Aggressive Categorism

"Call this an unfair generalization if you must, but old people are no good at everything."
—Moe Syzlack, The Simpsons, when Mr. Burns wants to join the bowling team

Bob knows that Alice is stupid: She's a woman, and women are stupid - never mind that Alice has a PhD and an IQ of 150, she's still a woman... and women are stupid, thus Alice is stupid. If Bob finally accepts that Alice is indeed smart, he might resort to claiming that she is not "really" a woman. Bonus points if Bob uses Alice not being stupid as an example of the principle that women are stupid - either because she's too smart to be a real woman, or as "the exception that verifies the rule". Also bonus points if "Alice" isn't even a woman, and Bob simply assumed a neutral Internet nickname to be female because he thinks the person is stupid. Alternatively, Alice actually does something stupid one single time - and Bob draws the conclusion that she is (and all other women are) always stupid.

Of course, this is all simply Bob doing some really bad categorism: Racism if it's about race, sexism if it's about gender, ageism if it's about age, homophobia if it's about homosexuals, and so on. If Alice listens too much to him, she may come to suffer from Internalized Categorism.

This trope can come into play in two ways: Either establishing or upholding. The first is often in the form of making a raging overgeneralization about a group - one that cannot possibly be true in all cases, and is often so outrageous that it might even be hard to find a valid example. The second is upholding the prejudice in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, often with the help of Theory Tunnel Vision, Insane Troll Logic, and/or I Reject Your Reality.

Sometimes combined with Straw Affiliation to make it extra insane: If you have Trait X you belong to group Y, and everyone in group Y are Z. For example, if you are a man who has long hair, you obviously turn over gravestones and nail live kittens to church doors. Because men with long hair are satanists, and satanists do that kind of stuff. Compare Nonsense Classification and Insane Troll Logic. When used by characters rather than the narrative itself, tropes such as Depraved Homosexual, Bondage Is Bad, and All Gays Are Pedophiles are often played as aggressive categorism. With the first two tropes, this come in the form of reducing people to their sexuality and reducing the sexuality to the sex. With the last two tropes, it comes in the form of deciding that everyone who have a certain quality X also has the unrelated quality Ynote . This line of thinking easily leads to an Abomination Accusation Attack. When the aggressive categorism grows into being mentally unhealthy, it often takes the form of a phobia or a tendency to see everything in black and white.

Often done by Racist Grandma, He-Man Woman Hater, Windmill Crusader, Straw Loser, or Noble Bigot, and often used to highlight how shallow the character's thinking is. This is often Played for Laughs at the character's expense or as a joke in its own right. Rarely done by more nuanced and Played for Drama characters, such as Troubled Sympathetic Bigot. May lead to Irrational Hatred. Note that "There Are Two Kinds of People in the World" is usually not this: Even when it's not a joke or metaphor, it's usually restricted to one parameter.

Compare Double Standard.


Comic Books
  • In Chick Tracts, protagonists are likely to do this to Christians or non-Christians depending on whether they are Saved or not. Those who do it to Christians are always proven wrong (and either get Saved or go to hell), while the Christians who do the same thing always turn out to be right.
  • In Bitchy Bitch, Midge's insufferable fundamentalist coworker does this all the time. For example, she "knows" that the recently hired temp is a witch who can put curses on people, because she has a necklace with a pentagram.
  • Bitchy Butch does this all the time, living in her own unhealthy little world where all men (and all heterosexual women) are total Jerkasses. The only time she managed to see a guy for the nice person he really is, she refused to see that he's male.
  • In the 4th album of Whatever Love Means, The rant about Jihad Jane plays this trope on two levels. First, Liv accuses mainstream society of doing this to Arabs and Muslims, assuming that they are all terrorists. Second, she focuses on the fact that Jihad Jane was blond, female, middle aged and dressed in a certain style common among western women. Having established that, she moves on to portray a scenario where all western women with this style are treated as if they were terrorists.
  • In one Samir strip, one white woman try to get the protagonist (a brown man) arrested for trying to rape her. He didn't come closer than 20 yards, much less touch her. But he did walk on the same street as her. This comes as the comedic punchline after a long angry Internal Monologue of his, complaining about prejudice against men and against non-whites. The woman is portrayed as being totally honest in her analysis of the situation.
  • Mad Magazine used to run a recurring feature called You can't win with a bigot which alternated examples of bigots contradicting themselves in ways that ensured their interpretation of events always conformed to their prejudices.

  • In Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil, Chad gets all of his friends to believe that the local hillbillies are trying to murder them. He hates hillbillies because a hillbilly murdered his parents. Eventually he discovers that his father was the hillbilly after all. Not all of them are evil psychos, but this one was and it seems to have been passed on to Chad.
  • In Show Me Love, Markus is the obvious case, with his inane rant about how women can't possibly understand cellphones and men can't possibly understand makeup. However, it's implied that the people in general are just as narrow-minded, they just don't flaunt it like he does. Life in a small town is hell.

Live Action TV
  • Smallville: Jonathan Kent is firmly convinced that all Kryptonians are evil by nature. When Martha points out that their son is a Kryptonian himself, Jonathan simply replies that Clark is the exception because he was raised by humans.


Recorded and Stand-Up Comedy

  • In Arne Anka, the protagonist makes a jerky attempt to flirt with a woman, who responds by exclaiming to her friend that all men are the same kind of pigs. This causes Arne to go on a rant about starting concentration camps for men, and giving the woman the "Sieg Heil" salute.

Video Games

Web Comics

Web Original
  • One of the annoying customers in Not Always Right doesn't like the music. She puts the blame for this on teenagers and their modern tasteless music... in spite of the music and the people playing it being older than her!

Western Animation
  • Played straight with Lampshade in The Simpsons. See page quote.
    • Shows up in regards to "Those lousy teens" as well. When Homer and his drinking buddies get wasted and cause a lot of damage with his car (with a blatantly visible trail leading to his car parked on the front lawn), the police conclude that it was the work of "punk kids", and enstate a curfew.
  • Cartman from South Park does this with just about any kind of minority, often in utterly bizarre ways ("gingers have no souls," for example). However, sometimes he's portrayed as actually being right about some things, to the perpetrators' own annoyance (e.g. Token's ability to play bass, and Kyle carrying "Jew-Gold" around his neck).

Alternative Title(s):

X Is Y Even If X Is Not Y, Aggressive Categorization