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aka: Unacceptable Target
This is Unacceptable Targets; the flip side of Acceptable Targets
, a Sacred Cow
that you dare not tip. Doing so may result in anything from "Dude, Not Funny"
to the entire audience staring at you in shocked silence for a split second before breaking out the Torches and Pitchforks
. Comedians and critics that gladly cross all the lines will still stop at this one, no matter how bold they are. In short, some things are just sacred.
A Black Comedy
will demonstrate its meanness (depending on the writers behind it) by mocking these mercilessly; this can cause the cancellation of particular episodes considered too offensive or tasteless. If Unacceptable Targets is somehow made funny, it almost always belongs to Crosses the Line Twice
category. Not to say that there is no such thing as Affectionate Parody
. Humor can be constructed in a way that reveres and respects its targets or makes them appear all the more awesome . Still, comedy is a difficult business and sometimes even jokes meant to be respectful can be misinterpreted. As a result, it can sometimes be better to simply not try.
is a Sub Trope
to this. Contrast with Acceptable Targets
. Compare with Even Evil Has Standards
, Jesus Was Way Cool
, 100% Adoration Rating
, The Complainer Is Always Wrong
, and Too Soon
. Some situations can result in heavy Unfortunate Implications
, Double Standards
, Positive Discrimination
and Values Dissonance
in which The Rival
or the counterpart of the Unacceptable Target can become an Acceptable Target
Can sometimes be difficult to separate from Once Acceptable Targets
in cases where the subjects in question were mocked at one time by one people in the dark annals of history. Perhaps a good rule of thumb to distinguish between the two is "Oh, you're mocking the Once Acceptable Target? How behind-the-times you are. I will laugh derisively at you."
vs. "You're mocking the Unacceptable Target? YOU MONSTER!!!"
open/close all folders
The deceased in general
See Also: Never Speak Ill of the Dead
It is typically not a good idea to rejoice at a person's death
or make fun of a deceased person
. This is more so if the person died tragically and/or recently
. Even if they were formerly an Acceptable Target
, it's best not to say "They deserved it!
" or such. While there may be some exceptions, such as those who died via the death penalty
, Suicide By Cop
, by sheer stupidity
(see the Darwin Awards
, most of the victims on 1000 Ways to Die
, etc.), other similar causes, and Adolf Hitler
- In NetHack, Izchak, the keeper of the lighting shop in Minetown, is never killed, even by the most hardcore mass-genocidal players. He's named after a member of the devteam who died of cancer, and killing him is considered to be very bad form.
- Averted in You Tube Poop as Billy Mays is one of the most popular sources, perhaps because many poops are made in his honour and a number of poopers have stopped creating Billy Mays YTPs after he died.
- Also averted with Ghost's granny in True Capitalist Radio, who's as much of a chew toy as her grandson. The fact that she's dead is all the more reason for Trolls to make fun of her as a means of triggering one of Ghost's many Berserk Buttons.
- Averted by the editorial comics on The Onion website. Recently deceased celebrities including George Carlin and Luciano Pavarotti are depicted in the editorial comic as burning in hell.
- Given Carlin's willingness to cross all kinds of lines in his own work, he might have even laughed at that.
- One of Cracked's reasons no one laughed at your joke is "It Was About Something They Won't Laugh About, Ever". Examples include "the death of a child, or genocide".
- In the infamous 'Eulogy Song' from The Chasers War On Everything, Andrew is cut off by the rest of the team before he can start a verse about Belinda Emmett, an Australian actress who died of breast cancer and had never done anything to warrant anger or ire.
- Owen Hart and Eddie Guerrero are both beloved by WWE fans, to the point where fans will cheer their names if anything relating to them is brought up, the fans will cheer. Even moreso with Owen, because of WWE's exploitation of Eddie's death and memory. Owen was left alone for the most part.
- Trish Stratus, though alive and well, tends to get this treatment over anything negative typed about her, including on this very wiki.
- Subverted by Chris Benoit. As the above example states, wrestlers like Owen Hart, and Eddie Guerrero are looked upon as Unacceptable Targets, but due to the nature of Chris Benoit's transgressions immediately before his passing, it is a very rare example in the Pro Wrestling community to pretty much declare him fair game for all manner of off-color jokes, downright insults, open mocking, and a hearty handful of "See you in Hell's." If wrestlers like the late Eddie Guerrero are considered the holy angel of all that is untouchable, Chris Benoit is often looked as the exact opposite; The demonic anti-Christ with an "open season" sign around the gravestone. All the more surprising and ironic, today, when considering in life, they were incredibly close friends. The difference being that Eddie's death was the cumulative result of years of addiction and not double-murder-suicide.
- There's an Irish wrestler called B-Cool who has done a spot in matches where he will suddenly scream "oh my God, it's Chris Benoit!" and start singing Benoit's music before climbing to the top rope and delivering a diving headbutt. Did we mention this is done at family shows.
- Private Eye magazine has repeatedly displayed a rather stunning aversion to this trope, mocking Michael Jackson as a "mad paedophile" in the issue following his death, taking the mickey out of Diana, mocking members of that bobsleigh team that were killed at the Olympics, and satirizing the 9/11 attacks. Sometimes this is awesome, such as an early classic marking the death of apartheid South Africa's prime minister in September 1966. "Verwoerd: A nation mourns" showed a picture of Zulu tribesmen dancing. Sometimes it is less so, and their particularly tasteless ones usually elicit a flood of complaints in the letters section.
Survivors of a tragedy
- If the individual in question was well-known enough and was generally respected, mocking any assassinated leader or murdered celebrity is considered very tasteless. Examples: Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas Gandhi, Anwar Sadat, John Lennon, Itzhak Rabin. (Oh, and Princess Diana....although she wasn't exactly assassinated.) That said, it's generally acceptable to mock some of the circumstances around how they died - for example, Lincoln saying "Ugh, somebody shoot me" in regards to how boring the play was will get laughs.
- When Richard Nixon died, it temporarily became acceptable only to remember positive aspects of his presidency such as opening relations with Red China. This lasted until some previously unreleased Watergate tapes were discovered, which revealed him to be an even bigger racist Jerk Ass than the ones presented during the investigation.
- Despite being basically a walking punchline before his death, for about six months after Michael Jackson died it was considered extremely poor taste to bring up his bizarre appearance or pedophilia charges (most people instead choosing to focus on his 80's and early 90's stardom), to the point that some videos poking fun at Michael got a ton of hate mail, despite those videos being made before he died, with little to no objections at the time. This has died down a bit, but even today people tend to walk on eggshells when making Michael Jackson jokes, for fear of reprisal.
- Ironically, after his death people looked far more objectively at the paedophilia charges than they had done while he was alive, with people realizing only after the fact that what the media was saying at the time had little to do with the trials at all.
- Subverted in the case of Jimmy Savile. When he died, he was much respected until allegations of child molestation came out. Now he's a Memetic Molester.
- Anytime the Westboro Baptist Church pickets a funeral, the subjects of their protest become this.
See Also: Shell Shocked Senior
While they didn't exactly die, the above also applies to survivors of a horrific tragedy. Perhaps even more so as they are alive to at least do something about the mockery. Considering that they saw many lives die first-hand (including perhaps their friends and family), they won't take it lightly to say the least.
People who have gone into space
- Such examples include survivors of tragedies like the Holocaust, victims of Josef Stalin and totalitarian countries, and September 11.
- Taken Up to Eleven in today's Germany by making this the law with holocaust victims/survivors; the Nazi party is banned, the No Swastikas rule is law, and holocaust denial illegal
- Pretty much any war veteran.
- This can also include people who suffered through a natural disaster, such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the Haiti earthquake, and the Japan earthquake/tsunami.
- For more than four hundred years, a lot of Don Quixote fans had hated Alfonso Fernández de Avellaneda, a writer who published a Continuation Fic to the First part of Don Quixote. At the prologue, Avellaneda described Cervantes as a man without friends, and then he wrote: He has more tongue that hands. Cervantes was a Shell Shocked Senior of the Battle Of Lepanto, where he was wounded in his left arm. Cervantes is also known as The Cripple of Lepanto
Space travel is dangerous, and the requirements to make a career out of going up into space are astronomical
. You have to be in peak physical condition, possess high intellect, endure months of specialized training, and the potential for disasters during any launch, mission, etc. can strike in the blink of an eye. The sacrifices throughout the years of astronauts, regardless of their nationality is nothing to take lightly. Much like the aforementioned case with the shell-shocked seniors, modern astronauts are around to provide a counterpoint to the mockery, and in some cases, will not deal with it for very long.
- Used in-universe in Dr McNinja, with "Nasaghasts" that ruthlessly hunt down and destroy anyone who threatens or tries to harm an astronaut. Doesn't matter why you do it—if you do something mean to an astronaut, you're going down.
Military Servicemen and Servicewomen
- Moon landing conspiracy theorists have fallen to the bottom of the conspiracy theory hierarchy in recent years, making the holdouts appear even more detached than the norm. When one such theorist is Bart Sibrel who approached Buzz Aldrin and breached the subject, Buzz respectfully disagreed with his opinion. Translation: he punched the conspirator's teeth down his throat. And you know what's even better. The guy tried to press charges and the judge dismissed the case after seeing the video ruling it was self defense.
Watch what you say about the military, especially around loved ones of soldiers and Marines who've died while serving. This is also a specific version of the deceased in general and survivors of a tragedy, considering that it is very likely that they will see people die first hand, not to mention they may even get severely injured or even lose their lives serving.
Administrators and Moderators of a Community
On many websites and message boards, the admins, moderators, and any of their friends
are very Unacceptable Targets. For reasons that should be obvious
. This really depends on the admins or mods in question, but should be assumed true until shown otherwise.
TV Tropes Wiki
- Averted on the large Something Awful forums; the mods are just as likely to be made fun of as anyone else is. Part of the mod selection process involves seeing how well the prospective mod takes being ridiculed.
- Star Destroyer Dot Net makes a specific distinction in the rules between insulting a moderator in a debate (acceptable, the debates are vicious) and insulting a moderator in his official capacity as moderator (unacceptable).
Perhaps because of his inspiration to many people across the internet when they were kids, Mister Rogers is given this treatment across the internet. Try to make fun of this man
and the hive mind will eat you alive.
- In the late eighties when Burger King made an ad with a fake Mister Rogers explaining why BK burgers were better than McDonald's burgers, Fred Rogers said "You will stop that immediately!"... and they did. This was mainly because he looked too much like the real him, and did not want kids to get confused. By comparison, obviously no kid is going to confuse Eddie Murphy (see below) for Mister Rogers, and Murphy's sketch was broadcast safely out of the way of any typical child's viewing time.
- A rare aversion: Fred Rogers liked Eddie Murphy's parody of his own show, "Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood" since it was an Affectionate Parody, not deliberate and malicious mockery. Apparently, Eddie Murphy caught up with Mr. Rogers and told him, "You understand, we only do it because we love you."
TV Tropes Wiki
- Fox & Friends cite a University study regarding Mister Rogers and, essentially, say he ruined the children watching by giving them a sense of entitlement. All you need do is read the comments on the video for just how much hatred viewers had for the hosts by the end of it.
- There is a popular myth that when Mister Rogers' car was stolen it was reported on the news the same day, and the next day the car was back with a note of apology and a fresh coat of wax.
- One of the reasons Westboro Baptist Church is so hated is because they are willing to attack him.
- In fact, one of the working titles for this trope was "The Mr. Rogers".
In many countries that have royalty, insulting the king, queen, or their family is forbidden by law. In some of these, most people won't actually care much, and you'll get you a fine at most if the authorities notice - but in other countries, such as Morocco and Thailand, doing so will also get the population upset with you, and can end you up in prison for several years. Rarely seen in English-language media because in the UK lèse majesté
as the national sport.
- Averted on a live episode of WTFIWWY. When Nash discovered that it was illegal to insult the king of Thailand, he proceeded to say "Fuck the king of Thailand" multiple times. This led to Tara jokingly denying being associated with him in the video, due to not wanting to be arrested by the king of Thailand (despite living in New York).
Like the above, in many countries and empires that are ruled by a dictator or emperor, saying anything bad about the leader or their family is a huge crime and doing so will definitely lead to very serious repercussions. In Imperial China for instance, even saying the Emperor's real name was a capital crime.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
In Turkey, it is illegal to insult the name of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who is considered to be the greatest hero of the Turkish people. In other words, this trope is backed by law
Culturally, attacking Muhammad is one of the big no-nos in Islam, like the case with Ataturk in Turkey. Even displaying an image of him is pretty taboonote
, since it also runs into the general creed on not depicting people or even animals in some parts of Muslim faith. Notably, however, this doesn't extend to most of the Western world, which has precipitated a load of conflicts recently and usually ends up with the artist in question being threatened with a fatwa proclaiming their deathnote
- The irredeemable-even-without-the-offensive-aspects film Innocence of Muslims is basically one long attack on the entire religion of Islam with every last one of the Unfortunate Implications that would imply. One scene in particular, however, gained some Internet notoriety for depicting an unflattering caricature of Muhammad -not only was it responsible for a long string of protests throughout the Middle East, it was also initially blamed for the attacks on the American embassy in Benghazi (although later revelations showed this to be untrue).
- South Park has lampooned pretty much everyone and everything on the planet, at one point or another, including the show and the creators themselves. However they ran into issues when it came to lampooning Muhammad. Parker and Stone went for lampooning the fact that he's not an acceptable target, instead (particularly because 5 years before the Muhammad taboo was back in the limelight, he had been depicted with no repercussion!). Of course, the second episode of their 200th anniversary two-parter had all mention of Muhammad's name censored by the network, along with the speeches at the end (which didn't even mention Muhammad.) Comedy Central went so far as pulling it from ever airing again - they won't even let it be streamed on the show's official website. You can find it here, but its being a TV rip means the bleeps are still in place.
Directly attacking or insulting Jesus Christ
is considered one of the big no-nos of Christianity. That doesn't mean people refrain from doing it, and it doesn't mean there isn't an entire religion that inverts Christianity out there (there is), but it does mean that doing so is something that will also precipitate a load of conflicts in any society with a large Christian population, especially if said Christians are of The Fundamentalist
persuasion or are or are influenced by Moral Guardians
This is a large reason why Crystal Dragon Jesus
and especially Jesus Was Way Cool
exist: the former sidesteps (sometimes quite well, other times so sloppily as to create Unfortunate Implications
) the idea of a direct attack on Jesus by creating a Jesus expy
to be attacked. The latter exists as an attempt to separate Jesus from either the perceived view of Christianity and/or from religion itself.
Bill Nye The Science Guy
Like Mister Rogers, he has inspired many to love science and critical thinking. Go on, try to call him a fraud for debunking conspiracy theories on Youtube.
Works and Creators of any work that is considered as "True Art"
See Also: It's Popular, Now It Sucks
, True Art
, Sacred Cow
, Defensive Fans
, Critical Dissonance
, and Public Medium Ignorance
An example of this when it comes to media instead of people: Whenever and wherever the It's Popular, Now It Sucks
trope is in effect, any media that fits any of the True Art
categories; as well as their creators, are granted immunity to any form of criticism in any way
in these areas. In other words, these are works which are met with near universal approval and are outside the bounds of criticism for some even if flaws are present. Covering anything from a whole series down to props within that universe, these works are considered so either out of respect, nostalgia or plain fan love.
Unfortunately, this also means a fair critique cannot be made against it at any point in time as it'll be met with the same revulsion as Squick-inducing shipping
. Furthermore, many of these works tend to get a free pass when it comes to flaws that popular works would be slammed if they didn't bear such a pass. An unfortunate amount of Fan Dumb
, Fandom Heresy
, Hypocritical Fandom
, Nostalgia Filter
, and The Law of Fan Jackassery
tend to come from this.
- The comic community site Scans Daily seems to have a rule of "the more mainstream it is, the more critical we are." High-profile works in particular seem to be prone to getting picked apart, while lesser known comics are considered off limits to criticism.
- Watchmen. You don't insult it if you enjoy having skin.
- It's really (and with good reason) to see criticism of works by acclaimed directors like Jean Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Michelangelo Antonioni, Andrei Tarkovsky, Agnes Varda, Roberto Rossellini, Yasujiro Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi, Satyajit Ray, Akira Kurosawa, the majority of Italian Neorealism, French New Wave (and Japanese New Wave, Czechoslovak New Wave, New German Cinema, Fifth and Sixth Generation of Chinese Cinema, etc) and other respected auteurs.
- Examples of these include Top Gear.
- If you are within the hearing range of a Browncoat, do not insult Firefly. Actually, just don't insult any of Joss Whedon's works, except for maybe Alien Resurrection and the Buffy movie.
- Anything listed as a "Classic" or "oldies" tends to fall into this as time marches on. If you actually say you do not like bands such as The Beatles today and aren't very old, you WILL be treated like a heretic.
- If a musician died young, it's usually a bad idea to criticize their music (see also: Dead Artists Are Better) because people who do like them will treat you like you just sprouted horns and a tail. God help you if you say in public that you don't care for music made by John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, or countless other dead musicians.
- The Mac OS (or anything made by Apple for that matter) has gotten this treatment (and arguably still does) back in the day in that any sort of criticism of the Mac (or simply preferring Windows over Mac) is bound to get you burned to a crisp. This is less frequent today due to the resurgence of Apple as well as some of the controversies Apple has been involved in as a new-found Mega Corp and all, but you can still find some very Defensive Fans in some areas.
- Depending on where you are, don't trash Linux. You will be accused of "supporting the evil Micro$oft empire." (although you can also say the same for Mac OS). Exceptions may be granted if you choose instead to bag on a particular Linux distribution though, or if you're criticizing Linux as a user of one of the BS Ds.
- Examples of these include, System Shock 2, The Elder Scrolls (But only Daggerfall as well as Morrowind in some areas, as well as Skyrim in a few.), not to mention the first two games in the Fallout series, and sometimes Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas, Baldur's Gate, Planescape Torment, Star Craft (The first one especially), Warhammer, Shadowrun or Old World Of Darkness anything, Cave Story, Torchlight, anything that's "indie", and anything made by Valve Software (Especially Half-Life and Portal).
- Online gaming wise, a good way to find out if a game or service is given the "Immunity To Criticism" label is how the service is received when it comes to discussions about GIFT. If you mention popular or non-sacred works such as Counter-Strike, Quake, World Of Warcraft, or anything on Xbox Live in such topics, bombardments of complaints will occur which basically summarize down to "The game/service should be killed with fire and everyone that plays it should be beaten mercilessly. And i don't care if the griefers are a Vocal Minority." However, if you did to same to a game or service that is given Sacred Cow status, say Team Fortress 2, it will either fall on deaf ears and/or you will be bombarded with No True Scotsman type fallacies that the service or game is immune to this.
- The quickest way a gaming critic or gamer can kill their street cred is to trash PC Gaming, or even say you enjoy consoles better.
- That said, the term "PC master race" tends to get thrown around a lot by people on both sides who should be aware of the implications of the phrase "master race". There are also a lot of people who are aware of the implications and use it as an insult to bash the PC Gaming Fan Dumb.
- The very opposite can occur too.
- The MOTHER series, especially Mother3, or anything made by Shigesato Itoi, is beyond criticism. Detractors will face the wrath of the Starman.net community, /v/, Nintendo fans, and the fans of all three of The Runaway Guys.
- Interestingly enough, that final installment of the Earthbound series, Mother 3, is actually looked at with a generally VERY negative fan sentiment from its home country, as explained halfway through this Q&A article from Earthbound Central: http://earthboundcentral.com/2012/11/earthbound-central-qa-5/ Perhaps, in America, due in large part to being officially unreleased, and the massive work of the fan-translation project several years earlier, Mother 3 is seen as a Sacred Cow and Unacceptable Target in the West, but in Japan, that particular installment is ridiculed, bashed and hated on the Japanese internet, often. With many Japanese even fans considering its author to be "a washed up old hack." Quite a strange example of region-specific aversion in the case of Mother 3. However, of course, Mother 2/Earthbound is still very much true to this trope no matter which side of the Pacific you reside on, as is MOTHER to a lesser extent..
- Generally speaking, you might be able to get away with claiming that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is overrated, outdated by modern standards, surpassed by its own successors or simply not your cup of tea. If, however, you attempt to dismiss it as being bad you will immediately be ridiculed as an ignorant philistine at best, or flamed to within an inch of your metaphorical life at worst.
- The Call of Duty series had once received this treatment, especially when it really started to compete with the Halo series for the most popular FPS crown. When Modern Warfare came out, calling it anything but the "Halo killer" would instantly kill your street cred at the very least. Not long after though, controversies involving future iterations of the franchise by Activision along with its boom in popularity would eventually kick them out of sacred cow status. Nowadays if you say anything positive about Call of Duty, you'll be lucky if you aren't murdered in your sleep, and ironically even Halo is treated more of a sacred cow in comparison nowadays.
TV Tropes Wiki
- In the modding community - if you ever, in any way criticise AlienSlof (a female modder responsible for creating much of The Elder Scrolls male-oriented Rule 34 and fetish mods), you will have every member of the community against you.note
and their affiliated websites (4chan
, Encyclopedia Dramatica, etc.) have a nearly unlimited list of Acceptable Targets
. Yet even in their circles they have
Unacceptable Targets, one of which is the title character of Yotsuba&!
. You do not ask for Rule 34
; they will destroy you. Without regret.
TV Tropes Wiki
- Some people have gone out of their way to make exceptions involving aged-up versions of the characters. One such instance was the Comiket doujin Four Leaf Lover. Her and her friends go on an innocent group date with non-Japanese men, get drunk and have dub-con sex. They become drug addicted sex toys. It was apparently requested and translated by 4chan /d/ members. That's /d/ for you. That said, when the same people made an (even worse) sequel, Anonymous turned its wrath on them.
- On one Rule34 site, clicking the Yotsuba tag takes you to the site's full list. In other words, if you look for porn of Yotsuba, you'll get everything but.
- In fact, one of the working titles for this trope was "Yotsuba Is Off Limits".
Pets (Especially Cats)
Another one of ANONYMOUS
's Unacceptable Targets. You absolutely do not
mess with cats and let them find out about it. /b/ will find you, and /b/ will punish you.
Once Acceptable Targets
- Just ask Kenny Glenn, who posted a video of himself and a friend abusing a cat on YouTube; after a link to the video was posted on /b/, he was identified mere hours later by /b/tards who compared the video to photos on several social networking profiles to find out his name and location, reported him to his local police, and got him, along with his friend, arrested on animal abuse charges that same week. If you thought Kenny got it bad, Cheyenne Cherry got it even worse.
- Never EVER post videos of throwing puppies into a river. /b/and Michael Bay will find you.
- Clint Eastwood is a known lover of animals, and he and his wife keep several animals that they've rescued on their ranch, and Mr. Eastwood loves talking about how much he loves them, and how much he despises people who abuse animals. So put it this way: if you abuse animals, Clint Eastwood—Dirty Harry himself—will find you and punish you.
- Perhaps shown best by the video of a British woman putting a cat in a bin which was shown on multiple News networks throughout the world. She was hunted down by the papers demanding to know why she had done it (no reason as it turns out). She had to have police protection to keep the crowd that formed outside her house civil. In the end she was banned from keeping animals for five years, fined £250, required to pay £1,171 to the victim (to the owner of the cat, not the cat itself) and most damning of all; had to give up her job at a supermarket.
- In 2003, Clay Aiken was on his way to promising radio career. Then he did an article stating his dislike for these purry creatures and his career sank to the point where he had to go Broadway.
Some Once Acceptable Targets
can also be Unacceptable Targets at times, although not always.
Really, anyone (and anything) in some places
See also: Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement
, Berserk Button
, and Ban On Politics
In some groups, it is not a good idea to mock the things or persons that they like or think that it is good. In other places, this might be okay, although considering that many don't want to deal with the Fan Dumb
, Hate Dumb
, or any Internet Backdraft
involving the mockery not everywhere. For example: Any religious and political views and individuals are repeatedly mocked, but you should never mock them if they are the majority of a group. In an Anime related forum or circle, it is best not to invoke Animation Age Ghetto
or proclaim hatred to anime by itself. And such...