->"''Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?''"
-->-- '''Shylock''', Creator/WilliamShakespeare's ''Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice'', in what was a radical statement for his day (as opposed to being, as is now clear, [[CaptainObviousAesop pretty self-evident]])

Something from the past that seems like a huge load of ValuesDissonance. It seems laden with, say, a RoseTintedNarrative or a {{Historical Hero|Upgrade}} or [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade Villain Upgrade]].

Only... it turns out it was comparatively '''[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Fair for Its Day]]'''. Maybe the HistoricalHeroUpgrade or HistoricalVillainUpgrade wasn't that unfair a reflection on the person's views. Maybe the RoseTintedNarrative just wasn't rose-tinted enough for its original audience. Maybe it was even ripped apart in its own time for being downright insurrectionist, and was brave to go as far as it did.

This doesn't automatically make the work immune to criticism: something less dissonant than its contemporaries can still be pretty darn dissonant. Oftentimes, though, a little research will show that something cringe-worthy or laughable today is also something worthy of applause for what it stood for, and the context can be important in interpreting the work at large. Authors often work under [[CulturePolice a system of rigid censorship]] that decrees even ''mild'' criticism of the status quo to be going too far. Attempting to argue for modern values would have ''really'' been pushing your luck. (In other words, here [[FailureIsTheOnlyOption Failure Was The Only Option]].) A work that's only a ''little'' culturally subversive is more likely to escape censorship and earn public acclaim than one that goes all the way, thus ensuring its relevance - or at least survival - into the present day. (For an ironic counterpoint, consider RefugeInAudacity, which is when one has to go all the way in order to get away with being ''offensive''.)

Leading via FridgeLogic to the FamilyUnfriendlyAesop: If you risk your reputation to shift the values of a society towards more tolerance and idealism, later generations may see you not as a hero, but rather as a RuleAbidingRebel, or at best a well-meaning coward, hardly any less appalling than the people you fought when you were alive. This conclusion presumes the so-called Whig theory of history, which proposes that societies become infinitely more politically liberal as time passes. (It also assumes that people from the future must have absolutely no sense of history.) Another problem with this trope is that it tends to smack of condescension and presentist snobbery, as if the most unenlightened modern-day person is still fairer than the most progressive historical person.

Please remember that this trope does not mean "surprisingly enlightened for its time period." It means "''more'' enlightened for its time period", which is not necessarily the same thing. If a vintage work has a message that comfortably fits modern audiences, that's ValuesResonance. In order to qualify for Fair For Its Day, a vintage work must have negative cultural traits as well as positive ones.

Contrast RuleAbidingRebel. InnocentBigot and RacistGrandma are related tropes. ExecutiveMeddling and LowestCommonDenominator may also play roles, if unprejudiced creators are forced to pander to widespread prejudices among the public. The same principle applied to innovation in fictional works is SeinfeldIsUnfunny. [[NotSoDifferent Ironically]], a clear counterpart to YouAreACreditToYourRace, the utterance of which ''was'' fair for its day.

----

!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* Often noted in the case of Creator/OsamuTezuka that, while the content of some of his work is offensive by modern standards, he was actually a very enlightened writer for his time and would likely appreciate the more open minded nature of today's society. A good example would be ''Manga/PrincessKnight''. While it can come across as incredibly sexist by modern standards (among other things, having it that women are naturally timid, unsuited for fighting, and enamored of pretty things like dresses), it still has a heroine who [[EarnYourHappyEnding fights for her happy ending]] and becomes strong and brave enough to defend herself. Furthermore, while the series shows women as naturally being frail, it also showed that they ''could'' grow to be strong and most of the women were shown as being naturally brave, compassionate, and intelligent. Friebe and Hecate are shown as being good people while ignoring gender norms and engaging in unladylike behavior (and are shown to be very good at it). Meanwhile, the villain takes advantage of the kingdom's sexist laws to further his own goals, while the heroes agree that the rules limiting the rights of women are misogynistic and outdated. [[spoiler:When the women of the kingdom finally revolt, while the whole thing is generally PlayedForLaughs, they do put up enough of a fight to worry the Duke, and Plastic granting women equal rights to men and letting Sapphire rule is shown as him being a true man and doing the right thing.]]
* ''Manga/{{Cyborg 009}}'' was written in the 60s and [[ValuesDissonance it shows]] - the characters tend to be portrayed rather stereotypically, with 005 and 008's designs aging very badly (008's design being done in a cringe-inducing blackface that makes him look like a humanoid monkey). The manga, however, was one of the earliest portrayals of a multi-cultural superhero team. All of the characters are likable, no matter which country they were from. They quickly grow to be TrueCompanions and have respect for each other's cultures. And while the portrayal of the native characters didn't age very well, the stories still draw attention to how Native Americans and the people of Africa suffer from social injustices and should have their way of life respected. In the Vietnam War arc (not present in the anime), the people of Vietnam are shown as being simple farmers who have no desire for war and are miserable. Additionally, 003 gets criticism for being TheChick and [[RealWomenDontWearDresses not having offensive powers]], but she still was shown as being brave, proactive, and able to use her super-senses to help the team during battle. She was also clearly displeased with StayInTheKitchen jokes made at her expense and was willing to help the team despite being a pacifist and disliking fighting.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comic Books]]
* When [[MarvelComics Marvel]] first ran its ''[[NickFury Sergeant Fury]] and his HowlingCommandos'', its TokenBlack character Gabe Jones was portrayed rather stereotypically (complete with a jazz trumpet on the cover of the very first issue), but having a black character on the team at all was quite revolutionary in that day and age, and he was generally treated as equal with the other commandos and a valued member of the strike force.
* LukeCage's blaxploitation origins are a bit cringe-worthy to read. Heck, in-universe he rather considers the yellow-disco-shirt-Holy-Christmas era an OldShame. Yet he was the very first black superhero to have his own title series, he regularly served as a reserve member of the ComicBook/FantasticFour, and he rapidly evolved from a generic ScaryBlackMan to a well-rounded character.
* A ''lot'' of the entries in CaptainEthnic can count as this. They might be embarrassing stereotypes but they were sympathetic heroes of color in a time when almost all superheroes were still white people.
* Creator/WillEisner laid out a similar defense for Ebony White from ''Comicbook/TheSpirit''. He argued that despite his racist minstrel appearance, Ebony was a relatively competent and heroic depiction of a black {{Sidekick}}, especially for the time period he was created in.
* ''Comicbook/{{Tintin}}'' has what would be considered very racist portrayals of minorities today. However, Tintin and the heroes always treated these people with respect, while the [[PoliticallyIncorrectVillain villains]] would not treat them this way.
* It's quite jarring to see Digby saying that "The black boy's done it, sir" near the end of the first ComicStrip/DanDare story, but it was remarkable that a 1950s British comic would have a black African as supreme commander of the Earth forces in the first place. Dan certainly treats him with all the respect owed to his rank.
* ''ComicStrip/{{Nero}}'': Petoetje was a black Papuan native adopted by the white Flemish woman Madam Pheip. Despite being brought to Belgium he kept walking around in his native dress for several albums. This is a bit embarrassing nowadays, but at the same time no other comic strip at the time had a little black boy as part of the main cast. Not only that: Petoetje is actually smart and doesn't speak in pidgin talk.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'' has a rather flat love story line between the prince and princess. They just meet in the forest and fall in love in a matter of seconds because they met "once upon a dream". But at the time, the previous two Disney Princesses (Snow White and Cinderella) had even less developed love interests -- they functioned simply to marry the princess and whisk her away to a better life. Aurora meeting her prince and getting to talk to him properly was fairly progressive for Disney at the time. It was also the first time a Disney Prince functioned as an actual character -- Philip has to fight and properly work hard to [[EarnYourHappyEnding earn his happy ending]] instead of just showing up at the end. Also worth noting is that Aurora doesn't just immediately swoon into the guy's arms. She makes arrangements to get to know him properly later -- not in the forest, but in her ''home'' with her 'aunts' present.
** Said 'aunts', the good fairies, are also the real protagonists of the story, and do all the real work for the male "hero" during the climax. Considering that the villain is a woman as well (and so formidable that when Disney villains crossover she is inevitably in a leadership position), pretty much everything that happens in the entire movie is driven by the female cast.
* The crows in ''Disney/{{Dumbo}}'' are often accused of acting like stereotypical black people, and the leader of them is even called Jim Crow [[AllThereInTheManual in the credits]]. But on the other hand, their antics portray them as being incredibly [[CleverCrows clever]], and they prove to be some of the nicer characters in the film when they teach Dumbo how to fly. In fact, they are the ''only'' characters, other than Timothy, who treat Dumbo well (Dumbo's mother, being his mother, doesn't really count).
* The embarrassing portrayal of the American Indians in ''Disney/PeterPan'' was actually a ''positive'' portrayal back then. Of course, Disney [[OldShame is embarrassed by this]] and even go far as removing the the shamefully catchy song ''What Made the Red Man Red?'' from the select screen.
* Disney's ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'' is routinely criticized for its lack of depth in the romance. But when the film was made, it was an ''improvement'' over the original fairy tale-where the prince only comes in as a DeusExMachina at the end. At least here the prince appears much earlier in the story and has some reason to look for Snow White. He was meant to have a larger role in the film (being tormented by the Queen) but the Disney animators weren't good at drawing a convincing human male yet.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Despite Disney's [[CanonDisContinuity current stance]] on ''Disney/SongOfTheSouth'', that movie portrayed Uncle Remus (who was a sharecropper, not a slave) as the only intelligent, mature person in the movie, whereas the white people were portrayed as idiots. Without Uncle Remus, that family would have fallen apart, and the movie says so. The film gets a lot of flak for presenting "happy slaves"...[[HateDumb even though Remus wasn't a slave.]] It also is criticized for Remus' "exaggerated" accent and dialect. The actor who played Uncle Remus, James Baskett, originally auditioned for a bit voice acting gig. Walt Disney liked his performance so much that he was given the roles of both Uncle Remus and Br'er Fox, and Disney did quite a bit of work behind the scenes to get the Academy to acknowledge Baskett's performance with an honorary Oscar-- and that right there is the definition of this trope: the very first Oscar awarded to an African-American male, yes, but an "honorary" one.
* ''Film/SouthPacific'' was intended as an anti-racism musical and movie. Rodgers and Hammerstein originally intended the show to end with [[spoiler:Cable and Liat getting married]] until public and political pressure led to [[spoiler:Cable being killed to prevent an interracial marriage from occurring on stage]].
* The Film/CharlieChan films of the Thirties and Forties may cause some embarrassment to modern audiences, with their hero's YouNoTakeCandle English and stereotypical "Oriental" aphorisms; however, the character was actually intended as a [[SubvertedTrope subversion]] of the then-ubiquitous YellowPeril villain and actually did a good deal to regenerate the character of Asians among Westerners. It's worth noting that Charlie Chan's sons were played by Chinese-American actors and given a "Gee, Pop!" all-Americanness. In "Charlie Chan at the Olympics," Charlie's son is representing the U.S.A. as an Olympic swimmer.
* ''Film/BrokenBlossoms'' would be considered racist today, as the Chinese character is called "The Yellow Man", and played by a white man in {{yellowface}}. For its day, however, it was quite enlightened, as it portrayed a Chinese emigrant positively, as opposed to the YellowPeril depiction that was prevalent in the 1910s.
* The portrayal of Buckwheat in many ''Film/TheLittleRascals'' shorts is considered quite offensive by many today, yet at the time it was considered fairly daring in many quarters to show a black child hanging out on a more-or-less equal basis with white children. Several episodes show Buckwheat sitting in the same classroom as white students at a time of rampant segregation. In addition, Stymie may have been illiterate, but he was a clever lad who was the main character as the brains of the outfit until he was gradually eased out due to his advancing age for Spanky to take over that role.
* ''Literature/FlowerDrumSong'' is [[ClicheStorm one long list of cliches]], but a Hollywood movie in the early sixties with a cast composed entirely of Asians? Unexpected. Also, while there are significant cliches, you also see many characters be as shallow and annoying as other "hep" characters from this period. To put this in perspective, the movie came out in 1961, the same year as ''Film/BreakfastAtTiffanys'', which had Mickey Rooney playing a Japanese landlord with no problems.
* ''Film/{{Sayonara}}'', with Creator/MarlonBrando, Miiko Taka, Red Buttons, and Miyoshi Umeki. Japan is portrayed as a land of [[ThirtySecondsOverTokyo geishas, Takarazuka, kabuki, bunraku, pagoda, arched bridges, and cherry blossoms]]; Japanese women as delicate doll-like creatures who exist to scrub their husbands' backs -- demure lotus blossom stereotype right out the wazoo. Still, when it came to sympathetic portrayals of Japan and interracial relationships in 1957, the pickings were pretty slim.
* 1960 sci-fi B-movie ''12 to the Moon'' features an international, multi-ethnic, mixed-gender crew, all of whom are introduced as being legitimate experts in their fields (although most of the crew are still white males). It's also notable for portraying the Soviet Russian scientist in a sympathetic light. [[FrenchJerk The Frenchman, on the other hand]]...
* The film of ''Film/LiveAndLetDie'' may look incredibly offensive today with its seeming stereotyping of all black people as superstitious drug-dealing criminals. However, the film was surprisingly liberal for its time in showing Bond in an inter-racial relationship, two of the most competent agents in the film (Quarrel Jr. and Strutter) are black, and the most incompetent of the 'heroes' is the racist sheriff, J.W. Pepper, who is explicitly shown as an idiot.
* ''Film/BenHur'': The Arab sheik is portrayed by a white guy (although some Arabs, from the more northern parts of the Middle East especially, look almost white, so it's not too much of a stretch). He's also portrayed as a decent person, has a Star of David talisman fashioned for Ben Hur, explicitly draws a parallel between the oppression of Jews and the oppression of Arabs at the hands of the Romans, and is generally one of the very few male characters with no obvious bigotry.
** As in ''Film/TheTenCommandments'', this was supposed to take place at a time when the children of Israel and the children of Ishmael often remembered that they were brothers and served the same God.
* ''Film/GoneWithTheWind'', unlike other films made in the early twentieth century, thoroughly avoided using blackface, having actual black people play the black characters. Also, Mammy was hailed at the time as a strong black female character, with Hattie [=McDaniel=] becoming the first black person to win an Academy Award with the one she received for Best Supporting Actress. Additionally, the makers of the film actively refused to give the Ku Klux Klan the glorifying treatment it received in the book. The film is also a rare example of a film that easily passes the Bechdel Test and has strong female characters.
* In ''Film/{{MASH}}'', the lone black character is a former college football player nicknamed "Spear-Chucker" who's brought in as a ringer to win a game. On the other hand, he's an officer and a neurosurgeon, and his white colleagues treat him with respect (even adulation) despite the film being set in the 1950s. The film even {{Retcon}}s the book by claiming his nickname referred to his time as a champion javelin thrower (though with a strong suggestion that no one buys that for a minute).
* In ''Film/KittenWithAWhip'', to modern sensibilities, [[VillainProtagonist Jody]] is clearly [[MoodSwinger bi-polar]]; a criminal, dangerous to herself and others, and in clear need of meds and psych counseling. By the standards of the day (mid-1960s), Jody would've been considered a troubled girl, in need of a firm hand to guide her on the right path (this was long before the current practice of charging youth offenders as adults came to be). Indeed, this is how she's described by the juvenile facility matron Jody hospitalized in her escape.
* Howard Hawks was known for having some surprisingly impressive depictions of women despite the bulk of his work being made in the studio era.
** ''Film/HisGirlFriday'' can be somewhat troubling today with Hildy's talk of wanting to "become a woman" by getting married. On the other hand, Hildy is a strong-willed, intelligent, and hardly submissive woman (some of the men even start making bets on how much time it will take before she will want to come back to the paper) and is respected by her male colleagues as an equal, as well as being acknowledged as one of their best reporters. This is all quite impressive for a movie released in 1940, but even better, [[spoiler:she ends up overcoming her previous aspirations and sticking to her work in the newspaper, albeit on the condition of remarrying her boss and getting a proper honeymoon this time]].
** Similarly, in ''Film/TheThingFromAnotherWorld'', the female lead really only exists as an added love interest (though to be fair [[Literature/WhoGoesThere the movie didn't have a whole lot in common with its source material, so this is one of the more minor changes]]). However, she is probably one of the most memorable characters in the movie. Much like Hildy Johnson, she is sharp-witted, intelligent, and far from submissive. Even while most of the choices are put in the hands of the men, she gets a few moments (a memorable case being when the fact that she wasn't involved with an argument among the men allowed her to be the first to notice [[spoiler:that the Thing was cutting off the heat]]). Also despite being in a horror movie from the 1950's, she manages to avoid any kind of DistressedDamsel situation and never once screams in the movie (the only time she actually raised her voice was near the very end, and that was because she was trying to alert the protagonist to a very legitimate problem).
* ''Film/LawrenceOfArabia'' is often praised for its anti-imperial politics and providing sympathetic, complex Arab characters, and was considered fairly progressive in 1962 because of this. Today, however, the movie draws heavy criticism for focusing on Bedouin looting during the desert campaigns (which is well-documented) and the political/tribal discord among Lawrence's allies (ditto, though this angle's exaggerated in spots). Not to mention Alec Guinness and Anthony Quinn playing Arabs.
** Guinness went to extraordinary lengths to portray Feisal accurately. It worked, too. While on location he met several people who had known Feisal and were impressed by the resemblance. He listened to Omar Sharif to learn his Arabic accent. Jordanian officials and clergy worked closely with the production crew and actors, even coaching an English actor in proper recitation from the Holy Q'ran.
* Similarly, a lot of revisionist Westerns made in the '50s and '60s, which were daring enough to depict Native Americans sympathetically, haven't aged well, whether due to NobleSavage stereotyping or off-color casting. ''Film/BrokenArrow1950'' being the best example: Jeff Chandler's Cochise was considered groundbreaking, as an honest, sympathetic, and intelligent Apache Indian -- but today comes off as an improbably perfect wise man, played by a Jewish New Yorker. Later films like ''Film/LittleBigMan'' and ''Film/DancesWithWolves'', which feature Native American actors playing Native Americans, haven't helped.
* Most early movies depicting homosexuality directly, as opposed to through coded inference, inspire critical responses from modern viewers. ''Film/TheChildrensHour'' has generated controversy through the UnfortunateImplications involving [[spoiler:Shirley Maclaine's character]]. Others criticize Basil Dearden's ''Victim'' (1961) for showing its gay characters as passive victims of criminals and blackmailers, focusing on their sexuality to [[{{Anvilicious}} make a social statement]]. However given that homosexual acts were still illegal in the UK at the time, ''Victim'' broke new ground in portraying the lead character, who eventually agrees to testify against the blackmailers, in a sympathetic way.
* ''Conquest of Space'' (1955) may be shocking to a modern viewer in that it seems to imply the non-existence of female astronauts, meaning that the space program is made mostly of white men. However, the one Japanese crew member we see is treated as competent, professional, and equal to his white comrades.
* When seen today, a lot of Blaxploitation films from the 70's and 80's might come off as little more than cheap action films that just happen to have a black protagonist, but at the time the idea of a black actor making a successful career as an action star was relatively new. For a lot of black audiences at the time (and even some white viewers) having anyone that could be seen as a strong black lead that they could root for was seen as a huge step forward. The fact that there were even a few black women like Pam Grier who managed to make a successful career in these films is also remarkable when you consider that [[ActionGirl action heroines]] were only just ''starting'' to become popular in mainstream films.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* ''Literature/LittleWomen'' was actually comparatively feminist by the standards of its day, but the most feminist thing about the novel isn't anything in the book itself, but the fact that Louisa May Alcott defied every feminine standard of the day by fully supporting herself and her family financially with her pen after most publishers told her to "stick to your teaching." For that matter, being a female teacher was itself quite enlightened, as most teachers of that day were men.
* Creator/HRiderHaggard's 19th century stories about his GreatWhiteHunter Allan Quatermain (''Literature/KingSolomonsMines'', ''Allan Quatermain'', ''etc''.) has a number of UnfortunateImplications and the occasional racist overtone, but actually tries hard not to be racist. The second book, ''Allan Quatermain'', even opens with an anti-racist essay by Quatermain. This does not make the books politically correct, mind you, and there's still a little accidental racism, but Haggard really does try, and his books are notable for pretty much lacking all the nastier stereotypes of blacks, having many strong black characters, and even a sympathetic interracial romance. Admittedly, they're StarCrossedLovers, but Quatermain notes that the problems they face are largely circumstantial, and maybe one day such love may be quite acceptable. A notable quote from ''King Solomon's Mines'' has Quatermain talk about gentlemen:
-->"What is a gentleman? I don't quite know, and yet I have had to do with niggers -- no, I'll scratch that word "niggers" out, for I don't like it. I've known natives who ''are'', and so you'll say, Harry, my boy, before you're done with this tale, and I have known mean whites with lots of money and fresh out from home, too, who ''ain't''."
* Creator/RudyardKipling rejected the notion that white people were inherently superior to non-white people. He believed that non-white people were no less capable of nobility, morality, and kindness. However, he also believed that non-whites needed the guidance of white people to better themselves, with his definition of "better" being English culture. This was a fairly common FairForItsDay belief argued by many people who rejected racism but supported British imperialism.
** ''Literature/WhiteMansBurden'' has inspired a great deal of argument over what the intended message was. If read as a straight defense of imperialism, it still states that whites attained the pinnacle of civilization through chance rather than racial superiority. Therefore, non-white people ''can'' be civilized and ''shouldn't'' be excluded or abused. This would be culturally supremacist, but not actually racist. Some people insist that the poem is a [[PoesLaw parody]] of imperialism, refuting it altogether.
** Several other of Kipling's poems -- [[http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_jobson.htm "Jobson's Amen"]] and [[http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/we_and_they.html "We and They"]] -- are rather scathing towards the attitude that British are intrinsically superior to native people.
** "Fuzzy-Wuzzy", which refers to the Beja by the rather unfortunate epithet of, well, "Fuzzy-Wuzzy", nevertheless acknowledges "yo're a pore benighted 'eathen, but a first-class fightin' man".
** ''Gunga Din'', which has the titular Indian water-carrier -- viewed as lower than dirt by the British soldiers, including the narrator -- end up performing a TearJerker of a HeroicSacrifice to save the narrator. By the end, the soldiers' racism and Gunga Din's heroism end up as a huge subversion of the then-popular MightyWhitey trope.
---> You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.
** The 1939 FilmOfTheBook portrays the Indian antagonists fairly sympathetically, simply fighting to get the British out. As the Indian leader notes, "our civilization was great while Englishmen lived in caves and painted their faces blue."
* ''Literature/UncleTomsCabin'' is an example in regard to UnfortunateImplications -- the blacks are caricatures, but they're at least treated as human beings, and the whole point of the novel is to condemn slavery. When released, the novel outraged the Southerners, and an entire [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Tom_literature genre]] was created to respond to it. Over the years, supporters of slavery created InNameOnly adaptions of the story that used the worst of the Blackface caricatures. It was these characterizations that stuck in the public's consciousness and gave rise to the concept of the "[[UncleTomfoolery Uncle Tom]]" (the black man who was subservient to white people and was seen as a "sell out" to his own race). The book's Uncle Tom character was anything but the stereotype: he was killed for defying his owner to help other slaves.
* Unlike other examples here, the "for its day" part in ''Literature/TheAdventuresOfHuckleberryFinn'' wasn't merely a ''comparatively'' positive portrayal that was nonetheless unfortunately marred; the caricatures in the book were part of a conscious ''subversion'' of such portrayals, as they reflect how black people look through the eyes of a racist child; as the book progresses, and Huck wises up, the black characters become less and less cartoonish. Much is made of Jim's many humorously absurd superstitions, but it should be noted that many of his predictions actually come true, and many white characters believe things that are no less absurd. Strangely, this makes the book fall into somewhat of an UncannyValley of race relations, with its invocation of NWordPrivileges causing more trouble than books that are much, much more prejudiced.
* ''Literature/TheWorldAccordingToGarp'' contains an early transgender character, Roberta Muldoon, who InUniverse makes a highly publicized transition from a professional football player to an activist for women's rights. The character is treated in a surprisingly serious manner, in that she's rarely played for laughs (or at least no more so than the rest of the cast) and is one of the few characters who comes across as consistently kind, generous, and level-headed (she experiences deep regret [[spoiler: that she did not take the bullet that killed Jenny Fields]] and later serves as an affectionate substitute mother for the Garp children [[spoiler: after their own parents die]]). There is a particularly touching scene [[spoiler: after Roberta's death]] in which televised sportscasters make a point of honoring her life's work by not misgendering her.
-->'''Sportscaster One''': "She was a great ball player. She had a great pair of hands."
-->'''Sportscaster Two''': "Yeah. She didda lot for...people wit' ''complicated'' lives."
* Creator/RobertAHeinlein was given the outline for his novel ''Literature/SixthColumn'' by the racist but influential sci-fi editor Creator/JohnWCampbell. He disliked the racism in the story, so he "fixed" it. Unfortunately, while it was fair for its day for having a "good guy" be Asian, it still contains enough racism to make you cringe today. He considered the story an OldShame. His ''Literature/FarnhamsFreehold'' lacks the excuse of being someone else's outline, but it tends to be more UnfortunateImplications.
** It's worth noting that in other works, the UnfortunateImplications are dialed down or absent (e.g. the narrator of ''Literature/TheMoonIsAHarshMistress'' is explicitly multiracial, and the narrator of ''Literature/TheCatWhoWalksThroughWalls'' is half black).
** ''Literature/TunnelInTheSky'' is also on the receiving end of this. While it seems ridiculously 1950sish at times -- like boys and girls not being allowed to go out hunting together, or girls' obsession with getting married -- it would have actually been pretty radical by the standards of the time, with strong female characters, including an entire military corps made up of women in combat roles -- something that we're only ''just now, in the 21st century'', accepting. One of the strong characters is a black woman, and there are multiple suggestions that the protagonist might end up marrying her, without a hint of negativity; something that wouldn't even be ''legal'' in most states for ''a decade after he wrote the novel''. And it's even more radical given that it was a young adult novel.
* The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kouroukan_Fouga Kouroukan Fouga]] may seem somehow reactionary today, but for its time, it was a revolutionary document and the first full-fledged constitution of a [[TheFederation federation]], [[OlderThanTheyThink five centuries and a half]] before the US got one.
* "The Little Black Boy" from Creator/WilliamBlake's ''Literature/SongsOfInnocence'' is a statement against racism, in which the little black boy begins by noting that DarkIsNotEvil, and then saying that when all are dead and gone to Heaven, their "clouds" of white and black will be lifted and they will all be alike.
* A non-fiction example is the first volume of ''The Story of Civilization'', the best general history series of the 20th century. The first volume was published in 1934, and is about the origins of civilization, and the author goes out of his way in the preface to apologize for the various stupid mistakes and simplifications he makes. He also makes the point that most history is guessing, and the rest is prejudice; moreover, he flat-out states that civilization has nothing to do with racial qualities. Then he goes on to call Aborigines and Africans savages (right after saying we shouldn't use the word savage), gives a now incredibly antiquated overview of neolithic life, and talks about how the loose morals of various civilizations led to their destruction.
* Like most of the protagonists of 'boy's own' British adventure novels of the early twentieth century, John Buchan's Richard Hannay of such works as ''Literature/TheThirtyNineSteps'' reads as being quite racist and jingoistic to a modern reader; however, when compared to his peers (such as [[Literature/BulldogDrummond "Bulldog" Drummond]]), Hannay is notable for actually being quite open-minded and empathetic towards many of the traditionally stereotyped groups of the literature of the period (such as Germans, pacifists, Jews, ''etc''), and frequently avoids demonizing them. A lot has been made of racial slurs against Jews in ''The Thirty-Nine Steps'', but a more careful reading shows that they are all made by one paranoid and possibly unbalanced character. In RealLife, Buchan supported Zionism to the extent that at the outbreak of UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo, he featured on Hitler's death list of pro-Semitic persons.
** What's more, jingoism is hardly a relic of the past. [[RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgment And let's leave it at that.]]
** ''Greenmantle'' is noteworthy for treating its German villains with a degree of sympathy and respect, quite surprising given that the book was written in the midst of UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne. Even Kaiser Wilhelm makes a brief cameo, coming off as a decent man manipulated by his subordinates into starting the war.
* Heavily subverted in the Creator/NevilShute novel ''Ruined City'', whose protagonist gives a modern reader the distinct impression that he would not be anywhere near so upset about his wife's infidelity save for the fact that she's chosen to conduct it with an Arab. But by the time you find this out, said protagonist already looks several kinds of {{jerkass}} for completely unrelated reasons, whereas the Arab comes over rather more sympathetically.
* The story "[[http://www.andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/hersholt/TheJewishGirl.html The Jewish Girl]]" by Creator/HansChristianAndersen, with its message that Christianity is just better than Judaism and its protagonist who just wants to convert to Christianity, is insensitive at best. However, for its time, it is fairly tolerant: Sarah goes to Heaven, without even having to be baptized.
* The epic Arthurian poem ''Parzival'' features a half-white, half-Moor brother of the main character called Feirefiz. While the author, Wolfram von Eschenbach, claimed that Feirefiz [[YouFailBiologyForever would have skin that alternated black-and-white because of this]] (like a magpie), Feirefiz is treated much more decently than most other pagans in Arthurian legends -- he gets baptized, sees the Holy Grail, marries the Grail-maiden, and goes back home to a happy ending. The idea that a pagan was just 'someone who isn't Christian yet' as opposed to AlwaysChaoticEvil was extremely advanced for the Middle Ages.
* ''Literature/OrlandoFurioso'' does something similar with the Moorish knight Sacripant, who is, to some extent, the story's ChewToy, but is also probably the only genuinely decent person around. It's also worth noting that he gets a happy ending (although it involves converting to Christianity), while Orlando does not: Angelica's CharacterDevelopment from RichBitch to caring human being involves her choosing Sacripant over Orlando.
* ''Growltiger's Last Stand'' from ''Literature/OldPossumsBookOfPracticalCats'' uses the CH word to refer to the Siamese at one point. Howsoever, they are undeniably the heroes, and their defeat of the evil Growltiger is a SugarWiki/CrowningMomentOfAwesome.
* While Creator/RobertEHoward was unfortunately racist (although less hysterically than his friend Lovecraft), and he wrote many stereotypical DistressedDamsel characters ([[ExecutiveMeddling usually at the insistence of his publishers]]), he also managed to create several strong female characters -- Belit, Velaria, and Red Sonya in particular. He also managed to write a few reasonably well-rounded black characters in the Literature/SolomonKane series, not least of which is N'Longa, who is not only a native African, but also a powerful witch-doctor. His tone when referring to African natives is condescending, and he does use the nasty stereotypes a lot, but definitely not exclusively, which would have been par for the course.
* Arthur C. Clarke's original version of ''Literature/ChildhoodsEnd'' (1954) was extremely fair for its time, but slips up describing the Utopia: "The convenient word "[[NWordPrivileges nigger]]" was no longer tabu in polite society, but was used without embarrassment by everyone." Cringe-inducing, along with the use of 'negro', but ameliorated by the black [[AudienceSurrogate Jan Rodricks]]' adventuring & subsequent appearance at the end [[spoiler:as [[LastOfHisKind the last man]].]]
* Isaac of York in ''Literature/{{Ivanhoe}}'' is uncomfortably close to a GreedyJew for some modern readers. He's a wealthy and cautious Jewish moneylender who really likes his wealth. Although at least one of the epigraphs from a chapter involving his character is taken from ''Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice'', Isaac is actually one of the good guys. In contrast to Shylock, he repeatedly states that he loves his daughter more than all his wealth. The persecution he suffers at the hands of the Christian villains is always characterized as unjust. The heroes always treat him and his daughter fairly, and Isaac, in turn, is even capable of generosity. Not ''great'' generosity, but his greed is clearly an [[MrViceGuy endearing character flaw]] rather than the core of his being.
** If you lived in a CrapsackWorld where you could be robbed and even killed with impunity, you'd cringe too. Having enough money to buy a precarious protection from the likes of King John is the only security Isaac has, as he points out on at least one occasion.
* Machiavelli's ''Literature/ThePrince'' certainly qualifies. These days, it's largely considered a manual for [[KickTheDog puppy kicking]], and only the most cynical dictator or greasy politician would follow it. When it was written, it was basic pragmatism and even a little hopeful. A small minority of critics go so far as to label the whole thing a satire.
--> ''Further, he ought to entertain the people with festivals and spectacles at convenient seasons of the year; and as every city is divided into guilds or into societies, he ought to hold such bodies in esteem, and associate with them sometimes, and show himself an example of courtesy and liberality; nevertheless, always maintaining the majesty of his rank, for this he must never consent to abate in anything''.
** Machiavelli actually wrote ''The Prince'' while in prison for writing much more ''liberal'' works, which supports the view that it's satire (of particular note is that ''The Prince'' praises the Medici family, who were the ones who had ''sent'' him to prison, after overthrowing the Florentine Republic Machiavelli serves, which can be taken as a veiled TakeThat toward their ruthless methods, by associating them with those advocated in the book). [[http://www.cracked.com/article_18787_6-books-everyone-including-your-english-teacher-got-wrong.html This article]] explains it fairly well.
* Julian Tuwim's ''Murzynek Bambo'' (literal translation: ''Bambo the little Negro'') was a 1930s Polish poem for kids which was meant to teach tolerance by showing that Bambo may be black and live in Africa, but he's still the same boy as you and me, sometimes misbehaving but being a good guy after all, who loves his mom and gets good grades at school. Today it is often seen as extremely insulting and racist, mainly because it shows Bambo doing things other little boys around the world do, like [[UnfortunateImplications climbing a (palm) tree or refusing to take a bath]].
** Please note that the word Murzyn (of which Murzynek is the diminutive) has [[LostInTranslation none of the connotation of the N-word]] in Polish and is politically correct.
* ''Literature/{{Struwwelpeter}}'' from Germany features a very 19th century outlook on family life and childrens' obedience, marked by its infamous spurts of [[WhatDoYouMeanItsForKids grotesque violence]] and DarkHumour ({{Fingore}} and repeated defiance of InfantImmortality, to name just a few). But it features the often-forgotten story of the Inky Boys: Three kids who tease a black boy for being black, and then get their just desserts when [[SantaClaus St Nikolas]] dips them into big vat of ink. When they continue to tease the boy, they just come off as the ridiculous racists they are. The black boy is called a "moor" by the narrator, which would be considered offensive today, but was very much a descriptive term back then. As you can see, the story isn't exactly pro-racism.
* [[DichterUndDenker German philosopher]] Oswald Spengler wrote in his non-fiction book ''Literature/TheDeclineOfTheWest'' that every major culture is [[BlueAndOrangeMorality not understandable]] from the POV of most other major cultures. Which he claimed was the case with westerners and Jews, too. Now, note he wrote this during a time when antisemites would spread the craziest conspiracy theories about [[OnceAcceptableTargets the eeeevul Jews]]. And in another work, he criticized German antisemitism, pointing out that the Brits didn't mind that Creator/BenjaminDisraeli was Jewish, and only cared that he was a competent prime minister. And in yet another work, he wrote how real men don't care for the race of their women, and only choose whomever is the right mother for their kids -- and may even prefer women of another race. And finally, he pointed out how in South Africa, black and white miners worked in the same mine, but the white miner was paid 2 shillings per hour for 8 hours of work per day, while the black one (though Spengler used a different word starting with "K", which he likely didn't know is considered very offensive) worked 12 hours for 1 shilling (per day, not per hour).
* The early ''Literature/TomSwift'' (1910) novels are an interesting case. In the books, the few times characters (even the villain) reference the [[SomeOfMyBestFriendsAreX black friend]], Eradicate's, race, he is called "black", which is more than fair for its day in books written literally twice as close to the days of legal slavery than to today. Unfortunately, the narrator calls him basically everything short of the n-word in the first book when he is in a chapter for a long time, apparently to avoid redundancy. Also, Eradicate is implied to be rather lazy, which is jarring simply because he seems to spend all of his waking day looking for work, whereas a white character living as a hobo also plays a prominent part in the book, but without implications of laziness. That said, Eradicate also saves Tom from very dangerous situations multiple times, so MightyWhitey is averted, despite Tom fixing his stuff often (which Tom also does with most of the secondary white characters as well).
* ''Literature/LiveAndLetDie'' was Ian Fleming's second 007 novel (1954) -- while the book's narrative and the black dialect Bond hears in Harlem read pretty cringe-worthy, he observes they're interested in the same things as everyone else, and is glad "they're not genteel about it". One of Mister Big's mooks is instructed to hurt Leiter "considerably", but has bonded with him over their mutual love of jazz. He hurts him just a little and apologizes, as he doesn't dare cross his boss. Mister Big himself notes that blacks have made major contributions to many human endeavors, and aims to be the first black super-criminal.
** During Bond's initial briefing, even M (not a character noted for tolerance or open-mindedness) says that Mr. Big or someone like him was inevitable. "The Negro races are just beginning to throw up geniuses in all the professions -- scientists, doctors, writers. It's about time they turned out a great criminal. After all, there are 250,000,000 of them in the world. Nearly a third of the white population. They've got plenty of brains and ability and guts. And now Moscow's taught one of them the technique."
* The Literature/LandOfOz series by Creator/LFrankBaum makes it difficult to realize that it was written more than a hundred years ago when you consider how many women are in positions of power, how many different personalities and mannerisms come with each woman, there was an all-female revolt against the Emerald City, the entire Land of Oz itself is ruled by a woman, and how little cultural quips such as women being delegated to being inside the home are mercilessly shunned by eponymous characters. It's about as quietly feminist a fantasy world as it gets, and it was written in a time nearly two decades before the United States granted women the right to vote.
** Though at the same time, one doesn't have to read too carefully to spot some pretty ridiculous (by today's standards) stereotypes. For instance, the soldiers of the all-female revolt mentioned above use knitting needles as their weapon of choice, and they conquer the Emerald City because the army (which is only one old man) would never dare harm a lady. Also, when the leader of the revolt, Jinjur, is expelled from her throne, she laments that she now has to go back home and milk cows.
** On the other hand, Jinjur is expelled by the all-female army of real soldiers fielded by Glinda the Good. So it's not exactly The Patriarchy Strikes Back.
* ''Literature/ToKillAMockingbird'' has been criticized for the use of racial epithets and for not developing black characters completely enough, and Atticus for not being as completely accepting of African-Americans as some people would like -- but considering that it's set in the 1930s, just the fact that he forbids his children from using the word "nigger" and honestly argues Tom Robinson's case in court even knowing that [[KangarooCourt he can't win]] (as well as the fact that [[spoiler:he actually ''almost '''does''' win'']]) is quite a thing in itself.
* Italian author Emilio Salgari was revolutionary for late 19th century-early 20th century Italy, as he would have female heroines and invariably portray colonialism as the result of either greed or well-intentioned ignorance and often took the parts of the indigenous people in his novels, openly stating they had any right to oppose forced Europeanization (and putting the blame for the Indian Mutiny of 1859 firmly on the East India Company for walking over Indian customs). On the other hand, modern audiences will cringe a little at his characters, considering the various races of mankind and assuming that a determinate character is brave or a coward due to his origins, or the implied superiority of then-current European civilization (keyword ''current'': he states that many past non-European civilizations were on par or superior to the European one of their time, and that the European superiority is due to non-European decadence and mixing foolish customs to more civilized ones). [[ScienceMarchesOn He also considered smoking a healthy habit]].
* ''Literature/TheSilenceOfTheLambs'' centered on a CreepyCrossdresser serial killer who [[spoiler:murdered and skinned women to make himself a woman suit]]. However, both the book and the film try to distinguish between real transsexuals and the villain, who only ''thinks'' he's a transsexual due to his own self-hatred, and go out of their way to point out that most transsexuals are normal, decent people who have no unusual inclination towards violence -- in fact, in the book, one of the ways Lecter suggests for finding a description or photograph of the killer is to look at people who both faked their identity to the surgeon, and were turned down for the surgery for psychological reasons; the former because a criminal record for almost anything (besides, well, charges based upon them cross-dressing) disqualifies the applicant (and both Lecter and the FBI agree that Buffalo Bill almost certainly had one), and the latter because, well, there was no way that anyone as disturbed as Buffalo Bill was going to pass a psychological test of any kind.
* ''Literature/RobinsonCrusoe'' can leave a bad taste in readers' mouths due to Friday being [[HappinessInSlavery happy to be Crusoe's slave]] and Robinson subsequently "Europeanizing" him, as well as never letting you forget that Friday is Crusoe's inferior. However, in the days when Carib Indians were considered devil-worshiping cannibals, Friday being described as brave, loyal, and a better Christian than Crusoe himself is a ''huge'' improvement by the standards of 1719.
** Robinson also mentions that while the cannibals do eat people and kill their captives, it's not really their fault, as it is only in their culture to do these things, and that his [[NotSoDifferent own more civilized nation]] has also committed atrocities.
* Several examples from British statesman Lord Chesterfield's ''Literature/LettersToHisSon'':
** With regards to the Crusades, he wrote that the Christians attacked the Muslims to take land that was rightfully theirs.
** About fox-hunting: "The poor beasts are here pursued and run down by much greater beasts than themselves".
* Creator/HPLovecraft very rarely gave any female characters important roles in his stories, but his thoughts on women's rights were actually quite progressive for his time (even if he also had racist opinions). Whenever women do show up in his stories, it's a very minor supporting role at best. That said, in ''The Shadow Out of Time'', the narrator describes his ex-wife, who after he apparently went mad ([[ItMakesSenseInContext in actuality, his body had been swapped with an alien from the past]]) actually takes action and gets the rest of her family as far away from her now-abusive husband as possible. There is also talk of strong-willed and intelligent mothers (such as that of Arthur Jermyn), and one or two memorable female antagonists. This is also quite impressive compared to some of the other mythos writers of the time, some of whom did not write women at all.
* The book "Literature/LadyInWaiting" may seem overall backwards in expecting single women to do so much service. However, some parts of it are actually rather progressive. One single woman is encouraged to pursue a doctoral degree -- sadly, some religious leaders and denominations still discouraged women's advanced education, stating that a woman did not need it since motherhood was a woman's true call. Another part states that a spiritually beautiful woman is interesting and has goals for herself -- possibly encouraging goals other than motherhood. And just the fact that the book implies that the women reading it want to find husbands because they want romantic love and adult companionship (as compared to just seeing marriage as the way to achieving their one and only ultimate goal of having children) may seem actually revolutionary. Overall, just the fact that the book acknowledges that women could or would possibly want something in their lives other than to become mothers goes against what some groups believe.
* The ''Literature/SherlockHolmes'' stories feature various racist stereotypes common to the era of the 1870s to the 1890s, but there is a hint of WriterOnBoard in the way Holmes, Watson, and the women in the series express, to different degrees, distaste for the way divorce laws were slanted against women. Holmes also lampshades, a century-plus ago, the "American fascination with guns". There's also one story in which members of the Klu Klux Klan appear as villains.
* The Literature/NeroWolfe stories, particularly those written fairly early on, often have sympathetic characters expressing some casually racist and misogynistic views. However, Rex Stout was a fairly progressive guy for his time, and just as frequently lampoons these same views by showing them to be ludicrous, damaging, and evil. Wolfe himself, while unquestionably holding several old-fashioned and misogynistic views, seems to find these types of prejudice absurd, and usually treats everyone he encounters with an equal amount of respect. One also gets the sense in reading the stories as they progress over time that Stout often comes to find several of his earlier views embarrassing or shameful and makes a conscious effort to try and repudiate them in later stories.
** A notable example is the 1938 novel ''Too Many Cooks'', which is set at an exclusive restaurant/resort in West Virginia with a large number of black people working as the service staff. Derogatory terms and condescending attitudes towards African-Americans are thrown about with an abandon the modern reader may find disconcerting, but the ultimate point of the novel is that these attitudes are foolish; Wolfe makes a significant breakthrough in the case simply by gathering the service staff together, treating them with genuine respect, and appealing to their sense of decency and equity.
* The Franchise/NancyDrew and Literature/HardyBoys books had to undergo some pretty extensive rewrites (to the extent that sometimes only the title was the same) in the 1960s because of this. The original stories started back in 1927 had a lot of more offensive stereotypes, and the unfortunate habit of referring to a large number of the villains as "dark," "swarthy," and "foreign," not to mention stereotypical characters who were supposed to be the ''good'' guys. At least one scholarly article wondered whether or not it was a good thing, since rather than make minority characters more complex and three-dimensional, they just got rid of them entirely, [[MonochromeCasting whitewashing the entire series]], leaving some scholars to say, "Sure they were offensive, but at least they were ''there.''"
* In a similar case, in ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', while they are not humans, the orcs are often referred to as dark and swarthy while the heroic elves are usually described as fair or light-skinned. Also most of the humans who are fighting for [[GodOfEvil Morgoth]] and [[DragonAscendant Sauron]] are Eastern and described as sallow-skinned or swarthy. Tolkien was actually quite progressive for his day, but such descriptions might make some readers cringe today. However Tolkien at least implies that those fighting for Sauron aren't really evil but misguided and lied too. When Sam sees the body of a man who fought for Sauron he even wonders whether he was really evil and whether he would have preferred to stay at home. And in an UnbuiltTrope of AlwaysChaoticEvil it is claimed the Orcs are really acting out of fear and a cruel culture.
** Also Tolkien claimed he based the Dwarves on the [[SpaceJews Jews]]. This can make the writing about the Dwarves loving gold and Thorin's obsessive greed towards the end of The Hobbit a bit cringe-worthy. Yet the Dwarves are mostly portrayed sympathetically and heroically. And there is some FridgeBrilliance in that the Dwarves end up getting their homeland back.
* ''Literature/TheCountOfMonteCristo'' is a multidimensional example of this.
** Racism: While Creator/AlexandreDumas was a man of color, and his portrayal of people of various races and cultures was extremely advanced for the mid-1800s and the two slave characters in the book are usually treated extremely kindly and respectfully by their master, the main character is still a slaveowner, and some of the commentary on Arabic culture can leave a bad taste in modern readers' mouths.
** Sexism: Dantes seems to blame Mercedes for marrying Fernand and consider it an act of unfaithfulness. It's very arguable, though, as Mercedes defends herself by reminding him that Fernand was her closest and oldest friend and her emotional support after Dantes was imprisoned, and she had no way of knowing that Fernand was behind it. The Count later tells her that he doesn't begrudge her anything. Additionally, many of the women in the story, even if they aren't necessarily the nicest people, are independent, well-rounded characters.
*** The character Haydee is also an example. ''Yes,'' she is stereotypically quiet and submissive, ''yes,'' she is [[HappinessInSlavery a foreign slave who is happy to be so]] -- but she also gets a chapter or so devoted to recounting her backstory, and another showing how she testified in court to get her revenge against the man who killed her father and sold her mother into slavery.
** Homophobia: The lesbian Eugenie Danglars is portrayed as an extremely cold, standoffish, even morally ambiguous person. However, she is also a more-or-less openly gay character in a time period when homosexuality was something of a taboo, and she and her lover Louise d'Armilly are still portrayed as fairly good people compared to many of the other characters in the novel. It also completely averts the BuryYourGays trope (Eugenie and Louise run off together to be artists, escaping their disapproving families and presumably going on to live happy lives).
* ''Literature/HeartOfDarkness'' can seem quaint and uncomfortable to modern audiences, but Joseph Conrad was one of the only people writing criticism of the atrocities going on in the Belgian Congo. Even if the book contains some Africans depicted as cannibals, or violent hunters, or [[NobleSavage Noble Savages]], Conrad's sheer indignation as he writes about the labor camps and their brutal European overseers bleeds through and is hard to argue against.
* Can be seen in much of [[Creator/CSLewis C.S. Lewis]]'s work. While some of his views on gender roles, race, and sexuality may seem outdated now, he almost always did his best to treat these subjects even-handedly and with more sympathy than many readers now give him credit for. He was actually fairly progressive for his day (and still is compared to many mainline Christian writers).
** The Calormenes may seem like offensive stereotypes of the Middle East, worshipping a God who turns out to be a [[GodOfEvil demon]] who can't accept anything good. However it's shown that there are still good Calormenes, Emeth for example is able to get into Aslan's Country because he was devout to his religion even though he wasn't worshipping Aslan. Aslan even says anybody who does good is really doing it in his name without knowing it.
* The 19th century Philip Meadows Taylor novel ''Literature/{{Seeta}}'' is typically imperialistic, treating Christianity and British culture as inherently superior to Hinduism and Indian culture. However, it sympathetically portrays a mixed-race marriage between an Englishman and an Indian woman who learns to accept British values. The story paints a picture where all races are equal and the only thing lacking in non-white populations is the right culture, which can be learned. While it all serves as a justification for colonial expansion of the British Empire, it's a very progressive take on the subject.
* The works of Harold Bell Wright (an author in the early 1900s) exclusively portray women [[MadonnaWhoreComplex as either one-note embodiments of purity or immoral sluts]] trying to corrupt the protagonists. However, his female characters often do masculine things such as horseback riding, bushcraft and carrying a gun. They are praised for doing these things, and when Sybil [[note]]The protagonist of ''The Eyes of the World''[[/note]] threatens to shoot [[BigBad James Rutlidge]], it is treated as a MomentOfAwesome. At least Wright's heroines were allowed to be strong in ''some'' ways- a lot of the era's other female characters weren't.
* In the ''Literature/DoctorDolittle'' stories, Prince Bumpo and his parents were pretty progressive for their time period. The king was given a legitimate reason to be angry with and not trust white people (the last ones who showed up before Dr. Dolittle were shown great hospitality and responded by digging up the ground for gold, shooting elephants for their ivory, and leaving without even thanking the king) and Bumpo, despite being portrayed as a bit foolish, was still a good-hearted man. He joins Dr. Doolittle for a later adventure and the narrator (a schoolboy who is also coming along) is amazed that Bumpo treats him as a friend, since Bumpo is an adult and a prince.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Star Trek|TheOriginalSeries}}'' was progressive for its day, but is still obviously a creation of the 60s.
** Lt. Uhura is the [[TokenMinority only black cast member]], who, as a female communications officer, can come off as little more than a secretary. Nichelle Nichols agreed with this assessment and was going to leave the show at the end of the first season. She was talked into staying, because seeing a black woman on television in any role but that of a maid really was groundbreaking for its day. It even led to the often-quoted first interracial kiss on television, between Kirk and Uhura, in the episode "Plato's Children". The person who felt so inspired by Uhura as a symbol of progress he talked Nichelle into remaining on the show... [[CivilRightsMovement Martin Luther King Jr.]]
** Other examples include Sulu and Chekov. Sulu as a competent professional, not a cringing yellow stereotype, and Chekov as a non-evil Russian on television during the UsefulNotes/ColdWar. Many minor characters as well break the white-male mold; given the military setting, this is remarkable for the day.
** Those miniskirts that are greeted with rolled eyes nowadays were considered a mark of female liberation at the time, as women who wore them were exerting their right to dress sexy instead of like timid housefraus. Sure, it was {{fanservice}} too, but not ''just'' that.
** In one episode, Kirk reports to his superior officer, who turns out to be a black man. Dr. Daystrom, the creator of the M-5 computer and one of the Federation's greatest geniuses, is also black, and eventually revealed to have created the computers used on the Enterprise. In addition, Dr. [=McCoy=]'s medical staff includes the eminently qualified Dr. M'Benga, who is African himself (and the staff expert on Vulcan physiology). With them, their race is a ''total'' non-issue, as you would expect with an interstellar and multi-species [[TheFederation federation]].
** Originally, Roddenberry [[WhatCouldHaveBeen wanted to take it a bit farther]] and had cast Majel Barrett as the first officer in the original version of the pilot. He even subverted the common portrayal of women as being prone to hysterics by portraying her as the cold logical type (a trait that would later be transplanted to Spock, who was originally supposed to be emotional and can be seen acting emotionally in the original pilot). Capt. Pike even called her [[Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration Number One]]. ExecutiveMeddling canned it, either because of negative test audience reaction (from women!) or because Barrett was Roddenberry's mistress. Or both.
** And then there's Khan. The reason given for [[StarTrekIntoDarkness the 2013 movie]] casting the white Creator/BenedictCumberbatch to play him instead of an Indian actor was that they would feel uncomfortable having a man of color as a villain, particularly since that version [[PostNineElevenTerrorismMovie played Khan up as a terrorist]]. As others have pointed out, however, they actually didn't get it right in the original series either, as the Indian Sikh Khan was played by the Mexican-born Ricardo Montalban. However, in the 1960s, casting an actor of color as a character of color was already fairly progressive [[note]] Remember: that episode came out just five years after ''Film/LawrenceOfArabia'' cast Alec Guinness and Anthony Quinn as Arabs[[/note]], and casting a man of color as a charismatic genius who was ''eugenically bred to be superior in every way'' was almost unthinkable.
** The famous interracial kiss is often criticized for its UnfortunateImplications, because they were KissingUnderTheInfluence thanks to [[AliensMadeThemDoIt aliens]]. Due to the racism of the time, the showrunners and actors had to fight very, very hard to get even ''that'' to happen -- the executives ordered them to shoot alternate takes without the kiss (which William Shatner deliberately messed up every time by pulling faces), they wanted Spock to kiss Uhura instead (because he was [[DiscountLesbians an alien, so it didn't count]]), and they outright would not budge on allowing it to be consensual. Even so, stations in the Deep South refused to air the episode at all, resulting in it being the lowest rated episode of the entire original series.
* ''Series/{{Ultraman}}'' was very similar to ''Series/{{Star Trek|TheOriginalSeries}}'' in that it had a woman (Fuji) as an integral part of the Science Patrol team. By odd coincidence, Fuji occupied the same post-communications officer as Uhura, and the two shows premiered within weeks of each other! Considering that Japan's attitude toward gender roles was even more retrograde than the U.S.'s at the time, Fuji's prominent role in the team (she frequently deployed with her squad mates and fought alongside them in many of their battles, much more so in fact than Uhura did) was positively revolutionary (to be sure, Fuji sometimes served tea to the rest of the crew in classic OfficeLady fashion). ''Ultraman'' even went ''TOS'' one better in that at least one episode centered around Lt. Fuji, whereas poor Uhura never got the chance to really be at the center of an episode.
* On ''Series/TheManFromUNCLE'', (which started running several years before ''Series/{{Star Trek|TheOriginalSeries}}''), Illya Kuryakin (as portrayed by David [=McCallum=]) was one of the first positive portrayals of a Russian. -- more precisely, Soviet -- character on UsefulNotes/ColdWar-era American TV. This was all the more revolutionary because Illya was portrayed as being not just a patriotic Russian citizen, but ''a serving officer in the Soviet Navy'' (he's shown in uniform in one episode). In one second-season episode, "The Indian Affairs Affair", Native Americans in Oklahoma were portrayed in what would be considered a somewhat cringeworthy manner today, but it was quite clear from the context that they were the good guys (and THRUSH was portrayed in this episode as dressing up like stereotypical "black-hat" cowboy villains and treating the Native Americans in a contemptuous manner), and the Native Americans lent crucial help to Napoleon and Illya at the episode's climax in foiling the THRUSH plot.
* Certain episodes of ''Series/{{Bonanza}}'' were Fair for their Day. Although it was, at heart, a cowboys-and-Indians type show, the Native Americans occasionally had hints of character depth and humanity. Little Joe used to defend an Indian boy in schoolyard fights...but then kills him when his "savage nature" shows. The Cartwrights lose track of their young cousin and panic because there are "savages" around...but then a friendly Indian brings her home safely. A neighbor is against Indian removal because he is afraid his friends will starve on a reservation, so Ben intercedes...to make sure the new reservation has fertile land. It all seems hokey and racist today, but some of these aired when American Indians had only recently been granted civil rights.
* ''Radio/TheJackBennyProgram'' is sometimes criticized for the character of Rochester, a butler who is routinely mistreated by [[AdamWesting Benny's fictional version of himself]]. In early episodes, Rochester is little more than a black stereotype, with lots of gags made about craps and razor blades. However, Benny became increasingly uncomfortable with racial humor and began scaling it back. After learning about the extent of the Holocaust, he demanded that all racial humor be eliminated from the show. Rochester remained poorly treated, but this is because [[JerkAss Benny's character is an egomaniacal jerk]]. Rochester is also a ServileSnarker who often gets the better of his employer. Many later episodes also show that Rochester and Benny's character are actually best friends.
* ''Radio/AmosAndAndy'' was immensely popular in its day, but is today viewed with a degree of embarrassment due to its unvarnished indulgences in MinstrelShow tropes and {{blackface}} live performances. However, it was also one of the first shows to portray blacks as successful businessmen. Various characters were shown as lawyers, doctors, shop owners, and the main characters run a cab company. In earlier radio days, ''Amos & Andy'' was a 15 minute daily serial program, and great attention was paid to characterization. Audiences were called upon to sympathize with the black characters' goals and feelings. The show included a significant portion of straight drama dealing with their lives, and even dabbled with social commentary during a sequence where Amos is abused by police.
* One episode of ''Series/GetSmart'' featured Max pretending to be a Native American to foil a plot by a Native American splinter group to destroy the US. More than a bit cringeworthy by today's standards, but the episode's climax has Max admitting that they may be justified in their grievances and he has no good reason why the splinter group should expect better treatment from the US in the future, considering all they've been through so far (the Native Americans' plan is to [[RuleOfFunny fire a giant arrow at the White House]]).
* ''Series/{{Bewitched}}'' is often attacked as a reactionary fantasy, in large part for Darrin's chauvinism and Samantha's tolerance of it. However, most of the early black-and-white episodes begin with Darrin clinging to the slightly exaggerated chauvinism of a typical television husband only to realize his mistake and apologize to Samantha by the end of the episode. Darrin's chauvinism was necessary so that he -- and the men in the audience -- could learn that episode's lesson against male vanity, male consumerism, and male bravado. Unfortunately, that aspect of the character was {{Flanderized}} as the series moved into color.
* The ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'' short "The Home Economics Story" leaves itself open to mockery for its depiction of "women's work" in the 1950s. Still, it does encourage girls to go to college and get jobs (albeit to study [[TitleDrop Home Economics]] and become Nurses/Cooks/Teachers), and it argues that an education is important even if you are planning on being a stay-at-home wife (which at least implies that a girl ''might'' be allowed to try being something else).
* The original ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|1978}}'' had, in its second episode, a case where almost all the male pilots were incapacitated by a disease. In desperation they create a squadron of all female pilots, gleaned from shuttle pilots, who turn out to be just as competent as the men at fighting the Cylons. This was 20 years before the US Military allowed women fighter pilots.
* ''Series/{{Carrusel}}'' may not have had any of the girls be into science, sports, or any other traditional male pursuits. But most of the girls still had career goals--and their teachers and parents encouraged the girls to pursue them. Which can be deemed enlightened, considering this was made in Mexico in 1989-1990, a very macho society with employment opportunities for women much more restricted than those of women in the USA/UK.
* ''Series/MindYourLanguage'' is widely criticized today for its use of ethnic stereotypes, but at the time (late 1970s) it was looked upon positively for giving main roles to non-white actors who would otherwise have found it very hard to gain representation on TV.
* ''Series/{{Scandal}}'': For today, sort of. Though for a Shonda Rhimes (''Series/GreysAnatomy'' and ''PrivatePractice'') show, that's really the norm.
* ''Series/MightyMorphinPowerRangers'' (and the ''PowerRangers'' franchise as a whole) is often mocked for its FiveTokenBand and for having a [[UnfortunateImplications black Black Ranger and an Asian Yellow Ranger]], not to mention that the Pink Ranger is a girl. The truth of the matter was that the race/color combination was an accident, only realized halfway through the first season, and was even corrected with various cast changes. [[note]] The African-American Walter Jones was actually originally cast as the Blue Ranger, and unaired test footage shows that [[TheOtherMarty the actress originally cast as the Yellow Ranger was actually Hispanic]].[[/note]] But regardless, the portrayal of those characters was unexpectedly nuanced and universally positive: Zack the Black Ranger had his own stories, rather than just being the BlackBestFriend to [[TheHero Jason]], and Trini the Yellow Ranger was intelligent enough to understand [[TheSmartGuy Billy]] but social enough to avoid falling under AsianAndNerdy. Walter Jones (Zack) commented that if anything, it just drew more attention to the fact that the show had a multi-racial cast.
* ''Series/TheOuterLimits1963'' was generally quite progressive in regards to race, with several episodes featuring dignified non-white characters. "Nightmare" in particular was an anti-racist episode. (They did have one YellowPeril episode, "The Hundred Days of the Dragon," but this was arguably more of a UsefulNotes/ColdWar story dealing with Communist China, being inspired by ''Literature/TheManchurianCandidate.)'' Unfortunately, while the show was admirably racially sensitive, by modern standards it could get pretty sexist. Most of the female characters scream ''a lot.''
* ''Series/{{The Goodies}}'':
** ''Series/{{The Goodies}}'' did an episode about South Africa which mocks and ridicules Apartheid. But I challenge anyone today to watch it on Youtube without wincing!
** One episode even spoofed the popularity of ''The Black and White MinstrelShow'' (a LongRunner "light entertainment" show featuring musical numbers performed in BlackFace - at that time there had been a recent attempt to ReTool it by doing a series of it without the blackface, but the ratings tanked, causing it to be changed back) by combining it with a WholePlotReference to ''Series/{{Roots}}''. While most of the stereotypical jokes are aimed at [[AcceptableTargets Scotland]] and the story satirises the concept of using something like blackface as a ratings grab, its assertion that everything's better with blackface doesn't come off as entirely ironic.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** The 1960s era of ''Series/DoctorWho'', owing to having a female producer, had much better written and more dynamic female characters than most other science fiction at the time - there are [[UsefulNotes/TheBechdelTest two equally prominent female characters who have lives outside of the male characters]], Barbara in particular being very strong. (Compare with ''Series/StarTrek'', with only two recurring female crewmembers who never interact.) Some stories even played with 60s conceptions of gender, such as a story where Barbara is mistaken for the reincarnation of a male priest, causing her to point out that not all cultures consider gender to be that different, and a discussion between Susan and Barbara about whether Ian should think himself to be be looking after them. Susan also snarks at a member of LaResistance who assumes that because she's a woman that she can cook, even though we later find out that she can when she prepares and cooks a wild rabbit for a Resistance member later. Future societies are depicted in which men and women are completely equal. Even the Doctor's patronising and patriarchal attitude towards his teenage granddaughter Susan was dismantled in "The Sensorites", when he seems to realise that the reason he and Susan never argued is because he's been keeping her dependant on him. Barbara even has a no-strings-attached offscreen relationship with a handsome young HumanAlien [[GirlOfTheWeek man]], which is not milked for romance and for which she is never shamed. However, there's still plenty of random sexism that would never be acceptable today - such as the way the Thals, presented as unambiguously heroic, openly mock their women - sexist {{Out Of Character Moment}}s when writers with a shakier grasp of gender relations try and write the female TARDIS crew-members, and how Susan is PutOnABus by having her get married (when she's supposed to be 16). There is also ''a lot'' of [[ScreamingWoman pointless female screaming]], and it's not always remotely appropriate for the situation - due to being a BottleEpisode, most of the implication that there is something amiss in "The Edge of Destruction" is transmitted through having Susan and Barbara shriek all the time for no visible reason. And once Verity Lambert ends her involvement with the series, portrayal of women quickly gets worse - [[StrangledByTheRedString marrying off of female TARDIS crewmembers]] and getting StuffedIntoTheFridge begins to happen (Vicki, Katarina and Sara), and ParentService and DamselInDistress characters start appearing (Polly and Victoria).
** 1960s ''Doctor Who'' also possessed relatively complex and interesting non-white cultures in some historicals, whose problems were not dealt with in a patronising way. Of course, they were all played by white people in makeup.
*** Mention has to go to "The Crusades", which tries to give a fair portrayal of the Saracens. The main villain may be a Saracen but it is made clear the others don't like him. Also the English are not portrayed as completely pure, Richard I is portrayed as quite childish and foolish at times. And the Saracen villain is finally killed by a Saracen Haroun, who apart from the TARDIS crew is probably the most heroic character in the serial.
** The Second Doctor and Jamie ShipTease like nobody's business, because the actors wanted to see if they could get away with it. This may have contributed to the show's legendarily large LGBTFanbase, but nowadays ButNotTooGay flirting with no emotional payoff is considered {{Queerbaiting}} and is thoroughly discredited as homophobic by fandom.
** Similar to Star Trek "The Tenth Planet" (which aired just a month after the first episode of "Star Trek") and "The Moonbase" show a future with less national distinctions. The first example even shows a black man flying a spaceship. This can make "Tomb of the Cybermen" feel a bit awkward due to its portrayal of a black man who barely speaks and is the servant of the villains, with his main feature being his strength. However he ends up sacrificing himself to stop the Cybermen escaping. And originally he was supposed to be deaf but this didn't come across (though was retained in the novelization).
** "The Enemy of the World" features a strong, sympathetic, vulnerable and relatively three dimensional black female character (played by an actually black woman rather than by a white woman in makeup) who gets to be tragic and kicks ass, but also includes the Doctor putting on brown face paint to pass as a Mexican.
* Ichabod Crane in Series/SleepyHollow is an interesting example. He's an 18th century Englishman who fought on the side of the rebels in the Revolutionary War who has been awakened in the 21st century. One would expect a lot of friction, especially since his costar is a black female police lieutenant, but Ichabod is extremely proud of his progressive (for his time) views on race. He strongly opposed slavery and was friends with the local Native American tribe (he's very distressed when he learns Indians have been largely destroyed by the modern day.) In fact, his first objection to Mills is that she's a FEMALE lieutenant, though he comes to respect her quite quickly.
* James Garner (Western Band Cherokee) was notoriously non-prejudiced, and when gay characters appeared in ''Series/TheRockfordFiles'' they were sympathetic. In "The Empty Frame", the hosts of the ill-fated party are wealthy art collectors who may be based on Creator/RobertMapplethorpe and Sam Wagstaff.
* Subverted in ''Series/AmericanHorrorStoryCoven''. Madame Delphine [=LaLaurie=] ([[FishOutOfTemporalWater a 19th century Louisiana slave owner who ends up in the present day]]) ''claims'' to be this when confronted with her past, insisting that she's nothing more than a "woman of her time", but is told in no uncertain terms that she's full of shit, as her treatment of her slaves (as well as her own daughters) was deemed utterly monstrous even ''by'' the standards of her day. (This is TruthInTelevision: she really did exist, and by all accounts her behavior wasn't especially exaggerated by the show; she really ''was'' considered excessively brutal even by the extremely lax standards of the time.)
* The title character in ''Series/{{Roseanne}}'' was regularly nasty to her boss, openly gay character Leon. Her plans for his wedding to his partner Scott employed almost every gay stereotype in the book. At the same time, that episode depicted a gay wedding almost 20 YEARS before same-sex marriage became legal in Illinois.
* The gay storyline involving Todd on ''Series/CoronationStreet''. Yes it involved a previously established straight character SuddenlySexuality and carrying on an affair behind his girlfriend's back. However it still portrayed Todd sympathetically, any hostility towards him was about the fact that it was an affair (rather than it being with another man) and it eventually resulted in the entire pub standing up for Todd against Les Battersby's homophobia. This was in 2003 and was one of the first times a gay storyline had ever been done in British soaps. There was a mountain of controversy over having gay characters at all. Todd remained a series regular for at least a year, during which another gay character was introduced (and they ''weren't'' [[TokenMinorityCouple paired together]]). Todd was most definitely a trail blazer for the very popular Sophie and Sian pairing that followed.
* Willow and Tara's relationship early on ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' reeks of HideYourLesbians. The network was incredibly strict on what the couple were allowed to be shown doing, the writers having to use magic as a metaphor for lovemaking. The two didn't even get to kiss on screen until they had been together for over a year. And that's not to mention the UnfortunateImplications of Willow's NoBisexuals approach. However it was a groundbreaking success for lesbians on television. The two weren't given a GayAesop or PositiveDiscrimination; they were treated as simply another couple on the show. Likewise after the show moved to a different network, they were allowed to be shown kissing and sharing a bed a lot more. This again was shocking, as lesbian couples on TV had been primarily known as affectionate rather than sexual. Just compare the evolution of Tara's popularity. When Willow chose her over Oz, fans exploded and wrote such nasty things about Amber Benson that she nearly quit the show. Two years later [[spoiler: when Tara was killed off]], Joss Whedon received death threats for letting her go.
* In 1961 Rod Serling wrote the ''[[Series/TheTwilightZone Twilight Zone]]'' episode "The Big Tall Wish" and cast black actors in all the major roles, which was completely unheard of at the time. Several future episodes followed suit and cast blacks in what would nowadays be considered [[TokenMinority "token black"]] roles, but back then, seeing black people on TV was so rare that even token inclusion was considered revolutionary.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* People who bash Al Jolson for performing in blackface may not realize that he actually helped a lot of real black people make it big in the music business, helping to give performers such as Music/CabCalloway their big breaks. When filming a duet with Calloway, Jolson demanded that they be given equal treatment on the set. When reading in a newspaper that songwriters Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle had been kicked out of a restaurant because of their race, he personally invited them out to dinner despite having never met them, saying he'd punch the nose of anyone who had a problem with it. Jolson was also known as the only white man who was allowed into the all-black nightclubs in Harlem.
* Creator/GeorgeFormby wrote and performed a series of songs about a Chinese immigrant named Mister Wu. Although they did play heavily upon the stereotypical British image of the Chinese, they also portrayed the protagonist in what for TheThirties was a fairly positive light. George Formby had a dim view of racism throughout his life, as evidenced during his tour of South Africa in which he refused to play to segregated audiences and criticized local racist views.
* The first stanza of the German National Anthem sounds ultra-nationalistic today, with a line that translates as "Germany above everything in the world..." Yet it was written at a time when Germany was scattered between various prince states, and thinking about Germany first rather than various regional conflicts and issues was pretty ahead of its time.
* Lola, by Music/{{The Kinks}}, while falling victim to a few stereotypes, was an extremely fair and even positive portrayal of a transgender character; the narrator still finds her attractive after finding out, and even though he calls her a man, seems to accept that Lola's image of herself is that of a woman.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Newspaper Comics]]
* In Lee Falk's ''MandrakeTheMagician'', Mandrake's BlackBestFriend and [[BashBrothers Bash Brother]] is Lothar, an African Prince of a federation of jungle tribes and "the strongest man alive". While this may seem stereotypical, Lothar was portrayed with great respect and dignity compared to almost any other black characters at the time.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Professional Wrestling]]
* {{Wrestling/Sable}} is not quite fondly remembered as far as women wrestlers goes. She had no training, had it written into her contract that she couldn't bump and was there to provide {{Fanservice}}. Despite this, she was a woman that got popular in her own right and warranted a push as a star by herself - rather than as a valet to another man. She codified the SmurfetteBreakout and got the women's division resurrected just to give her something to do. What's more is that Sable was presented as a woman who would stand up for herself and fight for what she believed in. In the PG Era when many Divas were forced to go through {{Chickification}} or behave like a DistressedDamsel, this is very telling.
* {{Wrestling/Paige}} had hardly any character depth when she arrived in NXT. With the RedBaron "The Anti Diva" and a different look to most of the others, she was essentially reeking of RealWomenNeverWearDresses. However she still got over in her own right and proved that fans could get behind Divas if they were pushed as more than MsFanservice.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Religion]]
* [[Literature/TheBible An Eye For An Eye]] was originally instituted to prevent DisproportionateRetribution or long-term cycles of revenge. A later passage also specifies that payment in gold may not be substituted for capital punishments, implying that "eye for an eye" usually meant an eye's worth of ''money'' for an eye. Further, the version most people quote is actually a New Testament passage saying that while the law ''permits'' retribution Christians should choose forgiveness instead.
** OlderThanDirt: The Code of Hammurabi, the original source of "eye for an eye" was horribly socially stratified (i.e., much higher penalties for crimes committed by slaves against nobles than nobles against slaves) but was rather revolutionary in guaranteeing commoners ''any'' protection or compensation and in imposing ''any'' penalty on nobles.
* Biblical treatment of women and sexuality is often considered horrible by modern standards but may have been relatively liberal at the time.
** People complain about the "wives, submit to your husbands" New Testament passage, but then again the male side of that order, "husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church" (i.e. be willing to ''die'' for her in return) would have been unheard of at the time it was written. In fact, a careful examination of Christ's love for and treatment of the Church suggests that this is telling husbands to consider their wives' lives and happiness more important than their own.
** Ruth and Esther are Old Testament books completely dedicated to women, and in Esther's case, she saves her own people. It's also interesting to note that when David commits adultery with Bathsheba, it is David who receives the most punishment and blame for engaging with her - we do not remember Bathsheba getting punished/rebuked, but rather David. A proverb is dedicated to a strong and hard-working wife who has her own business.
** Israelite daughters (specifically if there were no sons) were also able to inherit property as long as they married a man from their own tribe.
** Laws commanding adulteresses and other sex offenders to be stoned sound like pretty harsh HonorRelatedAbuse. Then you reread them and notice that ''the man too'' must be punished. Unusually even-handed, given that even some modern societies punish only the woman and let the man play KarmaHoudini. Of course, the law wasn't always ''enforced'' that way, as demonstrated in the story of [[http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%208:1-11&version=NIV the woman caught in adultery]], that mentions nothing about her lover being stoned to death along with her, even though [[CaptainObvious he was caught in the act]] too (which in itself is not a proof for him not getting stoned, though)...
** [[http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy%2021:10-14&version=NIV Deuteronomy 21:10-14]] provides instructions to Israelite soldiers on taking a captive woman as a concubine: basically, shave her hair, cut her nails, and get rid of all her old clothes in order to erase her cultural attachments. Give her a month to mourn her parents, and then you can make her marry you. If you decide you don't want her anymore, let her go because you're not allowed to sell her like a common slave. Sounds like a formula for a MaritalRapeLicense? Undoubtedly. Is it an improvement over the more conventional "throw her on the floor, rip off her clothes, and gang rape her to death" treatment soldiers from ''just about every other nation on the face of the Earth'' were giving to women from the nations they'd just conquered at the time? Absolutely, especially since that long waiting period (which starts ''after'' getting home from the war, which might take quite some time to happen) is likely to cool that soldier's jets and make him reconsider whether any woman is really attractive enough to be worth so much trouble.
** Very strict early Christian divorce prohibitions may seem oppressive today, but were actually very attractive to Roman women and partly responsible for the rapid spread of the new religion. Under Roman law, it was extremely easy for a husband to divorce his wife or to take a concubine on whim, but extremely difficult for a woman to obtain a divorce even in cases of severe spousal neglect or abuse. The Christian conception of marriage as unbreakable but binding for ''both'' spouses seemed much more egalitarian.
** The Bible is also exceptionally progressive in the area of race and social status. Rahab the prostitute is given a place in the lineage of Christ. Specific OT laws are put in place (an repeated multiple times) to protect foreigners passing through Jewish settlements (reminding how the Jews were treated in Egypt as a warning to do better or else). Ruth, who was not a Jew, is given her own book. The New Testament is just as radical: Jesus talks to a Samaritan woman at the well, and later tells the parable of the Good Samaritan, where the Samaritan acts more justly than several members of the Jewish elite. Paul stresses the importance that in Christ there is neither "Jew nor Greek, male nor female," and just about every NT author emphasizes the need to share the Gospel with every tribe, tongue and nation. The most radical idea, however, is the concept that all men are equally evil as the next. That is a direct slap in the face to any kind of racial supremacy.
*** Creator/IsaacAsimov wrote an essay called "Lost in Non-Translation" in which he claims that we're too far removed in time and space from Jewish culture to understand the words "Moabite" or "Samaritan" the way the original audience would have, and suggests reading the books while mentally replacing those words with the name of some ethnic or cultural group that's despised ''now'' to understand the impact they were intended to have.
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharia#Women.27s_rights Sharia law]] gave Arab women rights that they didn't have in the pre-Islamic period, and in some cases western societies didn't have until the 20th century. It might seem unfair to 21st century Westerners that a woman is only entitled to inherit half of what a man inherits, or that women can only use fault-based divorce while a man can no-fault divorce his wife with an adequate number of witnesses, or that a woman's testimony is only worth half of a man's in court, but when you consider that in many societies--including pre-Islamic Arabia--women were not permitted to inherit at all, divorce their husbands, or testify in court, it's actually, well, pretty Fair For Its Day.
** Sharia law also has the concept of ''dhimma'', which grants protection to "People of the Book" (Christians, Jews and Sabians). Granted, Christians and Jews living in al-Andalus were second-class citizens and had to pay extra taxes, but this contrasts sharply with the neighboring Spanish kingdoms, where non-Christians were persecuted, forcefully "converted" to Christianity, and eventually expelled.
*** The extra taxes were because Islamic law forbids non-Muslims from serving in the military. There was at least one occasion when a Muslim general realized that the military situation required him to withdraw his troops and protection from a non-Muslim village. Because he was withdrawing his protection, he returned the taxes he had collected from the villagers for their defense.
** The Quran allows interfaith marriage under certain circumstances. A Muslim man is allowed to marry a Jewish or Christian woman so long as their children are raised Muslim. Muslim women, in the Sunni understanding, cannot marry non-Muslim men under any circumstances. (Shia women can marry non-Muslim men under the same rules as Muslim men can marry non-Muslim women; the Shia consider the prohibition on Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men to be an innovation introduced in the days of the Caliph Umar, whose legitimacy they do not recognize.)
* This trope is also a counterpoint for God and religion. While killing someone for some slight of the rules may seem unfair, in the days of Exodus and Moses these were well-nigh universal laws, where disobeying a king (any king) in virtually any matter large or small would be punishable by death, and crimes such as shoplifting were dealt with by [[DisproportionateRetribution cutting off the thief's hand]].
* In Literature/TheBible, if a man slept with a woman who was ''not'' [[ArrangedMarriage betrothed to]] someone else[[note]] If she was already betrothed to someone else and "did not scream for help" (though consideration was made if she couldn't scream or was not in earshot), that was just plain old adultery, and both the man and the woman were to be stoned to death.[[/note]], and someone found out, he legally was required to pay her father (or nearest male relative if her father was dead) the customary bride price and [[ShotgunWedding take her as his wife]]. He could not divorce her, no matter what. Note that this also could be applied to ''some'' cases where the woman was raped, not seduced. This was to provide for any child they may have conceived (a very real possibility in an era before effective contraceptives) and to protect the reputation of the woman's family (it also protected the woman, who would be considered DefiledForever, ensuring that someone would be forced to support her). Also, while the rapist would be obligated to pay for her upkeep for the rest of her life, she would ''not'' be obligated to live with him.
* 1 Timothy 2:11-12 ("A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.") may sound radically sexist by today's standards and is quite the bane of feminists everywhere, even Christians. However in the context of the time the first four words "A woman should learn" itself was a radically enlightened idea; most women living that time period wouldn't be educated at all. The remainder of the passage may still sound pretty backward, however one must consider that there were almost no women at the time with the knowledge or leadership experience to take on leadership roles. Moreover, note that Paul was speaking from personal experience; he wasn't prohibiting ''all'' women in ''all'' places and times from ''ever'' teaching or assuming authority.
** In a different context, all Paul had to say about women on the pulpit is that they should cover their heads when they speak (in deference to local customs) and that they shouldn't "talk" (i.e. chit-chat and gossip) in church.
** In fact, Paul also said that everyone was equal in Christ, regardless of sex, ethnicity, or social standing, an idea widely espoused (if not always followed) today.
** He also commended some early-church women for their work, such as [[http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%2016:1&version=NIV a deaconess by the name of Phoebe]].
** And, the word for "assume authority" in the 1 Timothy passage, does not appear elsewhere in the New Testament, and it is not the usual word for "authority" (exousia) which Paul and the other NT writers always use. Study of this "assume authority" word shows it is a very hard word, sometimes rendered as "usurping authority" or with the general idea of claiming undue and/or excessive authority. The bottom-line of this is that Paul was not forbidding the usual authority (exousia), but something very specific and most likely inspired by what was happening in Ephesus at the time Timothy was there. For a thorough study of this passage and others related to Paul's view on women in the NT, see [[http://christianthinktank.com/fem09.html this]], which is part of a larger study on the role of women in the Bible.
* Many people have condemned Literature/TheBible for allowing slavery, but they forget that the form of slavery that is allowed in the Bible is unusually humane for its time. A master can only have a Hebrew slave for seven years, and at the end of that time, he must give the slave land and implements to work it. This was from an era where slavery was practically universal, and abolishing it entirely would have been roughly the equivalent of abolishing business and commerce altogether. The Bible also says (in 1 Corinthians 7) not to be troubled if you're a slave, but get free if you can. It also says not to enslave yourself to man, but to God.
** This only applied to fellow Hebrews though (and even then could be made permanent in some circumstances). Foreigners could be owned for life, and passed down as inherited property.
** For that matter, [[Literature/TheBible Leviticus]] actually required people to protect escaped slaves from other countries. In most societies, in that time and place, hiding or otherwise protecting an escaped slave was a crime, and Moses was probably given some incredulous looks when he had the ''radical'' notion of giving slaves breaks, adequate water and supplies, and some shelter.
** There's also the story of Onesimus in the Book of Philemon, who was a runaway slave who Paul sent back to his master, but with a letter encouraging him to take back Onesimus as his equal, no longer as his slave (he was required to return the slave by Roman law, but encouragement in the form of a public letter ensured that Onesimus would not be abused or killed). Also, many believe that he was subtly hinting he wanted to have Onesimus back with him for his next mission, as he kept punning about how Onesimus (Latin for "Useful") had been so "useful" and helpful to him previously and should be "useful" to him again.
** Also, the racial overtones of slavery we think of today didn't exist until about the 17th century. The primary source of Biblical slaves was bankruptcy, followed by war. If you went too far into debt, you could be sold to pay the price; if you surrendered to your enemy in war, you could expect to be sold because that was just what people did.
** Also, in Ephesians, Paul tells slaves to pay respect and serve their masters for the sake of Christ. However, the real radical teaching was that masters were to do the same, because God did not favor either slave or free. In that culture, the idea of respecting and treating ones slaves as equals was an extremely radical thought.
*** In fact, if you simply think of a "slave" as an "employee" in modern parlance, or just anyone who works for you, and a "master" as your "boss" or any similar superior, the advice there can still be applied quite effectively now.
** Ultimately, some of the criticism is less whether it was humaner slavery and more that a deity said to be timeless and omniscient allowed and encouraged slavery at all when he could have advocated for modern standards.
* The Proverbs verse about the Wife of Noble Character is used by some modern sects to demonstrate [[StayInTheKitchen that a woman's place is in the home tending to her family]] [[AcceptableFeminineGoals and to work deemed appropriately feminine]], so that they won't be tempted into sin (or tempt others into sin), and their husbands can go off and take care of their own duties. But the passage was actually written [[MisaimedFandom not so much]] to tell ''women'' what they should be doing, but to encourage men to appreciate the work their wives were doing, instead of taking their wives for granted. Indeed, woman in the poem is portrayed as strong and capable and smart. She takes care of her home and family, and [[BeautyEqualsGoodness her appearance]], but she also runs her own business (and she is good at it, too!) Her husband respects her as an equal, his partner in every sense of the word, and he boasts about her to his friends and colleagues. Women are to follow the example of the Wife of Noble Character and use their talents and be the best person they can be...but men are to follow her husband's example and be supportive and appreciative of their wives.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theater]]
* ''Theatre/{{Carousel}}'': Modern audiences tend to find it disturbing that Julie could consider staying with a man who hits her. At the time it was written, though, what was unpalatable to the audience was that she would ''admit to being abused'' at all.
* Several operas of the past were really quite progressive back in the day. Examples:
** ''MadamaButterfly'' and ''Lakme'' were both stories about innocent women from the East being taken advantage of by men from the West. Nowadays, some people consider them mildly racist for their portrayal of Asian female stereotypes. But at the time, they were a rather loud reproach to Western people for their grabbing and crushing mentality toward Asian people and their culture. Pinkerton's and Gerald's treatment of Butterfly and Lakme respectively was repellent to any decent person, and probably more than one person left the opera house rethinking their ideas of Western superiority.
** La Juive was an opera that really addressed anti-Semitism of the day. A Christian prince disguises himself as Jew to woo a Jewish woman, but when their relationship is discovered, the Jewish woman and her father are sentenced to death by a hateful and anti-Semetic judge. But just when it is too late, the Judge discovers that the girl who he considered so filthy was in fact his long lost daughter, who was rescued and raised by the Jewish man. This really rebuked the idea of the supposed differences between Christian and Jew in a tragic way.
** LaTraviata features the courtesan Violetta, who repents and gives up her life of debauchery in order to live with her true love, Alfredo. But she is forced to leave him because the scandal of Alfredo living with a former courtesan is wreaking havoc with his family. At one point, Violetta almost directly rebukes the audience by claiming "Though God forgives, man never will". This subtle rebuke is often cited as the reason that the public wanted the costume to be changed from the then modern dress to a century before. They wanted to distance themselves from the reproach.
* ''Theatre/TheKingAndI'': Yes, there are crude stereotypes and comically ignorant, misogynistic Asians speaking pidgin English, who need a white woman to civilize them. But at the same time, it also articulates the King's struggle between tradition and modernity with more insight than would normally be expected in '50s America-contrast it with the Japanese guy in ''Film/BreakfastAtTiffanys''.
** It was also based on actual biographical writings, albeit likely exaggerated somewhat, by said white woman. Who was hired by the king as part of an attempt ''on his part'' to educate his wives and children to make Siam more able to interact with the then-still-dominant British Empire-which must have been successful, since Siam was one of only three East Asian countries to resist colonization. To put it simply: the King was GenreSavvy. He knew that if he put on a good show about how "civilized" Siam was, they could avoid subjugation by subverting the WhiteMansBurden "justification." His son was also responsible for ending many of the darker institutions of Siamese society that the book portrays, including slavery.
* Creator/WilliamShakespeare often wrote characters that would be considered in very poor taste today, but for his time were fairly even-handed.
** ''Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice'' has created a great deal of debate over how fair it is to its Jewish villain Shylock. Shakespeare often wrote villains with understandable grievances, and Shylock is no exception. He is given a famous monologue in which he eloquently complains about the many injustices he has suffered for his faith. This was a lot more fair than most Jewish characters were treated in Shakespeare's day. Shakespeare also kept the play's tone light by giving it what he would consider a "happy" ending: Shylock is forced to convert to Christianity and his daughter is happily married to a Christian. Most other stories gave their Jewish villains a gleefully gruesome KarmicDeath. For example, Creator/ChristopherMarlowe's far darker ''Theatre/TheJewOfMalta'' ends with the Jew Barabas being sentenced to death by boiling in oil.
** ''Theatre/{{Othello}}'' is about a black man who suspects his white wife is cheating on him and chokes her to death. In the original story on which the play was based, however, the Moorish character doesn't even have a name, and it ends with Desdemona [[AuthorFilibuster lecturing the audience]] on why interracial marriage is evil. In his adaptation, Shakespeare gives the Moor a name and fully fleshes out his character into a sympathetic war hero intelligent and sensitive enough to woo Desdemona with poetry. Shakespeare also adds the character of [[ManipulativeBastard Iago]] to serve as the play's villain, a white man who manipulates Othello into a jealous rage ForTheEvulz. In fact, the only overtly racist elements of the play are spoken by unsympathetic characters.
** ''Theatre/TheTamingOfTheShrew'' has a fairly sexist plot, but the standard "uppity wife" play of the time usually involved gleefully beating her into submission for the audience's amusement. By having Petruchio find a psychological solution (demonstrate how mean-spirited her behavior has been), never laying a finger on her, and letting her change in behavior be of her own choosing, it was downright enlightened. The play also shows the obedient, submissive Bianca, pretty much the epitome of a desired girl, turning out not to be quite the ideal wife her husband expected.
*** It's actually quite impressive that Shakespeare even ''wrote'' as many memorable female characters as he did, considering he was living in a time when it was illegal for women to perform on stage and female characters therefore had to be played by men in drag.
** ''Theatre/KingLear'' features Edmund, a version of the [[BastardBastard villainous bastard]] stock character popular at the time. But while he is a [[ManipulativeBastard resentful and conniving jerk]] who fits every stereotype, he has a pretty darn good FreudianExcuse for [[TheUnfavorite hating his family]] and nobody but his father ever really brings up his illegitimate heritage. He even inherits his father's land and title (after scheming to have his father and brother killed of course), and goes on to woo ''both'' heirs to the throne. He even tries to [[RedemptionEqualsDeath undo his last acts of villainy.]]
*** A complete aversion of the BastardBastard trope is found in ''Theatre/KingJohn'''s DecoyProtagonist, [[EmbarrassingNickname Phillip the Bastard]], who is the most loyal and brave character in the play, and gets a hefty dose of CharacterDevelopment besides.
* ''Theatre/{{Showboat}}'' seems pretty racist by modern standards, but at the time it was actually considered shocking that black people were even present together in a musical with white people. It is said that the audience didn't even clap at the premiere because they were all just sitting there gawking in shock.
** Specifically, that the ending of the entire musical was a [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eh9WayN7R-s big black baritone]] singing out an [[CrowningMusicOfAwesome epic song to the Mississippi]].
* ''Theatre/WestSideStory'' can seem a little stereotypical today with its portrayal of Puerto Ricans, but for the time it was written in, the 1950s, it was revolutionary in that it had sympathetic minority main characters and touched on subjects such as immigration and the devastating effects of racism, poverty and gang violence.
** You could argue that the reason for the Puerto Rican characters seeming stereotypical is because they ''are'' immigrants, and because they're still living in segregated communities, where the "stereotypical" accents and the old folkways linger a little longer. That's not prejudice, but social realism - which was ''also'' a new idea in the 1950s.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games]]
* Yes, despite having only been in the mainstream since UsefulNotes/GeraldFord was President, the world of video games is not immune to this trope...
* ''Franchise/TombRaider'''s protagonist, Lara Croft has been seen by some as a misogynistic adolescent male fantasy, given her [[BuxomIsBetter generous proportions]], not really helped by the developers admitting the reason why she was a female was so gamers wouldn't have to look at a guy's ass all day. However, at the time Lara was a pretty big step forward for women in gaming, who even when they were in lead roles in action or fighting games tended to be DamselInDistress types. Having a female character that not only had a strong personality, but didn't have a male character coming to her rescue at any time was something few games had tried in the past and none saw the same mass-market success. If nothing else, the series proved that gamers--at the time largely stereotyped as violence-addicted immature adolescent males--were mature enough to at least tolerate playing a female character.
* If you beat ''[[VideoGame/{{Metroid 1}} Metroid]]'' in under an hour, it was revealed that Samus was a girl...by showing her in a bikini. This was big at the time, however, as she was the first playable human female main character.
** 2010's ''VideoGame/MetroidOtherM'' caused controversy due to many feeling that [[UnfortunateImplications it came across as an inversion of this]].
* In ''[[VideoGame/LeisureSuitLarry Leisure Suit Larry 6]]'', one of the girls Larry dates turns out to be transgender, something Larry reacts to in disgust. This was less "transgender people are gross" and more "Hey, ''Film/TheCryingGame'' just came out, let's do a parody of Dil!"
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original]]
* The [[http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/almost-politically-correct-redneck Almost Politically Correct Redneck]] meme, though it's more "Fair For Its Region" than Fair For Its Day
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* WesternAnimation/{{Bosko|TheTalkInkKid}}, the first WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes star, was a black boy drawn in such a simple style that he resembled WesternAnimation/OswaldTheLuckyRabbit with human ears and a bowler hat. At the very start he spoke in a Southern drawl. But the creators saw their error and tried to backtrack. Soon Bosko was shown running businesses, fighting as a musketeer alongside white musketeers, and defending his girlfriend from white bad guys. Alas, the drawing style still causes uninitiated modern viewers to presume the worst.
** Whenever Warner Bros references Bosko in modern times (such as when he appeared on ''WesternAnimation/TinyToonAdventures,)'' he is ''always'' explicitly identified as just a general purpose "ink blot" CartoonCreature along the lines of the ''WesternAnimation/{{Animaniacs}}'' heroes.
** Speedy Gonzales has been the subject of criticism for his stereotypical Mexican qualities, [[MexicansLoveSpeedyGonzales but a lot of actual Hispanics had good memories of having a resourceful Latino hero on television.]]
*** It wasn't Speedy who was portrayed in a racist light, it was everyone who wasn't Speedy in the supporting cast, like Slowpoke Rodriguez or the Mexican mice who always call on Speedy to help them get cheese or be free from the oppressive rule of the "gringo pussycat" (Sylvester) or, in the much-maligned later cartoons, WesternAnimation/DaffyDuck.
** The WesternAnimation/MerrieMelodies cartoon "Clean Pastures" featured good natured spoofs of famous black jazz musicians, and the story suggests that certain types of black music are better than others.
* The original ''GIJoe'' animated series is often mocked nowadays for FamilyFriendlyFirearms, how the Cobra soldiers just about always escape from their exploding vehicles and overall lack of a body count. However, in its day, it was actually one of the edgier kids' shows. Characters were allowed to hit each other, and they do acknowledge the existence of death (heck, one of the episodes has them speaking to ghosts). In some ways, it's ''edgier'' than recent cartoons -- the HitFlash is completely absent.
** Interestingly, in the 1960s, people also died by the dozens in kids' shows such as ''WesternAnimation/JonnyQuest''.
* ''WesternAnimation/JonnyQuest'' itself (the original 1960s version of which originally aired in prime time) deserves a listing here. While the character of Hadji has some clearly stereotypical characteristics ("Sim sim salabim", anyone?), he was the first dark-skinned character to be a regular in a 1960s kids' show, was always treated as Jonny's equal, as well as his best friend and adopted brother, and had tricks that amazed or confused the adults featured.
** Also given the realistic art style of the show, mostly avoiding {{Engrish}}, and generally being competent, none of the non-white characters were racist caricatures, at least by '60s standards. They weren't always pretty, but they were far better than portrayals from earlier decades.
** The show has some blatant stereotypes by modern standards, including an almost complete absence of ''any'' black people (except in ''Pursuit of the Po-Ho"), plus about a second's worth of [[ChasedByAngryNatives angry African natives]] from that episode in the opening credits.
** In "Pursuit of the Po-Ho", Dr. Quest quietly chides another scientist for calling a Po-Ho ritual "barbaric". He says that it is, according to ''their'' standards, not the Po-Ho's.
* Referenced in ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' episode "[[Recap/JusticeLeagueS1E16And17Legends Legends]]." Green Lantern and the others have been transported to a world with 1950s era heroes, one of whom calls the black John Stewart "[[YouAreACreditToYourRace a credit to your people]]," which he genuinely means as a enlightened compliment, and would've been such for the time period they're from.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** When it first aired in 1997, the episode "[[Recap/TheSimpsonsS8E15HomersPhobia Homer's Phobia]]" delivered what was considered a largely positive view of gays, [[SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped with the message that gays should be accepted as human beings]]. However, viewed today, that same episode can come across as offensive [[CampGay for its stereotypical depiction of gays]] (though the Aesop of "Gays are no better or worse than heterosexuals and don't always follow the camp or overly macho stereotype" and "Parents need to be more understanding of their child's sexuality, unless it's obviously abhorrent or illegal" is [[SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped a fairly good message that needs to be taken to heart these days]], what with most gay, lesbian, bi, and transgender youth being bullied and abused at best, and assaulted, murdered, and DrivenToSuicide at worst.
--> '''John:''' Well, Homer, I gained your respect - and all I had to do was save your life! As soon as every other gay person does that, you'll be all set.
** "[[Recap/TheSimpsonsS4E3HomerTheHeretic Homer the Heretic]]" was once praised for showing that organized religion and fringe religions can get along just fine, but these days, you will find people[[note]]mostly on this site[[/note]] that think the whole episode is a screw you to those who are atheist or don't want to associate with mainstream religion, as it ends with Homer going back to church. (This is forgetting that in the episode Homer was neither atheistic - he actually claimed that God Himself told him he didn't have to go to church! - nor "alternatively religious", as he just didn't want to miss football games on Sunday mornings. Or that Apu's Hinduism is depicted favorably, and Hinduism is ''not'' a "mainstream religion" by most theological standards; in fact, by Western standards it's not a formal religion at all[[note]] Hinduism is commonly thought of not as a "church", ''per se'', but as a continuum of strongly related cults, not unlike the general polytheism of ancient Greece and Rome [[/note]].) On the plus side, it's not as aggressively bad as ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'''s Aesop of "Believing in God is for idiots" in "[[Recap/FamilyGuyS7E11NotAllDogsGoToHeaven Not All Dogs Go to Heaven]]" and, despite the Aesop, ''The Simpsons'' episode didn't sacrifice humor to get their message across to viewers.
* The Betty Boop cartoon "Making Stars". Despite the blantant racial stereotyping and usage of the word "colorful", the fact that the black American characters ''weren't'' in a segregated crowd was quite admirable for the 1930's, and the ending when all the babies drink from the same bottle could be interpreted as a diversity message.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Other]]
* Disney's "It's A Small World" was and is an appeal to everyone's shared humanity. While the various stereotypical attributes (folk costume, etc.) of the animatronic in the ride haven't particularly aged well (mostly because only the most traditional societies still wear such garb on an everyday basis), it's still TheThemeParkVersion of the possibility of a world where we can live together in peace.
** Worth noting is that the same mold is used to create the dolls' faces regardless of ethnicity, thus completely avoiding FacialProfiling.
* Some Barbie toys actually depicted Barbie in positions that women usually didn't have in that day-nowadays some people consider that to be "sexist". Most hilariously is when some people see veterinarian as one of Barbie's jobs as sexist.
* The ''Smothers Brothers'' sketch "Hiawatha" contains some fairly cringe-worthy jokes at the expense of Native American culture. However, it also contains Dick defending the Sioux "massacre" of Custer at the Little Bighorn, noting that it was a war and "Sitting Bull? Just doing his job." Given when the sketch was released that was quite fair-minded.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Real Life]]
* UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln, despite being known for his firm stance against slavery, held views that would be considered very racist today (a good example being his [[http://www.learner.org/workshops/primarysources/emancipation/docs/address.html "Nobody likes you and you should get the hell out of the country for your own good"]] speech to some prominent black citizens). Also, as a politician, he had to balance his various interests against each other; simply outlawing slavery would massively disrupt society and the economy, and further divide the country against itself. His original plan, which ultimately only got a partial enactment in Washington, D.C., itself, was to buy out the slaveholders at the taxpayers' expense and ship the newly freed blacks back to Africa. Only when this plan didn't work out as he'd hoped and all the disruption and division he'd been trying to avoid happened anyway did he finally decide on a somewhat more radical course, and then only as it came to be to his political advantage. Thus, while he wasn't exactly a saintly abolitionist (and most people never were), he does earn considerable admiration as a crafty politician for having been able to compromise and cajole his way to the slaves' emancipation. (And he ''did'' hate slavery, and for entirely altruistic reasons, even if he usually didn't say so publicly.)
* The Athenian democracy gets some deserved flak for excluding women, non-Greeks, immigrants, non-landowners and slaves. Yet, a society where the leaders were elected rather than born into power is pretty good going for several centuries BC.
* Sparta was quite fair for its time. Apart from the very rigid training for both intellect and physical fitness boys and men underwent up to 30 years of age, Sparta's political power was shared by two kings, not just one, and people were given the right to vote. The kings had to get approval for their actions from the ephors, who in real life were not hideous perverted inbred priests, but respected citizens elected by the people to act as a kind of ombudsmen or board of control. As for women, they were meant to stay home and make babies; however, unlike every other Greek society of the time, women owned property in their own name (women eventually came to own a third of all Sparta's land in their own right), got to go out in public without a male escort, and were educated just like men until they reached marrying age. Baby-making was also seen as a serious responsibility for which they had to be suitably prepared, so they went through plenty of physical exercise and didn't marry until eighteen (as opposed to the rest of Greece's fourteen), so their bodies would be strong and they wouldn't die in childbirth quite so easily and would have tough, healthy babies. Another, maybe minor aspect of the culture was that only people who died on the battle field (men) or died in childbirth (since women were not allowed in the military), would be given named graves. Even a king who did not die in battle would go unnamed. In other words, respect was not a title, but had to be earned.
* Ancient slaves were often treated more fairly (they could achieve citizenship and at some times it was expected from a rich man to free his slaves) than many Africans imported to North America. It was also not usually racial, and in a perverse sense more "equal"-it was possible for virtually anyone to become slaves assuming they fell into the wrong circumstances (debts, taken captive in war, etc.) Many powerful people were born or spent some time as slaves.
* UsefulNotes/GeorgeWashington was very nearly the only one of the slave-holding Founders even to make an attempt to free his slaves. For him, the matter was excruciatingly complicated: he wanted to free his slaves late in his lifetime, but most of his slaves weren't technically ''his'', instead being "dower slaves" owned by his wife Martha, and technically not his to do with as he wished. Further, freeing his own slaves and leaving Martha's slaves in bondage (outside of looking like gross hypocrisy) might conceivably have broken up slave families. He published a will that upon his and Martha's deaths, all slaves the two held were to be freed and educated enough to let them enter society as free men, and those too old or infirm to enter free society were to be cared for at the expense of Washington's estate for the rest of their lives. He had the will published, but Martha's relatives (Washington himself was the last of his line) did their best to get it quashed.
* The Inquisition is usually portrayed as a sinister and oppressive organization. However, The Papal Inquisition was the first European secret police more than anything else. The Inquisition was also revolutionarily lenient for its time, as it strictly limited the use of torture (which was very common in secular courts), allowed the defendants legal representation, and issued death sentences much less often than in municipal proceedings where petty thieves usually were sent to swing. However all this pales compared to the fact that the Inquisition rose above its contemporary courts in [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presumption_of_innocence placing the burden of proof on the prosecution]].
** And the Spanish Inquisition ended witch trials in Spain a full century before the rest of Europe because it required scientific proof of witchcraft-not just eyewitness accounts.
** Among protections afforded accused heretics was that if you were called before the Inquisition, you were required to make a list of all your enemies. Anyone on that list was forbidden to give evidence against you, because it was presumed to be false and motivated by spite.
* Hammurabi's Code had a great many {{double standard}}s and even triple standards, but it still compared favorably to what his contemporaries in the region were doing.
** For that matter, "an eye for eye, a tooth for tooth" was a step up from the previous standards, since it ''limited'' the amount of retribution to the amount of harm. Also, the oft-quoted "An eye for an eye" bit in Hammurabi's code has a qualification rarely mentioned when the law is quoted: it only applied when the victim was a nobleman. For the common folk, the loss of an eye called for the payment of a piece of silver (that said, the notion that common folk were entitled to ''any'' legal recourse when injured by their betters was a huge advance in the direction of justice).
** What Hammurabi's code did achieve, for all its failings and inequities, was to specifically define crimes and their punishments. This made law a predictable and reliable thing, which was a considerable advance over the previous levels of law-making and punishments, which were roughly equivalent to "I hope the king (or judge, or chief, etc.) is in a good mood today" before then. You might not like the place where you stood very much under the Code, but you knew where it was and that it was stable.
** Some of it would fit right in a modern law code:
*** Section 206,[[OlderThanTheyThink "If during a quarrel one man strike another and wound him, then he shall swear, "I did not injure him wittingly," and pay the physicians,"]] is a pretty good paraphrase of "Direct medical expenses arising from a negligent act may be claimed against the wrongdoer."
*** Section 232, "If it (the poorly constructed house) ruin goods, he shall make compensation for all that has been ruined, and inasmuch as he did not construct properly this house which he built and it fell, he shall re-erect the house from his own means," is similarly paraphrased as "Goods damaged by the negligent construction of a building in which the goods are stored may be claimed against the wrongdoer, and restitution to be made on the damaged building."
*** Section 250, "If while an ox is passing on the street (market) some one push it, and kill it, the owner can set up no claim in the suit (against the hirer)," is the first basis for the ''novus actus interveniens,'' or "new intervening act" doctrine in negligence law. Section 245 also illustrates this concept.
*** Section 103, "If, while on the journey, an enemy take away from him anything that he had, the broker shall swear by God and be free of obligation," is the first description of ''force majeure'' (the doctrine that someone may be released from his end of a contract because overwhelming circumstances beyond his control made compliance impossible).
** And then there was the fact that the law wasn't just written down, it was written where ''everyone could see it''-thus ensuring that a person couldn't deceive you about what the law was and making sure you don't have access to it to check.
* Many people call Dr. John Langdon Down (November 18, 1828-October 7, 1896) racist for claiming that 'Mongoloids' (now referred to as people with Down's Syndrome) were a throwback to an earlier stage of evolution. However, what they don't realize is that he considered mentally handicapped Caucasians to be proof that non-white races were actually ''human beings'', something that was a topic of much debate among white people then. He also supported the rights of women, claiming that [[LamarckWasRight educated women produced smarter sons]] (contrary to the common belief that excessive education masculinized a woman and made her infertile, or produced lower-quality children).
* Similarly, Johann Blumenbach (11 May 1752-22 January 1840) (who gave us the term Caucasian for white people) underwent a weird CharacterDevelopment with regards to race. He initially believed that race determined a person's level of intelligence (with "Negroid" races being below all others). However, he later fell in love with a black woman and came to the conclusion that black people were just as intellectually capable as any other race (presumably he observed this personally in her).
* The Meiji Era (1868–1912) language and educational reforms of Japan now look like efforts to eradicate dialects and enforce a single, very specific restrictive standard on people, but at the time they were enlightened efforts to create class equality and open up scholarship to the lower classes by making scientific or literary writing accessible to people who couldn't afford years of education in heavily Chinese-influenced writing.
* The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia contains a provision that Parliament may make laws about "The people of any race, other than the aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws." The 1967 referendum finally recognizing indigenous Australians ''as people'' in fact DELETED "other than the aboriginal race in any State." This makes more sense once you realize that this provision is interpreted such that it only allows ''beneficial'' laws to be made about any one race (thus allowing Federal Indigenous Scholarships, grants, etc.) and overrode State laws that did ''very bad'' things to indigenous Australians.
* The Irish Constitution opens ''In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred, We, the people of Éire, Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial, [...] Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.'' These explicit references to Christianity are quite exclusionary to the many atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Jews, etc. who now live in Ireland-but at the time (1937) there was a push for it to open ''In the name of Our Lady of Lourdes...'', an explicitly Roman Catholic opening, but they went with a version acceptable to all Christians ([[AndZoidberg except Unitarians]]).
** Likewise, before 1973, the Irish Constitution "recognised the special place of the Roman Catholic Church", which appears to view Catholicism specially, however it also mentioned other non-Catholic religions (like Anglicans, Methodists and Jews). Catholic extremists wanted no mention of other religions and wanted an official state religion. The "special place" was due to the Roman Catholic Church being "the guardian of the Faith of the professed by the majority of the population", i.e. the RCC is special only due to the amount of members it has. The official church position is that RCC is special since it descended from {{Jesus}}.
* [[http://books.google.com/books?id=5EoEAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PP1&pg=PA16#v=twopage&q&f=false This]] ''LIFE Magazine'' article from April 1938 compares photos of UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt to photos of UsefulNotes/BenitoMussolini, UsefulNotes/JosefStalin, and UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler. It was in response to Roosevelt's infamous Reorganization Bill, which would have dramatically strengthened the Executive Branch and which many Americans were ''strongly'' opposed to (even die-hard Roosevelt fans generally see it as one of his greatest mistakes). Fast-forward three and a half years, and such an article [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII would be seen as treasonous]].
* The exams performed in dynastic China may seem overly restrictive today, what with the fact that one highly difficult test could make or break your prospects. However, these tests were designed to allow people to have civil service jobs based on merit. In an era when most countries gave jobs based on connections, this was considered ''very'' progressive. The civil service exam and the bureaucracy that it staffed were so stable and powerful that they survived and continued to function through more than a dozen dynasties, including the Mongol and Manchu invasions. The idea that the daily business of government would not be stopped by mere politics was pretty radical.
** This system of meritocracy gained popularity in the British Empire and the United States because it was seen as a much better alternative to their then-current systems of nepotism and the spoils system.
* When St. Augustine of Hippo (November 13, 354-August 28, 430) was writing, he included a detailed treatise on sexuality that basically reaffirmed the commonly held idea that SexIsEvil. He did, however, make it clear that a woman who was raped ''[[NotIfTheyEnjoyedItRationalization and did not enjoy it]]'' did not commit a sin. The "did not enjoy it" part may sound awfully insensitive and sexist nowadays, but back then (when the prevailing view was that AllWomenAreLustful, with all the UnfortunateImplications that trope carries) this was rather innovative thinking for its time.
* Medieval Germanic society had the concept of the ''weregild'' (literally, 'man-price'). If a person killed another person, they could avoid punishment by compensating the victim's family in money or material goods. There was even a standardized code in place, establishing weregild prices depending on the victim's social status and circumstances of death. The concept of applying a monetary value to a human life may seem callous to us today[[note]]although the insurance industry and actuarial practice exist to do ''exactly'' that, along with wrongful death suits[[/note]], but considering the alternative form of retribution was the victim's family enacting a revenge killing, kicking off a blood feud that would most certainly cost more to the involved parties in loss of life and property, it was quite civilized and pragmatic.
** [[RealityIsUnrealistic The Weregild is the oldest law still in force in any common law country]]. It predates the common law crime of murder, and the name has been updated; it's called the tort of wrongful death. Torts to the person, the lesser cousin to the Weregild, ''also'' assign monetary values to various injured body parts, as well as the amount of money that person earned with that body part. For a modern example-take a look at OJ Simpson's misfortunes.
** At the time, many legal systems had a very different method-charges were brought by private citizens (usually the victim themselves, or next of kin if they were dead or unable to) and more similar to what we would now call a tort case.
* Maryland's Act of Toleration in 1649 guaranteed religious freedom-as long as you were a Christian. Given that this was the age of the UsefulNotes/ThirtyYearsWar, one of the most horrifying wars ever, fought in large part over rivalry between Christian sects, it's more impressive than it sounds today.
* Tommy Douglas referred to homosexuality as a "mental illness". In fact, he said this because he supported decriminalizing it and wanted people to be more tolerant (something that was also true for other progressives then).
* The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiping_Heavenly_Kingdom Taiping Heavenly Kingdom]] might seem like a repressive theocracy run by a messianic lunatic, but it was also the first government in China to prohibit slavery, concubinage, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foot_binding foot binding]], and to hold women and all races to be equal in the eyes of the law.
* European missionaries in colonial India were known for their aggressive proselytization and callousness to the local cultures, but the areas that they were most successful in were ones that had many members of lower castes under the caste system and dalits (aka "untouchables"). People who were told their entire lives that it was a disgrace and worthy of punishment ''even to have their shadow fall on'' a higher caste person were told that everyone was equal before Christ and that God loves everyone equally. Even now, dalits are common among Indian Christian converts (and before that Muslim converts, for their similar teachings).
* John Tharpe owned a slave plantation in Jamaica. However, he was famous for treating his slaves with dignity and respect. During a slave rebellion, other houses were burned down but his was spared.
** Alexander Stephens, Vice-President of [[UsefulNotes/AmericanCivilWar the Confederate States of America]] also owned slaves but treated them kindly and supported several laws that would protect slaves from abuse and even prevent the recapture of runaway slaves in free states.
** The Confederacy allowed black slaves to set up accounts with their owners that they could deposit money into to eventually buy their freedom. These accounts were ''protected by law'' against embezzlement by the slave owners.
* Before the Emancipation Proclamation, Louisiana, like other [[DeepSouth Southern US states]], allowed slavery. However, slaves had rights that they didn't have in other states. Slaves could seek legal action against abusive masters. Also, in accordance with Louisiana's predominant Catholic faith, even slaves were given Sundays off. During those Sundays, slaves could work their own businesses and keep whatever money they earned.
** This was in good part due to the state's French heritage, particularly the French [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_Noir Code Noir]] which had certain articles requiring humane treatment of slaves. The very similar Spanish Code Negro was a socio-political compromise, after a number of Spanish Catholic priests who'd attempted to enforce the Church's unambiguous canon laws against chattel slavery got slaughtered for their efforts.
** What few people also know is that blacks and whites were fighting for equality in Louisiana a full century before the rest of the United States. And the code Noir also forced slave purchasers to purchase entire families rather than splitting families and slave owners typically legitimized their children born to slaves and provided them with a proper education. Slave owners also had no way to pass slaves on to their children meaning that upon a slave owner's death their slaves would be freed and most slave owners would give a portion of their estate equal to the original purchase price of the slaves to each slave upon their death.
* The British Empire, despite the damage its imperialism caused to its subjects, was the first of the major European empires to ban the slave trade in 1807, then slavery as whole in 1833, some 30 years before America.
** And created the West Africa Squadron in 1807, which actively hunted down slavers, eventually destroying the Atlantic slave trade.
** Similarly, while it was in the midst of the ReignOfTerror, the French government outlawed slavery (unfortunately this was later reinstated by Napoleon).
* King Edward VII of England was very liberal for his day, criticizing his nephew, Kaiser Wilhelm II, for not moving with the times and being decidedly displeased with British colonial attitudes, saying in 1875 (as Prince of Wales) after a visit to India: "Just because a man has a black face and a different religion than our own, there is no reason why he should be treated as a brute."
** For that matter, those who equate imperialism with automatic racism should know that racist loopholes in the British civil-service system in India were completely closed as early as 1906 (when the Liberals came to power in Parliament) - more than 40 years before India's actual independence.
* Don't Ask Don't Tell. While today it is rightly seen as a backwards policy, at the time it was implemented, (the early 1990s) the idea that gays had equal rights wasn't as accepted in the majority as it is today. [=DADT=] gave gay Americans at least a chance to serve their country, even if they had to stay in the closet, whereas in the past, even suspicion of you being homosexual, regardless of if you were closeted or not, could land you in a lot of trouble. Prior to DADT, enlisting in the military if you were gay (defined by EVER having had same sex relations, even long before enlisting, or declaring yourself publicly to be gay, or seeking psychiatric treatment for "homosexuality") was fraudulent enlistment, and fraudulent enlistment was an offense for which a person could be court-martialed. It didn't always happen, and after the 1960s most people were just quietly discharged, but the possibility remained that one COULD be incarcerated in a military prison as a felon, and afterward, have all the stigma both of someone with a civilian felony conviction, and also a vet with a dishonorable discharge. You could not vote, or get a mortgage loan, work for just about any government agency, even as something like a janitor. After DADT, enlisting knowing you were gay was no longer fraudulent enlistment, and it was retroactive.
* When the vote was first extended to women in Britain by the Representation of the People Act 1918, it was only to women over 30 (men could vote at 21); but, considering that prior to the same Act being passed, only 60% of ''men'' (i.e. males over 21 according to the standards of the time) had the vote, it puts things into perspective.
* Creator/GaiusJuliusCaesar would be considered cruel by the standards of today (boasting about killing and enslaving millions of people can do that), but many contemporaries criticized him for being ''too lenient''. Case in point-he once dealt with a rebellious town by cutting off the right hand of every rebel in the town (so they could not raise arms against him again). Standard Roman practice would have been [[DisproportionateRetribution to kill every living thing in the town and turn it into rubble.]]
** Caesar is also the first person in history to have thought of the idea of life imprisonment-for treason, of all things. [[ValuesDissonance Everybody thought this novel punishment was ludicrous]]-how could you throw a man in prison for life and humiliate him when it would be far more merciful to just kill him? In fact, this very argument is still used by those opposed to the outright abolition of capital punishment.
* Most of [[UsefulNotes/ElizabethI Queen Elizabeth I's reign]]. At a time when Spain and France were actively murdering anyone who disagreed with the prevailing religious ideology, she was more concerned with making sure England ran smoothly. Anglicanism was the official religion, but all she required Catholics to do was pay a small fine for not attending Anglican services, which at that time was radically permissive. She hated executing people, and would often commute sentences at the last minute, unless the crime was treason. Philip of Spain tried twice to stage a Catholic uprising against her, only to find that most of the Catholics ''liked'' her. When asked about her lenient-for-the-time attitude, she said she "had no desire to make windows into men's secret minds and hearts", preferring to keep her people fed and her country financially solvent. At the time, England was almost the only kingdom that hadn't bankrupted itself fighting religious wars (it had occasionally nearly bankrupted itself from fighting Irish rebellions, but although the Irish were Catholic, that's another story entirely).
* Remember how Creator/KarlMarx believed that revolution was the only way workers could gain better conditions? Well, he ''did'' say all of this during a time where many countries did not give most workers the right to vote, so it seemed the only way that they could get what they wanted was through the use of force (though many of his followers joined parliaments peacefully later on, proving this wrong). Universal suffrage was one thing the Marxist parties helped to pass that most people ''do'' agree with. There are still some communist and anarchist groups that see the state, despite full suffrage, as irredeemably capitalist and insist that only a revolution can bring about real change though.
** Communism - defined as ownership of the means of production by the workers - is a far cry from the sort of "communism" practiced in the dictatorial USSR, which was effectively run like one giant corporation. And Karl Marx actually ''praised'' capitalism for having gotten rid of feudalism and for creating means of production that would allow for ending want once and for all - he could see the good in it as well as the bad.
** While many of Marx's criticisms of Capitalism seem unduly harsh (such as comparing factory work to literal slavery - which was ''actually still a thing'' while he was alive) but the modern context sees him as a radical and lacks the perspective of what 19th century Industrialism actually looked like, which is a far cry from today's standards. Reading Engel's "Conditions of the Working Class in England" describing what England was like in the 1840s" shows just how unbelievably miserable conditions were - Charles Dickens, if nothing, romanticized this misery. To Marx and Engels, people were quite literally being dehumanized and turned into cogs for an economy machine that rich people profited off of; factories had no safety standards, all kinds of people - men, women, and children, were regularly killed or maimed by them, and these people were never compensated. They were paid such insubstantial wages that most workers lived in the worst conditions, or were vagrant, and trying to fight for better pay resulted in being fired at best, or being beat up by corporate police. Not only did workers have basically no rights, but the very ''idea'' of workers having rights was laughed at. For Marx, this looked strikingly similar to what actual slaves were going through.
** Likewise, “Religion is the opiate of the masses” today sounds like Marx was calling religion a harmful addiction. But in 1840’s Europe, [[ArtisticLicenseHistory opiates weren’t used (at least not primarily) as recreational drugs]], but as medical painkillers. In other words, while Marx didn’t believe there actually was a God, he didn’t think of religious people as deceived addicts destroying society around them but as fundamentally reasonable people using the idea of another, fairer plane of existence to cope with their often unpleasant material situations.
* UsefulNotes/DwightDEisenhower's "And I don't care what it is" speech drew a contrast between the US and "godless" communist regimes and stated that all moral and just governments needed to have a foundation in religious faith. That might sound incredibly backward and reactionary (or at least old-fashioned) to someone in a more secular society today. However the line that it takes its name from is him stating that he doesn't care about what religion it's based on, and that ones other than Christianity can be valid foundations for society, a rather progressive view at the time, and even moreso than many today hold.
** Even the addition of the "under God" clause into the Pledge of Allegiance, on Eisenhower's watch (1954), was fair enough. Its proponents pointed out that it would discriminate against only atheists, agnostics, and polytheists, groups that were in politically unorganized minorities at the time in the United States - not Jews and Muslims (which would have been the implication had the clause been worded "under Jesus").
* TheBible prescribes punishments that might seem harsh or even barbaric to modern readers, but compared to contemporaneous Near Eastern law codes (such as Hammurabi's Code), it's actually quite fair. People tend to forget that there were trials in Biblical times, and that the standards of evidence were pretty high (e.g., a conviction needed at least two eyewitnesses), especially in capital cases (where even a confession was insufficient to convict).
** The famous "eye for an eye" standard typically allowed monetary compensation in place of actually mutilating the perpetrator (notably, Numbers 35:31 specifies that monetary substitution is not allowed for murder, implying that it was the rule more typically).
** The most common punishments in the Bible are flogging and fines, with death prescribed for extreme cases. That's not unusual for ancient societies, where food scarcity made imprisonment impractical.
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