints that the Ethereals have pheromone-based hypnotic control over the entire Tau culture, the assimilated human worlds are usually subjected to internment camps and forced sterility, and the fact that they have next-to-no warp signature implies there may be something even more horrific about them, though we just don't know yet.

Theater

  • In Wicked, the "Dancing Through Life" song 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.
    • 'Dancing through Life' can be seen as a song about always and unconditionally being in the moment, rather than thinking about the future.
  • 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 the same problem as Wicked, above—you're trying to send the message "Stay within the law, don't be outrageous and dashing"—in a musical?

Video Games

  • Cracked.com's 5 Video Game Adaptations That Missed the Point of the Movie A humorous article that shows five games based on movies or TV shows where this happens. The games take the bad things the original works denounce and manage to make doing them the whole point.
  • Ineptly done Anti-Poopsocking features have a high chance of being one of these. In an attempt to limit peoples' 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 8 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% segment 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.
  • Many would argue that the idea of an anti-war war game is even more inherently hypocritical than that of an anti-war movie. See, games are generally expected to be fun; if they're not fun, nobody will want to play them, let alone spend money on them. This means that if you make your game well, all the people playing it will find your profound messages about the futility and destruction of war to be significantly diluted by the fact that blowing shit up and killing Nazis/Russians/terrorists/aliens by the dozens is such a clearly enjoyable and gratifying activity. (If you don't make your game well, no one will hear your messages in the first place because no one will play the game.) Multiplayer games are particularly susceptible to this brand of hypocrisy, since there is little to no story to provide context to the action and the entire point of the game is to compete with and kill your opponents (and presumably have fun doing so). The Moral Dissonance created by this is cleverly satirized in this video.
    • The Call of Duty series as whole is a bit guilty of this hypocrisy due to the bizarre decision of the developers to include the appearing of anti-war quotes on the screen after the player gets killed in campaign mode. While not all of the quotes are anti-war, it's quite humorous reading the ones about how terrible war is while you're right in the middle of mowing down or blowing up dozens of human beings.
  • Metal Gear Solid series (particularly from MGS2 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 non-Mook characters (a.k.a. characters with names, faces, and distinct voices) 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.
    • Given the meta nature of the series, this kind of duality could be entirely deliberate.
  • A more successful example might be DEFCON. 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 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 Tyson and Diggs 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 PMC's look extremely cool, thanks largely to the awesome technology they use, such as the Gekko robots, as well as the nanobites that turn ground troops into super soldiers.
  • Max Payne does a pretty good job of getting its point across well, assuming that it's 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.
  • 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, nonthreatening 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.
    • Lampshaded by Unskipable's commentary on the game.
Cquote1.svg

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.

Cquote2.svg
  • 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 (or, perhaps, by not shooting 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.
  • 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. Alternate Character Interpretation raised its head, and the result was "Marche the Omnicidal Maniac". (Supposedly this was less of a problem in the original Japanese, 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. Sure, your characters will be gone forever if you don't revive them by the end of a battle, but is whipping out a few Phoenix Downs before you finish off the enemy really that difficult?
    • Fridge Horror definitely applies. There you are, bleeding and struck down upon the ground, waiting for your party leader to use a Phoenix Down, to save your life. Unfortunately, he forgot to stock up before coming, leaving him no choice but to let you die.
    • 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."
  • 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 murdering, stealing, and in general causing mayhem in the city, 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 not to get its anti-crime message.
  • 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 you are spared the direct effects of deaths in the family. All these combine to dull the effect of the message, not helped by the Anvilicious Broken Aesop.
  • Best explanation for the popularity of Gig.
  • Home Front 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.
  • 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 Magical 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: A poster on the TV Tropes Fora stated "I like kicking the bugs to death" (though admittedly the player who said this hadn't gotten very far into the game).
    • Iji is actually 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.
    • Then there's the MS Paint Forum Adventure adaptation, which takes a killer run of the game and plays it as Black Comedy mixed with Gurren Lagann-inspired awesomeness, complete with quotes and Iji being reinterpreted from a Reluctant Warrior Woobie to a Hot-Blooded Captain Ersatz of Simon. And the writer has stated he's played through thrice before and knows perfectly well it's supposed to be antiwar. To be fair, it was partly intended as a Reconstruction.
  • 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,[3] In other words: That coworker you just murdered? What was his name again? His bounty earned you money for new parts for your infinitely customizable robot. Yay!
  • 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.
  • Fable III has a morality system like the others. The system completely breaks when you are forced to raise funds to save civilians. The kingdom has 6.5 million people and they can be saved at the cost of one gold each (convenient). So that means if you give 10 gold to a beggar it is a morally good act but if you put it into saving 10 lives it is morally neutral. The biggest problem comes when you can choose to build a brothel. The net profit will same 1.5 million people but it is considered immoral. Why is this relevant here? Because every load screen shows you the projected casualties. Saving a community of hippies or 300 000 peoples lives? The whole section teaches that being a tyrant is the way to save your people... well that or buy every property in the kingdom and rent them out which could be argued is also a form of economic tyranny.
  • 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 WUUUUUV 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 stat 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 raise as weapons from the day they're hatched. (And throw the parents forever into the PC.)
  • 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 end...so, "join the army, meet interesting women, and rape the hell out of them"?

Web Comics

Cquote1.svg

Marten: Modern cybernetics is really sending mixed messages to the kids. "Don't play with fireworks, or you'll end up with sweet robot body parts."

Cquote2.svg

Western Animation

  • Beavis and Butthead spoof thisin the Season 4 episode, "Safe Driving". The boys watch a grisly driver's-ed film featuring two guys who coincidentally seem to be grown-up versions of themselves. Naturally, they think it's cool and get into the same accident seconds after taking the wheel.
  • Futurama provides the page quote, said by Bender during a return-from-commercial gag in the episode "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on Television", which parodies the concept to hell and back.
Cquote1.svg

Bender (on TV, while lighting himself on fire): Try this, kids at home!
(on-screen subtitles): Don't try this, kids at home.

Cquote2.svg
    • Later, during his speech against himself, Bender gives the following golden lines:
Cquote1.svg

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?

Cquote2.svg
  • 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!"
  • The Simpsons directly spoofed this trope: Lisa is shown a short film where rap stars in costume represent tooth decay as 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.
  • South Park has several in-universe examples:
    • 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 antisemitism, 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 high...like 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!
  • 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. Problem is, when you represent weapons of mass destruction with a Humongous Mecha, it's hard not to make them look cool - though it is helped in that the movie is never anti-Humongous Mecha, just anti-using them as guns (hence the Trope Namer)
  • Parodied on Archer, with marijuana:
Cquote1.svg

Archer: And I advocate its use. As a potential role model, I advocate it.

Cquote2.svg

Real Life

  • There was a case where some cops took some pictures of an accident scene and, without the family's 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 family's attempts to get them taken them down have simply invoked the Streisand Effect.
  • Abstinence programs tend to fall prey to this as a result of trying to balance out the message of how evil and dirty pre-marital sex is with how great and wonderful sex is once you're married. Part of the problem is attributable to excessive idealism - the "abstinence until marriage" preaching, when unmarried sex is the norm, creates an issue in causing teens to think "this is BS, everyone has sex", and such programs also refuse to teach safe sex as well.
  • During the Cold War, several Eastern European resistance groups invoked this during the 60's to avoid government censorship. Instead of releasing propaganda directly, they distributed newspapers describing the treasonous publications their fine leaders had put down, refuted, or nipped in the bud. Of course, those publications were described in excruciating detail.
  • 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 Nineties 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.[4]
    • This is also why the X rating in movies got changed to the less marketable (and trademarked) NC-17.
  • The DARE anti-drug program. Many school kids in the US have probably had to sit through this at some point in their lives. Hilariously, there are multiple studies saying that DARE programs not only fail to decrease the rate of drug and alcohol use among the DARE participants, in some places the rates actually increase. There are different theories as to why this is. One is that it exposes drugs to kids at an earlier age. Another is that it makes drug use seem far more prevalent than it actually is, making kids think it's normal. Then, of course, when the participants get older and find out that some of the information given to them had been, at the very least, exaggerated in order to Scare'Em Straight, they assume that all of it was, and decide to try out drugs.
    • The fact that their main message, resisting peer pressure, basically boils down to "everyone is doing drugs but you" doesn't exactly help.
    • With anti-drug ads, there's also the factor that applies to a Stealth Cigarette Commercial. That is, the ads are considered so stupid and lame, that people who watch them will want go use drugs simply out of spite.
      • And of course, you have the new anti-smoking commercial playing up all of the ways that smoking has been made to look cool. Uh...
    • There's also how describing the affects of certain drugs to kids doesn't exactly make them unappealing. "Marijuana makes you happy and makes thing funny. LSD and mushrooms makes you see bright colors and patterns. PCP turns you into Superman."
  • 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 if they were starving, anyway. Mexico is the among the fattest countries in the world, second only to the USA
    • Combine this with the explosion in the last few decades of cheap, fattening, nutrient-free 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 hae witnessed cases of people who are simultaneously obese and malnourished because of just how awful the local diets have gotten.
  • This trope can explain a part on why negative peer pressure is so prevalent.
  • In The Western Way of War, Victor Davis Hanson goes to extensive effort telling about how unpleasant hoplite warfare was, including describing rather gross physical reactions to fear in the bodily functions. He also says blatantly that the only reason they did it at all was to get the season's fighting over, get back to their farms quickly, and avoid being ground into another nobleman's protection racket. He still can't avoid giving the impression that ten thousand angry farmers smashing into each other over a few scraps of dirt just sounds awesome.
  • It's against the law to drive while intoxicated in Canada... but New Brunswick has government-installed highway off-ramp signs directing people to microbreweries, and Ontario has government-installed highway off-ramp signs directing people to wineries.
  • Prohibition. During the 1920's, when alcohol was outlawed in the US, some wineries would sell grape juice in wine bottles, and if you peeled off the label it had instructions on the back that basically said "don't follow these instructions or this grape juice will turn into wine".
    • According to some historians, the makers of Vine-Glo (a grape juice concentrate sold during Prohibition) sent demonstrators out to stores to show how easy it was to convert the block into refreshing and legal grape juice. Those demonstrators also showed exactly what you should not do, lest your grape juice "accidentally" turn into wine.
  • The Westboro Baptist Church. Since they've gone to such horrifying and sickening levels to preach their screed that homosexuality is wrong, they've probably gotten a lot of people who were previously on the fence to support gay rights so they won't be lumped in with them.
  • David Hume intentionally used this in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. The opening and closing say that Cleanthes, the most orthodox proponent of religion, clearly wins the argument. In between those, he loses every point and the skeptical character of Philo carries the day.

  1. Top row, left to right: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Audrey Hepburn, Paul McCartney. Second row: Bob Dylan, Albert Camus, Jimi Hendrix, James Dean. Third row: Marilyn Monroe, Che Guevara, John Wayne, Edie Sedgwick. Fourth row: Kurt Cobain, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Johnny Cash. Fifth row: Jim Morrison, Ann Dvorak, Sophia Loren, David Bowie
  2. In the Mappe Of Lancre
  3. kill those millions and you earn yourself a fight against your Mission Control, the Big Bad, the Dragon, and your Worthy Opponent. They hate you that much.
  4. Although this was more to mock the Moral Guardians than exploit them.