Follow TV Tropes

This is based on opinion. Please don't list it on a work's trope example list.


Fair for Its Day

Go To

"Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?"
Shylock, The Merchant of Venice, in what seems to be a radical statement for William Shakespeare's day (as opposed to being, as is now clear, pretty self-evident)

This trope concerns itself with things from the past that seem like a huge load of Values Dissonance. They may be laden with, say, a Rose-Tinted Narrative or a Historical Hero or Villain Upgrade.

Only... it turns out it was comparatively Fair for its Day. Maybe the Historical Hero Upgrade or Historical Villain Upgrade wasn't that unfair a reflection on the person's views. Maybe the Rose-Tinted Narrative just wasn't rose-tinted enough for its original audience. Maybe it was even ripped apart in its own time for being downright insurrectionist and was brave to go as far as it did.

This doesn't automatically make the work immune to criticism: something less dissonant than its contemporaries can still be pretty darn dissonant. Oftentimes, though, a little research will show that something cringe-worthy or laughable today is also something worthy of applause for what it stood for, and the context can be important in interpreting the work at large. Authors often work under a system of rigid censorship that decrees even mild criticism of the status quo to be going too far, even in enlightened democracies. Attempting to argue for modern values would have really been pushing your luck. (In other words, here Failure Was the Only Option.) A work that's only a little culturally subversive is more likely to escape censorship and earn public acclaim than one that goes all the way, thus ensuring its relevance - or at least survival - into the present day. (For an ironic counterpoint, consider Crosses the Line Twice, which is when one has to go all the way to get away with being offensive.)

Please remember that this trope does not mean "surprisingly enlightened for its time period." It means "more enlightened for its time period", which is not necessarily the same thing. If a vintage work has a message that comfortably fits modern audiences, that's Values Resonance. To qualify for Fair For Its Day, a vintage work must have negative cultural traits as well as positive ones.

Contrast Rule-Abiding Rebel. Innocent Bigot and Racist Grandma are related tropes. Executive Meddling and Lowest Common Denominator may also play roles if unprejudiced creators are forced to pander to widespread prejudices among the public. The same principle applied to innovation in fictional works is Once Original, Now Common. Ironically, a clear counterpart to You Are a Credit to Your Race, the utterance of which was fair for its day.

Examples more recent than 15 years ago are not allowed.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • Levy's "you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy Levy's bread" campaign may seem a bit cringe-worthy today, but back in the early 1960s, it was rare for non-WASPS in the media, including wide-reaching ad campaigns like this one, to not be featured as a racist caricature, however subtle. Jews got a bit more of a break because there were so many writers, producers, directors, and other highly-placed show business creators who are Jewish.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Often noted in the case of Osamu Tezuka given that, while the content of some of his work is offensive by modern standards, he was actually a very enlightened writer for his time and would likely appreciate the more open-minded nature of today's society. A good example would be Princess Knight. While the work can come across as incredibly sexist by modern standards (among other things, having it that women are naturally timid, unsuited for fighting, and enamored of pretty things like dresses), it still has a heroine who fights for her happy ending and becomes strong and brave enough to defend herself. Furthermore, while the series shows women as naturally being frail, it also showed that they can grow to be strong and most of the women were also shown as being naturally brave, compassionate, and intelligent. Friebe and Hecate are shown as being good people while ignoring gender norms and engaging in unladylike behavior (and are shown to be very good at it). Meanwhile, the villain takes advantage of the kingdom's sexist laws to further his own goals, while the heroes agree that the rules limiting the rights of women are misogynistic and outdated. When the women of the kingdom finally revolt, while the whole thing is generally Played for Laughs, they do put up enough of a fight to worry the Duke, and Plastic granting women equal rights to men and letting Sapphire rule is shown as him being a true man and doing the right thing.
  • Berserk: Casca's character arc has been criticized in contemporary times for having her Stuffed in the Fridge by being violently raped to insanity and not returning for over 21 years in order to facilitate the traumas and development of the male main character. However, at the time, having a strong-willed gender non-conforming Amazonian Beauty with a nuanced personality serve as one of the main protagonists of a series and be able to rival the two male main characters in competence was unprecedented in most Seinen manga, which often exclusively relegated women to the role of victims or walking Fanservice vehicles.
  • Lots of people complain about Honey Kisaragi from Cutey Honey being a huge Ms. Fanservice, but she was and still is a very brave Action Girl; one created in The '70s, too, who became iconic enough to inspire the anime action girls and magical girls that would follow.
  • Cyborg 009 was written in the 60s and it shows - the characters tend to be portrayed rather stereotypically, with 005 and 008's designs aging very badly (008 in particular, who has a blackface design). The manga, however, was one of the earliest portrayals of a multi-cultural superhero team. All of the characters are likable, no matter which country they were from. They quickly grow to be True Companions and have respect for each other's cultures. And while the portrayal of the native characters didn't age very well, the stories still draw attention to how Native Americans and the people of Africa suffer from social injustices and should have their way of life respected. In the Vietnam War arc (not present in the anime), the people of Vietnam are shown as being simple farmers who have no desire for war and are miserable. Additionally, Francoise/003 gets criticism for being The Load and not having offensive powers, but she still was shown as being brave, proactive, and able to use her super-senses to help the team during battle. She was also clearly displeased with Stay in the Kitchen jokes made at her expense and was willing to help the team despite being a pacifist and disliking fighting.
  • Destiny of the Shrine Maiden has a nonsensical plot rife with unfortunate implications about the main character falling in love with a Psycho Lesbian who raped her. But back when it was released, yuri anime almost universally gave its characters tragic endings or shied away from making their relationship explicitly romantic, whereas Destiny of the Shrine Maiden made it clear that its female main characters were in love with each other and gave them a happy ending together (of sorts). However, the rape and overall poor handling of its yuri relationship mean that it has not aged well at all.
  • Devilman: The part where Ryo/Satan claims to love Akira due to his female side doesn't age very well with today's audience due to the homophobic undertones. However, for a manga that came out in the 70s, the fact that the author let a man explicitly proclaim his love for another man, regardless of the reason, should be given some credits. It also helps that aside from that particular instance, the love Ryo has for Akira is played seriously in the manga and is the only thing that humanizes the otherwise evil Satan.
  • Dragon Ball
  • Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin has been called sexist by modern viewers because Cross is the only major female character and retires from the action late in the series due to becoming pregnant. That said, Cross is consistently depicted as an equal fighter to all the male dogs, and even when she became pregnant she pulled off some incredible things like swimming from one Japanese island to another. And in the manga? She kept fighting even while she was pregnant! As she's from the mid-1980s, she was one of the first action girls in Shonen Jump history!
  • GTO: The Early Years: Despite the casual homophobia and transphobia of the main characters (typical of the 90s), the arc where Eikichi's girlfriend Misato reveals that she's transgender is surprisingly progressive. Eikichi reacts with shock, but he doesn't reject her, and he waits for her at the train station — it's actually her who breaks up with him. Some fans are puzzled that such a storyline came from the same author who had the Unsettling Gender-Reveal gag of the Oni-Baku's neighbor not that long before this one.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency, from the late 1980s, has received some criticism from modern viewers for how one of the central protagonists, Lisa Lisa, doesn't get to do much and her skills are more of an Informed Ability. However, for the time period during which the manga ran, Lisa Lisa was actually too ambitious for Hirohiko Araki. Shonen Manga during the late '80s was very much driven by macho men protagonists like Fist of the North Star with very few female characters being present, and those that were there tended to be supporting characters. Lisa Lisa not only trained Joseph, she actively fought and was a huge threat to the Big Bad of the arc, enough to where the Big Bad Kars cheats his duel with her to knock her out, and it framed as the Darkest Hour of the arc. In fact, Araki admits he wishes he had gotten to do more with Lisa, as his publishers made him reduce her screentime to focus on Joseph to avoid any potential backlash Araki might get over it.
  • Gender-non-conforming characters always had a presence in One Piece, and especially in the earlier days, especially with the very infamous and unflattering Okama in the Kamabakka Kingdom, they were often drawn as caricatures and Played for Laughs - however, many of those characters proved themselves to also be very competent. For example: Bon Kurei, the first Okama seen in the manga, was a very deadly fighter enough to match Sanji blow-for-blow in their fight, and eventually ended up having an Heel–Face Turn and become an ally of the Straw Hats. Thanks to the Manga continuing into the modern day, representation of gender-non-conforming and LGBT characters would significantly improve, especially in the Wano arc with the introduction of canonical trans woman Kiku, drawn as a Statuesque Stunner with none of the Gonk-ish caricatures of Okama characters, and gender-non-conforming Yamato, who is born female but, since he considers himself the reincarnation of Kozuki Oden, also adopted Oden's gender. As if to affirm their identity even further, at one point the characters go into a gender-segregated bath house and Kiku goes in the women's side while Yamato goes to the men's side.
  • Ranma ½ has a... complex relationship with the LGBT community. There are a lot of casually transphobic and homophobic elements thrown around; Ranma's Sex Shifter status is often invoked as making him perverse, guys hitting on or trying to sexually molest Ranma in his female form is played for laughs, and lesbians are explicitly described as perverse at least twice. There's also the central gag that Akane is explicitly engaged to Ranma under the logic that since she Does Not Like Men (due to a recent campaign of sexual harrassment), she must obviously be a lesbian. However, the series also shows most people as simply not caring about Ranma's curse once it is explained to them and treating him normally, including always referring to him by his preferred pronouns regardless of his physical gender at the moment, Ranma and Akane receive no negative commentary for their perceived pseudo-lesbian relationship, and Ranma's desperate drive to be cured of Jusenkyo resonates with some transsexuals in regards to their struggle to achieve their true gender. The series has even developed a Misaimed Fandom that idolizes Jusenkyo as a form of wish fulfilment, and/or who champion Ranma as a transgirl — ironically, even though the canon is that Ranma despises turning into a girl and his greatest wish is to remain all male, permanently.
  • Urusei Yatsura, like Ranma ½, is not exactly friendly towards homosexuality; the idea that Ryunosuke Fujinami may be attracted to girls is seen as alarming, and Ryunosuke herself may be read as transphobic — she is also, hypocritically, very critical of the very tomboyish Benten and her unwanted Arranged Marriage partner Nagisa Shiowatari, who is her polar opposite in terms of gender confusion. On the other hand, Ryunosuke's struggles to embrace her womanhood and be perceived as a woman resonate with many transgirls, despite Ryunosuke's being biologically female.
    • In some ways, depictions of gender and sexuality in both Urusei Yatsura and Ranma ½ were arguably downright subversive for the time, not for the implication of non-normative sexuality but for the specific ways norms were parodied: Ryunosuke being forced to crossdress because her father thinks she's a boy (then attracting legions of schoolgirls despite them knowing she's a girl), Ranma getting engaged despite his Gender Bender status and paired with Akane for precisely this reason, the implied hypocrisy of some homophobic characters in both works, etc. These aren't things a modern audience would be likely to pay attention to, while the casual displays of homophobia would be much more noticeable.
  • YuYu Hakusho often is the target of criticism by modern viewers who watch it now instead of when it came out for some out of date views on things like homosexuality, transgenderism, and other more modern social topics, many of which are traits of the antagonists the heroes face and are often portrayed as weird or comical in nature. When the manga came out though, very few series were willing to even have these elements in their work because of more traditional views of Japan at the time and so the series seemed fairly ahead of its time by simply addressing their existence. Furthermore, the main villain of the Chapter Black arc, Sensui, was gay, but his sexuality was not portrayed as evil, wrong, or weird, but instead was a part of his character that was there, and he was a villain because his goals and beliefs were going to cause countless deaths. Part of this issue lies with the dub of the anime, as the dub came out during a time where these topics were seen as controversial and not allowed due to Moral Guardians at the time, so the dub had to downplay or alter these elements to avoid possible legal issues that could arise from having these elements.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is routinely criticized for its lack of depth in the romance. But when the film was made, it was an improvement over the original fairy tale, where the prince only comes in as a Deus ex Machina at the end. At least here the prince appears much earlier in the story and has some reason to look for Snow White. He was meant to have a larger role in the film (being tormented by the Queen) but the Disney animators weren't good at drawing a convincing human male yet.
    • Cinderella is often panned by people nowadays because people believe its title character is a passive and submissive heroine who does nothing except wait for a man to rescue her, and who didn't directly rebel against her stepfamily's abuses. However, this is mostly a misconception, and her character was considered progressive compared to her contemporaries. Cinderella didn't wait for people to rescue her to the degree most people commonly believe. Cinderella's patience and dreams are what gave her determination to fight for the happiness and freedom that her stepfamily denied her, taking advantage of opportunities to do so despite her stepfamily's wishes and openly expressing her contempt for them. Also, Cinderella never once mentions waiting or praying for a man or prince to come to rescue her. In fact, she doesn't know she's dancing with the Prince at the ball until told later. She also isn't nearly as passive as everyone thinks - on multiple occasions she attempts to speak up for herself, sasses back, and is interrupted from punishing the cat by a messenger at the door. Again, Cinderella makes the most of opportunities and takes risks to earn her happiness and freedom, including winning over the Prince, the only person that Cinderella has had a happy interaction with since her father died. To quote Walt Disney himself:
      Walt Disney: "She believed in dreams, all right, but she also believed in doing something about them. When Prince Charming didn't come along, she went over to the palace and got him."
    • Sleeping Beauty:
      • Sleeping Beauty has a rather flat love storyline between the prince and princess. They just meet in the forest and fall in love in a matter of seconds because they met "once upon a dream". But at the time, the previous two Disney Princesses (Snow White and Cinderella) had even less developed love interests — they functioned simply to marry the princess and whisk her away to a better life. Aurora meeting her prince and getting to talk to him properly was fairly progressive for Disney at the time. It was also the first time a Disney Prince functioned as an actual character — Philip (note: the first prince with a name) has to fight for his happy ending instead of just showing up at the end. Also worth noting is that Aurora doesn't just immediately swoon into the guy's arms. She makes arrangements to get to know him properly later — not in the forest, but her home with her 'aunts' present.
      • It can be argued that neither Aurora nor the prince is the main protagonist. That honor goes to the three good fairies who are portrayed as competent women and prove necessary help for the Prince. The antagonist is also female meaning that most of the film is driven by women which is rather feminist for the time.
    • The crows in Dumbo are often accused of acting like stereotypical black people, and their leader is even named Jim Crow in the script. But on the other hand, their antics portray them as being incredibly clever, and they prove to be some of the nicer characters in the film when they teach Dumbo how to fly. In fact, they are the only characters, other than his mother and Timothy, who treat Dumbo well. Also, most of them (except for their leader) were voiced by African American singers.
    • Aladdin was seen at a time when there wasn’t much Middle-Eastern representation in Western media and was praised for portraying them as regular people and not mindless barbarians. However, these days, it is scrutinized for taking a lot of liberties with a region that continues to be marginalized in many places to this day, and, outside of Aladdin and Jasmine, typically get portrayed as ugly people with stereotypical Middle-Eastern features and accents. The fact that all of the voice actors are white also adds issue.
    • The portrayal of the Native Americans in Peter Pan. Despite being very offensive ("What made the red man red?") by today's standards, in The '50s, it was actually one of the more positive portrayals of Native Americans, depicting them not only trouncing the Lost Boys in combat but also having Tiger Lily refusing to betray Peter's hideout. It's seen as an Old Shame by Disney, with contemporaries saying they would not have done it like that if they were making the movie today. However, part of this is due to the source material - which was even more offensive. Reasons like this are why other adaptations try to handle the "Natives" better. Peter and the Starcatchers replaces them with a fictional Polynesian tribe, the Mollusk tribe, who were former slaves of a group of English pirates (which also handily explains how they can communicate with the Lost Boys and why they hate the English).
    • Pocahontas: is also a good example. As pointed out here, despite the glaring inaccuracies and stereotyped Native characters, the central protagonist is still Pocahontas — who's a Native American female, voiced by Irene Bedard, a Native American actress. She also has personal motivations and life goals that don't involve getting married, and she doesn't end up as a Trophy Wife for the colonist John Smith. Considering the lack of representation Native Americans still suffer from in Western mainstream films — especially with the whitewashing controversy over Tiger Lily in Pan — that is saying something.
  • Heavy Metal, released in 1981, has the Taarna arc. While there is much criticism, especially today, for Taarna's insanely Stripperiffic outfit, and there was much Male Gaze with several scenes showing her fully nude (including a part where she was stripped bare, tied up, and humiliated by the Big Bad's whips as if BSDM), she remains an out-and-out Action Girl through the arc, killing many in combat and defeating both the barbarian leader and the Loc-Nar (which was causing trouble for many eras and worlds) in the end. Such prowess from a woman was all but unheard of at that time.

  • Early magazine and newspaper articles from the 1910s which discuss jazz are almost entirely racist across the board, at least by modern standards. Most of them are extremely dismissive of the genre, featuring such impressively wrong quotes as "The Symphony Ninth will live until the crack of doom, but modern jazz will not live to hear the second hand pant as it moves on..." However, a few of them are fascinated by the style and wish to understand it by analyzing its musical content in the context of its African origins. All of these articles still use terms like "modern savages" to describe jazz musicians, which comes off as unbelievably offensive and patronising.
  • People who bash Al Jolson for performing in blackface may not realize that he actually helped a lot of real black people make it big in the music business, giving performers such as Cab Calloway their big breaks. When filming a duet with Calloway, Jolson demanded that they be given equal treatment on the set. When reading in a newspaper that songwriters Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle had been kicked out of a restaurant because of their race, he personally invited them out to dinner despite having never met them, saying he'd punch the nose of anyone who had a problem with it. Jolson was also known as the only white man who was allowed into the all-black nightclubs in Harlem.
  • George Formby wrote and performed a series of songs about a Chinese immigrant named Mister Wu. Although they did play heavily upon the stereotypical British image of the Chinese, they also portrayed the protagonist in what for The '30s was a fairly positive light. Formby had a dim view of racism throughout his life, as evidenced during his tour of South Africa in which he refused to play to segregated audiences and criticized local racist views.
    • Mr. Wu originated as a character in an anti-racism play, and was most famously portrayed by Lon Chaney in a silent film co-starring Anna May Wong. He was a tragic figure, a loving father who was tradition-bound to kill his cherished daughter for having romance with an English boy. Chaney dressed and made up with extreme care.
  • The first stanza of Germany's national anthem sounds ultra-nationalist today, with a line that translates as "Germany above everything in the world..." Yet it was written before All the Little Germanies had even united, so looking past regional conflicts toward a common German identity was pretty ahead of its time.
  • "Lola" by The Kinks uses a few transphobic stereotypes, like the Unsettling Gender-Reveal when the narrator possibly calls Lola a man via Ambiguous Syntax. Nonetheless, it was a pretty positive portrayal for 1970, characterizing Lola as attractive and implying that the narrator accepts her identity even after The Reveal and is glad that he met her.
  • Joni Mitchell created a character called Art Nouveau, who is African American. She dressed and made up as realistically as possible to play him on several occasions. (That's him on the cover of Don Juan's Reckless Daughter.) It was blackface, but at the time she was considered audacious for doing it, not racist. In fact, Art had his origins in her devotion to jazz, and Charles Mingus asked her to collaborate with him on what would be his final album after she invented Art.
  • The 1947 country hit "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)" criticizes the titular substance for its addictive properties, with Tex Williams saying that he wouldn't get along too well with the inventor of the cigarette. However, he also doesn't seem to think that cigarettes cause any harm, in his own words "I've been smoking all my life and I ain't dead yet". Nowadays, we know that cigarettes are both addictive and extremely damaging to health, so the song can come across as ignorant and naïve.
  • "Baby, It's Cold Outside" generates controversy today that would have baffled its original 1940s audience. Modern listeners often think the lyrics portray date rape, with the man refusing to accept the woman's constant barrage of refusals until he finally breaks her down enough to do something against her will. The line in which she remarks, "What's in this drink?" is also seen as sounding like she's being drugged, However, when the song was written (by a man specifically to perform with his wife at cocktail parties) societal pressures were very different. A Man Is Always Eager and All Women Are Prudes were fully enforced, so courtship was a delicate game of manners where women were expected to put up a token resistance for propriety's sake (notice all her objections have to do with potential Slut-Shaming from her family and social circle), while the man's job was to pursue. The song is supposed to portray a romantic couple playing out this dance of evasion and persuasion until the woman feels that propriety has been met and she can allow herself to "give in." Her line about the drink was a common excuse among sexually active women at the time, blaming the alcohol for "weakening their resolve" to maintain purity when they in fact knew exactly what they wanted. To audiences of the time, the undertone of the story was both fairly risque and liberating.
    • The line may be even more innocent than that: one of the features of cocktail parties was trying out new cocktails - the woman may simply be asking what the ingredients of the concoction she just tasted are. A Forgotten Trope stock joke of the era was someone trying a drink that he assumed was alcoholic and assuming he's drunk ("What's in that drink?!") and the punchline being the drink was a mocktail and it was only the placebo effect in action
  • Randy Newman released an album in 1974 called Good Old Boys, a satire of racism in the Deep South. Though most of his points resonate strongly today, his usage of the N-word on the opener "Rednecks" despite being white himself would be met with significant criticism, as just referencing such language would be considered racist 50 years later.
  • Lionel Ritchie's video for his Signature Song "Hello" was pretty fair-minded for its day when it comes to disability, in featuring a blind art student as gifted, desirable, independent, and completely confident in herself. Unfortunately, the role of Ritchie's own character, an Art teacher crushing on her and ultimately expressing his feelings while she's still taking his class, hasn't aged so well. It comes across as creepy and unprofessional rather than romantic, given that he's in a position of authority over her.
  • The Charity Motivation Song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" has come under fire for its stereotypical description of Africa and White Man's Burden overtones but it was released in 1984. This is long before The Internet and 24-Hour News Networks so the vast majority of the general public in The West simply were not aware of the realities of the subtler socioeconomic and geopolitical landscape of the continent at the time. Bob Geldof and Midge Ure have gone on record to state that the song and subsequent Live Aid concerts were an emotional appeal to raise awareness of and try and galvanize the public and western governments into doing something major and effective about the critical famine and refugee crisis in Ethopia at the time, and that it should be viewed in the context of trying to do this in the middle of the The '80s with its "Me! Me! Me!" attitudes — the song was trying to be evocative and emotional rather than accurate and academic.
  • Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP uses a lot of homophobic slurs and Queer People Are Funny as shock comedy, which was extremely controversial in 2000, and completely beyond the "Just Joking" Justification now. However, "The Real Slim Shady" also contains a statement in support of same-sex marriage, at a time when even LGBT+ activists were still fighting for civil unions rather than marriage (thinking it a lost cause). The statement is made in an extremely offensive way, with Shady comparing being gay to humping dead animals, but Eminem later clarified the supportive sentiment was real.
  • "Baby Got Back" sounds shallow and objectifying nowadays, but it was actually a body positivity message at the time. The song's opening features two white women body shaming a black woman, and Sir Mix-A-Lot then comes in to refute them that he in fact finds the woman attractive because of her large ass — in effect declaring that there are multiple forms of beauty, implying that everyone is attractive to someone. It's also criticizing how standards of beauty in the African-American community were more commonly looked down on because they didn't meet the more Anglo standards.
  • David Byrne's "Now I'm Your Mom" was radically progressive in its positive portrayal of transgender identities in 1992, among other things comparing transitioning to a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly and describing the trans community as "pioneers." Decades later, it comes off as considerably behind the times with how some of its lines imply that being trans is a choice and that gender is tethered to biological sex (and cisgender individuals portraying transgender characters is much more scorned nowadays than in the 1990s). Also not helping its case is Byrne's contemporary description of it as "a sensitive ditty about a man's decision to cut his dick off," which while standard for 1992 would be considered transphobic today. It's perhaps because of Byrne's awareness of this that the song is never featured in live performances.
  • While the description of Loretta Martin in The Beatles' "Get Back" is rather tasteless by today's standards, saying she "thought she was a woman / but she really was another man", it was actually a rather progressive stance on transgender people back in The '60s and The '70s, detailing how despite her being scorned by other women seeing her as a pretender, she's fully willing to embrace her gender identity as a woman.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • For Better or for Worse was in many ways ahead of its time — however, a few things (i.e., John's casual sexism towards his female coworkers or Elly, the only gay Lawrence becoming a florist) come off as rather dated today. A doctor in one strip was also drawn with a yarmulke... and Johnston got hatemail accusing her of pushing an agenda.
  • In Lee Falk's Mandrake the Magician, Mandrake's Bash Brother is Lothar, an African Prince of a federation of jungle tribes and "the strongest man alive". While this may seem stereotypical, Lothar was portrayed with great respect and dignity compared to almost any other black characters at the time. note 
  • Peanuts
    • Franklin was considered radical for the time just for being a black kid who joined the otherwise all-white cast, especially because he had been included at the suggestion of a schoolteacher who wrote to Charles Schulz to urge him to include one (for context, this happened eleven days after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination). His inclusion caused controversy at the time; a reader complained when he was drawn sitting behind Peppermint Patty in school, and several southern papers dropped the strip after his debut. Nowadays, though, he tends to be used as an example of a Token Minority character who lacks a distinct personality or trait outside of their race.
    • Peppermint Patty was - originally rather gender-noncomforming because she wore pants, yet her hair is still somewhat feminine. These days, this aspect of her character is often lost on younger audiences.
  • In Rupert Bear, the Chinese Conjurer and Tiger Lily are very stereotypical, but also depicted as likable and good characters rather than Yellow Peril villains. They are also drawn as people that human beings could believably look like, rather than the extreme ethnic caricatures seen in other strips of their era.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Until the 1960s, promotions had black wrestlers battling other black wrestlers; a notable exception was Bobo Brazil frequently battling The Sheik, an assimilated Arab from Brazil's hometown of Detroit who was generally considered white. Interestingly, you could probably argue this one either way. Either the black-on-black matches were fair for their day in that black wrestlers were allowed to compete at all, Or they were covertly even more fair because they avoided race riots breaking out, during which the black minority in the crowds would inevitably get the short end of the stick — and the possibility of the white wrestler winning every time just to satisfy white audiences' egos.
  • American Indian wrestlers mostly had savage gimmicks in the 1920s and 1930s, during the early days of gimmick characters — ergo, to promote "cowboy and Indian" angles. One retrospective, "The Idiot's Guide To Professional Wrestling" (penned by Captain Lou Albano), suggested that as a promotional tool, the wrestler should set up a teepee at city hall (or courthouse, high school, etc.), enticing people to call the local newspaper and send a reporter over to see "what the disturbance was about." The Indian wrestler would be in character and make a scene, thereby giving the promoter the free publicity he was seeking. Later on, as Native Americans were granted civil rights, these characters were always heroes, even though they continued to be all too often portrayed by white athletes who could "pass" for Indian or (in the case of Tatanka) men of mixed race who looked more white than anything else.
  • When purist fans talk about pro wrestling history, they tend to overlook (or more likely ignore) GLOW completely, with the González sisters, The Crush Gals, and the Thunder Queens being looked upon today with disdain. In fact, if a female wrestler in the 1980s was nationally known, she was probably working for GLOW. And despite the organization proving that women could carry a show (even if a was just a camp show), there were no other successful attempts to broadcast women's wrestling until TNA's Knockouts Knockdown, about 30 years after GLOW ended.
  • The female wrestler Sable is less-than-fondly remembered nowadays. She had no training, was in the ring to provide Fanservice, and had it written into her contract that she couldn't be bumped by anyone. Despite this, she was a woman who gained popularity and warranted a star push in her own right — she wasn't just a valet to man. She codified the Smurfette Breakout in wrestling and resurrected the women's division single-handedly. What's more, Sable was presented as a woman who would stand up for herself and fight for what she believed innote , even if she might have had trouble doing so outside of Kayfabe (which was irrelevant). In the PG Era when many Divas are forced to go through Chickification or behave like a Damsel in Distress, this is significant.
  • Paige had hardly any character depth when she first arrived in NXT. With the Red Baron "The Anti Diva" and a different look from most other wrestlers, she reeked of Real Women Never Wear Dresses. However, she still attained notoriety in her own right, proving that fans could get behind divas if they were presented to be more than Ms. Fanservice.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Thunderbirds: Lady Penelope tends to get a fair amount of bashing today for showing glaring sexist stereotypes. This included demonstrating a few Eek, a Mouse!! moments and being a bad driver at first, as well as exhibiting feminine stereotypes (like wearing high heels) in a swamp during a rural field mission in "The Imposters." At the same time, however, she was one of the first action girls on UK TV, with her regularly getting involved in the Tracy Brother's adventures. She usually remained calm in the face of danger, was an independent and competent female who didn't take crap from anyone, and had a man working for her named Parker (justified, though, since he was her butler). Many creators of action girls in modern-day UK TV cite Penelope as an influence. Some feminists have actually praised her for sending the message that femininity and competence are not mutually exclusive.

  • The famous Superman radio miniseries "The Clan of the Fiery Cross" gets quite a lot of well-deserved praise today for being one of the first works of mainstream American pop culture to portray the Ku Klux Klan (or a thinly-veiled expy of them) as villains, explicitly calling out their racism and xenophobia as "un-American" and inviting ordinary Americans to harass and disrupt them by any possible means. By today's standards, though, it might seem a bit odd that the family Superman defends from the Klansmen are not rural or working-class African-Americans (the most frequent target of the Klan, by far), but heavily Americanized middle-class Chinese-Americans. And the story takes pains to show them as educated, well-to-do business owners who speak flawless English, as if they would have been too hard to sympathize with if they hadn't been the absolute image of respectable white-bread American values. As progressive as the story was, it was still a product of the 1940s; it was daring enough to take on the Klan, but not quite daring enough to show Superman siding with black Americans.
  • The Shadow: While the pulps often reflected the stereotypes of its day, it was a policy of long-time editor John Nanovic to constantly chip away at these elements in the magazine's stories. The Shadow would be notable for having African-American, Jewish, and Chinese-American characters who were useful and often crucial parts of The Shadow's team. Nanovic also instituted two important rules. First, outside of plot-relevant needs, the main villain had to be a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant — "Fu-Manchu"-style villains or other ethnic Big Bads were, by and large, out (though Shiwan Khan was a major exception to this rule). Second, he dogged series author Walter B. Gibson to drop the "Asian Speekee Engrish" Chinese characters, encouraging him to introduce Dr. Roy Tam (who spoke perfect English) and to soften the dialect of other Chinese characters.
  • Deep Trouble: The second episode of the second series has main character Jack reconnect with an old friend, Sam, who he knew as a man, but has transitioned since he last saw her. Much of how this is handled has not aged well, from Jack's horrified reaction, to the way the rest of the crew speculate (in extensive detail) about Sam's genitals, to implying that trans people are 'in disguise' in the stinger. However, Jack's reaction is framed more as a lack of understanding and a childish difficulty dealing with his friend having changed in such major way, rather than being based in disgust or hatred towards trans people in general. His arc through the episode has him come to understand that she's still the same person he always liked and was friends with, and he becomes very insistent about using the right pronouns. The rest of the crew, inappropriate as they're being, are also merely suggested to be curious, rather than hateful. Multiple characters also state that, ultimately, it's what's inside that matters - which is a far kinder take on transgender people than many other comedic works had at the time.
  • This is how Howard Stern frames his fetishization of lesbians - when he first started broadcasting, the popular stereotype was a man-like and man-hating Butch Lesbian rather than the (ostensibly) less harmful and hostile Girl on Girl Is Hot.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Cyberpunk: In one of the splatbooks, the narrator mentions, off-the-cuff, that his girlfriend is transgender, but that he doesn't think it's weird because he only met her after she transitioned. Today, last half of this would be considered ignorant and slightly transphobic, and the first half (outing someone as transgender without consent) an outright hate crime, given how much violence and hate trans people are targets of. However, for the late '80s, the character's casual acceptance of his girlfriend's transition would be radically progressive.
  • Little Wars, by H. G. Wells, is an early tabletop war game meant to be played with toy soldiers. Its full title declares it to be "a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys' games and books." The idea that boys' games are "more intelligent" than those for girls is incredibly sexist, yes—but it's nonetheless an acknowledgement that girls can enjoy "boy things" and welcomes them to enjoy it nonetheless. Considering that sexism within the tabletop gaming community is still a hot-button issue, Wells was ahead of his time for acknowledging that women could enjoy wargames as well.

    Video Games 
  • Banjo-Tooie: These days, Jolly Roger and Merry Maggie Malpass would be seen as stereotypical depictions of homosexual and transgender people respectively, with Jolly being Camp Gay and Maggie being a Gonky Femme, but for being depictions of LGBTQIA+ people at the start of the Turn of the Millennium, they're reasonably tactful, with the two showing nothing but kindness to Banjo and Kazooie for their help, and being very hard workers who have good chemistry as the barkeeps of the tavern. They were also progressive for the time period they were created in, as British media was often frowned upon when including LGBTQIA+ characters during the late 90s and early 2000s, resulting in many characters of the sort not being as blatant in their sexualities and identities as Jolly and Maggie are.
  • Fallout 2 was the first known video game to feature a gay or lesbian marriage in the form of brother and sister Davin and Miria who can be slept with regardless of the player's character sex. Said sex will lead to a literal Shotgun Wedding, which is mostly Played for Laughs, and the PC's spouses are Joke Characters with awful stats who can't be dismissed from the party outside of death unless you sell them into slavery, or divorce them, or force them into sexual slavery, or extract their brain. Yet the very fact that a 1998 video game featured gay marriage as a valid option that wasn't particularly unusual within the game world is extremely impressive.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy IV tends to get criticized for its repeated use of Damsel in Distress in the case of Rosa. She has to be saved early in the game after getting a form of heatstroke, she gets kidnapped by the Big Bad, and she gets left behind during battle by Cecil (along with Rydia) out of fear for them being hurt. While by today's standards these would never be acceptable (coming across as Stay in the Kitchen thinking), the game came out during a period where games finally began putting more effort into telling their stories — thus it was considered fine, even nuanced at the time. Cecil's attempts to protect Rosa (his love interest) and Rydia (the girl he accidentally dragged into the game's events) by having them stay behind was a flaw of his that they both called him out on. He eventually realized he was being rude to them by attempting to do so. Both characters were also more complex than typical female characters in RPGs, with Rosa being a Morality Chain to Cecil and being just as devoted to protecting him as he was to her. For the time she came out in, Rosa was significantly more advanced than most other healer love interest characters in the genre.
    • For its time, Final Fantasy VI was progressive for not only having female leads in Terra and Celes, but having them be hard-hitting warrior-types equipped with shields, swords, and armor in an era where female RPG characters were all but guaranteed to be Squishy Wizards who used staves or rods. Especially in the US, which didn't get any of the Final Fantasies that allowed class changing and thus only had Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II, both of which exclusively relegated women to physically weak spellcaster roles. Nowadays Setzer's introduction sequence, with him planning to kidnap an actress to make her his bride and everyone considering him a Lovable Rogue for it, is more than a little creepy. Furthermore the whole sequence is a tongue in cheek homage to overwrought and melodramatic operas, so it's clearly not meant to be taken entirely seriously.
    • Barret from Final Fantasy VII is often criticized by modern gamers/journalists as being a borderline racist stereotype of the Scary Black Man trope. While it's undeniable he fits the description and comes across as stereotypical, Barret was perhaps the best-written black character in the gaming industry back in 1997 — or at the very least the best one written from a Japanese gaming company. While he does play the trope fairly straight, he has enough Hidden Depths to have a character arc, and becomes a Parental Substitute for his deceased best friend's (light-skinned) daughter. This stands out heavily considering Barret is from a JRPG, a genre that often avoids using black characters and usually relegates them to minor characters at best. It's worth noting that despite being stereotypical by modern standards, Barret remains an incredibly popular character, especially among black audiences.
  • If you beat Metroid in under three hours, it was revealed that Samus Is a Girl... by showing her in a leotard, or a bikini if it was beaten in less than one hour. This was big at the time, however, as she was one of the first playable human female main characters. Plus, due to technical limitations — such as the NES' resolution, which made it somewhat difficult to draw anything identifiably — there were very few ways to convey this idea.
  • By today's standards, Mother 3's Magypsies have a rather unfortunate name and look uncomfortably like stereotypical Drag Queen caricatures. Yet they, as the Big Good of the setting, are with one exception unflinchingly heroic characters, treating others with kindness and offering Lucas and friends nothing but encouragement and support along their journey. While other characters (mostly sheltered townsfolk NPCs) tend to consider them somewhat eccentric, the actual heroes treat their gender identities with respect. Back in 2006, having positive transgender/nonbinary representation of any kind, especially in Japanese media, was almost unheard of.note 
  • Ms. Pac-Man is sometimes criticized in modern times for her Tertiary Sexual Characteristics, given that the only traits distinguishing her from Pac-Man were her lipstick and the bow on her head. Graphical limitations of the era meant that there weren't many other options to distinguish her, however — and she was plenty revolutionary for being one of the first female video game protagonists at the time. Her game ended up being the best-selling arcade game of all time in the United States, proving that video games with female protagonists could not only sell but be supremely popular with the general public.
  • The Sims and The Sims 2 can be a jarring reminder that the portrayal of the LGBTQ+ community has come a long way since the 2000s. The original game disallows same-sex marriage entirely, and The Sims 2 has a separate "joined union" option for same-sex couples which is deliberately distanced from the terminology used around opposite-sex marriage. It's easy to forget that when the first game released in 2000, the fact that it was even designed to permit same-sex romances between characters at all was a pretty big deal; and acknowledging same-sex couples with legally recognised in-game partnerships was similarly progressive in 2004 when the sequel came out.
  • Time Gal: Examining the game decades after its release may raise criticism about how the game derives much of the humor from emphasizing the protagonist, Reika Kirishima, as a Ms. Fanservice; one game over simply ends with her getting her pants torn off instead of any fatal injury. Compare her to Dragon's Lair's Dirk, the other Plucky Comic Relief hero of Interactive Movie game, and the difference is obvious. However, Reika was a breakthrough in video gaming when Time Gal came out in 1985. The fact that a major publisher like Taito released a heroine-centered title (without hiding her identity like Metroid did) was noteworthy, and Reika is portrayed as a straight hero who saves the world by herself just like other FMV game heroes.
  • Tomb Raider's protagonist Lara Croft has been seen by some as obvious Ms. Fanservice for adolescent male fantasies, given her Buxom Beauty Standard proportions, which is not helped when the developers admitted that she was a woman was so gamers wouldn't have to look at a guy's ass all day. However, at the time Lara was a pretty big step forward for women in gaming, given that they were normally cast in lead roles as Damsel in Distress types even in action or fighting games. Having a female character that not only had a strong personality but was an Action Girl who didn't have a male character coming to her rescue at any time was something few games had tried in the past, and with the possible exception of Metroid, none saw the same mass-market success. If nothing else, the series proved that gamers, at the time largely stereotyped as violence-addicted immature adolescent males, were mature enough to at least tolerate playing a female character. Indeed, later analysis revealed that an estimated 40% of players of the first Tomb Raider game were female themselves — an unimaginable proportion for the genre at the time.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of Pow Wow was a cartoon that aired on Captain Kangaroo. As you can deduce from the title alone, the series is full of Native American stereotypes and mishmashing cultures together. However, the titular character is portrayed as a hero who helps his animal friends, and there's no Tonto Talk. Seeing a relatively positive portrayal of indigenous people in 1956 was a breath of fresh air, especially when cartoons that came after it continued to make them into stereotypical villains.
  • The Betty Boop cartoon "Making Stars". Despite the blatant racial stereotyping and usage of the word "colorful", the fact that the African American characters weren't in a segregated crowd was quite admirable for the 1930's, and the ending when all the babies drink from the same bottle could be interpreted as a pro-tolerance message.
  • Bionic Six: The execution may look a little awkward today but the show did showcase a multi-racial family at a time when most shows didn't. Even better was that the series didn't go out of its way to hammer you over the head with the fact that you were watching a multi-racial family, it just put the it up there and allowed the family to speak for itself.
  • Joe Jitsu and Go-Go Gomez from The Dick Tracy Show look and act very stereotypically. However, they are intelligent and capable cops unlike Hemlock Holmes and Heap O'Calorie who only solve cases by dumb luck. Although they are the good guys, many modern viewers may find them cringeworthy.
    • Executive producer Henry Saperstein would comment that Joe Jitsu was created as a good guy to help soothe any ill feeling to the Japanese after the end of World War II. It was impressive to have a Japanese good guy, even a stereotypical one, once you realize this wasn't too long after Pearl Harbor and World War II.
  • The Silent Era Felix the Cat cartoon "Uncle Tom's Crabbin'". While the blackface designs and Deep South slavery setting would turn heads today, it's surprising in that it clearly shows Felix on the side of a sympathetically portrayed Uncle Tom against Simon Legree (with Tom's race and plight distinctly not being played for laughs). Felix even helps Tom against Legree, and the two come out on top in the end.
  • Go Go Gophers features highly stereotypical "Indians," one of whom appears quite goofy and speaks a gibberish that bears no resemblance to a real native language. Nevertheless, they consistently outsmart the frontiersmen and are seen as the heroes, which was almost unheard of in a '60s show.
  • Jonny Quest:
    • The original 1960s version of which first aired in prime time deserves a listing here. While the character of Hadji has some clearly stereotypical characteristics ("Sim sim salabim", anyone?), he was the first dark-skinned character to be a regular in a 1960s kids' show, was always treated as Jonny's equal (as well as his best friend and adopted brother), and had tricks that amazed or confused the adults featured.
      • The 1990's version downplayed a lot of the unfortunate baggage on Hadji, presenting his philosophizing as a way for him to subtly snark at his more adventurous adoptive brother and the hotheaded Jessie Bannon. Making Hadji the computer expert helped solidify this idea. Additionally, his surname was revealed as "Singh" meaning he was Sikh, thus justifying why he is wearing a turban. Unfortunately, ten years later, Bollywood Nerd would become its own trope - becoming a twofer with him being a Sikh.
    • Also given the realistic art style of the show, mostly avoiding Asian Speekee Engrish, and generally being competent, none of the non-white characters were racist caricatures, at least by '60s standards. They weren't always pretty, but they were far better than portrayals from earlier decades.
      • The show has some blatant stereotypes by 21st century standards, including an almost complete absence of any black people except for a second's worth of angry African natives from the episode "Pursuit of the Po-Ho" in the opening credits. This episode proved the exception; in it, Dr. Quest quietly chides another scientist for calling a Po-Ho ritual "barbaric". He says that while it may seem barbaric according to their standards, it's not barbaric by the Po-Ho's standards.
  • Referenced in the Justice League episode "Legends." Green Lantern and the others have been transported to a world with 1950s era heroes, one of whom calls the black John Stewart "a credit to [his] people," which he genuinely means as an enlightened compliment. It would have been seen as such during that time period.
  • Lloyd in Space: The episode "Neither Boy Nor Girl" is about an alien kid named Zoit whose species chooses to be a boy or girl when they turn thirteen. It defines gender through stereotypically gendered activities like enjoying sappy movies and belching contests, and the ending implies that boys must develop crushes on girls and vice versa. However, it addresses the concept of androgyny and choosing one's gender years before transgender issues started to get more traction in the media, and Zoit calls their classmates out for trying to influence their choice.
  • The Looney Tunes shorts contain several examples.
    • Bosko, the first Looney Tunes star, was a black boy drawn in such a simple style that he resembled Oswald the Lucky Rabbit with human ears and a bowler hat. At the very start he spoke in a Southern drawl. But to their credit, the creators saw their error and tried to backpedal. Soon Bosko was shown running businesses, fighting as a musketeer alongside white musketeers, and defending his girlfriend from (usually white) bad guys. Alas, the drawing style still causes uninitiated modern viewers to presume the worst.
      • Whenever Warner Bros references Bosko in modern times (such as when he appeared on Tiny Toon Adventures), he is always explicitly identified as just a general purpose "inkblot" Cartoon Creature along the lines of the Animaniacs heroes.
    • Speedy Gonzales has been the subject of criticism for his stereotypical Mexican qualities, but a lot of Hispanics remember him as a resourceful Latino hero on television. Although some of the support cast mice are shown in an unflattering light, their behavior makes sense given that many of them are in party mode. The often-maligned Slowpoke Rodriguez is portrayed as the opposite version of Speedy, seeming to be more crafty than he lets on.
    • The Merrie Melodies cartoon "Clean Pastures" features good-natured spoofs of famous black jazz musicians, and the story suggests that certain types of black music are better than others. Its title is a takeoff on the play/film Green Pastures, which has an all-black cast and is definitely fair for its day. Despite its nature, it is also part of the Censored Eleven alongside ten other cartoons filled with an overabundance of racial jokes.
  • Many British and Commonwealth cartoons, such as Rupert, have highly stereotypical depictions of foreign characters (panto accents, joke names, and theme park countries). What's often missed is that these are often only surface details, with the actual characters themselves being well-rounded and positively portrayed.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The 1990 episode "Simpson And Delilah" featured a character named Karl who kisses Homer and pats him on the butt, but whose sexuality is not officially confirmed. Nowadays, Karl would be derided as an example of queerbaiting, since Matt Groening never made any official statement on the issue. However, Karl is depicted as an incredibly loyal, helpful, and self-sacrificing assistant to Homer, and his kiss isn't done for a cheap joke, but is taken as a sign of how much Karl cares for Homer. Which is pretty remarkable considering the episode aired in 1990, when Ambiguously Gay characters had yet to gain recognition in any American media, animation or otherwise.
    • When it first aired in 1997, the episode "Homer's Phobia" delivered what was considered a largely positive view of gay people, with the message that gays should be accepted as human beings. However, viewed today, that same episode can come across as offensive for its stereotypical depiction of gays (though the Aesop of "Gay folks are no better or worse than straight folks and don't always follow the camp or overly macho stereotype" is a good message that needs to be taken to heart).
      John: Well, Homer, I gained your respect — and all I had to do was save your life! As soon as every other gay person does that, you'll be all set.
    • The 1992 episode "Homer the Heretic" was once praised for its sympathetic treatment of non-traditional spirituality, but it's now occasionally criticized for copping out on its message by having Homer go back to church at the end. For its time, though, it was remarkably open-minded in its frank discussion of organized religion, pointing out that adhering to religious rituals isn't necessarily for everyone, and that people can practice their spiritual beliefs in all sorts of ways. And like many Simpsons episodes, it was quite adamant about showing Springfield as a multi-cultural town of many different faiths, favorably depicting Krusty's Jewish faith and Apu's Hindu faith alongside the Protestant Christian Simpsons.
    • The character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon got a lot of flak in the late 2000s and throughout the 2010s due to being viewed as a blatant stereotype of Indians and Southern Asians in general, along with the fact that he's voiced by white actor Hank Azaria. However, during the show's run in the 90s, he was also the first if not the only depiction of a Southern Asian to appear on mainstream television in the U.S. Add to that is the fact that Apu wasn't overly defined by religion like most Hindu characters today, is shown to be capable of running a successful business, and is generally portrayed as a flawed but nice guy who gets along well with the other characters — impressive considering the complete Dysfunction Junction that is Springfield. The "problem with Apu" is that, as the show continued, his stereotypical traits were not toned down or removed — if anything, they got worse — which is what cemented his position as a racial caricature in today's society. Interestingly, while he has been criticized by Indian-Americans and South Asian Americans, Apu is well-liked in India itself - and in Britain, it's almost taken for granted that an Asian character will run the corner shop.
    • "There's Something About Marrying" drew a lot of praise and controversy in the lead-up to its 2005 debut and was the only episode in the show's history to have a disclaimer about content before its original broadcast, since same-sex marriage was still a touchy and divisive topic at the time. With the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage and the prioritization of other LGBTQIA+ issues, the episode at best doesn't come off as particularly groundbreaking. And at worst, unintentionally transphobic, given the reveal of Patty's partner being a man in disguise.
  • Superjail!: One of the main characters, Alice, would nowadays be considered a blatantly transphobic caricature (especially given that she's voiced by a cis man). However, back when the show first premiered in 2008, she was one of the few transgender characters to be portrayed favorably, at least compared to other depictions in the media. The show also went out of its way to respect her pronouns and gender identity, as well as portray anyone who discriminated against her as being in the wrong.

  • Disney's "It's A Small World" was and is an appeal to everyone's shared humanity. While the various stereotypical attributes (folk costume, etc.) of the animatronics in the ride haven't aged well (mostly because only the most traditional societies still wear such garb on an everyday basis), it's still The Theme Park Version (no pun intended) of the possibility of a world where we can live together in peace.
  • Barbie dolls often showed Barbie in professions generally not regarded as appropriately feminine at the time they were made, and earning enough money to own extravagant houses, clothes and other luxuries without ever needing a husband to fund her. Later, the dolls faced criticism for allegedly promoting unhealthily skinny body shapes or even promoting stereotypically feminine jobs (such as veterinarian).
  • The Smothers Brothers sketch "Hiawatha" contains some fairly cringe-worthy jokes at the expense of Native American culture. However, it also contains Dick defending the Sioux "massacre" of Custer at the Little Bighorn, noting that it was a war and "Sitting Bull? Just doing his job." Given when the sketch was released, that was quite fair-minded.
  • George Carlin's early "Indian Drill Sergeant" routine gets some funny looks today. However, it serves more as a satire of modern militaries, and their endless training protocols and regulations, than a joke at the expense of Natives themselves.
  • Jim Davidson's stand-up routine in the seventies and eighties featured the infamous character Chalky White, a caricature of West-Indian males. While nowadays it's seen as a racist stereotype, Jim was always on Chalky's side, portraying him as a likeable, put-upon underdog.
  • This Vanity Fair cartoon shows whales celebrating the discovery of petroleum, since it means they will no longer be hunted for their blubber. By today's standards, oil drilling is itself a major ecological hazard, but the cartoon deserves credit for acknowledging the plight of whales at a time when environmentalism barely existed.
  • Gotham Girls: The reveal that The character of Detective Reesdale is a trans woman. Although the plot leads to several instances where Batgirl misgenders her (although one of those allows her to expose Robot Commissioner Gordon as an imposter), Reesdale proves to be a useful ally whose trans identity is generally treated with respect, which earned some positive recognition for the story when it was rediscovered during the 2020s.