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Unfortunate Implications

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"I'm amazed sometimes at the subtext that writers don't spot in their own work."
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The media to which TV Tropes is devoted generally exhibit greater sensitivity now than in the past. Even when authors are being careful with story elements, though, it's impossible for them to know every single person in the world's opinion or how certain tropes may be construed as offensive. Especially when you consider just how diverse human beings really are. When a work's content offends a large enough audience in a way that the author did not expect, you get this.

This is a highly subjective Audience Reaction, and since in the past this page became bogged down in arguments between tropers who believe that concerns about such matters simply relate to an overreach of "political correctness", and tropers who view the entire "political correctness" argument as a plausibly deniable defense of bigotry, no example may be added in this article or on a work article without proof that it's not just one person's thinking. Citations are done as follows:

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  • Blah Story Blah Blah Circumstance Blah Blah Implication Blah. Example Website

  • The citation needs to record the opinions of several people; a citation that mentions only one person isn't enough.
  • The citation should be in a reputable source. We'd prefer you cite something a bit more formal than someone's Tumblr blog or Twitter feed. Anyone can write a blog post and then call it a "citation".
  • Also, citations stuck behind paywalls or mandatory logins don't count. If people can't see your proof, then it doesn't prove much.

Keep in mind that Unfortunate Implications are unintentional. An intended offensive message (for example, a piece of Axis propaganda about Jews) does not belong here, nor does natter about the author's true intentions. Also, for something that may not be offensive to you personally but may offend others in a different culture or time period (or vice versa), see Values Dissonance.

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If you came here looking for unfortunate implications of the Nightmare Fuel variety, rather than the hopefully accidental offenses with which this trope concerns itself, see Fridge Horror. If something with this kind of content offends everyone, regardless of audience or time or place, then it's an Audience-Alienating Premise. If unfortunate implications are caused by the modern audience by once-innocent words changing meaning over time, it's Have a Gay Old Time. If a work's unfortunate implications become more famous than the work itself, then it's Overshadowed by Controversy.

To avoid these pitfalls, please see So You Want To Avoid Unfortunate Implications.

Subjects susceptible to Unfortunate Implications include:

Index


Examples

    open/close all folders 
    Anime and Manga 
  • Attack on Titan:
    • Dot Pixis, whom the author stated was modeled after General Akiyama Yoshifuru, sparked a massive Flame War over Akiyama's war record, with some detractors even thinking he was a World War II war criminal (despite having died long before the war even took place). That said, some speculate that he may have played some part in the Port Arthur massacre, yet another point of friction between Japan and the countries they fought with during the early 20th century.
    • There's an article about the franchise titled "The Fascist Subtext of Attack on Titan Can’t Go Overlooked''. Writer Tom Speelman claims that the manga and anime are "full of anti-Korean, nationalist, pro-Japan subtext, parallels to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and subtextual references to Nazi Germany." It centers on plot points late in the story that reveal the answers to the central Ontological Mystery, particularly comparisons between the depiction and treatment of the Eldians, especially the ones who become Titans and anti-Semitic propaganda.
  • Carole & Tuesday: Many articles have pointed out that the show's depiction of Dahlia, an intersex character, can be transmisogynistic and racist, as she is portrayed as a violent brute.
  • DARLING in the FRANXX: Jacob Chapman has written a Twitter thread on what he regards as the show's "harmful worldview": "The targets of fear and derision in FRANXX hop from aggressive women to gender-nonconformity to childless or infertile adults to Literally An Alien Hivemind", which, according to the show, are "...evidence that the world 'went wrong'". Chapman points out that the show's stances concerning gender roles and human relationships give it a misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic bent, and have been used to oppress sexual minorities. He also points out the show's reactionary tone in that it "... takes current-day societal anxieties, exaggerates them, and poses that the solution is to double down on the status quo even harder, framing oppression of others as *true* rebellion."
  • The Discotek Media rerelase of Lupin III: The Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure put a disclaimer concerning the work's homophobic content due to the main villain Hermann Von Diett being a homophobic stereotype, ranging from him being a cross-dressing misogynistic Neo-Nazi cult leader, to his name being a pun on the word hermaphrodite (considered to be a slur towards intersex people and even transgender people) to the several gay panic-style jokes towards his subordinates.
  • My Hero Academia: Chapter 259 revealed the Doctor (the evil scientist assisting All For One and Tomura Shigaraki)'s name to be Maruta Shiga, with many people noting that the name "Maruta" was likely a reference to project Maruta, a project done by Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II that involved inhumane experimentation on various people which included live vivisection, weapon testing, and forced pregnancies. While this name fits Horikoshi's tendency to give his characters punny/meaningful names, the "unfortunate" part comes in when you realize that "Maruta", meaning "logs" in Japanese, was the name given to the test subjects, as the official cover story for the facility was that it was a lumber mill. Fans were very upset with the idea of a character as vile as the Doctor being named after the victims of a horrible experiment instead of the perpetrators, especially the ones from Chinanote  and South Korea where the scars are still prominent. Horikoshi later apologized for this on his Twitter account, where he clarified that the reference was unintentional and that he would change the Doctor's name in future chapters.
  • One Piece:
  • Anime/PokémonTheSeries has a few:
    • The Orange Islands episode Stage Fight! involves Ash and friends boarding a showboat that has both human and Pokémon performers. One of these Pokémon just so happens to be the Jynx (the Pokémon accused of representing Black Face). The appearance of the already controversial Pokémon gains a second layer of problematic when you consider that showboats helped to popularize minstrel shows back in the day.
    • The 64th episode of Sun & Moon involved Ash disguising himself as a Passimian, using a costume that involved black face paint. This unfortunate detail is believed to be the reason the episode was never dubbed.
  • While Sister Krone of The Promised Neverland is a popular character with a complex backstory, some readers were made uncomfortable by her less-than-flattering depiction as a black woman, with her cartoonishly grotesque features, expressions, and somewhat animalistic demeanor in some scenes that are seen as reminiscent of old racist caricatures.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: A number of critical viewers have pointed out, in regards to the explanation that Kyubey contracts teenage girls because they are overly emotional — and thus have the most energy to harvest and exploit — that the show's crux (and the Magical Girl system in general) relies on the woefully tiring Hysterical Woman stereotype. The inevitability of the witch process makes this even worse, as all it does is propel the notion that girls and women are too weak-willed and capricious to handle power. This is especially harrowing once you realize that Magical Girl is supposed to celebrate women with power, not condemn it. And yet, despite the fact that Kyousuke is hospitalized, bedridden, and crippled, not to mention so consumed by grief and despair that (in the PSP games, at least) he attempts suicide, Kyubey never once approaches him with the prospect of becoming a Magical Boy. Because apparently only girls are susceptible enough to break and manipulate. It's only made worse with later episodes heavily implying Sayaka's contract had nothing to do with talent; it was to pressure Madoka into making one. So evidently any random girl can contract, but boys never can. Elaborated upon here, here, and here.
  • Sword Art Online gets this a lot regarding its use of Rape as Drama.
    • Mother's Basement had some choice words about Asuna's two sexual assaults, calling them unnecessary in the context of the plot and pointing out how uncomfortable it was to play her Attempted Rape for Fanservice.
    • Megan Peters has also criticized the series’ repeated use of Attempted Rape of female characters by the villains as a plot device to motivate the male heroes, saying that the women are "[left] to suffer for misogynistic silence". The article features snippets of an interview with series creator Reki Kawahara, who agrees with the criticism and admits that he only used this trope because it was fairly common in light novels at the time he wrote the story. He felt that a certain scene in Alicization was far more unpleasant to watch in animated form as a result, and apologized to everyone (directors, animators, & voice actresses) involved for having to do something so demeaning.

    Comic Strips 
  • An Australian political cartoon depicting Serena Williams' infamous outburst at a 2018 grand slam attracted considerable controversy for depicting the tennis star as a large black woman with big red lips having a tantrum (one commentator described her depiction as "unnecessarily Sambo-like"). It didn't help that her opponent Naomi Osaka, a dark-skinned Japanese woman, and the umpire Carlos Ramos, who is also dark-skinned albeit Portuguese, were both depicted as white (with the former having blonde hair).
  • Dennis the Menace (US): Hank Ketcham attempted to integrate the strip in 1970 by introducing Jackson, a black playmate for Dennis. The result flooded Ketcham with angry letters, saying Jackson was an unnecessary Sambo-like stereotype. To Ketcham's credit, later issues of the comic book and an animated series from The '80s had Dennis interacting with much more positive examples of minorities.
  • Garfield: Jim Davis got himself in hot water with this strip where a spider taunts Garfield about becoming a decorated hero if Garfield lays the newspaper on him. The final panel has the spider getting his wish in the form of "National Stupid Day". Complaints ensued that it was insensitive to the military (the strip was posted on Veterans Day no less), and Davis later apologized for it.
  • A Rugrats newspaper comic strip had caused some controversy for featuring a scene where Tommy Pickles was wondering about the true meaning of a traditional Hebrew mourning hymn while attending a Synagogue with Grandpa Boris. Many readers had accused the comic strip of showing Antisemitism as the strip seemed to be patronizing such a solemn prayer. Also, readers had complained about how Grandpa Boris seemed to be shown as a stereotypical Nazi-era depiction of Jews because of his big nose (although Ashkenazi Jews are are quite fond of Boris and his wife Minka).
  • A Valentine's Day post from the official Peanuts Twitter account had the caption, "You're one of the best people I know." Seems sweet at first… except the accompanying image shows Charlie Brown telling the Token Minority Franklin, "You're one of the good ones." Obviously, this tweet didn't stay up for long before people started calling it out, and the Twitter account later deleted the image, explaining it was meant to be a "celebration of friendship" and not anything racist.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Stephen Krosecz of Animated Analysis argues that the heroes of Cars 2 are prejudiced against the Lemon cars, that the film doesn't seem to treat this as a bad thing, and that one could interpret this as an ableist message. Likewise, Jack Saint has observed eugenics undertones in the film.
  • Disney's Chicken Little didn't sit well with some viewers because of the way the story treats Foxy Loxy. She's a popular, athletic tomboy and a bully. And by the end of the film, not only is she the only real antagonist, but she's also mind raped into becoming docile and feminine after being trapped, terrified, in a featureless, black void. When a cure is offered, Runt exclaims "She's perfect!" and she instantly becomes his girlfriend. So her character arc ends with her being brainwashed into becoming traditionally feminine, and no one advocates for her right to her own personality because a boy likes her better this way. The issue of gender roles hasn't gone unnoticed.
  • Anthony Pryor points out in his review of Wizards that the director's words that the film's conflict between good elves and evil mutants is supposed to represent a real-life conflict in Israel gives bad implications. The Big Bad seemingly being born hideous and evil is also pointed as potentially giving a bad message.
  • Hasbro's official synopsis for My Little Pony: Equestria Girls is "Learn all about the magical parallel universe with high schools instead of castles, where six pony friends become real girls with a love for fun and fashion." The implications come from the unintentional Ambiguous Syntax of "real girls". While the intended reading was that the girls in the movie are humans, rather than horses like in the TV show, Amanda Duncil from Feminspire took a No True Scotsman interpretation that it was saying that "real girls" must love fashion and fun, combined with the ridiculously thin bodies of the girls that reinforce a stereotypical and unrealistic idea of beauty.
  • Because of all the praise regarding the same-sex parents in the trailer for The Boxtrolls, some people may be disappointed when they find out the film had some uncomfortable transphobic implications, including playing the reveal of the cross-dressing character as a textbook Unsettling Gender Reveal. This review brings this issue up, complaining that there was only one female character in the movie "unless you want to count the man-in-drag figure, via whom the movie adds a dash of transphobia".
  • In The Jungle Book, orangutan King Louie was originally intended to be played by Louis Armstrong (a fact made fairly obvious by his name), but they realized that casting a black actor as an ape (who sings a song about how he wants to be human) could be seen as this, so they chose Sicilian-American Louis Prima instead, which incidentally kept The Danza aspect of the original choice. However, critics have pointed out that the ethnicity of Louie's voice actor is irrelevant because the characterization of Louie himself still draws on stereotypes about African-Americans. Not to mention that having a white man play a character who is, for all intents and purposes, a stereotype of black people is problematic on its own in other ways.
  • The Incredibles:
  • Upon its release, Aladdin came under fire by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee for the infamous lyric "Where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face" in the opening song "Arabian Nights". The line was changed to "Where it's flat and immense and the heat is intense" for the VHS release, and has been changed in every other adaption as well.
  • Mars Needs Moms, as this Something Awful review points out, risks coming across as one of the more alarmist tomes on parenting from the '50s. The Martian women, who assume the roles of societal leaders, need to abduct human mothers to serve as templates for maternal care — because a powerful working woman apparently can't be a loving mother at the same time. The Martian men thus have no role in their society and become something between hippies and gay stereotypes. And the Martian girl explicitly says at the end that the only way for a child to truly feel loved is if they're raised by two parents, which must have been interesting for all the single parents in the audience to explain to their kids afterwards.
  • Foodfight!:
    • The Nostalgia Critic, JonTron, and DStecks all pointed out in their reviews that The Reveal that Lady X is an old prune mascot implies that "ugliness = bad". And that's only one example of Beauty Equals Goodness in a movie that consistently plays it straight (although you'd be hard-pressed to say that anyone in the movie is actually appealing, given the animation).
    • Some people also consider the movie homophobic due to Vlad Chocool's Depraved Homosexual behaviour (for the record, he's the only gay character in the movie). And then there's all the racist and sexist unironic caricatures…
  • The Angry Birds Movie has been accused of spreading a message that can best be summarized as: "Immigrants will come into your country, steal your resources, and destroy your home."
  • Batman: The Killing Joke: The Adaptation Expansion that was supposed to be an Author's Saving Throw for Barbara's treatment in the graphic novel is even worse than in the source material, as she's treated as Ms. Fanservice and given an arc portraying her as an emotionally needy girl seeking out a relationship with Batman rather than a platonic friend and heroic protégé.
  • Pocahontas has come under fire from numerous Native American groups (example) for whitewashing history and turning a story of kidnapping, rape, and genocide into a family-friendly romance guaranteed not to make white Americans uncomfortable. There's also a lot to be desired from the equivalency between Native Americans and the colonists in "Savages".
  • Mulan: Some critics (for example, The Nostalgia Chick, Lindsay Ellis) dislike the fact that Mulan turns down the post as the Emperor's consul to go home to her family. They think it implies that while a woman can be a hero, she shouldn't have an actual position of power. They also sometimes criticize the hint of romance with Shang, even though it's only a Maybe Ever After since they feel it implies that not even a woman who saves China can be complete without a man.
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2: The Big Bad of the film, Drago Bludvist, being the first non-white character of the franchise, has attracted some backlash for unintentional racism.
  • The Chipmunk Adventure: A critique at Cracked compared this film to "a 'best of' for the cinematic xenophobia of [the 1980's]" because most non-American characters are portrayed in a negative light: the villains are German (with a hint of Incest Subtext), the European policemen ambush and scare the children, the Chipettes are given to a young Arabian prince as sex slaves, an African tribe almost kills the Chipmunks, and even some Mexican sombrero-wearing locals act like maniacs by randomly firing their guns into the air.
  • A two part presentation by many Southeast Asian content creators has pointed out at length the enormous amounts of problems with Raya and the Last Dragon, from creative decisions by Disney that seem to silence Southeast Asian voices, to unintentionally pro-colonial and homophobic messages.

    Music 
  • The AV Club article "We Care a Lot" discusses various examples of the Charity Motivation Song, such as "We Are the World", "Do They Know It's Christmas?", and more obscure efforts, pointing out more than once that the songs and videos made for them wind up coming off as narcissistic by promoting the celebrities singing them as much as, if not more than, the cause.
  • Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" music video has plenty of these, a great many of which get called out in the Literal Music Video parody of it. On the whole, the video promotes promiscuity while shaming more conservative outlooks while simultaneously flipping between two different stereotypes.
  • Some early Taylor Swift songs can come off as slut-shaming and sex-negative sometimes (in "Fifteen" it's implied that her friend's virginity was all she had, and in "Better Than Revenge" it's implied that the person it's addressed to stole her boyfriend via being better at sex, just for two). See this article for a much longer explanation.
  • "The Christmas Shoes" is a contemporary Christian song (and movie) about a melancholy gentleman who helps a boy buy a pair of shoes for his mother, who is on her deathbed and expected to pass away shortly, so she can greet Jesus while wearing them. The singer then muses to himself that God sent the kid to remind him what Christmas is all about; in other words, God killed a little boy's mother on Christmas just to guilt some unrelated curmudgeon into appreciating the holidays. That observation has been made numerous times by various critics, but the Nostalgia Chick and Patton Oswalt probably put it best.
  • The song "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke is supposed to be an Intercourse with You song. However, the lyrics come off more like the perspective of a rapist. To illustrate, Todd in the Shadows did a juxtaposition of this song and "Sex Type Thing" by Stone Temple Pilots (a song explicitly sung from the perspective of a rapist) in his review, while Sociological Images did a break-down of the song by taking images from Project Unbreakable (an online photo essay of survivors holding up placards with quotes from their rapists to bring awareness) to demonstrate how in a real-world context things like this aren't said in a consensual encounter. It's also brilliantly satirized in the parody "Lame Lines". This parody by Bart Baker points out the rape overtones while still being comedic.
  • Justin Timberlake was criticized by the Take Back the Night Foundation, an anti-rape group, for his song "Take Back the Night." Timberlake claims that he was unfamiliar with the organization when he wrote the song and that the similarity between the title and lyrics and their name is unintentional. However, certain lyrics such as "come on, surrender," "your love's a weapon," and especially, "they gon' try to shut us down, I’ll be damned if we gon' let them take back the night" read as very disturbing when viewed through this lens. He has since apologized and made a statement in support of the group, and for their part, they have decided against taking legal action. Read all about it at Wikipedia.
  • Lily Allen's video for the song "Hard Out There" met with controversy over alleged racist undertones, such as Allen using predominately black backup dancers while singing about how she doesn't need to shake her booty because she "has a brain". Allen claims the fact that the dancers were mostly women of color was an unfortunate oversight, and that they just happened to be the most talented women who auditioned.
  • Similarly, Lorde's single "Royals" became the subject of controversy because she criticizes the materialism and alleged "vapidity" in genres like rap and hip-hop, which are primarily populated by black and Latino artists. She even ended up issuing an apology to Drake and Nicki Minaj after claiming their music was irrelevant.
  • Cover Band Sambô's take on U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" got some heat for making a cheery samba version of a song about a massacre remembered today as an Irish national tragedy. The performance, full of smiling, giggling, and cheering, basically throws the point of the original version through the window, as if the group was making fun of what happened, or if the performers never bothered knowing what the lyrics were about. In an interview, when faced with the accusation of making the dissonant version, the group responded that the rhythm didn't make the song any less sad, and blamed Misaimed Fandom for the awkwardness.
  • "Rhythm Is a Dancer" by the Eurodance group Snap! has the line "I'm as serious as cancer when I say rhythm is a dancer". This has been referred to as "the worst lyric of all time" and it drew controversy from family and health groups in spite of the analogy being used in rap music since the late '80s.
  • "Word Crimes" by "Weird Al" Yankovic created minor controversy with Al's usage of the word "spastic". Once informed that it's a derogatory term in the United Kingdom for people with cerebral palsy, he quickly apologized on his Twitter.
  • "Happy Ending," the second single from the 2017 Hopsin album No Shame, is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: it tells the story of a man who gets a Happy Ending Massage at an Asian massage parlor — already embodying a rather egregious stereotype. It's bad enough that some of Hopsin's vocals, which take the POV of the Asian masseuse, are incredibly broken English sung in a high-pitched Funetik Aksent that almost certainly comes across as Yellowface. But what really takes it Up to Eleven is the video, which was taken down from YouTube for nudity. The titles are written in stereotypical "wonton fonts," and in one scene that drew particular ire from critics, the masseuse dances around with tip jars covering her breasts that say "Suckee" and "Fuckee" in Asian Speekee Engrish. Controversy ensued, with critics including a member of the House of Representatives and the Director of Disruption Strategies at the anti-sex trafficking organization Polaris, while Pitchfork gave it special mention in their review of Hopsin's No Shame, and The Needle Drop was so disgusted by the song and its unfortunate implications that he not only called it the worst single of 2017, but the worst of the 2010s as well.
  • The Christmas carol "Baby, It's Cold Outside" (originally written by Frank Loesser, sung here by James Taylor and Natalie Cole) has in The New '10s drawn fire from listeners leading to it being banned by some radio stations for what sounds like Questionable Consent on the part of the female speaker (the line "Say, what's in this drink?" especially can raise eyebrows). As this article explains, Values Dissonance is largely to blame here: the woman is actually consenting, but a "good girl" in The '40s wasn't supposed to actually say yes to sex.
    "It’s a song about a society where women aren’t allowed to say yes… which happens to mean it’s also a society where women don’t have a clear and unambiguous way to say no."
  • The Maroon Five song "Animals" was criticized by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), who said that the song promotes domestic abuse and the dehumanization of women.
  • "Lost in the Fire" by The Weeknd has been accused of perpetuating the myth that lesbianism is "just a phase" and that sex with the right man will turn gay women straight, as well as fetishizing bisexual women. Supposedly, the song is specifically about The Weeknd's tumultuous relationship with Bella Hadid, and not meant to be a statement about lesbians in general, but this doesn't do much to make the lyrics less uncomfortable for queer women who are harassed with similar comments.
  • The music video to Dream's song "Mask" shows the streamer throwing away his "normal pills", which represent ADHD medication. This was interpreted by some fans as a condemnation of medication for mental health issues in general, as he appears much happier afterwards. Dream had to clarify in an interview that it was meant to be specifically about how in his personal experience, he felt better after going off his meds, and that he wasn't necessarily encouraging others to do the same.
  • In 1960, Larry Verne topped the charts with "Mr. Custer", a Black Comedy novelty song about a cowardly soldier who doesn't want to fight at the Battle Of Little Bighorn. Between the subject matter, the lyrics, the tribal war chants in the background, and the soldier's goofy Southern accent, there's something here to offend everyone. Tom Breihan elaborates:
    It’s an offensive song, and it’s not even offensive in a coherent way; it insults white Southerners and Western hero myths just as much as it insults Native Americans.... “Mr. Custer” is an offensive and morally wrongheaded song that also is pretty much unlistenable musically.
  • Kiely Williams's "Spectacular" is about a woman who goes to a bar, gets very drunk (with the implication that she may have been drugged) and has "spectacular" sex with a stranger before blacking out in the middle of it. She then concludes that the experience was awesome and she'd do it again. As a result, the song was accused of advocating promiscuity and unprotected sex, glamorizing rape, and perpetrating the view that sexual assault is partially the woman's fault if she for instance gets so drunk that she can't say no.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Noted on Lethal WOW about how WWE has a history of favoring white Divas as their top babyfaces. Any women of colour either don't become stars or else get pushed as heels (and make what you will of their opponents usually being heroic white girls). Likewise, many women of mixed heritage have a history of downplaying it and being presented as white or Ambiguously Brown. Especially of note is Sasha Banks taking ages to achieve anything, despite her clear popularity - when her white contemporaries received pushes far quicker.
  • Cewsh Reviews noted here and here the disturbing tendency for WWE to portray their Faces as mean-spirited bullies who are supposed to be in the right purely because the audience cheers for them. Sheamus is particularly notorious for acting like this whenever he's face.
  • Paige has attracted a couple:
    • In one Smackdown segment, she referred to Tamina Snuka as Naomi's "boyfriend" and suggested that she belonged in the wrong division. Critics pointed out the negative implications of a face making sexist and transphobic remarks.
    • She and AJ Lee were the faces going up against the heel Bella Twins. The face team had two Tomboys, while the heels were Girly Girls. This wouldn't have been so bad if Paige hadn't claimed that she and AJ were automatically better because they weren't girly, and that the Bellas somehow weren't 'real' women. ''Diva Dirt'' criticized them for that.
  • After losing her Divas' Championship, AJ Lee - again meant to be a Face - insulted the Bella Twins by claiming "talent isn't sexually transmitted". Resorting to Slut-Shaming as a way of insulting her opponents was called out.
  • In the sixth season of WWE Tough Enough, contestant Amanda accused Sara Lee of being a "ring rat". Mick Foley criticised Amanda's Slut-Shaming Sara Lee in an attempt to sway fan votes. He also had a problem with none of the judges calling Amanda out for her bullying. He later wrote a retraction once it was explained that Amanda was playing the part of the heel in the final, though still said she shouldn't have resorted to slut-shaming to get Cheap Heat.
  • The character of Muhammad Hassan, an Arab-American wrestler who was angry at the United States for discriminating against him following the 9/11 attacks. It was a powerful gimmick that touched upon the real-life social issue of Islamophobia. There was just one problem: the character was portrayed as a heel, which essentially meant that the Islamophobes were essentially the good guys in his storyline. Things were only made worse after the terrorist angle that aired the day of the London terrorist bombings in July 2005. Aside from being obviously insensitive, it perpetuated the "All Muslims are Terrorists" stereotype and completely contradicted the original character of being an ordinary American standing up to discrimination. Hassan explained his thoughts on it here. Ultimately, Hassan was written off when the Undertaker put him through the stage.
  • Ronda Rousey, meant to be a Face was criticised for again resorting to Slut-Shaming in a promo against the Bella Twins. Her comments about the 'Diva Era' making her "sick to my stomach" were also noted as hypocriticalnote 
    "Ronda Rousey is the main eventer of this all women's PPV, the all-women empowering event. She's the face of this women's event and she's the one taking issue with Nikki Bella being in a relationship with a man."

    Radio Plays 

    Tabletop Games 

    Theatre 
  • The Las Vegas Sun's review of Criss Angel BeLIEve points out that in the original (subsequently retooled) story "[T]here's a continual struggle over [Criss's] usually shirtless bod between his stage assistants, Kayala, an angelic ever-receding woman in white and Crimson, a devouring, demonic black woman. (Not even going there.)"
  • When Tootsie was given a Broadway adaptation in 2019, it received several criticisms for the story (a struggling actor masquerading as a woman to get a role on a big Broadway show) having transphobic undertones without the excuse of Values Dissonance that the original movie has. Some lines do try to address this (with Michael's agent flippantly supporting alternate pronouns and using whatever bathroom you want), but for many it comes across as a weak hand wave. Even more controversial was several pieces of merchandise that featured the quote from the show: "Being a woman is no job for a man." While this makes sense in the context of the show, it received much backlash from trans people for sounding eerily close to a transmisogynistic slogan, resulting in the merchandise being pulled.
  • The play All in a Row, which premiered in London in 2019, faced some serious backlash for portraying an autistic child as a puppet, as it implied that autistic characters could easily be replaced by props. Not helping was the puppet's design as "grey and mawkish" and the flimsy excuse that it would have been too hard to get consent from an actual nonverbal autistic child (since verbal autistic children exist and are often capable of tasks like acting).
  • Miss Saigon was written in the 1990s and, despite initially casting some actors in yellowface (already a highly problematic move), brought major roles for Asian American actors during a time when there were few. However, many modern critics have denounced the show for its misogynistic and racist overtones. The love story between the white American soldier Chris and Kim, a Vietnamese escort he sleeps with, is seen as highly questionable, with most of the story putting sympathy towards Chris in what many see as unchecked White Guilt.

    Theme Parks 
  • The Epcot ride Habit Heroes was heavily criticized for fat-shaming, as it focused on literally fighting obesity. The article also notes that one of the "villains" seen in the old attraction's site was an embodiment of insecurity. Yes, insecurity is a bad habit that must be cured like a sweet tooth or excessively gossiping. Thankfully, Disney closed the ride and remodeled it to be a bit gentler, to a much warmer reception. The backlash also led Disney to not develop any further Epcot rides not linked to existing IPs.
  • The now-closed America Sings ride in Disneyland featured the song "Who Shot the Hole in My Sombrero?" When the ride opened, it was sung by a dog who had a Mexican accent. Apparently, the press and attendees didn't take too kindly to it, so the dog was quickly rerecorded with a Texan accent.

    Webcomics 
  • This was invoked purposefully on one occasion by 8-Bit Theater. When Bahamut decides that Red Mage and Black Mage are Fighter's slaves, and Fighter starts referring to Red Mage as Red Slave, Black Mage points out that this would make him Black Sla—"GOOD NIGHT, EVERYBODY!"
  • Shortpacked! lampshades this in this strip., where a LEGO Space Policeman is showing a diagram of a variety of diverse-looking aliens and identifying them as inhuman criminals in a lecture to a bunch of identical human trainees. There's a pause and one of the trainees says "Anyone else uncomfortable with this?"
  • Ménage à 3: Zii has a habit of tossing people into sexual situations and otherwise violating personal boundaries willy-nilly. The audience is apparently supposed to be on her side, and she was never punished for it for a long time. (To be fair, the comic shows a disregard verging on contempt for the concept of karma for anyone.) This is in addition to a lot of fanservice and some stereotyping in the comic generally. For more detail, see these reviews. However, things grew a little more nuanced as the plot continued, as one of Zii's conquests turned into a comedy Stalker with a Crush who was largely responsible for her first serious relationship for years crashing and burning.
  • Moon over June is pretty notorious in general and there's very little about its plot that doesn't carry unfortunate implications; the most commonly cited ones are Hatsuki's ability to 'try out' eating disorders and her deciding to become a lesbian to piss off her parents, Summer having such extreme misandry as to seriously consider putting any son she may end up having up for adoption, and Summer's career as a gynecologist being solely based on her desire to grope vaginas all day, which is totally fine.
  • Sticky Dilly Buns: Ruby has a degree-level education, is looking for an appropriate job, and considers this a higher priority than dating. She's also a screaming neurotic who seems permanently stressed out, and the best advice she receives in her job search relates to how she should dress. Amber is a former porn actress who got her current job (and her apartment) by sexually manipulating a man; she's also relatively well-balanced and comfortable with her life. This has inspired some comments on the comic's discussion boards; readers think that the comic is implying that women who seek to get an education and use it to earn a good living are doomed to be desperate virgins who need to get laid, and the best way for a woman to get on in the world is to exploit her appearance and sexuality.

    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Critic's review of Sailor Moon was heavily criticized for being sexist. The article goes into detail about how Usagi shouldn't be called stupid, cowardly, or slutty, and how the message of girls accepting their sexuality and femininity, as well Usagi as being allowed to be flawed instead of being perfect and unrelatable was lost on him. The same review got another article about how it was filled with Victim-Blaming. The author dedicated a special section of scorn for the dick-talking scene.
  • On Columbus Day in 2017, Ben Shapiro's The Daily Wire tweeted out a cartoon depicting pre-Colombian Native Americans as cannibalistic savages. Christopher Columbus and other Europeans come along and teach them agriculture and build modern cities. Mediaite accused the video of "excusing ethnic genocide by depicting Native Americans as cannibals and savages who weren't tamed until white Europeans came to America and took their land." He eventually took it down and apologized.
  • The Onion: The "Autistic Reporter" series caught some flack for furthering stereotypes of autistic people, such as Lack of Empathy, Schedule Fanatic, and Literal-Minded. While most articles parody, subvert, or invert stereotypes, this series seems to play them entirely straight as a source of humor.
  • Screen Rant Pitch Meetings, often mocks the various ways movies and TV shows fall into this trope, often followed by a "Whoops!" "Whoopsie!" exchange between the Screenwriter and the Producer. One example is The Big Bang Theory pitch meeting, in which the Producer realizes that making fun of Raj being Indian might be racist, insinuating that he and Howard are a gay couple and having those insinuations Played for Laughs might be homophobic, and making Penny less intelligent than the guys might be sexist.
  • During the Lavender Town episodes of Pokémon World Tour: United, the characters participate in the Festival of Life, a celebration that winds up resembling Día de Muertos, the Day of the Dead. In episode 35's intermission, Jake, who plays Rose Jenny, states that he realized as they recorded that they may have strayed into culturally insensitive territory without meaning to and requests feedback on the matter. Episode 37 opens with Jake explaining that they got that feedback, with reactions ranging from "It's okay, don't worry about it" to statements that they felt uncomfortable for reasons such as the cast treating the celebration too frivolously. Jake makes special note of one response which explains that because the character Tsubaki, who opposes the Festival of Life and who the hosts themselves regard as the villain of the arc, came off Unintentionally Sympathetic, it appeared as if the hosts themselves regarded the Festival, and by extension Día de Muertos, negatively. The hosts assert this was not their intent, apologize to those left offended or otherwise uncomfortable, and retcon some of the details of what's been happening, such as toning down the decoration of skull masks the characters got, to try and better regard the celebration with the respect it deserves.
  • RWBY The fandom generally regards the Fantastic Racism of the Faunus as badly handled, including portraying the only Faunus rights organisation (the White Fang) as terrorists that only achieve success when led by A Nazi by Any Other Name who abusively stalks his ex-girlfriend. It accidentally sends the message that the fight for equal rights becomes morally wrong if there's any deviation from peaceful protests while also portraying peaceful protests as ineffectual (e.g., see some examples as follows). The creators have acknowledged in interviews that they didn't handle it well, and discuss in Volume 5, Chapter 10 DVD Commentary how they originally planned a minor background storyline before realising that the issue is too important for that and that they should have handled it better.
  • Lampshaded in the DEATH BATTLE! episode "Batgirl VS Spider-Gwen'', in which Boomstick points out that Batgirl's hero name makes it sound like her role is defined by her relationship to the male Batman, as opposed to Robin, who gets a name that makes him sound independent.
    Boomstick: You know, how come she's called Batgirl when Dick gets to be Robin? Her identity and individuality shouldn't be anchored to the patriarchal idea that women are publicly defined by the men in their life.
    Wiz: Uh, well said, Boomstick.
  • Lampshaded and Played for Laughs in SMPEarth. When Wilbur Soot and SootCharlie make an alliance with TommyInnit, Wilbur names their trio "Cummie Squad". This does not sit well with 15 year-old Tommy, and the name is quickly changed to "Cumin Squad".
    Tommy: Wilbur, when my mum asks me what I was doing tonight, and I say "I was participating in "Cummie Squad" with a 23-year-old man", how do you think she'll feel then?
  • Discussed by Arin during Grumpcade when he and Barry are playing Yoshi's Story. Arin recounts the time he and his wife Suzy heard about a watermelon pie and really wanted to make one, but they opted not to as they had a Black friend coming over and were afraid he'd take it the wrong way.
    Arin: We had a friend who was coming over and we were like "oh man let's make a watermelon pie" but he's Black, so I was like "Ohh... maybe he would take offense to that" if we were like "Oh man! Here's a watermelon pie! This is the only pie we've ever made for you and it's a watermelon pie and it's purely coincidental but yeah!"
  • Critical Role has come under fire with the title sequence introduced in Critical Role: Campaign Three. Many felt that the intro video, which featured the cast dressed in pith helmets and keffiyehs, was unintentionally drawing on the imagery of Europeans colonizing SWANAnote  nations. Along with the setting of Marquet being inspired by such nations and cultures, the video reinforced concerns these critics had going in that this campaign would fall into cultural appropriation.
  • Lampshaded in the Camp Camp episode "Cult Camp"; the Jewish and Nerdy Neil is quick to point out the "fucked-up implications" of Dolph (whose main schtick is his resemblance to Hitler) dragging him to what is essentially a gas chamber (actually a brainwashing sauna).

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Alternative Title(s): Unfortunate Implication

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G.I. Jeff

In-universe: When Wingman & the Mutineers are court-martialed for killing Destro, he points out that G.I Joe's refusal to risk killing the operatives of a major terrorist organisation means that the war's just going to keep going on forever, which kind of makes G.I Joe just as bad as Cobra. It doesn't go well for him.

How well does it match the trope?

4.58 (12 votes)

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