Unfortunate Implications

Let's just say Vogue managed to get themselves into trouble.

"I'm amazed sometimes at the subtext that writers don't spot in their own work."

The media to which TV Tropes is devoted generally exhibit greater sensitivity now than in the past, but sometimes something appears that... raises eyebrows. Even when authors are being careful with story elements, it is impossible for one or a couple of creators to really consider every perspective of the audience and just how certain tropes can be construed as troublesome. Especially when you consider just how diverse human beings are and that audiences that were ignored in the past now demand representation and respect. When an older work's content offends later audiences in a way that the author did not expect or intend, you get this.

This is a highly subjective Audience Reaction, and since in the past the page became bogged down in arguments about some tropers believing that concerns about such matters simply relate to Political Correctness Gone Mad rather than anything substantive, and other tropers — seeing the entire "political correctness" argument as a plausibly deniable defense of racism and other types of outdated thinking — vehemently oppose it, no example may be added in this article or on a work article, without proof that it's not just one person thinking. Citations are done as follows:

The citation needs to record the opinions of several people; a citation that mentions only one person isn't enough.

Keep in mind that Unfortunate Implications are unintentional. An intended offensive message (for example, a piece of Nazi propaganda about Jews) does not belong here, nor does natter about the author's true intentions. Also, for something that may not be offensive to you personally but may offend others in a different culture or time period (or vice versa), see Values Dissonance. Having a lot of these (or very serious ones) can sometimes make a trope a Discredited Trope or a Pet Peeve Trope.

If you came here looking for unfortunate implications of the Nightmare Fuel variety, rather than the hopefully accidental offenses with which this trope concerns itself, see Fridge Horror. If something with this kind of content offends everyone, regardless of audience or time or place, then it's an Audience-Alienating Premise. If unfortunate implications are caused for the modern audience by once innocent words changing meaning over time, it's Have a Gay Old Time.

To avoid these pitfalls, please see So You Want To Avoid Unfortunate Implications.

Subjects susceptible to Unfortunate Implications include:



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  • It's been noted several times that even clothing brands that market to plus-sized people tend to use extremely thin models to show their clothes, which has several effects: First, plus-sized clothing on your typical model looks enormous since it is not meant for their body type, meaning that the people who want to order it are unsure what it will look like on them, and it further stigmatizes plus-sized people because it implies that no-one will want to look at them, not even other plus-sized people looking for clothing that will fit them. Several companies have caught on and now consciously try to avert this, including Kiyonna, which honestly makes an effort to have its models be people who would actually wear their clothing in their everyday lives. Even plus-size (if you will) models are altered, which can seem unnatural, but it's more noticeable here.
  • The PlayStation Portable system doesn't exactly have the most politically correct advertising:
    • The infamous PSP Squirrels (seen here, here, here, parody here and here) played to some pretty obvious racial stereotypes and were called out on that fact by many in the industry.
    • Their Netherlands campaign for the PSP White, which shows a white woman holding a black woman by the jaw alongside the slogan "PlayStation Portable White is coming".
  • A series of Huggies adverts for diapers in a denim jean pattern had a baby strutting around on a sidewalk with the intention of looking "sexy". The tagline "My diaper is full of... CHIC!" probably did not help. After it caught a lot of flack it got banned, despite being edited twice.
  • UK mobile phone network "Phones4U" embarked on an advertising campaign where they show a particular group of people (scout masters, yo-yo specialists) then claim that their phone rates would be wasted on such people because they have no friends (unlike their target demographic, one would assume). Said groups weren't amused.
  • Any commercial that markets food to parents by either having the parents hide the fact that the food is good for kids or in some cases flat out lie to the kids about what's in it. Because it's much better to lie to your kids instead of teaching them about good nutrition so they grow up with healthy habits! This blog post outlines the pros and cons of this sort of behavior, and most nutrition experts seem to come down on the side of it being harmful to the kids in the long run, and probably helps explain why so many people gain the "Freshman 15" when they enter college since they've never been taught how to properly feed themselves!
  • An ad campaign from The Economist aimed at women used its traditional brand of quirky humor when it said on the front, "Why should women read The Economist? They shouldn't." Then, on the inside, it said "Accomplished and intelligent people should read it." Even some women who made it to the punchline on the inside got offended, taking it to mean that a female point of view (the magazine's staff is mostly male) was invalid.
  • Complaints were brought against a 2012 campaign in Atlanta, GA that used such slogans as "It's hard to be a little girl if you're not." Childhood obesity is a genuine problem in the U.S., but so far it seems to be an impossible one to sensitively address.
  • Commentators picked up on misogyny as one of the predominant themes of the 2010 Super Bowl ad crop. 2011 and 2012 weren't much better. In fact, there was a Twitter hashtag (#NotBuyingIt) in anticipation of the rampant misogyny, with the "woman is actually a car" Fiat ad receiving the brunt of it.
  • This page of old politically incorrect ads is chock-full of Unfortunate Implications, some of which probably were pretty intentional, while others perhaps were not.
  • In the UK, Persil ran an ad which showed (among similar images) a dalmatian shaking off its black spots and a white horse breaking away from a group of black horses. There was a small-scale press outcry after viewer complaints that these were racist metaphors, but after a formal investigation by a regulatory body, the complaints weren't upheld.
  • The Metropolitan Police in London has come under fire for several campaigns encouraging the public to report terrorism, suggesting that the most innocuous of activities could be a possible sign of a terrorist. In particular, one radio ad was banned for implying that closing curtains or not speaking to neighbours is suspicious enough activity to merit reporting someone to the police.
  • An anti-drinking PSA aired in New Zealand showed a woman getting progressively more drunk on a night out and dancing with a stranger who grabs her and drags her into an alleyway. The ad received a number of complaints that it implied that being abducted/presumably raped was her own fault, and encouraged victim-blaming.
  • Pepsico made, then subsequently pulled, an ad for Mountain Dew that involved a white woman attempting to pick the person who had assaulted her out of a line-up that consisted of a group of young black males and a goat. Even leaving the aside the question of what anything in this scenario had to do with Mountain Dew, the ad implied that white people cannot tell the difference between a black man and a goat. The fact that it played heavily on racist stereotypes and violence against women as well, all Played for Laughs, didn't help matters.
  • A commercial for Samsung's Smart TV shows a caveman-like guy watching The Croods and acting like an imbecile while his wife upgrades the TV through an "evolutionary kit" box. She then fantasizes about using the box on her husband, transforming into a handsome man who does all the chores for her and sets up a dinner date for her (at which point she is brought back to reality by her real husband farting loudly). The implications that Women Are Wiser and that men who don't toil away for their significant others are neanderthals were not lost on commentators.
  • Cracked:
    • 6 Spectacularly Failed Attempts to Be Politically Correct gives a bunch of examples of how attempts to avert Monochrome Casting by including black people in promotion campaigns ended up tripping over stereotypes about fried chicken, watermelon, and wanting to be white.
    • They also had an article about spectacular marketing failures. Among others, they mentioned the case where up-and-coming shoe chain Just For Feet created a Super Bowl ad featuring a "hunter" who turned out to be targeting a Kenyan runner so that he could forcibly give the man a pair of sneakers. It's unclear which part was more offensive; comparing black people to wild animals, or making light of the idea of a white man hunting and capturing someone from Africa. Needless to say, Just for Feet ended up going out of business less than a year later.
    • Another article brings up a Levi's ad for plus-sized jeans which ran with the taglines "All asses were not created equal" and "Hotness comes in all shapes and sizes"... and only showed size 2 models in the ads. Repeated attempts to correct this mistake involved Levi hiring different size 2 models, never once showing a larger woman wearing their jeans, even in the face of public backlash.
  • An ill-conceived internet flyer [11] from IKEA, the furniture store demonizing goths as "creepy" and a "bad influence" didn't go down too well with the subculture. [12] [13] [14]. Several gothic commentators pointed out that IKEA had managed to offend a group who actually LIKED a lot of their products and were unhappy with IKEA perpetuating negative stereotypes of goths.
  • Some of the Meth Project ads, which pointedly use frightening, extreme imagery to make their point, have a noted tendency to have some of the more problematic ads imply that meth addiction causes middle-class kids to become homeless and straight kids to turn gay, and that linking these things are designed to attach the shame and stigma of being gay or poor to being a meth addict. The reality is that impoverished people and homosexuals already are the groups with the highest risk of meth addiction, particularly in the northern and midwestern United States.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Defied by Nobuhiro Watsuki in Rurouni Kenshin. The minor character Hannya had a featureless death-mask of a face beneath the mask he wears in battle. Watsuki noted in the liner notes to manga volume 4 that originally he planned Hannya to have been stepped on in the womb like the Elephant Man. After thinking it through, he realized Unfortunate Implications abounded with the idea ("the shape of one's face determines the shape of one's life", as he put it). To avoid this, Watsuki altered the backstory to Hannya having intentionally mutilated his own face into that death-mask so that he could easily disguise himself as anything.
  • Naruto Chapter 678 has received criticism because, in the Infinite Tsukuyomi dream world, it seems like most of the women give away their power and/or fawn over a male. Additional criticism was directed at Sakura because she continues to wilt at Sasuke's criticism rather than shouting him down for acting like a sanctimonious ass all the time.

    Comic Books 
  • A vast amount of villains in comics or otherwise suffer from mental illness, despite the fact that in reality, mentally ill are only connected to 4% of violent crimes, and are 11x as likely to be subjected to them. That's right, contrary to what media tells you sane people are enormously more dangerous to insane people than the reverse.
  • The star of the infamous New Teen Titans saga, The Judas Contract, Terra is subjected to this trope. She was a super-powered 16 year-old hired by the mercenary Slade Wilson a.k.a. Deathstroke the Terminator to infiltrate, spy on, and destroy the Titans (she was actually 15 when she started doing this). During her time with the Titans, it's revealed she's having a sexual affair with Slade, and the story's creators have confirmed that the purpose of this was to shock the readers at what a slut she is, never mind that nothing indicates she's ever slept with anybody else, she actually seems to think Slade loves her, and Slade might be committing statutory rape. When the time comes to betray the Titans, they try to reason with her and fail, and she dies while trying to kill them, destroyed by her own powers. The story becomes quite Anvilicious at how evil she is. She's explicitly called evil, the Narrator informs us that she's both completely insane and completely responsible for her actions, even Slade later says her evil scared even him. Her death is essentially a teen suicide (in a series that was about, and originally intended for, teens) where everything is being blamed on the teen. And as for Slade, her boss and lover, the man who's decades older than her, a multiple murderer, who created the Evil Plan she was following, whose own stated intentions with that plan was to murder all the Titans, he is (comparatively speaking) Easily Forgiven by the Titans afterwards, and is treated by DC Comics as an Anti-Hero for the next several years. He's even treated as a father figure by several of the Titans he was trying to kill! This storyline exonerated the adult in this murderous partnership while trying to blame everything on the 16 year-old girl. The blogger tamaranorbust has a thorough, multi-part study on Terra, covering her appearances, her background, how she's referred to, the characters she affected, the histories of her two later namesakes and the implications of her story .
  • Several articles in Cracked have covered cases in comic books.
    • Common in the early comic books that tried to address social change, as shown in 6 Comics that Covered Serious Issues Failed Hilariously.
    • The 5 Most Unintentionally Offensive Comic Book Characters mentions Steve Englehart's Retcon of The Falcon's origin. Basically, when Stan Lee and Gene Colan introduced the Falcon, he was a kindhearted young social worker who became a superhero because it was the right thing to do. Then Englehart came along and decided that Falcon had secretly been a drug-dealing pimp who had been Brainwashed into becoming a superhero by the Red Skull, so that he could act as the villain's Mole. Yikes. Thankfully, decades later, Rick Remender fixed that in All-New Captain America #3 by stating that the "drug-dealing pimp" was actually lies by the Red Skull planted into Sam's head in an attempt to discredit him through a disgusting Batman Gambit of hoping people would be racist enough to turn against him through it.
    • The same article mentions Tyroc, the first Token Minority added to the notoriously-Monochromatic Legion of Super-Heroes in the '70s. The character was an Angry Black Man and racial separatist from a fictitious island that was home to all of the Earth's black people, which also only existed on the planet intermittently. Legion artist Mike Grell flat-out described the concept as "a segregationist's dream" and one of the most racist story concepts he'd ever heard of. Tyroc's case was more than just implications; as detailed in the article, Legion's editor at the time was a dyed-in-the-wool racist who would only allow the addition of a minority character to the team if the character were a ridiculous stereotype. The writer reluctantly conceded, but Grell subsequently rebelled and deliberately designed Tyroc to look as stupid as possible to spite the editor.
  • The now-infamous Avengers issue #200, in which Carol Danvers suddenly becomes pregnant and gives birth at impossible rate of speed, only to learn that her baby is in fact his own father, having used "subtle boosts" from mind control machines to impregnate her in another dimension, an encounter which she has no memory of. And the Avengers are just peachy with this, even allowing her to go back to the other dimension with him despite it being clear the mind control is in effect again.
  • One of Linkara's main berserk buttons is sexism. Thus when he reviews much of Frank Miller's works, such as All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, he hates how Miller objectifies women. He's so perfectly pissed off about it in All-Star Batman & Robin #5, in which Frank reduced Wonder Woman of all people into a hyper violent Straw Feminist with Psycho Lesbian undertones that needed a "Strong Man to make her 'right'", he became absolutely livid.
  • Uncanny Avengers, a book with a pro-tolerance message, has come under fire for seemingly endorsing not integration but assimilation. The intended Aesop was "Mutants should be treated just like any other superhuman," but was phrased more like "People should have no cultural identity other than just 'person'."
  • The December 2014 issue of Batgirl had the heroine confront a transsexual man who tried to build up his popularity by going around dressing himself up as Batgirl and plays it as a textbook Unsettling Gender Reveal with Batgirl being shocked. Naturally, some fans were quite livid over this and the creators (though not DC Comics) issued an apology over it. Made worse by the fact that the previous writer had made headlines when she introduced a sympathetic transsexual character to the cast who was promptly sidelined by the new creative team despite their earlier statements this wouldn't happen.
  • One of the more famous racial controversies in 2000s comics related to the death of Ryan Choi, The Atom, who was graphically killed by Deathstroke and his shrunken corpse sent to his Arch-Nemesis in the mail. Ryan had taken up the mantle of the Atom after his white predecessor, Ray Palmer, went into seclusion after discovering his ex-wife was a murderer; Ray returned during Final Crisis but let Ryan hold onto the mantle, before retaking it during Blackest Night, with Ryan being killed almost immediately after this happened. This well-known essay addresses the controversy, calling it a symptom of a greater problem of writers wishing to write characters they were fans of as kids, most of whom are white, and as such killing off or demoting to extra their successors. The essay does not accuse the writers of racism, merely shortsightedness, but points out that this shortsightedness tends to result in uncomfortable trends.

    Comic Strips 
  • A Rugrats newspaper comic strip had caused some controversy for featuring a scene where Tommy Pickles was wondering about the true meaning of a traditional Hebrew mourning hymn while attending a Synagogue with Grandpa Boris. Many readers had accused the comic strip of showing Antisemitism as the strip seemed to be patronizing such a solemn prayer. Also, readers had complained about how Grandpa Boris seemed to be shown as a stereotypical Nazi-era depiction of Jews.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney's Chicken Little didn't sit well with some viewers because of the way the story treats Foxy Loxy. She's a popular, athletic tomboy and a bully (without succumbing to the "mean girl" stereotype). And by the end of the film, not only is she the only real antagonist, but she's also mind raped into becoming docile and feminine after being trapped, terrified, in a featureless, black void. When a cure is offered, Runt exclaims "She's perfect!" and she instantly becomes his girlfriend. So her character arc ends with her being brainwashed into becoming traditionally feminine, and no-one advocates for her right to her own damn personality because a boy likes her better this way. And then there's the fact that Chicken Little (a.k.a. Henny Penny) in the original fairytale is made a boy, apparently to better appeal to general audiences. The issue of gender roles hasn't gone unnoticed.
  • Hasbro's official synopsis for My Little Pony Equestria Girls is "Learn all about the magical parallel universe with high schools instead of castles, where six pony friends become real girls with a love for fun and fashion." Amanda Duncil from Feminspire was not amused at the implication that "real girls" must love fashion and fun and the fact that the girls have been given ridiculously thin bodies that reinforce the stereotypical and unrealistic idea of beauty. Fortunately, the former description is actually a big pile of Cowboy Bebop at His Computer and the characters in the movie more closely resemble their varied and non-stereotypical personalities from the show.
  • Disney's Dumbo has been criticized many times for how they had portrayed the black crows that helped out Dumbo and Timothy. Many viewers felt that the crows were representing negative stereotypes of African-Americans, which included them frequently smoking and being depicted as poor and uneducated (but also clever and witty). Oddly enough, this also overlaps with Fair for Its Day because the crows are the only other characters in the film that treat Dumbo decently. They were voiced by a white actor doing a comically broad, deep voice. Less known, but more problematic, is the Roustabout musical sequence, which features obviously African-American laborers working almost entirely in shadow and singing about what drunken layabouts they are.
  • The villains of Cars 2 are "lemons", cars with hindering defects who are mocked by the good guys. They target the race cars of the World Grand Prix to make the car world's greatest athletes feel as crippled as them. As one Cracked article points out, this carries the dark real-world implication that disabled people are evil and deserve to be mocked by "normal" people.
  • Because of all the praise regarding the same-sex parents in the trailer for The Boxtrolls, some people may be disappointed when they find out the film had some uncomfortable transphobic implications, including playing the reveal of the crossdressing character as a textbook Unsettling Gender Reveal. This review brings this issue up, complaining that there was only one female character in the movie "unless you want to count the man-in-drag figure, via whom the movie adds a dash of transphobia".
  • Defied by the makers of The Jungle Book where orangutan King Louie was originally intended to be played by Louis Armstrong (a fact made fairly obvious by his name) but they realized that casting a black actor as an ape (who sings a song about how he wants to be human) could be seen as this, so they chose Sicilian-American Louis Prima instead, which incidentally kept The Danza aspect of the original choice.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The movie Christmas with The Kranks has the protagonists decide not to celebrate Christmas. The reaction this gets is pretty insane to say the least, with the neighbors harassing the Kranks endlessly to celebrate it and put up decorations like the rest of the neighborhood. They finally give in when their young adult daughter decides to come home to visit. The very fact that not celebrating Christmas is seen to be some kind of unforgivable sin is bad enough, but then the film hammers home the idea that fighting against the established conformity — no matter how much you disagree with it — will get you nowhere and you should never do otherwise. Roger Ebert noticed.
  • Nick's Flick Picks gives The Green Mile a D-, not because of the acting or film making — which he admits are fine — but because the film doesn't seem aware of the problem with a story set in the 1930s South, in which an innocent black man is shuttled around to absorb the pain of white people before being executed as a mercy. A mercy for the pain he feels. That he absorbed from white people.
  • Roger Ebert criticized the Twilight movie New Moon for its portrayal of Native Americans as werewolves because it seemed to imply that they were savage animals who don't like to wear clothes.
  • Consider the creepy pedophilic themes in The Phantom of the Opera film version, due to casting younger actors than usual in the roles. Erik poses as Christine's father's ghost, starting when she arrives at the opera house at a very young age — and continues posing as her father's ghost after attempting a romantic relationship with her. The stage version never specifically says when Christine came to the Opera and the Phantom started hanging around her (and it is generally assumed that, as in the original novel, she was a young woman by that point). The massive Electra complex overtones remain, though... As Phantom of the Opera in 15 Minutes says, "Daddy issues ahoy!"
  • The movie Dragonslayer had strong anti-Christian overtones (it involves the rise of Christianity... where they're treated as naïve upstarts, every Christian is either incompetent or cowardly and portrayed as ineffective and obstructive) that were blatant enough to make it likely the filmmakers were prejudiced against religion, particular Christianity and/or Christians, which several fans and media outlets pointed out upon the film's release. The most egregious example is where the filmmakers took advantage of having the monster, the dragon Vermithrax, graphically kill one when he confronted the dragon, tried to cow it in the name of God and got burnt to death for his troubles.
  • Star Wars examples:
  • In-Universe example with Tropic Thunder. One of the actor characters, Kirk Lazarus, who is an expy of Heath Ledger, was cast the role of Sergeant Osiris. Because of this, he had to undergo extensive surgeries to appear as African American and adopt an accent similar to Ebonics to sell the effect, which led to the only other major African American character in the film, rapper Alpa Chino, to criticize him frequently for the action, as well as a news report noting the controversy.
  • Defied by Joss Whedon in The Avengers. DVD commentary reveals that the old man who compares Loki to Hitler came about after Whedon realized what else a crowd of Germans Kneeling Before Zod looked like.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness attracted controversy for Race Lifting, that is, making Khan, an Indian Sikh character originally played by Hispanic actor Ricardo Montalban, into a white character played by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch. This article (spoilers for the film) goes into detail about the problems with this casting change. It's worth noting that the film's crew actually thought they were avoiding Unfortunate Implications with the casting choice. They thought casting an ethnic actor as a brutal terrorist would have the same outcome. Instead, ironically, their decision to give him a Race Lift was viewed as being even more racist than just sticking to his original ethnicity, as many, especially in the Sikh community who would have liked one of their own to get such a juicy role, complained that it was pointless "white washing" of an iconic villain and a lame excuse to cast Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • Although hardly the only flaw in Uwe Boll's series of BloodRayne movies, this article points out how Boll seemingly has "nothing but contempt" for the aggressive, sexually charged female lead character. The review points out how Rayne herself is trumped at every turn in the fight scenes by original characters, and how she is the more submissive partner in the inevitable sex scene.
  • X-Men:
  • Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is about a black doctor marrying a young white woman, and their efforts to get her parents' approval. The filmmakers deliberately made Sidney Poitier's character into a virtual demigod of perfection, to eliminate audience objections to their marriage other than those based on race. But this created other unfortunate implications. To quote Melvin Van Peebles in the documentary Classified X: "Equality. Never mind that the black guy was a scientist, a Nobel Prize candidate, a Pulitzer prize winning, butter wouldn't melt in his mouth type who could practically walk on water, and that she was only a pimply-faced nobody. They were equally matched because she was white. Right?"
  • The casting and portrayal of Tonto by Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger has attracted this from critics. From choice of costume, based off of a fantasy painting by a white artist (see here) to Depp's claim that he wanted to provide a "warrior" character for Native American youth to look up to (here), many people have stated that the film is a complete embodiment of this trope.
  • Mars Needs Moms, as this Something Awful review points out, risks coming across as one of the more alarmist tomes on parenting from the Fifties. The Martian women, who assume the roles of societal leaders, need to abduct human mothers to serve as templates for maternal care - because a powerful working woman apparently can't be a loving mother at the same time. The Martian men thus have no role in their society, and become somewhere between hippies and gay stereotypes. And the Martian girl explicitly says at the end that the only way for a child to truly feel loved is if they're raised by two parents, which must have been interesting for all the single parents in the audience to explain to their kids afterwards.
  • Grover's characterization in The Lightning Thief was such a nonstop barrage of black stereotypes that it led one person to liken it to a minstrel show.
  • During the 2000s, it became a trend for black actors to crossdress as women in movies for the sake of comedy. Martin Lawrence, Eddie Murphy and especially Tyler Perry have all come under fire for their movies where they crossdressed as stereotypical fat black women. They've all been accused of reinforcing Uncle Tomfoolery and Modern Minstrelsy.
  • Tyler Perry's Temptation deals with the main character having an extramarital affair, putting her marriage on the line in order to get with a "bad boy." And by the end of the film, she's contracted AIDS from her affair, and this is depicted as her "punishment" for stepping out. Given the history of AIDS being painted as a just punishment for sinners, critics lit up Perry for this one.
  • The Ultimate Gift is a relatively normal glurge-y film about a man who must improve himself in the hopes of getting a reward. You'd expect that said award to be the improvement itself, but the movie actually awards him 2 billion dollars. DVD Talk points out the glaring flaw in this ending:
    "Um, hey, how about this instead: you make an inspirational movie about healing and growth, and at the end, the gift is something internal, like being nice to people or not being a jackass anymore. That's a message worth hearing. Having your hero wind up a billionaire suggests we should all do good things solely in the hope of landing a monetary reward. Ugh."
  • In his review of Shame, Kyle Kallgren of Brows Held High took issue with the depiction of the scene when protagonist Brandon has sex with a gay man. While Brandon's compulsive sex addiction is shown to be destructive in every instance, the gay sex is treated as "rock bottom", as the scene is shot under red lighting and then is followed by another scene where Brandon is beat up by a man on the street.
  • In the 2000 film Rules of Engagement, American Marines open fire on unarmed Yemeni civilians at the American embassy in Sana'a (Samuel L. Jackson's character, a Marine colonel, gives the order to "Waste the motherfuckers!"), killing 83 civilians and injuring over 100 more. When Jackson's character is put on trial, the story then turns to finding out if his claims are substantial. In the end, though, it turns out that the civilians were no better than terrorists themselves — everyone, even a four-year-old girl, fired on the Marines first! This article has more info.
  • Spring Breakers' climax involves two white girls donning masks and shooting down a bunch of black people... in Florida... and the film began production shortly after Trayvon Martin was killed. In fact, of all the gangsters in the film, the one who the protagonists trust is white. Addressed by Kyle Kallgren of Brows Held High, who proceeds to criticize this as well as the rampant Male Gaze in his review
  • The Freudian Excuse of the villain in Rock of Ages is that she was seduced and then abandoned by a rock star, inspiring her to begin her crusade to lobby the government to ban rock music. The thing is, she is presented as an entirely negative character, while her ex is portrayed relatively positively, even joining the protagonists' band at the end, even though it was he who both made the first move in their relationship and left her. As the Musical Hell review points out, the only reason she's a villain and he isn't is Slut Shaming.
  • In Iron Man 3 the Mandarin's henchmen are all U.S. military personnel who have had amputated limbs regenerated by Extremis. There's a line in the film that implies they're helping the Mandarin create a never-ending war on terror because soldiers can't get jobs after they come home. Noah Antwiler of The Spoony Experiment pointed out how ridiculously offensive the thought that such a large number of U.S. servicemen and women would willingly and knowingly coordinate attacks against American citizens and even help the Mandarin kill the President is.
  • Roger Ebert was extremely critical of The Siege because of what he believed was a poor attempt at subverting the anti-Arab/Islamophobic attitudes typically found in other movies.
    "I'm not arguing that The Siege is a deliberately offensive movie. It's not that brainy. In its clumsy way, it throws in comments now and then to show it knows the difference between Arab terrorists and American citizens. But the prejudicial attitudes embodied in the film are insidious, like the anti-Semitism that infected fiction and journalism in the 1930s—not just in Germany, but in Britain and America."
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was heavily criticized for the characters of Skids and Mudflap, who many people viewed as racial caricatures of black people. The Twins are depicted as ebonic-spewing, bickering idiots who can't read and only serve to be comic-relief in a film that's already full of comedic side-characters. It doesn't help that Skids is depicted as having a gold-tooth for no particular reason.
  • Some biblical films often tend to white-wash the characters despite the stories taking in the Middle East. For instance, the cast of Noah is entirely white despite the characters being the ancestors of all races, which wasn't helped by the screenwriter claiming "white people are stand-ins for all people while people-of-color just represent themselves". Also under fire is Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings, which casts black people only in the roles of servants and crooks, and even makes the Great Sphinx statue look white.
  • Seven Pounds concerns Tim Thomas, a man who had accidentally killed seven people in a car accident. At the film's climax, Tim commits suicide and donates his organs to seven people who need them, which is portrayed as a Heroic Sacrifice and a redemptive act for him. Mathew Buck of Bad Movie Beatdown took the film to task for this ending, believing it sends the message that there are situations where committing suicide is justifiable, and moreso the implication that there are people who have screwed up their lives so badly that suicide is the optimum course of action.
  • In his review of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Film Brain objected to the torturous death given to the promiscuous Bailey; she is first tied up, then raped, then has her teeth pulled out and finally has her throat cut with a pair of dull scissors. As the rape was deliberately shot to resemble a scene for her having kinky, but consensual, sex earlier in the movie, Film Brain took it to mean the filmmakers felt she deserved this gruesome fate.
  • Avatar is often criticized for using Mighty Whitey / White Man's Burden plot devices in a high budget science fiction movie. The main character is a human who becomes the hero of the alien tribe (based off of Native Americans) and gets The Chief's Daughter in the end. This video illustrates using clips of other movies with similar themes how exactly it can be seen as a colonial view of "natives". These articles go into further detail about the controversy.
  • Skyfall: Some viewers have called this after watching Bond's seduction of Severine. Given Severine's background, there's a strong possibility that when Bond initiated sex she may have felt like she had no choice in the matter. Cinema Sins hangs a lampshade on the discomfort.
  • M. Night Shyamalan's take on The Last Airbender was heavily criticized for casting three of the four main characters with white actors, even though the TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender, had characters that appeared to be of East Indian or Native American descent; many viewers felt that this was an attempt at "whitewashing" characters that were of a diverse background.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen‘s film The Dictator was criticized many times for portraying negative stereotypes of Arabs as many people felt that Sacha Baron Cohen’s character as the Dictator was highlighting the stereotypes against the Arab community, while comparing the performance to modern day Minstrel Shows.
  • There are a number of controversies regarding American Sniper's depiction of the Iraqi War, with plenty of accusations of racism directed at the depiction of Iraqis and further accusations of washing over Chris Kyle's glorification of war, racism, and moral absolutism, being utterly dismissive of those who didn't serve and being extremely proud of his deeds.

  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • Some critics have claimed J. R. R. Tolkien was racist because of his description of Orcs in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: "... they are (or were) squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes; in fact degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types." Other critics have noted Tolkien's modifier "(to Europeans)" meant he recognized different cultures have different standards of beauty (being that Mongolians are the "least lovely" to Europeans). The statement isn't "Orcs are Mongolians" but "Orcs look like degraded and repulsive versions of to-us-unpretty Mongolic physical shape." But any way you slice it, that statement is dodgy by contemporary standards.
    • In The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, the author once compared his Dwarves to Jews — "at once native and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country, but with an accent due to their own private tongue." In a radio interview, he said the Dwarf language was modeled to be Semitic. Though he was speaking in specific terms, as a Jewish Journal article has noted, and he said that he intended that all races had flaws, Unfortunate Implications are there for those who want to see them — the Dwarves' main weakness as a race is their lust for riches.

      However, Tolkien is on record as having praised the Jewish people in a Take That against Hitler-era German publishers seeking to publish The Hobbit, when they inquired whether he was of Aryan descent: "I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by 'arisch'. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects.... But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people...". It is wise to avoid getting in a war of words with an Oxford English Professor.
  • Sixth Column, which describes the United States under occupation by Pan-Asians (real-world mutual enemies Japan and China), also has some issues. The heroes save the day by creating a race-selective weapon that kills all yellow people. However, that story idea was from John W. Campbell, and Heinlein supposedly tried to tone down the racism. He was still unhappy with the lingering racist themes.
  • The young adult book series Save The Pearls has had controversy surrounding its treatment of racism. The plot revolves around a post-apocalyptic scenario where white people ("Pearls") are the minority, and black people ("Coals") are the majority and the more "privileged". (Even though coals as objects are generally considered less pretty and valuable than pearls.) As part of this, the main "Pearl" character essentially wears Black Face as an attempt to pass, and generally it ends up indulging in stereotypes about African-Americans. This is a book with an anti-racism Aesop.
  • The vampire series The House of Night has been accused of being misogynistic in its portrayal of women other than the main character, Zoey. Zoey (also the narrator) constantly refers to other women as sluts and judges them based on their appearance. In one instance, the plot almost derails to talk about how all oral sex is demeaning to women and all women who give them are evil sluts.
  • Twilight:
    • This article (second part is here) outlines many unfortunate racial implications. And also here.
    • This article examines some of Twilight's unfortunate implications: specifically, how interracial relationships never work out, how Bella is essentially marrying an old man who doesn't want sex but always wants to boss her around, how Bella, who wants sex, goes after the painfully prudish Edward instead of the man who wants it as much as she does, and how in the end, Bella essentially chooses not to choose.
    • Edward's behavior is basically that of an emotionally abusive boyfriend, and he has all the personality of a cardboard box. Bella uses excuses that real life abused women use to justify his behavior, such as that Edward acts this way because he really loves her.
    • Bella's behavior is just as vile. This review takes Dr. Hare's twenty traits of sociopathy and applies every single one to something Bella has done or thought in New Moon.
  • When you think about it, Philip Jose Farmer's Wold-Newton Family, by saying that all great heroes and many villians of modern literature were descended from the fourteen people present at the Wold-Newton meteor landing, is also saying that any of those characters who aren't of English origin only achieved what they did because they had some English blood. Modern Newtonians have noticed this, and identified other meteor crashes that could have had similar effects.
  • An early Imaro story, "Slaves of the Giant-Kings", had Imaro enslaved by Fantasy Counterpart Culture versions of the Tutsis and Hutus, ending with Imaro leading the Hutu stand-ins in a gory revolution against the Tutsi stand-ins based on the Rwandan Revolution. Long after the story was written, the actual Hutus began a genocide against the Tutsis. When Imaro creator Charles Saunders decided to reprint his stories he was so sickened by the parallels between "Slaves of the Giant-Kings" and the Rwandan Genocide that he refused to ever print it again, writing a totally new adventure to replace it because he thought reprinting it might look like he thought the genocide was justified.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the mexican Soap Opera La Rosa De Guadalupe, as stated in this blog there are quite a few misconceptions about Asperger Syndrome, making it seem like something that makes people violent, and a Fate Worse Than Death. Not only that, but apparently, Aspergers can now be cured, you don't even need a doctor or anything! Uh...
  • True Blood:
  • Doctor Who:
    • Susan Foreman of was not originally intended to be the Doctor's granddaughter, but a writer created the family tie because of the connotations of an older man traveling around with an attractive young woman.
    • The TARDIS Eruditorum has observed that it's uncomfortable watching "The Daleks", which has a theoretically anti-racist moral but also uses Beauty Equals Goodness and presents the Inhumanly Beautiful Race as resembling Aryan supermen — not least that Carol Ann Ford, the actress playing Susan, is Jewish and is asked to say dialogue calling them "perfect". This was also lampshaded indirectly in the Big Finish Doctor Who drama The Alchemists, set in 1930s Germany, where Susan remarks that a young Nazi SS officer looks "almost Thal-like", while herself receiving negative comments based on her dark-eyed appearance.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation has S1 E3 "Code of Honor", an episode so charged with racial stereotypes and Unfortunate Implications and outright racism that it's kind of hard to watch. The plot is that there is a planet of aliens who look exactly like humans of African descent and dress in a mix of stereotype of what Shaka's warriors might wear and leopard-skin hot pants. This would be bad enough. However, the leader of these tribes is a somewhat sexist man who falls for blond-haired Lt. Yar, kidnaps her, and tries to get his highest ranking consort killed via a duel with Yar so he can inherit her property. Their society actually follows tribal-style concepts of status and honor, including "counting coup." And the Enterprise crew can't simply decide to have no part in any of this nonsense because the people of this planet have a vaccine which is vital to the survival of another planet, but are so wrapped up in their contests of honor that they will not release it until the Enterprise crew plays along. So you have an African stereotype of kidnapping a pretty white woman to marry her, necessitating the pretty white woman's companions to try to save her while she has to fight an enraged, jealous African female, all so the pretty white woman's companions can do the much more important work of saving another people from disease. Former consultant Tracy Tormé said that "I felt like it was a '40s tribal African view of blacks. I think it was kind of embarrassing. Not only was the ending like [original series episode] "Amok Time", but it came dangerously close to Amos 'n' Andy." Jonathan Frakes called the episode a "racist piece of shit", and later "the worst and most embarrassing [episode]..." and "horribly racist" at a 2007 science fiction convention in Toronto, Canada. Brent Spiner echoed his opinion in a later interview.
    • Wil Wheaton expanded on this issue by saying that the episode's script didn't include any specifications for what the aliens looked like (and as SF Debris points out in his review, several lines indicate that if anything they should be Native American). Then the director insisted they all be black, and was quickly fired afterwards when his racist statements made everyone uncomfortable.
  • When SF Debris reviewed the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang", Chuck Sonnenburg commented on Ben Sisko complaining about the racism present when the holodeck scenario in question is supposedly set, noting that the team's Batman Gambit uses its three female members in mostly passive roles (e.g. Distracted by the Sexy), rather than taking a fully active part in the casino heist like the men. His remarks included words to the effect of:
    "By calling attention to the elephant in the room, they've unwittingly drawn attention to the mammoth standing next to it."
  • There have been many criticisms of the portrayal of female characters in The Newsroom. These tend to center around how female characters tend to have their competence undercut by naiveté/personal problems to a greater extent than do male ones, and are often corrected on their ignorance by male characters. While improved over the course of the series, these features stood out because at least in initial episodes, the supposed competence of the female characters was an Informed Ability.
  • Many a Lifetime Movie of the Week featuring women being beaten to near-death have been repeated over and over and over and over again on broadcast television. One Movie of the Week produced by CBS in 1993 dealt with a male victim of Domestic Abuse. This film, Men Don't Tell, never aired on that channel again, though Lifetime snuck in a few repeat showings. At least one reviewer discussed this disparity and pointed out exactly what message this was sending in an article in the New York Times.
  • This review of Hemlock Grove points out that, for a show that tries to "shake up" the horror genre, it still kills off a good chunk of its female cast, especially the ones who are sexually active.
  • The 1979 Chuck Barris Game Show Three's a Crowd was a derivative of The Newlywed Game, also created by Barris, by having adulterating husbands attempt to match answers between their wives and the secretaries with whom they were cheating. The show was immediately attacked by both feminists and conservatives religious activists for glamorizing adultery. It got cancelled in February 1980, less than five months after its premiere.
  • On Survivor, the initial tribes are normal divided more or less randomly, other than having an equal split between each gender on each one. On occasion, they do something gimmicky, such as having men vs. women or young vs. old. For the 13th season (Cook Islands), the tribes were separated by race. Although this meant that there much more racial diversity in a show that had previously been very monochrome, and the tribes were mixed up after only two episodes, many viewers couldn't help but feel offended by the stunt, finding it reminiscent of Jim Crow-era segregation. Naturally, MADtv had a field day with it.
  • Overlapping with Do Not Do This Cool Thing, this blog entry is extremely critical of how many Criminal Procedural dramas such as The Sopranos, Dexter and Breaking Bad have white male protagonists who are invariably portrayed as Justified Criminals, and are greatly admired for it, whereas protagonists of any other background are much less likely to receive this treatment.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Among other issues, this blogger criticizes what he sees as an "it's not making fun of autism if we don't call it autism" attitude towards Sheldon, asserting that the show deliberately exploits the Ambiguous Disorder trope as a way to openly and safely mock a legitimate disability.
    • Then there's the issues with how it treats homosexuality. Raj is repeatedly given effeminate quirks. His relationship with Howard is once out-right said to be a replacement for a traditional heterosexual relationship that neither can get, with the idea being that it's sad and pathetic as claimed by a professional and well-renowned psychologist, and his later close relationship with possibly Bi Stuart is treated as similar. Asexual Sheldon was noted prior for subverting usual sitcom standards by having no interest in women, until they decide to add in a female love interest to avoid people thinking he was gay (ironically, his actor actually is).
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • The show took criticism for having the first super powered threat be an Angry Black Man. Later episodes with this character in the first season may have made things worse.
    • "Yes Men" was an clumsy attempt at a female empowerment story that managed to garner accusations of sexism from both sides. For women, it was the episode's need to "justify" Sif's presence in the plot by having a Villain of the Week only a woman could defeat, and for having the first major female supervillain to appear on the show be a seductress. For men, it was the episode's sentiment that "men are weak", which is echoed by several heroic characters and never contested, as well as the treatment of Grant Ward, who is brainwashed and raped by the female villain, the implications of which are ignored.
  • One of the criticisms of Joss Whedon's Firefly was the fact that despite taking place in a future where China was a massive superpower and Chinese influence could be felt in everything from dialogue to clothing, there were almost no actual Chinese (or indeed any Asian) characters in the show. Even the Tam Siblings, who had a Chinese surname, were played by white actors.note 
  • And prior to that, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was subject to criticism about its treatment of minority characters, namely the fact that there were very few of them, and the ones that did exist had a nasty habit of getting killed off.
  • The treatment of female characters in the five-year run of Merlin was bad enough for commentator Dave Bradley to write an article on the subject, pointing out that without exception all its female characters were either a Distressed Damsel, a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, or a Disposable Woman.
  • Teen Wolf
    • The show has developed a reputation for killing almost all of its female and POC characters, including all but two in the original cast. Every female villain has been killed so far, yet only one male villain has died during the show's entire run. And whereas most of the departing male characters simply moved out of Beacon Hills to continue their lives elsewhere, all of the female and POC characters have been killed off. And as of Season 3's finale, this also includes the show's primary female protagonist, Allison Argent, who was killed off with little fanfare and wasn't even given a funeral or more than a passing mention in the following season. Some fans have taken to compiling charts that show the enormous difference between the male vs. female death count.
    • The only gay character who appears on a semi-regular basis has had almost no meaningful screen time or Character Development in four seasons and was eventually cut from the fourth season altogether, but not before being replaced by a Suspiciously Similar Substitute. Lots of ire was also raised about the actors and creators purposely queerbaiting fans with an Ambiguously Bi character for the ratings and fun of it, and a confirmed lesbian was suddenly switched to bisexual within a few episodes to bait the aforementioned not-so-bisexual character. When The Advocate posted about the positive inclusion of LGBT characters in Teen Wolf, the magazine was later forced to retract and reevaluate the article due to outcry from fans about the exact opposite being more true to the show's actual storyline.
  • The Disney Channel has been criticized for playing Jerkass, bullying behavior for laughs in many of their live action shows, as well as portraying adults as useless and continuously implying that girls need to be attractive over being kind, smart, or successful. This is especially unfortunate given the target audience for such shows are tweens, who are likely to emulate such behavior.
  • 2 Broke Girls had been accused many times of showing negative stereotypes of various characters, including Han Lee, an Asian American character who is the boss of the diner. Many viewers felt that the show was showing negative stereotypes of Asian Americans through Han’s character, which includes speaking in broken English and not understanding American culture very well.
  • Homeland:
    • There has been criticism of the show's depiction of Muslims and the Middle East in general. Whether seemingly westernized and educated or ignorant and fanatical, the overwhelming bulk of the show's 'Muslim' cast have ended up being linked to the terrorists in one way or another. The Islam of Homeland is presented almost as a monolith, with Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda teaming up to kill Americans without complicated ideas like 'Shia' and 'Sunni' being introduced to complicate such a team-up or acknowledging that Hezbollah has never targeted the United States for attack. The show's presentation of Hamra Street in Beirut, in reality a bustling and cosmopolitan area with shops and cafes, as a dirty haven for terrorist and armed militia even led Lebanon to threaten legal action.
    • The third season makes things worse by making the entire nation of Iran the enemy and by making Javadi a cartoonish Evil Muslim who stabs his ex-wife to death because all Muslims are Straw Misogynists. Iran, a country whose people once held candlelight vigils for the victims of the 9/11 attacks, is here shown as a place where everyone cheers Brody the suspected terrorist when they discover who he is, with the CIA bomber quickly becoming a national hero.
  • Jersey Shore: Portraying all Italian-Americans as drunken, steroid-fueled party kids and Hard Drinking Party Girls. In addition to several Italian-American groups, Kevin Smith (a New Jersey native) commented that it's an Italian equivalent to the early 20th-century practice of "cooning", where black entertainers played to the "Uncle Tom" stereotype.

  • The Onion's A.V. Club Inventory "We Care a Lot" discusses various examples of the Charity Motivation Song, such as "We Are the World", "Do They Know It's Christmas?", and more obscure efforts, pointing out more than once that the songs and videos made for them wind up coming off as narcissistic by promoting the celebrities singing them as much as, if not more than, the cause.
  • Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" music video has plenty of these, a great many of which get called out in the Literal Music Video parody of it. On the whole, the video promotes promiscuity while shaming more conservative outlooks while simultaneously flipping between two different stereotypes.
  • This Listverse entry that purports to highlight the ten most "intellectual" rappers plays the Mighty Whitey trope incredibly straight.
  • Taylor Swift songs can come off as incredibly slut-shaming and sex-negative sometimes (in Fifteen it's implied that her friend's virginity was all she had, and in Revenge it's implied that the person it's addressed to stole her boyfriend via being better at sex, just for two). See this article for a much longer explanation

    The criticisms too have been subject to some Unfortunate Implications. The backlash to these ideas point out that labeling Swift as a feminist nightmare ignores a large body of her work that is more complicated about sexuality in favor of analyzing a few hits that seem straightforward against it, turning her from a complicated figure into some kind of hateful bigot Crusader Prude.
  • The Christmas Shoes is a contemporary Christian song (and movie) about a melancholy gentleman who helps a boy buy a pair of shoes for his mother, who is on her deathbed and expected to pass away shortly. The singer then muses to himself that God sent the kid to remind him what Christmas is all about; in other words, God killed a little boy's mother on Christmas just to guilt some unrelated curmudgeon into appreciating the holidays. That observation has been made numerous times by various critics, but the Nostalgia Chick and Patton Oswalt probably put it best.
  • The song "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke is supposed to be an Intercourse with You song. However, the lyrics come off more as the perspective of a rapist. To illustrate, Todd in the Shadows did a juxtaposition of this song and "Sex Type Thing" by Stone Temple Pilots (a song explicitly sung from the perspective of a rapist) in his review, while Sociological Images did a break-down of the song by taking images from Project Unbreakable (an online photo essay of survivors holding up placards with quotes from their rapists to bring awareness) to demonstrate how in a real world context things like this aren't said in a consensual encounter. It's also brilliantly satirized in the parody "Lame Lines". This parody by Bart Baker points out the rape overtones while still being comedic.
  • Justin Timberlake was criticized by the Take Back the Night Foundation, an anti-rape group, for his song "Take Back the Night." Timberlake claims that he was unfamiliar with the organization when he wrote the song and that the similarity between the title and lyrics and their name is unintentional. However, certain lyrics such as "come on, surrender," "your love's a weapon," and especially, "they gon' try to shut us down, I’ll be damned if we gon' let them take back the night" read as very disturbing when viewed through this lens. He has since apologized and made a statement in support of the group, and for their part, they have decided against taking legal action. Read all about it at The Other Wiki.
  • Lily Allen's video for the song "Hard Out There" met with controversy over alleged racist undertones, such as Allen using predominately black backup dancers while singing about how she doesn't need to shake her booty because she "has a brain". Allen claims the fact that dancers were mostly women of color was an unfortunate oversight, and that they just happened to be the most talented women who auditioned.
  • Similarly, Lorde's single "Royals" became the subject of controversy due to the fact that she criticizes the materialism and alleged "vapidity" in genres like rap and hip-hop, which are primarily populated by black and Latino artists. She even ended up issuing an apology to Drake and Nicki Minaj after claiming their music was irrelevant.
  • Cover Band Sambô's take on U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" got some heat [15] [16] [17] for making a cheery samba version of a song about a massacre remembered today as an Irish national tragedy. The performance, full of smiling, giggling and cheering basically throws the point of the original version through the window, as if the group was making fun of what happened, or if the performers never bothered knowing what the lyrics were about. In an interview, when faced with the accusation of making the dissonant version, the group responded that the rhythm didn't make the song any less sad, and blamed Misaimed Fandom for the awkwardness

    Radio Plays 

  • Seussical: The fact that many of Seuss's stories, along with their morals, are now presented without context. For example, the army from "The Butter Battle Book" is displayed, a book Seuss wrote as his criticism of the Cold War. However, the play lacks that context, making it feel as though it's condemning every war as frivolous, when in fact, Seuss, a former political cartoonist, could be VERY pro-war depending on the issue.
  • The Las Vegas Sun's review of Criss Angel BeLIEve points out that in the original (subsequently retooled) story "[T]here's a continual struggle over [Criss's] usually shirtless bod between his stage assistants, Kayala, an angelic ever-receding woman in white and Crimson, a devouring, demonic black woman. (Not even going there.)"

    Video Games 
  • Duke Nukem Forever suffered a bad example of this. The game positively rejoices in a very dated portrayal of female characters as damsels to be rescued and eye candy, is (seemingly) intended to be an example of Crosses the Line Twice, in a send-up of old action games and movies (and with a fairly large helping of Self-Deprecation). However, one game mechanic, in the "Capture the Babe" multiplayer mode, which involved the babe making a bid for freedom and needing to be slapped on the arse to calm her down, didn't endear it to some reviewers.
  • Metroid: Other M: Other critics argue that the game's sexism and bizarre incompetency on Samus' part are merely parts of a greater whole: a romanticized abusive relationship between an otherwise capable bounty hunter and her surrogate father figure.
  • Mass Effect:
    • A Kotaku article guffawing about the Running Gag of Commander Shepard's Renegade option to punch out reporter Khalisah bint Sinan al-Jilani attracted complaints that the action treated violence against women as a laughing matter. Other commenters, however, made the point that in Mass Effect's future it didn't matter that she was a woman, and that female Shepards could do the exact same thing. Even the author of the conversations weighed in, saying that al-Jilani was a Take That directed against certain Pompous Political Pundits and biased journalism and that the only reason he made al-Jilani a woman was because he likes coming up with female names more. He was more surprised people weren't latching onto the fact that al-Jilani is identifiably Arab. "They notice the gender issue, not the race issue."
    • The first two games attracted criticism for a lack of same-sex romance options for a male Shepard, while female Shepards could begin a relationship with a member of a One-Gender Race or a bisexual woman. They rectified this with the third installment, which has two male homosexual romance options (one new and one who has been around since the first game). Only adding it to the third game has its own issues. It's completely possible to have played a male Shepard as gay throughout ME1 and ME2, he'd just also be a Celibate Hero on top of being gay, but that just falls into this again. Plans were allegedly in place for Male Shepard to be able to pursue a relationship with Thane in Mass Effect 2, but this was cut in response to the controversy over the first game. Even so, it remains unfortunate that Female Shepard being openly lesbian is available from the very first game while Male Shepard can't be played that way until the final installment.
    • In Mass Effect 3, all of the love interests, save for African American Jacob Taylor, stay faithful towards Shepard. Jacob is the only character to outright dump Shepard because, during the Time Skip between Mass Effect 2 and 3, he impregnated another woman. This led to a LARGE debate over the negative connotations related to his unfaithfulness and his race. To this day, it's still a touchy subject to tackle.
  • In the World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria beta, Jii Firepaw, leader of the Horde-allied Pandaren, would compliment your strength if you're playing a male Pandaren, and your attractiveness if you're playing a female one. This sparked a controversy, with people complaining about, among other things, the focus on a female's appearance rather than competence in her chosen class. This ultimately led to the dialogue getting removed from the game.
  • Avoided in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. Marluxia was originally intended to be a woman, but once they started to develop the game's plot, the developers realized that having the only two women out of a group of thirteennote  plotting to overthrow the men in charge and subsequently getting killed for it by another male wasn't going to go over too well.
  • Bioshock Infinite, which features a class warfare between downtrodden minorities (led by the black Daisy Fitzroy) and a racist white society (led by Zachary Comstock), has come under criticism for its somewhat awkward use of the theme of race. The juxtaposition of Comstock and Fitzroy has been called a false equivalency, and the main quantum mechanics story thread being independent of race (although the two themes do dovetail in some of the subplots, e.g., the gunsmith and his wife) have led some to question why even add race relations to the game at all.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening:
    • The lack of homosexual relations/marriage has been criticized by several reviewers. Source 1 Source 2 Source 3
    • That two characters who appear as 12 year old girls are able to marry and have children has been controversial. Source 1 Source 2 Source 3
  • The reboot of Tomb Raider seemingly featured Lara's sexual assault as a plot point in the trailers and interviews (such scenes were not in the actual game). When questioned about this, one of the game's executives claimed that the point of the assault was to encourage the player to 'protect her and care for her' because 'they don't really project themselves into the character'. This left many people understandably less than impressed, including the game's lead writer and marketing department.
  • The trailer for Hitman: Absolution, which features PVC-clad Ms. Fanservice Naughty Nuns being shot, beaten, stabbed, and garroted by the very male Agent 47 caught a lot of flak for seemingly encouraging sexism, fetishizing violence and glamorizing violence towards women, such as this article in the Guardian, and this tweet from Charlie Brooker:
    Brooker: Trail for Hitman: Absolution is terrible shit aimed at base, clueless imbeciles. Fuck the game industry if it thinks this shit works. Fuck it.
  • Call of Juarez: The Cartel:
  • Shortly after the release of Scribblenauts, a game where you write words into a magical notepad in order to make a corresponding object appear and use these items to solve puzzles, some controversy was caused when it was discovered that writing "Sambo", a derogatory term for black people, would cause a watermelon, which is often stereotypically associated with black people, to appear. The creators clarified that this was not because of racism, but because there is a fruit called sambo that resembles a watermelon, and the game often reuses graphics for similar-looking objects.
  • Digging into the files of Dead Island reveals the names for the special abilities for each character. One of Purna's is "gender wars" which allows her to deal more damage to males. However it was discovered this particular ability was before release named by one of the developers ''feminist whore.'' This little joke from one of the programmers was something developers Deep Silver were sorry had been missed and sent out with initial copies of the game.
  • Avoided in Kingdom of Loathing: a Bad Moon-only adventure where your character falls into some tar is titled "A Potentially Offensive Reference Has Been Carefully Avoided Here".note 
  • Super Mario Bros.: Princess Peach is one of the most iconic damsels in distress in all of pop culture, and has been subject to heaps of feminist analysis and criticism because of that. And then came Super Princess Peach, where she finally gets to be the main protagonist... and she has powers based on mood swings. As Game Theory put it, "Way to go, Nintendo: you make the girl a hero, and you give her the power of PMS!"
  • The "pawns" system in Dragon's Dogma has drawn comparisons to pimping. Let this quote from the Zero Punctuation review explain:
    "...for adventuring purposes, you can also enlist two additional sidekicks who are the main sidekicks of other players elsewhere in the world. [...] When you're finished with them, you give them a little present and send them back to their owner with a fond slap on the bum. You even have to rate them like you're filling in a time sheet for a temp agency. It creates motivation to make sure your sidekick has the best equipment and skills [...] so they'll be more likely to be hired by other players, acquire experience, bring you back presents, and — wait a minute! Am I pimping?
    Once that thought occurred to me, I just couldn't shake it off. [...] 'No, it's alright,' says the game. 'They're not actually intelligent free-willed human beings, they're pawns, a sort of magical human slave race who look a lot like humans but actually don't have minds of their own.' Oh, even better! Now we're pimping the mentally subnormal!"
  • Avalon Code. The only character (other than the Big Bad) to be Killed Off for Real — through a spiteful Backstab Backfire Karmic Death, no less — is Olly, who is designed as stereotypically ugly. (They are, of course, evil.) Everyone else gets a Disney Death or otherwise miraculous survival. Let's Player Didja Redo did not like this, frequently criticizing the game's usage of Beauty Equals Goodness in his rewrite and explicitly mocking it in his runthrough of the real game:
    "By the time we were told the tornado victim could be revived, I'm sure we were all expecting everyone to survive. This game does not have the moxie to kill someone 100% indisputably dead. [picture of Olly's death] PROVIDED THEY AREN'T TOO UGLY."
  • Uncharted doesn't exactly treat non-americans very well. Most of the mooks in the first two games are ethnic minorities (for bonus points, a few of them are also portrayed as stupid and superstitious), and Nathan is the only one ever capable of doing any actual treasure-hunting or clue-solving. Additionally, in the first game, every protagonist is white, and almost every antagonist is...not, with the exception of the Evil Brit. Yahtzee sums it up pretty well.
  • There has been some controversy about the character Sarah in The Walking Dead. Sarah is a teenage girl who is implied to have some form of disorder. She is portrayed as The Load, and is killed off in the fourth episode of Season 2. In an interview two Telltale game employees admitted that many people in the office (as well the fandom) was excited to kill her off. More than one person has called out the developers for seeming to imply that a disabled child is nothing but a liability, and other survivors should get rid of them to give themselves a better chance.
  • Two robot masters were introduced in Mega Man Powered Up as two new bosses Mega Man had to face before challenging Dr. Wily. One of them is Oil Man, whose original design made him resemble someone in blackface. Naturally, this attracted some controversy. Therefore, international versions of the game attempted to lighten his colors in an attempt to make it more appealing to western audiences, and when he appeared in Archie's Mega Man comic, he donned a scarf over his mouth in an attempt to hide the resemblance.
  • Regarding Assassin's Creed: Unity, Robert Rath writing for The Escapist criticized the depiction of famous revolutionary women in the game, noting that despite the negative publicity Ubisoft are Not Helping Your Case. He points out how one major woman historical figure like Charlotte Corday is portrayed like a crazy stalker (rather than Well-Intentioned Extremist who truly believed she was doing right) as well as being treated in a throwaway half-baked side mission when she is one of the most legendary true-life assassins in history. Olympe de Gouges, a highly respected feminist author (regularly considered for placement in France's Pantheon building) does not get a database entry and appears as a collectible severed head for Madame Tussaud's collection which Arno has to rescue since it's a fetish object from a nutty soldier, noting how literally she's made into a sexual object.
  • Star Trek Online: The relationship between the Kobali and the Delta Alliance, as well as between Kobali "parents" and their "children", have been compared to domestic abuse and parental abuse, and their method of reproduction (basically necromancy: they inject humanoid corpses with a virus that rewrites their DNA) to rape. In the latter case, in response to a rebuttal one poster commented that saying a Kobali resurrectee that remembered their past life should stay with the Kobali because "that's their culture" was like saying that a friend of his who had been date-raped needed to spend the rest of her life living with her rapist. By contrast the Vaadwaur, intended to be the Monster of the Week for the Story Arc in question, come off as the Designated Villain. [18], [19]

    Web Comics 
  • This was invoked purposefully on one occasion by 8-Bit Theater. When Bahamut decides that Red Mage and Black Mage are Fighter's slaves, and Fighter starts referring to Red Mage as Red Slave, Black Mage points out that this would make him Black Sla—GOOD NIGHT, EVERYBODY!
  • Jack (David Hopkins):
  • Ménage à 3: Zii has a habit of tossing people into sexual situations and otherwise violating personal boundaries willy-nilly. The audience is apparently supposed to be on her side, and she was never punished for it for a long time. (To be fair, the comic shows a disregard verging on contempt for the concept of karma for anyone.) This is in addition to a lot of fanservice and some stereotyping in the comic generally. For more detail, see these reviews. However, things grew a little more nuanced as the plot continued, as one of Zii's conquests turned into a comedy Stalker with a Crush who was largely responsible for her first serious relationship for years crashing and burning.
  • Moon over June is pretty notorious in general and there's very little about its plot that doesn't carry unfortunate implications; the most commonly cited ones are Hatsuki's ability to 'try out' eating disorders and her deciding to become a lesbian to piss off her parents, Summer having such extreme misandry as to seriously consider putting any son she may end up having up for adoption, and Summer's career as a gynecologist being solely based on her desire to grope vaginas all day, which is totally fine.
  • Shortpacked! lampshades this trope in this strip.
  • Sticky Dilly Buns: Ruby has a degree-level education, is looking for an appropriate job, and considers this a higher priority than dating. She's also a screaming neurotic who seems permanently stressed out, and the best advice receives in her job search relates to how she should dress. Amber is a former porn actress who got her current job (and her apartment) by sexually manipulating a man; she's also relatively well-balanced and comfortable with her life. This has inspired some comment on the comic's discussion boards; Readers think that the comic is implying that women who seek to get an education and use it to earn a good living are doomed to be desperate virgins who need to get laid, and the best way for a woman to get on in the world is to exploit her appearance and sexuality.

    Western Animation 

  • Media in general doesn't portray mental illness much better than comics, which perpetuates bigoted stereotypes, misconceptions, fear, hate, abuse, violation, and mistreatment.
  • Typographical example: Anytime the Neuland or Lithos typefaces are used in reference to African or other foreign cultures, which are virtually their only appearances since the turn of the century. The use of those two is done to evoke a "primitive" or "uncultured" feel, regardless of the true situation. More info on the topic.
    • Likewise, the use of Wonton fonts to represent Chinese/Japanese cultures remains controversial.
  • The blog Sociological Images points out unfortunate implications in other media.
  • Elementary schools in Gwinnett County, Georgia apparently asked kids some rather offensive math word problems. The questions include such gems as "Each tree has 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?", "If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?" and yet another asks how much cotton Fredrick picks in a day. The school district claims it's to teach kids history, but if so, it's very poorly handled.
  • In the mid-nineties, Reebok came under fire for producing a shoe called the Incubus — a shoe marketed to women no less. Apparently someone in marketing submitted it as a potential name because it was a non-trademarked word that sounded cool, and the company didn't do the research that would have revealed that they were about to sell a women's athletic shoe named after male Horny Devils. The company quickly apologized and recalled the product when this came to their attention.
  • Feminist Frequency: The idea behind the argument that Mattie Ross is not a feminist character (because she promotes more socially-accepted "masculine values" of revenge and violence as opposed to "feminine values" of cooperation and peace) is actually a much more contentious one in feminist circles than Anita Sarkeesian makes it seem. While certainly, the idea that promoting "feminine values" is an essential feminist goal has its supporters (most notably, Harvard sociologist and cultural feminist Carol Gilligan in her book In A Different Voice), there are other feminists who disagree, notably egalitarian feminist Carol Tavris in ''The Mismeasure of Women", with one of the big reasons being this trope, and the concurrent one of Men Use Violence, Women Use Communication. For starters, many would consider Sarkeesian to be denying Mattie's agency by assuming that she a) only has these values to get along in a "man's world" and b) has never questioned them (questioning ≠ abandoning). Additionally, many feminists would also say there is a downside to the more "feminine," cooperative values - such as meekness and submission - which result in women who adopt them having less power and influence, which ultimately hurts women more than it helps them.
  • Welcome to Night Vale co-creator Jeffrey Cranor announced on Tumblr that he was retiring from his role (albeit uncredited) as the voice of Carlos the Scientist in order to avert this trope: "It sucks that there’s a white straight male (me), playing a gay man of color (Carlos). Look, I know it’s a voiceover, but it’s not just that. We do live stage shows, and that’s a visible role for a PoC." He felt he was preventing a less privileged actor from getting exposure, so the role was recast with Dylan Marron, a gay Latino member of Cranor's Neo-Futurist performance art circle.
  • The Nostalgia Critic's review of Sailor Moon was heavily criticized for being sexist. The article goes into detail about how Usagi shouldn't be called stupid, cowardly or slutty, and how the message of girls accepting their sexuality and femininity was lost on him.
  • The Epcot ride Habit Heroes was heavily criticized for fat-shaming, as it focused on literally fighting obesity. The article also notes that one of the "villains" seen in the old attraction's site was an embodiment of insecurity. Yes, insecurity is a bad habit that must be cured like a sweet tooth or excessively gossiping. Thankfully, Disney closed the ride and remodeled it to be a bit gentler, to a much warmer reception.
  • Some aspects of the Rape as Backstory trope have been criticized for this, especially where the concept of the "badass rape victim" is concerned, namely that it implicitly condones rape as a means of improving character, and credits rapists with the victim's heroism.
  • Autism Speaks is often criticized and called out for how it portrays autism in its PSAs and programs; specifically how it seems to treat autism as a disease that needs to be purged, rather than a mental/emotional issue, portraying those with autism as nothing but Rainman style figures or useless wastes of space waiting for a "cure" to their condition. This is the reason it's often considered an acceptable target on the internet (especially on Tumblr, where the sheer mention of Autism Speaks can be a Berserk Button).
    • The anti-vaccination movement has the exact same problem. One of their arguments against vaccines is a many-times debunked link between receiving vaccines and autism - which can be taken as them saying that having autism is literally a Fate Worse Than Death, which implies that autistic people living today would be better off dead, and given that condemnation of parents who murder their autistic children is conspicuously absent from their press-releases, that suggests that they tacitly condone killing autistic people.
      • If that wasn't already explicit enough, Autism Speaks actually endorsed the Judge Rotenberg Center about 8 months after this article was published in Forbes Magazine
  • TIME Magazine came under fire, being variously accused of racism and transmisogyny, because of their decision to not include Lupita Nyong'o and Laverne Cox on the TIME 100 list of the most influential people in 2014, despite both of them getting many more votes in their favor than most of the other people who did end up on the list.
  • The "Add a Kid" line of kids' clothing attracted some controversy: the main premise of the line is that there is a picture of a headless character printed on the shirt, so that when a kid wears it it looks like his or her head is on the character's body. In order to illustrate this, the shirts had cardboard cutouts that had photos of kids printed on them while in stores. The controversy occured when one of the shirts with a monkey's body was paired with an african-american child, unintentionally referencing the "black people are monkeys" stereotype.
  • Zara, a fashion retailer, pulled its line of kids' shirts with a yellow "Sheriff's Star" on the front because its black and white stripes looked like a concentration camp uniform.
  • Urban Outfitters took some heat when they released a "vintage" Kent State sweater, the dye job for which makes it look like it was spattered with blood and reminded people of the shooting of 4 students by the National Guard in 1970. Urban Outfitters quickly pulled the shirts after this was pointed out but not before they were called tasteless.
  • This Article basically calls out the reaction a few women had about scientist Matt Taylor wearing a shirt that depicted scantily-clad women as a Double Standard.
  • Patricia Arquette's acceptance speech at the 2015 Oscars, in which she uses her platform to speak about the inequality women face. She states that every man, homosexual and person of colour should fight on their behalf, since women have fought for them plenty of times. This article comments on how her phrasing makes it seem as if she only acknowledges straight white women as real women, while lesbians and coloured women are just "gay people" and "people of colour".
  • Dunkin' Donuts was forced to apologize after a promotion where they altered the Liverpool Football crest to replace the "eternal flames" honoring the 96 people killed in the Hillsborough disaster with cups of iced coffee. Overlaps with Cross-Cultural Kerfluffle since Dunkin' is an American based company and likely had no idea what the flames meant.
  • The University of North Georgia's Spring 2015 course catalog featured a stock photo of four businesspeople running a track race, with a white man crossing the finish line first, another white man close behind, and a white woman and black man bringing up the rear.

Alternative Title(s):

Unfortunate Implication