Aesthetics Wiki
Controversial Political Content
Politicalwave contains references to and descriptions of controversial political ideologies as they are relevant to the subject of the page, which may be distressing for some people. User discretion is advised. This page exists for the purpose of documentation. The administrators and moderators do not necessarily endorse the philosophy associated with the aesthetic.

Politicalwave, also called Political Vaporwave or Political Synthwave, is an umbrella term for closely related internet aesthetics that use visual elements of both Vaporwave and Synthwave but with propagandistic intentions. Unlike the other subgenres of the latter, they mainly focus on the visuals rather than developing a distinctive musical style.

As an umbrella term, Politicalwave emcompasses multiple aesthetics based around a broad set of political ideologies, and may sometimes clash with each other. Some infamous genres part of the umbrella include Laborwave, Fashwave, Militarywave, among many others. A criticism of Politicalwave aesthetics is that they can be considered a form of propaganda for controversial radical ideologies and authoritarian regimes, attempting to appeal to a younger audience familiar with Retro-themed aesthetics and electronic music genres.

Similar phenomena includes Nazi Chic and Communist Chic. Both terms are used pejoratively to describe the incorporation of political symbology associated with radical movements (Nazism and Communism, respectively) into contemporary aesthetics, without fully understanding their meaning and historical significance.


The term "Politicalwave" was first used by a small subreddit of the same name[1], and in fact, many of these styles were mainly popularized on Reddit, TikTok and YouTube. Although most of them were created during the late 2010s, The rise of these aesthetics is inherently related to the phenomenom of political polarization during the 2020s, and this includes online propaganda directed at teenagers on social media.

The first political aesthetic trying to replicate Synthwave is thought to be Fashwave, which was first widely reported in 2016[2] as an alt-right attempt to infiltrate the Synthwave and Vaporwave communities, although it was met with strong disapproval. Then, after it became infamous, more people started to form communities based around the same concept but using their own personal agendas and ideas. Some of these genres have been covered as sources of indoctrination because they try to appeal to young, vulnerable audiences.


Vaporwave itself has always had political elements, although the aesthetic itself isn't always a political statement. The visuals of Vaporwave can easily be interpreted as a way to satirize late-stage Capitalism, as well as consumerism in society. This political element of the aesthetic has therefore inspired subgenres like Laborwave, which exploit that aspect to promote a Communist agenda.

Apart from that, other aesthetics like Fashwave were simply attacks on the Synthwave community; people of alt-right ideologies attempted to make the aesthetic become associated with Fascism or Nazism and hate speech, although they failed to do so because they confused Synthwave with Vaporwave and they were quickly pushed back by the true community. Other aesthetics simply surged on Reddit as a way to promote an agenda with the estabilished motifs of the former. Neo-Nazis trying to co-opt aesthetics with hate speech is nothing new: they also tried to do the same thing with Cottagecore and Punk, and even Nazi Chic, which was meant to be apart of the Punk movement and used in a satirical way but it was later reclaimed by Neo-Nazis.




An example of Anarchowave.

Anarchowave, as a portmanteau of "anarcho-" and "-wave", is an aesthetic used to promote Anarchism and pretty much all of its sub-ideologies. It combines some of the traditional elements of Synthwave with glitchy and distorted visuals and imagery relating to the Anarchist ideology, including historical figures, riots, uprisings, etc. It often criticizes modern society and Capitalism.


An Anarchowave edit of the C.N.T-F.A.I in Catalonia.

Anarchowave edits usually feature imagery related to Anarchist organizations and pictures relating to insurrections and rebellions against authority, including but not limited to the CNT-FAI, the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine, the Commune of Paris, etc. These images, unlike traditional Synthwave, are edited with heavy glitch effects and other elements to create a sense of chaos, as well as famous phrases that Anarchist politicians have said. Although rarely ever classified as a musical subgenre of Vaporwave, there's a few songs and tracks that could classify Anarchowave as a niche microgenre, such as M A K H N O W A V E ブラックアーミー by Korach.



An image depicting Nigel Farage drinking next to the flag of England.

Faragewave (sometimes also called Brexitwave) is an aesthetic that originated as a meme glorifying Nigel Farage, a British politician and leader of Reform UK, the right-wing populist political party of the United Kingdom responsible for "Brexit". The earliest examples of this meme date back to videos uploaded to YouTube in October 2016, although the aesthetic resurged in June 2024, especially in the context of political elections during the same year. This aesthetic often showcases conservativism, British or English nationalism, and "optimism" for the future.



An image depicting the Fashwave aesthetic's themes and motifs.

Born from being rejected by the larger mainstream Synthwave community, Fashwave was an attempt to take established Synthwave motifs and sounds and combine them with imagery often associated with the larger Neo-Nazism and White Supremacy movements. While it saw an uptick in activity in the late 2010s, it has seemingly seen its traction ground to a screeching halt after several musicians in the movement got banned from streaming platforms for everything ranging from the overt references to fascism and white supremacy to accusations of outright plagiarism of smaller artists within the Synthwave fanbase as a whole. A similar issue happened with the Cottagecore community, as alt-righters attempted to co-opt the aesthetic.

Common Fashwave motifs will include hate symbols, such as the Schwarze Sonne, 14/88 (a reference to the Fourteen Words, a white supremacist slogan) and the 88 standing for HH (or Heil Hitler) and various fascist figures (with Hitler being the most popular one, followed by Donald Trump as he's adjacent). This also influenced the Hyperborean aesthetic, which uses similiar symbology. Fashwave can also confusingly implement Vaporwave motifs, which makes it come off as if the people in the community can't tell the difference between Synthwave and Vaporwave outside of both drawing heavy inspiration from the 80s and early 90s.


Main article: Hyperborean


A Hyperborean edit featuring the catchphrase "cover yourself in oil", from the Trollge meme.

Hyperborean (also known as "Schizowave" or "Schizoposting") is an aesthetic really similar to Fashwave, although with an identity distinct enough of its own. Named after the Ancient Greek legend of "Hyperborea", it uses visual elements relating to Esoteric Nazism (essentially the same thing as Neo-Nazism, but with mythological elements), beliefs in "superior races" or higher deities and Nordic aliens, internet memes like Trollge, conspiracy theories (especially from the pre-Soviet period), rampant anti-Semitism, and an anti-immigration bias. The symbology is overall identical to that of Fashwave, with the "black sun" being the most used symbol in Hyperborean edits, but it incorporates a sense of derealization and mythological motifs that sets it apart from the typical Vaporwave and Synthwave motifs. The use of dog whistles is also extremely common in this aesthetic, which internet accounts use to recognize each other. There have also been instances where they have appropiated Eurodance, Nightcore, Scenecore, or Hands Up songs by calling them "Aryan Classics", a practice that has been criticized by the fans of these music genres because they don't want to be associated with radical political movements. This specific subgenre has also been criticized for stigmatizing schizophrenia, since most people participating in it are not actually diagnosed with that condition and only use it as a disguise for their hateful beliefs.




Video by JaxVellex

Militarywave is an aesthetic that consists of glorifying and promoting the Military, and sometimes also the Paramilitary, primarily seen in YouTube and TikTok. The edits mainly make use of military footage (including those from movies and first-person shooter video games) edited with VHS filters, glitch effects, and the addition of badass music, such as Drift Phonk, House Phonk and Russian Phonk (see Driftcore). Apart from its positive stance on the military, it doesn't have any particular political affiliation, although it usually aligns with authoritarianism and the right wing.


"WE EARNED OUR FLAG!" - Military Edit

An homophobic propaganda edit implying that the LGBT+ community "didn't fight" for a flag, unlike the military. The video description tries to promote Nationalism.

As previously mentioned, it gained a wide following in TikTok, often influenced by aesthetics such as Driftcore, Sigma and Larpercore. The Militarywave community was criticized for defending the military so much to the point of acting homophobic. For example, they made many "Military vs the LGBT+ community"-themed videos, and they came accross as offensive or incorrect to many because the two are not mutually exclusive. The general idea is problematic because it overlooks the existence of gay or transgender soldiers. Most of the teenagers involved with this aesthetic can't fathom the fact that the LGBT+ community also has a history of fighting for greater human rights, with some arguing that the military fought for their flags but not the LGBT+ community. The Militarywave community also tends to exclude female and non-white soldiers from their edits. Similar to the PSY-OP Girl aesthetic, it was also criticized for pushing a pro-military agenda into a young and vulnerable teenage audience.

Mainly overlapping with the followers of Andrew Tate and the Polandball or Countryballs fandom, as well as the Anti-Furry and TikTok Mapping communities, the aesthetic also faces criticism because they portray historical events in a propagandistic and unauthentic way. Those who partake in Militarywave aesthetic often don't actually learn history and they just glorify it because they think it's "cool" or "edgy". A crucial part of learning history is not repeating the mistakes that our ancestors commited in the past, but instead, they ignore that aspect and glorify events such as World War II or simply have distorted views of what happened during these times. They also tend to overlook the trauma that many soldiers who participated in war went through, and this is reflected in how they stereotype veterans as "strong" or "real" men.

On June 29, 2024, Rishi Sunak, the former prime minister of the United Kingdom from 2022 to 2024, posted an edit glorifying the British military on Twitter/X[3], some days before his position as the prime minister was succeded by Keir Starmer. The video featured the song "Little Dark Age" by MGMT, which was largely appropiated by content creators focusing on the Militarywave aesthetic. This demonstrates how politicians and public figures might try to take advantage of these aesthetics to promote their ideals to the youth, although his tweet was largely made fun of because internet users recognized his intentions.


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An example of Monarchowave, portraying Kaiser William II and Franz Joseph I of Austria.

Monarchowave, as a portmanteau of "Monarcho-" and "-wave", is an aesthetic that originated in early 2020 on the subreddit r/monarchism, and like the name implies, it uses the visuals of Synthwave and Vaporwave to promote Monarchism and the royalty. It is quite similiar to Tradwave because it also implements traditional elements and anti-modernism, although it's not as heavy about religion as Tradwave.

It started out as a niche edit genre, although it later gained some traction on Reddit. Sometimes overlapping with Royalcore, Monarchowave edits often portray images of European kings and queens, as well as Russian tsars or German kaisers. VHS filters, censored eyes, bright colour filters and flags historically related to Monarchism are quite common in the visuals.



An example of NATOwave, showing the NATO headquarters.

NATOwave is an aesthetic focusing on the interventionist political ideology and the promotion of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Various interventionist tendencies depict conflicting ideologies within the movement with some praising NATO only as a collective defence force, while others embrace a more Neo-Conservative or Hawkish agenda, focusing on anti-communism, cold war conflicts and political figures such as George Walker Bush, the 43rd president of the United States of America.

Despite being inspired by Fashwave and Laborwave, which correspond to the extremes of the political spectrum, NATOwave rather aligns with the political center and incorporates ideas that these movements tend to oppose such as modernity, liberal thought and globalism, while rejecting radical and populist political ideology almost entirely. NATOwave is often thought of specifically as a contrarian response to these movements, or reclaiming the Synthwave and Vaporwave aesthetics from online extremists.


N A T O W A V E -NatoWave

The first known mention of NATOwave was on a video uploaded by the YouTube user Schizo Pilled on February 19th, 2021. Titled N A T O W A V E, the video features war footage, particularly footage of fighter jets and tanks, edited with a VHS-like Synthwave filter along with the song Little Dark Age by MGMT playing on the background (in fact, that song came to be associated with politically motivated edits and aesthetics at some point[4]).

Two months later on April 19th, the r/NATOwave subreddit was created, for the purpose of sharing pro-NATO edits, memes and Vaporwave mixes. NATOwave started to see an uptick in popularity in 2022 following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the creation of Pro-Ukrainian and Pro-Taiwanese content soon followed.



Laborwave moodb

A Laborwave moodboard.

Laborwave is an aesthetic that emerged within certain far-left circles that is less subtle about its critiques of Capitalism and takes advantage of this aspect of Vaporwave to promote a Communist or Socialist agenda, being supportive of extremist ideologies such as Marxism-Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism, Juche and in rare cases, National Bolshevism or Anarcho-Communism. The Laborwave scene is characterized by its focus on themes such as class struggle, anti-capitalism, Marxism and far-left revolutions, being common among its edits political symbols like the Red Star or the Hammer and Sickle. While other Politicalwave aesthetics often incorporate Synthwave, Laborwave is almost always based on Vaporwave.


-VAPORWAVE- Red sun in the sky - Chinese Communist Music 天上太阳红衫衫-2

A "Vaporwave" remix of "Red Sun in the Sky", a Chinese communist propaganda song.

Laborwave music mostly consists of slowed-down versions of popular songs from communist states/organizations such as the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, North Korea, the Naxalites, the Shining Path, and the Khmer Rouge, somehow managing to make the instruments sound like popular Vaporwave staples, although without being otherwise transformative with it. Much as Fashwave, its visual component of consists of Retro-Futuristic imagery, including neon colors or palm trees, with references to communist symbology such the Hammer and Sickle, or imagery associated with communist or far-left political figures like Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro or Kim Il-Sung. Socialist figures such as Hugo Chávez, Bashar al-Assad or Muammar Gaddafi have been also depicted among its edits.

Laborwave is sometimes confused with Sovietwave due to their focus on aesthetics related to Communism and anti-capitalism, although they're pretty different visually and musically. Laborwave often uses quite ironic and absurdist visuals in its portrayal of Soviet Nostalgia, while Sovietwave is almost entirely limited to the former USSR and is a more sincere form of nostalgia for the long gone Red Regime. Sovietwave tends to replicate Soviet utopian art earnestly, longing for the future that was promised, and is more fond of expressing awe at the might of the Soviet Union, while Laborwave tends to make fun of such propaganda and grandiose expressions even if Laborwave adherents are serious about being pro-communist. Additionally, Sovietwave music counts as a niche subgenre of Synthwave, while Laborwave simply takes clues from Vaporwave.



An edit based around American Libertarianism.

As a portmanteau of "liberty" and "-wave", Libertywave is an almost entirely visual-based subgenre that has a heavy focus on right-leaning and liberty-promoting ideologies, which much like Fashwave, often confuses the Synthwave and Vaporwave aesthetics. It is closely related to Anarchowave, another political subgenre that also focuses on anti-authority but with an obvious approach/perception and tactics typically associated with left-wing groups.


This edit portrays the socialist ideology as an evil red person.

Although predominantly associated with the political situation of the United States, it is also shared by other nations worldwide who are in the same circumstances about their own countries or governments, etc. It is a niche subgenre, and some motifs associated with the aesthetic include depictions of Libertarianism, the American Revolution and anti-authoritarian and anti-socialist imagery, which might sometimes cross the line into hate speech towards other people with different political affiliations.




Serbwave (sometimes also called Yugowave) is a political aesthetic that surged as a meme in online communities such as YouTube and Discord, and as its name implies, it's based around Serbian nationalism, the paramilitary of Republika Srpska and Yugoslavian nostalgia. Users who partake in this aesthetic usually take videos related to the Yugoslav Wars and Turbofolk war songs from Republika Srpska (an entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and remix them to resemble Vaporwave or Synthwave.

This subaesthetic is often akin to Fashwave and Laborwave, but it's important to note that most people who participate on Serbwave are not actually Serbian, many of them just find the war-related topics "edgy" or "cool". Similar to Balkan Violence Tumblr, it takes imagery from the Yugoslav Wars, one of the bloodiest conflicts in modern European history, hence why this aesthetic has been deemed insensitive by some citizens of the countries involved. A YouTube user notable for uploading multiple music videos and edits related to Serbwave is TheAthelasProject, who is actually from Montenegro and not Serbia or Republika Srpska.


Tradwave - Señor de los Milagros

An example of Tradwave depicting a Catholic procession of the Lord of the Miracles in Lima, Peru.

Tradwave is an aesthetic used to promote traditionalism and Catholicism. Tradwave usually uses traditional Catholic paintings, sculptures, or photographs of saints, given with Vaporwave effects, often with a bible verse or quote about Catholicism. The art usually tries to convey a resurrection of Catholic spirituality in the modern atheist-leaning world. Figures often depicted in Tradwave edits or art include Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, Ven. Fulton Sheen, Cardinal Robert Sarah, and Mother Angelica.

Tradwave music often takes the form of two main styles. One of them is catholic hymns with Vaporwave effects and traditional Vaporwave or Lo-Fi music. It can also have quotes from modern prolific Catholic figures, such as Ven. The other theme is Fulton Sheen and Cardinal Robert Sarah.


External links to help get a better understanding of this aesthetics.

Reddit Communities[]