If you wear real fur, you must be evil or immoral. That's the only explanation.
This is not about the politics of wearing fur, but simply how the mainstream media has portrayed it since the mid-1980s. In that time, groups such as PETA finally gained some traction, through celebrities building up a Band Wagon Technique. Wearing animal fur was considered the mark of evil. Leather is usually given a pass since the rest of the animal was killed for meat anyway, and as Terry Pratchett put it, "would you tell a 300-pound biker to give up his jacket?"note
Fur industry revenues went into a decline through the late '80s and '90s, but this didn't last long. Some other celebrities came along later decided to rebel against the curve, particularly rappers and hip-hop artists. Combined with sites like eBay marketing inexpensive furs, fur has seen a comeback in recent decades. Just go to photo sharing sites and look up "Fur coat," "mink," and even "pimp coat."
Of course the media doesn't reflect this. Partly because it's Still The Eighties, and partly to satiate the remaining anti-fur celebrities, mainstream media since the mid 1980s has an unwritten rule about fur: it's a sign of corruption. Not the fur itself (barring bad horror movies), but of what you did to get it.
So wearing fur in media has now become part of the Hollywood Dress Code, often to show how corrupted characters have become. Wearing fur identifies you as:
- A Rich Bitch or Spoiled Brat, and wearing fur shows off your selfishness and amorality.
- The Ditz, The Vamp, or Femme Fatale. As an old joke says, you slept your way to get that coat, and all the implications that leaves. Often, as a seduction ploy, they wear a fur coat with nothing underneath.
- Cruella to Animals
It should be noted that cavemen, Native Americans and Arctic tribes like the Inuit never wear fur, they wear skins, so it's all right, since it makes you Closer to Earth as a culture. Note that in Real Life, Inuit and northern Indians actually do wear fur in modern days, and not the synthetic kind which doesn't retain heat as well. Political correctness goes out the window at 40 below. Same goes with Russians, who aren't politically correct people in general but are baffled by this trend especially and tend to think anti-fur activists are all deranged freaks.
Also fictional works that take place in the past, or in places like modern Russia, do not assume Viewers Are Morons, and do have people wearing fur, since they are/were common in those places and times. Yet those works still seem to portray those places and times as less enlightened, with wearing fur being a symptom of this. And in Politically Correct History, wearing fur seems to disappear, even in the dead of winter.
Also, this can actually be combined with Pretty in Mink. This is when a character wears real fur, but the character still fits the type mentioned. Works that are explicitly this trope just use fake fur.
One of The Newest Ones in the Book.
No relation to the CSI episode of the same name, or its subject.
Examples (examples for Cruella to Animals should go there):
- The warden in Guy Awakening of the Devil is cruel and greedy. At the end, when the prison is being destroyed by some weird energy waves, she stops to grab a white fox coat and her jewelry◊. She then has a Death by Materialism.
- Ayuko Rara of Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure is The Dragon for an Artifact of Doom, but given most of the power. She spends much of her screen time wearing a fluffy white fur wrap.
- Greed of Fullmetal Alchemist is first seen wearing a vest with a fur collar. However, he's one of the nicer villains.
- Emma Frost from X-Men is a definite Rich Bitch (although she wasn't as much of an actual bitch as she suddenly became). Her most famous outfit has a cape with a huge white fox collar (assuming this outfit was made for real). However, she first appeared in 1980. Yet when she turned into a hero, it was the early 1990s, and her outfits didn't include fur. Of course the costume may make her look like a Femme Fatale, but in a comic book, even the Queen of England would dress like that (at least when she was younger).
- Ultimate Sabretooth's pimp coat.
- In Ultimate Fantastic Four, Victor Van Damme, once he takes up the mantle of Doctor Doom upgrades from a raggedy cloak, to a majestic fur collared Badass Cape.
- A rather ghoulish example happens in one Spider-Man story, where a gangster's wife brags about her new coat, which she believes was taken from Tigra. (Her husband seemingly convinced her that he had killed and skinned Tigra, although everyone present at the event realized he was a Bad Liar trying to make himself look big.)
- The Legend of Wonder Woman: Priscilla Rich/Barbara Minerva is a cold murderous wealthy socialite who is wearing very prominent furs any time she's out of the house.
- Oswald The Penguin Cobblepot sometimes wears fur scarves or coats.
- In Girls Just Want to Have Fun, The Rival is a Rich Bitch, and wears a white fur jacket◊ for the scene when she first meets the protagonist.
- In Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Ace confronts a woman wearing all kinds of animal products, who dismisses him as "another activist," and goes on "There's nothing wrong with enjoying the fruits of nature. I suggest you try it sometime." Ace does so, punching her husband and then dancing around with the man on his shoulders.
- Darla Dimple, Enfante Terrible Big Bad of Cats Don't Dance wears fur coats and mink stoles...in a world where all animals are apparently sentient.
- In The Stallone/Banderas film Assassins, Julianne Moore's animal-loving character spray-paints a woman's fur coat while standing in an elevator and making a "shhhhh" sound to mask the sound of the spraycan. The implication is that she's a free spirit while the fur-wearing woman is a Rich Bitch.
- Veruca from the 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film. (Though her fur is fake.) Past versions weren't this trope — she was merely a Pretty in Mink Spoiled Brat.
- Emma Frost from X-Men: First Class, sometimes wears a mink.
- In It Could Happen to You one of the first things Muriel buys with the lottery money is a fur coat, only to be immediately splashed with red paint by protesters.
- Genius Pixie Opal Koboi in Artemis Fowl: the Opal Deception has fur-covered seats in her custom-built luxury shuttle, as a sign of her leaving behind the fairy world (most fairies are vegan), and embracing the human world. It should be noted that leather doesn't get a pass in this setting, either; had the seats been made of leather it would have been just as abhorrent to the fairies. However, even Artemis is disgusted by the fur seats.
- In Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook, Lucille says that her grandmother cant wear her mink coat in public or else people will throw paint on her.
- Our Miss Brooks: Miss Enright, Miss Brooks' snooty, catty rival, brags about her furs as well as other expensive clothes.
- Even though Dallas and Dynasty started in 1978 and 1981 respectively, it seemed in later years, these shows and their spinoffs gave most of the fur coats to the Rich Bitch characters.
- In the musical episode of X-Play, after receiving lucrative contracts to produce their own games and stressing out factory workers to make it, Adam and Morgan go from snarky video game reviewers to rich snobs. The first shot of them after the factory scene starts with a close up of a pair of high-heels stepping onto the sidewalk, panning up a fur coat, and then to Adam's head. Morgan joins him a second later in a business suit.
- In an episode of Designing Women Suzanne Sugarbaker (played by Delta Burke) is criticized for her new fur coat she shows off by her sister and after being attacked by animal rights activists ends up with a broken arm and refuses to have the coat cut off of herself to set the arm resulting in her spending weeks in the coat while her arm heals. At the end she swears off fur simply because she spent so much time trapped in it.
- A Different World's Whitley was occasionally seen wearing a fur coat. When one of her boyfriend Byron's political supporters chastises her for it and even insinuates that she'll withdraw her endorsement because of it, Whitley calmly and coolly informs her that her owning a fur is her business and should have no bearing on whether or not she supports Byron's Senate run.
- An episode of Seinfeld had Elaine confront a woman George was trying to score with for wearing a fur. Her response to the question of whether it was real: "It better be, or my ex-husband owes me an explanation."
- In Starsky & Hutch, Hutch's thieving ex-wife shows up in a white fur coat.
- Courtney Gears of Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal says Ratchet would make a nice fur coat.
- Fate/stay night's Gilgamesh becomes the male example when he appears in a pimped-out fur coat as his 'civilian' dress. This wasn't part of his uniform when he was summoned into the world, but he went shopping and consciously selected it. Personal traits include haughty, disdainful of all others, proud of his vast riches and in fact considers himself owner of everything in the world — does he fit the Rich Bitch aspect yet?
- Mallory Archer from Archer has a regular account at a furrier. Definitely a Rich Bitch, often seen in furs.
- Indirectly done in Family Guy, in the episode when Lois is mayor. She agrees to allow pollution so she can buy a fur coat. She relents, though, and doesn't have to give back the coat, but the coat is never worn after that.
The Ditz, The Vamp, or Femme Fatale
- Suzu from Peacemaker Kurogane, during the sequel, after he becomes an Ax-Crazy Depraved Homosexual. Just to cement the fact that he's evil, he wears a long, black fur robe (without wearing any clothes inside).
- Alluded to in Digimon Adventure. Tai jokes that Mimi - the team's resident Girly Girl - may steal Gabumon's fur to keep warm. Funnily enough a few episodes later it's revealed that Gabumon can remove his fur willingly.
- Batman Returns:
- Casino, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos. People wear fur, but they're in, or related to, the mob.
- In Sister Act Deloris gets a mink coat from her mobster boyfriend and is upset that he's actually given her his wife's fur. She goes to confront him about it and witnesses a murder than that sets up the movie. The fur was used to show Whoopi's character was a bit The Vamp at the beginning of the movie and to show that her boyfriend was a mobster.
- In Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Delysia Lafosse seems to like wearing fur. She even comments on how nice it feels on the skin. However, she makes this comment when she's supposed to be in the middle of a "serious" conversation. Then again, this may not count if that scene was in the original book, which was published in 1938.
- In The Avengers, Mrs. Peel's clone wears a fur coat when she tries to murder Steed with a spear gun and pistol.
- The Reincarnation of Peter Proud. While the title character is swimming in a lake, a woman wearing a fur coat goes out to him in a boat. When she gets close to him she murders him with an oar.
- Even though a lot of rap and hip-hop videos brought fur back into the mainstream, they seem to be allowed more because most of the people wearing them are pimps and ho's.
- Izaya Orihara from Durarara!! is rarely seen without his fur-lined coat. He also enjoys toying with people For the Lulz.
- Earlier chapters of Inuyasha has the titular hero and Kagome confront a pair of minor demon brothers who were the personal enemies of fox youkai Bratty Half-Pint Shippo because they were responsible for killing his father and wearing his fur.
- In the 1967 film of Doctor Dolittle, the doctor has a somber-but-angry musical number toward the middle of the movie, "Like Animals" where he sings about mankind's exploitative, demeaning, and cruel treatment of animals to a full courtroom. At the end of the song he specifically addresses some upper-class women watching the proceeding, all of whom are wearing fur.
"When you dress in suede or leather, or some fancy fur or feather / did you stop and wonder whether for a fad, / you have killed some beast or other? And you're wearing someone's brother? / Or perhaps it's someone's mother in which you're clad."
- Isaac Asimov's "The Traders": Despite being written in the 1940s, the Grand Master's fur collar is clearly being used to show how he's a greedy corrupt ruler for Askone.
- Little Red Riding Hood in Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes shoots The Big Bad Wolf to get herself a fancy new coat. She is later called by a certain little pig who is being menaced by another bad wolf; unfortunately for the pig, her greed for accessories made out of animals doesn't stop at a second wolfskin coat.
- The despotic House Harkonnen of Dune fame earned its early success through manipulation of the market for Bjondax Whale fur.
- The WWE tag-team MNM, a pair of heelish celebrity hangers-on, were known for their fur coats and boots. Oddly enough, their manager, a Rich Bitch Vamp by the name of Melina, never wore fur, though she does seem to be fond of animal prints. One member, Johnny Nitro, kept the furs even as he transitioned to his new gimmick, an odd cross between the Jerk Jock and the Warrior Poet by the name of John Morrison.
- Sable is named after a special type of fur, and it counted as a Meaningful Name when considering her vampy primadonna character. When she was a face, it leaned more towards Pretty in Mink.
- Carmella debuted as Enzo and Cass's Token Evil Teammate, and wore a fur coat to the ring. When she Took a Level in Kindness, she stopped wearing the fur.
- Jamie Noble - with a Deep South gimmick - got his ditzy girlfriend Nidia an expensive fur coat as a gift. Part of Nidia's HeelFace Turn involved her putting the coat in a shredder.
- In addition to a whole bunch of wacky gear clearly designed to attract as much attention as possible,note "The Villain" Marty Scurll usually wears a black fur coat to the ring.
- An educational game called The ClueFinders 3rd Grade Adventures has the main villain be someone who's illegally poaching animals for their furs.
- Hinted at in Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name with Doc Worth, a sort of Chaotic Neutral character whose fur trimmed-labcoat is meant to express not cruelty so much as sleaziness. According to the author, the fur collar was meant to help mimic the look of a vulture.
- Many of the Straw Men that inhabit Vegan Artbook but Cuntons stands out in particular. She hates all animals except her pets for reasons and loathes wolves in particular for more reasons. So naturally she killed a wolf and now wears its skinned head as a very ghoulish hat.
- An episode of Braceface deals with a short tiff between Sharon and Miranda when the former plans to participate in a fashion show wearing fur clothes. In the end, Sharon decides to accept Miranda's decision, whereas Miranda has switched out all the real fur for faux fur.
- Megamind has "custom made baby seal leather boots", just to try and prove that he's evil.
- The Simpsons has Mr. Burns; despite the fact he is normally only seen wearing his trademark business suit, the episode "Two Dozen & One Greyhounds" reveals he has a real fixation on the most unusual sorts of fur for his clothing. Besides the greyhound fur tuxedo he plans on making from the puppies he stole from the Simpsons, his wardrobe includes a vest made from the chest of a gorilla, a sweater made from Irish Setter fur, a hat made from the skin of his last pet cat, evening wear made from the skin and wings of vampire bats, slippers made from the feet of albino African rhinocerii, grizzly bear fur underpants, literal turtleneck shirts, a beret made from the head of a French poodle, two formal suits (one single-breast, one double-breast) made from the breast-feathers of robins, and a set of loafers made from gophers. He also comments that when he made the loafers, the alternative would have been skinning his chauffeurs.
- It has been said that when she was in college, Ann Coulter would wear fur coats even in summer to annoy her classmates (whether for attention or political reasons).
- The Road to Wellville features characters in the early 20th century, acting like moderately militant PETA members. Whether people were actually like that at the time, it seems likely that this was more of a bow to politics at the time the film was made.
- There were indeed animal lovers at the time, but for the most part they only protested against blatant cruelty to animals.
- It gets a bit ridiculous in Harry Turtledove's Crosstime Traffic novel Gunpowder Empire. The two main characters will literally stop whatever is happening just to talk about how nobody wears fur anymore and how polite society sees it as repulsive. This doesn't just happen once, but about 9 times in a 200 or so page book. The alternate timeline never saw the Roman Empire fall or technology advance much past our timeline's 400 AD. Still, even if they're in northern Europe and freezing, "FUR IS EVIL!"
- Notably, the narration points out the hypocrisy involved. It's something of a hallmark of Turtledove to have characters express a viewpoint, while the narration points out the flaws and cultural viewpoints that shade that belief.
- Mary, Bloody Mary (a Mary Tudor POV novel) mentions Anne Boleyn owning an elegant sable coat.
Playing With (although any outright aversions should go in Pretty in Mink instead)
- Played with in a Josie and the Pussycats comic. Alexandra has a line of fur coats, which Melody says is cruel. Alexandra explains that they are manmade, and starts naming off the synthetic ingredients. Melody doesn't get it and demands she free the Orlons.
- Captain Cold in The Flash wears a parka; in one issue of the DC Animated Universe Justice League comic he tells the Flash that it's not trimmed with real fur because he's an environmentalist.
- In the EC Comics Science-Fiction SuspenStory "What Fur?!", in a space-faring future where skunks are being driven to extinction due to demand for their pelts, a furrier seeks to make a killing on a little-explored small planet which is crawling with skunks. Unfortunately, this planet turns out also to have giant furry aliens who like to wear human skins around their necks.
- In an early Get Fuzzy Sunday strip, Bucky accuses a woman wearing a fleece coat on the subway of being a "Muppet killer".
- Inverted Trope in Hell on Heels: The Battle for Mary Kay, Mary Kay wears fur, and even gives a black mink coat to the best saleswoman each year. The film portrays these women as hard-working, while The Rival, who eventually makes her company fold, never wears fur.
- Subverted in Black Panther (2018) with M'Baku, who's extremely antagonistic in his first appearance and later appears in an outfit with gorilla-fur accents. However, he proves to be a valuable ally to the protagonists.
- Sister Act has a Downplayed example. Vince tries to buy Deloris' love back by giving her a mink coat dyed purple. Deloris really likes the coat and since she has another fur coat she clearly doesn't have any issue with wearing fur. However, she discovers that Vince's wife's name is embroidered inside the coat, which is when she gets mad. Even then, it's not the fact that it's a fur coat but it's the fact that Vince is trying to get her back with stealing somebody else's possession. Her storming to Vince's office to return it makes her an eyewitness to a murder, which kickstarts the plot.
- Tamora Pierce prefaces at least one of her books with a foreword telling animal rights groups that wearing animal furs is inevitable in a middle ages-based fantasy setting, and doesn't necessarily condone them in real life.
- In Brothers in Arms by Lois McMaster Bujold, Miles Vorkosigan buys a "cat blanket" which is made of fur. The subversion is that the blanket is a genetically engineered living organism. It doesn't shed, is self-cleaning, lives via photosynthesis or microwave absorption, purrs, and snuggles up. Still, Miles, Ivan and later Mark, are by turns delighted and creeped out by it.
- The video for Deee-Lite's "Groove Is In The Heart" points out that Lady Miss Kier is wearing fake fur.
- In the Book of Genesis after Adam and Eve eat the Forbidden Fruit, they become aware that they are nude, and begin to view their nudity as shameful. So they sew fig leaves together to make loincloths for themselves. They are confronted by God and kicked out of the Garden of Eden to toil in the fields, suffer, grow old, feel pain, and die, never permitted back to the Garden again. But before He kicks them out, He gives them new clothes made out of animal skins, which is usually interpreted as the price for or consequence of sin being suffering and death (in this case, of whatever animals the skins came from). It could also be interpreted somewhat more positively as the idea that Humans Are Special, more than the animals.
- In one episode, Phoebe on Friends got a fur coat as a gift and, being the hippie of the group, constantly complained about how evil it was — until she tried it on and decided it looked good. For the rest of the episode, she justified wearing it using very spurious and shaky logic, and eventually she gave it to a hobo when a squirrel made her feel guilty.
- Veronica Mars wears a coat with a faux-fur collar while talking to some animal rights activists, realizes it, and takes it off. One of them sneaks behind her and moves to chop the collar off; Veronica catches her, shrieking "It's fake!" (This is probably important to actress Kristen Bell, who is herself one of the sane-ish kinds of animal rights activists.)
- This is spoofed in Team Fortress 2. One of the many cosmetic items replaces the Medic's lab coat with one that's been lined with white fur, and the description offers a "guarantee" that "at least three endangered species went extinct during the making of this product", and then it ends with "Note: fur is synthetic".
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Given the level of technology in and where they live, Sokka and Katara are apparently wearing animal furs to keep warm, with no stigma attached. Although there is this dialogue in "Bato of the Water Tribe".
Katara: Bato! It looks like home!
Sokka: Everything's here, even the pelts!
Aang: [unenthusiastically] Yeah... nothing's cozier than dead animal skins.
- Of course, this makes sense given that Aang is a vegetarian and cares for animals in general. Using animal products as a matter of practicality is one thing, but it has to irk him slightly for his close friends to be EXCITED over it.
- A canon comic features a fur salesman using synthetic fur and going on a rant about the cruelty of real fur.
- Given the level of technology in and where they live, Sokka and Katara are apparently wearing animal furs to keep warm, with no stigma attached. Although there is this dialogue in "Bato of the Water Tribe".
- In the South Park episode Douche and Turd, PETA is shown constantly going around and dumping red paint on people wearing fur. This comes back to bite them when one of their members dumps paint on P. Diddy's pimp coat. With his crew, he proceeds to gun down the entire PETA complex.
- In one episode of The Itchy & Scratchy Show, Itchy (the mouse) skins Scratchy (the cat) alive and sells Scratchy's fur-covered skin to a Grande Dame. Scratchy, sans skin, accosts the Dame and takes his skin back, wrapping it around his neck. He leaves the store and is immediately pelted with red paint by a PETA-type group holding signs like "Fur is Murder."
- One of Cartoon Network's What A Cartoon one-shots, Yoink Of the Yukon, revolved around a grizzly bear named Nook and his feud with the Royal Canadian Mounties over their allowal of fur trapping in the Yukon. Mind you, this being meant for comedy, fur trapping here is portrayed as literally stealing the clothes off the critters backs, leaving then naked and freezing in the snow. The issue is resolved when the main character Yoink, after much conflict, ends up outfitting all of Nooks friends with a set of tuxedos he got off the Home Shopping Network.
Yoink: It was the best I could do on such short notice, eh?