"Someone wrote this... in 1999... and didn't realize that there would be... implications... Or worse, they did understand."
— Y: Ruler of Time on Alive, when the supervirus they're dealing with came from Africa after a man ate a monkey and they call the virus Black.
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 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— seeing the entire "political correctness" argument as a plausibly deniable defense of racism and other types of outdated thinking — vehemently oppose it, no example may be added in this article or on a work article, without proof that it's not just one person thinking.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:
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.
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.
To avoid these pitfalls, please see So You Want To Avoid Unfortunate Implications.
Subjects susceptible to Unfortunate Implications include:
Hot-button controversial topics such as war, abortion, and politics.
Subject matter related to race, ethnicity, and class.
It's been notedseveral 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
ThisCracked 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 ◊ from IKEA, the furniture store demonising goths as "creepy" and a "bad influence" didn't go down too well with the subculture. . 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 and 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.
NarutoChapter 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.
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 slutsheis, 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 2 later namesakes and the implications of her story here.
Several articles in Cracked have covered cases in comic books.
The same article mentions Tyroc, the first Token Minority added to the notoriously-MonochromaticLegion 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.
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. Movie Bob does a two-partseries on this topic alone.
Former Marvel Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter talked about the subject in his blog: Avengers #200. He stated he did not know what he was thinking when he allowed that tripe to be published, and he apologized for that story.
Writer of Avengers Undercover has said that the cast of the book "all have PTSD, so maybe they fit better with the villains". This and several other things said by him in interviews did not sit well with some people suffering from PTSD. To quote one of them.
I can’t believe what I’m reading. Yes, my PTSD is because of past traumatic experience - things like the child abuse, having to deal with finding one of my friends and being a ‘debt-collector’ for some dealers being a few of the major contributions - but Marvel writers are using this as an ‘excuse’ to turn good guys bad? I don’t believe this.
PTSD doesn’t work like that. Yes, it affects decision-making and can make someone anti-social and dissociative, but an outright villain? No. All this is going to do is perpetuate the stereotype of mental disorders being a prerequisite for being evil, while the ‘good guys’ are the always-happy, bad-stuff-sliding-off-like-water people. Yes, say the kids have PTSD all you like - for god’s sake after everything I’m surprised they’re not crippled with it (as most with that level of PTSD are) - but for the love of a higher power don’t use it as a goddamned excuse to make them into bad guys! It doesn’t work that way. PTSD does not turn you into an asshole that wants to watch the world burn. It mostly just makes you want to hide and get everything away from you.
You’d think in this day and age they’d think enough to actually do some research. It’s bad enough that anyone in a film with PTSD is shown to be a twitchy weirdo with odd fetishes that is as likely to shoot you as talk to you, and now we have comics telling us that anyone who says they have PTSD is going to be a bad person, regardless of how they were viewed before that.
Films — Animated
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 (aka 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 manytimes 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. 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.
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 may had some uncomfortable transphobic implications. 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".
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 Ebertnoticed.
Nick's Flick Picks givesThe 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.
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!"
This is especially interesting as British reviewers have always taken both the Ewok/Empire and Rebel/Empire conflicts as a parable for the American Revolution: A band of heroic, rugged frontiersmen vs a repressive Empire that is famous for its starships (and who all sound like they are from Middle England). Whether this balances the implied criticism of America in RotJ or opens up a whole new set of implications depends on your perspective. This implication really is unfortunate, as the reason for the prevalence of British peoplenote Or rather, Coruscant-accented people in the Galactic Empire is to do with old union rules in the UK, which required a certain number of parts to go to British actors or a film would have to pay a tariff on release. Most directors responded by casting Brits as villainous extras.
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.
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.
It's been suggested that the casting of Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask in X-Men: Days of Future Past was an attempt to invoke unfortunate implications; by insinuating that his hatred of mutants is due to bitterness that he has a genetic mutation that makes him a midget rather than being telepathic or able to manipulate metal. Though he admitted it was on the edge of bad taste, Spoony felt the implication added depth to the character.
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.
Speaking of Tyler Perry, let's talk Temptation. The film 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 pretty much depicted as her "punishment" for stepping out. Given the history of AIDS being painted as a just punishment for sinners, critics lit upPerry for this one.
"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 ofShame, 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.
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 Experimentpointed 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.
"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."
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 Beatdowntook 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.
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.
Some critics have claimed 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, 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.
The young adult book series Save The Pearls has had controversysurroundingits 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". 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.
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
True Blood: As This article shows the series has a tendency to downplay rape with sentences such as "I was almost raped in Dallas, but this is so much worse." Women are very often victimized and their safety tends to depend on the men. The Hemo Erotic nature of vampire/human relationships does not help either. Sookie could be viewed as someone who voluntarily seeks out emotionally and/or physically abusive relationships with vampires like Bill and Eric. She knows that they are murderers and that they do things such as Mind Control people. But it is treated as something to be overlooked because they are sexy.
Alan Ball: “It’s kind of interesting to see the kind of guy who really gets his sense of worth from his sexual prowess to all of a sudden to be kind of objectified and sort of [laughs] used against his will.” From Inside Episode 39.
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.
Therehavebeen 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.
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, MADtvhad a field day with it.
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).
"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 Weekonly 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 ofJoss 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 The character Kaylee was written to be Asian but Jewel Staite simply gave the best audition and she became white
The Disney Channelhasbeen 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 manytimes 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.
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 Videoparody 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 bigotCrusaderPrude.
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".
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.
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.)"
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 tosomereviewers.
Mass Effect 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 Jacob Taylor stays 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 negativeconnotations 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.
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.
That two characters who appear as 12 year old girls are able to marry and have children has been controversial. Source 1Source 2Source 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 understandablyless thanimpressed, including the game's lead writer and marketing department.
Another bit in the game that Extra Credits called out was an achievement called "Bad Guy" - one of the standard "Kill X enemies" achievements. What pushes it into this territory, though, is the name, and it's the only "Kill X Enemies" achievement in the game, and it happens to take place in a level where the only enemies are black gang members that the protagonists had incited to violence through a False Flag Operation.
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.
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 Theoryput it, "Way to go, Nintendo: you make the girl a hero, and you give her the power of PMS!"
"...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!"
"By the time we were told the tornado victimcould 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. See this blog post both on the implications of her treatment by the game designers and the fandom for further details.
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 a black face. 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 fact that he resembled a blackface.
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!
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 thesereviews. 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.
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 somecomment 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.
Thomas the Tank Engine, possibly the ravings of an unapologetic British imperialist. To summarize, it is extremely clear in some episodes/stories that the Engines are gentlemen (notably reporting to a knight) and the trucks and coaches are lower classes. Whether this is just Translation Convention or meant to be indicative, it is a very strongly British and quite rigid class system.
It's worth noting that, as clearly articulated by the article cited, the original Railway Series stories being begun in 1943 and set in the Age of Steam doesn't exempt it in terms of Values Dissonance (with subsequent Grandfather Clause): its setting on the fictional Island of Sodor seems to have been a deliberate attempt to isolate the setting from the modernizing influences of the mainland.
The Legend of Korra has taken a lot of flak for how it's portrayed fidelity in a relationship, among other problems. Thesetwo articles examine how the show portrays ex-girlfriends as destructive grudge holders in comparison to their rational male counterparts who manage to move on from the relationship without any fuss on their part. They also explore how whenever a male is seemingly shown to be in a relationship, they don't hesitate to make a move on their exes when the opportunity presents itself, and them being dishonest about their status is either never acknowledged or Easily Forgiven.
The show also likes to make "edgy" jokes involving racial, ethnic, gender, religious, disabled, deathly ill, abused, suicidal, etc. stereotypes. Sometimes these are clever and/or subversive, mocking cultural biases and assumptions. Other times it seems like they are just presenting the stereotype itself as if that is the joke (ie. the Jewish character Mort Goldman, or anything involving Islam and Arabs). An extensive list can be found here.
This article further shows this, claiming that one of the most hated episodes," Not All Dogs Go To Heaven", "basically does little else than espouse the viewpoint that all religious people are intolerant cretins".
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.
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.
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 women, 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).
TIME Magazine has come 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 has 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.