7 Fictional Characters Who Ran for Office

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Getty

While voters have long written in “protest” names like Mickey Mouse, there have been a handful of times where imaginary candidates managed to run a real campaign. Check out seven instances where exasperated voters could find comfort in a fictional alternative.

1. MR. PEANUT

William S. Burroughs endorsing Mr. Peanut. Courtesy of Vincent Trasov

The salty, dapper legume of Planters Peanuts fame threw his top hat into the Vancouver mayoral race in 1974, advocating sensible measures like hiring freezes for government jobs until the city’s population grew while simultaneously championing fluff like a lending library for umbrellas and rain boots. The man inside the makeshift peanut costume was Vincent Trasov, a performance artist who decided to use the character to explore his interests in anthropomorphism and “contemporary mythology.”

For 20 days, Trasov roamed the city, attracting news cameras and performing impromptu tap dance routines while a campaign manager detailed his peanut platform. When author William S. Burroughs visited, he became captivated by the Peanut party and threw his support behind the candidate. After the ballots were tallied, Trasov had grabbed 2685 votes, a 3.4 percent share. Though Planters probably appreciated all the free publicity, they had nothing to do with the campaign.

2. SANTA CLAUS

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If children had been allowed to vote, the 2012 election could have turned out very differently. Nevada resident Thomas O’Connor, a bishop who legally changed his name to Santa Claus and who has an uncanny likeness to that red-suited avatar for holiday cheer, ran for presidential office that year as well as 2008. Claus used his pulpit to advocate streamlining the adoption system and even met with governors across the country from 2005 to 2007 to raise awareness about how their political influence could improve the lives of kids. As a write-in candidate, Claus has no idea how many votes he received that year—the election commissions typically won’t count names that are uncertified.

3. EMPEROR PALPATINE

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The 2015 city council elections in Ukraine didn’t appear to have any restrictions when it came to galaxy of origin. A 25-year-old man won an Odessa city seat despite dressing in the flowing robes of Sith lord Emperor Palpatine and listing his job occupation as “emperor” of the “Palpatine Finance Group.” The coup is believed to be the result of an upstart “Internet Party” winning over voters with their absurdist commentary on the local political scene; a man dressed as Chewbacca was also arrested for causing a disruption at a polling station.

4. SUPER BARRIO

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An amalgamation of super hero and professional luchador, or Mexican wrestler, Super Barrio was a constant presence in Mexico’s low-income areas in the late 1980s, acting as an arbitrator for tenants who faced eviction or substandard housing conditions. The masked man decided to run for president in 1988 before withdrawing and supporting the National Democratic Front. He is potentially the only masked candidate to ever be allowed to testify in front of Mexico's Congress of the Union.

5. ZAHRA

United for Iran via Facebook

In male-dominated Iran, a graphic novel character named Zahra attempted to shake up the status quo by running for president in 2013. Backed by her creators, artists Khalil and Amir, Zahra became the first woman, real or fictional, to run for office in the country. The two said they intended to use Zahra as a way to raise awareness about human rights and to rally against restrictions on free speech. She received over 2000 virtual votes.

6. POGO

ourfinelines via eBay

The possum hero of Walt Kelly’s classic comic strip became a representative for a generation of young voters dissatisfied with Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson in 1952. Rebellious Harvard students incited by the Harvard Crimson pinned “I Go Pogo” buttons to their shirts and lobbied for Pogo’s legitimacy as a third-party candidate. The joke became slightly less amusing when a rally at the school turned violent: As 1600 restless spectators waited for Kelly to make an appearance endorsing his character's candidacy, they began to disconnect trolley lines, prompting police to wade in and begin swinging nightsticks. Twenty-eight pro-Pogo students were arrested.

7. CTHULHU

For voters unhappy with both major candidates in 2016, a tentacle-faced demagogue may have seemed like a reasonable alternative. Introduced in a 1928 H.P. Lovecraft story as a power-hungry beast lurking in the sunken city of R’lyeh, Cthulhu has allegedly been waiting for his opportunity to rule civilization by electoral vote. While he promises “unmentionable horror” will rain down upon his subjects, he’s also very anti-corporation and vows to promote free education in the dark arts for all. His campaign advisors, who maintain a meticulously-detailed website promoting his effort, prefer to remain semi-anonymous.

Schindler's List Is Returning to Theaters for Its 25th Anniversary

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Schindler's List was first released on December 15, 1993, and it's still regarded as one of the most important films about the Holocaust ever made. In honor of its 25-year anniversary, Steven Spielberg's classic is returning to theaters for a limited engagement beginning Friday, December 7, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The film follows Oskar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson), a member of the Nazi party who used his influence to covertly save the lives of more than 1000 Jews during World War II. Though the events of the film took place about 75 years ago, Spielberg emphasized in a recent interview that the story is still relevant—perhaps even more so today than when it premiered in the 1990s.

"I think this is maybe the most important time to re-release this film," the director said in a recent interview with Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News. Citing the spike in hate crimes targeting religious minorities since 2016, he said, "Hate's less parenthetical today, it's more a headline."

Spielberg thinks there's an important message he hopes today's audiences will take away from the film: "Individual hate is a terrible thing," he said. "But when collective hate organizes and gets industrialized, then genocide follows."

The 25th anniversary re-release of Schindler's List will be the same version viewers saw in 1993—only the sound has been remixed to accommodate new theater technology. The movie will be playing in the theaters from December 7 through the 13th.

[h/t The Hollywood Reporter]

George H.W. Bush's Service Dog, Sully, Will Fly to D.C. With the Former President's Casket

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Former president George H.W. Bush died Friday, November 30, leaving behind five children, 17 grandchildren, and one loyal service dog. Sully H.W. Bush, the yellow lab who served as Bush's companion for the last several months of his life, will accompany his late owner's casket to Washington D.C., CNN reports.

George H.W. Bush brought Sully (named after the pilot who famously landed a damaged plane on the Hudson River) into his home following the death of his wife Barbara in April. Trained by America's VetDogs, a charity that connects service dogs to veterans with disabilities, Sully can respond to a list of commands, including answering the phone. On Sunday, December 2, George H.W. Bush spokesman Jim McGrath shared a photo on Twitter of the dog lying in front of the president's casket with the caption "Mission Complete."

In addition to serving as the 41st president from 1989 to 1993, George H.W. Bush was a World War II veteran, businessman, and congressman. He passed away at his home at age 94, following struggles with numerous health conditions, including a type of Parkinson's disease.

Sully will be accompanying his owner's casket when it makes its way to Washington, D.C., where the former president will lie in state under the Capitol Rotunda before he's brought to his final resting place at his presidential library in College Station, Texas. The service dog's next job will be helping military veterans in the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland.

[h/t CNN]

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