Lower-class rebellion tropes

Lower-class rebels have been popular since before Outlaws of the Water Margin and Robin Hood.

In modern settings, the line between political rebel and gangster tends to get skewed to favor “hedonistic, selfish gangster” over “idealistic, political rebel.”

Jack London’s Iron Heel is probably relevant here, as are several works by Joseph Conrad, and even Melville and Dickens.





A very interesting trope that is underused in modern pop culture is the motorcycle gang.


The War on Drugs started a movement to stigmatize core elements of the rebel ethos. It was relatively safe to be countercultural in the 1950s, when Marlon Brando did it. In 2016, such maneuvers will get you shot just like Lavoy Finicum.

Furthermore, political correctness has taken over Hollywood. If Hollywood tells a story about rebellious bikers and expects the audience to sympathize, then the bikers must be anti-racist and implicitly pro-gay.

Kinji Fukasaku had this theme down, and Tarentino failed to copy his example.



Applicability: The film’s themes of the poor eating their own under unfair economic conditions are seen as case study in “trickle-down” economics by film academics.
Ax-Crazy: Katsutoshi Otomo ,played by Sonny Chiba, provides a realistic portrayal of this trope, being extremely histrionic and unstable.
Black and Gray Morality: Really, no one is good in this series. For one thing, they’re all Yakuza, which makes them evil by default. But there is really not a single decent person in the cast. While some, like Hirono, do actually cherish the Yakuza honor code, they find it nearly impossible to keep it in the immoral surroundings they find themselves in, and even they turn to assassinations, and murder just to stay alive.

See also:


I don’t think yakuza stories are going to revive this theme, especially for the West. If Tarentino failed (and he certainly did fail – he is entirely owned by Hollywood conventionality now) then the yakuza theme cannot save Hollywood.

For that matter, in real life, the Yakuza are very pro-government. They make Japan more stable than it would otherwise be. The Yakuza are not rebels against Japan.

Conversely, the fictional biker gang in Akira was made up of true rebels. Also, Megazone 23 deserves two or three mentions.