aka: Acceptable Cultural Targets
A subset of National Stereotypes
, these examples deal with people who were born into the position they are currently in. Not in a sense of nationality or ethnicity, but their general cultural background. It is normally possible for someone to make a conscious choice to stop being one.
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The Rural Poor
Hicks, rednecks, yokels, whatever the rural, unsophisticated folks in the country are called, you can expect to see a good number of jokes about inbreeding, general ignorance regarding technology or common manners, outdated socio-political ideals
, and far too much knowledge of animal husbandry
to be trusted. Blue Collar Comedy
actually based its entire gag around this sort of joke.
- Hell, Jeff Foxworthy has based his career around this joke!
- The Two Ronnies used a lot of old Irish Jokes recast as Yokel jokes. As Ronnie B put it, no one has yet written in a complaint letter starting "Dear Sir, I am a Yokel".
- In Canada, the hick jokes get replaced with either Alberta jokes or Newfie jokes, for being stupid. Also expect some gratuitous Quebec mockery, for being French.
- And don't forget the jokes about Saskatchewan either
- Another variation is jokes told in one U.S. state about residents of an adjacent state. In Ohio they tell Michigan jokes, in Kentucky they tell West Virginia jokes, in Minnesota they tell Wisconsin jokes, and so forth.
- Even here in Michigan the people in the lower half make jokes about those Upper Peninsula folks, and vice versa.
- In Indiana they tell Kentucky jokes
- In North Carolina they tell South Carolina jokes.
- But they tell New Jersey jokes everywhere.
- ...when they're not too busy telling Texas jokes, that is.
- California is so large that the jokes are exchanged between the Northern and Southern halves. Often its the Bay Area versus the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area.
- In Alabama and West Virginia, the joke is that we're ranked 49th in everything, so "thank God for Mississippi."
- Mississippi is the apparently the Butt Monkey of the United States. We do the same in Arkansas.
- Of course, NASCAR fandom has a lot of crossover with this, along with the "your hobby isn't cool enough so we mock you" sort of acceptable target. A good example of this is the elitist smirking that a lot of people attach to the reception of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby in the South, which is to say quite positive. Since those doing the stereotyping decided to interpret the movie as a vicious Take That instead of an Affectionate Parody, the usual statement is that rednecks and NASCAR fans were too stupid to realize they were being made fun of. The idea that these people might have not only gotten the joke, but still thought it was funny, never seems to cross these reviewers' minds.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tara's rural family is portrayed as pure, undistilled redneck stereotypes. The one family member initially shown to have at least some attractive qualities turns out to be a female with decidedly retrograde notions of male-female roles in society. Oh, and the men perpetuate a totally fabricated family myth to keep the women in the family down. All in all, a grand slam for rural stereotyping.
- Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock fits this like a glove. His actor, Jack McBrayer, really is from the South and the stereotype is taken to such a ridiculous extent that they simply must be invoking it on purpose.
- This case is pretty much driven by Rule of Funny. While Kenneth is constantly talking up his pig-farmin', hill-people-battlin', moonshine-drinkin' hillbillyness, when the show flashed back to his high school reunion the crowd reflected Stone Mountain's real-world (majority African-American) demographics, because that was funnier.
- Camden, the setting of My Name Is Earl started off as a typical rural-south town. Although it did have a trailer park (and a few zany characters therein), it wasn't too over the top. By Season 4, it underwent Flanderization into a bizarre and backwards Cloud Cuckooland.
- In Lunar: The Silver Star, the citizens of a town called Meryod were on the receiving end of non-stop inbreeding/pervert/"backwards"/drunk jokes from our heroes. There was exactly one guy in the town who hit on Mia, and they all had ridiculously exaggerated southern dialect, but other than that there was not much justification for the ridicule. (Granted, most of the ridicule was from Nash, who's an elitist bastard anyway, but he wasn't called on it...)
- In the Fallout 3 DLC 'Point Lookout', one branch of enemies are... Well, grossly exaggerated hillbilly stereotypes. They live in run-down wooden shacks. They dress in torn workers' jeans. They are hideously deformed by inbreeding. Their mental capacity has devolved to the point where they can only speak short sentences (in thick dialects, of course) and attack everything that moves, wielding double-barrel shotguns, axes and shovel. They brew moonshine. They eat people. Also, they are registered in the games programming as creatures rather than NPC's
- While Accentuate the Negative is his general style, Josh Fruhlinger (aka The Comics Curmudgeon) seems to reserve a special level of contempt and disdain for the newspaper comic Pluggers, which typically chronicles the exploits of older, more rural individuals. Each one is rephrased as a way to say that such individuals are, among other things, alcoholics, abusers, morons, or occasionally racists.
- The Simpsons: Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel, who else?
- The Kanker Sisters seem to qualify - three loud, boorish girls who live in a trailer park, are noted to have three different fathers, have a startlingly dysfunctional family dynamic, and seem to have no problems whatsoever bullying random children. And when it comes to how they interact with the Eds... Well, the censors may have been stoned at the time.
- Family Guy: "To Live and Die in Dixie" showed Southerners as being genuinely good people, if somewhat backwards. That's pretty much the only positive thing the show has had on this subject.
- Seth MacFarlane, while hosting a Family Guy marathon on Cartoon Network, addressed the idea that he seemed to hate the South and everyone from there or whether he was just doing it in good fun. He assured the viewers he really does hate every single Southerner.
- Kenny's family as well in universe as by the show itself.
Since they try to avoid just about all outside media, particularly television, movies, and the internet, the odds of an Amish person seeing a parody of themselves and getting offended is very low. Plus, y'know, funny outfits.
- And very tastefully subverted in the documentary The Devil's Playground, about the Amish practice of "rumspringa". The jury's out on whether the same can be said for the one season only reality program "Amish in the City".
- On My Name Is Earl, Earl is solving an item on his list related to this: taking advantage of young women from a nearby Amish-like village (which is now facing a shortage of women, seeing as Earl and Randy showed them what they were missing!) The village is described as being so extremely Luddite that even the wheel is looked upon as an abomination.
- Pinkie Pie's boring, rock-farming family, seen in a flashback in "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", paint a rather unflattering portrayal of the Amish as being dark, gloomy, serious farmers who don't know what having fun means. Of course, this is Pinkie Pie we're talking about...
- And turned on its head in Pinky and the Brain episode 'Funny, You Don't Look Rhennish'. The reason why the Lawyer-Friendly Cameo Rhennish are rural poor? They're not living on a pile of valuable minerals.
- In one episode of Dexter's Laboratory Dexter is sent to an Amish farm. They're depicted as boring simpletons who live in the middle of nowhere. They freak out when they see a light-bulb, calling the titular character a witch.
Cultures That Don't Really Exist
Related to Fantastic Racism
. One way to explore racial or cultural themes is to create a fictional culture, and put it on the receiving end of all the abuse. In the short-lived Greg The Bunny
, puppets were a race who lived and worked alongside humans, and had to deal with epithets and other nastiness. The equally short-lived Cavemen
, and the long-running series of car insurance commercials that inspired it, worked similarly.
- An Australian advert had an Olympic athlete from the fictional country of "Robota" receiving his gold medallion while mistakenly serenaded (in place of a National Anthem) with the tune, "Row Row Row Your Boat".
- Slobovia is a fictional country which can be used as a substitute in almost all ethnic jokes, made famous by Canadian DJ Mike Cooper and his Stoopid Joke of the Day on 680 CFTR. Can even be used to make religious jokes.
- Originated in Al Capp's Li'l Abner newspaper cartoon during the Cold War as "Lower Slobbovia", a parody of Siberia, as being worse than the hillbilly town of Dogpatch.
- Dilbert's company seems to like to do a lot of outsourcing to Elbonia.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit: "I hate toons!"
- Though, that's most likely because they can be really annoying.
- Or, in the case of the person saying it, because a toon killed his brother.
- How to Train Your Dragon takes everything about dragons and deconstructs it in front of you. And Hiccup himself deconstructs this for everyone in the film not named Hiccup.
- "Brungaria" is the equivalent from at least one of the Tom Swift books.
- C. H. Dalton's A Practical Guide to Racism has a chapter covering Merpeople.
- Florin and Guilder in The Princess Bride, whatever William Goldman may say.
- Non-existent Eastern European countries are a particular favorite, including Latka Gravas's home country on Taxi, Balki Bartokomous's Mypos on Perfect Strangers, and Borat 's fictitious Kazakhstan, which shares its name with an actual country. Dilbert's Elbonia is at one extreme with inhabitants who are barely human, while Genovia in The Princess Diaries seems to be a prosperous, modern duchy except for its antiquated laws of inheritance.
- The real Kazakhstan is not as backwards as the movie one, and in fact counts as a developed nation (GDP per capita > $10,000).
- Actually, a village in Romania served as the locations for the film's "Kazakshtan", and Sacha Baron Cohen showed willful ignorance by using a lot of music from the Balkans in the soundtrack (including Time of the Gypsies by Serbian composer Goran Bregovic), while Kazakshtan is in central Asia.
- Dungeons & Dragons players have been known to use kobolds as Acceptable Targets for pseudo-ethnic jokes. (Q: What do the kobold invaders arm their siege catapults with? A: Volunteers. Twang-zoom-splat, another one bites the dust ... )
- This was done in Avenue Q, with the furry monster puppets being the race that doesn't really exist. However, not all the abuse is heaped on the monsters- Gary Coleman and Christmas Eve get their fair share.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy's supporting cast member Rolf fits into this Trope quite nicely.
Cultures That No Longer Exist
Related to the above. As The Nostalgia Chick
put it in her review of Mulan
, itís not as if the Hun lobby is going to make a lot of complaints. (Unless you're Mongolian.)
- Common example of artistic license - the Mongolians and the Huns, despite having similar characteristics (horse-riding, conquering nomads), were two different cultures.
Cultures That Do Exist, But Are So Faint On The Global Radar That You Can Get Away With Picking On Them
Examples: Roma (Gypsies), isolated tribes of all types, people from countries that are so small (Luxembourg, for instance) that they're never spoken of in the news media
People with more money than you suck. There are a broad variety of ways that they can suck, but mostly it's because they have more
than you do. They have more stock options than you, a bigger house than you, a fancier car, probably someone to clean up after themselves, and worst of all, they don't seem to be doing anything to fix
that disparity! At the one end of the spectrum you have the heartless bastard rich guy, whose money might as well be literally coated with the blood of all the little people he's gleefully slaughtered to get where he is. At the other, you have the hopeless geek who's turned his geekiness into a business; he may have more money than you, but at least you can pat yourself on the back for not being a nerd
like he is. Somewhere in the middle you have the snooty, know-nothing Upper Class Twits
; these are very popular, but not strictly necessary, as the rich are very rarely portrayed as having earned or deserving their money, even if they built the company that made it for them from the ground up with their own two hands.
Anime and Manga
- Played for Laughs in Ouran High School Host Club. The members of the Host Club (especially Tamaki) are depicted as well-meaning, but hopelessly out of touch with the middle- and lower-classes. For example, they regard instant coffee and instant ramen as interesting novelties, and the Hitachiin brothers mistake Haruhi's description of a kiddie pool for that of an inflatable raft.
- Batman: Bruce Wayne is another famous aversion, particularly in that he didn't do anything to earn his phenomenal wealth, but uses it so responsibly he gets a free pass.
- Averted by the movies, in which Bruce Wayne is shown as a very active participant in the day-to-day activities of Wayne Enterprises, using the corporate name and resources not only to continue being rich but also for philanthropic purposes and (covertly) to support his mission as Batman.
- Also in some versions Bruce's father was a Doctor and the mansion was a family home. In those versions Bruce Wayne created Wayne Enterprises and built it up from nothing.
- Lex Luthor, Derrick Powers, and a handful of others from various DC properties, not so much.
- Tony Stark is traditionally an aversion of this as well, having inherited his company and being incredibly wealthy. Although, most versions of Tony Stark portray him as having been some level of Upper-Class Twit before the near-death experience that pushed him into becoming Iron Man, basically saying that him getting blown up was the act of redemption that turned him from a callous, misguided rich man into a good guy who just happened to have lots of money.
- To put it bluntly, Stark was more or less someone who was continuing the family trade. However, like his father before him, he did not just inherit the job and sit back to let the profit roll in. Since he was in the weapons business, he also designed and built the next generation and the upgrades which means that while he did inherit a lot of money, he also earned a good deal of it himself as well.
- Averted in the movie Meet Joe Black, wherein Anthony Hopkins' character is fabulously wealthy with a huge mansion on an enormous estate, but is portrayed as a morally upright, likable family man who worked hard for everything he has.
- Averted with Sir Anthony again in The Edge. He saves the life of the man who was sleeping with his wife and trying to kill him in the wild.
- Similarly averted in Little Orphan Annie. Daddy Warbucks, while something of a hardass, is also treated with respect as he's worked his way up from poverty and donates to worthy causes. Plus Annie manages to get him to soften up some.
- Aside from the allusion to war profiteering in his name.
- The positive portrayal of the wealthy is very intentional, the original author was highly conservative and consequently a huge fan of the self-made businessmen. He used his spite instead on things like labor unions and New Deal programs.
- An early episode of Monk featured the "clueless geek" type winding up murdered because he was trying to help an old college friend that he didn't know was screwing his wife. This was actually a bit of a twofer, since you had the "lame nerd" rich guy and his evil, conniving rich wife.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus featured a contest to determine the "Upper Class Twit of the Year."
- This trope is a favorite of crime dramas. It generally pits the "salt of the earth" cops against the wealthy snobs, and throws in the complication of the system being against the cop too, since being rich obviously means having connections to politically powerful people. The moral seems to be that having a lot of money doesn't make you above the law, but the Family-Unfriendly Aesop seems to be that being rich means you're a criminal. Seriously, when's the last time you saw someone rich on Law & Order who wasn't either guilty of something or protecting a family member who was?
- Michael Moore is often accused of this.
- Thomas Guthrie, Man and the Gospel (1865) "You may know how little God thinks of money by observing on what bad and contemptible characters he often bestows it." (A similar sentiment has been attributed to Dorothy Parker, but it seems to be a misattribution, and anyway, Guthrie definitely said it first.)
- Wealthy people who take up political and social causes tend to become Acceptable Political Targets very quickly; no one likes being lectured to about how they should give away more of their money and time to help make the world a better place by people who have far more money and time to donate than the people being lectured to ever will, especially considering that the money these wealthy people spend on extravagant luxuries for themselves could perhaps be better spent elsewhere, thus leading to charges of hypocrisy and being out-of-touch with those they're trying to help.
- For the ultimate example of this for Conservatives: Al Gore. Conservatives argue that Gore has never really bothered to explain why people should take him seriously when he tells everyone else to conserve resources despite his own massive wastes, other than to say that it's okay because he bought carbon credits... from himself. It's little wonder he's the favorite (and "acceptable") target of nonbelievers in human-caused climate change. Gore's defenders would argue that Gore's line of work, environmental advocacy, inevitably require resource-intensive travel, and that Gore is being held to an impossible standard by those who are just trying to shut him up. They would argue, also, that Gore's investment in, profiting from, green technology is an ideal and practical strategy in a capitalist economy - the same ethos most of Gore's opponents claim to lionize.
- People also accuse Bill Gates as being greedy fairly often. Nevermind that he donated $28 billion to charity so far, which is $28 billion more than the accuser donated...
- Most of the criticism of his greed lies in how he acquired the money in the first place, not what he does with it afterward. Especially controversial is Microsoft's "embrace, extend, and extinguish philosophy." And lest anything think Gate's Microsoft plays by the rules, they just simply do it better, keep in mind that between 4/2004 and 3/2007, Microsoft paid out over 4 billion dollars to plaintiffs for patent infringement judgments.
- Of course, other companies are just as guilty of the very same questionable business practices and monopolizing of Microsoft, even (or especially) the more popular or beloved competitors. Yet, they don't get as much flack or will even have vehement defenders declaring any accusation blasphemy. Like it or not, like the man or not, he IS still disproportionately more targeted.
- The Simpsons: Mr. Burns.
- Somewhat averted with Scrooge McDuck. While he's undoubtedly a cheapskate and an anti-social curmudgeon, he has been shown to have earned his money through a combination of back-breaking work and challenging expeditions. Also, while he doesn't give generously to general charities, when he personally comes across someone he feels is deserving, his generosity tends to be overflowing.
- This was politically-corrected from the original Disney Scrooge McDuck, who was as penny-pinching and stingy as his namesake Ebenezer Scrooge.
- Even today, Scrooge's generosity isn't "overflowing," more like "begrudging." Still, he knows to put this family before his money and also, in a rare example for acceptable targets, Scrooge's faults for being just a selfish rich guy are largely the things that make him so much fun, if not endearing.
- This is subverted in so many stories that a popular theory claims his anti-social vein is an act to avoid showing weakness. He's frequently shown being generous when he thinks his relatives aren't looking.
- Family Guy: Carter Pewterschmidt
Mr. Pewterschmidt: (about the fur coat he just gave his wife) Well, it's not real fur. It's actually made from bald eagle, and it's weather-treated with a mixture of whale skin oil and children's tears.
Aristocrats, Gentry and 'Old Money
Related to the above, but not strictly the same as it is more about being better
than simply being richer
. At best a blueblooded
person might be portrayed as a fairly nice but also useless and dimwitted
. More often they will be portrayed as racist, bullying snobs. These types often have a built-in comeuppance; for all their arrogant conviction that they represent the pinnacle of humanity, they will usually be revealed to be completely broke, having wasted the family fortune and being left with literally nothing but their good names.
Anime and Manga
- One of the ultimate examples of this is Lady Constance in Gosford Park, an utterly horrible, snobbish, snide and mean-spirited aristocrat who looks down on anyone who doesn't have a title, despite the fact that she's probably the most useless character in the entire movie possessing no trade, skills or abilities whatsoever - she can't even open a flask of coffee by herself. She's also a total hypocrite, seeing as her fancy title was actually 'bought' for her, her brother being a wealthy industrialist who supports her.
- Granted, this may be because they are pretty much the only group with any power to cause trouble outside of lone madmen sparking some chaos. Vimes, who despises aristocrats despite reluctantly becoming one (although not as much as he hates vampires or the specific rank of king), has made it clear that the poor are no different from the rich and powerful except they have no money or power. That is, there is nothing inherently bad about those at the top, except for the fact that being at the top allows them to cause wide ranging trouble most poor people cannot; similarly, the poor who grumble about the rich abusing their wealth and power would be no more unlikely to similarly abuse such wealth and power if they possessed it.
- Oddly enough, use of this acceptable target is one of the few times you might see the "Wealthy" acceptable target above treated sympathetically. The old gentry will be disdainful of "new money", giving the "salt of the earth done good" wealthy person a chance to monologue on how "Money doesn't make good people!"
- Mint Blancmanche in the Galaxy Angel games is targeted by her Evil Counterpart because her money comes from her parents' business dealings, and his comes from very old inheritance. Of course, in the anime, she's a heartless brat, and she takes great pleasure in extorting Anise in Galaxy Angel II.
- For the most part, the "old money" crowd is treated as a bunch of inhumane, amoral Jerkasses who don't give a fig for the rest of humanity in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe. One of the regular themes was a heroic scientist creating some amazing breakthrough that made him "new money" wealthy, and then having to deal with the "old money" types sneering at them.
Whites Interested In Aspects Of Black Culture
Is it because it is black?
White Rastas, white hip-hop fans/artists, etc. It never seems to matter if they were actually raised in that culture and just enjoying what they grew up around. White people should "act white," whatever that means. Becomes Unfortunate Implications
if a white person who is loud, crass, and belligerent with a love for gaudy jewelry and ringtone rap is "acting black." Especially bad when the "wigger" in question (let's not get started on all the things wrong with that word) is not even white but Latino, Native, etc. Also consider that if a black character acts stereotypically "white," nothing is wrong with this, implying that, while whiteness is something to be aspired to, only someone who actually is
black would enjoy the culture. In the real world, black people can share horror stories of ostracism and abuse by 'real' blacks
because they act 'too white'
- Clint Eastwood does it hilariously and memorably in Gran Torino when he successfully intimidates a group of black gangsters and a "wigger" nearby cheers, Clint growls "These guys don't want to be your brothers, and I don't blame them!"
- Da Ali G Show: Ali G dresses a hip-hop artist, speaks in American hip-hop vernacular with a British accent, lives in Staines (a wealthy London suburb figuratively a million miles from South Central LA), and is a complete idiot. A large part of the humour of his character us the dissonance between his imagined gangsta image and the reality of being an ignorant fool from a mundane part of Britain.
- Eminem got the Moral Guardians riled up when he came into the rap picture, which eventually raised a racial Double Standard on how blacks can sing this "devil music" but whites singing it is just blasphemy.
- But Moral Guardians have been after all rappers.
- That died down in the mid 90's. But once Eminem hit the scene a couple years later, it raged up all over again as if he invented hardcore rap. This even became a bone of contention among gays of color, who wondered where GLAAD was with their picket signs when it was black rappers spouting misogyny and homophobia (the crusade against dancehall reggae didn't start until after the furor over Eminem).
- Eminem actually commented on this in an entire song that sums up the entire section. As he puts it, "Hip Hop was never a problem in Harlem, only in Boston.
- Just watch the video for The Offspring's "Pretty Fly (for a white guy)".
Non-Japanese interested in Japanese culture
They're often called Weeaboos or Wapanese (a portmanteau of "white" or "wannabe" and "Japanese") The door swings both ways, but there are far less documented examples of Japanese Americanophiles. Even those who take a legitimate interest in actual Japanese culture, language and traditions well beyond modern pop culture such as anime, manga and video games are often subjected to ridicule due to the assumption that they are simply "in it for the anime".
Anime and Manga
- Pretty viciously portrayed in one of the faux-documentary interviews in Otaku no Video.
- This is especially evident on deviantART where anyone who even shows even the slightest interest in anything Japanese-related are labeled as "Wapanese".
- Heck, just try and type words like "Kawaii" (which means "cute") or "Chibi" (which means "little") anywhere on DA and you're pretty much guaranteed to get either "SHUT UP! You don't know Japanese!" or "You're ruining the language!" as a response.
- Of course, it isn't entirely their fault - deviantART is so stuffed to bursting with genuine weeaboos that the notion someone might use such words in any other context becomes increasingly unbelievable to them.
- ...so you'll have the weeaboo Hatedom insulting and mocking you, and possibly also the actual weeaboos blowing a fuse at you for not using Japanese 'properly. See also 'Glorious Nippon'.
- This is often seen in college students who immerse themselves in Japanese culture and not only do so but actively tell everyone why you being an American suck. Some take it so far as to judge you for daring to watch a foreign film from Japan without learning Japanese so that you can understand what the characters are saying instead of, gasp, using subtitles or dubbing.
- Alternatively, Japanese language majors are often assumed to be frothing fanboys/girls, regardless of whether they're just starting out or capable of ripping you apart in honorific form.
People who talk funny
While hating someone or assigning qualities to them based on skin colour is heinous, doing the same thing based on accent or language is perfectly okay. However, just because someone has an accent or speech impediment does not make them stupid.
- An episode of Dexter's Laboratory deals with a bully who "hates kids with funny accents". It turns on him in the end when he accidentally gets hit in the face and the bloating creates an accent for himself.
Males with long hair
Although can occasionally be averted nowadays, men with long hair are usually portrayed as villains in any work they feature in, if not immediately then they are either a traitor or insufferably vain\stupid. Or both. Guys with long hair are generally given the shaft in films, they receive the most brutal deaths and are often singled out by the clean-cut bare-chested (ironically, bare chests in public are something else people who disprove of long hair on males tend to also disprove of) American hero for disproportionate punishment
. Think of any action film where the bad guys have lackeys with ponytails. Often seen as a cultural hate response to the hippy movement, but is often invoked by more recent generations too. There really isn't a reason for this hate beyond 'we aren't used to seeing guys with hair'. Strongly averted throughout history and in very many countries (including New Zealand and most of Europe).