Acceptable Lifestyle Targets
A subset of Acceptable Targets
. These deal with people who just have personal tastes or preferences which get skewered by the mainstream.
Even a brief perusal of this list will show that most of these targets are "extremes" — people who are beyond the mainstream middle in some way or another. For examples, Vegetarians, and the Vegephobes, are both
on this list. Humans apparently don't like it when you go too far one way or another... or at least movie directors don't.
Some of the most typical targets
- Geeks / Nerds. It still seems acceptable to make fun of somebody if their preferred hobbies aren't "cool" enough. (Or too solitary: see Loners Are Freaks). Seems to be diminishing for "computer" nerds as of late. If you can make a video game people are impressed now, not repulsed. Everyone else with a "tech" hobby is still out of luck. Receiving even worse luck are people who are fond of anything Japan-related (that is, if they're not Japanese, or don't even look it).
- Anyone who is sufficiently passionate about their hobbies will be considered a sad individual who needs to go get laid, or at least get out and do some "normal" activity like clubbing. After all, it's not like people who can actually do those things would ever waste their time doing other things, right? Treating your hobby as anything more than an insignificant thing you only use to kill a few minutes of time every once in a while obviously means you've just given up on "having a life" and are desperately trying to fill the void.
- Expect that in some cases the nerd will be depicted as an Insufferable Genius, a Small Name, Big Ego, or other similar forms of Jerk Ass, so that making fun of them is something they deserved. It's common for bullying to be laughed off by others with the idea being that, clearly, the nerd was asking for it. Which, sadly, is often the thinking and justification of a lot of bullies themselves, there are people who view bullying as some sort of public service. Basically the thinking is that humans are social animals and it is our duty to conform to the social norms of our society. Therefore nerds, introverts, social outcasts, and other "weird" people deserve to be bullied just because they are weird, and bullying helps society by causing weirdos to shape up and be normal. This view is mentioned in this strip from Cyanide and Happiness, although in this case it just seems to be a joke pointing out the hypocrisy of intolerance towards intolerant people.
- Furries are so acceptable a target that other hardcore geeks mock them. In the geek hierarchy, they're always positioned at the bottom. And they're commonly considered to be erotic fetishists who are into bestiality, despite those being only a minority.
- Fat / Overweight People. Very commonly represented as pathetic, obnoxious losers whose physical condition is their own fault as they tend to be seen always eating junk food. Genetic or medical reasons, valid or not, will always be seen as flimsy excuses. If they are female they tend to be the Abhorrent Admirer.
- Nice Guys. Okay, they're able to get along with anyone, have many friends, are easy to talk to, and funny, but on the downside they're going to be portrayed as slightly reserved, never happy with themselves, have Jocks and assholes think they're easy targets, and will generally be shown to be useless when chatting up women, and the woman will go for the Bad Boy anyway. Maybe the Dogged Nice Guy will get her in the end. Can be trapped in a weird subcultural purgatory of being too cool to be a nerd but not cool enough to be with the Popular clique. It doesn't help that in Real Life, "nice guy" is often a negative term used to describe the man who behaves in a stereotypically polite and caring manner towards a woman on the surface, but is easily seen through as immature, needy, not really interested in relationships beyond the sex part and resentful/dismissive of women who don't respond to their "niceness" with romantic or sexual attention. (i.e. Why won't she date me? I'm a nice guy! I held open the door for her! What a stuck-up bitch!)
- Those who still live with their parents. Can also be filed under Acceptable Hard Luck Targets. Recently in many western cultures, especially for American men, moving out of your parents' home has become a sign of maturity. You are expected to move out on your own the minute you turn 18 and never look back, either out of your own free will or because your parents took the initiative and booted your ass out. Guys who still live with their parents into their twenties are therefore considered man-children who are incapable of growing up or looking after themselves. Moving back in with your parents is seen as a humiliating last resort taken only by people who have lost everything. The trope is often invoked in media as a quick way to establish a man as a loser. Never mind that some parents do charge their children rent, and that their children are often charged with having to help maintain the house. Women, however, have a slightly lesser stigma attached to them because they are not as socially pressured to be rugged individualists — in fact, a single woman might be seen as selfish and cruel if she doesn't give up her independence to move in with elderly, failing parents. The trope is notably averted in many cultures that prize the extended family, such as Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa, Pacific Islands, and Southern and Eastern Europe, where sons are often expected to stay in the family home at least until they marry, and even then not stray too far from their roots. It may also be averted in Europe for the fact that extended family may have lived in the same house for several years because of high housing prices, although it wouldn't be uncommon for say, someone who has lived in the same house all their lives and has their parents living with them may have merely been given the house because they're old enough to maintain it.
- It certainly doesn't help that any time adults who live with their parents (or whose parents live with them) are represented, the media only seek out those who help to reinforce the stereotype. In other words, the jobless loser who can't do even the simplest things for himself and has to have Mommy do everything for him and who is utterly abhorrent to any prospective romantic partners because of this. Such people are probably in the minority, as it is likely that most adults who have similar living arrangements make an equal contribution to the household or are at least employed.
- The romantic aspect may actually be self-fulfilling though in Real Life, due to the fact that people who live with their parents (even if they are there supporting them) are viewed this way, thanks to media.
- Also, confirmation bias.
- This stigma is slowly fading away, however: The economic hard times of the 2010s have convinced a steadily increasing amount of young people to live with their parents, though this is still mainly due to financial desperation. However, this situation is now more seen as sympathetic, the person being a victim of cruel or incompetent authorities, rather than anything derogatory.
- Drug users. Drugs are for losers; the government says so, and everyone knows they never lie. In fact, the US government has paid TV networks to make sure that anyone using drugs was portrayed as a loser. ER, Beverly Hills 90210, Chicago Hope, The Drew Carey Show, 7th Heaven and other shows had their scripts reviewed by the government and changes made so the network could pocket some cash.
- Intellectuals. Similar to Explicit Atheists, Intellectuals are acceptable targets, and have historically been framed as unpatriotic, immoral, and/or degenerate by democratic-populists as well as totalitarian movements seeking mass appeal. In media, Intellectuals are often portrayed as out-of-touch Ivory Tower academics whose knowledge and intelligence stand in contrast to and is usually inferior to the life experience of more sympathetic 'street-smart' characters. They are usually characterized as elitists governed entirely by logic (or at least a flawed facsimile thereof), and as such are often cold or dispassionate toward others. Frequently a "fine line between genius and madness" is invoked by more "down to Earth" characters.
- Timid guys. Female timidity is acceptable and even enticing, but for the media, male shyness is ridiculous and inappropriate. In short, it's a Double Standard. Shy guys are usually the targets of the worst abuse in High School (a little bit like the Nice Guy) with said abuse intensifying as they grow older if they haven't won over their shyness. This is because, for many people in Real Life, shyness for a man means he's either a coward, a loner or an immature man-child who never grew up. There's also a tendency in some female-aimed media to depict any man acting withdrawn around women as suffering deep psychological issues that will turn him into a delusional stalker, creepy sexual deviant or a violent psychopath the first time he actually gets close to one.
- Hippies and Granola Girls. Hippies tend to be unfailingly depicted in popular media as horrendously uncool, self-absorbed, lazy, smelly, insufferably self-righteous and possessing a philosophical outlook that falls somewhere between well-meaning obliviousness and outright dope-addled stupidity. There's also a gender Double Standard; Women who subscribe to this lifestyle can be charmingly naive, whereas men who don't favor violence or eating meat are treated much more harshly. As for musical tastes, expect them to favor nothing after the 1960's as well as trying (and failing) to play acoustic guitar.
- Emos. Generally regarded as a bunch of whiny poseurs who cry, write poetry, and cut themselves in order to seem unconventional or to attract attention while blowing even the mildest slights or issues completely out of proportion in order to feel Wangsty about them. Also, there's the matter of their horrid music. Note that this applies to depressed people as well (thusly blending the emo with those who have mental disorders). As with most acceptable targets, there's a Double Standard at work here too. While old people (or the Jerkass main character in a popular webcomic) are often accepted for being angsty, world-weary and cynical, If you're under the age of 21 and object to any part of life (even if it's a valid or idealistic objection), you might as well brush your hair over one eye, start writing sappy poetry and threaten to commit suicide.
- Students. Students who go onto higher education receive quite a lot of stick, a lot of it from those who, for whatever reason, didn't. This seems to come from a combination of the prejudice against intellectuals discussed above, jealousy (higher education traditionally being the preserve of those who can afford it, which plenty can't) and sheer irritation at the fact that some higher-education students can be pretty insufferable, most being at the age where they're convinced that they know everything there is to know but don't have the personal experience or maturity to back this up. Students are also often accused of not doing 'real' work and living an 'easy' life. Sometimes it can even be taken to the extreme that anyone who's ever willingly participated in any form of organized education doesn't know how the world "really" works. This gives rise to several "college student" stereotypes:
- The insufferably self-righteous and smug Student Activist, usually a 'leftie', lecturing all and sundry on their ethical and moral superiority over the rest of humanity, usually over some pet issue that they clearly have, ironically, not researched very well or deluded themselves into believing.
- The boorish and obnoxious Drunken Frat Boy using higher education as an excuse to live a life of sex, booze, partying and uninterrupted hedonism at the cost of someone else, usually the complainer (whether parent or tax-payer).
- Incredibly stupid student athletes who get away with absolutely anything and everything thanks to the athletic department covering for them at every opportunity; while they will generally be completely unprepared for college-level work, the very same athletic department will pick up the slack and turn a blind eye to academic dishonesty, if not outright condone it and assign someone to do their work for them. Any investigations will be stonewalled by the dean/coaches, and the job of the professor who pushed the issue very well may just be in jeopardy. Goes double for star-players, triple for football players.
- The clueless and stressed-out graduate student who is over-devoted to education to the point that they make getting The B Grade Truth in Television while also being Book Dumb to the point that easy-going and laid back characters are shown to be more knowledgeable and competent in both studies and life matters simply by not caring.
- Certain College Majors. Tied closely to the above, certain fields of study are seen as useless. If your chosen major isn't strongly tied to a well-known and specific occupation, then you're just wasting everyone's time. This one is distinct from students in general because it's making the assumption that going to college in the general sense is a good and responsible thing to do, but it's "wrong" or "cheating" if you're in one of these majors. That is, you're a witless slacker who intends to stretch your studenthood out as long as possible to keep sponging off your parents or you are someone who would do well, if not for the fact that you stupidly chose a major that obviously provides no marketable skills whatsoever. And mixed majors may get some flak for not making up their minds.
- Everyone in the "social sciences" will be considered intellectual lightweights, but English majors seem to get hit pretty hard. Certain such majors also tend to be dismissed as "trendy victim studies."
- Philosophy students, which is kinda funny when you consider philosophy includes logic and ethics. Similar to intellectuals, they may be portrayed as out-of-touch Ivory Tower types who only care about winning arguments and making other people feel stupid and/or morally wrong. Any other reason to study the history, theory and application of logic and ethics is unlikely to be mentioned.
- Math majors are both soulless number-crunchers and have no marketable skills. This is a belief which is quite bizarre, since advanced mathematics is a highly marketable skill and requires creative thinking. For a while before math majors became common physics majors were making a killing in the financial sector because they were the only ones available with the requisite skills, after all actual physics jobs were scarce and didn't pay nearly as well. This belief seems to be attributable to the fact that most writers (and most people) don't understand what mathematicians do and assume it is something esoteric and useless when the reality is far different. For example, in the United States, the biggest hirer of mathematicians is the National Security Agency.
- Computer Science majors are all geeky losers, software pirates or stuck-up Linux elitists.
- Majoring in science or engineering tends to get a free pass. After all, they're the ones who are going to invent the next Twitter or iPhone for us. But on the other hand, "tech" students are all robotic, boring, have no appreciation for the arts, and are terrible writers.
- Religious Studies majors are likely to be labeled as a religious nut job who wants to spread their crazy beliefs to the masses. Otherwise, they're just someone who is only interested in fads as this major has increased in popularity since the 70s.
- Any sort of Art major (painting, sculpting, writing, Film, Theater, etc) is going to be portrayed as a stuck up elitist who thinks that other art (Hollywood, Broadway, Publishing companies, anything mainstream really) is not really art or an idiot who couldn't care less about his well being because art generally does not pay well given the cost of supplies and the fact that most artists are not hired; additionally, they are sometimes viewed as dumb rich kids who are in college only because it's a condition of their trust fund or whose parents just wanted to get rid of them. Not as common in works as real life due to Most Writers Are Writers.
- Business majors. Seen as another "cheap" major that anyone can get, plus it's proof that your life's desire was to be a Corrupt Corporate Executive.
- Education majors are, at best, viewed as well-meaning but ultimately ditzy and incompetent. At worst, they're viewed as jargon-spouting, rock-stupid sheep who are incapable of original thought and took it because it was viewed as an easy major or because they wanted to "work with kids" despite having no clue what teaching actually entails.
- Medical students seem to get a pass for spending more than 4 years in a classroom environment, but even they get stereotyped as overworked, overstressed and probably subsisting on ramen noodles and living in horrible housing to avoid crippling debts while they cripple their patients. They'll only leave this situation to enter Acceptable Professional Targets anyway.
- If you're a law student, you're just as neurotic and clueless as a med student, but without a shred of morality and will become an even bigger butt of jokes when you graduate. Basically, like Med students except you failed chemistry (never mind that patent attorneys are required to have science or engineering degrees).
- Any character who studies their chosen field "too hard", even if it is the "right" one will probably be lumped in with the "nerds" and "geeks". Someone who spends too much time reading books clearly isn't learning the "important" stuff in life and won't last 5 seconds after graduation.
- The childfree: Adults who choose not to have children are sometimes accused of being selfish, lazy, or Child Haters. Also, some religious types will claim that the childfree are "rebelling against God" by choosing not to procreate. Often childfree people are shown to abruptly change their minds once they have a small amount of contact with a child, suggesting that their stance was misguided or based on ignorance.
- Ironically in this same list are large families. Cheaper by the Dozen aside, most media depicts those who have a large number of children as either religiously fanatical, selfishly having kids for the personal attention, poor and doing it to mooch off public benefits, unable to control the instinct to breed, or too stupid to realize that sex is what makes babies. There seems to be a very narrow area of the ideal number of children for a family.
- Then you have the people who look at things from a purely biological standpoint as they contemptuously explain to you that the sole purpose of all life is to reproduce and pass on its genes, and if you're not doing the one single thing that you were "naturally" placed on the planet to do, then you are a complete failure no matter your other achievements. Not only is it insulting, but it's wrong by the arguer's own flawed logic. If no interest in reproduction means a being is biologically defective, then why would they want that being to pass along that fault?
- They are often the same people mentioned below who believe that introverts, asexuals, and the like don't really exist, and may believe that once someone has kids, they will be "cured" of their "delusions" about not wanting kids, much like introverts and asexuals can be "cured" by experiencing social interaction and sex respectively. Others seem to believe that whether or not you desire to have children is irrelevant; ie. "you have a duty to breed and continue the human race whether you like it or not, it's the entire reason you exist, so deal with it and get baby-making". The more extreme ones simply want the "defectives" to be rounded up and killed outright, so that they "stop wasting resources" that people who are having children could be using instead.
- This gets worse if a childfree person or couple has a pet or more than one pet. The assumption becomes that they're upset about their inability to have children (despite that they may very be able to have children) and the pet(s) is the replacement.
- The people in question may also have a disease that is contagious or prevents them from having children (AIDS, forms of cancer, STD's)
- The Popular/Pretty People. If you're pretty or popular, you're assumed to be dumb, vapid, and shallow, peaked/are going to peak at high school, and have no real worth at all. And that's if you're not evil...
- Goths. Ready for mourning at any time of day? Think cemeteries are a great place to hang out? Listen to depressing music? Well then, clearly you must be either preparing to shoot someone else or meticulously planning your own suicide. And you're probably still in high school. Negative attitudes towards goths became particularly apparent in the light of school shootings such as Columbine. While those incidents often lead to public cries to teach students to tolerate each other and stop bullying, at the same time they ostracize and demonize goths as people to be avoided as you never know if you might accidentally set one off.
- Hipsters (please note that this type is not to be confused with hippies; the two terms were once synonyms). A nebulously-deployed yet relatively specific category of cool person (or aspiring cool person), typically denoted by a constantly-shifting taste in fashion (trucker hats, white belts, skinny jeans), musical taste (indie rock, dance-punk, Garage Rock revival) and cultural interests (embrace of irony and postmodernism, being seen at cool parties). Sure, that attitude was all well and good when Quentin Tarantino was the new hot thing, but somewhere between Pulp Fiction and the rise of "metrosexuality," hipsters became associated with snobbery, gentrification (see: the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn), superficiality, self-absorption and inauthenticity, and it is now common, almost reflexive internet parlance to attach the word "douchebag" after mention of the word "hipster". The main complaint seems to be that hipsters are simply an advanced level of poseur, re-appropriating the style and cultural trappings of a culture or counterculture they didn't get in on the ground floor of — and they're spending lots of money to do it half-assedly. Most confounding of all, unlike just about every other lifestyle target mentioned on this page, almost nobody actually admits to being a hipster, therefore making them one of the most acceptable targets of all: the self-hating and/or in-denial Acceptable Lifestyle Target.
- Vegetarians. Don't eat meat? Then you're unhealthy! You eat too much rabbit food and there's something wrong with your brain! There's also a gender bias, as men are supposed to be shoveling down T-Bones, burgers, and fried chicken or else they're too girly or are gay; whereas herbivorism is often a standard for a woman. Thus female vegetarians may be portrayed as healthy, whereas male vegetarians are often sickly or unnaturally thin. Vegetarians are often lumped together with the hippies and art students as overly sensitive, preachy and doing it mostly to flaunt their politics. Rarely (if ever) will a character become a vegetarian for medical reasons or health reasons; they will almost always be so for animal/environmental rights. And this will inevitably see the character transform into an insufferably obnoxious and self-righteous moralizer haranguing everyone around them and acting as they're the Second Coming because they no longer eat meat. This is changing; as vegetarians are becoming more accepted and many of these types (ie, the moral crusaders) have split off into Vegans. Another reason is also cultural differences, ie, a Vegetarian in India is something completely normal for men and women. Conversely, being a vegetarian is seen as weird and unhealthy for both men and women in Ireland.
- Vegans. Vegans are constantly made fun of and criticized for being even worse than vegetarians. Like vegetarians, God help you if you are a male vegan because then you don't even eat cheese and eggs. Vegans have an even higher chance of being portrayed as annoying quasi-political hippies, militant PETA members, or both. There exist numerous stereotypes about vegans doing stuff like calling 911 because a fast-food chain is serving meat.
- Vegephobes. While vegetarians are slowly gaining acceptance, their opposite number — those who don't like eating vegetables — are not. The assumption is that you must eat your vegetables, or there's something wrong with you. Perhaps you were defiant when your parents tried to make you eat vegetables, and now you're carrying that chip on your shoulder into adulthood. The reality is that, with adequate vitamin and mineral supplementation, the human body is adaptable enough to thrive on just about any kind of diet — vegan, exclusively carnivore, exclusively grain-eating, or otherwise.
- Pescetarians. Often confused with vegetarians. A lot of people actually don't know what this term means; so they act like they're vegetarians who cheat. In reality, they're actually following a biblical standard because fish isn't considered a meat, although nutritionally it is. It's not uncommon to see many middle-eastern people who are pescetarians. This is a little more accepted, especially in places like the middle east, coastal areas, and islands (like Guam and Japan) where fish is much easier to obtain, especially fresh fish, as opposed to areas like the middle of Europe and North America.
- The Politically Correct. Everyone who doesn't buy into stereotypes is an uptight, overly sensitive, ultra-PC censor with no sense of humor. This attitude is a popular refuge for comedians who like Black Comedy and Crossing the Line Twice, accusing everyone who doesn't like them of this. Note that pretty much nobody refers to themselves as "politically correct". Note as well that there are very few things quite so politically correct, today, as proudly proclaiming one's own political incorrectness.
- People Who are Athletic. According to pop culture, everyone who plays sports (in high-school, at least) is a dumb jock, and every cheerleader is a shallow bitch. And of course, says pop culture, everyone athletic (jocks) are all bullies who have nothing to look forward to in life past high-school, if they graduate. Cheerleaders too are at the high point in their life, says pop culture, and they're all shallow sluts who spread malicious rumors about each other and their rivals. Never mind that athletes and cheerleaders may just be regular people who enjoy their respective hobby, or that plenty of athletes/cheerleaders go on to have successful and fulfilling lives after high school, in fact, high school athletic participation is associated with a high future income for men.
- BDSM couples. Nobody who's into bondage can be a healthy and well-adjusted person under it all. A dominant man is a misogynist, a dominant woman a bitch, a submissive man a doormat and a submissive woman is actively undoing the hard work of feminism. BDSM practitioners also tend to be stereotyped as unattractive, overweight, middle-aged weirdos.
- People who, in their spare time, rant about their jobs. Jobs can be stressing, it's a given of life. But someone complaining about their job? Eh, they're just spoiled and inconsiderate brats who need to "suck it up" or else they're not going to last long in the real world before they go crying home to Mommy. Just having a bad day at work (or several) or working in a bad environment seems to bring up the, "If you hate your job, then why don't you quit?" response. Typically, even laughing at stupid customers, bad coworkers, etc., brings up this. (It's a guaranteed that if you make any rant related to your job in the internet, you'll be told, "Quit then, if it's so bad".) When faced with the, "Then why don't you quit your job?" response, don't mention, "Do you know of any other job openings?", because they're not listening. This however tends to be averted if you are a factory worker which lives in the conditions a 19th century factory worker might have lived in. Then it often even gets promoted to complain about how bad the conditions are you work in and fight for better working conditions against the will of the Corrupt Corporate Executive that controls the entirety.
- Retail/Wage Workers - You'll get all of the above plus a few not-so-veiled suggestions that you somehow deserve a poor-paying highly-stressful job for being "stupid". After all, everyone knows that people who didn't flunk out of high school can always get a better job than menial cashiering or flipping hamburgers, and no excuses about a weak economy or job market will be accepted. An ironic viewpoint, as people who did go to college are often treated not much better (see above).
- Alcoholics. As Mitch Hedberg put it: "Alcoholism is the only disease you can get yelled at for having." Alcohol is more or less a part of almost every culture... both the love for it and the hatred and constant jokes about it. People who choose to regularly drink themselves silly or pay money for alcohol are constantly being made fun of. There's one in almost every family, the one person who's drunk off their ass almost 24/7. And they're always either homeless, extremely poor, childless, single, and are only happy when they're drunk. College students are also on the receiving end of a lot of alcohol jokes, either because they're irresponsible drinkers and binge drink the day they turn 18-21, or because they are frat boys/greeks and are encouraged to drink by their Fraternity/Sorority to do so. This is almost always flipped as soon as the person admits they have a problem, and it becomes a sympathetic Very Special Episode.
- Teetotalers, a.k.a. Non-drinkers and Dry Crusaders. There are plenty of valid reasons to drink alcohol... and likewise there are plenty of valid reasons to not drink alcoholic beverages (such as the taste, the price, a Freudian Excuse, and not wanting to get drunk around people). But if you don't drink alcohol, no matter the reasons you have for not liking it, you will be made fun of, chastised, castigated, punished, and pressured to drink until you do shove it down your throat. Expect to be called nicknames like hippie for refusing to drink it. Even worse than teetotalers are Dry Crusaders—prohibitionists who want to ban alcohol completely and see it as too much trouble. This one has its historical basis in the reaction to the sanctimonious personalities of most prohibitionists of the 1920s and 1930s, but expect peer pressure even if you're just making a personal choice.
- Metalheads. Thanks to incredibly stingy radio play, the average person has only a ridiculous straw-man image of what heavy metal music is, or at least doesn't understand the purpose behind most of the tropes of the genre. It's derided as just random noise, and is considered by a large amount of people who've never listened to it as "not real music", largely thanks to the use of "death growl vocals". As such, metalheads themselves are ridiculed by showing devotion to this genre. The musicians are treated as social outcasts at best (admittedly a contingent of the genre's fanbase doesn't help this image) and of having low intelligence (strange, considering the abnormally high compositional and instrumental ability requirement) and incredibly lowbrow views on culture and life in general.
- Even within the genre and it's fanbase, there's the highbrow, elitist Jerkass archetype, who takes great pride in applying arbitrary standards to their genre of choice and look down on anything outside of their tiny sphere of what constitutes legitimate musical art (which usually includes death, black, doom, early thrash (e.g. pre-Justice Metallica, pre-Countdown Megadeth, pre-White Noise Anthrax), traditional Heavy Metal such as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, some Classical Music and little else) and especially anyone who dares enjoy it. Bonus points if they use the term "true metal" in any remotely earnest context that does not include Manowar.
- The gentler clichés get attached to the "hair metal" crowd, whose members are often treated basically as hippies: kooky, lazy, mildly rebellious, drug-addled, and/or speaking in a Southern California accent (perhaps because Van Halen, who kicked off the movement in the late Seventies, were from Los Angeles).
- While seeming to have run out of steam as of late, there was a serious movement in the 80's and early 90's that thought all metal — even particularly sexually explicit but otherwise harmless hair metal — to be associated with Satanism, violence and that it encouraged teen suicides. This lead to the popular image of the "death metal" freak, who gets slapped with the same stigma associated with Goths: mean, violent, creepy, not "all there" psychologically and probably meticulously planning somebody's imminent death.
- Female Metalheads. While there are some male metalheads who are thrilled to pieces to find a girl who shares their tastes, there are others who refuse to take them seriously or resent that they are "intruding on a male's domain". They also often get stereotyped as not being conventionally attractive — whilst "pop chicks", at least, have a certain feminine physical attractiveness. In The Eighties, when the female metalhead subtrope first appeared, they were depicted as very feminine: poofy-haired, wearing bright neon colors, flirtatious, etc. They were in some ways an updating of the "greaser girls" of The Fifties: mildly rebellious and rambunctious, but leaving the really nasty stuff to the guys. At it's lowest, they're shown as vapid airheads who only like metal musicians because they are "cute", only listen to heavy metal in order to appease a boyfriend, or at worst, are sluts who will give blow jobs to anyone who can get them backstage to meet their heroes. And finally, there's the claim that female fans are actively supporting misogyny as the genre (due to the lyrics and imagery) is seen by some as inherently anti-woman. (Never mind that certain hip-hop artists are much more notorious for being openly misogynistic). Women who hold more traditional views of gender norms tend to view female metalheads as being socially aberrant (same as if she didn't like shoes or clothes shopping).
- The Rich. Rich people are often portrayed as sycophants, morally bankrupt businesspeople, pretentious, and they often are portrayed as LOVING to show it by wearing extremely expensive clothing or by regularly binging on ultra expensive activities and hobbies. Expect derogatory comments about those poorer than them. Rich people as targets are especially used during times of economic down-turns, especially those working for massive businesses like insurance, oil companies, computer industries, stock market junkies, etc. Rich women are often shown as gold-diggers who live in the lap of luxury, or if they are a breadwinner (Sometimes the Breadwinner), then they are shown as being extremely out of touch with their family and almost never being able to sit down to cook. (Shown in Daria, in which Helen heats up frozen Lasagna nearly every night, considers it a rare treat to cook for her family, and overhears people laughing about other women taking Maternity leave.) The level of acceptability goes double for any rich person who is Caucasian, and quadruple if they happen to be Jewish, with further varying degrees of acceptability depending on their careers. (If there exists any positive portrayal of a rich Jewish banker, then you'd best take a picture because it's probably the first time you'll ever see it.)
- And even worse are Children born into rich families. They are frequently portrayed as spoiled rotten brats with no compassion for others and never having to work for anything in their lives, they just ask for it. Girls are always shown as having a rich "Daddy" who pays for them and are often either a Rich Bitch crossed with Alpha Bitch. Girls who marry into money are seen as gold-diggers who vow never to work. Boys are also shown as spoiled but also being trained to one day take over their family job. Sometimes being forced to do the later against their desire can make a sympathetic character, but that's about the only time you'll see it. Male rich kids are much more likely to be depicted as drug-addicted date-rapists relying on their family's money and connections to get them out of any trouble their consequence free life-style gets them into. Like the above, this goes double for whites, quintuple for Jewish families, and sextuple for bankers.
- Drivers of Certain Vehicles. While just being on the road makes you a target for the wrath of anyone driving at a different speed, the car you're in can make it much worse. Especially true for SUV drivers and those with electric/hybrid vehicles who are both seen as incredibly arrogant for different reasons. The SUV driver will get it for consuming far more than what's seen as their "fair share" of the world's resources and rubbing their ability to pay the fuel costs in everyone's face while the hybrid driver is accused of being a conceited leftist environmentalist, turning the mere act of driving somewhere into a political movement.
- Professional bicyclists are often seen as elitist for insisting on driving on car lanes due to bike lanes being too inadequate for them (either because they consider themselves to be equal to cars and motorcycles or because bike lanes are too narrow/have too many pedestrians/etc) and because they're seen as looking down on people riding non-racing bikes.
- People with tattoos/piercings. Oh, sure, go mutilate your body because you think it looks "cool", we all know that everyone who does it will regret it later. Oh, and by the way, the only people who ever get tattoos or non-ear piercings are bikers, obnoxious punk rockers, thugs, or sluts who just can't wait to show them off.
- This stereotype is actually not as bad nowadays as it was prior to the 1990s, when much of the above actually was true, if only because "decent" folk bought into the negative imagery and wouldn't have been caught dead with tattoos or piercings. At best, tattoos were associated with the circus (which, while generally viewed as wholesome, still has some unsavory connotations), while piercings were thought to be just for Gypsies and pirates. The anti-tattoo prejudice was at an all-time low in Victorian times, when actual criminology textbooks were published explaining that anyone with a tattoo was obviously a criminal.
- Now that tattoos are incredibly fashionable and nigh-omnipresent in some places, the main stigmas seem to be against people who are literally covered with them (they're still considered freaks or weirdos), or women who have the now-infamous "Tramp Stamp" above their butt-crack. These latter women are generally now shown to be sheep who latched onto a trend, unaware of how stupid they would look once the trend was over and they were left with a permanent reminder.
- Smokers. Frequently lectured on the dangers of their habit, when they're commonly known. Ultimately, the smoker will know the risks, and it's their body to treat as they choose, but try telling that to the anti-smokers. It's considered socially acceptable to give someone a long lifestyle choice lecture for choosing to smoke. On the other hand, they do get the Smoking Is Cool benefits, so it all sort of evens out.
- This licence to lecture smokers can particularly amusing when a twenty-five stone hambeast starts whining at a smoker about the damage they're doing to their heart, arteries, etc.
- More recently, users of electronic cigarettes usually get lumped in with smokers of "analog" (tobacco) cigarettes. It seldom helps to explain that e-cigs produce no second-hand smoke (no smoke at all, in fact, just vapor), and do not contain any chemicals known to cause cancer. They see someone inhaling from a cigarette-like device and exhaling what looks like smoke and jump to conclusions. That there are, at the time of this writing, bills in the works to outright ban e-cigs, despite the fact that they are demonstrably safer than ordinary cigarettes, is quite telling.
- Smokeless tobacco users. Despite chew/dip/snuff being sold in all fifty states, if you admit to using, you're a hopeless redneck with fewer brain cells than teeth (an ever-decreasing number in both cases).
- The justification for complaining about smokers was that they will be costing taxpayers (the majority of whom are nonsmokers) and the health-care system more in the long run; this turned out to be false: smokers died years sooner than nonsmokers, so they needed significantly ''less'' of the expensive medical operations.
- Of course, if you were smoking in front of the person or someone's kids, there is a reason they may feel justified in annoying you; you could potentially be doing something far worse to people who didn't choose this lifestyle. This is a moot point for smokeless tobacco users, though the media doesn't tend to differentiate.
- Recently commercials have been airing about smokers who have lost fingers, arms, the use of their vocal chords without a helping device—never mind that this is a small percentage, the commercials portray it that if you smoke, this will happen to you.
- Single Mothers (not to be confused with widows and divorced mothers). While they tend to be sympathetically portrayed in individual works of media, they are often ridiculed in the abstract, especially in the political concept of the "welfare queen" who keeps having children she has no interest in raising so that she can live off of taxpayer dollars.
- And in fact, extra dependants doesn't get you much more from welfare. Not enough to cover the extra cost, at least.
- They have been steadily becoming Unacceptable Targets as of late thanks to the strong association with racist stereotypes (particularly in the last US presidential election), as "welfare queen" is more or less treated as code for "NIGGERS", which goes over about as well as one would expect among most people.
- Divorced people.
- Men become Casanova Wannabes with Dodgy Toupees and Midlife Crisis Cars. Either perpetually single, or have somehow landed a much younger Brainless Beauty, who is probably what broke up the marriage in the first place. May be the reason why he is either unwilling or not allowed to see the kids on a regular basis.
- Women are angry, bitter Jerkass Old Maids or Type B Evil Matriarchs in training who got everything in the Divorce Assets Conflict after her Toilet Seat Divorce. Unless, of course, she's Stacy's Mom.
- And God help you if you remarry, whether you're divorced or not. If your new spouse is particularly successful, you'll get called a Gold Digger. And if said spouse has children from a previous marriage, then you're automatically a Child Hater. The ball really got started rolling with Disney's original version of The Parent Trap, in which the "Vicki" character combined both attributes and was treated as the film's Butt Monkey as a result. At least nowadays, the "Vicki" is as likely as not to be male as well as female.
- Single people, since we are at it. The fact that tropes like Old Maid, Christmas Cake and Crazy Cat Lady are still prevalent in media, shows that this world is still not willing to let single women get away with their singleness. Single men aren't portrayed that good either. Single men may still have "manly" independence and be free of an annoying spouse, but behind the apparently awesome single life of The Casanova there's a shallow and empty Man Child living in perpetual disorder since, apparently men aren't able to manage their own houses without a woman doing the chores.
- There are also people who think that you simply can't be happy unless you're in a relationship, and any evidence to the contrary they will just see as evidence that you're lying to yourself to cope with your misery and loneliness.
- Feminists. If there is a woman who identifies herself as a feminist, she will be a Straw Feminist with hairy legs and extreme hatred for all the men in the world. Of course, it's all because she never had any man interested in her.
- If there is a man who identifies himself as a feminist, he's clearly an Extreme Doormat and traitor to his gender who's sacrificed his testicles at the altar of self-loathing... or he's trying to get in the good graces of the Straw Feminist he's dating. He'll give it up when he gives her up; i.e. at the end of the episode.
- Optimistic people. While goths and emos are made fun of for their perpetual sadness, people who are continuously in a good mood don't always have it easy either. In a lot of sitcoms and a few movies, cheerful and optimistic people are seen as lower than dirt while depressed and depressing cynics can get away with murder.
- This can also be seen in people's general attitudes. Ever notice how someone who looks on the bright side is being naive while someone who expresses a more pessimistic view is being realistic?
- This might be due to Optimism bias, in that one who is genuinely realistic is being seen as pessimistic because they are below the optimistic norm.
- The Homeless. When they are not portrayed as thieves, they are shown to be suffering from various mental disorders or having inexplicable, often absurd behavior (like urinating in their own shoes or having orgies in stolen cars). This is especially typical in comedy. While mental illness no doubt is one reason a person can end up homeless, fiction seems to treat it as the only way one can end up transient, nobody ever is homeless by bad luck and circumstance. Brings the Family-Unfriendly Aesop that there's no point in helping, as a homeless case will just walk back to the gutter where he/she is "naturally happy" with their eccentricities as soon as your back is turned. As homeless people tend not to see much TV, and they have limited opportunity to complain about such stereotypes, they are likely to remain as acceptable targets for a long time.
- Straight Edge. If you're straight edge you're either A) a fun hating, sour youth that dislikes social interaction, or B) a Principles Zealot that will beat the crap out of anyone who so much as looks at a glass of alcohol. There are a few bad eggs, especially in The Nineties, but mostly, straight edge people just want to respect their bodies and believe it's more Badass to stay sober than to do drugs.
- Virgins In the Western world at least, a person who can't/won't have sexual relations as soon as the opportunity arises is nothing short of pathetic. Especially true for men although it's applied to women as well, with the Double Standard that having too much sex makes her a morally bankrupt slut. And that's just for the folks who are virgins only because they can't get a date. Those who have no immediate cultural or religious reason to not have sex but choose to remain a virgin can get it even worse. The Sex Is Cool trope is often taken WAY too seriously, used to suggest if not outright state that people who don't have a very active sex life, even if they don't want one, have some kind of mental or emotional problem and will never enjoy "normal" life. Also, since there's never any good reason to turn down sex, the suggestion that society and the world in general would fall apart if people starting putting other things in life first is frequently and somewhat insultingly Played for Laughs.
- Sexually active individuals: People who commonly engage in pick-up or one night stand sex are usually portrayed as sex-obsessed sluts (if women) or manipulative, vulnerability-exploiting predators (if male) who are unable to commit to a serious relationship, no matter how safe the sex is, or how much they inform their partners of their casual approach to the sexual encounter. Usually more shameful if the individual is a woman, although this isn't always the case. A byproduct of the Sex Is Evil policy much of the mainstream media conveys.
- Asexuals This sexuality is widely considered to not really exist by the public at large. At best, asexuals are seen as "late bloomers" who just haven't found what turns them on yet or are suffering from depression/mental issues since nobody in their right mind, especially not the young and attractive, would refuse gratuitous sexual relations. Otherwise, it's just a label made up by pathetic losers who can't get laid having a bad case of sour grapes. After all, no "real" guy wouldn't want sex all the time.
- Loners/Introverts They pretty much face the same problems as virgins, since the two are often one in the same. At least in the Western world, wanting to stay home and read instead of going out everyday means something is wrong with you or you hate people and wish you lived on an island. This can be especially terrible for teenagers, who are usually depicted in media as being loud and self-centered. While it's true that introversion or shyness (which are NOT the same thing, by the way) can be the result of some kind of trauma, this is not always the case. There are many people who simply need more time to themselves and willingly have few or no friends. Females have it a little easier than males here, as a man who spends a lot of time by himself will often be accused of having an unsavory reason to "hide" from the public, probably because he's a pervert or child molester.
- Socializing is so important to most people that they use the term "life" to refer exclusively to one's social life. Anyone who does not partake in much social interaction will be mocked and ridiculed as having "no life" and called a loser. There also seems to be a very narrow definition of what counts as social interaction. Specifically, anything where the main objective is not to get drunk and laid does not count. A group of friends playing Magic: The Gathering in their basement lair? Nah, that's not socializing. That's just a bunch of fat, nerdy, no-life losers being no-life losers together. They Need to Get Laid.
- Like the asexuality example above, introverts are also thought to not really exist. Anyone who claims to prefer staying at home instead of going out and socializing, especially on the weekend, is obviously a socially inept loser with a bad case of sour grapes. It's impossible for them to actually be happy with an unsocial lifestyle, they're just lying to themselves and are actually depressed and lonely... and if they actually are happy, then they must be mentally ill because no sane person could ever enjoy not socializing. The worst part is that there are actual introverts who believe this, hate themselves for being introverts, and Just Want to Be Normal because they don't think they can be happy otherwise.
- Jobless/Welfare These guys have it rough in many ways. If someone doesn't have a job (especially if they are in their late 20s or early 30s), they are viewed as lazy and shamelessly mooching off of their parents or friends, even if they are showing that they are sending forms and applications to many places to find work. While this stigma tends to wane during times of bad economy, many people simply find it unacceptable that there can be people who can live life at all without working. People that live on food stamps or welfare checks are also viewed as worse since they're mooching off the taxpayers' money and refusing to better themselves or their families while they spend the public's cash on big screen televisions. It is entirely possible for someone living on food stamps to have a nice TV or nice clothes due to others providing the items to them or having said items in the past before they fell on hard times, but most people won't accept that. This is slowly beginning to pass into Once Acceptable Targets, however, thanks to both the recent worldwide economic issues and the strong association that this has with racist stereotypes.
- This stereotype is actually pretty recent. Thanks to the media, there are more cases of public assistance being abused coming to light. It's possible that's where this stereotype comes from. The fact that some parents willingly have more children while still using PA doesn't help either.
- The mere fact that this is in the "Acceptable Lifestyle Targets" and not "Acceptable Hard Luck Targets" shows that people commonly consider someone being jobless and on welfare living a mooching, lazy lifestyle and not someone having a rough patch in their lives.
- Interracial couples/those who choose to date outside their race. If someone chooses to date outside their race, they're very likely to be labelled as a self-hater, defying evolution, etc. Black/white couples are subject to this a lot, since the black half is accused of "wanting to be white" while the white half is accused of being a "wigger". Non-Asian females who are attracted to Asian males are accused of "liking small guys" due to the stereotype that Asian males are lacking in the, err, size department, as well as accused of being "weeaboos". In certain cultures, children can actually get cut out of the family for dating outside their race.
- While it might be a little more acceptable, interracial friendships also get this treatment. Some people really can't understand why anyone would willingly socialize with someone outside their race.
- Overly sensitive people. Many cultures put forth value on being tough and showing no emotions. If there is a person who is easily offended by the smallest things, then this will be easy enough for other people to ridicule them, often calling them massive whiny crybabies who need to buck up already or others will take the initiative. And God help them if they're a male, because of the fact that Men Are Tough, being sensitive and showing emotions is enough to earn them easy scorn and bullying.
- Bullies: While for certain bullying is to be looked down on and actively discouraged wherever possible, it is not uncommon for the victims of bullying, both in fiction and in real life to "snap" and retaliate with severely excessive force, typically disproportionate to the actual bullying. All too often they are applauded for their actions because the bullies "had it coming", when in any other circumstance it would be condemned.
- Victims of bullying: Just as the bullies, their victims don't really get any sympathy either; for they are often blamed for making themselves easy targets to bullying, either because of things like, say, being timid and the fact they spend their time alone more than with friends. Also, bullying victims are seen as big wussies who can't deal with bullies and should quit playing the victim or their problems will remain the same.
Examples in media:
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Geeks / Nerds
- Every single one of Dan Schneider's TV shows have an example of this. In fact, its possible to say he might have a real issue with nerds and geeks, or at least someone in his writing department does, because at times it comes off as mean spirited rather than merely comic relief. Most depictions of nerds draw humor from the fact that the extent of their nerdiness is amusing. With these shows, however, the comedy is usually derived from them being beaten and abused from he fact that, as they're nerds, its funny to hurt them.
- Drake & Josh had, as well as Josh himself, Craig and Eric, two put upon losers who can't get girlfriends, have minor Small Name, Big Ego issues, and refuse to fight, all to show how pathetic they are because, well, they're not cool like Drake.
- Zoey 101 had Quinn, as a slightly friendlier example (she was weird and jokes about her weirdness was made, but outright calling her a loser or making fun of her was treated as a Moral Event Horizon for the main characters) and Chase who as well was a sympathetic character, but also had group of nerds who became reoccurring characters after first acting like jerks to the main characters. They were each depicted as a Insufferable Genius Straw Misogynist who were easily manipulated and tricked, and with little reason jumped to the conclusion that the world was ending. Quite jarringly, when the show featured a Jerk Jock (well, a Jerk Jock other than Logan), he eventually developed into a Lovable Libby, while the nerds remained unsympathetic losers.
- iCarly has Main character Freddy, who's crush on Carly is constantly exploited, and is regularly bullied and beaten by Sam, usually for no reason at all, and each time its Played for Laughs. He also regularly gets abused by Carly too, though to a lesser extent, though she never tries to hold Sam back, even when her abuse could potentially kill or maim Freddy. Then there's Neville Pappermen, who's something of a computer genius, being smarter than Freddy despite being younger, but an enormous Jerk Ass who's petty hatred of the iCarly gang always leads to him being physically punished or shamed in some way. He may or may not also be gay, which leads to more Unfortunate Implications.
- Victorious has Robbie, who is almost constantly being injured, beaten, humiliated, bullied, robbed, or generally abused, often ending episode with him being left in a state that one would expect a Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist to end up with. Had Tori or one of the other characters end an episode the way he usually does, it would be a Downer Ending. With Robbie, its Tuesday. Sinjin is a slightly lesser example, due to his smaller screentime, and the jokes with him are usually directed at the fact he's a very strange guy, but his nerdiness is likely a contributing factor in the abuse he suffers.
- This is a fairly common criticism leveled at The Big Bang Theory by those that think people are watching to laugh at the main characters, rather than with.
- Mike from Something Positive is your archetypal picked-on nerd, despite growing in personality throughout the comic and raising a family. Nowadays he's depicted as getting way too excited about geeky things while ignoring day-to-day things like changing his ugly kid.
- When Mike was first introduced, he was a Jerkass who was convinced that he was a Dogged Nice Guy. That could have something to do with it.
- On Freakazoid!, a villain kidnaps all the nerds in the world and plans on stealing their essences to become a super genius, his plan is foiled when the title hero explains to him the downsides.
Living With Your Parents
- A typical example comes in the film Live Free or Die Hard, which uses the trope to subvert the character Warlock's fearsome reputation as a master hacker. It turns out that he's a total loser who lives in his mother's basement, playing video games and collecting geek merchandise.
- In 8 MM, the killer lives with his mom, who is completely oblivious to his problems.
- The whole plot of Tanguy involves exasperated parents who try to get their grown son to move out so they can have their own lives back.
- The 2006 Matthew McConaughey film Failure to Launch likewise builds its premise on this trope. Tripp (McConaughey) is 35 years old, and though he has a job and friends and hobbies, automatically qualifies as a loser and cannot keep a girlfriend because he lives with his parents.
- Wedding Crashers: Chazz, who was idolized by the main characters who thought he was the best thing since sliced bread, turns out to be a complete loser. Our first indication of this? He lives with his mother (and demands that she make food for him and his friends just to drive home how stunted he is).
- In Frasier Frasier must frequently defend himself from the trope, pointing out that his father lives with him, not the other way around. In fact, Frasier did invite his father into his apartment to look after him, which is a socially acceptable arrangement.
- The most extreme example of this is Ted from Scrubs, the pathetically inept sad-sack attorney who not only lives with his mother, but shares a bed with her.
- Wayne Campbell of Wayne's World: he admits this is "both bogus and sad".
- George Costanza.
- The main trio of Reaper all lived with their parents when the show started. While this was never truly made fun of, it was considered "pathetic," and used to show that the trio lacked drive each in their own way.. Sam was purposely encouraged not to try to hard by his parents (who assumed he was going to be taken to hell for their sins), Sock is lazy, and Ben was too weak willed to get out from under his mother's thumb. All three overcome this when they move out halfway through the series and get an apartment together.
- Howard Wolowitz, Casanova Wannabe of The Big Bang Theory is portrayed as somewhat of a loser, which is punctuated by the fact that he still lives with, and is regularly infantilized and nagged by, his mother. Apparently the writers feel that this wasn't enough to make him a complete loser, so as the series progresses his feelings toward her are becoming more and more creepily Oedipal.
- In more recent seasons Howard has arguably gone through more actual character development than the rest of the main cast combined by enjoying more professional success than his friends as well as actually getting married and moving out (although his wife's personality is nearly identical to his mother's). Howard notes that the main reason he didn't leave his mother is that his father walked out on the family and he didn't want her to be alone. Unlike most examples, he's also financially independent.
- Tony Cipriani in Grand Theft Auto III is a Mafia boss who still lives with his mom and frequently gets yelled at by her.
- Until the final arcs of Narbonic, Lupin Madblood has his 'secret lair' in his mom's basement.
- An example of the difference in cultural norms can be seen in Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who lived with his mother throughout his term of office. Americans mocked him for living with his mother, but Polish voters didn't see anything wrong with in an unmarried man still living at home.
- This also gives him shades of the Unmarried Acceptable Target status. Americans have had only one single President, James Buchanan, and he's generally viewed as a loser (although this might have less to do with his marital status and more to do with the fact that he basically sleepwalked the nation into the Civil War). It's doubtful Americans would even consider an unmarried candidate these days.
- Living with your parents is expected in China. Traditionally, it is quite normal for three generations to live under the same roof.
- Subverted in most of the Arab world. Most young people are expected to live with their parents until they earn enough money to purchase their own homes and get married.
- On its way to becoming a Discredited Trope in America, thanks to the global recession. Getting sacked from your job and using all of your resources to pay bills is reason enough for most people to come crawling back to Mom and Dad.
- Also, it is more common for adults to delay moving out of the house and to hear of vicenarians who not only still live with their parents, but never moved out in the first place.
- In Die Hard, Harry Ellis establishes himself as a scumbag by using cocaine.
- The anti-drug movie Reefer Madness has gained particular notoriety, especially in the pot community, for its Anvilicious anti-drug aesop and its total ignorance of marijuana's actual effects. The film has been made into a comedic musical, which then received a film adaptation of its own.
- It's debatable whether House is an example of this; the show can't seem to decide whether he needs his pain meds or is just using them as a crutch and could live with a lower dose, and while he's brilliant professionally one could make a strong case for his personal life counting as that of a loser.
- The episode where he took LSD in order to figure out that week's mystery illness. Still can't work out whether that's intended to be a positive (Look! The drug can be useful!) or a negative (it was House taking it, after all) portrayal.
- Averted in Spaced where the main characters often use drugs casually with no references to side-effects or any aesops in sight. The only character who seems to have developed a habit is the landlady, who is a heavy wine-drinker. At the worst, their drug use is simply a distraction in the way of growing up and getting their lives in order, no worse than video games or laziness. A Lampshade Hanging occurs in Frost and Pegg's Perfect Night In where Pegg tells the audience, "Don't worry, this isn't a sitcom aimed at young people that makes tentative reference to casual drug use but then pussies out by including some punititve moral message."
- On JAG, people who uses any kind of drugs are always portrayed as bad people. No wonder since the show was Backed by the Pentagon.
- Drug use being bad is notably inverted within an inch of its life on Code Monkeys. All of the cool and/or funny characters use drugs without any consequences. In Dave's case, a few episodes even imply his best games come out of programming sessions where he's high.
- Often subverted by The West Wing, one of the key themes of which was the need for politicians and their staff to treat the American people as intelligent thinking adults — an approach that, in the show, often worked. This went from its sympathetic depiction of the unashamedly intellectual and knowledgeable, yet equally warm and personable President Bartlet and his also intellectual, educated staff to its frequent depiction of complex or obscure political issues in a fashion that respected the audience's intelligence.
- The Chinese Cultural Revolution viewed anyone considered an "intellectual" as a dangerous parasite requiring "re-education". If he were lucky, an intellectual (which for the Revolution's purposes included virtually anyone with a college degree) would be "re-educated" by just being forced to work in a rice paddy or as a manual laborer; if he weren't, he'd simply disappear.
- Even worse in Cambodia where intellectuals were simply killed. Sometimes people were considered intellectuals just because they wore glasses.
- At one point, the government of Equatorial Guinea even banned the use of the word "intellectual".
- Intellectuals in any autocratic regime are often persecuted. Usually because being educated means they're more well equipped to intellectually battle ideological nonsense... and if you're a dictator, you just can't have that, now can you!
- Sometimes this doesn't apply, at least not to people educated in practical fields, because dictatorships wanting any sort of industry need scientists and technicians same as everyone else. Sometimes though, they just don't care.
- In the The Pursuit of Happyness the main antagonists are Hippie thieves who exist only to steal Will Smith's income, the bone-density scanners he sells. Capitalist fairytale, indeed.
- The finest example of the hippie as object of derision in popular culture is probably Neil from The Young Ones, a character who possesses most of the aforementioned stereotypical hippie traits and a host of others including but not limited to vegetarianism, strident if misguided activism ("vegetable rights and peace"), and disapproving upper-class parentage.
- Hippies are one of many unusual enemies in Kingdom of Loathing, and all of them are self-righteous, unhygienic vegan stoners. Considering that one of the game's creators is a self-professed hippy, this may double as Self-Deprecation.
- South Park, known for its libertarian views, frequently makes hippie characters the butt of jokes or satire. The show usually characterizes hippies as disheveled dropouts or ignorant college kids who really don't understand the issues that they claim to protest and are more interested in recreation than doing anything of value. They are the sworn enemy of Eric Cartman, who bashes them in comedic ways. In one episode, a hippie rock concert is treated as a natural disaster a la The Core.
- Both used and subverted by Futurama's late Waterfalls, a family of hippies who tend to wind up dead. While Waterfall Senior was an easy going, not very competent, over-the-top bleeding-heart conservationist-turned-penguin hunter, Waterfall Junior was an obnoxious, trouble-making, human-hating animal-freak, responsible for such weirdness as forcing vegetarianism on a very unhappy lion. Old Man Waterfall, on the other hand, is portrayed as a brave and noble champion of freedom, who lost practically every part of his body (and his spirit!) fighting for what he believes in. This is all juxtaposed, however, by the explanation for his dedication to freedom — his comically unpopular lifestyle. His last words: "I request a Satanic funeral!"
- One epsiode of Daria dealt with old friends of her parents who were still mentally stuck in the sixties. This trope was not exactly played straight as Daria also expressed some admiration for their ideals besides making fun of them. Meanwhile the aging hippies themselves had gotten fed up with their life style.
- The "art students on the bottom of the heap" position is played completely straight in Art School Confidential-for the first half hour, when it's trying to be a comedy. Later in the movie, when it's trying to be a Mind Screw crime thriller, it ignores the "student" aspect almost entirely. The short comic upon which the movie is based also plays the notion straight.
- Averted in The Brothers Solomon the two protagonists were both homeschooled, but the reason they know nothing about women isn't because of being homeschooled, it's because they grew up in a remote location where there were NO women whatsoever. The trailers, naturally, didn't let this on.
- Played with in Mean Girls; there are a couple over-the-top examples of "weird" homeschoolers, but Cady herself seems to be perfectly normal, if a little undersocialized in the beginning.
- Older Than Feudalism: Many of the jokes in the world's oldest surviving joke book, an ancient Greek tome called Philogelos, use students (and scholars in general) where the modern equivalent would be a Dumb Blonde. Example joke: Discovering that a ladder has twenty steps going up, an intellectual (sometimes translated "student-dunce") asks if it has as many going down. (This is more of the Absent-Minded Professor concept.)
- Drew Carrey actually had an Astronomy student audience member on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and said that he would be delivering pizzas.
- From Red Dwarf:
Rimmer: How did you get into Art College?
Lister: The normal way you get into Art College. The same old, usual, normal, boring way you get in. Failed my exams and applied. They snatched me up.
- Mathematicians (pre-NUMB3RS) tend to receive a lot of flack for being incomprehensible even by scientist standards ("Yellow Cake", anyone?) and for working on concepts that don't seem to have anything to do with anything in the universe.
- From 30 Rock:
Jack: We might not be the best people —
Liz: But we're not the worst.
Together: Graduate students are the worst.
- Some people ridicule The Duggar family on 19 Kids and Counting for homeschooling rather than sending their children to school.
- Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard featured an ineffectual, middle-aged man who kept going back to school, making himself a perpetual student.
- The whole idea that art students are somehow the least among students isn't because they're art students — as Craig's Pissed, mirrored here, will show, it's because they're artists who were then given the student stick. This is true regardless of what sort of art you're actually studying-although graphic designers are the most likely to experience it, because work with Muggles more than most other fields.
- This Youtube video
- Mac Hall has had computer science major and English majors at one another's throats. The computer science majors see the English majors as intrusive and narcissistic, while the English majors see comp sci people as workaholics who need to get laid. Both are played for laughs (it is a webcomic, after all).
- PHD is this and only this.
- In an episode of Futurama, Guenter the monkey expresses a desire to be a moderately intelligent monkey in a suit-which is why he's decided to go to business school!
- The Simpsons will throw in a grad student joke every so often. "Bart, don't make fun of grad students. They just made a terrible life choice."
- Ezekiel on Total Drama Island could be seen as a big Take That to homeschoolers; he's portrayed as being ridiculously socially awkward, was voted off first for being a Straw Misogynist and later became convinced of his own coolness regardless.
No Kids / Lots of Kids
- The setting Backstory of Idiocracy is dependent on the "lots of kids" scenario.
- As well as the "No kids" scenario, since the story went that the uneducated were having lots, and the well-educated were having few (if any).
- In an episode of Two and a Half Men, Charlie Harper, the last person on Earth who should even think about raising a child, decides against a vasectomy because he spent enough time around his nephew.
- Though that sounds less like a total conversion and more like his being open to the idea after being staunchly opposed to it.
- The Duggar family is an extreme instance of the "too many kids" situation, as shown on their reality show 19 Kids and Counting.
- Though this could be seen as a subversion, because the show does not judge their lifestyle choices, and rather serves as a documentary of the positives and negatives of such a large family.
- Also slightly subverted in that although they are a very conservative religious family, they are uniformly nonjudgmental of other people. In fact, they embody many of the good things about religion; particularly love, curiosity about the world and generosity and compassion toward others, while most representations of families with similar beliefs in the media are unflattering and emphasize the hypocrisies that sometimes occur in fundamentalist behavior.
- An episode of The Simpsons has the childless form an activist group ("The children are our future. Today belongs to me.") that try to remove all child-friendly things in town. They are defeated when the children give them hugs, and succumb to the common germs carried by kids, in a nod to The War of the Worlds. Actually a fairly even-handed portrayal - while the childless certainly go too far, the episode also gives them ample reason to be sick of everything always having to be child-friendly.
- The case of "Octo-Mom". At first it was a bit like the septuplets in terms of media coverage. Then it came out that she already had 6 kids (all via in-vitro fertilization) and was simultaneously drawing Welfare payments. Eep.
- More Information Than You Require defines hipsters as jocks who want to be nerds but won't admit it, and hilariously makes fun of the "...'ironic,' 'joke'" t-shirt, sarcastic jeans, cynical tube socks, derisive sneakers, and a morose belt."
- In this The Colbert Report sketch:
Hipster: [wearing a shirt that says '"Vote" McCain'] Hey Stephen, I'm a hipster, and I can't remember if I bought this shirt ironically because I actually hate McCain, or if I in fact support John McCain, or if maybe this is a band that I'm into...
Stephen: You actually support John McCain. Yes he voted with George Bush over 90% of the time, but he did it ironically.
- Nathan Barley was an out-and-out attack on London's "new media" hipsters of the early and mid 2000s who were portrayed as shallow, stupid, gadget-obsessed and sexually amoral. Ironically, it's been claimed that the show's biggest fans were the very people it was parodying.
- In Community, Britta Perry and Jeff Winger share this category.
- The website Stuff White People Like focuses primarily on hipster-type interests (Whole Foods; Michel Gondry, Sarah Silverman), and discusses the reasons white people like these things with thinly-veiled condescension. Although it was written by a white guy and a half-white half-Asian guy.
- So if white people are ridiculed for liking "world" (read: non-white) music, they are mocked. But if they like stereotypically white music (polka, for instance), they are mocked too. What are they supposed to like, if anything?
- On King of the Hill, Hank and Peggy have to save a co-worker's neighborhood from being taken over by hipsster.
- If a hipster gets into politics, then that adds another level of mockery; along with charges of snobbery and superficiality come charges of ill-informed unearned self-righteousness. For example, when a high-end British boutique recently debuted reusable shopping bags with "I Am Not A Plastic Bag" printed on them, many satirists often sardonically extended this to such qualifiers as "No, you're a pretentious twat" in derision of the kind of people it was perceived would buy them (particularly considering that most shops sold similar reusable shopping bags at a much cheaper price without the condescending self-righteousness).
- Then one ethical choice crashed into another, as the bags turned out to be made on the cheap in unknowable circumstances in the Far East.
- Liking any band/show/movie outside the mainstream can often be perceived as pretentious affectation, particularly if said affection is also coupled (as it often can be) with an excessive disdain for anything "popular".
- If it's a medical drama, and the victim of the week is a vegetarian, you can bet that their vegetable love is somehow responsible for their illness, especially in House.
Recorded and Stand-Up Comedy
- WWE wrestler Daniel Bryan is a vegan, and is scathingly mocked for it by commentator Michael Cole, even though Bryan is a very skilled submission-style wrestler with over a decade of independent experience that spans the entire world.
- Two and a Half Men: Alan's ex-wife, Judith, is portrayed as a lazy, money-grubbing misandrist whose favorite hobby is making his life a living hell. She has lightened up on him in recent seasons, but only because she remarried and her second husband, Herb, is now the target for most of her abuse (he has left her several times over it, but always goes back). His second ex, Kandi, isn't portrayed in a much better light, but in her case she's far too dumb to be mean.
- In Community, Britta Perry is often presented as being a rather strident feminist and at the same time being something of a Know-Nothing Know-It-All Hypocrite. In many cases, she's shown to have a valid point, but she consistently trips herself up with her own character flaws and makes herself look foolish.
- Blogger Rebecca Watson had the temerity to point out that it is creepy and disturbing for a man to wait until he and a woman are alone in an elevator in a strange city at four o'clock in the morning before he invites her up to his room for "coffee". For this she found herself on the receiving end of a series of incredibly vicious attacks, accusing her of everything from denigrating the sufferings of Muslim women under sharia law (that one was from Richard Dawkins!) to calling all men rapists.
- The woman behind the Girl Writes What series of YouTube videos tends to lambaste the more extreme feminists for some of their viewpoints, especially when pointing out the Double Standards that favor women (Dogged Nice Guy vs Shrinking Violet, for example).
- Averted on JAG, where homeless veterans are portrayed as sympathetic people who need help to re-enter society.
- In the 1980s, a sneaker company ran an ad featuring a cigarette in an ashtray, with text stating forthrightly that if smoking was the only occasion on which the reader breathed deeply, the company did not want you to wear their sneakers.
- Go to any discussion forum with posters who pride themselves on being diverse and tolerant. All lifestyles, conditions, orientations, etc. are defended vigorously and anyone displaying a lack of tolerance is quickly smacked down (as they should be). But bring up smoking and watch that tolerance disappear in an instant. Smokers are called everything but human beings and heaven forbid one should ever admit that they have the habit. It's as if all of the not-so-politically-correct things they wish they could say about other groups gets saved up and piled onto smokers when the topic comes up.
- Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei is a satirical survey of all the lifestyles of Japanese culture. It even takes pokes at people "too normal" to have an identifiable lifestyle.
- Welcome to the NHK focuses on a socially withdrawn NEET protagonist but examines the wide variations of the lifestyle, with many overlaps with Geek culture.