A subset of Acceptable Targets. These deal with people who just have personal tastes or preferences which get skewered by the mainstream.
Even a brief perusal of this list will show that most of these targets are "extremes" — people who are beyond the mainstream middle in some way or another. For example Humans apparently don't like it when you go too far one way or another...or at least movie directors don't.
Don't eat meat? Then you're unhealthy! You eat too much rabbit food and there's something wrong with your brain! There's also a gender bias, as men are supposed to be shoveling down T-Bones, burgers, and fried chicken or else they're too girly or are gay; whereas herbivorism is often a standard for a woman. Thus female vegetarians may be portrayed as healthy, whereas male vegetarians are often sickly or unnaturally thin. Vegetarians are often lumped together with the hippies and art students as overly sensitive, preachy and doing it mostly to flaunt their politics. Rarely (if ever) will a character become a vegetarian for medical reasons or health reasons; they will almost always be so for animal/environmental rights. And this will inevitably see the character transform into an insufferably obnoxious and self-righteous moralizer haranguing everyone around them and acting as they're the Second Coming because they no longer eat meat. This is changing; as vegetarians are becoming more accepted and many of these types (ie, the moral crusaders) have split off into Vegans. Another reason is also cultural differences, ie, a Vegetarian in India is something completely normal for men and women. Conversely, being a vegetarian is seen as weird and unhealthy for both men and women in Ireland.
- In the WWE horror film See No Evil, a very self-righteous vegetarian girl is one of the wayward teenagers ordered to clean the abandoned hotel where Jacob Goodnight resides. Goodnight "punishes" her, as he does most of the other teens, by literally feeding her to some dogs.
- The Marilyn Monroe comedy The Seven Year Itch has an interesting vintage take on the stereotype. The male protagonist eats at a vegetarian restaurant one night (his doctor has warned him against eating meat because of the abnormally hot weather). He ends up being way out of his element: everyone in the restaurant except him (including the staff) is elderly, and his waitress is both a fussbudget who meticulously counts up all the calories in his meal and a Cloudcuckoolander who believes world peace would be achieved if every single human being stripped to the nude.
- If it's a medical drama, and the victim of the week is a vegetarian, you can bet that their vegetable love is somehow responsible for their illness, especially in House.
- Averted in one episode when a vegan couple's baby was badly underweight and malnourished. The doctors were ready to call CPS on them when they found out that the parents had been consulting a nutritionist the entire time, which made them realize the baby actually did have an illness that was causing her health issues.
- Mock the Week: Riffed on by Frankie Boyle for the prompt "Things that would change the atmosphere at a dinner party". Ironically, Frankie himself ended up going vegan.
"There is a vegetarian option: you can fuck off."
- Ron White's joke was that his vegetarian friend's system was kicking back beef broth, and that he's never seen a healthy looking Vegetarian.
Friend: How are you helping the environment?Ron White: ...I eat the cow!
- Though deconstructed a bit, due to White saying that he has no problem with vegetarians - just his friend's reasoning for being a vegetarian is what bugged him. It wasn't that he didn't like meat or that he wanted to eat more healthful food - but because he was worried over the amount of waste cattle make and the effects they would have on the environment.
- There was an episode of South Park that had Stan temporarily giving up eating meat after he heard about how cruelly calves are treated on veal farms. Not only did he become increasingly physically weak as the show went on, but unsightly, puckering red growths began to appear all over his skin. It was later explained that these were miniature vaginas, and that Stan himself was slowly turning into "a big pussy."
- The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Shanghaied", has SpongeBob wishing for the Flying Dutchman to become a vegetarian so he won't eat Patrick, Squidward, and him. He then transforms into an ultra-hippie.
Vegans are constantly made fun of and criticized for being even worse than vegetarians. Like vegetarians, God help you if you are a male vegan because then you don't even eat cheese and eggs. Vegans have an even higher chance of being portrayed as annoying quasi-political hippies, militant PETA members, or both. There exist numerous stereotypes about vegans doing stuff like calling 911 because a fast-food chain is serving meat. Also likely to overlap with hipsters.
- Todd Ingram, one of the evil ex-boyfriends in Scott Pilgrim is a devout vegan, and claims to have mental powers because of it. He's also an insufferable Smug Straight Edge and hypocrite.
- WWE wrestler Daniel Bryan is a vegan, and is scathingly mocked for it by commentator Michael Cole, even though Bryan is a very skilled submission-style wrestler with over a decade of independent experience that spans the entire world. Although, given his heel run, he's hated not so much for being a vegan as for being a smug little pest lecturing everyone who eats meat and dairy products about their rotting intestines and their cruelty.
While vegetarians are slowly gaining acceptance, their opposite number — those who don't like eating vegetables — are not. The assumption is that you must eat your vegetables, or else you're weird and unhealthy. Perhaps you were defiant when your parents tried to make you eat vegetables, and now you're carrying that chip on your shoulder into adulthood. The reality is that, with adequate vitamin and mineral supplementation, the human body is adaptable enough to thrive on just about any kind of diet — vegan, exclusively carnivore, exclusively grain-eating, or otherwise. In fact, the Inuit in Northern Canada tend to eat little to no plants. They get the vitamins they would have gotten from vegetables by eating organ meats.
Often confused with vegetarians. A lot of people actually don't know what this term meansnote ; so they act like they're vegetarians who cheat. In reality, they're actually following a biblical standard because fish isn't considered a meat, although nutritionally it is. It's not uncommon to see many middle-eastern people who are pescetarians. This is a little more accepted, especially in places like the middle east, coastal areas, and islands (like Guam and Japan) where fish is much easier to obtain, especially fresh fish, as opposed to areas like the middle of Europe and North America.
Drugs are for losers; the government says so, and everyone knows they never lie. In fact, the US government has paid TV networks to make sure that anyone using drugs was portrayed as a loser. ER, Beverly Hills, 90210, Chicago Hope, The Drew Carey Show, 7th Heaven, and other shows had their scripts reviewed by the government and changes made so the network could pocket some cash. That said, there is enough objective evidence to show that drug users do tend to be on the lower scale of employment, income, etc. However they are more often to be depicted sympathetically as someone who either has an addiction or has an underlying issue that requires self-medication.
Lazy, incoherent, paranoid, gets the munchies and eats everything in sight, and has an ever-decreasing brain cell count. And we all know marijuana is a gateway to harder drugs listed below. Slowly sliding into Once Acceptable Targets due to the increasing legality of cannabis in the Western world.
Cocaine is usually associated with celebrities or rich people, but all coke users in fiction have a tendency to become erratic and violent and make poor life decisions.
Poor, white trash who are emaciated, have fucked-up teeth, bad skin and hair, and like cocaine users, have explosive, violent tempers. Meth labs exploding are also quite common in fiction.
LSD is usually associated with hippies and musicians in general. Funny hallucinations usually show up when this drug is used in fiction.
Anabolic-androgenic steroid users
Steroid users are so immensely detested that even other drug and alcohol users target them. Any athlete who is exposed for taking steroids is considered a cheater whose muscular development or athletic prowess is solely due to the synthetic hormones, even though proper diet and training are still necessary for maximum results. And that's not getting into things like "roid rage"note , shrinking testicles and other side effects. Then there's the notion that only 250-plus-pound pro-bodybuilders use steroids. Even though it is pretty much impossible for a person to become that buff naturally due to genetic limitations, most steroid users do not look like that and could pass for natural lifters to the uninformed (and even some of the informed), especially since bodybuilding isn't the only sport that steroid use is beneficial to. Baseball players, runners, basketball players and more have all used steroids, and most of them are not mountains of muscle. And the Mr. Olympia-level bodybuilders are probably taking more PE Ds than just steroids (i.e., Human Growth Hormone, Clenbuterol, Insulin, Diuretics, etc.) but that is rarely, if ever commented on outside of fitness circles.
- In Die Hard, Harry Ellis establishes himself as a scumbag by using cocaine.
- The anti-drug movie Reefer Madness has gained particular notoriety, especially in the pot community, for its Anvilicious anti-drug aesop and its total ignorance of marijuana's actual effects. The film has been made into a comedic musical, which then received a film adaptation of its own.
- Zigzagged; the show can't seem to decide whether House needs his pain meds or is just using them as a crutch and could live with a lower dose, and while he's brilliant professionally one could make a strong case for his personal life counting as that of a loser.
- The episode where he took LSD in order to figure out that week's mystery illness. Still can't work out whether that's intended to be a positive (Look! The drug can be useful!) or a negative (it was House taking it, after all) portrayal.
- Averted in Spaced where the main characters often use drugs casually with no references to side-effects or any aesops in sight. The only character who seems to have developed a habit is the landlady, who is a heavy wine-drinker. At the worst, their drug use is simply a distraction in the way of growing up and getting their lives in order, no worse than video games or laziness. A Lampshade Hanging occurs in Frost and Pegg's Perfect Night In where Pegg tells the audience, "Don't worry, this isn't a sitcom aimed at young people that makes tentative reference to casual drug use but then pussies out by including some punititve moral message."
- On JAG, people who uses any kind of drugs are always portrayed as bad people. No wonder since the show was Backed by the Pentagon.
- The George Lopez Show has an episode where Carmen's star-athlete boyfriend Jason is discovered using steroids. He smashes the Lopez' lamp in roid rage and George mocks him with Hulk Speak and makes jokes about his balls shrinking. However, it would not be so funny when they found out Jason's rich asshole dad pushed him into taking the drugs and the Lopezes decided to take Jason in (his dad lived in Switzerland) despite their concerns that Jason and Carmen would end up having sex.
- Drug use being bad is notably inverted within an inch of its life on Code Monkeys. All of the cool and/or funny characters use drugs without any consequences. In Dave's case, a few episodes even imply his best games come out of programming sessions where he's high.
- TheBatman Beyond episode "The Winning Edge" focuses on athletes at Terry's school becoming addicted to "slappers", patches containing Bane's Venom formula, which is essentially an exaggerated version of anabolic steroids and is even called a "highly-addictive steroidal compound" by Bruce Wayne. When Terry goes to Bane, he is shown to be a shriveled-up husk on life-support that can't even live without Venom. And Bane's caretaker, the one manufacturing the slappers, overdoses on them during his fight with Terry and ends up going brain-dead.
As Mitch Hedberg put it: "Alcoholism is the only disease you can get yelled at for having." Alcohol is more or less a part of almost every culture... both the love for it and the hatred and constant jokes about it. People who choose to regularly drink themselves silly or pay money for alcohol are constantly being made fun of. There's one in almost every family, the one person who's drunk off their ass almost 24/7. And they're always either homeless, extremely poor, childless, abusive (if they do have children or relationships), single, and are only happy when they're drunk — despite current research into many countries showing just how mainstream drinking is (despite how destructive this trope would be if it were true at real-life levels, the top 10%, 24 million Americans, drink an average of ten drinks per day... and the bottom 60% have less than one per week). College students are also on the receiving end of a lot of alcohol jokes, either because they're irresponsible drinkers and binge drink the day they turn 18-21, or because they are frat boys/greeks and are encouraged to drink by their Fraternity/Sorority to do so. This is almost always flipped as soon as the person admits they have a problem, and it becomes a sympathetic Very Special Episode.
Teetotalers, a.k.a. Non-drinkers
There are plenty of valid reasons to drink alcohol... and likewise there are plenty of valid reasons to not drink alcoholic beverages (such as the taste, the price, a Freudian Excuse, and not wanting to get drunk around people). But if you don't drink alcohol, no matter the reasons you have for not liking it, you will be made fun of, chastised (Expect to be called nicknames like "hippie" for refusing to drink), castigated, punished, and pressured to drink until you do shove it down your throat. In some cases, non-drinkers are even tricked by their "friends" into drinking a seemingly normal beverage that actually contains alcohol, such as "Long Island Iced Tea". It seems that people really are that unwilling to accept the idea of someone who has never ingested an alcoholic beverage.
Even worse than teetotalers are Dry Crusaders—prohibitionists who want to ban alcohol completely and see it as too much trouble. This one has its historical basis in the reaction to the sanctimonious personalities of most prohibitionists of the 1920s and 1930s, but expect peer pressure even if you're just making a personal choice.
If you're straight edge you're either A) a fun hating, sour youth that dislikes social interaction, or B) a Principles Zealot that will beat the crap out of anyone who so much as looks at a glass of alcohol. There are a few bad eggs, especially in The '90s, but mostly, straight edge people just want to respect their bodies and believe it's more badass to stay sober than to drink and do drugs.
- CM Punk, when heel, is a militant-Straight Edge douche who lectures everyone on how dangerous drugs and alcohol are and how superior he is to everyone who uses them.
Frequently lectured on the dangers of their habit, when they're commonly known. Ultimately, the smoker will know the risks, and it's their body to treat as they choose, but try telling that to the anti-smokers. It's considered socially acceptable to give someone a long lifestyle choice lecture for choosing to smoke, and this licence to lecture smokers can be particularly amusing when a morbidly obese person starts whining at a smoker about the damage they're doing to their heart, arteries, etc. On the other hand, they do get the Smoking Is Cool benefits, so it all sort of evens out.
More recently, users of electronic cigarettes usually get lumped in with smokers of "analog" (tobacco) cigarettes. It seldom helps to explain that e-cigs produce no second-hand smoke (no smoke at all, in fact, just vapor), and do not contain any chemicals known to cause cancer. They see someone inhaling from a cigarette-like device and exhaling what looks like smoke and jump to conclusions. That there are, at the time of this writing, bills in the works to outright ban e-cigs, despite the fact that they are demonstrably safer than ordinary cigarettes, is quite telling.
The justification for complaining about smokers was that they will be costing taxpayers (the majority of whom are nonsmokers) and the health-care system more in the long run; this turned out to be false: smokers died years sooner than nonsmokers, so they needed significantly ''less'' of the expensive medical operations.
Of course, if you were smoking in front of the person or someone's kids, there is a reason they may feel justified in annoying you; you could potentially be doing something far worse to people who didn't choose this lifestyle. This is a moot point for smokeless tobacco users, though the media doesn't tend to differentiate.
- In the 1980s, a sneaker company ran an ad featuring a cigarette in an ashtray, with text stating forthrightly that if smoking was the only occasion on which the reader breathed deeply, the company did not want you to wear their sneakers.
- Recently commercials have been airing about smokers who have lost fingers, arms, the use of their vocal chords without a helping device—never mind that this is a small percentage, the commercials portray it that if you smoke, this will happen to you.
- Go to any discussion forum with posters who pride themselves on being diverse and tolerant. All lifestyles, conditions, orientations, etc. are defended vigorously and anyone displaying a lack of tolerance is quickly smacked down (as they should be). But bring up smoking and watch that tolerance disappear in an instant. Smokers are called everything but human beings and heaven forbid one should ever admit that they have the habit. It's as if all of the not-so-politically-correct things they wish they could say about other groups gets saved up and piled onto smokers when the topic comes up.
- Mocked (like always) on South Park on two occasions. One occurs when the boys are caught smoking by their parents, who label it as the worst thing they've ever done, despite Cartman having gotten another kid to eat his parents earlier on. The other was after a visit to the "Museum of Tolerance", where the children were taught to respect the lifestyle choices of others (including Cartman's fatness) - and the adults then berate a smoker standing in the parking lot while smoking a cigarette, calling him "Dirty Lungs" among other things.
- An episode of The Simpsons had very negative portrayal of electronic cigarettes and their users. Treating them as if they where just as bad as normal cigarettes.
- King of the Hill episode "Keeping Up With Our Joneses" deals with Hank catching Bobby smoking a cigarette with Joseph. Hank and Peggy both lecture him on the dangers of cigarettes (as they both used to smoke) and Peggy tells him that "only trailer trash smoke nowadays". Luanne, who grew up in a trailer park, is deeply offended by that remark. After punishing Bobby by making him smoke cigarettes until he throws up, Hank ends up puffing one himself while showing Bobby how to Do Wrong, Right and all three Hills end up addicted to tobacco.
- Dale Gribble, the show's resident Butt-Monkey, is a heavy-smoker in addition to all his other quirks.
Smokeless tobacco users. Despite chew/dip/snuff being sold in all fifty states, if you admit to using it, you're a hopeless redneck with fewer brain cells than teeth (and an ever-decreasing number in both cases).
Similar to Explicit Atheists, Intellectuals are acceptable targets, and have historically been framed as unpatriotic, immoral, and/or degenerate by democratic-populists as well as totalitarian movements seeking mass appeal. In media, Intellectuals are often portrayed as out-of-touch Ivory Tower academics whose knowledge and intelligence stand in contrast to and is usually inferior to the life experience of more sympathetic 'street-smart' characters. They are usually characterized as elitists governed entirely by logic (or at least a flawed facsimile thereof), and as such are often cold or dispassionate toward others. Frequently a "fine line between genius and madness" is invoked by more "down to Earth" characters.
This was taken to its logical extreme under the Khmer Rouge, where even those that wore glasses were purged for being a threat to Cambodian stability. Though to be fair, it was not all learning, but westernized education leftover from French Indochina, and the economic damages of colonialism that they were rejecting forcefully — but it was taken to an extreme that killed a quarter of the people of the nation, often in horrible torturous ways.
- Often subverted by The West Wing, one of the key themes of which was the need for politicians and their staff to treat the American people as intelligent thinking adults — an approach that, in the show, often worked. This went from its sympathetic depiction of the unashamedly intellectual and knowledgeable, yet equally warm and personable President Bartlet and his also intellectual, educated staff to its frequent depiction of complex or obscure political issues in a fashion that respected the audience's intelligence.
- Intellectuals, or rather, people who think they are intellectuals are targeted quite often on King of the Hill. Usually appearing without any advanced education, working experience in their field, or anything approaching common sense, the closest the series has to a usual "villain" type are people who believe themselves competent activists, authors, philosophers or educators, who show up to denigrate or swindle the Hills. Perhaps lampshaded, as all these "intelligent" and "progressive" people are unable to find employment or acceptances anywhere except Arlen, Texas, and even there everybody knows how ridiculous they are.
- People who actually do have advanced educations like the archeology professor and Bill's doctor are still often portrayed negatively, so the portrayal as self-important but unqualified may just be another aspect of the treatment of intellectuals, rather than unqualified intellectuals being the target itself.
- It's worth noting that the doctors in Arlen all seem to be bitter, hostile burnouts who fully expect their patients to have done or are about to do incredibly stupid things and then lie about them. The show often bears them out in this regard. It may be a subtle bit of Lampshade Hanging.
- Averted by Hank's proctologist (who, while irritating to Hank and far too quick to prescribe a colectomy, is friendly and professional) and the sports psychologist from the rifle episode, who, while wacky and dismissive when Hank actually opens up about his father, does genuinely help Hank out.
- The Chinese Cultural Revolution viewed anyone considered an "intellectual" as a dangerous parasite requiring "re-education". If he were lucky, an intellectual (which for the Revolution's purposes included virtually anyone with a college degree) would be "re-educated" by just being forced to work in a rice paddy or as a manual laborer; if he weren't, he'd simply disappear.
- Even worse in Cambodia where intellectuals were simply killed. Sometimes people were considered intellectuals just because they wore glasses.
- At one point, the government of Equatorial Guinea even banned the use of the word "intellectual".
- Intellectuals in any autocratic regime are often persecuted. Usually because being educated means they're more well equipped to intellectually battle ideological nonsense... and if you're a dictator, you just can't have that, now can you!
- Sometimes this doesn't apply, at least not to people educated in practical fields, because dictatorships wanting any sort of industry need scientists and technicians same as everyone else. Sometimes though, they just don't care.
Students who go onto higher education in the United States and United Kingdom receive quite a lot of stick, a lot of it from those who, for whatever reason, didn't. This seems to come from a combination of the prejudice against intellectuals discussed above, jealousy (higher education traditionally being the preserve of those who can afford it, which plenty can't) and sheer irritation at the fact that some higher-education students can be pretty insufferable, most being at the age where they're convinced that they know everything there is to know but don't have the personal experience or maturity to back this up. Students are also often accused of not doing 'real' work and living an 'easy' life. Sometimes it can even be taken to the extreme that anyone who's ever willingly participated in any form of organized education doesn't know how the world "really" works. This gives rise to several "college student" stereotypes:
- The insufferably self-righteous and smug Student Activist, usually a 'leftie', lecturing all and sundry on their ethical and moral superiority over the rest of humanity, usually over some pet issue that they clearly have, ironically, not researched very well or deluded themselves into believing.
- The boorish and obnoxious Drunken Frat Boy using higher education as an excuse to live a life of sex, booze, partying and uninterrupted hedonism at the cost of someone else, usually the complainer (whether parent or tax-payer).
- Incredibly stupid student athletes who get away with absolutely anything and everything thanks to the athletic department covering for them at every opportunity; while they will generally be completely unprepared for college-level work, the very same athletic department will pick up the slack and turn a blind eye to academic dishonesty, if not outright condone it and assign someone to do their work for them. Any investigations will be stonewalled by the dean/coaches, and the job of the professor who pushed the issue very well may just be in jeopardy. Goes double for star-players, triple for football players.
- The clueless and stressed-out graduate student who is over-devoted to education to the point that they make getting The B Grade Truth in Television while also being Book Dumb to the point that easy-going and laid back characters are shown to be more knowledgeable and competent in both studies and life matters simply by not caring.
- International students whose obscenely loaded parents throw more cash at them in a semester than many students will see all year and who cheat and plagiarize with impunity; while this mostly applies to Chinese students, Korean students are also regularly hit with this stereotype, as are Indian and Middle Eastern students.
- The stereotype gets inverted in Flanders, where people who go for higher education are considered to be the intelligent hardworking people. Those that do not go for higher education are usually considered to be lazy and dumb. The main reason is probably that higher education is very cheap (1000$ a year is the absolute maximum and it is entirely possible to finish high education at 100$ a year) if you compare to the bills you have to pay for education in the US and UK and that there is a high turnover rate (66% of all Belgians do not have a diploma of higher degrees) which makes sure that pretty much only the most genius get selected. It is got to a point where people who choose not to go for higher education have very negative stereotypes attached to them.
Often seen as corrupt, bureaucratic and uncaring of the welfare of students in a university environment while simultaneously living off their tuition money. This is often mixed with belief in extreme political correctness, adherence to social justice and far-leftism on the part of the Union that is used to distract from actual issues affecting students.
Certain College Majors
Tied closely to the above, certain fields of study are seen as useless. If your chosen major isn't strongly tied to a well-known and specific occupation, then you're just wasting everyone's time. This one is distinct from students in general because it's making the assumption that going to college in the general sense is a good and responsible thing to do, but it's "wrong" or "cheating" if you're in one of these majors. That is, you're a witless slacker who intends to stretch your studenthood out as long as possible to keep sponging off your parents or you are someone who would do well, if not for the fact that you stupidly chose a major that obviously provides no marketable skills whatsoever. And mixed majors may get some flak for not making up their minds.
- Everyone in the "social sciences" will be considered intellectual lightweights, with such majors dismissed as "trendy victim studies". English majors seem to get hit pretty hard too, as anyone who cares that much about something as boring as reading has clearly lost touch with society.
- Philosophy students are treated as similar to intellectuals, portrayed as out-of-touch Ivory Tower types who only care about winning arguments and making other people feel stupid and/or morally wrong. Any other reason to study the history, theory and application of logic and ethics is unlikely to be mentioned.
- Math and physics majors are both soulless number-crunchers and have no marketable skills. This is a belief which is quite bizarre, since advanced mathematics is a highly marketable skill and requires creative thinking. For a while before math majors became common physics majors were making a killing in the financial sector because they were the only ones available with the requisite skills, while actual physics jobs were scarce and didn't pay nearly as well. This belief seems to be attributable to the fact that most writers (and most people) don't understand what mathematicians do and assume it is something esoteric and useless when the reality is far different. For example, in the United States, the biggest hirer of mathematicians is the National Security Agency.
- Computer Science majors are not only considered to be Geeks / Nerds to start with, they're likely to be software pirates or stuck-up Linux elitists too, and, like most STEM majors, are likely also physically repulsive, completely lacking in social skills, and have pervasive delusions of grandeur.
- Majoring in science or engineering tends to be ignored. But "tech" students are all robotic, boring, have no appreciation for the arts, are disgusting neckbeards with no social skills, awful personalities, and a pervasive hatred of women, and are terrible writers.
- Religious Studies majors are likely to be labeled as a religious nut job who wants to spread their crazy beliefs to the masses. Otherwise, they're just someone who is only interested in fads as this major has increased in popularity since the 70s.
- Any sort of Art major (painting, sculpting, writing, Film, Theater, etc) is going to be portrayed as a stuck up elitist who thinks that other art (Hollywood, Broadway, Publishing companies, anything mainstream really) is not really art or an idiot who couldn't care less about his well being because art generally does not pay well given the cost of supplies and the fact that most artists are not hired; additionally, they are sometimes viewed as dumb rich kids who are in college only because it's a condition of their trust fund or whose parents just wanted to get rid of them. Not as common in works as real life due to Most Writers Are Writers.
- Business majors. Seen as another "cheap" major that anyone can get, plus it's proof that your life's desire was to be a Corrupt Corporate Executive. Goes double for finance majors.
- Education majors are, at best, viewed as well-meaning but ultimately ditzy and incompetent. At worst, they're viewed as jargon-spouting, rock-stupid sheep who are incapable of original thought and took it because it was viewed as an easy major, they're too dumb/scared to consider spending their adult life outside of the classroom, or because they wanted to "work with kids" despite having no clue what teaching actually entails.
- Psychology majors are either rich white girls who don't care about college and are just going to be able to receive their trust funds and/or find a husband with even higher earning potential, or are well-meaning but hopelessly naive and are on the fast track to being overworked, horribly underpaid human services workers just barely scraping by.
- Criminal justice majors are student athletes who are dumb as rocks and don't actually know or care about the field unless they don't go pro and then either find themselves out of options or become Dirty Cops.
- Medical students seem to get a pass for spending more than 4 years in a classroom environment, but even they get stereotyped as overworked, overstressed and probably subsisting on ramen noodles and living in horrible housing to avoid crippling debts while they cripple their patients. They'll only leave this situation to enter Acceptable Professional Targets anyway.
- If you're a law student, you're just as neurotic and clueless as a med student, except you also failed chemistry. (Never mind that patent attorneys are required to have science or engineering degrees). Additionally, you don't have a shred of morality and will become an even bigger butt of jokes when you graduate.
- Any character who studies their chosen field "too hard", even if it is the "right" one will probably be lumped in with the "nerds" and "geeks". Someone who spends too much time reading books clearly isn't learning the "important" stuff in life and won't last 5 seconds after graduation.
- The "art students on the bottom of the heap" position is played completely straight in Art School Confidential—for the first half hour, when it's trying to be a comedy. Later in the movie, when it's trying to be a Mind Screw crime thriller, it ignores the "student" aspect almost entirely. The short comic upon which the movie is based also plays the notion straight.
- Averted in The Brothers Solomon the two protagonists were both homeschooled, but the reason they know nothing about women isn't because of being homeschooled, it's because they grew up in a remote location where there were NO women whatsoever. The trailers, naturally, didn't let this on.
- Played with in Mean Girls; there are a couple over-the-top examples of "weird" homeschoolers, but Cady herself seems to be perfectly normal, if a little undersocialized in the beginning.
- Older Than Feudalism: Many of the jokes in the world's oldest surviving joke book, an ancient Greek tome called Philogelos, use students (and scholars in general) where the modern equivalent would be a Dumb Blonde. Example joke: Discovering that a ladder has twenty steps going up, an intellectual (sometimes translated "student-dunce") asks if it has as many going down. (This is more of the Absent-Minded Professor concept.)
- Drew Carrey actually had an Astronomy student audience member on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and said that he would be delivering pizzas.
- From Red Dwarf:
Rimmer: How did you get into Art College?
Lister: The normal way you get into Art College. The same old, usual, normal, boring way you get in. Failed my exams and applied. They snatched me up.
- Mathematicians (pre-NUMB3RS) tend to receive a lot of flack for being incomprehensible even by scientist standards ("Yellow Cake", anyone?) and for working on concepts that don't seem to have anything to do with anything in the universe. There's even a whole page on the hatred of mathematics.
- From 30 Rock:
Jack: We might not be the best people —
Liz: But we're not the worst.
Together: Graduate students are the worst.
- Some people ridicule The Duggar family on 19 Kids and Counting for homeschooling rather than sending their children to school.
- Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard featured an ineffectual, middle-aged man who kept going back to school, making himself a perpetual student.
- The whole idea that art students are somehow the least among students isn't because they're art students — as Craig's Pissed, mirrored here, will show, it's because they're artists who were then given the student stick. This is true regardless of what sort of art you're actually studying-although graphic designers are the most likely to experience it, because work with Muggles more than most other fields.
- This effort from The Editing Room on Big Hero 6 really takes this trope Up to Eleven. Not only does the writer mock the idea that a genius outcast might enjoy college, but every real-world college student is apparently nothing less than a stuck-up, bigoted rapist.
- Mac Hall has had computer science major and English majors at one another's throats. The computer science majors see the English majors as intrusive and narcissistic, while the English majors see comp sci people as workaholics who need to get laid. Both are played for laughs (it is a webcomic, after all).
- PHD is this and only this.
- In an episode of Futurama, Guenter the monkey expresses a desire to be a moderately intelligent monkey in a suit-which is why he's decided to go to business school!
- The Simpsons will throw in a grad student joke every so often. "Bart, don't make fun of grad students. They just made a terrible life choice."
- Ezekiel on Total Drama Island is loaded with negative Homeschooled Kids stereotypes; he's portrayed as ridiculously socially awkward, was voted off first for being a Straw Misogynist—"proving that home schooling and reality TV don't really mix," as the host said in the next episode's recap—and later adopted a new rapper wannabe persona which he imagined to be cool but which was actually as socially oblivious as his old one.
Commonly portrayed as a Jerk Ass Bully, being much bigger than the class, being incredibly stupid, and most fiction examples won't cover any examples for being held back that weren't because of stupidity/laziness (such as how they were held back because they spent too much of the school year in the hospital recovering from a severe illness or injury). They also are never shown as taking school seriously; frequently giving up and not even trying to do their schoolwork so they can catch up.
- Problem Child 2: Murph has been at the school for at least as long as his long-suffering teacher. He's practically an adult and Junior (who was skipped ahead several grades) insults him by saying he's been in the sixth grade since 1970.
- Subverted with The Brain, who despite being a kid genius, was held back in Kindergarten and is deeply afraid of this secret being revealed. When the truth does come out (he was held back because he was "a crier" and it had nothing to do with his intellect), the other kids take it well.
- Played straight with Buster in "Buster Makes the Grade". Buster's grades have been fairly poor and everyone is worried that he'll fail third grade. Cut to an Imagine Spot of Buster still in an elderly Mr. Ratburn's class when he's about forty. Thankfully Buster does pass the end-of-year tests, but considering that the cast of Arthur have not aged or moved up a grade at all since the show's debut...
- Also played straight with Binky, who failed third grade and is the same age as The Brain and thus knew about his secret before the others did.
- Hey Arnold!: Torvald and Harold are both 13 and in the fourth grade. Neither are the sharpest tools in the shed, but can be good students when they apply themselves.
High School dropouts
Anyone who has dropped out of high school has essentially killed any chance they've had at a happy and financially successful life because they were too lazy or dumb to tough it out. They're portrayed as barely intelligent enough to function at all and may be illiterate entirely. They will also often be lacking in manners and basic social skills. They will only be shown working (if they work at all) in dead-end minimum wage jobs, or illegal trades like sex work, drug dealing and more. Plots focusing on high school dropouts usually have them attempting to get their GEDs, with varying rates of success.
High School Diploma-only education
Now that a larger number of people are attending college, it's getting to the point where people with no education beyond secondary school are considered nearly as dumb as secondary school dropouts. They fair only slightly better than dropouts in the fictional employment department, and it seems like the middle and upper classes try to enforce the idea that getting a college degree is the only way to avoid poverty. What many fail to realize is that not all high-paying jobs require a degree, and that college isn't the only way to learn a new trade (internet courses, for example). Even college graduates have struggled to get good work in the recession, and are often forced—or even deliberately choose—to work in industries that not only have nothing to do with what they majored in, but do not require a college education at all.
Community college students
Nope, not even community college counts as "real" education. Whether a series takes place in high school, "real" college, or the outside world, expect at least one joke about a character attending community college.(Extra points if it's referred to as "13th grade.") Despite the fact that many educational professionals agree attending community college for two years and then transferring to a four-year school is an excellent financial decision, pop culture and society at large have not gotten over the fact that "anyone can get into community college." Community college students are seen as A) poor, B) lazy, C) stupid, or D) all of the above.
This despite the fact that many community colleges offer an excellent education with some even offering programs not available at the local universities. In particular, many community colleges offer courses covering technical content not available at most public four-year schools. For example, a traditional four-year school might offer enough lecture courses to get you a mechanical engineering degree, but community colleges are more likely to offer actual hands-on courses on machining and welding, leading to a more practical understanding of the trade. Engineering in particular is notorious for involving designs that look good on paper but don't perform that well in practice. The hands-on experience can be invaluable.
Also, at a university, in some fields you're unlikely to get to actually ask questions of any instructor who isn't a grad student for the first two years anyway. The guy teaching the 300 person lecture class will probably be a Ph.D., but he might as well be a video for all the interaction you'll get from him. Community Colleges don't have grad students, so most of your interaction will be with people who at least have a postgraduate degree (and, often, actual real-world experience to boot) right from the start.
- While not a comedy example, Rudy is told that he must build his academic record at a community college before he will be eligible to apply to Notre Dame. The inference is that these institutions are dumping grounds for Ivy League rejects.
- He's explicitly being told to go there to "build up his academic record", i.e. prove that he's smart/dedicated/whatever enough to make it at Notre Dame. Sounds more like a refinery than a "dumping ground".
- In Iron Man, Tony threatens to donate Dummy to a community college, the implication being that it would be a most embarrassing fate for the poor AI/robot.
- In Christopher Pike's Final Friends series, the heroine finds out that she'll be unable to get into a "real" college due to her abysmal SAT scores and will have to go to community college instead. She says it's "like going to summer camp after you expected to climb Mt. Everest" and eventually decides to give up on academics entirely rather than suffer the humiliation.
- Played with in the episode of CSI: Miami, with Richard Speight Jr guest-starring as an intelligent guy who didn't get into a great college because his classmate stole the test, got a really high score and offset everything. The classmate then lorded it over him at a reunion.
- Played for laughs on the TV sitcom Community, set in a community college.
- The show lampshaded this in one episode where the main characters try to find a way to get Highschool Students attending the campus for college credits to stop making fun of them for being in a community college.
- In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon looks down on Penny for attending (and dropping out of) a community college. Though in this case, it's less that the show itself attacks community colleges and more that Sheldon is an Insufferable Genius who looks down on everyone - including his other friends and colleagues, many of whom have earned Masters and Doctorates from "proper" universities. None of the other characters seem to have a problem with it.
- Bonus Points as sometimes, community colleges are better in some courses than "real" colleges, only cost much less. (For example, the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, arguably one of the best culinary arts schools in the country, is part of Grand Rapids Community College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.)
- Laney College in Oakland, California is increasingly regarded as one of the best theater schools in Northern California, as its actors frequently land top spots in universities—or, you know, get picked by theaters as soon as they graduate. Unfortunately, it has the double-whammy of being a community college in Oakland, which is stereotyped as being dangerous, poor, and riddled with drug dealers.
- Unless, of course, the character comes from a poor background, like Luanne Platter from King of the Hill, where her going to Community College is celebrated by her family.
- Hayley on American Dad! attends a community college, which is often the butt of some jokes ("I got a check-plus. That's like a C at Arizona State!").
- Patrick Star from SpongeBob SquarePants claims to have attended community college in the episode "The Bully."
By people who have not been to trade schools.
- Astronauts actually did get people understanding them, before Lisa Nowak went after that woman her boyfriend was having an affair with.
Very commonly represented as pathetic, lazy, obnoxious losers whose physical condition is their own fault, as they tend to be seen always eating junk food. Genetic or medical reasons, valid or not, will always be seen as flimsy excuses. They'll also often be depicted as the Abhorrent Admirer, particularly when female.
Live Action Television
- In the long history of the Sitcom, fat people have always been viewed as an easy Butt-Monkey for jokes. Eric Sykes capitalised on this with the largely affectionate treatment of his onscreen comic partner, Hattie Jacques, in his eponymous sitcom Sykes. Hattie was also the Fat Comic Relief in many other British series and films. Dawn French played this largely self-referentially, most notably in The Vicar of Dibley. However, there are cases of this stepping over the line: French sitcom Les Filles d'à côté was created by a producer who appeared to absolutely hate fat people and who insisted on a "culture of thin-ness" among his stable of actors. He treated the token fat actors in the series appallingly and this culture of disdain and bullying extended to the way they were treated off-camera by other cast members selected for their looks. In-Universe they were appalling, stupid slobs unfit to be treated with dignity who were ground zero for every fat joke to be made; a critical essay about this is reproduced here. It was asked that if these actors had been black, or gay, or disabled, would their treatment have been legal under French law.
Portrayed as weak, lazy (hence the lack of muscles), lacking appropriate sexual traits (females are accused of lacking the curves required of a "real" woman, males are seen as unmanly for lacking strength), and often implicated to have an eating disorder. If they demonstrate that they can and do eat in plenty, they may be accused of having a tapeworm, or simply regarded with passive aggressive jealousy that they can "eat anything and not gain a pound" even though an unhealthy diet is unhealthy at any weight. Many of the stereotypes about overweight persons are, paradoxically, enforced equally for the underweight, sometimes with even less sympathy.
Live Action Television
- A criticism of The Office could revolve around the character played by noticeably cadaverous actor Mackenzie Crooks, who was sinister, creepy and sociopathic. Again it could be asked if the character would have had the same impact if played by somebody of "normal" weight, and what did this say for the way in which excessively thin people are viewed?
People Who are Athletic
According to pop culture, everyone who plays sports (in high-school, at least) is a Dumb Jock, and every cheerleader is a shallow bitch. And of course, says pop culture, everyone athletic (jocks) are all bullies who have nothing to look forward to in life past high-school, if they graduate. Cheerleaders too are at the high point in their life, says pop culture, and they're all shallow sluts who spread malicious rumors about each other and their rivals. Never mind that athletes and cheerleaders may just be regular people who enjoy their respective hobby, or that plenty of athletes/cheerleaders go on to have successful and fulfilling lives after high school, in fact, high school athletic participation is associated with a high future income for men.
Adult athletes obviously drop most of the high-school (and college) stereotypes, or at least see them heavily modified. The most common sports for adults to participate in are running, cycling, and weight lifting, so expect to see the most media depictions of those.
Runners are rail thin, twitchy, prone to injury, and unable to shut up about how wonderful running is. The only two distances runners run are 5ks and marathons. Will frequently be called joggers by media, and will just as frequently be enraged by being called joggers. Only trail runners catch a break, since anything done in the woods impresses city folk. Runners are the least likely adult athletes to be depicted as using steroids, probably because that's not thought of as compatible with having a stick-figure physique. Either wear a huge ensemble with flashing lights, headphones, fanny pack, sweat pants, hoodie, and band-aids on their nipples, or nothing but the shortest shorts legal to wear outside. Runners are obsessed with taking a shit, either wrecking the bathroom and/or outhouse before running, or dropping a log behind a neighborhood bush mid-run.
Cyclists have the upper bodies of runners but comically gigantic thighs that stretch their shorts way out. The only fabric they wear is spandex, stretched tight across their crotch bulge. They are responsible for the existence of bicycle lanes, and are therefore evil. Thanks to Lance Armstrong, we now know that all cyclists use steroids. Quality bicycles are not cheap, so cyclists are usually upper class twits. Cyclists hate cars and look for every opportunity to lecture drivers on how riding a bike saves the planet while getting you in shape. Cyclists also hate pedestrians and secretly hope to maim them while barreling down sidewalks and single-track trails. Occasionally, cyclists will strap a baby to their bike and ride at hilariously dangerous speeds.
Weight lifters are all body builders and gym rats. This includes women, who instantly inflate to Arnold Schwarzenegger-esque proportions by picking up free weights. Nobody needs an athlete expose to know everyone who lifts weights is on steroids and every other PED as well. Have to eat entire feasts solo to fuel their workouts, probably consisting of nothing but protein. Lifting weights makes you stupid as well. Despite living at the gym, weight lifters owe their physique entirely to genetics, not hard work - which means anyone who isn't already muscular shouldn't even try in the first place. When weight lifters aren't lifting weights, they like to hang out at the gym waiting for some skinny dude to try working out so they can bust his chops. If weight lifters don't break the addiction in time, they inevitably fall into porn to support their weight lifting habit.
People with tattoos/piercings
Oh, sure, go mutilate your body because you think it looks "cool", we all know that everyone who does it will regret it later. Oh, and by the way, the only people who ever get tattoos or non-ear piercings are bikers, obnoxious punk rockers, thugs, or sluts who just can't wait to show them off.
This stereotype is actually not as bad nowadays as it was prior to the 1990s, when much of the above actually was true, if only because "decent" folk bought into the negative imagery and wouldn't have been caught dead with tattoos or piercings. At best, tattoos were associated with the circus (which, while generally viewed as wholesome, still has some unsavory connotations), while piercings were thought to be just for Gypsies and pirates. The anti-tattoo prejudice was at an all-time low in Victorian times, when actual criminology textbooks were published explaining that anyone with a tattoo was obviously a criminal.
Now that tattoos and piercings are incredibly fashionable and nigh-omnipresent in some places, the main stigmas seem to be against people who are literally covered with them (they're still considered freaks or weirdos), or women who have the now-infamous "Tramp Stamp" above their butt-crack. These latter women are generally now shown to be sheep who latched onto a trend, unaware of how stupid they would look once the trend was over and they were left with a permanent reminder.
People who have had cosmetic surgeries
You've had plastic surgery to alter your physical appearance? You're a narcissist who is so perfect looking that it's creepy and inferior to naturally beautiful (or even non-beautiful) people, regardless of quality or quantity of the operations.note This does not apply to people who have cosmetic procedures to alter legitimate physical deformities caused by accidents or illnesses, however.
Women who have breast implants are the most frequently targeted, often portrayed as sluts, airheaded bimbos or gold digging Trophy Wives to an older rich man. You can expect her "fake" boobs to rupture at some point, and it will almost always be Played for Laughs even though a ruptured breast implant can have serious negative health consequences in Real Life. They can be damaging to health even if they don't rupture hence why an increasing number of women with breast implants are getting them removed, which probably means the stigma against them will only grow over time.
- An episode of Yes, Dear has Greg and Kim playing tennis with Greg's boss and his trophy wife who has breast implants. One of them ends up rupturing after being hit with a tennis ball and it is played off as though it were a balloon bursting. The woman does go to the hospital, but the boss is happy because she decided to go up a size.
People who wear fedoras
Fedoras used to be associated with badasses and men with class , but as of the 2010s are almost solely associated with overweight, unkempt neckbeards who try to look classy and fail miserably.
Guys who wear toupees
Bald men are (usually) Acceptable Targets. Bald men who wear toupees are even bigger Acceptable Targets. The toupee will usually be comedically fake-looking and expect it to be removed somehow and the man will run and flop around with his head covered up. Unacceptable if the man is bald because of cancer or another illness.
People who don't play sports
Much like people who are athletic, people who have no interest in getting involved in sports tend to get a lot of flak, especially the males who are expected to be active in any sport. This is mostly common in school where if a student doesn't want to join the football or basketball team or participate in a gym class, mainly because they want to focus on their academics or other hobbies, they tend to get called wimps by other students and may even get bullied for this.
Nobody who's into bondage can be a healthy and well-adjusted person under it all. A dominant man is a misogynist, a dominant woman a Straw Feminist bitch, a submissive man a doormat and a submissive woman is actively undoing the hard work of feminism. BDSM practitioners also tend to be stereotyped as unattractive, overweight, middle-aged weirdos.
The concept of a couple willingly sleeping with people other than their spouse is often open for contempt and ridicule in the media since it goes against most conservative ideals. Typically swingers are depicted in one of two ways; the swingers invite some naive God-fearing married couple into their home and suddenly spring the idea of swapping spouses out of the blue for a cheap laugh, or perhaps several couples in the neighborhood participate in swinging and throw a "key party" (women put their house keys into a jar, men randomly select keys and go home with the swapped wife) inviting a new couple under false pretenses and then trying to enact peer-pressure to get them to join in.
Objectum Sexuals. Often used as a throwaway gag rather than treated seriously, but even serious portrayals of OS people are never positive. At best, they'll be antisocial loners with No Social Skills, who need to be "cured" in order to become normal and be properly accepted into society. However, all too often they're portrayed as depraved Extreme Omnisexuals who go around having sex in public with anything which catches their eye (and by the way, this is about as accurate as the idea that all straight women immediately want to do it in the road with every man they see). There are roughly a thousand examples on the page for Cargo Ship, but the number of examples which aren't Played for Laughs, for Squick, or for both could probably be counted on one hand.
Any man who is attracted to athletic or muscular women will be called weak, submissive or gay. Not all Amazon Chasers are weaklings who need a female to dominate them, as demonstrated by numerous bodybuilder/fitness model couples. Most women with muscle mass do not look masculine (steroid abuse is required for that), and even if they do, a masculine-looking woman is still a woman and to say otherwise is downright offensive. Some men are turned on by the idea of having a woman who will fight alongside them in times of crisis instead of a Damsel in Distress or Neutral Female that they have to protect all the time. Some men desire a more curvy type of woman, but with curves that are firm and shapely instead of soft and wide. And finally, most Amazon chasers are capable of attraction to normal women as well.
This one has a bit of a Double Standard. Thin women who date/marry fat men might be encouraged by a few rude peers to "do better", but more often than not they are seen as a saint who rescued the poor schlub from a life of loneliness and recognizes that true beauty is on the inside. But thin men who are attracted to fat women are ridiculed endlessly. Either they have a fetish, or they're desperate, ugly losers who can't get conventionally attractive thin women to date them and have to settle for the "pigs".
In the Western world at least, a person who can't/won't have sexual relations as soon as the opportunity arises (usually by age 18, or 21 at the latest. But even high schoolers—and in some cases, middle schoolers—are often sources of ridicule among their peers for their virginity) is nothing short of pathetic. Especially true for men, although it's applied to women as well, with the Double Standard that having too much sex makes her a morally bankrupt slut. And that's just for the folks who are virgins only because they can't get a date. Those who have no immediate cultural or religious reason to not have sex but choose to remain a virgin can get it even worse.
The Sex Is Cool trope is often taken WAY too seriously, used to suggest if not outright state that people who don't have a very active sex life, even if they don't want one, have some kind of mental or emotional problem and will never enjoy "normal" lifenote . Also, since there's never any good reason to turn down sex, the suggestion that society and the world in general would fall apart if people starting putting other things in life first is frequently and somewhat insultingly Played for Laughs. So-called "late bloomers" who, for whatever reason, do not have sex until later in life are also often the subject of ridicule (see, for example, the film The 40-Year-Old Virgin).
People who commonly engage in pick-up or one night stand sex are usually portrayed as sex-obsessed sluts (if female) or manipulative, vulnerability-exploiting predators (if male) who are unable to commit to a serious relationship, no matter how safe the sex is, or how much they inform their partners of their casual approach to the sexual encounter. Usually more shameful if the individual is a woman, although this isn't always the case. A byproduct of the Sex Is Evil policy much of the mainstream media conveys.
- A running gag in the early seasons of Frasier was Frasier (and occasionally others such as Niles) taking potshots at Roz's Really Gets Around status. However, this would eventually end up being subverted. She went through a few bad breakups as well as an unplanned pregnancy (with a man young enough to be her son) and she not only faces up to the consequences of her actions, but learns to become a more responsible adult.
- As mentioned above, Charlie's player lifestyle in Two and a Half Men alternates between being portrayed positively and portrayed negatively. When it's portrayed positively, Charlie comes across as a straightforward sex god who can get any woman he wants. When it's portrayed negatively, it shows that Charlie is an immature misogynist with mommy issues and not really interested in women unles they have sex with him. The few times he does try for a serious relationship, it doesn't work out and he goes back to banging brainless beauties. Sometimes it's even suggested that he's a latent homosexual trying to overcompensate, something Charlie has taken into consideration at least once.
This sexuality is widely considered to not really exist by the public at large. At best, asexuals are seen as "late bloomers" who just haven't found what turns them on yet or are suffering from depression/mental issues since nobody in their right mind, especially not the young and attractive, would refuse gratuitous sexual relations. Otherwise, it's just a label made up by pathetic losers who can't get laid having a bad case of sour grapes. After all, no "real" guy wouldn't want sex all the time.
People who watch pornography
Pornography is a hot-button topic to discuss, and people who watch it are very much frowned upon. People from conservative and religious cultures see those who watch porn as immoral, perverted, and highly addictive. People, especially men, who watch porn are also viewed as losers who need to get laid instead of masturbating to sexual scenes.
Sure, being sexually attracted to children is no doubt disturbing and forcibly having sex with one is a very cruel, heartless act. But not all pedophiles are child-raping monsters note . There are indeed pedophiles in Real Life who do not act on their attraction, but in fiction, only ones who actually rape children, or at least pleasure themselves to child porn are shown to exist. This is despite evidence suggesting that most child sex abusers are not attracted to children at all.
Up until recently, sexual predators were often assumed to be older, socially-inept single men (as noted under the "single people" target) whereas in reality, most sexual predators are family men with high social status, because that status helps to throw people off and increase their chances of finding victims who will get close enough to the pervert for them to act. And pedophiles can be as young as sixteen years old.
And sexual predators are almost always male in fiction. If a female child molester shows up, she is more likely to be treated sympathetically than a male one, and a boy who is molested by an adult woman may even be applauded for "scoring" which would never happen if the perp was a male.
- An episode of The George Lopez Show focuses on a child molester named Cris Watson moving to the Lopezes' neighborhood and all of the residents forming and angry mob to confront Cris. It turns out that Cris is actually a woman and says that the incident mentally scarred her and she is currently attending therapy to cope. Everyone except Angie then brush it off and go on about their business. However, Max is seen at Cris' house and the Lopezes are quick to rescue him from her (Though it turns out Max went on his own in hopes of having sex with an older woman because he couldn't get a girlfriend on his own and he was becoming desperate) and it's only then that George realizes that rape is wrong regardless of the genders involved.
- Pedophiles are frequently targeted in South Park as always. Though due to it being satire, the pedophiles are comically non-threatening and often make little to no attempt to hide their shameful secret (see "Le Petit Tourette" and "Dead Celebrities"). An early episode focused on Kyle's adopted brother Ike being molested by his preschool teacher and nobody but Kyle takes it seriously.
Whatever chances pedophiles have of being treated sympathetically are immensely larger than those of a zoophile being sympathized with. Anytime zoophilia shows up in the media, it's either mocked and condemned harshly, or Played for Laughs in Black Comedy.
Again, highly unlikely to be taken seriously, necrophiliacs must be so lame that their only chances of getting some is by humping a decaying, stinky, nasty corpse who can't say no.
- Backfired in WWE's infamous "Katie Vick" storyline in the early 2000s. Triple H accused Kane of having sex with the dead body of his high school girlfriend Katie Vick (who supposedly died in a car crash) and played a video of himself in a Kane mask humping a mannequin in a coffin. This is considered one of the most tasteless angles WWE has ever done (reportedly the only two people who found it amusing were Vince McMahon and his stooge Kevin Dunn, and even Triple H himself, who is probably the ultimate politician in pro wrestling, tried to back out of it) to the point where WWE themselves would rather it be kept under wraps save for occasional references done as a Take That!.
Rich people are often portrayed as sycophants, morally bankrupt businesspeople, pretentious, and they often are portrayed as LOVING to show it by wearing extremely expensive clothing or by regularly binging on ultra expensive activities and hobbies. Expect derogatory comments about those poorer than them. Rich people as targets are especially used during times of economic down-turns, especially those working for massive businesses like insurance, oil companies, computer industries, stock market junkies, etc. Rich women are often shown as gold-diggers who live in the lap of luxury, or if they are a breadwinner (Sometimes the Breadwinner), then they are shown as being extremely out of touch with their family and almost never being able to sit down to cook. (Shown in Daria, in which Helen heats up frozen Lasagna nearly every night, considers it a rare treat to cook for her family, and overhears people laughing about other women taking Maternity leave.) The level of acceptability goes double for any rich person who is Caucasian, and quadruple if they happen to be Jewish, with further varying degrees of acceptability depending on their careers. (If there exists any positive portrayal of a rich Jewish banker, then you'd best take a picture because it's probably the first time you'll ever see it.)
And even worse are Children born into rich families. They are frequently portrayed as spoiled rotten brats with no compassion for others and never having to work for anything in their lives, they just ask for it. Girls are always shown as having a rich "Daddy" who pays for them and are often either a Rich Bitch crossed with Alpha Bitch. Girls who marry into money are seen as gold-diggers who vow never to work. Boys are also shown as spoiled but also being trained to one day take over their family job. Sometimes being forced to do the later against their desire can make a sympathetic character, but that's about the only time you'll see it. Male rich kids are much more likely to be depicted as drug-addicted date-rapists relying on their family's money and connections to get them out of any trouble their consequence free life-style gets them into. Like the above, this goes double for whites, quintuple for Jewish families, and sextuple for bankers.
These guys have it rough in many ways. If someone doesn't have a job (especially if they are in their late 20s or older), they are viewed as lazy and shamelessly mooching off of their parents or friends, even if they are showing that they are sending forms and applications to many places to find work. While this stigma tends to wane during times of bad economy, many people simply find it unacceptable that there can be people who can live life at all without working. People that live on food stamps or welfare checks are also viewed as worse since they're mooching off the taxpayers' money and refusing to better themselves or their families while they spend the public's cash on big screen televisions. It is entirely possible for someone living on food stamps to have a nice TV or nice clothes due to others providing the items to them or having said items in the past before they fell on hard times, but most people won't accept that. This is slowly beginning to pass into Once Acceptable Targets, however, thanks to both the recent worldwide economic issues and the strong association that this has with racist stereotypes.
This stereotype is actually pretty recent. Thanks to the media, there are more cases of public assistance being abused coming to light. It's possible that's where this stereotype comes from. The fact that some parents willingly have more children while still using PA doesn't help either.
Even the British government's own statistical department - viewed as a very reliable and objective source - calculated that for every pound lost in benefit fraud, at least forty is lost through tax evasion of various sorts. note But note which of the two categories - benefit fraud or tax dodging - is reviled most and which the government places more resources, time, and energy, in fighting. It is also true that there are three thousand government employees dealing with benefit fraud - and only three hundred employed full-time to police tax evasion. And again, for every pound lost in benefit fraud, ten pounds goes unclaimed because people simply do not know what they are entitled to and the Government does little to encourage uptake.
The mere fact that this is in the "Acceptable Lifestyle Targets" and not "Acceptable Hard Luck Targets" shows that people commonly consider someone being jobless and on welfare living a mooching, lazy lifestyle and not someone having a rough patch in their lives.
Those who still live with their parents. Can also be filed under Acceptable Hard Luck Targets. Recently in many western cultures, especially for American men, moving out of your parents' home has become a sign of maturity. You are expected to move out on your own the minute you turn 18 and never look back, either out of your own free will or because your parents took the initiative and booted your ass out. Guys who still live with their parents into their twenties are therefore considered man-children who are incapable of growing up or looking after themselves. Moving back in with your parents is seen as a humiliating last resort taken only by people who have lost everything. The trope is often invoked in media as a quick way to establish a man as a loser. Never mind that some parents do charge their children rent, and that their children are often charged with having to help maintain the house. Women, however, have a slightly lesser stigma attached to them because they are not as socially pressured to be rugged individualists — in fact, a single woman might be seen as selfish and cruel if she doesn't give up her independence to move in with elderly, failing parents. The trope is notably averted in many cultures that prize the extended family, such as Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa, Pacific Islands, and Southern and Eastern Europe, where sons are often expected to stay in the family home at least until they marry, and even then not stray too far from their roots. It may also be averted in Europe for the fact that extended family may have lived in the same house for several years because of high housing prices, although it wouldn't be uncommon for say, someone who has lived in the same house all their lives and has their parents living with them may have merely been given the house because they're old enough to maintain it.
It certainly doesn't help that any time adults who live with their parents (or whose parents live with them) are represented, the media only seek out those who help to reinforce the stereotype. In other words, the jobless loser who can't do even the simplest things for himself and has to have Mommy do everything for him and who is utterly abhorrent to any prospective romantic partners because of this. Such people are probably in the minority, as it is likely that most adults who have similar living arrangements make an equal contribution to the household or are at least employed.
The romantic aspect may actually be self-fulfilling though in Real Life, due to the fact that people who live with their parents (even if they are there supporting them) are viewed this way, thanks to media. Also, confirmation bias.
This stigma is slowly fading away, however: The economic hard times of the 2010s have convinced a steadily increasing amount of young people to live with their parents, though this is still mainly due to financial desperation. However, this situation is now more seen as sympathetic, the person being a victim of cruel or incompetent authorities, rather than anything derogatory. This trope can, however, still apply if the individual is shown not having a job, and making no efforts to get one.
- A typical example comes in the film Live Free or Die Hard, which uses the trope to subvert the character Warlock's fearsome reputation as a master hacker. It turns out that he's a total loser who lives in his mother's basement, playing video games and collecting geek merchandise.
- In 8mm, the killer lives with his mom, who is completely oblivious to his problems.
- The whole plot of Tanguy involves exasperated parents who try to get their grown son to move out so they can have their own lives back.
- The 2006 Matthew McConaughey film Failure to Launch likewise builds its premise on this trope. Tripp (McConaughey) is 35 years old, and though he has a job and friends and hobbies, automatically qualifies as a loser and cannot keep a girlfriend because he lives with his parents.
- Wedding Crashers: Chazz, who was idolized by the main characters who thought he was the best thing since sliced bread, turns out to be a complete loser. Our first indication of this? He lives with his mother (and demands that she make food for him and his friends just to drive home how stunted he is).
- Wayne's World Wayne Campbell admits living with his mother is "both bogus and sad".
- In Frasier Frasier must frequently defend himself from the trope, pointing out that his father lives with him, not the other way around. In fact, Frasier did invite his father into his apartment to look after him, which is a socially acceptable arrangement.
- The most extreme example of this is Ted from Scrubs, the pathetically inept sad-sack attorney who not only lives with his mother, but shares a bed with her.
- The main trio of Reaper all lived with their parents when the show started. While this was never truly made fun of, it was considered "pathetic," and used to show that the trio lacked drive each in their own way.. Sam was purposely encouraged not to try to hard by his parents (who assumed he was going to be taken to hell for their sins), Sock is lazy, and Ben was too weak willed to get out from under his mother's thumb. All three overcome this when they move out halfway through the series and get an apartment together.
- Howard Wolowitz, Casanova Wannabe of The Big Bang Theory is portrayed as somewhat of a loser, which is punctuated by the fact that he still lives with, and is regularly infantilized and nagged by, his mother. Apparently the writers feel that this wasn't enough to make him a complete loser, so as the series progresses his feelings toward her are becoming more and more creepily Oedipal.
- In more recent seasons Howard has arguably gone through more actual character development than the rest of the main cast combined by enjoying more professional success than his friends as well as actually getting married and moving out (although his wife's personality is nearly identical to his mother's). Howard notes that the main reason he didn't leave his mother is that his father walked out on the family and he didn't want her to be alone. Unlike most examples, he's also financially independent.
- Tony Cipriani in Grand Theft Auto III is a Mafia boss who still lives with his mom and frequently gets yelled at by her.
- Until the final arcs of Narbonic, Lupin Madblood has his 'secret lair' in his mom's basement.
- Cluemaster in The Batman, who has a Supervillain Lair in his mother's basement, the point being that he's spent his entire life plotting Disproportionate Retribution for being embarrassed as a kid, so hasn't moved on in any way.
- Most of the jokes about Seymour Skinner in The Simpsons revolve around how he still lives with his mother in middle age (although he insists "she lives with me! In her house.").
- An episode of The Fairly OddParents! made a joke like this about the creator/writer of the Crimson Chin note being in his forties and living in his mother's basement. Said writer wasn't a cartoon and was played by Patton Oswalt.
- An example of the difference in cultural norms can be seen in Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who lived with his mother throughout his term of office. Americans mocked him for living with his mother, but Polish voters didn't see anything wrong with in an unmarried man still living at home.
- This also gives him shades of the Unmarried Acceptable Target status. Americans have had only one single President, James Buchanan, and he's generally viewed as a loser (although this might have less to do with his marital status and more to do with the fact that he basically sleepwalked the nation into the Civil War). It's doubtful Americans would even consider an unmarried candidate these days.
- Living with your parents is expected in China. Traditionally, it is quite normal for three generations to live under the same roof.
- Subverted in most of the Arab world. Most young people are expected to live with their parents until they earn enough money to purchase their own homes and get married.
- On its way to becoming a Discredited Trope in America, thanks to the global recession. Getting sacked from your job and using all of your resources to pay bills is reason enough for most people to come crawling back to Mom and Dad.
- Also, it is more common for adults to delay moving out of the house and to hear of vicenarians who not only still live with their parents, but never moved out in the first place.
When they are not portrayed as thieves, they are shown to be suffering from various mental disorders or having inexplicable, often absurd behavior (like urinating in their own shoes or having orgies in stolen cars). This is especially typical in comedy. While mental illness no doubt is one reason a person can end up homeless, fiction seems to treat it as the only way one can end up transient, nobody ever is homeless by bad luck and circumstance. Brings the Family-Unfriendly Aesop that there's no point in helping, as a homeless case will just walk back to the gutter where he/she is "naturally happy" with their eccentricities as soon as your back is turned. As homeless people tend not to see much TV, and they have limited opportunity to complain about such stereotypes, they are likely to remain as acceptable targets for a long time.
- Averted on JAG, where homeless veterans are portrayed as sympathetic people who need help to re-enter society.
Everyone who doesn't buy into stereotypes is an uptight, overly sensitive, ultra-PC censor with no sense of humor. Often, this is used to portray anyone who is not fashionably intolerant as nosy, crusading, fun-stompers, often who go too far in their quest to censor everyone else's behavior and thoughts. This attitude is a popular refuge for comedians who like Black Comedy and Crossing the Line Twice, accusing everyone who doesn't like them of this. Considering that the term was never prevalent among those who are the targets of such criticism, and it was instead popularized by conservative talk radio hosts and a strawman argument, there are shades of extremism and intolerance at the roots of the most common usage of the the term... that have seeped into the mainstream. Certain extreme groups use terms like "wrongthink" to criticize anyone who tells them that their biases or prejudices are unacceptable, while others claim that there is a secret (often racist) agenda that is seeking to normalize certain outsiders that they instead seek to continue to isolate. Note that pretty much nobody refers to themselves as "respectful". Note as well that there are very few things quite so respectful, today, as proudly proclaiming one's own political incorrectness.
Anything that could be interpreted as bigotry seen being a sign of wickedness. Characters with problematic views are often characterized as insensitive jerks at best and Ax-Crazy lunatics fueled by The Power of Hate at worst.
Okay, they're able to get along with anyone, have many friends, are easy to talk to, and funny, but on the downside they're going to be portrayed as slightly reserved, never happy with themselves, have Jocks and assholes think they're easy targets, and will generally be shown to be useless when chatting up women, and the woman will go for the Bad Boy anyway. Maybe the Dogged Nice Guy will get her in the end. Can be trapped in a weird subcultural purgatory of being too cool to be a nerd but not cool enough to be with the Popular clique.
It doesn't help that in Real Life, "Nice Guy" is often a negative term used to describe the man who behaves in a stereotypically polite and caring manner towards a woman on the surface, but is easily seen through as immature, needy, not really interested in relationships beyond the sex part, and resentful/dismissive of women who don't respond to their "niceness" with romantic or sexual attention. (i.e. "Why won't she date me? I'm a nice guy! I held open the door for her! What a stuck-up bitch!")
- The Craigslist "Letter From a Former Nice Guy" displays toxic levels of the resentment — and is skewered thoroughly here.
Female timidity is acceptable and even enticing, but for the media, male shyness is ridiculous and inappropriate. In short, it's a Double Standard. Shy guys are usually the targets of the worst abuse in High School (a little bit like the Nice Guy), with said abuse intensifying as they grow older if they haven't gotten over their shyness. This is because, for many people in Real Life, shyness for a man means he's either a coward, a loner, or an immature man-child who never grew up. There's also a tendency in some female-aimed media to depict any man acting withdrawn around women as suffering deep psychological issues that will turn him into a delusional stalker, creepy sexual deviant, or a violent psychopath the first time he actually gets close to one. However,female-aimed Japanese media, especially otome games, will often portray timid, shy guys as cute and desirable for their moe appeal.
While goths and emos are made fun of for their perpetual sadness, people who are continuously in a good mood don't always have it easy either. In a lot of sitcoms and a few movies, cheerful and optimistic people are seen as lower than dirt while depressed and depressing cynics can get away with murder.
This can also be seen in people's general attitudes. Ever notice how someone who looks on the bright side is being naive while someone who expresses a more pessimistic view is being realistic?
This might be due to Optimism bias, in that one who is genuinely realistic is being seen as pessimistic because they are below the optimistic norm.
People also have a tendency to view critical people as smarter regardless of the content and accuracy of the criticisms.
If there are people who view life as an unpleasant experience full of evil and suffering in the world, then expect them to get criticized and mocked for not having a positive attitude or not acknowledging that life isn't all that bad and can get better. Cynical characters will either get portrayed as people who always ruin everyone's mood with their cynicism, stuck-up, delusional jerks who will end up getting proven wrong for their cynical views, or as people who are treated as bad for having cynical views by their peers because The Complainer Is Always Wrong. It doesn't help that there's a trope named Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is For Losers.
Many cultures put forth value on being thick-skinned and showing no emotions. If there is a person who is easily offended by the smallest things, then this will be easy enough for other people to ridicule them, often calling them massive whiny crybabies who need to suck it up already. And God help them if they're a male, because of the fact that Men Are Tough, being sensitive and showing emotions is enough to earn them easy scorn and bullying and a lot of rejections from the ladies.
Despite the recent backlash against "toxic masculinity", it seems that society and the media still strongly believe that men should be doing things such as lifting weights, playing football, hunting, and showing little emotions, which they consider to be "masculine". If a man is doing things such as baking cakes, smelling flowers, interested in fashion, crying while watching soap operas, then they're not "real men"; in fact, they're not men at all. They're a bunch of pussies who need to "man up"! Despite this, this doesn't stop society from accepting women who show masculine qualities (in fact, tomboys are often preferred to more traditionally feminine women), making this a huge Double Standard.
People who cry a lot
Related to "overly sensitive people". Usually directed at men, but women who cry frequently are also not well-liked by the media and society. Crying is usually viewed as a sign of emotional weakness and makes most bystanders uncomfortable. Therefore a person, male or female, who cries a lot is deemed emotionally weak, regardless of the reason behind the tears. Lose your job/house/car, etc.? Suck it up and get a new one. Depressed? There are billions out there who have it worse than you, get over yourself. The only time it is considered socially acceptable to cry is if a person or pet you're close to dies (or if you yourself are dying, and even that isn't always accepted). Otherwise, you're a giant crybaby who needs to learn to keep your emotions to yourself like a grown-up.
Not only society views crying as a sign of weakness, it's also considered a sign of immaturity. People aren't too fond of children crying a lot, especially if the person is a Child Hater. They believe that children who cry constantly are attention seekers or Spoiled Brats. Therefore, grown adults should never cry otherwise, they're just as immature as children.
Forgiveness is valued by many people in society, and those who have a hard time forgiving those who have done terrible things to them, whether it varies between being abused by their parents, bullied in school, or if a person killed someone they love, are often treated with No Sympathy and are labeled as immature, petty Jerkasses who are no better than their tormentors, and that they are obliged to forgive them, even if said tormentors aren't remorseful for what they've done. In many stories centered on forgiving others, characters who refuse to forgive their transgressors or even seek revenge against them are painted as villains or jerks who are blinded by their grudge and become just as bad or even worse than the wrongdoer, especially where the wrongdoer is sincerely remorseful and seeks forgiveness.
As valued as forgiveness is, people who forgive too easily are also not fondly looked upon, viewed as an Extreme Doormat who are giving permission for it everyone to walk all over them. And since some misdeeds are deemed unforgivable by the general public (murder, rape, racism, betrayal, etc.), anyone who forgives a person who is guilty of these things is just as vile as they are. There's a reason why the Easily Forgiven trope is considered bad writing by most audiences.
People who complain about their problems
Sure, everyone will always have problems in their lives and everyone will experience bad things happen to them such as embarrassment, ostracism, illness, failure, or tragedy, but anyone who complains about them will get berated by others who feel their problems aren't worth complaining about, usually because they think there are other people who have it worse or that they themselves have it worse; Therefore, the person is wrong for complaining about their personal problems and needs to either fix the problem or get over it. While those who complain about their problems that really are minor do get a lot of flak, even those who complain about problems that really are serious will also get criticized. Either way, this may have to do with the fact people just find complaining in general to be annoying.
This is especially true for people who, in their spare time, rant about their jobs. Jobs can be stressing, it's a given of life. But someone complaining about their job? Eh, they're just spoiled and inconsiderate brats who need to "suck it up" or else they're not going to last long in the real world before they go crying home to Mommy. Just having a bad day at work (or several) or working in a bad environment seems to bring up the, "If you hate your job, then why don't you quit?" response.
Typically, even laughing at stupid customers, bad coworkers, etc., brings up this. (It's a guaranteed that if you make any rant related to your job in the internet, you'll be told, "Quit then, if it's so bad".) When faced with the, "Then why don't you quit your job?" response, don't mention, "Do you know of any other job openings?", because they're not listening. This however tends to be averted if you are a factory worker which lives in the conditions a 19th century factory worker might have lived in. Then it often even gets promoted to complain about how bad the conditions are you work in and fight for better working conditions against the will of the Corrupt Corporate Executive that controls the entirety.
People who have a low opinion on humanity (Humans Are Bastards or Humans Are Morons being the common beliefs) get a lot of criticism and even mockery from society. Society feels that misanthropes are too blind and pessimistic to realize that there are some good people in the world or that there is some good in humanity. With that, they feel misanthropes are irrational for outweighing humanity's bad with the good and petty for hating humans based on a small group of people mistreating them or annoying them. Misanthropes are also accused of being hypocritical of their hatred towards humanity, for if they hate humans, then they hate themselves, too. (And many misanthropes do hate themselves as well).
Whether it's people who are outright defiant to authority or people who hate and resent being told what to do and would rather live by their own rules, people who don't agree with society's rules don't get much respect from others, much less any sympathy. To their defense, and fairly so, rules are needed for people to function and cooperate with each other for the betterment of society and those who violate the rules also are disregarding the rights of others. Nevertheless, even if people don't outright break the law, and just want to live a life free from societal expectations or from being controlled by people in every aspect of life, that won't stop society from labeling them as "edgy" teenagers or narcissists/sociopaths who are rebellious For the Evulz.
We can all agree that no one wants to experience pain and suffering in life (unless you're Too Kinky to Torture), but when it comes to people who value pleasure and happiness, society seems to have a grievance against them. Hedonistic people are either seen as lazy and indulgent bastards who lack self-discipline, selfish and harmful for putting their own pleasure before others to the point of harming them, or spineless and cowardly for wanting to avoid suffering, mainly due to the belief that some form of suffering is beneficial.
Related to "People who complain about their problems". Gratitude is one of the cherished virtues in society, and it's expected for people to express gratitude for either their quality in life (i.e., acknowledging that their life could've been worse) or for the people who helped them (i.e., their parents). For those who aren't grateful for anything, expect them to get a lot of hostility from others who will tell them how much they're entitled assholes who take everything for granted.
Preferring the past over the present is a good way to get hate, especially on the internet. Usually only reserved for those who think everything in the past was objectively better than everything in the present day, but sometimes even saying you have a general appreciation for things in the past will result in you receiving a ton of negative comments consisting of the following: A) accusing you of being a Jaded Washout who clings to the past because your present sucks. B) pointing out that people back then were once saying the same about the things you like now. C) labeling you a "hipster" who's trying too hard to be "cool" or D) when talking about a disdain for modern TV shows, movies, music, etc., saying that if you put in effort to look away from the mainstream (Indy films, streaming services, etc.), you'd still find good entertainment, even if it's not as publicized as modern cable, Hollywood blockbusters or pop music.
Society places a lot of value of hard work, and people who lack the motivation and the drive to do something, whether it's simple things like cleaning up their bedroom or working at a job, are strongly reviled. As far as working at a job is concerned, working is a necessity to keep things going in society, and lazy people are seen as low-life scums who never contribute anything to society and mooch off others and the government. It's even worse when the person does have a job and hardly does what they were supposed to do and lets others do the work for them.
The fact that tropes like Old Maid, Christmas Cake and Crazy Cat Lady are still prevalent in media, shows that this world is still not willing to let single women get away with their singleness.
Single men aren't portrayed that well either. Single men may still have "manly" independence and be free of an annoying spouse, but behind the apparently awesome single life of The Casanova there's a shallow and empty Manchild living in perpetual disorder since, apparently men aren't able to manage their own houses without a woman doing the chores.
As of The New '10s, it seems that single men as a whole are actually viewed worse than single women as a whole. These days, women are often assumed to be single by choice (unless the woman is considered physically unattractive) whereas men, "being men", are assumed to be single because there is something wrong with them. This is due to two things: 1) Societal advancements have made it easier for women to get high-paying careers on their own, so many women now see relationships as a luxury rather than a necessity to avoid poverty and are more choosy about the quality of men they want in their lives as a result. And 2) The increased publicity of online communities such as "Forever Alone"note , "incel"note and "MGTOW"note whose more extreme cases (i.e. Elliot Rodger) cause some people to believe that young, single guys are misogynistic, immature psychopaths who will stalk, beat, rape and/or kill any woman who reject their advances.
And it isn't just young men who get targeted. Men over 35 (and especially 40) who have never married are often looked at with varying degrees of suspicion. The term "confirmed bachelor" was once used as a euphemism for "gay man" even if the man's sexuality was unknown. Now that LGBTQ people are more open with their preferences, many current older bachelors are suspected of being perverts, deviants, or at its worst, sexual predators (especially towards children). And this is despite the fact that real life American statistics demonstrate that the majority of sexual predators are actually family men.
There are also many people who believe that humans simply cannot be truly happy in life unless they're in a relationship, and any evidence to the contrary will be dismissed as proof that you're lying to yourself in order to cope with your misery and loneliness.
- Two and a Half Men: Charlie is in his forties and has never been married. Despite his player lifestyle, which isn't always portrayed in a positive light (making him a sexually active target as well), many people, himself included, suspect he is a latent homosexual. He and Alan (who is divorced) are often mistaken for a gay couple by those who don't know them well.
Single Mothers (not to be confused with widows and divorced mothers)
While they tend to be sympathetically portrayed in individual works of media, they are often ridiculed in the abstract, especially in the political concept of the "welfare queen" who keeps having children she has no interest in raising so that she can live off of taxpayer dollars. And in fact, extra dependents doesn't get you much more from welfare. Not enough to cover the extra cost, at least.
They have been steadily becoming Unacceptable Targets as of late thanks to the strong association with racist stereotypes (particularly in the 2012 US presidential election), as "welfare queen" is more or less treated as code for "NIGGERS", which goes over about as well as one would expect among most people.
Tropes like Bumbling Dad perpetuate the idea that a man needs a woman by his side in order to be a good parent, and men who choose to be single fathers (i.e. via adoption or a surrogate) don't exist. Single fathers may also be depicted as Child Haters, Abusive Parents or pedophiles (especially if the children are adopted), because why else would a man want to be around children without a wife by his side unless he was stuck with them or wanted to molest them? Certainly not because he likes children in a non-sexual way and genuinely wants to raise them.
Men become Casanova Wannabes with Dodgy Toupees and Midlife Crisis Cars. Either perpetually single, or have somehow landed a much younger Brainless Beauty, who is probably what broke up the marriage in the first place. May be the reason why he is either unwilling or not allowed to see the kids on a regular basis.
Women are angry, bitter Jerkass Old Maids or Type B Evil Matriarchs in training who got everything in the Divorce Assets Conflict after her Toilet Seat Divorce. Unless, of course, she's Stacy's Mom.
- Two and a Half Men: Alan's ex-wife, Judith, is portrayed as a lazy, money-grubbing misandrist whose favorite hobby is making his life a living hell. She has lightened up on him in recent seasons, but only because she remarried and her second husband, Herb, is now the target for most of her abuse (he has left her several times over it, but always goes back). His second ex, Kandi, isn't portrayed in a much better light, but in her case she's far too dumb to be mean.
People who marry a divorcee
If your new spouse is particularly successful, you'll get called a Gold Digger. And if said spouse has children from a previous marriage, then you're automatically a Child Hater. The ball really got started rolling with The Parent Trap, Disney's original version, in which the "Vicki" character combined both attributes and was treated as the film's Butt-Monkey as a result. At least nowadays, the "Vicki" is as likely as not to be male as well as female.
If someone chooses to date outside their race, they're very likely to be labelled as a self-hater, defying evolution, etc.
Black/white couples are subject to this a lot, since the black half is accused of "wanting to be white" while the white half is accused of being a "wigger". A white woman who dates a black man will be frequently asked if Black Is Bigger in Bed. A white man who dates a black woman will be accused of either having a fetish or being a submissive pussy, due to the stereotype of black women having domineering, masculine personalities.
Non-Asian females who are attracted to Asian males are accused of "liking small guys" due to the stereotype that Asian males are lacking in the, err, size department, as well as accused of being "weeaboos". Non-Asian guys who date Asian women can also get accused of having a fetish, or of being misogynistic losers who can't handle women of their own race and want to be worshipped by an Asian woman.
In certain cultures, children can actually get cut out of the family for dating outside their race and mixed race children are likely to be shunned and mistreated by relatives and peers of either race.
While it might be a little more acceptable, interracial friendships also sometimes get this treatment. Some people really can't understand why anyone would willingly socialize with someone outside their race.
If you're in a relationship with someone who is more than five years older/younger than younote , expect to have fingers pointed at you by damn near everyone you come across. The younger partner will be accused of being a Gold Digger and/or having daddy/mommy issues. The older partner will be seen as an immature, looks-obsessed person who needs to grow up and be with someone their own age. Age gap romances rarely last in fiction, and if they do last, they tend to not be healthy ones.
- Legally Blonde: Brooke Windham, a good-looking younger blonde who's on trial for supposedly murdering her husband, a seventy-year-old millionaire. Callahan insinuates that Brooke must be a Gold Digger who killed her husband for his money. However, Brooke is a celebrity fitness guru so she's got her own money, and she insists that he had...other assets of more interest. Moves into Deconstructed Trope as Brooke worked hard to stay married to her husband (including getting liposuction even though it would discredit her in the fitness community), who had a history of marrying and divorcing on a whim. In the novel he had six ex-wives, but he really loved Brooke who genuinely returned his feelings. He even tried to stay in shape for her. It is Elle who insists that people who marry for money always end up earning it through hard work.
- Two and a Half Men:
- Charlie and Alan, both in their forties, have had several relationships with women who are almost young enough to be their daughters. It's particularly hypocritical on Alan's part, since he often chastises Charlie for dating women younger than him, and Alan gets involved with 22-year-old Brainless Beauty Kandi, one of Charlie's exes, and not only ends up marrying her, but she takes advantage of him, then divorces him once he can't give her any more.
- Played with in one episode with Evelyn, who dates Charlie's "friend" Bill, who, unbeknownst to Evelyn, is a trans-man that used to date Charlie before his transition. Evelyn thinks Charlie's objections are due to the age difference. She soon finds out the truth from Bill and is okay with it, despite fainting upon finding out that he used to sleep with Charlie.
- In the later seasons, Jake ended up having a relationship with a woman old enough to be his mom.
Adults who choose not to have children are sometimes accused of being selfish, lazy, or Child Haters. Also, some religious types will claim that the childfree are "rebelling against God" by choosing not to procreate. Often childfree people are shown to abruptly change their minds once they have a small amount of contact with a child, suggesting that their stance was misguided or based on ignorance.
Then you have the people who look at things from a purely biological standpoint as they contemptuously explain to you that the sole purpose of all life is to reproduce and pass on its genes, and if you're not doing the one single thing that you were "naturally" placed on the planet to do, then you are a complete failure no matter your other achievements. Not only is it insulting, but it's wrong by the arguer's own flawed logic. If no interest in reproduction means a being is biologically defective, then why would they want that being to pass along that fault? The people in question may also have a disease that is contagious or prevents them from having children (AIDS, forms of cancer, STDs) which would also qualify them as "defective" in that sense.
They are often the same people who believe that introverts, asexuals, and the like don't really exist, and may believe that once someone has kids, they will be "cured" of their "delusions" about not wanting kids, much like introverts and asexuals can be "cured" by experiencing social interaction and sex respectively. Others seem to believe that whether or not you desire to have children is irrelevant; i.e. "you have a duty to breed and continue the human race whether you like it or not, it's the entire reason you exist, so deal with it and get baby-making". The more extreme ones simply want the "defectives" to be rounded up and killed outright, so that they "stop wasting resources" that people who are having children could be using instead.
This gets worse if a childfree person or couple has a pet or more than one pet. The assumption becomes that they're upset about their inability to have children (or inability to find someone willing to give them one) and the pet(s) is the replacement.
- In an episode of Two and a Half Men, Charlie Harper, the last person on Earth who should even think about raising a child, decides against a vasectomy because he spent enough time around his nephew. Though to be fair, it sounds less like a total conversion and more like his being open to the idea after being staunchly opposed to it.
- An episode of The Simpsons has the childless form an activist group ("The children are our future. Today belongs to me.") that try to remove all child-friendly things in town. They are defeated when the children give them hugs, and succumb to the common germs carried by kids, in a nod to The War of the Worlds. Actually a fairly even-handed portrayal - while the childless certainly go too far, the episode also gives them ample reason to be sick of everything always having to be child-friendly.
Cheaper by the Dozen aside, most media depicts those who have a large number of children as either religiously fanatical, selfishly having kids for the personal attention, poor and doing it to mooch off public benefits, unable to control the instinct to breed, or too stupid to realize that sex is what makes babies. There seems to be a very narrow area of the ideal number of children for a family, with most TV families having three children at most and any with more than that likely fall under this target.
- The setting Backstory of Idiocracy is dependent on the "lots of kids" scenario.
- As well as the "No kids" scenario, since the story went that the uneducated were having lots, and the well-educated were having few (if any).
- The Duggar family is an extreme instance of the "too many kids" situation, as shown on their reality show 19 Kids and Counting. Though this could be seen as a subversion, because the show does not judge their lifestyle choices, and rather serves as a documentary of the positives and negatives of such a large family.
- The case of "Octo-Mom". At first it was a bit like the septuplets in terms of media coverage. Then it came out that she already had 6 kids (all via in-vitro fertilization) and was simultaneously drawing Welfare payments. Eep.
Couples Who Use Surrogates
Originally depicted as being too snobbish to adopt an orphan and want a child that carries their genes and hasn't lost several years of cuteness. Men who opt for surrogates are assumed to be pedophiles who just don't want to have sex with an adult woman. Women who use surrogates are considered attention whores who don't want to risk losing their figure for a status symbol. Since surrogacy is a costly procedure, most couples are assumed to be rich hedonists who want to own a human life.
Especially owners of multiple/exotic or creepy pets. Having a dog or a cat is okay, but if you own multiple ones people tend to consider you a Crazy Cat Lady in the making. If you own spiders/snakes you are automatically anti-social.
And God help you if you happen to have no long-term romantic partner and/or children, because everyone will assume that your pets are replacements for the human relations you don't have. Double this if you give your pets human names, quadruple if you anthopomorphize them public (insist on using gendered pronouns, talk about their personality traits: he doesn't like the color blue, she is always grumpy in the morning, etc.) and octuple it if you dress them up, create profiles for them on social media and throw parties for them. If you are a vocal animal rights supporter, you are basically either a furry or a zoophile who openly prefers the company of animals to people.
- King of the Hill: According to Hank Hill, anyone who owns a pet that isn't a dog is considered a freak no matter (or weirdly enough often because of) how much they love it. Not even cats are exempt from this.
Parents who don't spank their children
On the topic of parenting, parents who don't punish their children through means of Corporal Punishment are seen as too soft, ineffectual, and bad-intentioned and strongly believe that not disciplining them in this manner will easily turn them into being lazy, entitled Spoiled Brats or drug-dealing, sociopathic criminals. To these parents' defense, there are other ways to discipline children without the use of corporal punishment and believe that spanking will have negative effects on children such as low self-esteem issues, resentful feelings towards their parents, the tendency to rebel even further, and may even turn them into Abusive Parents when they have kids of their own. They also believe that spanking children gives the impression that fear and violence solves all your problems in life. This is likely why this more or less falls under Once Acceptable Targets as of the 2010s. Due to Society Marches On, corporal punishment is frowned upon in many places in the West and parents who still spank their kids are looked at as low-class, barbaric child abusers. However, parents are still expected to provide some form of discipline to their children when they misbehave (i.e. grounding), or else they still fall under this target.
- An episode of Reba titled, "Parents With Puppets" deals with Reba confronting Barbra Jean over her refusal to properly punish Henry, stating that because her father spanked, she did everything he told her and became a better person for it. Barbra Jean counters that her father's treatment is probably why Reba is so quick-tempered and violent. Despite being seemingly pro-spanking, Reba actually doesn't spank her kids, but does ground them.
- An earlier episode of King of the Hill called "To Spank With Love" deals with Peggy getting fired from her substitute teaching job for losing her temper and spanking a boy who had been hazing her. Thanks to Cotton Hill, Peggy is reinstated and "Paddlin'" Peggy Hill becomes feared by her students. She becomes horrified at what she has become and decides she'd rather go back to her old ways of teaching.
- In fact, this show as a whole is aversion to the "spanking" target. Despite being set in Texas, most of the main characters are shown to disapprove of Corporal Punishment.
People who are estranged from their parents
Crossing over with "People who hold grudges" in the Personal Outlooks folder. Family is the tightest bond of all, they will always be there for you when times are tough, even when friends get selfish and leave. Therefore, you owe them your Undying Loyalty in return. Or at least that's the message that most of us are taught growing up. The sad, yet obvious truth is that not all parents are fit to raise children. Some parents are abusive (be it physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually), unloving and unprepared to raise a child and it would be much healthier for the child to get as far away from them as possible. But society and Hollywood often disagree, and fictional characters who have bad or no relationship with their parents are often looked at as spoiled, selfish, ungrateful brats regardless of how abusive, narcissistic or unpleasant the parents are.
This is especially true if it's your mother you've cut off. Mothers are often automatically assumed to be good mothers unless shown otherwise because they are biologically gifted with the ability to produce children and thus have "maternal instincts". Fathers, on the other hand, have to work a lot harder to prove their worth as a parent. Child cuts ties with a drunken, deadbeat dad? Good for you to get away from that monster. Child cuts ties with a toxic, narcissistic mother? How could you do that to the person you owe your entire existence to? (Forgetting, once again, that it takes both a mother and father to produce a child.) They will also be pressured constantly into reconciling with the parents by everyone they're close to, even though doing so likely wouldn't change the dynamic of the relationship and might even be dangerous to their mental and physical health.
Children who don't live up to their parents' expectations
Parents always expect a lot from their children, and this isn't just good behavior, but it's also life choices, and children will most likely make choices that would go against their wishes. The life choices children make include choosing a career path they're interested in going, but their parents disapprove of, dating or marrying someone their parents don't like or even not wanting to marry at all, choosing to be childless despite their parents' desires for grandchildren, having different political and religious views, and being gay, bisexual or transgender. Whatever it is, children are branded as selfish and ungrateful for not living up to their parents' expectations and have made their parents ashamed of them.
It still seems acceptable to make fun of somebody if their preferred hobbies aren't "cool" enough. (Or too solitary: see Loners Are Freaks). Seems to be diminishing for "computer" nerds as of late. If you can make a video game people are impressed now, not repulsed. Everyone else with a "tech" hobby is still out of luck. This has to do with a social change. Before, everyone who had a computer knew how to program or at least had a programming book at home, and programs were too simplistic to be interesting for the public. As people who knew how to program for a computer became scarcer and programs became complex enough to manage public interests, more people feel the need to actively seek them out. Receiving even worse luck are people who are fond of anything Japan-related (that is, if they're not Japanese, or don't even look it). Which can be explained with World War II as in France it is considered pretty normal to be an otaku.
Anyone who is sufficiently passionate about their hobbies will be considered a sad individual who needs to go get laid, or at least get out and do some "normal" activity like clubbing. After all, it's not like people who can actually do those things would ever waste their time doing other things, right? Treating your hobby as anything more than an insignificant thing you only use to kill a few minutes of time every once in a while obviously means you've just given up on "having a life" and are desperately trying to fill the void.
Expect that in some cases the nerd will be depicted as an Insufferable Genius, a Small Name, Big Ego, or other similar forms of Jerk Ass, so that making fun of them is something they deserved. It's common for bullying to be laughed off by others with the idea being that, clearly, the nerd was asking for it. Which, sadly, is often the thinking and justification of a lot of bullies themselves; there are people who view bullying as some sort of public service. Basically, the thinking is that humans are social animals and it is our duty to conform to the social norms of our society (not realizing that social norms are ever changing and vary from place to place). Therefore, nerds, introverts, social outcasts, and other "weird" people deserve to be bullied just because they are weird, and bullying helps society by causing weirdos to shape up and be "normal". This view is mentioned in this strip from Cyanide & Happiness, although in this case it just seems to be a joke pointing out the hypocrisy of intolerance towards intolerant people.
- Every single one of Dan Schneider's TV shows have an example of this. In fact, it's possible to say he might have a real issue with nerds and geeks, or at least someone in his writing department does, because at times it comes off as mean spirited rather than merely comic relief. Most depictions of nerds draw humor from the fact that the extent of their nerdiness is amusing. With these shows, however, the comedy is usually derived from them being beaten and abused from he fact that, as they're nerds, it's funny to hurt them.
- Drake & Josh had, as well as Josh himself, Craig and Eric, two put upon losers who can't get girlfriends, have minor Small Name, Big Ego issues, and refuse to fight, all to show how pathetic they are because, well, they're not cool like Drake.
- Zoey 101 had Quinn, as a slightly friendlier example (she was weird and jokes about her weirdness was made, but outright calling her a loser or making fun of her was treated as a Moral Event Horizon for the main characters) and Chase who as well was a sympathetic character, but also had group of nerds who became reoccurring characters after first acting like jerks to the main characters. They were each depicted as a Insufferable Genius Straw Misogynist who were easily manipulated and tricked, and with little reason jumped to the conclusion that the world was ending. Quite jarringly, when the show featured a Jerk Jock (well, a Jerk Jock other than Logan), he eventually developed into a Lovable Libby, while the nerds remained unsympathetic losers.
- iCarly has main character Freddie, whose crush on Carly is constantly exploited, and is regularly bullied and beaten by Sam, usually for no reason at all, and each time it's Played for Laughs. He also regularly gets abused by Carly too, though to a lesser extent, though she never tries to hold Sam back, even when her abuse could potentially kill or maim Freddie. Then there's Nevel Pappermen, who's something of a computer genius, being smarter than Freddie despite being younger, but an enormous Jerkass whose petty hatred of the iCarly gang always leads to him being physically punished or shamed in some way. He may or may not also be gay, which leads to more Unfortunate Implications.
- Then there's the episode "iStart A Fan War" where Carly, Sam and Freddie attend a panel at a convention where they are hounded by their rabid fanbase, who are all depicted as lame, fat ass losers who engage in shipping wars and then break out into an actual fight and many jokes are made about how none of them have jobs or lives to get back to.
- Victorious has Robbie, who is almost constantly being injured, beaten, humiliated, bullied, robbed, or generally abused, often ending episode with him being left in a state that one would expect a Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist to end up with. Had Tori or one of the other characters end an episode the way he usually does, it would be a Downer Ending. With Robbie, it's Tuesday. Sinjin is a slightly lesser example, due to his smaller screentime, and the jokes with him are usually directed at the fact he's a very strange guy, but his nerdiness is likely a contributing factor in the abuse he suffers.
- This is a fairly common criticism leveled at The Big Bang Theory by those that think people are watching to laugh at the main characters, rather than with.
- Mike from Something*Positive is your archetypal picked-on nerd, despite growing in personality throughout the comic and raising a family. Nowadays he's depicted as getting way too excited about geeky things while ignoring day-to-day things like changing his ugly kid.
- On Freakazoid!, a villain kidnaps all the nerds in the world and plans on stealing their essences to become a super genius, his plan is foiled when the title hero explains to him the downsides.
- Nerds are targeted quite a few times in SpongeBob SquarePants as seen with the comic collectors in "No Weenies Allowed", the Jelly-Spotters in "I'm Your Biggest Fanatic", the middle-aged, basement dwelling comic book collector in "Rule of Dumb" and many more. Given that SpongeBob and Patrick are also geeks who collect superhero comic books, this could be an example of self-deprecation on part of the writers, many of whom also have careers as comic artists/writers.
They pretty much face the same problems as nerds and virgins, since the three are often the same individual in TV land. At least in the Western world, wanting to stay home and read instead of going out every day means something is wrong with you or you hate people and wish you lived on an island. This can be especially terrible for teenagers, who are usually depicted in media as being loud and extroverted. While it's true that introversion or shyness (which are NOT the same thing, by the way) can be the result of some kind of trauma, this is not always the case. There are many people who simply need more time to themselves and willingly have few or no friends. Females have it a little easier than males here, as a man who spends a lot of time by himself will often be accused of having an unsavory reason to "hide" from the public, probably because he's a pervert or child molester.
Socializing is so important to most people that they use the term "life" to refer exclusively to one's social life. Anyone who does not partake in much social interaction will be mocked and ridiculed as having "no life" and called a loser. There also seems to be a very narrow definition of what counts as social interaction. Specifically, anything where the main objective is not to get drunk and laid does not count. A group of friends playing Magic: The Gathering in their basement lair? Nah, that's not socializing. That's just a bunch of fat, nerdy, no-life losers being no-life losers together. They Need to Get Laid.
Like the asexuality example, introverts are also thought to not really exist. Anyone who claims to prefer staying at home instead of going out and socializing, especially on the weekend, is obviously a socially inept loser with a bad case of sour grapes. It's impossible for them to actually be happy with an unsocial lifestyle, they're just lying to themselves and are actually depressed and lonely... and if they actually are happy, then they must be mentally ill because no sane person could ever enjoy not socializing. The worst part is that there are actual introverts who believe this, hate themselves for being introverts, and Just Want to Be Normal because they don't think they can be happy otherwise.
Aside from the above, there's also the situation where introverts may not want to stay at home and not socialize, but in part because of the cultural reinforcement, are never given any opportunity to do so (i.e. an overweight, balding male in his 40s who does not socialize with women because no one will ask him out on a date and he's either too shy or paranoid about his intentions being misunderstood to ask someone himself).
There's also the core belief that "humans are social animals" and socializing with others is crucial for an individual to function in society. Therefore, anyone who doesn't want to socialize and form friendships with others, either because they don't like being around people or they have no desire to socialize, will be negatively affected in the long run, either because there are most jobs that require a lot of socializing or that staying alone for too long will result in them losing their grip on reality. This implies that loners and introverts are strongly urged to exit their comfort zone and open up to people or else they won't have a very fun and exciting life.
Furries are so acceptable a target that other hardcore geeks mock them. In the geek hierarchy, they're always positioned at the bottom, commonly lampooned as erotic fetishists who are into bestiality, despite the latter being only a Vocal Minority, and the former an example of G.I.F.T. in action. In the aftermath of the chlorine gas attack on the 2014 Midwest Fur Fest convention, and the disturbing level of Comedic Sociopathy seen in MSNBC's response, however, furries seem to have been pretty shifted slightly slow toward the Once Acceptable Targets side of the line for many since.
- The Internet in general usually hates these people. They're portrayed as either like the aforementioned zoophiles, "degenerates" or waterdowned versions of a Manchild, even as some of these subcultures like Otaku (one of mainstream subcultures of the internet) have some of them doing the same thing.
- Some known subcultures who happen to have anthromorphic animals have either a moderate or extreme hatred of them.
- Bronies have developed a Hatedom in the early 2010s due to the stereotype that they're a Manchild watching a show that's meant for little girls.
- The Sonic fanbase does the same thing. Even they are mostly responsible for creating modern day furry stereotypes and unintentionally make some Sonic fans into furries.
Hippies tend to be unfailingly depicted in popular media as horrendously uncool, self-absorbed, lazy, smelly, insufferably self-righteous and possessing a philosophical outlook that falls somewhere between well-meaning obliviousness and outright dope-addled stupidity. There's also a gender Double Standard; Women who subscribe to this lifestyle can be charmingly naive, whereas men who don't favor violence or eating meat are treated much more harshly. As for musical tastes, expect them to favor nothing after the 1960's as well as trying (and failing) to play acoustic guitar.
- In the The Pursuit of Happyness the main antagonists are Hippie thieves who exist only to steal Will Smith's income, the bone-density scanners he sells. Capitalist fairytale, indeed.
- The finest example of the hippie as object of derision in popular culture is probably Neil from The Young Ones, a character who possesses most of the aforementioned stereotypical hippie traits and a host of others including but not limited to vegetarianism, strident if misguided activism ("vegetable rights and peace"), and disapproving upper-class parentage.
- Hippies are one of many unusual enemies in Kingdom of Loathing, and all of them are self-righteous, unhygienic vegan stoners. Considering that one of the game's creators is a self-professed hippy, this may double as Self-Deprecation.
- In some later Homestar Runner cartoons, Granola Girl Marzipan seems to have developed into a self-righteous Soapbox Sadie type of hippie.
- South Park, known for its libertarian views, frequently makes hippie characters the butt of jokes or satire. The show usually characterizes hippies as disheveled dropouts or ignorant college kids who really don't understand the issues that they claim to protest and are more interested in recreation than doing anything of value. They are the sworn enemy of Eric Cartman, who bashes them in comedic ways. In one episode, a hippie rock concert is treated as a natural disaster a la The Core.
- Both used and subverted by Futurama's late Waterfalls, a family of hippies who tend to wind up dead. While Waterfall Senior was an easy going, not very competent, over-the-top bleeding-heart conservationist-turned-penguin hunter, Waterfall Junior was an obnoxious, trouble-making, human-hating animal-freak, responsible for such weirdness as forcing vegetarianism on a very unhappy lion. Old Man Waterfall, on the other hand, is portrayed as a brave and noble champion of freedom, who lost practically every part of his body (and his spirit!) fighting for what he believes in. This is all juxtaposed, however, by the explanation for his dedication to freedom — his comically unpopular lifestyle. His last words: "I request a Satanic funeral!"
- One episode of Daria dealt with old friends of her parents who were still mentally stuck in the sixties. This trope was not exactly played straight as Daria also expressed some admiration for their ideals besides making fun of them. Meanwhile the aging hippies themselves had gotten fed up with their life style.
Generally regarded as a bunch of whiny poseurs who cry, write poetry, and cut themselves in order to seem unconventional or to attract attention while blowing even the mildest slights or issues completely out of proportion in order to feel Wangsty about them. Note that this applies to depressed people as well (thusly blending the emo with those who have mental disorders). As with most acceptable targets, there's a Double Standard at work here too. While old people (or the Jerkass main character in a popular webcomic) are often accepted for being angsty, world-weary and cynical, If you're under the age of 21 and object to any part of life (even if it's a valid or idealistic objection), you might as well brush your hair over one eye, start writing sappy poetry and threaten to commit suicide.
This trend peaked in the 2000s, when being sensitive was considered edgy and fashionable. With the backlash against Political Correctness in the 2010s, the emo crowd have been replaced by the Edge-Lords, who wish to be seen as edgy but not as sensitive.
- Sasuke of Naruto is often called "emo", even though he more often shows little emotion at all, and when he does it's usually anger. He does angst in his head plenty (and looks very much like the typical emo — except for the legwarmers on his wrists).
The Popular/Pretty People
If you're pretty or popular, you're assumed to be dumb, vapid, and shallow, peaked/are going to peak at high school, and have no real worth at all. And that's if you're not evil...
While for certain bullying is to be looked down on and actively discouraged wherever possible, it is not uncommon for the victims of bullying, both in fiction and in real life to "snap" and retaliate with severely excessive force, typically disproportionate to the actual bullying. All too often they are applauded for their actions because the bullies "had it coming", when in any other circumstance it would be condemned.
- Bullies and other "everyday" jerks on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic are depicted very unsympathetically compared to the more fantastic and threatening villains that appear in the show. Perhaps the greatest examples are Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, who were guilty of torturing the Cutie Mark Crusaders by, among other things, badmouthing Apple Bloom's grandmother, blackmailing them into writing slanderous gossip and mocking Scootaloo's implied disability of not being able to fly,(until their redemption in Season 5's "Crusaders of the Lost Mark"). There have been occasions where bullying has been shown to seriously mess somepony up; Fluttershy was teased at flight camp when she was a filly and the memories give her panic attacks even as a full-grown mare, and Babs Seed was severely bullied for her "blank flank" and drove her to (temporarily) become a bully that made the Crusaders' lives hell.
- Nelson from the The Simpsons is initially portrayed as a typical cartoon bully who makes life miserable for his classmates. He gets some characterization later on and Marge admits that Nelson is a lonely, awkward, misunderstood boy... but that he still should be shunned.
Victims of bullying
Just as the bullies, their victims don't really get any sympathy either; for they are often blamed for making themselves easy targets to bullying, either because of things like, say, not choosing to fight back because he/she doesn't like to fight or is nonviolent. Also, bullying victims are seen as big wussies who are always playing the victim and need to grow a set and fight back. And when they do fight back, they'll end up being labeled as the bad guy especially if they were being bullied for falling into some other Acceptable Target category in the first place.
Part and parcel of the above is a growing motion that people shouldn't be weak and just stand up for themselves; failing badly to realize why many really can't fight back against their bullies such as physical strength/fighting skill, numbers, even connections. Surprisingly enough, bully retribution ends up being quite harmful to both parties; as the one seeking revenge lands him/herself into hotter trouble by both superiors (children who seek personal revenge are often committing similar violent acts against bullies end up facing consequences), or by the bully him/herself. Sadly Adults Are Useless are in full effect here, as many in charge of dealing with bullies can't do anything much either usually because of legal stipulation or that they can't administer any stricter punishment than what they are legally allowed to do, which the bully shrugs off and resumes. It sort of becomes a vicious cycle in which the bullying may get worse even if they do choose to fight back, leaving many to realize that there would be no point in fighting back, even when they should. In turn, this causes severe apathy and just lets the bullying continue.
Many schools also take a "zero tolerance" stance to violence in any and all circumstances, leading to victims of bullying facing an equal amount of punishment if they fight back even briefly in self-defense. While such policies are usually in place because it can be difficult to discern who initiated the violence, they still are acted upon even if the aggressor is obvious. The fact that the bullies tend to get away with their assaults so long as nobody fights back just makes things worse (not to mention more confusing). This also tends to send the message to the victims that "shame on you, your health and life aren't worth enough for you to protect yourself," making them feel even more persecuted and isolated.
Related to "people who hold grudges" from the Personal Outlooks folder, there are some bullied victims who are heavily stigmatized by society for actually getting revenge on their bullies. Their belief is that they're following the bullies' example and they will end up being bullies themselves. There are many shows, especially in children's shows, that address the topic of bullying, and characters who choose to get back at them will learn that "two wrongs don't make a right", and they're in the wrong for giving the bullies A Taste of Their Own Medicine.
- The aptly titled SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Bully" deals with SpongeBob being threatened with violence by a new student at his boating school named Flatts the Flounder. SpongeBob first asks Patrick for help, but it does no good since Flatts is an old community college buddy of Patrick's. He then goes to Mrs. Puff and while she promises to resolve the situation, she just makes it worse (Flatts told her that "kicking someone's butt" is an expression meaning he wants to be friends and maybe play sports on the weekends), he then goes to Flatts' dad, but Flatts' dad is a Pushover Parent who's also being bullied by his son. Flatts then chases after SpongeBob and ends up hospitalized after wrecking the garbage truck he was driving. Despite being touched that SpongeBob revived him, he still wants to kick his butt! Left with no choice but to accept the beating, SpongeBob turns out to be immune to Flatts' punches and Flatts continues to pound on him for days until he faints with exhaustion in the classroom. Mrs. Puff walks in and, thinking SpongeBob beat him up, is angry at SpongeBob and threatens to kick his butt! This episode seems to be pointing out how useless teachers are at dealing with bullies as well as how bullying victims are punished more harshly than the bullies themselves when they do fight back, but the bullying in this episode was still Played for Laughs and many found it far too realistic to be funny.
Ready for mourning at any time of day? Think cemeteries are a great place to hang out? Listen to depressing music? Well then, clearly you must be either preparing to shoot someone else or meticulously planning your own suicide. And you're probably still in high school. Negative attitudes towards goths became particularly apparent in the light of school shootings such as Columbine. While those incidents often lead to public cries to teach students to tolerate each other and stop bullying, at the same time they ostracize and demonize goths as people to be avoided as you never know if you might accidentally set one off.
Another popular stereotype is that they are angsty, gloomy teens (as seen above). In reality, goths are often cheerful people who happen to like wearing a lot of black clothing and cosmetics. Even depressing music and a fascination with death don't necessarily point to them being downers at all times as humans are complex individuals who experience a whole range of emotions.
- The Goth kids in South Park are, as with everything South Park, over-the-top parodies of Goth stereotypes.
Hipsters (please note that this type is not to be confused with hippies; the two terms were once synonyms)
A nebulously-deployed yet relatively specific category of cool person (or aspiring cool person), typically denoted by a constantly-shifting taste in fashion (trucker hats, white belts, skinny jeans), musical taste (indie rock, dance-punk, Garage Rock revival) and cultural interests (embrace of irony and postmodernism, being seen at cool parties). Sure, that attitude was all well and good when Quentin Tarantino was the new hot thing, but somewhere between Pulp Fiction and the rise of "metrosexuality," hipsters became associated with snobbery, gentrification (see: the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn), superficiality, self-absorption and inauthenticity, and it is now common, almost reflexive internet parlance to attach the word "douchebag" after mention of the word "hipster". The main complaint seems to be that hipsters are simply an advanced level of poseur, re-appropriating the style and cultural trappings of a culture or counterculture they didn't get in on the ground floor of — and they're spending lots of money to do it half-assedly. Most confounding of all, unlike just about every other lifestyle target mentioned on this page, almost nobody actually admits to being a hipster, therefore making them one of the most acceptable targets of all: the self-hating and/or in-denial Acceptable Lifestyle Target.
- More Information Than You Require defines hipsters as jocks who want to be nerds but won't admit it, and hilariously makes fun of the "...'ironic,' 'joke'" t-shirt, sarcastic jeans, cynical tube socks, derisive sneakers, and a morose belt."
- In this The Colbert Report sketch:
Hipster: [wearing a shirt that says '"Vote" McCain'] Hey Stephen, I'm a hipster, and I can't remember if I bought this shirt ironically because I actually hate McCain, or if I in fact support John McCain, or if maybe this is a band that I'm into...
Stephen: You actually support John McCain. Yes he voted with George Bush over 90% of the time, but he did it ironically.
- Nathan Barley was an out-and-out attack on London's "new media" hipsters of the early and mid 2000s who were portrayed as shallow, stupid, gadget-obsessed and sexually amoral. Ironically, it's been claimed that the show's biggest fans were the very people it was parodying.
- In Community, Britta Perry and Jeff Winger share this category.
- Counterculture magazine Adbusters published an article referring to hipsters as "The Dead End of Western Civilization".
- Grand Theft Auto V mocks them post-ironically to the point that even Trevor Philips doesn't want to associate with them at all (at the expense of Michael joking about him being Not So Different from them). They're essentially shown as rude, self-righteous, Jerkass millennials who are overly concerned about things like organic foods, their first-world struggles and their screenplays. In addition, Trevor has a unique batch of insults towards them, and characters will greet them with terms like "she-hipster" in a mocking tone.
- Hipsters are also Trevor's last Rampage target, although it's more to do with the fact that the hipster mocks Trevor's parental issues and then his Canadian heritage. The hipster also being a jerk may also count.
- The website Stuff White People Like focuses primarily on hipster-type interests (Whole Foods; Michel Gondry, Sarah Silverman), and discusses the reasons white people like these things with thinly-veiled condescension. Although it was written by a white guy and a half-white half-Asian guy.
- So if white people are ridiculed for liking "world" (read: non-white) music, they are mocked. But if they like stereotypically white music (polka, for instance), they are mocked too. What are they supposed to like, if anything?
- Diesel Sweeties has Indie Rock Pete, a poseur obsessed with the idea of maintaining a facade of indie cred who rejects bands when they become successful.
- This Nothing Nice to Say comic.
- On King of the Hill, Hank and Peggy have to save a co-worker's neighborhood from being taken over by hipster.
- If a hipster gets into politics, then that adds another level of mockery; along with charges of snobbery and superficiality come charges of ill-informed unearned self-righteousness. For example, when high-end British boutique designer Anya Hindmarch debuted reusable shopping bags with "I Am Not A Plastic Bag" printed on them in 2007, many satirists often sardonically extended this to such qualifiers as "No, you're a pretentious twat" in derision of the kind of people it was perceived would buy them (particularly considering that most shops sold similar reusable shopping bags at a much cheaper price without the condescending self-righteousness). Then one ethical choice crashed into another, as the bags turned out to be made on the cheap in unknowable circumstances in the Far East.
- Liking any band/show/movie outside the mainstream can often be perceived as pretentious affectation, particularly if said affection is also coupled (as it often can be) with an excessive disdain for anything "popular".
Thanks to incredibly stingy radio play, the average person has only a ridiculous straw-man image of what heavy metal music is, or at least doesn't understand the purpose behind most of the tropes of the genre. It's derided as just random noise, and is considered by a large amount of people who've never listened to it as "not real music", largely thanks to the use of "death growl vocals". As such, metalheads themselves are ridiculed by showing devotion to this genre. The musicians are treated as social outcasts at best (admittedly a contingent of the genre's fanbase doesn't help this image) and of having low intelligence (strange, considering the abnormally high compositional and instrumental ability requirement) and incredibly lowbrow views on culture and life in general.
Even within the genre and its fanbase, there's the highbrow, elitist Jerkass archetype, who takes great pride in applying arbitrary standards to their genre of choice and look down on anything outside of their tiny sphere of what constitutes legitimate musical art (which usually includes death, black, doom, early thrash (e.g. pre-Justice Metallica, pre-Countdown Megadeth, pre-White Noise Anthrax), traditional Heavy Metal such as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, some Classical Music and little else) and especially anyone who dares enjoy it. Bonus points if they use the term "true metal" in any remotely earnest context.
The gentler clichés get attached to the "hair metal" crowd, whose members are often treated basically as hippies: kooky, lazy, mildly rebellious, drug-addled, and/or speaking in a Southern California accent (perhaps because Van Halen, who kicked off the movement in the late Seventies, were from Los Angeles).
While seeming to have run out of steam as of late, there was a serious movement in the 80's and early 90's that thought all metal — even particularly sexually explicit but otherwise harmless hair metal — to be associated with Satanism, violence and that it encouraged teen suicides. This lead to the popular image of the "death metal" freak, who gets slapped with the same stigma associated with Goths: mean, violent, creepy, not "all there" psychologically and probably meticulously planning somebody's imminent death.
While there are some male metalheads who are thrilled to pieces to find a girl who shares their tastes, there are others who refuse to take them seriously or resent that they are "intruding on a male's domain". They also often get stereotyped as not being conventionally attractive — whilst "pop chicks", at least, have a certain feminine physical attractiveness. In The '80s, when the female metalhead subtrope first appeared, they were depicted as very feminine: poofy-haired, wearing bright neon colors, flirtatious, etc. They were in some ways an updating of the "greaser girls" of The '50s: mildly rebellious and rambunctious, but leaving the really nasty stuff to the guys. At its lowest, they're shown as vapid airheads who only like metal musicians because they are "cute", only listen to heavy metal in order to appease a boyfriend, or at worst, are sluts who will give blow jobs to anyone who can get them backstage to meet their heroes. And finally, there's the claim that female fans are actively supporting misogyny as the genre (due to the lyrics and imagery) is seen by some as inherently anti-woman. (Never mind that certain hip-hop artists are much more notorious for being openly misogynistic). Women who hold more traditional views of gender norms tend to view female metalheads as being socially aberrant (same as if she didn't like shoes or clothes shopping).
If you're a crust punk, you're a spoiled rich kid who heard a couple Crass and Doom songs, donned a patch jacket, black cargo shorts, combat boots, and a Man Is the Bastard shirt, grew white boy dreadlocks, and made it your life's mission to be as filthy and repulsive as possible while also being a preachy, sanctimonious, condescending asshole who flirts with homelessness and vagrancy until they get sick of panhandling for cigarettes and forties of Steel Reserve and retreat to the comfort of their sizeable trust funds. While anyone who is into crust, grindcore, or powerviolence will tell you that there are definitely people who fit this stereotype to a T, there are also just as many who like the music and the scene but who want absolutely nothing to do with the lifestyle.
Well look here at the fruity looking people, saying words I don't like. Words I do not know, but I know I do not like them. We don't take kindly to you people around here." Even the mere fact they are a farmer or laborer will get them mocked because they work for a living, looked down on and talked down to for doing unskilled jobs. They would be a target for destroying the environment for the sheer thrill of hurting Mother Nature, whether or not it is true. Their portrayal in media commonly makes them uneducated, simple, ignorant, backwards thinking, hillbillies. Typically, they will be far right wing Christian gun nuts, Deep South, hate the government, and hate the outlawing of slavery.
- Rednecks are a favorite acceptable target on TruTv's World's Dumbest....
People who play video games
Video games are a socially adored activity by children, teenagers, and young adults in modern culture, but they're also frowned upon in traditional and conservative cultures. Kids and teen gamers are discouraged for being too addicted to video games and are strongly urged to read some books or go outside and play some sports, which can be a good thing for them, especially if education is involved. As for adult gamers, they're seen as Manchildren who should put down the controllers and focus on their education, apply for jobs, and find a woman to marry and have children with. (Because female gamers apparently don't exist). And that isn't getting into the old—and long since disproven—stereotype of video games causing people who play them to become murderous psychopaths.
Suicide is a big hot-button subject and people who are contemplating suicide for whatever reason, whether depression, a terminal disease, heavy bullying, or they're just simply tired of life in general, are reviled by society who labels them as selfish for leaving their families, friends, and even society behind and cowardly for "giving up on life", or, according to most religions, are wrong for taking their own lives when the deity of a religion is the only one who can decide when and how you die (and not to mention they are believed to end up in an unpleasant afterlife as punishment for killing themselves). What makes the stigma against suicide worse is that some people will bash those who have already committed suicide for all of the justifications already mentioned, although there are some exceptions.
People who complain about Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day is well-liked by a lot of couples, and those who are single aren't going to be happy about it and even outright dislike the holiday. This never stops society from having delight in mocking those who mope about Valentine's Day, and telling them to stop complaining and find a date so they'll stop being annoyed with them.
While just being on the road makes you a target for the wrath of anyone driving at a different speed, the car you're in can make it much worse. Especially true for SUV drivers and those with electric/hybrid vehicles who are both seen as incredibly arrogant for different reasons. The SUV driver will get it for consuming far more than what's seen as their "fair share" of the world's resources and rubbing their ability to pay the fuel costs in everyone's face while the hybrid driver is accused of being a conceited leftist environmentalist, turning the mere act of driving somewhere into a political movement. And may God help you if you drive a BMW, because that automatically brands you as a Jerkass, likely in addition to any of the above features.
Too environmentally conscious to drive, too smug to walk. Cyclists gain a lot of hate from both drivers and pedestrians. They're too slow for drivers, too fast for pedestrians and never stay near the edge of the road or footpath, preferring to take up as much space as possible.
Professional bicyclists are often seen as elitist for insisting on driving on car lanes due to bike lanes being too inadequate for them (either because they consider themselves to be equal to cars and motorcycles or because bike lanes are too narrow/have too many pedestrians/etc) and because they're seen as looking down on people riding non-racing bikes.
People who are inexperienced at driving can never get any sympathy at all. Commonly, they'll be seen as know-it-all idiots or just assholes who have no respect for other drivers. The dislike for bad drivers stems from the fact inexperienced drivers have a high chance of causing accidents. Even when they're not, they'll be more than eager to point out how poorly others drive and whatever unfortunate happens to them on the road will be seen as well-deserved karma for them.
A series long running gag in SpongeBob SquarePants is SpongeBob's inability to get his driver's license because he drives like a maniac (which is because he gets extremely nervous behind the wheel). He has failed the test millions of times and the few times he does pass, something seems to come along at the last minute to screw it up for him.
- Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei is a satirical survey of all the lifestyles of Japanese culture. It even takes pokes at people "too normal" to have an identifiable lifestyle.
- Welcome to the N.H.K. focuses on a socially withdrawn NEET protagonist but examines the wide variations of the lifestyle, with many overlaps with Geek culture.
- The Dutch show which is known as Het Huis Anubis subverts lots of those stereotypes.
- The geek of the show is Fabian, who despite being a nerd is one of the more social characters of the show. It is also the main character's love interest and is also shown as being heroic.
- This got lampshaded in the show. Once Amber said that Nienke (the main character) would not be in love with her because he is a nerd, which was something Fabian noticed. After acting how the nerd was usually stereotyped she immediately regretted what she said.
- The sport jock of the show is Mick, who is well-known for having a very active social life and organizing lots of events. A dumbass probably would not be able to do this.
- The geek of the show is Fabian, who despite being a nerd is one of the more social characters of the show. It is also the main character's love interest and is also shown as being heroic.
- A large number of these categories could be wrapped up under the "Millenial" label. A huge shift in spending priorities in the Millenial generation brought about by economic, technological and ideological factors has led to a lot of industries having to adapt or die, and thus has led to a ton of clickbait-y "How Millenials Are Killing X"-style news articles.