Overshadowed By Controversy
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There are some well-known works that gathered controversy throughout the years, and there are also famously controversial works in which the controversy, whether rightful or not, would overshadow most other aspects. Which isn't to say that works in the latter category have no other redeeming factor, just that most people would know little else aside from the controversial aspects.
Bad reviews alone do not make a controversial moment, and in fact some works can be well-regarded by critics and those who watched, read or played the work, and not all works listed here are either laughably bad
or just downright terrible
. Plot-related twists are generally not what makes up the category either, even if such cases are subjective and arguable. The major qualifier is that the works would be known beyond the fans of a particular genre that there's little knowledge of some other parts of a work to the general public.
Controversies can be a result of the following:
- Moral Guardians (be they politicians or groups)
- Unfortunate Implications
- Public cat-fights between the creator and the media, critics, public, or all three (such as Dear Negative Reader rants).
- Deceptive or offensive marketing
- Frequent embarrassing displays of offensive or questionable behaviour: chronic examples of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs in public, showcasing a Hair-Trigger Temper whenever feeling provoked, making impulsive offensive comments, use of foul language,...
See also Colbert Bump
, Dancing Bear
, Just Here for Godzilla
, Mainstream Obscurity
, Complaining about Shows You Don't Watch
, and Watch It for the Meme
. Compare and contrast No Such Thing as Bad Publicity
, and Controversy-Proof Image
. When a whole genre gets held under controversy, it would become The New Rock & Roll
Please be cautious about editing this page
. It isn't supposed to imply that there's no other redeeming factor for the works on this list. It also doesn't necessarily mean that the creators meant
their work to be controversial.
- This French Orangina ad. It barely raised an issue in France, but when a few activists showed it to the US people were so shocked by all the YIFF they saw that one of the later Orangina ads poked fun at it, only to realize that most French that saw it barely had any clue what the fuss was all about. They continued to keep the border-line furries as mascots, as their target country seemed all right with it.
- The manga Houou Gakuen Misoragumi barely made a blip in the US. But what was the general fan response? Absolute hatred. Both from the fans and the English publishers. Why? Because it's a manga that takes the Cure Your Gays route FAR too seriously, bringing along with it a whole mountain of Values Dissonance regarding lesbianism and gender roles. The English publishers treat it as an Old Shame and don't ever bring it up anymore.
- Kodomo no Jikan (proposed title Nymphet) was licensed by publisher Seven Seas but never released in America due to its lolicon overtones.
- They had only seen the first book (which isn't too bad in terms of content). Then the controversy erupted. Initially, Seven Seas defended the title, but a combination of major book chains refusing to stock it and their reading the later volumes (which come very close to violating the PROTECT Act) caused them to change their mind and drop it.
- Lotte no Omocha, for the same reasons as Kodomo no Jikan - the female protagonist is a succubus? Well, OK, nothing bad about it so far... wait, the female protagonist is also 10 years old and will die if she doesn't drink Life Essence? Dude, Not Funny!
- The Pokémon episode "Electric Soldier Porygon" is known far more for causing a record-breaking number of seizures in Japan upon its initial airing and the resulting ban on airing the episode in any form worldwide than the actual content of the episode itself.
- Bunny Drop will forever be remembered for its ending where the main character dates and then marries his adopted daughter whom he raised from childhood than any of its own merits before that.
Films — Animated
- The first two Tintin stories, Tintin in the Land Of The Soviets and Tintin in Africa are both controversial to this day. The first is essentially a Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped anti-Soviet, anti-Communist propaganda piece that even Hergé saw as an Old Shame and refused to have updated, colorized or even reprinted. The second has been updated, colorized and reprinted, but has gained more controversy since the 1960s because of the outdated colonial times imagery and very offensive depictions of black Africans. A similar thing happened with The Shooting Star, which was made during the Nazi occupation and features a banker with a big bulbous nose as the villain, who not only looks a lot like a stereotypical Jew, but also has a Jewish sounding name Bohlwinkel. Hergé denied that this was intentional and claimed the name was just a Marollian note name for "candystore". He was actually surprised that it was a Jewish surname too. The original story had the banker being American too, which was changed in the reprints to the fictional state Sao Rico. There was also a minor scene poking fun at two rabbis, gloating over the fact that the world will end because then they wouldn't have to pay their debts off, which was also removed.
- Robert Crumb has drawn a lot of stories that really pushed the boundaries of social taboos. Some of them frequently turn up in analysis about the freedom of speech because they are extremely offensive to women and Afro-Americans.
Films — Live-Action
- Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker is remembered for two controversial scenes: the Bonk vs. The Joker scene in which the latter kills the former with the "Bang!" Flag Gun, and the entire flashback scene, with the very noteworthy part near the end in which Robin does the same thing to the Joker. Even before the film was released to video and DVD in 2000, movie companies were coming under heavy criticism for violence in films during the fallout of the Columbine shootings that had happened over a year ago, and WB felt pressured and afraid that Moral Guardians and Media Watchdogs would object that the movie would be a repeat of Columbine. As a result, the original release date (Halloween 2000) was postponed, and the film heavily edited and toned down for release on December 12. But even then, the Bowdlerised version (especially with the Joker's death scene changed to a Family Unfriendly High Voltage Death) didn't help matters, but only caused unrest among many Batman fans that lasted for over a year. That unrest thankfully quelled down when the film developers still retained the original version in shelves and eventually released it on DVD as "the original, uncut version" under the PG-13 rating on April 23, 2002 (just three days after the third anniversary of the Columbine tragedy) following an online petition to have it released. The same uncut version would be digitally enhanced and released on Blu-Ray nine years later, just as it was intended to be before the backlash, as a way of ensuring that no tragedy such as Columbine would ever happen again.
- Coonskin, Ralph Bakshi's satirical Blaxploitation re-imagining of the Uncle Remus tales. The Rev. Al Sharpton famously criticized the film without even seeing it, saying, "I don't got to see shit; I can smell shit!" This has given the film some very undeserved bad publicity that it only managed to shake off in recent times, when professional critics and black audiences praised it for being a great movie that is absolutely the opposite of being racist. Even Spike Lee is a fan!
- Everyone will agree that A Clockwork Orange is a controversial film. However in the United Kingdom its reputation is more legendary because the film was banned there from 1971 until Kubrick's death in 1999. Therefore, its controversial reputation remained far more intact than in other countries.
- Baise Moi was banned in France because of its unsimulated sex scenes in the context of two female rape victims having revenge on their aggressors. The debate whether this is nothing less but cheap exploitation, or not, is still going on.
- The Birth of a Nation is a milestone in the history of cinema as an art form, pioneering many techniques that would shape motion pictures for decades to come. Unfortunately, it's also a film that glorifies the Ku Klux Klan and has white people in blackface portraying all Black people as either savage criminals or lazy idiots, and it has been cited as a key influence in the revival of the Klan in the 1910s and '20s. This aspect has overshadowed most of its historical significance.
- The Brown Bunny is a film known mostly for an unsimulated oral sex scene, being booed harshly at the Cannes Film Festival, and the subsequent media catfight between Roger Ebert and the director. The film was later Re Cut and given a wide release, and Ebert gave the recut a three star review.
- Interestingly, it didn't happen with In the Realm of the Senses; much like The Brown Bunny the film has many unsimulated sex scenes including oral and it also received harsh criticism at the Cannes Film Festival, but ultimately it was not overshadowed by it. This is probably because In The Realm Of The Senses is actually a quality film with some artistic vision. It also gained more positive reviews from professional critics than The Brown Bunny ever did or will.
- Cannibal Holocaust was notorious to a degree that it forced director Ruggero Deodato and the actors to explain that nobody died in production and the gore was just special effects. There is still a great deal of controversy to this day relating to animal cruelty, such as an infamous scene in which an actual live turtle is brutally decapitated and eviscerated onscreen. Seven animals were killed during the film's production. Although the director himself condemned his past actions and seems genuinely regretful, many people are turned off by the presence of actual animal deaths onscreen.
- Many movies which were put on the Video Nasties list in the UK during the early 1980s have gained more notoriety for being on that list than for their actual artistic merits. In a lot of cases many of these movies are fairly overrated in terms of violent and sexual imagery and it's obvious that the people who compiled that list probably didn't saw many of the films and just based their opinion on the titles or rumors.
- Cloud Atlas will probably be remembered more for the controversy over the decision to have white actors appear in Yellow Face than for its story.
- The Dark Knight Saga:
- The release of The Dark Knight might well be overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the tragic death of Heath Ledger, who played the Joker, not long before the movie premiered.
- The release of The Dark Knight Rises, the final film of the trilogy, was stained by a mass shooting at its Aurora, CO premiere, with the shooter even identifying himself as The Joker.
- Ken Russell's The Devils (1971) has been banned, censored and re-cut in so many countries that several different versions of different lenghts exist. Its offensive blasphemous content has brought more attention than the actual picture itself.
- The Elite Squad already suffered before release with its digital leak. Then came the discussion on whether the aggressive special corps were glorifying police violence (though it was mostly overseas; in Brazil, reviewers knew criminality was high\cruel and at times can only be fought by being equally brutal methods, and also thanked it wasn't a work glamourizing criminals for a change).
- Eraserhead - Two words: the baby. Primarily because no one associated with the film (ESPECIALLY David Lynch) cares to discuss what the baby was made out of.
- "They're not even sure it IS a baby..."
- If you see any articles on Exodus: Gods and Kings, chances are they're more about the film's casting choices (White actors playing Egyptian and Middle Eastern characters) than of the actual film itself.
- Fight Club: So much discussion is made of the violence and underlying message of the film that almost nobody says anything about its actual quality as a movienote .
- Gangster Squad ended up having some scenes reshot because a theater shooting that occurred in the film resembled the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Yet even with the reshoot the film as whole was deemed to be so violent that it was still hard to forget the parallel with Aurora. It didn't help that the film was released about a month after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
- The 1968 Heidi TV movie adaptation was infamous for interrupting the end of a Jets-Raiders game, leading to numerous complaints and setting the precedent for longer-than-intended sporting events overriding scheduled programming on American television.
- Hound Dog, as quoted on the page description above, was infamously referred to as the Dakota Fanning rape film by critics and moviegoers alike.
- The Interview had already attracted controversy for playing an assassination attempt on a real-life dictator for laughs, but after hackers leaked a massive amount of sensitive information relating to Sony Pictures and issued terrorist threats for any theater that dared to screen the film, Sony announced they would pull the film from theaters... Only to release it in a smaller scale (limited cinemas, wide digital) a week later.
- Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ had sparked protests from religious groups worldwide, including the infamous attack at a Paris cinema where the use of Molotov cocktails injured 13 patrons and brought the theater under heavy repairs for the next three years.
- Taxi Driver is good enough to stand on its own merits, but it will forever be linked to John Hinckley and his attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. Even Jodie Foster had to keep a low profile for many years to avoid her name to become tainted to the incident.
- Melancholia gets remembered more for the infamous interview of its director Lars von Trier about how he "was a Nazi", and then how that got him banned from Cannes.
- Mohammad Messenger Of God was plagued by this from the start. False rumors that it actually portrayed the Prophet Mohammad onscreen, condemnation from numerous Muslim clerics, funding from Muammar Gaddaffi, violent protests abroad and a terrorist attack in Washington, DC conspired to make Mohammad notorious for reasons other than its artistic merits.
- Monty Python's Life of Brian was considered by the troupe to be their best movie, but the protests surrounding its supposed heresy will always limit its popularity with religious viewers.
- At the time of release, protests by religious groups were described by the Pythons as the best publicity they could have hoped for. It really raised a lot of awareness of the film's existence, and led to a much higher box office taking. No Such Thing as Bad Publicity.
- Similarly, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ arguably owes its record-breaking success with audiences who weren't devout Christians to this very trope. Practically everyone in America already knew the story (unlike The Last Temptation, the plot itself wasn't revisionist in any way), so the most interesting two things about the movie for most people were that it was ridiculously violent for a "Christian" film (as well as being probably the only R-rated film in history that Christian leaders urged their congregations to see) and that it was that rare post-1945 Western film with (supposed) anti-Semitism as part of the subject matter. Cool.
- Walt Disney's Song of the South, like the stories it is based on (see the Uncle Remus stories below), is remembered more for the Unfortunate Implications of a happy ex-slave living in the American South than for anything other than, perhaps, "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah". This aspect of the film has made it enough of an Old Shame for Disney that they have locked it up in the Disney Vault forevermore.
- Triumph of the Will and Olympia by Leni Riefenstahl are visually impressive documentaries which were way ahead of their time from a technical standpoint. However, it's hard to praise these films because they were intended as Nazi propaganda. Riefenstahl was never able to distance herself from all the controversy surrounding these films and herself.
- Twilight Zone: The Movie will be forever tainted by the helicopter crash death of Vic Morrow and two child actors during filming.
- Vase de Noces is mostly a Leave the Camera Running film, starring an Ambiguous Disorder man and his faithful pig, going about on random hobbies and at one point porking each other. That one scene is thus the most highlighted part of the film for those who've heard of it, to the point that the DVD release even added the subtitle "The Pig F***ing Movie". It's also subverted in that, according to some critics such as Kyle Kallgren, the film's even-worse scenes (including unsimulated piglet hanging and eating feces) avoided public outcry due to being overshadowed by the one (simulated) zoophilia scene (which happens much earlier in the movie).
- The 1996 film Crash (based off the book of the same name, not a 2004 film about racial tension) is a film that revolves around James Spader and Holly Hunter's characters reviving their failing marriage by replicating famous car crashes and getting sexually aroused by it. The premise naturally caused the UK's Moral Guardians, most notably the Daily Mail, to campaign against both the violence and the sex (the latter of which was agreed to be the source of the controversy, somehow overlooking the whole "recreating car crashes" premise) and cause a huge national debate that lasted for a few years. The film was agreed by critics to be okay, but some said that the campaigning against it had heightened their expectations, leaving them disappointed.
- A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess thanks much of his infamy to the movie adaptation by Stanley Kubrick, something Burgess himself wasn't happy about.
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is well known for how many times the book has been banned because of its persistent use of the word "nigger". This is despite the facts that the slave character, Jim, is arguably the smartest character in the whole book, and that the book is ultimately anti-racist, as shown when Huck tears up a letter meant to tell where Jim has been captured and goes to save him, despite Huck honestly believing this means that he'll go to Hell.
- Alfie's Home is a children's book... about curing homosexuality, arguing that dysfunctional families cause kids to be gay because they lack the love from a parental figure, but it's MUCH more infamous for a blatant depiction of a child getting molested by his Creepy Uncle, who is also a Karma Houdini.
- Fanny Hill is well known for having been a subject of obscenity tests and for having been banned in America from inception until a 1966 Supreme Court case ruled that the book has redeeming social value. When it was published in 1748, it got the author arrested on obscenity charges.
- Lolita is unfortunately more famous for the controversy that surrounds it than the actual content and quality of the novel: Vladimir Nabokov went through many publishers who refused to publish it, and after it was published, it was banned in many places for being "pornographic" or "an instruction manual for paedophilia" (which it is not). Even for people who aren't familiar with the history of the book, a lot of the covers/jackets make it look like erotica.
- The children's book The Pet Goat probably wouldn't have an article on The Other Wiki if it weren't for the fact that George W. Bush was reading it as he was notified of 9/11, and the subsequent debate over whether he should have left or kept reading like he did.
- Rage by Stephen King is probably best known for being King's Old Shame after several school shootings were possibly inspired by the novel. King has let the work fall out of print.
- The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie is recalled more for the ensuing fatwa declared on the author by the Ayatollah Khomeini, and for the fallout from that incident, than for the novel itself.
- The Turner Diaries, a white supremacist novel by William L. Pierce, is best known for its association with Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City Bomber.
- The Uncle Remus stories are a group of actual fables told by slaves and former slaves in the American South, making them a valuable cultural resource. However, though once popular, they are now nearly unknown. Compiler and editor Joel Chandler Harris' fictional character who tells the stories, Uncle Remus, was written as an elderly ex-slave who was basically content to continue to work for a white family. The implied racism is now almost all that is known of the stories. The fables themselves, taken out of the Remus context, are stories about animals using their wiles to trick each other, and man, in order to survive. Unlike Aesop's fables, they are not meant to be morally instructive, but are a commentary on man resorting to animal-like behaviors in desperate circumstances.
- Uncle Tom's Cabin had a controversy that the publication of this book inspired over slavery, particularly in the years leading up to The American Civil War. However, few people have actually read the book, even those who (inaccurately) slur supposedly servile African Americans as "Uncle Toms".
- The slur is more a reference to the minstrel shows "inspired by" the book frequently put on after The American Civil War, which inverted the message of the original novel and completely changed Tom's characterisation.
- Arguably, the notoriety of John Lennon's murderer and Ronald Reagan's attempted murderer (among other gunmen) each possessing (and claiming as an influence for their actions) a copy of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye has overshadowed any merits of the book.
- The Qu'ran is this in some Islamophobic circles, including Western media. To non Muslims most of what they heard about the Qu'ran is how zealots, terrorists and fundamentalist crackpots misuse it. It has gotten to the point that quite some people claim the book is dangerous.
- On the other hand, the Torah is also this to some (obviously not all) of the more particularly Antisemitic Muslim communities. In Indonesian grade to high schools for example, the Torah and Jewish people themselves are often cited as the cause for all that is wrong with the world (also the United States, which of course is also controlled by those dirty Jews); it's not rare to find a random Indonesian Muslim proudly professing to be a Holocaust denier (or better, claim that they've never even heard of the Holocaust before) when asked.
- Ghostwatch, the one-off Halloween Special drama shown on BBC 1 in 1992, is better known for the controversy caused when a sizable chunk of the viewing audience thought it was real and the ensuing argument over whether this was the creators' desired effect than the fact that it's a damn fine ghost story. It makes frequent appearances on 'Underrated Horror Films' listicles as a result.
- Married... with Children will be has gained notoriety in 1989 for causing a Michigan housewife to launch a crusade to get it cancelled, which resulted in getting one episode banned for about a decade.
- Growing Pains will forever be known as a Troubled Production where its star Kirk Cameron demanded that the show be clean of everything even remotely obscene, including having series regular Julie McCollough fired for appearing in Playboy, due to being a born-again Christian. This behind-the-scenes drama has tarnished Cameron's reputation and is frequently cited by anti-theists as a textbook example of why religion is bad.
- Roseanne was more famous for Roseanne Barr's backstage antics and personal life than the show itself when it was on the air. For the record, it's a realistic show about a working class family. Despite shades of Fashion Dissonance and Unintentional Period Piece, it's relevant with the Great Recession of the late 2000s/early 2010s, due to many American families struggling to make ends meet.
- Amos N Andy: This was a very popular comedy radio and TV show from the 1940s and 1950s starring two black people playing stereotypical dimwitted jive talking black fools. Due to Values Dissonance it hasn't been broadcast in ages anymore and is probably better known for the racial offensiveness than the actual comedy.
- Igor Stravinsky 's The Rite of Spring is universally praised for being a milestone in classical music and music in general. Yet the infamous story of the riots during its premier will forever remain associated with the piece.
- Milli Vanilli was once a popular group, but after a scandal broke out revealing the fact that they playbacked all their songs they became a universal shame. To this day nobody in their right mind can admit liking their hits without addressing the playback scandal.
- The Sex Pistols are mostly known for trying to play "God Save The Queen" from a barge during the Queen's Jubilee after being prohibited from playing the song on land. Much of the bad press was intentional.
- As was the bad press they received for "Belsen Was a Gas", which was more of the Dude, Not Funny! variety.
- Black Metal is mostly associated with crimes committed by a few of its members. This was not helped by said members exaggerating their own acts. As noted by Lords of Chaos in reference to an article in Kerrang:
Like it or not, however, the Kerrang! article was what brought Norwegian Black Metal to the rest of the world’s attention. It probably meant the crimes would eternally overshadow the music, but it was undoubtedly the best piece of international P.R. the scene would ever receive.
- This trope tends to be zigzaged with hip-hop artists. Sometimes they're overshadowed by controversy, other times they're FUELED by it.
- Fear of this trope was what caused Ice-T to remove "Cop Killer" from Body Count's debut album, as he felt that the controversy over its lyrical content had eclipsed its musical merits.
- Marilyn Manson was arguably the most controversial group in all of music during the mid to late 1990's, garnering everything from concert protests to being blamed for the Columbine shootings... but outside his fanbase and 1990s rock fans you'll find more people who know him as a result of the controversy than for his actual music.
- Notorious criminal Charles Manson has caused some pop songs to gain unwanted notoriety. For instance, the tracks "Helter Skelter" and "Piggies" from The White Album by The Beatles inspired him and his cult to go killing. They even wrote the song titles on the walls, smeared with the blood of their victims. Similarly the track "Never Learn Not To Love" from The Beach Boys' 20/20 has gained notoriety because it was written by Manson. Only a couple of months after the release of this album he would be arrested. If the murders had happened earlier the single would likely been ommitted from the album.
- Yoko Ono: She has been the subject of hate and derision by many Beatle fans for supposedly causing the split of The Beatles and turning John Lennon's music into too many unenjoyable experimental, pointless, too politically heavy handed and/or Yoko obsessive songs. And that's not mentioning her own incomprehensible art, left alone her One-Woman Wail singing. All these aspects have made her perhaps the most recognizable Avant-garde Music artist of all time, but not the most popular by any length. In old age she is getting a bit more recognition for her work, but the controvery stays.
- In June 2007, WWE's Vengeance pay-per-view was relaunched as Night of Champions, which continues to this day. At the time, WWE had nine championships, and this first Night of Champions was the first time that all of them were defended in the same night. But hardly anybody remembers that, because what they do remember is that John Morrison unexpectedly won the ECW Championship because he was booked in place of Chris Benoit, who no-showed the event because he was busy murdering his wife and child and then committing suicide. Not only was Benoit's reputation forever tarnished, but Morrison has (at least with some people) yet to live down the fact that he rose to main-event status in WWE entirely because of an offscreen tragedy.
- WWE's 1999 Over the Edge pay-per-view will forever be known as the event where Owen Hart fell to his death. Vince McMahon's decision to keep the pay-per-view going despite Owen's death remains one of the most controversial topics in professional wrestling circles to this day.
- Survivor Series 1997: The Montreal Screwjob. There were six other matches on the card. Does anybody remember those?
- Baseball player Ty Cobb. One of the champions in his field, but his reputation suffers from the fact that he was a surly tempered man and an unshameful racist too.
- Cyclist Lance Armstrong, winner of a record breaking 7 Tour de France contests. All stripped afterwards when it turned out he had used a complicated and water tight system to use doping. It seems unlikely he will ever be trusted again.
- Tonya Harding, a promising figure skater, but ordered an attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan with a telescoping baton so she could defeat her rival that way. The case came out afterwards and she was sentenced guilty to racketeering, stripped of all her titles and banned from figure skating for life. Since then she only gets in the news media for the kind of behaviour you wouldn't want to become famous for.
- Boxer Mike Tyson, once world champion boxing, nowadays more notorious for the numerous violent incidents in his private life.
- O.J. Simpson's achievements as an American footballer and actor have been overshadowed by the controversy over his involvement in the murder of his wife and her boyfriend. Most people today know him solely for the murder scandal.
- Tennis player John McEnroe was one of the most glorious champions in his sport, even managing to give Björn Borg a difficult time during Wimbledon 1980. Yet he mostly lives on in people's memories for his Hair-Trigger Temper and F-Word induced yelling at the referee during many matches. It has gotten to the point that there's more demand to see that kind of archive footage again than him winning his games.
- French soccer champion Zinedine Zidane is world famous for one incident during his final game where he headbutted another player. Especially to people who don't know much about soccer, like American citizens, this is all they know about him.
- Penn State's Joe Paterno is the winningest coach in major college football history, but will forever be remembered in connection with longtime assistant coach and serial child molester Jerry Sandusky.
- Custer's Revenge was an unauthorized third-party game for the Atari 2600 in 1982. It gathered quite a bit of negative attention, particularly from feminist and Native American groups, as the objective involved raping an Indian woman. From the next generation of consoles onward, manufacturers require approval for games to be released on their machines.
- Daikatana, aside from its years spent in development hell, picked up controversy over its advertising campaign, which stated that "John Romero's about to make you his bitch. Suck it down." The game has mostly been forgotten aside from the aforementioned campaign and the negative press that brought Romero's development career down with it.
- That and the game was absolutely horrible, which is what made the ad campaign so ridiculous in the first place.
- Whenever people talk about Depression Quest, it is entirely in the context of the "Quinnspiracy" controversy surrounding it, in which the creator, Zoe Quinn, was falsely accused of giving sexual favors to gaming journalists in exchange for positive reviews of the game and then having articles discussing the accusations pulled from the internet (as well as for allegedly taking advantage of the death of Robin Williams to promote it). The accusations were disproven, but the story quickly spread on gaming forums. With all of that going on, the quality of Depression Quest itself is rarely discussed.
- Dragon's Crown had gathered some rather heated arguments around the Internet for the Amazon and Sorceress character designs. This actually led to lot of free advertising in the west, making the game more successful in the process.
- The prequel to Fear Effect on the Playstation was known for having the first lesbian couple in the history of video game. A third game was supposed to be released but finally got cancelled.
- The Manhunt series was best known for its premise of being about a convict being forced to take part in snuff films (the gameplay was mostly stealth based, with elements of Survival Horror). The first game was given mixed reviews, with some marking it down for the gorn and others praising it for its atmosphere, the sequel received average reviews across the board and the series was mostly forgotten.
- The franchise is also overshadowed by claims that the first game inspired a series of killings in the UK which led to it being temporarily pulled from several chains (claims which were ultimately proven unfounded); while the sequel was actually banned outright in several countries, unlike the first game.
- Metroid: Other M is mainly known for its arguably misogynistic story that, in its worst interpretations, glorifies an abusive relationship; made all the worse since the series' heroine is something of a feminist gaming icon. In second place is the attempted justification for the series' usual Bag of Spilling that ends up absurd (particularly, not using available heat shielding in a lava-filled area).
- Mortal Kombat 1, like Night Trap below, led to the creation of the ESRB through its fatality system.
- Amusingly, the Sega versions of the game were rated (at the time, Sega used their own rudimentary content rating system), and the Nintendo ports were censored.
- The game's controversy in and of itself probably had far more to do with its popularity than its actual quality as a video game (when all is said and done, it really was just a run-of-the-mill Street Fighter II clone with an over-the-top gimmick).
- Night Trap was one of the video games that contributed to the creation of the ESRB ratings in the United States. An infamous bathroom scenenote in particular was what led to intense senate hearings with proponents of the ban saying it glorified violence toward women, while many of them admitted they hadn't played the game.
- The Postal series is well-known for being a common target for Moral Guardians to campaign against video game violence, more so than any quality of gameplay, as opposed to other common targets like Doom or Grand Theft Auto.
- Street Fighter X Tekken was highly anticipated upon release, being the crossover of two fighting game giants. Then through a series of controversies (the Gems game mechanic, the addition of an obese parody of Mega Man in the wake of the controversial cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3) culminating in the revelation that all DLC was on disk (and there was a lot of DLC) overshadowed the game's actual quality. To this day, Namco's half of the crossover is still pending and very much in question.
- Tomodachi Life is infamous due to the lack of a Gay Option and Nintendo's initial rationalization about it (which was later retracted in an apology), moreso than the game being about interpersonal relationships between Miis.
- The real controversy was over the fact that originally in the Japanese version of the game before it was released in the US, there was a small bug that could allow same sex Miis to be in a relationships. Though many asked for them to keep this for the western release, instead Nintendo chose to patch it out of both the Japanese version and western version (Though, it was mainly removed for being a Game-Breaking Bug which would corrupt some people's save files)
- Eternal Darkness semi-sequel Shadow of the Eternals was engulfed in controversy ever since its announcements, and it seemed to swell up more with each bit of progress made. First, fans were skeptical of the development team accepting PayPal for donations instead of using a reputable site like Kickstarter, and Kotaku published an article shortly before which focused on Silicon Knights and its alleged shady business practices. After Kickstarter was finally secured as the primary funding platform, skeptics accused Precursor Games of double-dipping, and co-writer Ken McCulloch was arrested after an accusation of being involved with child pornography. They really just can't catch a break.
- TERA tried to market itself as a new breed of Action-MMO, but most people who know of it know of it because of the controversy over the Elin, a One-Gender Race of Lolicon Little Bit Beastly girls who, like all the females in the game, dress in an incredibly skimpy fashion. Even with the designers (shoddily) making the clothes more modest, this reputation has never particularly died down.
- Countless cartoons from The Golden Age of Animation (1930s until the end of 1950s) have been subject to censorship since the 1960s because of imagery that is nowadays considered racist or a bad example to little children (scenes of smoking, Suicide as Comedy,...). Though most of them only have minor scenes that can be edited in syndication other cartoons are almost impossible to show because they are troublesome from the first until the last frame. These are the Censored Eleven, cartoons who are never shown on American TV. The unfortunate thing about many of these is that some of them are actually good, funny and/or important films.
- Der Fuehrers Face: An Oscar winning propaganda cartoon that has gained more notoriety over the years for starring Donald Duck as a Nazi than its artistic merits. It doesn't help that images from the cartoon often pop up out of context on various sites, causing many people to believe it actually endorses Nazism rather than criticize it.
- Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs: A parody of Snow White with grossly exaggarated stereotypical caricatures of Afro-Americans. Still many claim it to be Bob Clampett's best work.
- All This And Rabbit Stew is a fairly straightforward Bugs Bunny cartoon where the rabbit outwits a hunter. Yet the hunter is black and a mix of almost every Afro-American stereotype at the time, making the cartoon far more infamous for this aspect than anything else.
- The Adventure Time episode "What Was Missing" immediately became popular, AND controversial, for the alleged lesbian subtext between Princess Bubblegum and Marceline the Vampire Queen.
- The one thing most people remember about the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie, other than the kickass opening number by Mastodon, is its Viral Marketing campaign that caused the Boston Bomb Scare and resulted in then-head of Cartoon Network Jim Samples stepping down and being replaced by Stuart Snyder, who became hated by fans for pushing out action cartoons in favor of live-action shows.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode, "The Last Round-Up" appears to be only remembered for giving fan favorite character Derpy Hooves lines and a canon name, and then subsequently censoring her when it found that her portrayal and name was offensive to some, delving into her cross-eyed look. Everything else about the episode is pretty much eclipsed by it.
- The ''South Park" episodes "200" and "201" is a Milestone Celebration and we learn the real truth behind Cartman's father. However, "200" caused a Muslim group to send death threats to Trey Parker and Matt Stone for depicting The Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit (even though it was really Santa Claus); Comedy Central subsequently altered "201" so all audio and visual references to Muhammad were censored, thus resparking the Muhammed cartoon controversy in real life. To this day, it has never been rerun, it's not available for legal streaming and only the censored version has been released on DVD. Portions of the uncensored cut very rarely leak onto the internet but are immediately blocked before they can spread.
- The censored speech at the end, amusingly proven true by the forced censorship, essentially amounts to "Use fear and you will always get what you want!"
- The final episode of The Legend of Korra has largely been overshadowed by the last four minutes where Asami and Korra receive a Relationship Upgrade. There's been talk about it being anything from pandering to it being improper for a show aimed at elementary schoolers to have a same-gender relationship.
- Louis-Ferdinand Céline, author of Journey To The End Of The Night, one of the most acclaimed novels of the 20th century. Sadly, he was also a grotesque antisemitic, which makes praise of his work problematic.
- Richard Wagner: Another example of a composer who is widely seen as important, innovative and influential, yet also notorious for his antisemitism. His case isn't helped by the fact that so many Nazi members, including Adolf Hitler, adored his operas. This is the main reason why the composers' work is banned from being performed in Israel.
- Emperor Hirohito of Japan remained closely associated with being responsible for and causing the war in the Far East during World War Two. Therefore he remained a war criminal in the eyes of some people who suffered during that war firsthand. When the emperor visited Europe in the 1970s, for instance, there was a lot of protest from people who survived Japanese POW camps. To this day debate about his role during that war has remained, even though he has done a lot to clean up his image in the decades after the war.
- Bill Clinton is nowadays more remembered for his sex scandals than any of his actual political deeds. Not that it particularly hurt his popularity, as polls taken around the time he left office will indicate (in fact, his approval rating went up during the impeachment hearings).
- Sex scandals in particular are great at overshadowing the legacies and/or careers of public figures. Unless said scandal crosses legal or ethical boundaries in an especially heinous way, entertainers tend to have a somewhat easier time shaking these off than politicians do.
- Richard Nixon's presidency has been overshadowed by the Watergate affair. Other memorable events during his administration, even good ones like him opening relationships with China, have been forgotten except for history buffs.
- Silent movie comedian Fatty Arbuckle's legacy has been tainted by his involvement in an party/orgy where a young girl died. Even though his name was eventually cleared, the affair destroyed his career and public image. He was given the chance for a comeback, but died the day after signing a new deal. Nowadays, if he is remembered at all, it's more for this public image than any of his films.
- Boris Yeltsin is not remembered today for any of his policies, but more for his very visible and embarrassing alcoholism problems during public appearances.
- Michael Jackson's career went through an interesting loop with this trope. From 1986 on he became increasingly more notorious for controversial issues such as his facelifts, his ever-whitening skin color, his daft Man Child behaviour and the child molestation accusations. It got to the point that he was basically a walking punchline for the last decades of his life. After being cleared from the child molestation accusations in 2005 his public image got a change for the better. Radio stations started giving his music more airplay, critics started to focus on his musical legacy again and after his death he was literally beatified to the point that the same media who had hounded him for years now praised him as a musical genius, innovator and trendsetter. Nowadays it's no longer embarrassing to like his music, but reports of child molestation still keep popping up from time to time.
- The long, succesful and admirable career of Bill Cosby will now forever be overshadowed by all the controversy of him being an alleged rapist and all the women who've come forward claiming to have been raped or sexually assaulted. Recently NBC and Netflix dropped projects they had with Cosby like a hot potato. It's an open question whether a court case or his sudden death might change anything.
- Interestingly enough, Roman Polanski, who indeed was sentenced for raping a young teenage girl in the 1970s and has been arrested for evading confinement in the USA for many years, has not garnered the same amount of public backlash Cosby now endures. Polanski's movies are still seen on TV, at festivals and praised by critics without even having to address the controversy.
- Illich Guardiola is a voice actor known for his anime dub work with Sentai Filmworks. However, after April 2014, he is only remembered for his sexual relationship and sexual abuse with a 16-year-old female student of his. Even though the charges were dropped, this scandal effectively destroyed his voice acting career.
- British TV presenter Jimmy Savile. During his lifetime he was quite popular as a host and fundraiser for humanitarian causes, even being knighted for his goodwill. He died as a celebrated entertainer with people gathering to watch his funeral procession in the streets. Only a year after his death a revealing documentary outed him as a sexual predator who had molested hundreds of young women, many of them only teenagers. The report caused an outcry and many people reported similar incidents. As a result Savile's name became so tainted that virtually all memorials, tributes and statues to him have been removed and destroyed. Even archive footage of him- or downright references to him in comedy shows- have been removed from the BBC site, making him effectively an Un-Person at this point. It seems unlikely that his name or image can ever be shown again without creating controversy.
- Gary Glitter: A glam rock icon from the 1970s, but dogged by scandal from the late 1990s on. He was arrested and sentenced for possession of child pornography and as a result his music is mostly banned from airplay. It's not likely he'll ever shake off the controversy again, seeing that he was recently brought back under suspicion, because of his friendship with Jimmy Savile.
- Adolf Hitler, swastikas or anything regarding Nazism. Rightfully so, of course, the negative associations and controversy surrounding the ideology have never diminished. It remains highly controversial to show, reference or talk about Hitler and Nazism in popular culture, especially in Europe. Downright saying anything positive about the Third Reich will likely result in a public backlash. What makes Hitler's case especially interesting is that other conquerors from the past, such as Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, Genghis Khan and/or Napoleon Bonaparte have far less controversy attached to them. You can openly praise them without being accused of advocating a murderous invader and/or a dictator.
- Debatable; Hitler is more infamous for his attempt at genocide, segration and mass murder of civilians on an unparalleled scale. While he still gets more flak (and is more often used as a stand in for 'evil') in much of the West than Stalin or Ataturk, he's definitely not in the same league as Khan or Bonaparte who were conquerors who mostly targetted enemy combatants rather than hoping to wipe out some large (defenceless) portion of their own population (or even an enemy population). It's disputable in that he might have a bad name even in terms of Genocidal figures but it's a deserved one.