What Do You Mean It's Not Political?

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
It involves a leader, a Senate and deserts. Clearly a modern allegory.

"The line 'I've got blonde hair, blue eyes, and class, but they don't know I have a really big heart' is obviously about Rick Santorum dropping out of the election."

Shelbyx Pwns, referring to the So Bad It's Horrible single "Hot Problems".

A subtrope of Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory, when works are interpreted as being allegories for political issues (most often ones of war) at the time of the writing, with no prompting from the author. Sometimes, this is applied as Retcon, with works written decades before the event being interpreted as allegories for it. (This may be a result of Older Than They Think.) Such interpretations may be instances of History Repeats, "Funny Aneurysm" Moments, Hilarious in Hindsight, and Harsher in Hindsight.

Even still many people think that somehow everything has to be inspired by what is most recent and that the author is targeting Small Reference Pools—and furthermore that the writer wrote the work shortly before publication, when in fact it normally takes a year to get from completed manuscript to on the shelves even if the writer had no difficulty selling it, and the work may have taken years to write.

Compare Faux Symbolism. See also What Do You Mean It's Not Didactic? Compare to Writer on Board, Author Tract, and Author Filibuster, for cases where the author makes no secret about the political intent. When characters are asking each other 'What do you mean, it's not political?', that's All Issues Are Political Issues.

May overlap with Wild Mass Guessing.

Examples of What Do You Mean It's Not Political? include:

Anime and Manga

  • In the final episode of I My Me! Strawberry Eggs, the administration of the school tries to use the fact that their gym teacher was a Wholesome Crossdresser to change their school into a complete Lady Land—ignoring that this would not have prevented the deception in the first place.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Many fans believe that the religion of Ishval/Ishbal was based off modern Islam, due to the Ishbalans' dark skin and the Arabian Nights-esque setting they lived in, and then there's the massacre. Hiromu Arakawa (the creator of the manga) has stated that she based it off of the Ainu, an ethnic group that were driven from Honshu and live on Hokkaido, where Arakawa was born. A similar theory is that Ishval was based off of Ishvara, a hindu concept of monotheism.
    • The screenwriter for the anime has, according to this column, admitted that the war themes explored in the anime were meant as a commentary on America's participation in the Vietnam and Iraq wars. The Ishvalan civilians represented the natives of these countries, caught in the middle.
  • Death Note has shades of this in the second half. President David Hoope kills himself pre-emptively when he believes that Mello will manipulate him into launching a nuclear weapon. What he didn't know was that the rules of the Death Note would have made this impossible anyway, making his noble self-sacrifice a pointless waste. Just to rub salt in the wound, his replacement is a sniveling coward who surrenders the United States to Kira.
    • In the anime, Hoope's character is combined with that of said replacement, who does not commit suicide and is President the whole time. Word of God also states that it's "believed Kira disposed" of Hoope.
  • Shortly after its release, many began suspecting that Code Geass's Britannian Empire and its resource-grubbing expansionism was meant to be a thinly veiled potshot at America and the War on Terror, to the point where some began calling for a boycott of the show's eventual US release. In an interview near the end of the first season, director/co-creator Goro Taniguchi stated that this is not the case, insisting that the whole reason he made the show was to tell an entertaining story and not to make any kind of political message. That the main character was Britannian probably helped reduce any backlash.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex outright gives the Villain Ball to the United States of America in the 2nd season... or more specifically, the American Empire, one of the 3 divided American countries who places a high priority on military industrialism and right-wing conservatism. The anime doesn't clearly state that the United States of America is a different country from the American Empire, which may lead viewers into thinking that the United States in general is the villain. The truth is that Shirow Masamune divided the United States into 3 different countries (The United States of America, The Ameri-Soviet Union, and Imperial Americana) as part of the continuity that Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell both take place in back when he wrote both series in the mid-80's and early 90's. There were no intentional implications, but it still makes the whole thing Harsher in Hindsight when compared to some of George W. Bush's foreign policies during his administration.
    • The villians in the two series are, respectively, a corrupt politician trying to make a profit in the healthcare industry and a right wing agent trying to instigate a war for personal gain, and the two main Anti-Villain-turned-AntiHeroes are an anarchist hacker and a socialist revolutionary. It's not particularly hard to see the show's political slant.
  • Witchblade Takeru, hoooooo boy. Falls in line with the 'history recycling scripts' below. Depending on the age of the reader, the crazy warmongering US Senator can stand-in for any number of America's foreign jaunts from Korea onwards, with Takeru and her little village representing the oppressed peoples fighting back and driving them off. Most commonly due to how the village looks, however, and the choice of weapon deployed, it winds up being analysed as a Vietnam parable.

Comic Books

  • Mark Millar continues to insist that any political allegory in Civil War, a plot in which superheroes who didn't want to register with the government were rounded up and shipped off to what's come to be called "Space Guantanamo" by both fans and the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics, was completely accidental.
    • Even after the statements of his own editor, who outright admitted it was not accidental at all.
  • It's been suggested that Stan Lee intended the two mutant leaders to represent the competing tactics of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King (Professor X) and Malcolm X (Magneto), and the analogy is very frequently mentioned in discussions of the books. More broadly, they represent alternative paths that oppressed people can follow: appeal to the consciences of the oppressors by taking the moral high ground, or defend your rights by force.
  • This could be a genuine case of Small Reference Pools but many Brits find it deeply irritating that Americans, having only seen the 2006 film version of V for Vendetta tend to assume that both it and the comic were about the Bush administration. The comic was written over twenty years before and was, according to Word of God, about the Thatcher administration while the movie simply made Norsefire more "generically" fascist (and stripped out most of the ambiguity). The irritation usually turns into loud arguments when said Americans then assume Guy Fawkes was a hero (he was actually a religious terrorist and hated in the UK to this day, to the point where there's a holiday devoted to burning him in effigy).
    • It's also clear from the context of the movie that the story takes place in the far future: while it's possible that today's issues will still be relevant when that time comes, it's quite unlikely that the Bush family will be involved somehow.
  • Smurf versus Smurf, where the Smurf village is divided in a mutually hostile Northern and Southern part because of language differences, gets a whole new perspective when you remember that it is originally a Belgian comic book.
    • For the record, the northeastern part of Belgium (Flanders) is Dutch, and the southwestern part (Wallonia) is French. But this seems pretty superfluous when one realizes that the original Belgian name for "The Smurfs" (Les Schtroumpfs) combines both Latin and Germanic linguistic elements.


  • Star Wars features a complex example. Word of God says the plot to the series was thought up in the 1970s and based on contemporary events, but many suspect George Lucas' storywriting to be somewhat of an Indy Ploy, the prequels storyline not crystalizing until later. Furthermore, there is Anakin's "If you are not with me, then you're my enemy" quote, which is an Older Than They Think quote, one from The Bible.
    • The process by which Darth Sidious takes control of the Galactic Republic in the Star Wars prequel trilogy has been interpreted by some as a metaphor for the perceived centralization of power in the Bush administration—a claim George Lucas denies, and which is pretty blatantly not the case, seeing as the principal details of the story were sketched out in the mid-'70s, and summarized in the foreword to the Novelization of A New Hope.
      • Even for us "real" people, the Galactic Empire is not all that unusual. All military dictatorships begin in more or less the same way.
      • This is particularly puzzling given all the deliberate parallels to the Nazi party: everything from Palpatine being chancellor before assuming absolute power, to the name "stormtroopers" (the meaning of SturmAbteilung, Hitler's SA). Given Imperial Officers were wearing copies of actual Nazi uniforms I'm pretty sure it was intentional. Interestingly, this same idea could have been played with a different historical parallel: Augustus replacing a corrupt Roman Senate with himself, as (arguably) the right thing to do, at least in the short run.
        • The SA took the name 'stormtroopers' from the original sturmtruppen of World War I, who were simply specialist troops intended for close-quarters assault on fortified positions. But Lucas has admitted on several occasions that he did indeed take a lot of inspiration from the Nazis when designing the Empire.
    • George Lucas has gone on in interviews to point out that much of the reason that the prequels, first thought up in the 1970s, seem so contemporary is that the contemporary political situation itself happens to uncannily mirror the 1970s. In both cases, there's an unpopular overseas conflict going on that has America being accused of empire-building by the rest of the world, while the Republican president's being criticized for overstepping his authority and trying consolidate power away from the senate with the rationale that desperate times call for desperate measures. It's not so much that the prequels were written about Bush, it's that they were written during the Nixon and Vietnam days - and then The War on Terror came along and recreated that situation just a few years after The Phantom Menace was released. Sort of a Life Imitates Art Imitating Earlier Real Life.
    • And both situations mirror the founding of The Roman Empire, and other historical situations too numerous to mention. Real Life is using a Recycled Script.
    • Not just The Roman Empire and Caesar Augustus but also the English Commonwealth and Oliver Cromwell. In both those instances a de jure republic was turned into a de facto autocracy by powerful figures although, unlike in Star Wars, they 'hid' what they were doing by not actually abolishing their republics and creating a framework where they officially had their powers confirmed by a legislature (who in reality had little choice in the matter). Napoleon Bonaparte is a closer real-life example, like Palpatine he openly abolished the republic and made it an empire in name as well as fact with himself as emperor.
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a famous example. Produced at the height of the 1950's anti-Communist paranoia, the movie has often been taken for an allegory for that, although nobody's clear about whether pod people represent Communists, or whether they represent McCarthyists who attack those who are different. The lead actor has stated on the DVD that the movie wasn't intended to be any kind of political commentary (since Senator McCarthy and his followers had already been discredited in the eyes of most Americans by the time filming began, it's unlikely that the allegory was anything but subconscious).
    • The 1978 remake starring Donald Sutherland made things a lot clearer, and kept the paranoia but changed the focus to environmental pollution.
  • Three Hundred. Complicated again, as the (accurate to the comics) movie adaptation was made during The War on Terror, which Frank Miller supports, but the original comic was written a decade earlier. Notably, though, people who take this tack disagree on whether the Spartans are meant to represent the US and the Persians Islamic terrorism, or the other way around; it could be seen as brave freedom-lovers fighting Middle Eastern tyrants, or as a vast empire underestimating a local population and getting its butt kicked. At a March 2007 press conference, director Zack Snyder found himself nonplussed when asked by a reporter whether King Leonidas was meant to be George W. Bush or Osama Bin Laden. Original author Frank Miller claims that his comic to a large degree was inspired by the 1962 film The 300 Spartans, which is often considered to be a metaphor for the Cold War. Whether such a message was intended or not is far from clear.
  • Some interpret the sonar cell phone subplot in The Dark Knight Saga as an allegory for modern day safety measures by the former Bush administration.
    • While not as overt as TDK's themes of eavesdropping and extraordinary rendition, the speech in Batman Begins about how Gotham is beyond saving seems to be a metaphor for similar attitudes towards the Middle East. It doesn't exactly help that the character is, at that point, referred to as "Ra's al Ghul" (an Arabic-sounding name) and talking about a city that is presumably located in the western world. Talk about turning the tables.

"Gotham's time has come. Like Constantinople or Rome before it the city has become a breeding ground for suffering and injustice. It is beyond saving and must be allowed to die."

      • The Arabic name is just a red herring, since the man portraying Ra's al Ghul is really Japanese, and the genuine Ra's al Ghul is actually French!
      • Ra's al Ghul, 'The Demon's Head', has existed in Bat-Comics since the 1970s so he can hardly have been created as a response to anything contemporary. The comics version actually is Arabic, though.
  • Batman Returns (1992) was another Batman film that ran afoul of controversy. Though it was presented to the public as just an escapist fantasy, it in fact featured a recall election in Gotham City as a major plot point - and since the film was released in the late spring of 1992, when many U.S. voters were preparing to turn incumbents of all sorts out of office, many critics and pundits couldn't help seeing the movie as a commentary on all that. (It certainly didn't help that director Tim Burton admitted in an interview that the Penguin was supposed to be an amalgamation of all the current political candidates.) Batman Returns also began shooting just a few months after the Persian Gulf War ended, making a climactic plot to destroy the city with remote-controlled missiles and the line "The liberation of Gotham has begun!" (a play on a Pentagon official's remark that "The liberation of Kuwait has begun" as Operation Desert Storm was launched) sound quite suspicious indeed. Then there is the Penguin's declaration of "Burn, baby - burn!" which was a quote popularly attributed to rioting blacks in 1965 Los Angeles - and, lest we forget, only one month before this movie arrived in theaters, Los Angeles was again rocked by a similar race riot that resulted in many burning buildings, which makes it hard to not connect the dots when we see the Penguin's minions firebombing Gotham City storefronts with rocket launchers. Then there was the accusation that the Penguin's hooked nose was meant to make him look Jewish, and on and on and on...
    • Come to think of it, this trend goes all the way back to the original 1989 movie, which features a scene in which Batman appears silhouetted against a giant neon sign that says "AXIS." That's been popularly interpreted as an admission that Batman is basically a Nazi stormtrooper, but Word of God has never confirmed it.
  • Some people argued that The Incredibles was pro-objectivist propaganda, although the theory has since lost popularity.
  • Anthony Lane at the New Yorker has a strange talent for looking at action movies and seeing endorsements for fascism. Take a look at his reviews for Speed Racer and Watchmen.
  • Pauline Kael called Straw Dogs "the first American film that is a fascist work of art". Interestingly, it wasn't really a negative review.
  • Some critics have claimed that Showa Godzilla movies are Japanese nationalist propaganda revolving around WWII, though Ishiro Honda's pet themes was anti-nationalism and unification of enemies against greater threats. Other critics have claimed that the nuclear explosion that created Godzilla was a metaphor for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with the monster representing America. Godzilla was later changed into a good guy in later films after relations between the two nations had markedly improved.
  • Reviewers often claim that Cloverfield is an allegory for 9/11. This would be easier to refute if Abrams didn't deliberately draw on 9/11 imagery.
  • Clips from Spaceballs posted on YouTube tend to invite comments declaring that President Skroob is obviously Bush. They don't let the fact that the film was released thirteen years before Bush (and one year before his old man) was elected get in the way.
  • The third Pirates of the Caribbean film had shades of this, with the suspending of liberties and trials for suspected pirates by a corrupt government intent on wiping out a bunch of terrorizing marauders. Never mind that the suspension of civil liberty, especially in colonies and especially for pirates, was a historical occurrence far predating any modern political situation.
  • Some people with have interpreted Inglourious Basterds as an anti-American attack on torture and interrogation methods. Others consider it to be promoting war crimes. The film is morally ambiguous enough that it's hard to agree whether the Basterds were supposed to be heroes or not.
    • What's really unfortunate is that Inglourious Basterds is at its heart a fundamentally simple tale of a Jewish girl avenging the massacre of her family - but since she is killed before the end credits roll, it's understandable that audiences would fail to recognize her as the film's true protagonist.
    • According to Quentin Tarantino, the only thing Inglorious Basterds is about is war movies themselves, and how amazingly similar the propaganda of opposite sides can look to each other if you just swap the uniforms around. Hence the American soldiers in this movie acting like Nazi soldiers do in your standard World War II movie, and the Nazi soldier in the in-movie Nazi war propaganda film acting like Audie Murphy.
  • Around the time of the film version of The Two Towers being released, there was an online petition parodying this phenomenon by arguing against it on the basis that it was an insensitive name in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. Astoundingly, it drummed up some serious support from people who Did Not Do the Research.
    • Even more mind-boggling is that some critics claimed it was a pro-Iraq War/Bush-supported propaganda piece. This is a little odd since the original source was written by a British author several decades ago and the movie was directed, written, and co-financed by a New Zealander. Oh, and the films were shot back-to-back and were going into production by the time Bush came into office. Did Not Do the Research indeed.
  • One of the reasons reviewer Armond White is a controversial figure (besides being a contrarian) is because he always does a socio-political analysis of a film while doing his review.
  • From A Bug's Life, Hopper's speech about "keeping those ants in line" has been interpreted as a metaphor for everything from the distribution of wealth to the alleged "New World Order."
  • Ratatouille has a scene where Remy's dad tells him how they have to hate and fear humans because humans will never stop trying to kill them, and there's nothing that can be done about it, so stop hoping for peace and just fight the war, or sentiments to that effect. While it's written well enough that you could put his words in the mouth of any leader in the midst of a bitter and apparently endless conflict, it's almost impossible to watch the scene without thinking "terrorists".

Remy's father: This is the way things are. You can't change nature.
Remy: Change is nature, Dad. The part that we can influence. And it all starts when we decide...
Remy's father: Where are you going?
Remy: With luck... forward.

  • Andrew O'Hehir's review of Secretariat was based around the premise that a feel-good Disney movie about a legendary racehorse was actually a "Tea Party-flavored, Christian-friendly yarn" which he even likened to Leni Riefenstahl's propaganda films. After massive Internet Backdraft led by the unquestionably liberal Roger Ebert, O'Hehir backtracked and claimed that the review was tongue-in-cheek and deliberately over-the-top.
  • Lets take a look at Monsters2010...You have a bunch of aliens from Mexico trying to get into America and succeeding despite a gigantic wall and security to keep them out. These aliens stereotyped as villains in propaganda. These aliens are apparently not metaphors for Mexican immigration to the U.S but that hasn't stopped people from drawing the comparison.
  • Magda Goebbels stalked out of the premiere of Die Reise nach Tilsit. It was about a foreign woman seducing the husband of a virtuous German wife under her eyes—while Joseph Goebbels carried on with the Czech actress Lida Baarova (the German wife won in the end, in both cases; Hitler sent the actress back to her native country and told Goebbels there would be no divorce).
  • Battle: Los Angeles has a scene that could be seen as commentary on "enhanced interrogation" techniques in the war on terror: The soldiers have captured a wounded alien soldier, and they cut it apart (while still living), trying to find the vital organs so they can know where to aim to kill aliens. There is no dialogue condemning or justifying this act (although the information they find does put them on even footing in the battle).
  • Now some are calling The Muppets political. Many people on more conservative news shows were upset that the movie's villain was a CEO who wanted to drill for oil, saying that the Muppets were promoting class warfare for children. They Did Not Do the Research, since it later becomes clear that Tex Richman is evil not because he is a CEO, rich, or wants oil, but because he is unable to laugh and laughter, aka the third greatest gift ever, is necessary for happiness.
  • The Chinese historical/fantasy movie Hero was regarded as highly controversial particularly in America because of the conclusion of the main character accepting that a brutal dictatorship is the only thing that can stop the centuries of civil war and allowing the evil emperor to live is better for everyone than allowing the wars to continue forever, which was widely interpreted as Chinese poltical propaganda against human rights activists and the democratic movement. Mostly likely a case of Values Dissonance, as the Determinator is still a very highly regarded trope in America, while the movies message of Know When to Fold'Em finds much more acceptence in Europe.


  • JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings has often been in various and conflicting way by different people, often seeing it as a direct allegory of something. Tolkien himself denied it was an allegory of anything, but that due to its archetypal quality had lots of "Applicability".
    • Some have interpreted the The Lord of the Rings as an allegory for World War II, despite Tolkien's explicit denial that he was into allegory, stated dislike of the concept, irritation at speculation over the one Ring's "symbolism" and the fact the storyline was conceived, in part, from World War I.
    • There were also accusations of the reverse. The Shire was likened to idealized Germany, and the rampant racism (every good race is pretty, tall and blonde, notwithstanding that most of the characters are not) as "Aryan" ethics.
    • More a coincidence; both JRR Tolkien and Those Wacky Nazis had a taste for ancient Germanic tradition. They are better thought of as two businesses competing for the same market then as one imitating the other.
      • Ring of the Nibelung, anyone?
  • According to Joe Haldeman The Forever War is only "about Vietnam" in the sense that that was the war that he had fought in. It is actually about war though.
  • This review interprets the penultimate book in A Series of Unfortunate Events as a pro-terrorist, anti-American allegory for 9/11.
  • A few people (well, at least two) have asserted that Ender of Ender's Game is actually Tiny Naked Hitler.
  • There are many, many theories on how The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is meant to represent politics at the time. As usual, Wikipedia goes into much, much detail. When asked, Baum said that his books were intended for children.
  • Whenever discussions of governmental surveillance, propaganda and overt authority are raised, mentions of 1984 cannot be far behind.
  • Richard Adams has always claimed that Watership Down is simply a children's book. However, many fans disagree with him and see the book as an rabbit version of Animal Farm with the allegory taking aim at fascism and appeasement. Others see it as an attempt to fashion an English version of The Aeneid. This would make it a children's book that includes infanticide, main characters ripping each other to shreds, a character that sees fields full of blood, mass poisoning, and several characters being shot or torn to bits by larger animals.
  • At risk of going against the idea of the page, George Orwell's Animal Farm is, on at least one level, a fairly direct allegory for the history of the USSR from 1917 to 1945. But some of the analysis gets a little confusing. Does Boxer represent a specific individual, or just downtrodden yet willing workers in general? Is Benjamin a cautionary tale about those who know what's going on, but don't act on this knowledge, or an Author Avatar? Saying this, the simplest answer is probably "Both".
  • Wicked (the book, not the musical) has been seen by critics as a metaphor not only for Nazi-Fascism but also for Nixonian politics. Then again, it may have been intentional...
  • Many people see Dumbledore and Fudge in the Harry Potter books as allegories for Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain respectively. It helps that Word of God says that the parallels between the Death Eaters and the Nazis were intentional.
    • Some have claimed that Umbridge is Margaret Thatcher. The similarity pretty much boils down to "both are right-wing female politicians I don't like". Some have also compared Umbridge to Sarah Palin (who was largely unknown even to most Americans at the time the book was written) based on the same logic. Apparently being female (and conservative) is the all-important qualifier for declaring that a disliked politician "is" Umbridge (there are no comparisons to Angela Merkel yet, though).
  • Discworld gets a bit of this from time to time. For example, while Thud!! is clearly about racial and religious hatred a lot of people think specific groups are direct stand ins for other groups. Weirder are the claims that Jingo or Monstrous Regiment are directly about the Iraq war (even though Jingo was written years before it).
    • Jingo was written years before a Gulf War, but after the first one. But from a British perspective, a war over "some damn island that's only useful in case we have to go to war" is much closer to the Falklands.
    • The background plot about the island is based on Ferdinandea, but the characters openly discuss the fact that this is only an Excuse Plot for the various other things that happen, which could map fairly well to several different conflicts and events.
  • The children's Book The Rainbow Fish is about sharing, but many pundits accused it of being socialist propaganda written to turn children against traditional American values.
  • Apparently the author of Enchantress From the Stars, Sylvia Louise Engdahl, got enough questions about this that she answered in on her website's FAQ. Many people were under the impression that The Federation's relationship with the Younglings (a primitive planet with medieval technology) was an allegory for how 19th century European scientists viewed other races as primitive animals.

Live-Action TV

  • Both political parties, Democrat and Republican, see The Alliance in Firefly as the other and the Browncoats as themselves. Word of God says that was an accident.
  • A rather odd example is That's My Bush!. Despite being created by the people who did South Park and featuring the former President's administration and family as characters, it wasn't intended as political satire. (Parker and Stone admitted that, just in case things had gone the other way, they also had a pitch for a sitcom about Al Gore, and said they would have used more or less the same jokes no matter who'd actually won.)
  • The original Battlestar Galactica had some great Writer on Board moments of lambasting Cold War era fans of detente, portraying anyone who'd rather try to make friends with the Cylons as a naive patsy for not realizing just how Exclusively Evil the Cylons were. The pilot movie, in turn, turned out oddly prophetic about events following the 9/11 attack.
  • The 2004 reboot of Battlestar Galactica takes this to new, but inverted, levels. The occupation of New Caprica, for example, was explicitly written to echo the American occupation of Iraq. The writers have said they purposefully wrote close to the deadlines to get their commentary closer to current affairs.
  • The third season of Star Trek: Enterprise drew heavily on current events. Earth is savagely attacked, apparently out of nowhere, and the NX-01 (bringing along a cohort of Space Marines) heads into a treacherous region of space to find the culprits. Many fans were afraid this storyline would be untrue to Trek's philosophy, but they needn't have worried: the aliens aren't all bad (though there are a few problems - like that the most humanoid ones get a Face Heel Turn but the reptilian Xindi stay evil (although you wouldn't say no to the head reptile, either) and insectoids stay evil get cold feet while in transit to Earth and are blown up by the reptilians for their troubles), Archer's new hard-edged attitude isn't always endorsed, and there's enough ambiguity all round to keep it from being Strawman Political in either direction.
    • Prior to that, a couple of first-season episodes -- "Fortunate Son" and especially "Detained"—examined elements of the war on terror. But contrary to a common assumption, the decision to name the first season's bad guys "Suliban" happened long before 9/11. They were named after the Taliban, but only because Rick Berman thought that name had the exotic sound he wanted; no one was expecting it to become a household name.
  • A book claimed that Stargate was white supremacist propaganda.
    • Others interpreted it as the final victory of science over religion, fought by heroic atheists and liberated ex-faithful against an amalgamation of the leaders of the world's faiths.
      • The series does make the point that gods aren't defined by their powers, but rather by their actions and benevolence. The Goa'uld and the Ori, who abuse their positions of privilege over their subjects, are not fit to act as gods over the people they rule. This was probably intentional, but considering Daniel's statements about fire being bad (the Ori use fire as a good symbolism, even choosing to appear as it instead of the default ascended light form) coming from the Ancients, it doesn't seem to mean they were against Christianity.
      • Christianity gets directly mentioned exactly once in the series, and then in a positive light. The True Companions travel to a world where the people were culled from Middle Ages England. Daniel posits a theory (which turns out to be wrong) that the Goa'uld who controls this world may be posing as the God of the Abrahamic faiths. Teal'c dismisses this idea, stating that he's read The Bible and finds it impossible to imagine that any Goa'uld could be as benevolent as the deity from that book.
  • This Slate article, which explains that Jerry Seinfeld and his comedy routine represents conformity and lack of identity in a totalitarian government. Um . . . right.
    • Slate (and to a lesser extent Salon) absolutely loves this trope. Any even remotely popular pop culture phenomenon eventually becomes the victim of a pretentious, middlebrow Slate article that tries to analyze it and wring out some sort of important insight concerning our society. The nadir was probably this piece, an earnest, serious 1,300-word examination of....UglyGuyHotWife.
      • I can has pretenshis midulbrow analusis?
      • Heather Havrilesky, in her regular TV show review column for Salon.com, has a tendency to embrace this trope. Particularly when reviewing reality television, for some reason.
  • Babylon 5 has been decried as leftist propaganda specifically made to decry the Bush administration. This moves beyond Did Not Do the Research into Critical Research Failure, since B5 ended two years before Bush was elected President. Oops.
    • President Evil s are an atavistic evil archetype in what might as well be called American mythology. Practically every American president was roughly comparable to President Clark if you believe the opposition. Drawing from this folklore, is in a sense no different then appealing to Babylonian myth.
    • JMS has written several episodes where he purposefully did not take a stand in the issue presented, but rather presented both sides and let the viewers draw their own conclusions. This hasn't stopped many people from claiming that such episodes are clearly (for/against) (their views/views opposing their own). One example of an inversion of this trope is the episode Confessions and Lamentations, which is about a fresh outbreak of an alien disease that was believed to be spread through immoral behavior. A lot of people claimed this episode was meant as an allegory for AIDS, missing the fact that it's a closer parallel to the Black Death (which is even discussed in the episode itself). JMS has gone on record as stating that the point of the episode was to say that politicizing a disease is never a good idea.
  • The Visitors in the Remake of V has been interpreted as symbolizing Barack Obama. This isn't helped by the fact that the show's plot (the alien Visitors, who receive the devotion of the people, are secretly plotting to destroy America the world) bears a lot of similarities to various right-wing fears about Obama—compare the Visitors' alien nature to the "birther" conspiracy. The writers have denied this, and claimed that the show is more about post-9/11 America than the current President.
    • Doesn't really help when the aliens provide "Universal Healthcare", and call it spreading hope...
    • As with Babylon 5, this is a case of Did Not Do the Research, since, as noted above, it's a remake. Of a miniseries from 1983.
      • Which was a redone version of a show concept about the Communists invading a fascist takeover of the USA. When told that wasn't 'believable', it was reworked with a science fiction angle.
  • The children's television show The Teletubbies was accused of promoting the homosexual agenda to children.
  • When Doctor Who came back in 2005 with the main writer being out of the closet gay, many people accused the show of trying to push the gay agenda. Especially when Captain Jack Harkness (Anything That Moves) arrived.


  • Radiohead maintain that their 2003 album Hail to the Thief was not named for the 2000 election chant. Although it is supposed to be about the rise of the scary right-wing.
  • Also, it's Older Than You Think [1]
  • The Wikipedia article on Yatta used to include this:
    • "The sketch appears to be at least partly ironic commentary on attempts by the Japanese government and others to maintain optimism in the face of Japan's severe economic troubles, depicting men impoverished to the degree of having no clothing but the figurative fig leaf (though in this case the leaves are attached to the men's briefs) yet maintaining an irrational, irrepressible belief in their own potential for success."
  • The Gorillaz song Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head. Listen to the lyrics, especially the closing lines. Tell me that doesn't have political undertones.
  • The Rush song entitled "The Trees" has lyrics about maples who feel they don't get enough sunlight and oaks who can't fathom the maples circumstances. Oddly enough, according to lyricist Neil Peart, the song is just about trees. Really. He was watching an old cartoon about anthropomorphic trees one night and decided to write a song about it.
  • "Dancing in the Streets" by Martha and the Vandellas was taken as an allegory for the civil rights movement, which was in full swing at the time of the song's release. Martha Reeves denied any political meaning to the song, but it was popular enough at rallies that it became controversial anyway.
  • "Helicopter" by Bloc Party (which features such lyrics as "Stop being so American" and "Just like his dad") is frequently misinterpreted as being about George W. Bush.
  • Dave Gilmour's "Blue Light", a song about a generic Femme Fatale, was thought by many to be about Margaret Thatcher (blue being the color of Thatcher's Conservative Party).
  • Viking metal bands are sometimes accused of promoting fascism, Nazism or white supremacism, largely because they make use of the same Norse and Germanic imagery which the Nazi party drew on. The bands are emphatic that this is not the case.
    • Well, a large majority of them anyway. A few very much are promoting fascism, Nazism, etc.
    • Manowar was accused of this as well because the song Blood Of Kings has the line "back to the glory of Germany", intended as a Shout-Out to their large German fanbase.
  • Rammstein is occasionally accused of promoting fascism largely because their lyrics are angry and in German...Just like Hitler!
    • To refute such allegations, they wrote "Links 2-3-4", "Links" being the German for "left". The song declares that politically, the band are to the left, one repeated line being roughly "my heart beats to the left". Just to troll, though, they made the song sound as military as they could (their keyboardist said something along the lines of "we wanted to prove we could write a militaristic song that wasn't Nazi").
  • The liner notes to Steely Dan's "Kings" invoke this trope for an aversion/subversion (depending), with a disclaimer stating (more or less) that "this song is in no way political." Sure, given that this song's chorus is "We've seen the last/Of Good King Richard...Raise up the glass/To Good King John", and that Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were very embittered '60s liberals writing in 1972...
  • Russel Morris' Mind Screw "The Real Thing" was interpreted by many as a commentary on The Vietnam War ("Is there a meaning here? Is there a meaning there? Does it really mean a thing?"). Word of God was that was actually bemused speculation about Coca-Cola's slogan.
  • The Doors' 1968 song "The Unknown Soldier" is usually taken to be a denunciation of the Vietnam War, which was at its height at the time. This is plausible, especially when Morrison describes the soldier's wife learning of her husband's death on the TV news (Vietnam being the first major war to receive extensive televised news coverage), but the lyrics are worded in such a way that, the television reference notwithstanding, the song could be applied to just about any war between World War I and today. And the Doors tended to remain silent on political matters, anyway.
  • In order to counter the misconception that rock music and conservatism are wholly incompatible, the magazine National Review offered a list of "Greatest Conservative Rock Songs." Problem is, close examination will reveal that only about 40 percent of the songs are truly conservative; the rest are either libertarian or are just "old-fashioned" in a way that really isn't political at all. (For example, one song is considered "conservative" because it contains a Latin prayer.) Plenty of songs were included because they were at least partially anti-communist (did you ever hear of a popular song that was pro-communist?), as if conservatives have ever had a monopoly on anti-communism (and anyway, one of these songs is only "anti-communist" because it depicts the color red negatively!).


  • The repeated cry "Viva la liberta!" in the first act finale of Don Giovanni is read by some as Mozart's support for the French Revolution.
    • More blatantly, the depiction of the corrupt and foolish Duke in Figaro is definitely a statement by Mozart against aristocratic rule.
  • Giuseppe Verdi's Nabucco, with the famous Chorus of Hebrew Slaves (the Jews held captive in Babylon moaning the loss of their homeland), was written at a time where the movement to unify Italy was gaining momentum. The chorus became an unofficial anthem of the movement.
    • Verdi's later operas Don Carlos and Aida both have fanatical priests with political power as the main antagonists.

Video Games

  • Deus Ex Human Revolution: The augmentation debate has some parallels to the abortion debate. In the game, you will hear about augmentation clinics being firebombed by zealous anti-augs, protest signs that say "I regret my augmentation" much like "I regret my abortion signs." And much how in real life how people on the fence about abortion will say "I don't mind it in cases of rape, health issues, or incest," one can hear characters day "I don't mind it in the cases of amputees."
  • Halo has been compared to the War On Terror. The UNSC (Mostly played by Americans) vs. the genocidal, insane, religious Covenant. Bungie's religious references don't help. However, Bungie has denied this, and it is helped by the fact that they have a well known plan to take over the world.
    • And the fact that Halo's main Myth Arc was plotted in the mid-nineties, several years before the events of 9/11 kicked-off the War On Terror. The first game in the series happened to be released shortly thereafter, but over four years of work had gone into it by that point, with trailers and interviews already establishing to the public the work's setup.
    • Other's believe it's actually an allegory for the Crusades
    • After the end of Apartheid in South Africa, the new multi-racial government set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights abuses under the old regime. In Halo: Combat Evolved, the multi-racial Covenant have a ship called the Truth And Reconciliation. Draw your own conclusions.
  • Some believe that Jak and Daxter series were allegorical for the usage of child soldiers in African nations. A carefree youth is captured and mentally abused til his mind becomes violent enough to attack anyone a voice in command tells him to. Then someone hands him a gun for the first time in his life and he's a natural with it.
  • Advance Wars throws up some interesting ones by having the various nations and COs represent different countries, with many of the parallels focusing on World War II. It can get confusing, though: it's generally agreed that Green Earth represents Germany, but their COs represent all of Western Europe: Eagle is World War II Germany (superior air force and Lightning Strike being the English translation of "Blitzkrieg"), Drake is probably Britain (naval superiority and various parallels with Sir Francis Drake fighting off the Spanish Armada), Jess is probably Napoleonic France (superior land forces and resupply powers: compare Napoleon's "An army marches on its stomach" quote) and Javier is probably Spain (because he talks and acts rather like Don Quixote). Olaf is obviously General Winter as well as a Communist defector, Grit the very embodiment of Soviet artillery doctrine, and Colin and Sasha, amusingly, are either kulaks or the NEP. Kanbei embodies samurai honour, Sonja an amusing inversion of actual Japanese military security (which leaked like a sieve), Sensei the IJA's own special forces and Grimm's focus on all-out offensive reflects the closing days of Japanese desperation in both Ichi-Go and kamikaze.
  • Pikmin has been interpreted as an allegory to socialism.
  • The Game Overthinker/Movie Bob satirized The "political analysis of video games... Twice
  • Batman: Arkham City has at least one essay devoted to it being an allegory for the dehumanization of criminals: Social Satire Essay
  • When BioShock Infinite was first announced, people immediately thought the xenophobic and imperialistic Founders were an allusion to the Tea Party, which Ken Levine denied. And given the events that have been happening in the US since then, you can bet that when the game is actually released, the Vox Populi will be immediately be dubbed an allusion to Occupy Wall Street despite said group not even having had existed when the game started being developed.
    • Although Ken Levine did go to an Occupy Wall Street rally to do research for the Vox...

Web Comics

  • In The Order of the Stick Redcloak summoned a fiendish mammoth as a mount. Following the strips usual way of portraying fiendish creatures, it was red. Eventually the author had to specify that no, it was not supposed to be any kind of reference to the Republican party.
    • With a higher potential of controversy was the duel between Miko and Redcloak at the watch tower. Right before the 2006's U.S. Congress elections. On one side, you had a blue-themed character that tried to do Good in the world, but for misguided reasons. On the other side, you had a red-themed character that is doing evil deeds but has a decent reason for doing them. The Blue-themed character won the fight (after the electoral results of Democrat victory).
      • Except none of them is trying to do good in the world, of course.
  • Terinu can be easily interpreted as an anti-colonialist story, given that Peta Hewett hails from Down Under and has stated that the Varn genuinely believed that they were bringing "Civilization" to the Earth when they invaded in the backstory. Never mind the Ferin being viewed by every antagonist as a resource to be harvested and not a free thinking race in their own right.
  • Erfworld has also been subject to this, with multiple fans trying to claim that Stanley the Tool is Erfworld's take on George W. Bush. It's true that Erfworld is based on layer upon layer of puns and references, but claims like these just get annoying (especially in the face of more obvious puns and references concerning Stanley).
    • And then Ansom was killed and turned into an undead to serve as Stanley's chief warlord. Have fun figuring out how that fits into either theory.
  • Domain Tnemrot. The entire story is about rich people forcing the poor into slavery, and the main character goes on rants about how the rich should be using their money to help the poor rather than spend it on frivolous entertainment. On the page this rant appears, though, the author insists that this is in no way a political comic and it's all just a part of the setting, while the main character's views are just a product of the environment he's grown up in.

Web Original

  • Some people have stated that the Socialist Block in the Chaos Timeline reminds them of the European Union. It controls Western Europe, its capital is Brussels, and its currency the Euro Pound. The author had intended no such thing.
  • Mark Does Stuff is half boyish Keet excitement and half assumption that absolutely every narrative conflict is about "privilege" vs. "oppression".

Western Animation

  • The Smurfs have been interpreted as a metaphor for the Communist party.
    • They have also been interpreted as a metaphor for the KKK, probably by Americans who have onlys seen the animated series, and were unaware that it was based on comics by a Belgian author.
  • Adventures of the Gummi Bears are about the evil Igthorn (who wears blue) trying to shut down an illegal brewery hidden in the forest. Igthorn's mooks are shown as dumb and ineffectual. The liquor Gummi Bears drink makes them crazily jump around. And they are friends to children! Anarchistic, anti-government and pro-alcohol/drugs propaganda, if you ask me.
    • But Igthorn wants the juice for himself to make him and his underlings stronger. And what is up with the kingdom anyway? They hate Igthorn and his army, but are helped by the Gummi Bears again and again without their knowledge. Well, in my opinion, you missed by far, my friend.
  • In the commentary for Dog Days, Bill Plympton tells of how the French view his Dog Trilogy as a metaphor for George Bush, even though that wasn't his intent, nor does he even like to make political cartoons.
  • South Park gets misunderstood all around. Its detractors point to its frequent use of politically incorrect material as comedy, saying that this "proves" South Park is racist and so forth. And some of its supporters (young conservatives and libertarians, mostly) see how South Park ridicules the politically correct and "enlightened" and love to think of the show as being a (somewhat ironic) defense of "traditional" American values - neglecting to notice that the show's creators try to offend everyone, regardless of where their political/social/cultural sympathies lie. Whether or not they do a good job at this is likely where the problem lies.
    • Co-creator Trey Parker is a Libertarian, and he and Matt Stone have expressed conservative views both in and out of the show, leading some commentators to coin the term "South Park conservatives". However, they have been quite outspoken about their desire never to be pinned down to either end of the political spectrum. Some choice quotes:
    • "We hate conservatives, but we really fucking hate liberals."
    • "People on the far left and the far right are the same exact person to us."
    • South Park even directly targets this topic in their show. In one of the episodes, the boys try to write a disgusting book to get it banned, only for all the people in South Park to misinterpret it as a political statement, not understanding that the boys simply wanted to write a sick, gross book just because they could.
  • The title character from SpongeBob SquarePants was accused of promoting homosexuality by religious fundamentalists. If anything, Spongebob is probably asexual.
  • Kathleen Richter of Ms. Magazine caused quite a stir when she accused My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic of promoting an anti-feminist, anti-intellectual, homophobic, white-power viewpoint, largely due to a massive dose of Did Not Do the Research. The ensuing Internet Backlash quickly prompted Ms. Magazine to follow her article with a rebuttal by the show's creator, Lauren Faust.
  • The Young Justice fandom on Tumblr has compared the revelation that M'gann is a white martian by Psimon is comparable to forcing a transgendered person out of the closet.