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Old Shame: Real Life

  • Jay Leno occasionally invokes this on his actor guests. All in good fun, of course.
    • Jay has his own Old Shame, Collision Course, a buddy cop movie he did with Pat Morita in the 1980s that he's described as being "a horrible movie".
  • The Daily Mail would rather forget the fact that it used to be the 1930s fascist leader Oswald Mosley's mouthpiece, but its critics aren't going to let it forget the headline "Hurrah for the Blackshirts" in a hurry.
    • Another British newspaper, the now left wing Daily Mirror, also supported the Blackshirt movement for a time in the mid-1930s before switching to its current ideology.
    • One can only hope for a future in which the Mail comes to feel the same way about its infamous "Abortion hopes rise after 'gay genes" finding" headline.
  • In the U.S., The New York Times took a long time to fully own up to how compromised the reporting of Walter Durante, who was friends with Stalin and suppressed news of things like the Ukrainian famine, was during the 1930s.
  • The BBC used to show, among other programmes, the hugely racist Black and White Minstrel Show. Up until 1978. Needless to say, the corporation regrets its attitudes now.
  • Jimmy Wales, original owner and co-creator of That Other Wiki, originally made money on the Internet with a site for what he calls "glamour photography" (read: softcore porn), now downplayed for obvious reasons.
  • Germany hates the Third Reich more than anyone on the planet. Interestingly, they don't pretend it didn't happen: denying the Holocaust is a serious crime there, and their justice system is merciless to any groups who show even the slightest sign of Neo-Nazism. They will not tolerate the Swastika unless used for educational or artistic purposes. Or by a Jain, as it was their symbol first—and considering they take nonviolence to a rather insane level (the most devout ones don't eat yogurt since it involves eating live bacteria), most German authorities have agreed to let them be.
    • As shown by this fake ad made by German film students. Mercedes-Benz was not amused.
    • Averted with Japan's ultra-nationalistic right-wingers, who are still less than willing to admit many of their actions in the war such as the Bataan Death March, the Rape of Nanking, or Unit 731. Thankfully, this trope is played straight with Japan's more moderate citizens.
  • Henry Ford's outspoken antisemitism and coziness to the Third Reich is this to the Ford Motor Company and had a noticeable negative effect on the company's public image in the World War II era. Today, however, with Henry's great-grandson and current Ford family scion William Clay Ford, Jr being an outspoken left-wing liberal and general Cloudcuckoolander and current Ford CEO Mark Fields being Jewish, it is a lot easier for the company to distance itself from this legacy.
    • This trope may also apply to Henry himself near the end of this life. It has been reported that after the end of World War II, he watched newsreel footage of the Nazi concentration camps and was absolutely horrified at what he saw, especially knowing that he contributed to the ideology that brought about their existence. Some accounts even state that watching said footage is what triggered the his fatal stroke in 1947.
  • Karl Marx wrote about how one form of capitalist economy was the "Asiatic mode of production," where slave-lords (nobles, kings, etc.) use violence to coerce workers into giving them labour. After Josef Stalin realized that this perfectly described the Soviet Union, he called a meeting of Marxist intellectuals to Leningrad in 1931, which was a cover justification for him censoring all of Marx's works to remove any mention of the AMP.
  • <blink>. Lou Montulli issued an apology for accidentally creating the beast, which was left in as an Easter Egg that everybody loved to use. While Opera's the only browser outside the Netscape line to implement the tag, CSS would introduce a standardized alternative - with the caveat that browsers didn't actually have to implement it (most just quietly throw it away); another web standard requires an option to disable blinking (which Firefox buries in about:config).
    • Among old-time hackers, there's only one accepted use for the blink tag: Schrodinger's Cat is <blink>NOT</blink> dead.
  • Remember Alabama Governor George Wallace? Remember how he overtly barred black students from entering a previously all-white school until the President himself sent federal marshals to enforce integration? Wallace wasn't too proud of that in later years:
    Wallace: I was wrong. Those days are over and they ought to be over.
    • Many Southern politicians from the Civil Rights era found themselves in this position. Wallace, for his part, was a Magnificent Bastard who had planned on supporting civil rights once he had secured his position in the political hierarchy much as LBJ did as Vice-President and President (as a senator LBJ continually sided with his segregationist colleagues, working to water down the original Civil Rights Act of 1957).
    • Wallace is a special case, as while his stances were definitely an Old Shame, they were made out of political cowardice rather than any deep-felt racism. He actually was even-handed and fair to black defendants who appeared in his courtroom, and only began banging the segregationist drum after his first electoral campaign. He talked of civic improvement and important issues, his opponent was a Klansman who spoke about nothing but race. When he saw his opponent win by a landslide, he made some shameful political calculations.
    • Hazel Bryan, as noted on the Real Life section of Offscreen Inertia, is forever immortalized as a snarling racist in a famous picture depicting desegregation. Years later she has abandoned her racism and befriended her former black enemies, but the picture still causes her to be remembered as a racist.
  • When the conservative magazine National Review launched in 1955, its articles initially argued that segregation was a states'-rights issue that the federal government should just stay out of. The magazine's staff has since admitted that its stance was misguided, even though they still support states' rights in their more benign forms.
  • Hotelier Ian Schrager doesn't like talking about his time as co-owner of Studio 54, which was so infamous it landed him and partner Steve Rubell in jail.
    • In fact in the 1998 film '54', a highly fictionalized version of the story of the club, Rubell (played by Mike Myers) is a major character, but Schrager is never seen or mentioned at all.
  • The Eighties. Images (moving or otherwise) produced during that decade are generally recognizable, if only for the reaction: "How in the world did they think that looked good?" This applies to fashion, hairstyles, television programmes and music as well.
  • With all the inevitable misfires you get in the automobile industry, it's rare that a company would consider one particular model an Old Shame: The Cimarron is that for General Motors and its Cadillac line. In 1982, GM basically took their mid-sized J-Car line note  and tried to make a luxury car out of it. The result was an ugly, underpowered mess.note  They also sold it at nearly double the price of any of the rest of its J-Car siblings - despite looking or driving nothing like a Cadillac. The bad rep Cadillac got from the fiasco nearly sank the entire line. According to legend, Cadillac Product Director John Howell had a picture of the Cimarron on a wall with the caption, "Lest we forget." For comparison: This is an '82 Cimarron. This is an '82 Eldorado 2-door, the next smallest Caddy offered.
    • Not to mention their first attempts at making superchargers... Let's just say a lot of mechanics saw GM cars with their engine blocks melted.
  • During President Reagan's first term as governor of California, he signed an abortion bill into law, which he never quite forgave himself for over the rest of his staunchly-conservative life.
    • He also signed the first modern gun-control law, forbidding civilians from carrying guns on city streets,note  something rather at odds with his position on the issue later as president.
  • The Nobel commitee tries to gloss over the fact that they gave the award for Medicine to António Egas Moniz in 1949. They frequently invoke Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness when mentioning he won for discovering "the therapeutic value of leucotomy." To translate: He invented the lobotomy.
    • He also invented one of the world's first brain imaging techniques so that is usually highlighted instead.
    • Made worse by the fact that the prize was his primary motive – his lack of a Nobel had become a source of anxiety to him as his career and years had advanced. After he read the paper on the effects of damage to various parts of the frontal lobes, and realized that it would be possible to duplicate some of these effects deliberately, one of the first thoughts to hit him was "This could get me my Nobel!" He had some specimen brains sent up to his office immediately, so that he could start working out the best way to slice them up.
  • The medical community internationally has some problems with the work done by, uh, certain German and Austrian doctors during the '30s and early '40s. Anatomist Hermann Stieve, for instance, did some groundbreaking work on the female reproductive system and how it responds to stress, among other things demonstrating that the rhythm method is inherently unreliable ... but he got this information by dissecting the bodies of executed political prisoners. Eduard Pernkopf's anatomical atlas is an artistic accomplishment and useful reference ... but it may have been based on the work of executed prisoners, some of them perhaps inmates at concentration camps (and he was an ardent Nazi as well).
  • British Prime Minister David Cameron apparently feels this way about his support for Section 28 (a rampantly homophobic policy introduced by the Thatcher government). He's since apologised for the harm it caused, and presided over the implementation of marriage equality in the UK despite some rather forceful opposition from his voter base.
  • The United Kingdom media and government both see their treatment of Alan Turing, instrumental code-breaker of the German naval 'Enigma' code in World War II, and essentially the founder of the entire field of computer science, who was then outed as homosexual, consequentially subjected to criminal prosecution, and sentenced to 'chemical castration' through estrogen injections, leading to his suicide, as this.
  • The United States looks back with shame for the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans in internment camps during WWII. In fact they paid $20,000 in reparations to all survivors and their descendents in 1988.
    • Also, the slavery of Native Americans and Blacks before the 20th century, can be seen as a scar and act of hypocrisy in the United States.
    • The interesting thing about this is that nowadays, the notorious former head of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover gets a little extra leeway whenever anyone finds out he opposed the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent back during WWII, whereas Franklin Roosevelt's name gets tarnished for being the primary proponent of said internment. Back during WWII, OTOH, the general attitudes of both would've been reversed regarding the situation.
    • Canada also has its share of shame for the treatment of Japanese-Canadians during WWII, although the view on the treatment of aboriginal Canadians can vary depending on one's politics, sensitivity and whether or not there are any native protests in the news at the time.
    • Canada also has its share of colonialism on Native Americans under their rule, which some Natives are quick to point out.
    • There's a reason there aren't many films about the Mexican-American War or the Philippine-American War. In fact, you might be hearing about those wars for the first time here.
      • The Mexican-American War does get some screen time... but mostly because it lets the filmmakers show the generals of the American Civil War when they were young. And in the same army.
  • The Atlanta Spirit Group considers the Atlanta Thrashers (now the second generation Winnipeg Jets) an embarrassment, removing all references to the team, including the team's lone divisional championship banner and a mural from when the team hosted the 2008 All-Star Game, from Philips Arena. The team would have been less of a joke if the group spent more money operating the team rather than being involved in a 5-year internal legal battle.
  • In a more general example, E-Mail addresses. Many of us on the Internet started using it at young ages (it's getting more accentuated over time), where we thought it would be cool to fool around with random words, references to favourite series/movies and/or vulgarity. Then, flashfoward some years, doing a college or job application, if you didn't bother to change to a less immature one while the efforts needed wouldn't be too much, then it's too late.
  • During the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the whole history of China was lavishly depicted, except the last 100 years, including the 1912 revolution, the rise to power of the (still ruling) Communist Party and the founding of the People's Republic. (Not to mention the Cultural Revolution.) Rather strange, given how these feats were usually celebrated in China.
    • Of course, under pure Maoism, only the last hundred years or so would have been considered worthy of mention given its central tenet of breaking with China's feudal past. Currently, the Chinese Communist Party regards Mao Zedong himself as an Old Shame, acknowledging his central role in the revolution but also admitting that Mao was, in fact, fallible and his teachings not to be taken strictly at face value. The current regime is downplaying Maoism in favor of "Deng Xiaopeng Thought" (embracing the free market, decision-making based upon fact rather than adherence to dogma, and limited social reforms). The 2008 Olympics opening ceremony was probably an official public acknowledgement of the transition. Communist nations are/were notorious for these sorts of historical retcons, and China moreso than most of them.
    • China today has no problem with its feudal past. But it does have the problems with its recent history. You will rarely hear the Cultural Revolution mentioned, much less explained or discussed at length, in contemporary China. But that minimalism pales in comparison to the near-silence about the Tiananmen Square protests ... and how they were put down, regardless of how much the rest of the world knows about it.
  • The Baltimore Orioles Major League Baseball team began playing in 1954. The club doesn't like to admit they actually date back to 1894 as the Milwaukee Brewers. In 1902 they moved to become the St. Louis Browns and played there for 52 years before being sold and moved to Baltimore. Not only did the Orioles change the team's name, but just to further distance themselves from the Browns traded seventeen players to the Yankees. The Orioles acknowledge none of their records from St. Louis, nor do they recognize any of their players from prior to 1954, leaving the former in-town rival Cardinals to honor greats like George Sisler.
    • To further confuse the issue, there was a team playing in Baltimore as the Orioles in 1901 and 1902. They moved to New York in 1903 and are now known as the New York Yankees.
  • The Y2K Scare. Particularly those who made apocalyptic omens, and those who thought every electric device was going to explode.
  • December 21, 2012 (the end of the Mayan calendar), for anyone who predicted it would be the end of the world.
    • Especially those who went "all-in": Built a bunker, stocked up on food and weapons, sold almost everything that wasn't vital for survival...
    • You may add ad lib 100 other alleged apocalypses during history. (Point: The world still exists.) And when listing minor hilarious errors of self-declared seers, you'd need an extra website.
  • Pretty much every country in which settlers have abused the natives. There have even been apologies for infecting natives with deadly Eurasian diseases, which for the most part was completely accidental.
    • From Australia we have The Stolen Generations. A more recent shame is that it wasn't until 2008 that the Australian government finally issued a formal apology.
  • The Waco Siege was a dark mark on the FBI's reputation in dealing with hostage situations.
  • Bill Clinton with signing DOMA, with him saying that he wants Barack Obama to repeal it. Congressman Bob Barr (who briefly joined the Libertarian Party before going back to the Republicans) has also renounced his support for DOMA (he was one of its Congressional co-sponsors).
    • Bill Clinton also apologized publicly for the agricultural policies he supported as president that led to economic disaster in Haiti.
  • Bayer, the German pharmaceutical/chemical giant, invented Heroin as what they hoped would be a less-addictive substitute for morphine. It succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Needless to say, Bayer does not mention this piece of history anywhere they can help it.
  • During a football (soccer) game, between Denmark and Sweden, a man ran in and tried to punch the referee in the face. The referee was understadably pissed, but it caused Denmark to be disqualified. It's not old shame for Denmark, but old shame for the man, who did the deed.
  • People that adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet may look on their life beforehand this way. Conversely, people who took up these diets and found them impractical can view these diets in such a manner also.
  • Russia's bad history of antisemitism from the tsarist regime, to the Soviet Union, and even The New Russia note  can fall into this category and is a problematic issue in modern Russia. Even Vladimir Putin took a strong stance against antisemitism and called out on Russia's bad history of it.
  • One of Khrushchev's first acts after seizing power was denouncing Stalin as, well, a brutal, paranoid tyrant... who Khrushchev along with every other Soviet who wished to remain alive and out of a gulag enthusiastically supported during his 30 years-long rule. The speech also caused a riff in the Communist world, since at that time China and Albania still liked Stalin.
  • Coca-Cola's exhibit of its history at its corporate headquarters makes almost no mention of New Coke.

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