"The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosives and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill, and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own; for the children, and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to The Twilight Zone."
—Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone, "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street" (original airdate 1960)
Some moral values just don't travel well. The attitudes of the society have changed, or the issue they addressed has become obsolete.
But others...like wine, only get better with age. Years after the original author and audience have passed, new generations will still look at the given Aesop and say "Damn right." Maybe some authors knowingly spoke to issues that were years ahead of their time. Maybe many of society's questions are just Older Than They Think. Maybe they just got lucky. These are the principles that stand the test of time and have outlived the original moral issue they were meant to address a hundred times over.
Keep in mind that this is somewhat a subjective trope, as what resonates as an accurate observation for a conservative may not be the same as a liberal, for a woman may not be the same as for a man, for a fundamentalist may not be the same as an atheist, for a citizen of one country not the same as a citizen of another, and so on. The best advice (as always applicable when one deals with the internet) is to keep an open mind. Likewise, do not assume that merely because it is old that it is accurate.
May cross over with Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped.
Anime and Manga
- Perfect Blue's very dark satire on fame and celebrity culture gets only more relevant with every passing year, especially as the rise of the Internet has made stalking and obsessive fanbases practically the rule rather than the exception.
- An issue of Mad Magazine from the 1970's satirizes the over-the-top and offensive personalities that people use while speaking on CB radios. Its commentary on anonymous personalities is eerily predictive of GIFT.
- Many themes of Howard the Duck still resonate today, especially those involving politics. Or the cult dedicated to censoring media, should bring to mind the ever-present Media Watchdogs.
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home's message about environmental responsibility would make you think it was released today, but it was actually released in 1986. Likewise, we had The Lorax, Silent Running and Soylent Green back in the early '70s and the seminal Silent Spring in '62.
- That issue almost runs into Older Than They Think territory.
- Much of the message of All Quiet on the Western Front has lasted well past the 1930's. Not every war film made during that period has aged as well.
- One war movie whose Aesops about the nature of war and politics that has also lasted long is Stanley Kubrick's 1957 war movie Paths of Glory with Kirk Douglas.
- The message of The Day the Earth Stood Still has aged pretty well, even withstanding a remake of questionable quality.
- Few movies on the subject of the inherent madness of nuclear war have endured the way Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb has.
- Fail Safe is one of the few such movies.
- Being There's satirical commentary on the importance of image over substance in media and politics just gets truer and truer every year. (This applies to the source novel as well, but it was subject to Adaptation Displacement by the film.)
- Network may have seemed far-fetched in 1976, but in today's media landscape, it's one Funny Aneurysm Moment (or Harsher in Hindsight moment) after another, dealing not only with the loss of integrity in the news but also media consolidation, corporate ethics and the growing power of multi-national industry.
"There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today."
- The same goes for the fast food/media-centered corporate empire in Shock Treatment.
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers and other Pod People-style stories. The '50s and '70s movies are classics that sum up what the fear of their time was while still retaining Values Resonance.
- Once upon a time, the premise of The Truman Show was fictional. Now, we know it as webcams and Reality TV.
- The same goes for EDtv.
- My Beautiful Laundrette features a romantic relationship between the two male leads during The Eighties in London. The movie centers more around economic hardship, family, and the tension between poor whites and upwardly mobile ethnic Pakistanis. There is little to no gayngst to speak of, namely because both of the guys are Armored Closet Gay, but still quite passionate and loving with each other.
- Les Misérables is sadly resonant with society today, seeing men persecuted simply for their past reputation, families dividing over petty issues as political fanaticism, and scoundrels abusing their position of 'caretaker' simply for the money. Victor Hugo's urging that these ills must be faced are every bit as relevant today as they were in post-Revolutionary France.
- Nineteen Eighty-Four. As proof of how subjective this trope is, pretty much every successive administration eventually gets compared to Ingsoc by its opposition... which its supporters (who may have only recently said the same of the opposing party's leadership) will vehemently deny.
- Uncle Tom's Cabin, particularly the ideas of passive resistance and racial equality.
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The message of the true meaning of Christmas being about how one spends their life, not their money, might be more relevant in these recessionary times more than ever. Justified in that "secular Christmas", (i.e. very commercial Christmas with Santa Claus bringing lots of expensive gifts) was still relatively new in Victorian Britain. Arguably, Dickens was commenting on what seemed like a troubling new trend.
- Tibullus, an ancient Roman poet who lived in the 1st century BC wrote an elegy (the eleventh) where he states that war is madness and wishes for peace.
- Robert "Rabbie" Burns' poem Holy Willie's Prayer, written in 1785 about a hypocritical church elder who condemns others for perceived transgression, whilst giving spurious justifications about his own. Compare with the various evangelists caught out and their own justifications for their behaviour today.
- The Private Memoirs and Confessions of A Justified Sinner was a brilliant look at psychology and the use of religion to excuse yourself while denouncing everyone else. It was written in 1824 by a poor Scottish farmer.
- All Quiet on the Western Front has actually been said to resonate with some people more than the more modern War Is Hell novels do.
- Like Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World still manages to resonate.
- Similarly, Fahrenheit 451. It even predicted iPods and flatscreen TVs!
- Maurice was written in 1913 but wasn't published until 1971 because it had the weirdo idea that homosexuals could actually have happy endings that didn't involve being cured or committing suicide.
- The sentiments of Siegfried Sassoon's poem "Aftermath" resonate just a strongly today as they did immediately following World War I, perhaps even more so given all that's happened since it was written in 1920. This is, in fact, true of many of the anti-war poems that came out of the First World War.
- The E.M. Forster story "The Machine Stops" must have seemed wildly far-fetched when it was published in 1909. Now, aspects of the story make one wonder if Forster had done some time-traveling to the early 21st century.
- The Berenstain Bears were first written in 1962. The basic lessons are just as relevant today (the values dissonance shocking you when it does come up).
- Don Quixote's Satire will live as long as the justice system will be made of human judges capable of corruption that let criminals go for a price. Or as the people who direct The Government only care about ruling the people without making any effort to enhance the live of their subjects. Or while the Moral Guardians are useless because his own Pitying Perversion. Or while there are people who fanatically defend any kind of entertainment work no matter its faults. Those examples are only a few…
- Gone with the Wind, published in the 1930s, actually Deconstructed the stereotypical Southern Belle and many of the Ante Bellum South Tropes. The heroine Scarlett O'Hara actually commented on how she was disapproved of for running her own business in order to take care of her dependents, which is even more relevant in modern society.
- Dozens of cultures have their own version of the same basic Fairy Tale.[context?]
- The quote above came from the classic The Twilight Zone episode about aliens who use good old-fashioned human prejudice and hysteria while they just watch and laugh. This was an allegory for the Red Scare, warning how communism is a danger, but the self-destructive anti-communist hysteria amongst the US people is actually the best way for the real communists to win. In the most recent remake series, the episode was remade, with the communist threat changed to terrorism. No other changes were made... or needed.
- There are dozens of episodes like this. "He's Alive" is another good contender, on how we keep monsters like Hitler alive so long as we spread intolerance, no matter of what kind.
- "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" and its theme of overconformity and the Hollywood obsession with beauty (especially female beauty) is probably even truer today than it was back then.
- "Eye of the Beholder" has similar themes.
- "Night of the Meek" (the Christmas episode) is basically a big Aesop about belief and the goodness of charity and giving as opposed to blindly and selfishly asking and receiving. Its message is even more true today, as the commercialization of the holidays is greater than ever.
- "The Shelter" is a good example, whose message is somewhat similar to "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street". It shows that no matter how civil we act in everyday life, in order to survive we'll adopt an "every man for himself" mentality, and that the only way to survive is by working together.
- Star Trek has managed to come up with many stories that are excellent examples of this trope. The famous Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" was relevant during the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1960s when it aired. It still applies unnervingly well to all the racial and religious fanaticism of the early 21st century.
- An episode of Star Trek: Enterprise made during the 21st century, purposely made as a tribute to "Last Battlefield", even lampshades the fact that this type of story is just as true, if not more, today.
- Blake's 7 predates both the Trek and B5 examples (and was a major influence on B5). Blake rebels against a totalitarian government that drugs its populace. He gets framed for paedophilia. Hell, the entire series starts with a shot of a CCTV camera monitoring the citizens -- before said cameras became ubiquitous in the UK.
- The complete over-the-top racism and bigotry of Archie Bunker from All in The Family still continues to find an audience who find it all too ridiculous all these years after the show went off the air.
- The Cosby Show was a watershed for television in The Eighties, with its image of a Black family that was well-to-do, educated, and loving to each other; a far cry from the dysfunctional, impoverished, uneducated brutes that the media regularly portrays. This message of what Black (or any minority) family could be was the reason that the show was still popular in reruns 20 years after it went off the air.
- Although some have argued that the complete lack of dysfunction or problems in the Cosby family actually made the show look rather unrealistic and naive by today's standards.
- The Avengers introduced Cathy Gale, arguably the first liberated woman on television, in 1962, and her iconic successor Emma Peel in 1965. You'd probably think that now, over 40 years on, they'd be Faux Action Girls or Rule-Abiding Rebels. You'd be wrong. Mrs Gale and Mrs Peel, and even Tara King although to a lesser extent, are credible action heroines and feminist role models even today, much more so in fact than many who came after them.
- The final episode of Dinosaurs. It was sad when it first aired. Now, in light of the BP spill and various other circumstances, it may seem downright frightening.
- Roseanne's realistic focus on the usual challenges and struggles of a working-class American family still remain relevant 20+ years later. Roseanne Barr even said during a recent[when?] interview that they're even more relevant than they were back then.
- Tom Lehrer's Pollution song.
- The Turtles' "Elenore." Meant as a snarky protest against the demand for more songs like "Happy Together," it satisfies the more Genre Savvy who like the thrill of being in love but accept that it makes you say and do cliched and somewhat stupid things.
- The progressive folk-rock trilogy of concept albums by Jethro Tull, Songs From The Wood, Heavy Horses and Stormwatch, respectively celebrate a return to nature and English folk traditions, the modern and human struggles of those who live and work in the countryside, and the horrors of of how the urbanization, pollution and decay of moral responsibilty might lead to an environmental holocaust. All seem just as relevant today as in the late seventies, when then were made, but bandleader Ian Anderson recently admits that the worries of Stormwatch were more about global cooling leading to a new ice age, not the global warming issues of today.
- The Five Man Electrical Band's I'm A Stranger Here is a Green Aesop from the sixties. Hearing it now, it's almost more applicable today than it was fifty years ago.
- This Calvin and Hobbes strip from 15 years ago concerning the economy may seems frighteningly accurate to the US's current[when?] economic situation.
- These three 1979 Garfield comics discussing the overuse of sex and violence in movies and tv shows are (a little sad to say) even more relevant today than they were more than three decades ago.
- Stan Freberg's 1958 radio play "Green Chri$tma$" with its attack on the commercialization of the holidays still happens to be relevant in modern times.
- Fake Values Resonance is a common theme for Urban Legends, examples from Snopes follows. Unless noted otherwise, these are false:
- The circumstances of the 2000 election supposedly mirror an 18th century professor's predictions of the fall of democracy: here.
- The rationale for the invasion of Iraq supposedly mirrors a 1944 Reuters article concerning the invasion of Nazi-conquered France: here.
- The rationale for removing troops from Iraq mirrors another supposed 1944 Reuters article concerning the removal of troops from World War Two's European Theater: here.
- A Reuters article from 1945 supposedly draws parallels between post-war Germany and Iraq: here.
- A quote from Julius Caesar supposedly explains how to use the threat of war to convince citizens to fall in line with the government: here.
- This similar quote from Hermann Goering also drew attention - however, this one is real.
- A (real) article from 1922 warns that climate change is melting Arctic ice and disrupting wildlife: here.
- A number of lyrics written by Oscar Hammerstein, most spectacularly "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught".
- Othello. By William Shakespeare. For North American audiences, a lot of baggage was added by the use of Africans in larger-scale Atlantic slavery. But generally speaking, the play has a lot that resonates with modern audiences; attitudes to cultural/ethnic minorities, minority attitudes, the troubles of career military men in domestic settings, the destructive power of rumours...
- The Clouds, by Aristophanes, mocks both conservative and left-wing Strawman Political types, with the former being portrayed as not using actual arguments, just saying "this is the way we've always done it" and "Doing it differently will make you gay" and the latter controlling most of Socrates' Academy and being able to convince anyone of anything, including that the only reason it isn't acceptable for sons to beat their fathers is that there's a law that says there isn't. Today, gay rights and moral relativism are actually points of debate.
- Chicago (both the stage musical and the film). Its view of the celebrity that comes from scandal seems to be getting more relevant every year.
- Spring Awakening (the original play) was written just before the 1900s, but still holds a lot of Values Resonance on cultural/religious repression and sexuality. The musical outright invokes this by using contemporary style/slang for the songs. And it works.
- Shylock's famous "if you prick us, do we not bleed?" speech from The Merchant of Venice almost goes without saying.
- Samus Aran from Metroid. Similar to The Avengers example above, you'd think a female video game character created in 1986 would be a Damsel in Distress or a playable chick at best. Here, you'd be wrong. Even if her gender was unknown at the time, and was likely just included as a last-minute gag, the idea that the random space warrior was a woman, without making fuss about her femininity, resonates today as developers continue to grapple with the problem of properly developing game heroines.
- The early Peanuts holiday specials that satirize extreme commercialism. Sally's cry of "I haven't even finished all of my Halloween candy!" from 1973's A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving seems almost quaint when you consider that some stores don't even wait for Halloween anymore before putting Christmas merchandise out. In fact, in the following year's It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown, the kids go to a store that's selling Christmas merchandise alongside Easter stuff (which is to say, in spring).
- The anti-war short "Peace on Earth", released on the eve of World War II about the horrors of World War I, still carries a haunting message applicable to today's world. It became far more profound from the 1950's onward and was even remade at the time (as "Good Will to Men"), as the Cold War made its metaphor of human extinction a chillingly literal one.
- The Simpsons season 6 episode "Homer Badman", which skewers the overly sensationalist nature of mass media, is still as relevant today as it was back in 1994.