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Offending the Creator's Own

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"Far from lampooning the Left, Carol insults conservatives by presuming that they are so simple as to be won over by fat jokes and flatulence."
Michael Brendan Doherty on An American Carol

Something is released to the public, and something in it offends a group of people, say for instance, members of a certain religion. They might call in to complain and express their distaste, but there's a twist: the creator of the work is also part of that religion!


Why would someone offend their own faith? Differences in opinion, most likely. Maybe this practitioner isn't offended by certain things that offend others, and didn't realize there would be a problem. Or maybe they did realize there would be a problem, and plowed ahead because they felt membership in the group gave them particular insight into airing uncomfortable observations. The point is, that while works must be judged on their own qualities, the personal background of an author can serve to make any accusation of bias more complex to unravel. And in a world where the differences, both real and imaginary, make interaction all the more complicated, that's saying something.

While this trope isn't limited to religious satire, it often finds a home here. Many critics will ask why the creator doesn't mock or criticize any other religion, and the reason is simple familiarity. The creator has intimate knowledge of his own faith from a lifetime of hearing its doctrines. Even if he currently identifies as atheist, this was still the culture of his upbringing, so he's naturally more comfortable taking apart its tenets rather than a religion where he lacks such familiarity. This is doubly true if the other religion is a stark minority in his country.


For the record, it is just as condescending to presume all members of a group must share the same opinions about what is offensive, as to presume that anyone who offers a harsh depiction of a group must be an outsider: that's the same logic that leads people to argue that something isn't offensive to a group because they have a friend from that group who's okay with it. And that way lies madness.

Note that intentionally mocking your own group, particularly for comedic reasons, is Self-Deprecation (sometimes overlapping with N-Word Privileges), a different trope. May result from Poe's Law. Compare Unwanted Assistance, Stop Being Stereotypical. Note that this may not stop those most offended from branding the creator in question as a Category Traitor and/or Boomerang Bigot, wrongfully or otherwise. The inverse is Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales, where a depiction of a group of people by an outsider that some might consider stereotypical or negative is nevertheless embraced by real members of that group. Compare My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting, where the creator is offending their own country.



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    Artworks and Exhibitions 
  • ''Snow White and The Madness of Truth'' was a Swedish art-installation about suicide bombing that caused a lot of controversy. It was accused of being antisemitic and glorifying suicide bombers, and eventually the Israeli ambassador to Sweden personally went to vandalize the installation. The artist behind the installation is Israeli-born and Jewish, thought being Jewish and Israeli-born is no reason not to support other views.
  • Cartoonist Robert "Buck" Brown did a great many cartoons for Playboy, many featuring his Granny character. Others had to do with race relations, in a humorous way. One, which featured a soul food restaurant in the inner city called "Sho 'Nuff Boss Chow", started a firestorm of protest that he was a racist. Brown was African-American.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Many critics of Sekirei accuse the series of being sexist, with its extreme fanservice and ditzy female characters. The writer, Sakurako Gokurakuin, is a woman.
  • Girls und Panzer: Most of the tankery teams are based on a single nation and their members act like stereotypical members of that nation (except the leads, who are a mix of many different tanks). The Japanese tankery team? Chi-Ha-Tan Academy, one of the weakest teams, with a habit of acknowledging no other tactics other than Attack! Attack! Attack!, as a parody of the Imperial Japanese army and their often-suicidal refusal to surrender or retreat.

    Comic Books 
  • In the "Crushed" arc of Ms. Marvel (2014), G Willow Wilson being herself a Muslim did not prevent a minority of readers from arguing that Kamala's boyfriend-until-he-showed-his-true-colours Kamran being a member of Lineage's villainous Inhuman gang and trying to force Kamala into it encouraged views of Muslim men as evil and abusive towards women. Despite the fact that the comic includes many male Muslim characters who are neither and that "first boyfriend turns out to be evil" as a metaphor for sexually-exploitative teenage boys has been a trope in stories about teenage girl heroes for a long time.

    Comic Strips 
  • One early Pearls Before Swine Sunday strip featured Pig eating in an absolutely filthy Greek restaurant where the staff spoke broken English. Greeks and Greek-Americans were not happy. The author, Stephan Pastis, is himself Greek-American.
    Restaurant owner: Yasou, pig...Georgios, he drop you gyro behind stove, but ees okay, becose Yanni can reach with mop...
    • To give more details, when the strip was reprinted in a treasury, Pastis added this comment:
      Pastis: This June 9th strip was my first experience with reader outrage. I thought that I could get away with it because I was Greek. That was not the case. Greeks everywhere complained. While I wouldn't do it again, I still maintain that everyone is just a wee bit too sensitive these days.

     Fan Works 
  • Word of God is that the author of Angel Of The Bat wanted to get some Catholic readers really excited about the story before revealing the main character was a lesbian-leaning bisexual. It was done to make a statement about a matter of religious reform, despite the author's own Catholicism. To his slight disappointment but largely his approval, his readership never expressed a problem with it.

    Film — Animated 
  • A small number of Scots (mainly Scots-Americans of distant Scottish ancestry) condemned Brave for offensive ethnic caricatures (and for overshadowing the native Scottish-made film Sir Billi) despite the number of well-known Scottish actors who happily did voices for it. Conversely, Scotland as a whole embraced the movie wholeheartedly.
  • Some have criticized Inside Out for having the only plus-sized character be Sadness. (Not to mention she has other stereotypically "unattractive" traits, such as glasses, emo hair, short stature). The physical appearances of the emotion characters are all heavily modeled after their voice actors, and the actor behind Sadness, Phyllis Smith, is a plus-sized woman who happens to have eyewear.
  • The Emoji Movie's director Tony Leondis, who is openly gay, once compared the main character Gene's struggles with showing off his face-changing ability with how gay men struggle with coming out in real life. However, the fact that Gene nearly got the phone factory reset because of his ability, not to mention he inherited it from his father, made the whole metaphor come across as insulting towards those in the LGBT community.
    • Similarly, the lead female character, Jailbreak, has been met with widespread mockery and apathy by feminist fans despite her plotline and motivations advocating strongly for women's issues. Some would say too strongly. The fact that the plot breaks the character's pro-feminism aesop cleanly in half, combined with a common perception of Jailbreak as being placed in the movie solely for brownie points, left the movie with a pro-feminist character for whom 90% of feminists didn't bite.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • As the header quote from conservative columnist Michael Brendan Doherty suggests, many conservatives did not actually like the right-wing comedy film An American Carol by conservative filmmaker David Zucker because they found it condescending towards its imagined Republican audience.
  • American Psycho: Like the novel, the film adaptation was also controversial for its violence towards women, yet the director and writers of the film, Mary Harron (director/writer) and Guinevere Turner (writer), are women. They made conscious decisions that project the female influence on this adaption. The film changes the focus from purely Bateman's perspective to showcase the faces of the women at certain scenes.
  • Sex and the City 2 features a gay wedding scene. The problem? It's staged like a cross between Swan Lake and a bizarre Broadway musical number, complete with absurd, gaudy costumes. This led Salon's Andrew O'Hehir to ask: "Can a gay wedding scene staged by a gay director still be homophobic and offensive?" The answer? Yes.
  • Some people complained that the Bridge to Terabithia movie contained messages mocking Christians. One character questions whether God would go around damning people to Hell, and another character says that an atheist girl would go to heaven after death for having been a good person, in spite of not being a Christian. The author of the book on which the movie is based is a Christian, though apparently a more moderate or liberal one than the Christians she offended with her open message. In fact, the author's parents were missionaries to China, and the author herself is married to a Presbyterian minister; moreover, many of the issues that caused offense are actual live debates in Christian theology, with there being serious arguments on both sides firmly rooted in logic and in Scripture.
  • Some Roman Catholics protested against Kevin Smith's Dogma as blasphemy. Smith is a practicing Roman Catholic himself, though his personal beliefs are not completely typical of the church. Smith pranked the protesters by joining their ranks for a photo-op, portraying himself as particularly ignorant, saying he'd never even seen the film.
  • Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ offended Christians of all denominations across the world even if Scorsese is Catholic himself (who had earlier used a Biblical quotation non-ironically at the end of Raging Bull) and affirmed that he was a believer when he made the film.
  • Some people criticized the film The Last Airbender because the good guys are played mostly by light-skinned actors, but the villainous Fire Nation is given a Race Lift from a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Japan to being played by a wide variety of darker-skinned actors, including Indians and Polynesians. Director M. Night Shyamalan is Indian and even gave himself a Creator Cameo as a Fire Nation mook.
  • The film Mohammad, Messenger of God was produced and directed by Moustapha Akkad, a Muslim who consulted Muslim clerics on how to avoid giving offense (for instance, any scene where Muhammad is present is shot from his point of view to avoid depicting him). That didn't prevent an extremist attack on the film's premiere.
  • Iron Sky pokes fun at Finland, which meekly admits that they are the only country that didn't think to violate treaties and arm their spaceship. They're therefore useless in the fight against Space Nazis. The director is Finnish and the film was financed in part by Finns. Since the movie ends with the non-Finnish nations murdering civilians on the moon and starting a nuclear war, you could argue that Finland comes out looking good. (If the film really wanted to insult the Finns, it would have brought up how Finland was briefly a member of the Axis during World War II, due to having a mutual enemy in the Soviet Union.)
  • The Justin Bieber documentary Never Say Never managed to offend not just Bieber's home country, but specifically his home town of Stratford, Ontario, by portraying it as a cultural wasteland to make his rise to fame a more inspirational story of overcoming the odds. Stratford is home to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, one of the most prestigious theater festivals in the world.
  • The character Borat often makes antisemitic remarks, but the actor who plays him, Sacha Baron Cohen, is a Jewish man himself. In fact, his fake "Kazakh" language is actually Hebrew. Baron Cohen has stated that the character's purpose is to mock antisemites. The Kazakhs didn't appreciate being used as the foil however.
  • Mel Brooks has occasionally been accused of being antisemitic - To Be or Not to Be in particular attracted this criticism. Brooks is, of course, Jewish and never fails to include Jewish references and Borscht Belt-style jokes in his films.
  • Lucio Fulci was a Catholic, though several of his pictures have been accused of being anti-Catholic (e.g. Don't Torture a Duckling was banned in the United States for years on account of a priest being depicted as a serial killer with good intentions, and City of the Living Dead starts with a priest hanging himself in a cemetery and then coming back as a murderous demon).
  • Oliver Stone has come in for heavy criticism from the political right over the years for mocking the military, among other things. In fact, Stone served in the US Army during The Vietnam War. And according to Gene Siskel, many Vietnam veterans strongly identified with the film Platoon.
  • Independence Day was heavily criticized for playing America Saves the Day too straight, rendering the entirety of Europe completely useless as they wait for the American heroes to save the world from the alien invasion. Of course, it was written and directed by Roland Emmerich, who's German.
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's twins were seen as Ethnic Scrappy characters embodying lots of negative stereotypes of black people. Mudflap was played by Reno Wilson, who was surprised when he found out that he should be offended by his character.
  • Country Strong was criticised for being sexist towards women. And yet it was written and directed by a woman.
  • The Neon Demon was criticized by some for having misogynistic undertones, but it was written by two women.

  • C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia are sometimes accused of being "pagan" or "occultist" due to the inclusion of supernatural beings from Classical Graeco-Roman mythology among Narnia's native sentients. This is in spite of Lewis himself being an avowed Christian who wrote the series with some extremely obvious Christian allegory.
  • Madeleine L'Engle (Episcopalian) had her books removed en masse from American Christian bookstores after her slightly unorthodox theological beliefs came to light.
  • Harry Potter is accused of being stealth propaganda for Satanists or pagans, but J. K. Rowling herself is a Christian (Anglican) and in interviews has stated that the magic in her books was inspired by Narnia.
  • It is easy for a modern-day reader to view many of the writings of St. Augustine of Hippo (Confessions, City of God) as overly harsh and even bigoted toward non-Christians. In fact, St. Augustine was a pagan himself for a good portion of his life, and much of the condemnation in his writings arguably was aimed at himself and his former lifestyle.
  • The Satanic Verses by the Indian Muslim-born author Salman Rushdie (though he was an atheist at that point) became famous in no small part because it offended his own so much that the religious leader of Iran issued a fatwa against him that is technically still in effect (though Rushdie himself has said that he no longer considers his life to be in serious danger from it).
  • Juanita Brooks earned the ire of the Mormon Church after publishing an account of the Mountain Meadows Massacre that implicated Brigham Young, the second President of The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints, in the efforts to conceal Mormon involvement in the massacre. Brooks herself was a lifelong devout Mormon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Many Torchwood fans furiously denounced Ianto being killed in "Children Of Earth" as homophobic, even though the show's creator, Russell T. Davies, is probably the highest-profile openly gay man in British TV. Unfortunately for Russell, he's a romanticist in the 'I shall but love thee better after death' sense, and can't help killing off his couples. It's in his bones.
  • In the 2005 series of Doctor Who, Rose says that the Doctor is "so gay." Russell T. Davies was the showrunner of this series at the time as well, and wrote the episode in question ("Aliens of London") himself.
  • Barry Letts co-wrote and directed the Doctor Who story "Planet of the Spiders" as a deliberate parable expressing his own Buddhist beliefs. He was upset to receive letters from Buddhists protesting about the use of the "Jewel in the Lotus" mantra "Om mani padme hum" in the context of villains summoning up alien monsters, although defending himself on the grounds that the story explicitly described it as the misuse of something usually good.
  • The Wire creator David Simon has gotten flak for the character of shameless drug lawyer Maurice Levy, who frequently exhibits Jewish mannerisms and stereotypes. Simon is Jewish and insisted that he knew the drug lawyers upon which Levy is based and they were all, in fact, Jewish. The sympathetic lawyer of the show—prosecutor and occasional Only Sane Woman Rhonda "Ronnie" Pearlman—is also Jewish, but you'd never know it.
  • Hogan's Heroes has come under fire from various sides more or less for the implications of featuring the Third Reich in a comedic context. However, much like Mel Brooks' intent (see below), the Germans' roles were played by Jewish actors who had served in the U.S. armed forces and wouldn't have allowed the Nazis to be viewed in a positive light even once (one of them was a Holocaust survivor, two others had been in camps, and those three had lost family to Nazi atrocities). Despite using Politically Correct History in many respects and fudging some of the facts for the sake of entertainment, the show does (correctly and importantly) make distinctions between POW camps and concentration camps, and between Nazis and the Germans simply caught up in the whole mess (the former being unambiguously villains when they did appear, the latter strongly embodied by Sgt. Schultz, the Minion with an F in Evil).
  • It's pretty much a fact to say that no one hates The Big Bang Theory more than the nerds it's supposed to be writing about and appealing to. A common criticism among self-identified "nerds" is that it is "nerdface" and laughs at nerds rather than with them. Given that they tend to get their nerd-culture and science references meticulously correct, it can be reasoned that there are at least a few nerds working on the show, although they may simply be fact-checkers that have little to no say on the characters or story.

  • Mel Brooks' Hitler Rap was widely criticized as insenstive to Jews, if not actually anti-Semitic. In an interview for 60 Minutes, Brooks stated that his life's goal was to reduce Hitler to a figure of such ridiculousness that no one would ever take his ideas seriously again (if the numerous Tonys that The Producers won are any indication, it's working). Being both Jewish and a World War II veteran, if anyone has N-Word Privileges to joke about Adolf Hitler it's him.
  • Jacques Brel caused a lot of controversy during his career for writing satirical songs offending the Flemish, the Dutch speaking population of Belgium. Although he spoke French (Like the other half of Belgium's population, the Walloons), Brel's family was Flemish and thus felt he had the right to criticize his own people.
  • It has been said about Madonna that only a Catholic could piss off the Catholic Church as much as she used to. Especially during the Eighties, her highly sexual persona and use of Catholic imagery (with "Like a Prayer" being the most notorious) earned her the ire of the Catholic Church more than a few times. Some have even claimed that Madonna's very name is offensive, that she chose it specifically to mock the Virgin Mary. In fact it is her actual birth name, given to her by her devoutly Catholic parents - her mother, in fact, was also named Madonna.
  • Tom Araya of Slayer, one of the lead Rock Me, Asmodeus! bands, is a Catholic who said that his band's music will "never interfere with what I believe and how I feel."
  • Similarly to the above, Ralph Santolla a Catholic, was a lead guitarist in Deicide, one of the most vocally anti-Christian bands in death metal.
  • At one point, foul-mouthed proto-punk Ian Dury was accused of mocking the disabled with a song called "Spasticus Autisticus" by several disabled rights groups. Dury was himself disabled (partially paralysed due to childhood polio) and recorded the song as a combative response to requests that he get involved with the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981, which he considered to be patronising in its whole approach to the subject. In 2012, the song got a prominent place in the opening ceremony of the London Paralympics.
  • Believe or not, the song "All Coons Look Alike To Me" was composed by black American entertaininer Ernest Hogan, who is also credited for creating the Ragtime genre. It's stated that he eventually regretted the usage of slurs in his music.
  • Prince frequently explored sexually taboo themes in his music, to the point where one of his songs was supposedly the catalyst for the Parents Music Resource Center. Prince was also a lifelong Christian - he was raised Seventh Day Adventist, later converting to Jehovah's Witness.

    Music Video 
  • Michael Jackson's Thriller opens with a disclaimer that "Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult. - Michael Jackson", inspired by Jackson's then-current involvement with Jehovah's Witnesses.

  • The sketch comedy series Round the Horne is now best remembered for its series of "Julian and Sandy" sketches, featuring two young Camp Gay men. Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick, who performed the routines, were in fact both gay, and the sketches became very popular among British gay men because they smuggled in a lot of actual gay male humour in a "laughing-with" way. There have, however, been repeated online Internet Backdraft incidents where American gay men have stumbled over the sketches and considered them homophobic due to the stereotyping, to the displeasure of British gay men.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons was the target of a Satanic moral panic from Christian groups during the 80s. There were even rumors that a Christian children's charity had refused a donation made in creator Gary Gygax's name when he died, though the rumor was false. Gygax was actually an outspoken Christian, and even included a verse from the Gospel of Matthew in his e-mail signature.

    Video Games 
  • LittleBigPlanet has a song that had to be modified to have the lyrics removed, as it had verses from the Koran and "might offend Muslims", as many Muslim clerics and scholars agree not to make verses of the Qur'an incorporated into entertainment. The composer, however, is a Muslim himself.
  • Sandy Petersen, one of the level designers for Doom, is a Mormon, and is quoted by John Romero as saying "I have no problems with the demons in the game. They're just cartoons. And, anyway, they're the bad guys." Students of Petersen's recent game design courses say that he has maintained this stance.
  • My Ex-Boyfriend the Space Tyrant features a young, openly gay Twink in a barely-there shirt and booty shorts as its protagonist, most of the men are equally as buff and scantily clad, their spaceship has bright pink everywhere, and the doors are phallic-shaped. The developer himself is gay, but it didn't stop Steam Train fans, some of them gay men themselves, from either getting offended or rolling their eyes when Danny, Arin, and Ross decided to play it on the show.
  • 1942 and 1943 feature American pilots out to defeat Japanese forces...and were produced by a Japanese developer. The latter, which uses the names of real-world World War II-era Imperial Japanese Navy battleships, had to have said battleships renamed for the Famicom port.
  • Some female gamers strongly dislike the appearance of Bayonetta, finding her highly sexualized design to be objectifying and demeaning. However, Bayonetta's character design was made by a woman, Mari Shimazaki, and her creator, Hideki Kamiya, has stated that "only a woman could have made Bayonetta look like she does.''
  • The planned Tactical Shooter Six Days in Fallujah, based on the Second Battle of Fallujah during the Iraq War, was cancelled in 2009 after immense backlash saying it was Too Soon and trivialized the horrors people experienced. This was despite the fact that marines from Fallujah asked developer Atomic Games to make a game based on their experiences, and the developers interviewed over 70 U.S. Marines, Iraqi civilians and insurgents, war historians, and senior military officials so they could accurately portray the psychological complexities of the battle.

    Western Animation 
  • The Boondocks tends to be thoroughly unencumbered by political correctness in its satire of African American culture, and has more than once managed to offend black public figures despite creator Aaron McGruder being black himself. The alternate history episode featuring MLK Jr. waking up from his coma only to be vocally disgusted with the current culture among African Americans (and decried as a race traitor for voicing this opinion to their faces) was a particularly controversial (and meta) example.
  • South Park: The character Cartman is a raving antisemite, who at least Once an Episode bullies Kyle for being Jewish. This has caused some moral watchdogs to accuse the show of being antisemitic, despite the fact that one of its creators, Matt Stone, is ethnically Jewish (albeit an atheist by personal belief). On top of that, Cartman far more often the villain of an episode than its hero, and episodes where he is the hero never has him bullying Kyle (though he will still sometimes behave harshly to Kyle).
  • Family Guy: In the episode "Extra Large Medium" Chris dates a girl, Ellen, who has Down Syndrome. This, and the fact that it is implied in the episode that Ellen's mother is Sarah Palin, whose son has Down Syndrome, caused a lot of controversy. Yet, the role of Ellen was played by actress Andrea Fay Friedman, who has Down Syndrome herself. That being said, her lines were written in a rather transparent expression of the writers' own political views.
    • Of course, once Palin herself criticized the show, the voice-actress wrote an open letter telling Palin to "get a sense of humor", as seen on Palin's page on this wiki.
  • The British cartoon Rastamouse was attacked by some people as ethnic stereotyping, despite its co-writer Michael de Souza being a Rastafarian from Trinidad.
  • The inclusion of the unused character Concrete in the "Art of Steven Universe" book raised a considerable stink when many fans deemed her blackface-like appearance (dark skin and thick pale lips) and character description ("Has a wicked shoe collection," "Can't read"note ) to invoke racist stereotypes of Black women (she was removed from future printings). The creator of the design, Lamar Abrams, who is African American himself, would apologize for the design, though the description was written by Hilary Florido, a White woman.

    Real Life 
  • Columnist S. E. Cupp is a professed atheist who, nevertheless, supports the Religious Right in the United States and claims that only with religion can people be moral (leading to some Fridge Logic about her own morality...). She is such an extreme example that some have theorized that she must secretly be a conservative Christian who is only pretending to be an atheist to make atheists look bad. Considering that she doesn't seem to understand how atheists behave... Or else, she is self-hating (the latter may be born out by her comments that she "aspires to be" a person of faith).
  • Red Mesa High School in Teec Nos Pos, Arizona, despite being in a town that is over 95% Native American, has Redskins as their team name. Despite the recent controversy regarding the NFL team, the town appears to have little problem with their own school using the term, although that could just be because they regard themselves as having N-Word Privileges (well, "R-Word privileges").
  • In 2016, a Portland bakery caused some controversy when they began serving an Oreo-based cupcake called "Mr. President", believing it to be a racist slurnote  against President Obama. It turned out that the owner of the bakery, and the one who named the snack in the first place, was herself blacknote . Nonetheless, the cupcake ended up being renamed "The Professional" due to the controversy.

Alternative Title(s): Offending The Authors Own


Example of: