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The user-friendly way to impart information and training and a prime target for parody, the instructional film is a short presentation that has generally been created by a government department or a business to impart training or information on a specific area... cheese making, avoiding nuclear attack, understanding the Dewey decimal system, care and maintenance of the IBM System/360 mainframe... the list is endless.
Because of the need to educate the young and/or presumably ignorant, the intellectual level is often pitched very low indeed, leading to many of these films having a deeply condescending tone. They are also often vehicles for propaganda or contain the unconscious attitudes and biases of their producers.
They are rarely kept updated to current fashions; literal, intellectual, or cultural. Parodies usually have films in the style of filmreels from sometime between the 1930's and 1950's.
A particular target for parody is the specific sub-type, the fast-food training video.
- The Duck And Cover US government films for dealing with nuclear attack.
- We see the new employee orientation video in Waiting, with complete with Description Cuts between how the video says the employees should behave and how we see them actually behaving.
- Several Disney short films (Freewayphobia #1, Goofy's Freeway Trouble and Motor Mania) have been shown in driving schools across the U.S. for decades.
- This was the basic premise of Private Snafu, in a "Don't do what Snafu does" way.
- Will Eisner's, PS Magazine army instructional comics. (Yes, Will Eisner of The Spirit fame.)
- Driving school videos.
- Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) and the rest of the cast of Cheers have appeared in a training video for new U.S. Postal Service employees.
- The authors of Yes Minister had previously collaborated on management training videos with John Cleese.
- The DHARMA Initiative orientation films from Lost.
- Team Fortress 2: The original release maps (as well as a few more recent maps) are introduced with a black-and-white instructional film explaining the map's objective and, sometimes, unique elements of its topology.
- Tank Girl. When the title character infiltrates Liquid Silver, there's a video that trains new employees in how to dress themselves correctly. Of course, she pays no attention at all to it.
- Following the aftermath of the chemical cleanup incident that ends his tour of duty at Camp Permafrost, Miles Vorkosigan finds himself in quasi-exile assigned to ImpSec Headquarters. As a combination of spiritual exercise and stir-crazyness, he decides to view every training video in the military library in strictly alphabetical order during his off-duty hours. He is bemused at the 30-minute program under "H: Hygiene" which covers how to take a shower -- presumably targeted at rural back-country draftees without previous exposure to indoor plumbing. After a month he manages to reach "L: Laser-rifle Model D-67; power-pack circuitry, maintenance, and repair" when the plot advances to the next stage of his adventure
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Hurricane Fluttershy" has an amusingly dated-looking one that explains how the pegasi use "tornado power" to get water to the weather factory in Cloudsdale for the rainy season.
- The SpongeBob SquarePants Krusty Krab training video
- The perky Japanese girl who explains the rules in Battle Royale.
- Parodied a few times in That 70s Show.
- Harvey Birdman had an episode which was one long orientation video for Sebben and Sebben.
- The Simpsons have a few of these. All are parodies.
- * In Malcolm in the Middle, the orientation video Malcolm had to watch at Lucky Aide just SCREAMED 80s. It also revealed that Craig used to be a District Manager.
- Buffy was forced to watch one when she took a job at a fast food joint.
- Training with Hinako is an animated fitness video which a girl named Hinako supposed to give the viewers exercise instructions, though its more of an excuse to show a sweaty girl exercising with a "bouncy package".
- When Angel took over Wolfram & Hart they made a new training video for employees, basically saying "Don't be evil and we won't kill you."
- Despicable Me has one as a DVD bonus feature.
- Paranoia adventure Vapors Don't Shoot Back. While the Troubleshooters are being transported in the flybot, they're shown an Old Reckoning U.S. Army parachute training film which will hopefully teach them enough to use the parachutes they've been given.
- Walt Disney's Goofy starred in a long-running series of instructional video parodies on such subjects as:
- Being John Malkovich has a very funny employee orientation film.
- Before taking Driver's Education classes, Kim Possible and classmates watch an instructional video on safe driving that's both remarkably out of date (mentioning sock-hops and soda bars) and incredibly graphic (judging by their reactions).
- Re-education sessions in the "A Sitch in Time" Bad Future begin with a short instructional/propaganda film clip of The Supreme One (Shego) describing how she took over the world.
- Trailers and intros for the Fallout games, which cheerily promote Vault-Tec bunkers and the Atom Age life, before revealing the post-apocalyptic world it became.
- Metal Arms: Glitch in the System features a Fifties-style film where the narrator cheerfully details the history of their planet and the Droids rebellion against a tyrannical regime of slavery and genocide.