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File:Demonization.jpg
"That's the problem with being the devil, everybody demonizes you."

All The Tropes is the devil. It teaches our children it's okay to be aroused by filth. It wants to make everyone in the world fat and lazy, pollutes the English language even more than Internet speak and unlike those evil drug dealers, they will actually admit they want to ruin your life![1] Self-identity is discouraged among the members of this cult, to the point where personal pronouns and references to oneself are actively discouraged. It's anti-American.

Of course none of that is true, or completely true, but that's how Demonization works. It's about twisting facts, or making them up, to make something look worse. Sometimes it can actually go as far claiming something is satanic, but usually it's more down to earth. Either way, these claims are made either without proof, or counter to actual evidence.

After all, why let facts get in the way of complaining about things you don't like?

No, you want people to hate this thing. So you will do whatever you can to make this thing seem truly evil. It kills people (based on one or two deaths, that were quickly proven unrelated)! It ruined a nation (was coincidentally a fad in a country just before a coup d'etat)! God told you it's the sign of the devil (but somehow didn't tell anyone else, if it was that important)! If it is a race, a nation, or another group of people, they are Always Chaotic Evil!

Strawman arguments can be a form of demonization at times (and vice-versa), but the two terms differ; strawman arguments involve making a weaker (or absurdly stronger) statement of the opponents views in order to demolish them, while demonization usually ignores those positions outright in favor of a totally invented narrative.

A Super-Trope to Attack of the Political Ad, Ron the Death Eater.

Compare with Accentuate the Negative (amplifying negatives instead of just pulling them from nowhere), Everyone Is Satan in Hell (when the symbolism of a work is interpreted to be demonic), Character Derailment (a writer suddenly has a character act demonic for no good reason), Godwin's Law (comparing persons or ideas you don't like to Hitler and/or Nazism, which carry the same connotation of absolute evil), Ron the Death Eater (demonizing a character in fan fiction), Digital Piracy Is Evil, Abomination Accusation Attack.

Contrast with Rose Tinted Narrative, Draco in Leather Pants.

Examples of Demonization include:


Anime and Manga Edit

  • Hitler gets a cameo in the Fullmetal Alchemist movie. He never speaks well, almost, but the camera constantly pans to his eyes, which have a mad, manic glare that gives the impression that he's constantly about to snap and kill everybody around him. There is a slight chance of double standard here, given what the primary Fullmetal Alchemist universe is like.
    • While it's very doubtful he could ever try to kill anyone in a hand-to-hand way in Real Life, it's not like he never did shriek or roll on the floor and bite a carpet; he was dosed up on all kinds of stimulants and psychoactive "vitamin" regiments by his Crazy Nazi Scientist doctors...
    • Those happened in his later days, however, when his sanity was seriously slipping. His appearance in Fullmetal Alchemist is before he gained power, when he was just a leader of a small extremist party, and was a lot more charismatic and still had at least a good semblance of sanity despite of his hard-lined politics.
    • Hitler really did act like that when making speeches, at least on some occasions. Yes, he was charismatic, but his message was one of furious anger at the state Germany had fallen into; manic energy and passion were part of his performance. He didn't look like he was about to kill everyone around him, he looked like he was on the verge of storming out and leading his "army" of followers to overthrow the "corrupt" Weimar democracy and restore Germany's honour. Its nothing to do with his sanity slippage later on in the war (and make no mistake- he was not a sane man even in these early days) and everything to do with the nature of the speeches he made.
  • Invoked in Code Geass with a character getting himself basically nicknamed "Lelouch the Demon".


Comic Books Edit

  • Chick Tracts are infamous for this, often literally tying anything Chick doesn't like (for example, Dungeons and Dragons or rock and roll) to Satan. Semi-justified; he thinks the things he's demonizing are truly demonic...which is still cold comfort in some cases.
  • Cerebus does this to the entire female gender for the last third or so of its run (very arguably earlier).
  • Elf/human relations in Elf Quest are traditionally prone to this as the humans tend to try to fit the elves into their own pre-existing belief systems as supernatural beings. Which means that elf tribes who aren't lucky enough to hit it off very well with their human neighbors right away tend to get quickly labeled 'tricksters' and 'evil spirits'.
    • Admittedly, the Wolfriders have a tendency to make this reputation for themselves in their early history, when harassing humans was something they did for fun.


Literature Edit

  • Sword of Truth does this simultaneously to communism and theism by having the main villains of the series be an evil empire set out to conquer all of the world and force their fundamentalist religion and bureaucratic soviet economy upon it.
  • Paradise Lost does this the most literal way possible, identifying the gods from the other religions of the ancient Levant as higher ranked of Satan.
  • In Death: Defense attorneys tend be subjected to this. Then again, the story is told from the perspective of a cop who arrests criminals and then has to testify against them, so....
  • Monstrous Regiment: Protagonist Polly's country, Borogravia, dubs the leader of the Ankh-Morpork forces "Vimes The Butcher". When she meets Vimes, he tells her that Borogravian propaganda is laughably amateurish.
  • There are various webpages on the Internet (such as this one) hosting a piece which claims that The Nutcracker was originally a dark and gruesome tale completely unfit for children. While it was dark and gruesome by some peoples' standards, many of the "facts" listed to support the claim - such as that Marie's family doesn't love her, that Marie is depicted as laying in a pool of her own blood after injuring herself, and that her parents lock her into her room to punish her - are completely untrue.


Live Action TV Edit


Music Edit


Tabletop Games Edit

  • This also happens in-game in Warhammer 40000 as one of the Thoughts of the Day demonstrates:

  A logical argument must be dismissed with absolute conviction.

    • And Lord Karamazov gives us this memorable line:

  A plea of innocence in my court is guilty of wasting my time! Guilty!

  • Dungeons and Dragons was subjected to this in the 80's and early 90's from Christian groups (most notably Jack Chick and Patricia Pulling, the founder of Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons) believing the game encouraged witchcraft, satanism, suicide, and all sorts of other horrible things. It got to the point where TSR (the game's publisher at the time) removed demons, devils, and other monsters from the line (mostly by renaming them into tanar'ri and baatezu), stopped to call shamans "wicca" and funding studies to counter the claims.


Video Games Edit

  • In Psychonauts Raz's dad, Augustus Aquato is said to hate psychics, among other things, his image in Oleander and Raz's head, merged together, shows this quite a bit. "Man do I hate Psychics, and seeing my son happy!" The real version is, of course, nothing like that; in fact, he is horrified when he sees the mental image. "Rasputin, is that really how you think of me? Come on! I have WAY more hair than that!"
  • A well-popularized example: Back in the late nineties, there was some backlash against Pokémon by varying fundamentalist groups, who claimed that the games (and related series) promoted violence and occult imagery. Notably, the Vatican publicly defended Pokémon from these detractors. More specifically, the Vatican defended Pokémon on the issue of evolution, of all things.
    • Pokémon, among tons of other "new media", are still treated this way by many fundamentalists.
  • Done in-game to Ratchet and Clank in Ratchet: Deadlocked, although the audience isn't falling for it. This demonization reaches Implausible Deniability when kids clearly cheering for Ratchet are dubbed over on the show.


Western Animation Edit

  • Captain Planet had Hitler's very gaze be as bad as pollution on Captain Planet. A big problem with the series was that the villains were into polluting for no good reason, which implied that anyone who polluted was just a plain villain instead of someone making a mistake -- even a big one.
  • South Park often makes fun of far-left concepts, but sometimes goes too far by portraying some environmentalists as Axe Crazy. Not just eco-terrorists -- all environmentalists. Or the episode "Canada On Strike", which implied people were starving to death during the 2008 Writers Strike. In fact, South Park is open to demonizing and attacking everyone. It was arguably its writers who popularized the demonization of Scientology example above.
  • In Drawn Together, virtually every character with conservative viewpoints are often portrayed as ignorant, racist, homophobic, overzealous religious nutjobs, or otherwise just plain heartless or hypocritical. Clara often exhibited such traits, especially in later episodes, and even antagonized some of the main characters due to her remarkably intolerant political and religious views. On the other hand, while other main characters certainly had unlikeable aspects to their personality, they're not nearly as close-minded (aside from the occasional joke about Xandir's sexuality) and Foxxy (one of the more liberal characters on the show) is often depicted as the voice of reason.
  • Similar to the above example is Family Guy. Conservatives, Christians, pro-lifers, and in general, people who don't agree with the writers' political views get this treatment, which unfortunately, affected the show's quality. In fact, that's why the infamous episode "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven" is so reviled: Christians are portrayed as zealous, ignorant and extremely intolerant.
  • Exaggerated in the Simpsons episode "Sideshow Bob Roberts", which depicts the Springfield Republican Party as zealots who hold meetings (prefaced by a round of Ominous Latin Chanting) in an ominous castle straight out of a Hammer Horror film, and who at one point confuse a water cooler with their mayoral candidate.
  • The Smurfs have been accused of representing the seven deadly sins with Papa Smurf as the devil and Gargamel as a good priest.
  • Deconstructed In-Universe in My Life as a Teenage Robot: Evil Queen Vexus of Cluster Prime has lied to her own robot people about Earth's defender, Robot Girl XJ9, presenting her like an Always Chaotic Evil, horrible monster robot that wants to destroy her own kind in various propaganda videos. When XJ9 accidentally goes to Cluster Prime, all the robots see her for the cute, normal, heroic robot who wants to help and protect others that she is. This is Queen Vexus' downfall.
  • The Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: B.U.L.L.I.E.S." depicts bullies as giant dinosaur-like creatures with names like Spitballosaurus and Wedgiesaurus Rex.
  • Megatron in Transformers Prime does this for an amnesic Optimus/Orion, saying that Ratchet was the Big Bad and that the reason the Autobots call them "Decepticons" was as a form of Autobot propaganda.


Real Life Edit

  • Political and war propaganda is usually loaded with this.
  • Scare Campaigns tend to be made of this trope.
    • The most well known example is the Red Scare. The Soviet Union did NOT have a "missile gap" (that is, much more nukes than the US), they did NOT want to start World War III, and the "Communist Rules for Revolution" were a conspiracy theory.
  • Harry Potter has been accused of teaching children devil-lore. Worse, some of the cherry picked lines used to 'prove' the evil lessons come from Voldemort, the Big Bad.
  • Ayn Rand often gets portrayed very negatively. Often her form of Objectivism gets lumped in with many extreme right political philosophies or portrayed as a license to be a complete Jerkass. That some some notable Objectivists have apparently taken it to be such doesn't help. Ayn Rand herself liked to portray her political adversaries as completely morally bankrupt with no redeeming qualities what-so-ever.
    • A good example of this is can be found on Rational Wiki. The portrayal of Objectivists as insane, immoral cult members who worship cigarettes like they worship their atheist god seems like a parody written by a very unimaginative Objectivist wanting to smear his opponents by portraying them as simple minded children lacking any real arguments, and the pages are guarded with a passion and reverted back to their current versions very quickly if anyone tries to make them more... Rational. Who knew that that website coined the term Poe's Law.
  • Some portrayals of Adolf Hitler forget that he was still a man, not some kind of ultimate incarnation of evil.
    • In fact, Bruno Ganz got a lot of negative press for "humanizing" Hitler with his portrayal in Downfall (this wouldn't of course count those that made the "Hitler Reacts" videos).
  • Examples of this can be found on all sides of religious debates. Many groups are simultaneously victims and perpetrators.
  • New Media Are Evil: Various new forms of media get subjected to this by people who hate it, and the demonization never truly ends.
    • Television is often faced with this, which has led to a number of tropes (such as Bowdlerise) in an attempt to dodge demonization.
    • Video Games. After any school shooting or random act of violence, it's not uncommon to hear the "and he played violent video games" line broken out.
  • Heavy Metal. Satanic and anti-religion lyrical themes weren't particularly prominent in the genre until they started popping up as a backlash against the Moral Guardians' constant claims that the music was demonic. There were earlier bands that sang about Satan (ie Black Sabbath), but it tended to be in a foreboding, "watch out or he'll get you" way.
  • Scientology is famous for its hatred of psychiatry. Many people on the Internet are also extremely negative toward Scientology, to the point that many people paint the group as a blatant Cult of Happyology one step above sacrificing people to L. Ron Hubbard, who gets plenty of this himself.
  • Many of the louder and more extreme animal rights groups tend to demonize anyone who eats meat. Annoyed omnivores often react by demonizing all animal rights groups, vegetarians, etc.
  • Anti smoking/drinking/drug groups tend to use these tactics.
  • Oda Nobunaga. The amount of media portraying him as a devil incarnate far outweighs the same portraying him in a sympathetic light.
  • All abortion opponents are backwards misogynists hellbent on reproductive slavery. All abortion advocates are enthusiastic child-murderers and will force you to abort your child.
  • In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a few fundamentalist groups spread the story that the classic Peace Sign was a medieval witches' mark which was, depending on the particular version you encountered, either the footprint of a raven or an upside-down cross with its arms broken. A little research will reveal that the peace sign was actually created in 1958 for the nuclear disarmament movement and is formed from stick figures representing the semaphore letters "N" and "D".
  • Many anti-pornography activists use arguments centered around Blatant Lies and accusations that have little or no basis in reality (for example, describing a scene in which the female participant asks her partner to spank her as depicting "women being beaten"). Of course, the reverse happens as well. People who point out problems and issues in the industry or with specific types of porn are all frigid lesbians who want to emasculate and/or kill all men and just need to get laid.
  • Military juntas, coups, and militocratic systems are almost always demonized, whether they deserve it or not, and regardless of who their opposition is.
  • Demonizing the Japanese has been a pretty heated subject that tends to show up every decade or so:
    • During the 40's, American propaganda portrayed the Japanese were portrayed as insects, mice, rats, inhuman beasts, or unflattering caricatures of Emperor Hirohito (most famously in the Tokio Kid posters.
      • Of course, Japanese propaganda directed at _Americans_ was just as unsubtle, often literally demonizing them as "white devils."
    • In the 80s, when Japan was experiencing a period of economic wealth and proceeded to buy buildings and land from American developers, along with building tons of factories, a resounding cry of "THEY'RE TEKKIN OUR JERBS" was heard from coast to coast, and fearmongering news reports that Asian people were only in your town to buy it up and evict everyone were prevalent.
    • More recently, news outlets stirred up the honey pot by using a four year old hentai game as evidence that all Japanese are rape-minded sex fiends. This prompted some fiery rebuttals from native citizens, saying that people living in glass houses should not throw stones.
  • When Michael Jackson's Invincible didn't sell as well as he'd hoped, he claimed to the press and his fans that his label Sony Music's head Tommy Mottola was racist: "He's a mean [sic], he's a racist, and he's very, very, very devilish." This backfired instantly. In a related issue, since Jackson's death a Vocal Minority of his fans (the website InnerMichael.com is a good example) likes to demonize the mass media as bloodthirsty, racist jackals who caricatured Jackson as a "freak" to make money; this carries on from Jackson's constant complaining about the media in his lifetime to the point that he wrote multiple songs on the subject. Of course, the fans' claims require Jackson to be elevated to the level of Too Good for This Sinful Earth...
  • Talk Radio hosts and cable news networks. All of them have political slants, it's the nature of the beast, but to hear people of either political leaning, the outlets that are proponents of the other side are just plain evil and guilty of the worst forms of treason. Of course, the ones they agree with are just here to save the country. Simply mention Rush Limbaugh to a left-winger or Rachel Maddow to a right-winger, and everything you say can be discounted. Nobody who listens to pundits, talking heads, or radio jocks could ever be right about anything.
  • There is some evidence that the Perseus and Medusa myth was created as part of a way to demonize a female-centric religion by the highly patriarchal Greek society. The existence of said female-centric religion is still a matter of academic debate.
  • On that note, a number of mythological figures were quite literally demonized by later religions - depictions of Satan for example, give him Prongs of Poseidon and the goat-features of the Greek god Pan.
  • Some public figures who are perceived as sinister have this happen to them in a literal sense, with satirists joking about them smelling of sulfur or accusing them of being vampires.
  • Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is an evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet. Apparently.
  • Snopes.com has a collection of repeatedly plagiarized scares. Many are pearls of Black Comedy and/or Hypocritical Humor, including insults to the public's mental abilities as big as the story about a PoW who wrote a letter with secret note on the backside its postage stamp, after his captors cut off his hands.
  • Interestingly, averted in German World War One propaganda in favor of ridicule. Germany's opponents were depicted in caricatures like "the Russians are totally uncultured, the French are only thinking about one thing, the Brits are greedy, and generally all of them are incompetent cowards, lead by Manipulative Bastards". Lead to Fridge Logic among German people, because if German soldiers are that great, and everyone else isn't, why didn't they win the war in six weeks like the politicians said they would?!
  • Ultimate proof that absolutely no one is safe from demonization, Mr. Rogers is being accused of ruining a generation.
  • Dihydrogen monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless chemical that kills thousands of people every year. Accidental inhalation and even skin contact (in both solid and liquid form) can be hazardous. The chemical has been found everywhere--in the atmosphere, in acid rain, and in almost every body of water in the world. It has even been found in the Antarctic ice. The good news is that, even though all these facts are true, dihydrogen monoxide is just water. Dihydrogen=2 hydrogen atoms, and monoxide=1 oxygen atom, so dihydrogen monoxide is H2O.
  • The standard response of any conspiracy theorist to anyone that publically disagrees with them or refutes their arguments: Expand the conspiracy to make the critic the newest player.
    • This applies to many more extreme (well, basic and "normal ones too, but that's a different entry) political ideologies as well. Example: Try bringing up the mass murder committed under Marxist-Leninist Communist regimes, and the immediate response from a Marxist-Leninist is going to be having you branded an Eaglelander (regardless of whether you live there), a member of he bourgeoisie (regardless of your actual socio-economic background), an imperialist, a capitalist, and a fascist. All rolled into one. The same sort of thing happens if you try to argue with a Neo-Nazi about... well, anything. Disagree with them, and you're simply blinded by the zionist conspiracy that currently holds power over the earth, and that you probably support the enslavement and eradication of the white race.
  • This happens even on This Very Wiki, mainly to trolls, Encyclopedia Dramatica, and 4chan. People who are trolls or support/use those sites usually have "Complete Monster" thrown at them, and the sites themselves are deemed Wretched Hives that should be banned from the internet.
  • The Dutch politician Geert Wilders has used "I'm being demonized" as a tagline for a while. Many of his opponents thought it was funny, since he's not exactly known for being entirely politically correct about everyone himself.

Notes

  1. No wait, they already did!

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