The phrase “Dead Dove: Do Not Eat” comes from a scene in the TV show “Arrested Development.”
There is a package, and on the package it says, “DEAD DOVE – Do Not Eat!”
When Arrested Development Started a Meme
When the character opens the package, there is a dead dove inside.
The character then says, “I don’t know what I expected” which became a meme in itself.
The meme stood for people inquiring into things they think were going to be unpleasant, only to discover they are unpleasant.
If you are looking at an “I don’t know what I expected” project, or a “Dead Dove Do Not Eat” project, then you are looking into something that you know is probably going to be nasty and is going to contain nasty elements.
Think of the tag as a warning, or perhaps as an indication that the content you are about to look at or experience is not what you expected.
You Have Been Warned
In short, if a piece of artwork or media has the tag, “Dead Dove – Do Not Eat,” then you were warned about its content.
You were warned that the content is going to be unpleasant or morally reprehensible, and you go forward and look at it at your own risk.
An example of meta-humor may be a comic about the Fox from the movie “Zootopia / Zootropolis.”
The fox sees the bag with the dead dove label, opens the bag, says, “I don’t know what I expected” and then eats the dove anyway.
Artistic Work That Doesn’t State its Intentions Clearly
Perhaps a good example of this is the Watchmen movie.
When it came out, we were all used to cuddly superhero movies where people die, but not really because nobody ever really dies in a Marvel movie except Thor’s parents and Uncle Ben (Spider-Man).
So, when people went into the Watchmen movie, full of adult themes, adult content, and a big blue man with his penis out, people were a little taken aback.
In this case, the tag “Dead Dove – Do Not Eat,” would have been appropriate.
It may have taken fewer people by surprise, and perhaps more people would have done a little research into the content before running in to see another superhero movie.