Political deception and intrigue is something that’s fascinated us for years, so when a story comes along that makes politics interesting, we take note. Whilst the world is incredibly uncertain at the moment, what with all of the politics happening around the place, let’s take a step away from the real world. Read about the turmoil caused by politicians in various stories, as we check out our Top 10 Politically Charged Stories.
10) The Lorax
What happens when large volumes of important natural resources are exploited for profit? The collapse of ecosystems and wholesale environmental destruction of course, Dr. Seuss was telling us to pay attention to this when long before we were old enough to see much more than a sad mustachioed fluffball trying to save his home from a man who only saw money where the Lorax and his friends saw home, and food, and life.
Timber might be the backbone of some nation’s economies – like the US and Russia – but demand is obliterating supply and a lot more besides. Unfortunately we are currently living in the last few pages of the Lorax, and perhaps if a film could be made to bring the book back to the public eye, perhaps with some cool villain song that really underlines the point that Seuss was trying to make, things might be different.
… what? Danny DeVito? And they’re still… but isn’t the Lorax president now?
9) The Captain America Trilogy
Bumped down the list a short way because the political message only really kicks in with the second and third films, the first one I suppose is building up this ideological super-soldier ready to be broken down by the system he once fought so hard to protect, warped by a century. Cap’s attitude towards registration is because he saw people put on lists because of the circumstances of their birth once before, and so watching his friends be put on a government register was a horrible concept.
The same is true of a system designed to prevent crime before it happened, identifying and eliminating “problems” before they arose, including keeping an airborne eye on potentially dangerous individuals of extreme power like The Hulk and Steven Strange, people without a criminal record, but the potential to topple nations single handedly. These systems are too easily exploited from within by corrupt individuals seeking to further their own warped agenda.
Space: the final frontier: privatised! A bit of not-so-subtextual subtext in the Borderlands franchise is the overwhelming power of corporations to spread and overpower smaller local government. Mayors can be assassinated and replaced with little to know effort when your corporate body owns planets and oversees vast military forces to protect from other, equally dangerous corporations. Civilization exists elsewhere in the universe, and let it, out on the frontier worlds there’s no law but the ones you can pay for.
Embodying the corporate entity is Handsome Jack, who builds towns, installs himself as governor, gives his girlfriend a town where she can play mayor, sheriff, and tyrant, and begins stripping the assets of the world to make himself rich. Those who once owned their own scraps of land had their properties seized, with no one there to defend them from superior Hyperion firepower. Lesson learned. Buy Maliwan.
Old and new, starting with the old, the original Robocop born of Reagan era America and the threat of nuclear warfare, with US production collapsing and economic panic gripping a nation, and the ever increasing privatisation of civic services. It also played on the increasing fears of the dehumanising rise of technology in the late 20th century, as exemplified by the stop-motion automata that Robocop was designed to replace.
Robocop 2014 touches on a theme that we discussed a couple of Top 10’s ago, the increasing use of drone warfare and the lack of human judgement and empathy when applying military force, while also discussing the increasingly militaristic approach of the US police force, but you can feel safe and sound about it all thanks to the comforting reassurance of Samuel L. Jackson letting us know how great it is that American made machines are occupying and oppressing every dangerous country in the world.
Who’d have thought a story about a hive based creature with a rigorous caste system overseen by a singular ruling body could have such communist overtones? When one worker becomes discontent with his lot in life, has dreams above his station, and hops over into the soldiery for a short and ill fated sortee against the termites. While he’s getting ideas above his station, his story has moved things in the ant hill…
A workers revolt, a military coup, the words “It’s the workers who control the means of production.” are thrown around, and the workers eventually come to rise up and overthrow the military forces seeking to wipe them from the face of the park. It’s a wonderful story of cooperation, equality, the power of an individual to change everything for everyone, and what a genuinely nice guy Sylvester Stalone is.
5) Hunger Games
Ever felt like your country isn’t hearing you? Then trust me, you’ve not lived a day in the life of a citizen of Panem, where every day is a struggle to be heard. In fact, to be heard is a laughable matter – Citizens aren’t heard, they are dictated upon. Every aspect of their lives is dictated by a totalitarian government. However, whilst the government of Panem has complete control, they need to make an example from time to time.
Along comes the Hunger Games, a way to show that if you stand out of line, even a little bit, then they will make an example out of you. There are 12 districts, which are all under control of the Capitol. Each district has no choice but to put two innocent kids in the Hunger Games, who are then forced to fight until only one of the 24 children survive – Even meaning they must be pitted against one another.
Oh – And then there’s the real prize, to be completely under the control of the government. On camera all the time, paraded around.
4) Starship Troopers
This one’s a two-for-one, because the original story was written as a real nationalist pro-military piece that glorified the role of the soldier, or at least no one has been able to interpret it as anything else. The film took a different approach, satirising the drum-beating of the original and turning it into a cautionary story about the dark side of military recruitment.
While the “Bug Menace” has genuine connotations to humanity’s continued existence, it’s a minor problem that we’d actually be very capable of repelling or even negotiating with – there are intelligent Bugs out there – we, the glorious conquerors just had to poke the hive, and now we’re in a war we can’t hope to end. We’ll never win, we’ll never lose, but we can always use more meat for the grinder. And remember, service means citizenship!
3) District 9
No better place to set a story of racial prejudice, segregation, and apartheid than Johannesburg, and no better way to ensure that that message reaches the global masses than by having the story be about adorable insectoid aliens seeking refuge from an unknown crisis. District 9 is a refugee camp for the “Prawn”, a rubbish dump turned shanty town where the alien populus are abused and manipulated by locals, and regulated by an unfeeling branch of government.
Their technology is stolen from them for military investigation, Prawns are kidnapped for scientific experimentation and target practice, and their infants are slaughtered if they ever exceed a population limit. It’s sickening, heartbreaking, and almost unbelievable that humans would be capable of such cruelty… except that they are, and we’ve done the same and worse to each other.
2) The Purge
America has become overrun with rampant crime, meaning that the government had to make a point about it. They decided on a set time, a set day, which will be a time when they could have a literal purge of people. They decided that on this day and time, people can commit whatever types of crimes they wanted. Everything would be overlooked, from murder, through to sexual assault.
The reasoning was that the prison system was vastly overpopulated, so they put in legislation to allow this one day and time to be filled with as much carnage as the folk wanted. It was their day, it was their Purge day. Most sane people keep bordered up in the comforts of their own homes, but that doesn’t matter. This is a day when all crime is free, so whilst the law has turned a blind eye, the people will likely break in.
1) Game of Thrones
Foolish leaders squabble over their petty differences, over bloodlines, and hierarchy, and symbols and lines in the sand. All the while a force that threatens to render it all moot without care or remorse descends from the frozen north. Any of this sound familiar? It’s because Game of Thrones (or more accurately a Song of Ice and Fire) is an analogy of global warming, and more importantly the attitude of world governments towards it.
Voices are raised to warn of the impending doom, and are crushed, dispelling the idea as a myth, or unimportant in the face of more immediate matters such as national and personal pride. Even when the proof is thrown at their feet, leaders still see themselves and their squabbles as more important than the extinction that hangs like the Sword of Damocles, already killing people in their hundreds and thousands… I could still be talking about either, but our situation is a lot harder to deal with than zombies, and we don’t have dragons. Actually dragons probably can’t help.
Put your papers down, folk, we have a new intel on those who would do our country harm. Ah, I’m kidding, but we do have two more examples of politically charged stories. One of them is super well known, the other is relatively new, so let’s check out our two last picks.
Team America: World Police
What can we say about Team America that doesn’t scream politically charged? It’s a huge parody, of course, but it turns real world politics up to eleven and all in all, it’s hilarious. Taking America as the would-be heroes of the story, Team America features a counter-terrorist unit who are seen taking on all of the terrorists, the world over. From France to America, this team will fight all terrorists.
Political insofar as it features Kim Jong Il, who undergoes an interesting metamorphosis at the climax of the film. We don’t have too much more to say about this one – I mean it features real figures in a fictional tale of terrorism and combating them.
And explicit sex scenes; puppet sex scenes. The most explicit of them all. Oh also, it’s apparently translated to Klingon.
The Licanius Trilogy
A relatively unknown entry on today’s honourable list, the Licanius Trilogy by James Islington is a great story of people being used for their various skills. There are the Gifted, who are effectively able to do magical things, who are shunned and feared by the everyday citizens. This has come about from years prior, partially thanks to Augurs, who are presumed long-since gone. Augurs were typically found to be advisors, due to their ability to read people.
Truth and lies are common in this series, as people try to use each other to further their own agendas. Don’t even get me started on the leader who uses the unique ability of a Shade to be able to slip in and out of places, obtaining information as he needs. All in all, this is a hugely overlooked series, but if you want to find out a little bit more detail, then check out my review on the first book.
You can now rest easy, for we have put forward new legislation to determine that these guys aren’t coming anywhere near us. Hopefully this has given you enough perspective, to know that the world isn’t as bad as we think it can be… Still, we won’t get too political, we’ll leave that to the professionals above! But now, we want to put a vote out to you, the people, to help us decide what our Top 10 will be next week.
With that, the papers have been signed on the dotted line. We will not be unleashing the hounds upon any of you who speaks against our list. Instead, we will be listening to your feedback to come up with a better world. What do you make of our list? Do you agree with our entries? Did we forget an important political story? Share your thoughts and opinions below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.