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Pretend Prejudice

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"A beth din is a council of elders that presides over matters of Jewish law. (to Snot, who is Jewish)
Yours is a rich and fascinating culture
which we despise."
Skinhead, American Dad!

You've got a character who is very proud of being X, and thinks that all Ys (and Zs, and A through Ws for that matter) are an inferior race/species/gender/religion/etc. and should be killed in a massive uprising by Xs and those surviving enslaved.

There's just one problem. 90% of their friends are Ys. They talk a good game, probably mumbles "Kill all Ys" in their sleep, but deep down they like them (or at least doesn't hate them genocidally). Tends to show up in general as a Pet the Dog moment when there's a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, Heroic Comedic Sociopath or Sociopathic Hero or Token Evil Teammate in the main character lineup.

Of course, once they meets up with people who do genuinely deeply share their skin-deep belief, these Y friends will make things very complicated. Usually because their new X-ist friends insist they kill them to prove how devoted they are to the cause. Of course, they'll be forced to decide which they prefer (and typically side with the Y friends). Occasionally, this won't shake their Y-cism, and may in fact trigger loud protests that they still hates Ys.

There are many possible motivations for Pretend Prejudice. Perhaps someone lives in an environment where prejudice is more socially acceptable than tolerance (for example, a man parroting sexist banter to fit in with his macho peers). Perhaps they work for an X-ist employer and wants to protect their position. Or they could join an X-ist organization as The Mole and use their position to protect members of group Y. They could be reacting out of crass cynicism, reasoning (or at least rationalizing) that people already believe they are prejudiced due to prejudices of their own, so they might as well do something to deserve it. Or they might like members of the Y-group as individuals, but find them annoying collectively ("If they don't want to be called [slur], they should stop acting like [slur]!"). Or perhaps the person is simply a Straw Hypocrite using their show of prejudice for personal gain.

Compare and contrast Boomerang Bigot and You Are What You Hate, where the bigotry is genuine, but the bigot is prejudiced against a group they belong to.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass: Gino Weinberg is a nice, cheerful young man who really likes the idea of Britannia being a brutal, racist dystopia. He's still very good friends (maybe too good) with Suzaku, who is Japanese, the persecuted minority group in his world.

    Comic Books 
  • Baron Helmut Zemo from Marvel Comics was the son of a Nazi and very much a racist supremacist. That didn't stop him from having people of other ethnicities and races on his super-villain teams. Compare this to how he spoke about Captain America's black partner, Falcon, or his Jewish (and gay) friend, Arnie. To cement the irony, he even has a French guy on his team at least once. And his father, a full-blown Nazi, once had a Chinesenote  villain, Radioactive Man, on his team of super-villains (later, Helmut would have the same, now-reformed man on one of his heroic teams as well). Eventually, during his very rocky proto-redemption (he was really just an Anti-Villain and not a real good guy), he slept with a Jewish teammate who was "secretly" trying to stop his Evil Plan.
  • Sparkplug, a Super Hero character from the Flare/Champions universe, was raised by Nazi war criminals, and if asked will proudly declare her racial superiority, but she'll save anyone of any race, work with heroes of any race, she does nothing to promote her beliefs and actively avoids contact with Neo-Nazis and white supremacists; in fact, she feels sorry for those "not fortunate enough" to be born Aryan.
  • Justice League Elite communications and intelligence expert Naif al-Sheikh complains repeatedly that he hates superheroes, women, and anyone else that tests his rather limited patience. The fact that his best friend Vera Black is a white, female, punk rocker ex-supervillain mean such complaints end up falling rather flat however, especially since he eventually ended up getting himself arrested because he couldn't bring himself to harm her.
    • For all that he repeatedly denigrates Dawn, he insists on making sure she is well-compensated after her husband Manitou Raven is killed during a mission.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit with toons, because one killed his brother. It doesn't stop him from becoming good friends with Roger though (much to his chagrin). Even before he comes into contact with Roger, Eddie is shown to be on good terms with Betty Boop, and openly lusts after Jessica Rabbit (along with the rest of the male population... and some females out there as well). Before his brother's death, the two actually specialized in Toon cases because they thought Toons were such a gas. Eddie befriending Roger is sort of him relearning why Valiant & Valiant used to do the sort of work they did.
  • In Gangs of New York, the Nativist gang leader professes to despise immigrants, yet he deeply respects his old Irish nemesis and even takes the man's son under his wing. He doesn't realize who the son is for most of the movie, but he does know that he's Irish, and constantly ribs him about it. That doesn't stop him from developing a genuinue affection for the young man, to the point of seeing him as a surrogate son.
  • Lampshaded in Do the Right Thing when Mookie points out that most of the music Pino likes are by black musicians, as well as most of his favorite sports figures being black.
  • Gran Torino: Walt Kowalski has more in common with his Hmong neighbors than his own family, despite spouting every slur in the book. Then again, he has a slur for everybody, including his fellow white man, and takes (not to mention uses) a few for his own Polish background.
  • Animal Mother in Full Metal Jacket refers to blacks as jungle bunnies, cracks a joke to his buddy 8-Ball (a black man) about sickle cell, and when the prostitute comes around to the squad, takes her from 8-Ball, saying "All fucking niggers should fucking hang." Of course, he's a Sociopathic Hero, but considering the fact they're all fighting in Vietnam, it seems the point is that race is tertiary to these guys. They're Marines first, Americans second, then whatever race they are. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman falls under this as well.
    • When 8-Ball is down and being used as bait by the sniper, it's Animal Mother that goes ballistic with his need to save him.
  • Dead Air: Logan is forced to badmouth Muslims on the air by one of the terrorists, who are seeking to ignite a war between the western and Arab cultures through the attacks. His initial attempts at resistance and the revelation that his wife is, in fact, Muslim offer proof that he doesn't really mean what he's being forced to say.
  • In The Fortune Cookie, private investigator Chester Purkey is trying to prove that cameraman Harry Hinkle hasn't really been crippled by pro quarterback Luther "Boom Boom" Jackson. Hinkle and Jackson, who is black, have become friends. Purkey drops a few racial slurs against Jackson, betting that it will make Hinkle get out of his wheelchair and punch him.
  • Detective Spooner in I, Robot openly distrusts robots referring to them as 'canners' and think them able of being criminals, even when family and colleagues point out robots have no free will and have never committed a crime in history. This is revealed to be related to a car incident where a robot chose to save him over a little girl by acting on pure logic, and Spooner later becomes friends with the free-willed robot Sonny.

  • Christopher from Everworld, who claims to be a homophobic, anti-semitic, racist redneck. Ends up befriending a gay god, a Jew, and an African American during the course of the story, but even before then he didn't really mean most of his comments and even after he bonds with his friends he still makes jokes of the "I swear I'm still a racist" variety.
    • Also, having his family terrorized by actual white supremacist misogynistic skinheads makes him realize that he's not as racist as he thought he was.
  • Dragaera:
    • Vlad Taltos grew up as a second-class citizen in the Dragaeran Empire and was bullied by Dragaerans. He states repeatedly that he hates Dragaerans and becomes an assassin so that he can get paid to brutalize them. However as time goes on, he realizes that almost all of his genuine friends are Dragaerans, and he feels alienated from most of his own kind.
    • The same goes for Vlad's Dragaeran friends, particularly Aliera. To varying degrees, they all have imperialist views toward the Eastern kingdoms and see themselves as culturally and genetically superior to Easterners. However, they still see Vlad as a valued friend.
  • Speaker-To-Animals from Ringworld could stand out as a Proud Warrior Race Guy variation. Significantly, it's the name the Kzinti gave a diplomat.
  • Discworld:
    • Sam Vimes supposedly has a high degree of Fantastic Racism, but this almost seems like an Informed Flaw in order to invoke the Noble Bigot with a Badge idea. In any case, the Watch he commands contains men, women, dwarfs, openly female dwarfs, trolls, a werewolf, a zombie, a golem, a vampire, gnomes, an Igor, gargoyles, at least one local equivalent of a Jehovah's Witness, a government auditor, and Nobby Nobbs. The Watch is noted as being the single most culturally diverse workplace in Ankh-Morpork.
    • Vimes is an equal-opportunity bigot. He thinks that everyone sucks. But he clearly thinks that vampires suck worse than anyone else, and goes out of his way to avoid hiring vampires until directly order to by the Patrician. Though it might be because vampires strongly remind him of aristocrats, who he sees as lazy and corrupt (because most of the ones he has to deal with are). Lady Margoletta seems to think it's Freudian. Or, to quote: "There are coppers, and there is everyone else." His categorization of "everyone else" mostly consists of "morons" and "suspects".
    • Colon, also fitting the Noble Bigot with a Badge idea might be a better example, especially in Jingo. He dislikes anything "foreign" and expresses a desire that all non-white citizens of Ankh-Morpork should leave, particularly the Klatchian ones with whom the city-state is currently at war. Still, he continues to eat at his favorite Klatchian restaurant where they know to make his curry sufficiently bland so it doesn't seem "foreign". Even he starts to soften at the end though, after they actually visit Klatch and when Nobby points out his hypocrisy. And even when he expressed an attitude about the 'right' colour he ended up confusing himself, as Constable Visit (an Omnian) is described by Nobby as 'pretty brown' and he had no problem with him, eventually concluding white is a state of mind. All in all his prejudice seemed to be more in the vein of national fervor than anything else, latching onto the most obvious common distinction between them. It is said once, and shown frequently, in the books that Fred is as a rule amicably disposed towards most people. By the end of the book Fred has softened enough in his attitudes to no longer be willing to patronize a restaurant that shows open racism. (And for Fred Colon to be unwilling to eat, you know that's a pretty major change of heart.)
  • In Angels & Demons Kohler hates Christianity, his best friend is a priest (and scientist).
  • Jeronimo in the The Baroque Cycle is to begin with a Spanish nobleman and proud of it, and thus given the setting, would likely be one with a low opinion of those of other races and religions. He also has Hollywood Tourette's which within the book is treated like a Demonic Possession which makes him reveal his true thoughts. Thus, you get Jeronimo becoming close to his fellow escaped galley slaves and when he declares his loyalty to his companions, he states (paraphrased) "You niggers, kikes, and camel jockeys are the only friends I've ever had!"
  • In the Animorphs special book Visser, Visser One displays this towards humans during her trial. Given the flashback format, it's pretty transparent (even to the tribunal, which is able to see her memories.)
  • A female inmate in The Mental State called Isabelle appears to get on the main character's nerves by slagging the male inmates off and lobbing chunks of crumpled-up paper at him. This is actually a covert means of communication and also used as a way to prevent others from finding out that the two genders are in cahoots with each other.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A lampshade is hung on this in Generation Kill over the course of an awesomely Derailed Conversation. One of the Marines starts unloading on the other guys about how they view Pocahontas after everything that happened to the Indians. Eventually, one of the other guys points out that even though he says he's an Indian, he looks like a Mexican, talks like he's Black, and he only ever hangs out with the White Marines. So just what the hell is he really?
  • Fred Tupper from Little Mosque on the Prairie regularly rants about Muslims (often accusing them of being terrorists) on his radio show but has no problem with: going to a Muslim doctor, watching a football game with a room full of Muslims, and eating halal food from a Muslim-owned cafe. In fact, he seems to have something of a friendship with Fatima, the cafe-owner. He's certainly shown that he cares about her.
  • On Sports Night, Jeremy is trying to get fired in order to avoid Natalie, and makes a lame attempt at pretending to be a racist. Of course even when he goes so far as to call his boss Isaac "Sambo" Isaac only responds with a good-natured laugh.
    Jeremy: I don't understand. How do real racists do it?
    Isaac: It's too late for you, Jeremy. You have to be taught by your parents.
  • On the Canadian Work Com Billable Hours, Toronto law firm partner Sam is Mistaken for Racist after using the word "niggardly" on a business TV show broadcast. In the midst of the controversy, he gets a call from a rural Albertan "heritage society" that's interested in retaining his services after seeing him on TV. Due to a common Central Canadian stereotype about Albertans, he assumes they're a white supremacist group and, when meeting with them in person, makes an unabashedly racist comment in order to please them. Instead, they're horrified because they're in fact a historical preservation society that has nothing to do with white supremacism.
  • The title character on House is a Politically Incorrect Hero to begin with, but he plays it up strategically. In one episode he distracts a Roma patient's family from interfering in his tests by loudly using the term "gyp" within earshot of the father.
  • On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Squad runs into a neo-Nazi group, with one member named Star Morrison being especially vicious with the racial slurs. When things get hairy, she reveals herself as an FBI mole named Dana Lewis. After The Reveal, she makes peace with Munch and Finn.
  • The Wire: This backfires in an episode when McNulty and Kima visit an out-of-town Sheriff, and McNulty makes some off-hand racist comments as he hopes it will endear him to the Sheriff, figuring him for a small-minded hick. When the Sheriff's black wife (and deputy) walks in, he quickly changes his tune.

    Video Games 
  • Crypto, in the video game Destroy All Humans! 1, says very mean things about humans. By Destroy All Humans! 2, after using pure Furon DNA to create a clone with working genitalia, canoodling with many hot girls, and being president of the United States, though he still says hateful things about humans, by that point he's just going through the motions, and trying to keep his feelings hidden.
  • Tenko Chabashira from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is known for her misandry, but it's noticeable that when push comes to shove her actions really don't back it up. She readily co-operates with Kaito and Gonta in Chapter 1, is just as distraught over the male deaths as anyone else, and shows concern and even defensiveness of Shuichi at numerous points. She even tells him trusted information in her Free Time Events and has a fair amount of scenes where she gets along with him just fine. It makes sense, given that Tenko's misandry doesn't come from any kind of actual trauma like Mahiru's attitude with boys did. If anything, it stems from gullibility on her part; Shuichi notes that Tenko's Neo-Aikido master, a male, was joking around when he told her not to get too excited for the holidays, not to eat more than three sweets a day, and not to let a boy touch her lest her moves be weakened, but Tenko took all this seriously. She is still very genuinely uncomfortable with making contact with them, but at the end of the day, Tenko's disdain for boys is more an idea she's forced herself to believe than something born of genuine dislike, and she spends much of her last Free Time Event with Shuichi making excuses for liking males such as him or her master that still fit within her Insane Troll Logic. Her Love Suite Event also suggests that she may have some romantic attraction to boys (or at least those who practice Neo-Aikido), but she heavily represses it because of what her master told her.
  • A Renegade Shepard can come across this way in Mass Effect, expressing borderline-bigoted "humans-first" views while staffing his or her ship with non-humans and even Boldly Coming should (s)he be so inclined. It's also impossible to complete the first game without ever including a non-human teammate on a mission, since one of your two human teammates dies on Virmire and you must have two companions at all times.
  • Reimu Hakurei, from the Touhou Project series, is a shrine maiden whose job is to exterminate Japanese folklore creatures known as youkai. Yet, despite her aggression towards them, she will usually befriend the culprits after solving an incident and even drink tea with them. Akyuu states that "extermination" basically means "rough up a bit" to her.
  • Christina in Princess Connect! Re:Dive is the vice-captain of NIGHTMARE, a guild and knight order who are as a whole known for their dislike of Beast folk. While Christina herself holds no ill will towards Beasts, she's more than happy to take advantage of human-Beast tensions to launch attacks on Beast guilds like Caon because she can.

  • From Homestuck, Eridan talks a lot of talk about how much he hates land-dwellers and trolls with inferior blood colours to the point of commissioning Vriska to make him a doomsday device to kill all non-sea-dwelling trolls. However, of his eleven correspondents, all but one have inferior blood colours to him, and apart from a few racist phrases every now and then, he doesn't seem particularly bothered. Eventually, everyone just stopped listening, assuming he was simply out for attention, and if he wasn't before, he probably is now.
  • Belkar, the Heroic Comedic Sociopath from The Order of the Stick, ostensibly has a deep-seated speciesism towards humans (and kobolds, and...well, anything besides himself, really), but he has at times shown a grudging respect for Roy, and was more than willing to join the rescue effort when Elan was captured by bandits. He has also expressed occasional sympathy for Haley and admiration for Lord Shojo. Furthermore, he has no qualm at all with banging human women.

    Belkar is kind of an inversion of the trope — pretty much every example on that list of ways his prejudice is "pretend" can be explained by the fact that it appeals to his nasty or duplicitous side (Roy in particular has mentioned that when Belkar agrees with him, he knows he's doing something wrong, and Shojo earned his admiration by being a major Magnificent Bastard quite apart from any discussion of Character Alignment), but ever since he had a hallucination that told him he could achieve much more long-term mayhem by faking Character Development for the short term, he's been pretending to be a much more complex and nuanced character; Pretend Tolerance, kind of thing. Though an element of Becoming the Mask has cropped up as well, with Belkar starting to feel very occasional moments of actual empathy despite wanting to remain just as self-interested and amoral as before.
  • Mike from Shortpacked! spends just as much time trolling his targets to "prove" that he or she is racist, as he does finding out what your identity is to apply some bigotism to it.

    Web Original 
  • During one of her reviews of a Bug/Flying Pokémon, IGN's Pokémon of the Day Chick said that she wanted to burn every single Bug/Flying type alive... except Scyther, who "would be spared because he kicks ass". The fact that, as of April 2010, Scyther's evolved form Scizor is one of the highest-ranking Pokémon in Smogon's OU tier may very well not hurt her case, even though she said this in 2002 or 2003.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama:
    • Bender's still a massive jerk to everybody, though. Had his moment when he visited a robot planet, and had to lead a search for Fry and Leela, the only humans there. He kept hiding them, or stalling. Though Fry and Leela showed some of their prejudices against robots in general in that episode. And he does mumble "Kill all humans" in his sleep.
    • Fry in particular shows himself to be another example of the trope. He feels sorry for his best friend Bender having to make a delivery on an "uninhabited" planet.
      Bender: It is inhabited, by robots.
      Fry: You mean in the way a warehouse is inhabited by boxes?
  • South Park: Cartman. Despite he and Kyle hating each other due to Cartman's religious bigotry, they spend a hell of a lot of time together. They do try to ditch Cartman and they are happy when he's not around. In the movie, this is subverted when Kyle tells Cartman he's Jewish, and Cartman doesn't believe him, saying "No, you're not, don't be so hard on yourself." To Cartman, "Jew" is just an insult.
    Cartman: Kyle, all those times I told you you're a dumb Jew, I didn't mean it. You're not a Jew.
    • In another episode, when he wanted a favor out of Kyle, he denied ever having mocked Kyle for being Jewish. We were promptly treated to a thirty-second montage of all the times in the show Cartman had insulted him by calling him a fucking Jew. Also, earlier...
      Mr. Garrison: Eric! Did you just say the F-Word?
      Cartman: Jew?
  • Family Guy: Peter once tried to pretend he was racist so he could get out of jury duty. Hilarity Ensues.
    Peter Griffin: Awful lotta honkies in here.
  • An episode of The Simpsons sees Bart going over to France, and in his place, his family hosts a young boy from Albania. When he arrives at school, Adil earnestly informs his new classmates that officially, he is required to hate them (Albania at the time was still a Communist dictatorship), but he does not feel that hatred in his heart.