A black person who loves Classical Music
and hates R&B
? An Italian person who likes Mexican food just a little more than Italian food, even though he has not a drop of Mexican blood in him? A lifelong resident of Nashville who hates country music
, preferring heavy metal
— or, alternatively, Blues
? A middle-aged adult who likes modern rock as well as classic rock? An American with a penchant for Canadian rock music? A blond teen girl who gets down with death metal
and gangsta rap
? Yes, all of these — and so much more.
Basically, as much as many of us may argue that we are all individuals and have a right to our own preferences, there are still preferences that are stereotypically expected of us. As such, people who deviate from those expectations may face opposition (or, at least, odd looks) from other people — be it from people of their own cultural group or from outsiders. They may even be accused of cultural self-hatred
, even if they have nothing against their cultural heritage, but see no reason why they should be limited to preferences within their own culture.
This prejudice probably reaches its nadir where race and ethnicity are involved, as if people who look different are not only from different cultures but are of different species
, and trying to pass from one group to another is seen as ridiculous. It gets even worse once you factor in religion. Since the stereotypical Christian is white or black, the stereotypical Muslim is Middle Eastern, and the stereotypical Buddhist is East Asian, say, a black person who wants to become a Buddhist or an East Asian who wants to be a Muslim will frequently be regarded as a freak — even though Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism are all supposed to be universal religions, and seek converts from all the countries of the world.
Perhaps, this character may not even start out as a rebel — but becomes rebellious only after repeated snide remarks about his preferences. He may then run off to join the other side
— but if he is rejected there, too, the Pretender Diss
is most likely at work.
What's interesting is how often characters like this are often the protagonists in stories
— but what's even more interesting is that they're often portrayed as heroic not because of their rugged individualism, but because of all the adversity they face for daring to be different. Sometimes this is a genuine plea for tolerance on the part of the author(s), but at other times it is actually a coded defense of the status quo: a sneaky way of suggesting that the hero faces this adversity not because of society's prejudices, but because people who act differently are, well, kind of misguided
, if not outright freakish. In stories featuring an Action Girl
, for example, the implication is sometimes that it's okay for this
female to be the way she is because she's...different, and just can't mesh with the other, "normal" females
, who are expected to know their place
. (Compare You Are a Credit to Your Race
, where a character is "praised" for being so much "better" than the rest of their kind, and thus the exception.)
Related to Real Women Don't Wear Dresses
, Real Men Wear Pink
, Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy
, Bald Woman
, Straight Gay
, Camp Straight
, Perky Goth
, Black and Nerdy
, Mighty Whitey
, Bourgeois Bohemian
(arguably), Stereotype Flip
, Straw Affiliation
, No True Scotsman
, My Species Doth Protest Too Much
, The Complainer Is Always Wrong
, and The Whitest Black Guy
. Does not necessarily include Cultural Cringe
or Klingon Scientists Get No Respect
, or mean that Germans Love David Hasselhoff
. See also Dawson Casting
, which can overlap with this trope if the actor is portraying a "hip" character much younger than his/her own generation.
- One ad featured a posh couple with a gothic son, and a gothic couple with a posh son. The two kids were friends.
- In The Invisibles, Dane (a white English teenage guy) is a big fan of Gangsta Rap, and he asks Boy (a young African-American woman) whether she likes it. She says it's okay, but she prefers European techno. Later, we find out that her brother was an actual gangsta rapper.
- Buck Swope, Don Cheadle's character in Boogie Nights, is a fan of country/western music, to the point that he wears cowboy hats and shirts with fringes (the whole Roy Rogers getup). Remember, he's played by Don Cheadle
- High School Musical has Zeke Baylor (a jock who bakes), Martha Cox (a nerd who likes Hip-Hop dancing), and a skater boy who plays the cello, all during the song "Stick to the Status Quo". The first two become major supporting characters for the rest of the franchise while the last is never seen or mentioned again.
- The Larry Clark movie Wassup Rockers follows a group of Latino kids in Los Angeles who follow punk culture over hip-hop culture.
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier has Sybok, an emotion-embracing Vulcan.
- Another Time, Another Place has Janie, who is the only one in her village to treat the Italian POWs with anything other than indifference or outright contempt.
- Free State of Jones: Newt and the other white Southerners who rebel against the Confederacy, breaking with the majority. His Aunt Sally is also an abolitionist who helps slaves escape, while Newt comes to oppose slavery as well.
- According to Jewish tradition (historians seriously doubt this story has any historic merit), there was a member of the House of Potocki named Count Walentyn Potocki, who renounced his Catholicism, converted to Orthodox Judaism, and changed his name to Abraham ben Abraham. It wound up getting him tortured to death and becoming a revered figure in Orthodox Judaism posthumously.
- Holden of The Catcher in the Rye, who makes a point of hating everything his peers love.
- Yo-Less from the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy.
- Giamo Casanunda, "world's second greatest lover (But I try harder!), finest swordsman and soldier of fortune" (and outrageous liar) in the Discworld universe averts every stereotype connected with him being a dwarf (except the one about being short).
- Another example in the Discworld is Hwel, a dwarf expy of William Shakespeare, appearing in the Wyrd Sisters and Lords and Ladies "who’d been banished from his tribe years ago, not only because of his claustrophobia but also because he had a tendency to daydream."
- From Feet of Clay onward, a growing number of female dwarfs in Ankh-Morpork have begun working to subvert Our Dwarves Are All the Same through outward displays of femininity, such as wearing dresses and make-up. However, they draw the line at shaving off their beards since, female or not, they're still dwarfs.
- There are also a few humans who are officially considered dwarfs because they follow the dwarf culture. Most obviously there's Carrot Ironfounderson, who was raised in a Dwarf mine, but we also see Pepe from Unseen Academicals, who is short enough to pass as a dwarf but is actually a human who converted.
- In Thud! it's mentioned that serious dwarf and troll players of Thud (a dwarfs-vs-trolls game where both players play both sides) become interested in the other's culture, with examples of a dwarf who knows the troll history chant, and a troll who wears an iron helmet and has a cup shaped like a dwarfish drinking horn (troll drinks would dissolve an actual horn, though).
- The Commitments: The entire premise of the story is that a bunch of Irish people start out a British white soul band, despite the prejudices of other people. They justify it by pointing out that they're desperately poor and looked down upon by the rest of Europe - and even, in fact, the rest of Ireland - so they already have quite a bit in common with blacks.
- J from I Am J bemoans about himself because he spent a day hanging at Starbucks "despite" being Puerto Rican. He keeps on doing it.
- In A Room With A View, Mr. Emerson and his son George both embrace forward-thinking ideals that are at odds with the Edwardian society around them, and have a disregard for the way things are done conventionally. Mr. Emerson senior is stated to be a socialist, as well as an atheist.
- The Big Bang Theory:
- Rajesh is not too fond of Indian food, while Howard takes a perverse thrill from not keeping kosher.
- Sheldon was raised in Texas, but his accent only appears when upset, he looks down upon farmers, hicks, etc, and as a reclusive Hollywood Nerd is the farthest possible thing from the athletic, sterotypical cowboy, and is a staunch Hollywood Atheist despite being raised as an Evangelical Christian.
- Bernadette was Raised Catholic, and thus is a Covert Pervert who couldn't wait to introduce her Jewish boyfriend to her mother.
- In Angel, Gunn doesn't start out this way. Then he sees a production of Giselle and falls in love with Ballet.
- And then Wolfram & Hart filled his brain with lawyer skills so he could contribute to the team and he ended up singing a lot more Gilbert & Sullivan than he would've liked.
- By Time Lord standards, the Doctor is one hell of a rebel. They were staid, egotistical, and overly formal, not to mention were somewhat stagnant from a cultural standpoint. He, on the other hand, uses time travel to broaden his cultural perspective as far as possible, has (for the most part) no pretensions of being better than anyone else (aside from mentions of having Seen It All and his own genius, both of which tend to be quite true) simply because he was born a Time Lord, and he's so unorthodox and informal he (as well as his rival, The Master) is considered (from their point of view) the gold standard for a Time Lord Cloudcuckoolander.
- Played with in the episode of The Brady Bunch that had the Bradys vacationing in the Southwest and meeting an Indian boy who has run away from a nearby reservation because he thinks his family won't let him leave to become an astronaut. He eventually learns that his family doesn't mind this at all.
- The earliest rock musicians of The '50s were prime examples of this trope. Bill Haley of Bill Haley and His Comets was already in his thirties, had children, and was going bald when "Rock Around the Clock" became a huge hit. Elvis Presley did his first singing in a Pentecostal church (as did Little Richard and numerous others). Buddy Holly was a stereotypical nice boy with glasses - and a fiery iconoclast who relished being viewed as dangerous by the Moral Guardians of his day. And he also rejected country music, despite being from Texas.
- The Beatles count too. When they first started Rock & Roll was primarily an American phenomenon. Nobody in their right mind believed British rock had any believability or chance to make it internationally. Then came The British Invasion and as a result British rock has nowadays become just as accepted as American.
- There are quite some famous white jazz musicians who managed to gain respectability in a genre that is predominantly black: Bix Beiderbecke, Chet Baker, Django Reinhardt, Toots Thielemans, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw. Then again, many of these musicians were Jewish (or, in Reinhardt's case, a Gypsy) during the height of the Nazi racial mythology, so they may have felt more black than white in the first place. Indeed, at that time many ethnic whites - even affluent ones - identified with blacks even at the very moment when (in America at least) they were becoming "white."
- The Fugs: Member Tuli Kupferberg was already past 40 when the Fugs were formed, making him effectively the oldest rock singer in the world until his death at 86 in 2010.
- Michael Jackson managed to put the best-selling album of all time on his name, Thriller, despite the fact he was an Afro-American artist and many people never believed a black musician could ever become as big and internationally widely accepted as Elvis.
- Beastie Boys: Despite being white and Jewish they became the first hiphop band to become an international success and even gain respectability among black hiphop artists.
- Eminem was arguably this for rap music, as he was the first white rapper to really break into mainstream respectability (sorry, Vanilla Ice and Beastie Boys). He also was a trailer-park hick who never got into country-western, folk, hard rock or any of the other genres stereotypically associated with his particular class - but instead wanted to make it big as a white rapper. Despite all odds he cultivated a huge middle-class fanbase.
- The Runaways are a 1970s all-female hard rock band, and Joan Jett and Lita Ford have both made a breakaway success. It was quite rare at the time for women to perform hard rock (as opposed to soft rock or pop).
- From about the same time period was Pat Benatar. Then there was also Heart, but only the singers were female.
- Blondie dipped into punk/new wave - but again, only the singer was female. Then again, Deborah Harry herself is a really good example, as she was in her early thirties when her band became a hit - a little old for one of the founders of female punk rock. (By contrast, The Ramones were still in their mid-twenties when they hit it big.)
- The Ramones: Joey Ramone was a tall, shy, geeky looking guy who suffered from OCD. Yet he absolutely loved Rock & Roll and even became the band's lead singer. Johnny Ramone was an ultraconservative supporter of the American Republican Party, which was quite unusual back then for a punk rocker (but of course, punk barely existed at the time, and was pretty apolitical at first).
- Dixie Peach is a black DJ who presented a soft rock show on BBC Radio 1 in the 1980s.
- The whole Riot Grrrl movement could be seen as an example of this. After all, they are a group of feminists performing Punk Rock (a traditionally male-dominated genre, although it could be argued that punk is essentially androgynous in character, having a strong LGBT element from the very beginning).
- Sinéad O'Connor, while her musical genre has always been strictly pop, has been the subject of controversy with her baldness — and she steadfastly refuses to let negative public opinion influence her decision. She also often goes against the traditionalist attitudes of Catholicism, the dominant religion of her home country. Most famously, she ripped up a photo of The Pope on a live TV broadcast in protest of the child sexual abuse going on within the Church.
- Living Colour aren't really this trope because they are funky hard rock, but are commonly called metal. On the other hand, they are black and have not chosen rap or soul as their medium of expression, so they still count. And if you never saw them, you might assume they were just another '80s hair band.
- Bad Brains started out as an Afro-American jazz ensemble, but then became the first Afro-American hardcore punk band.
- Sepultura are a metal band from Brazil. Before them, the only music Brazil was known for on a widespread level was bossa nova. Thanks to Sepultura's influence, magazines started covering about metal from around the world rather than just the US, UK and Germany. Now we have the likes of death metal bands from India and Iran and power metal from Russia and Italy.
- Scandinavian metal might count too. While these bands incorporate plenty of "Viking" imagery into their music, and metal has been popular n the Nordic countries from the very beginning, many foreigners associate the Scandinavian countries with soft pop (ABBA, a-ha, Ace of Base, etc.). Black-metallists are also often very right-wing - sometimes fanatically so - in countries known for their strong liberalism and even progressivism.
- There was heavy metal in Russia when there was still an Iron Curtain.
- Many German metal bands formed out of a desire to make their country known for something apart from Schlager and Europop. They wanted to make it distinctive, and as a result German metal is heavier and scarier than anything else until Black Metal from Norway became famous a few years later. Now, of course, German metal has itself become a cliché.
- Charley Pride, the black country-and-western singer.
- Nigel Kennedy, a British violinist caught the attention and scorn of many people by not conforming to the idea that you have to look neat and classy to play classical music. His hair was often uncombed and he did enjoy performing in formal clothing rather than always wear a tuxedo.
- Madness: An all-white, British Ska band. Playing the genre almost 15 years after it went out of fashion in the country it originated from: Jamaica.
- Fela Kuti, god of Afrobeat, once surprised a journalist by claiming that George Frederic Handel was his favorite musician.