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You Are What You Hate

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Appointing a blind man as their leader might not have been the Klan's best moment.

"If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us."
Hermann Hesse, Demian

This is the implication that a character who dislikes a particular thing is secretly a practitioner of that thing.

This especially comes into play when ethnicity or homosexuality is involved. Such a character is likely to believe in negative stereotypes about his own group (no matter how irrational), and hate himself for it, or live by those stereotypes so they become self-fulfilling prophecies. If Fantastic Racism is in play, such as with Differently Powered Individuals, the person may try to suppress the trait that makes them part of the hated group or use their power as a weapon against them.

In older works, this sometimes comes up with racist characters who are exposed as being light-skinned African-Americans who are "passing". Depending on the time frame of the media, the result may be either to show that the character should love himself or, in very old media from before 1940 or so, to show that the character is a sneaky liar who wasn't ethical enough to accept his "natural" place in the order of things.

This sort of implication is "non-falsifiable": If even denial is taken as proof, there's no way to prove innocence. Characters who don't actually fall under this trope, but are accused of it by other characters, may get increasingly angry (or despondent) about no one believing them.

This trope comes in several flavors.

  • The hater genuinely does not know he is a member of the group he hates.
  • The hater has clear evidence that he is a member of the hated group but is in denial. He refuses to identify with them and often comes up with convoluted explanations as to why he isn't actually a member. Will often invoke the No True Scotsman fallacy.
  • The hater privately accepts that he is a member of the hated group but hides it from others.
  • The hater hates all members of the group, including or especially themselves.

Despite how bizarre it sounds, very much Truth in Television. A study conducted determined that people who were very anti-homosexual were more likely to show signs of arousal when exposed to gay porn. And it's a principle that can be applied to a lot of things, not just homosexuality. As a general rule, the more people make a public show of being anti-thing, the more likely they are to be practicing that thing in secret, since if they were really as anti-thing as they claim, they wouldn't need to shout it from the rooftops.

When the character is openly a member of the group he despises, then that's a Boomerang Bigot. It is possible for the two to overlap. A bigot's membership in the hated group might be secret to most people but known to a few. If he continues to sincerely express hatred towards the group, even when in a situation where his secret will not be exposed, then he might show shades of both this trope and Boomerang Bigot.

Often a cause of Unfortunate Implications. See also Hypocritical Humor, Psychological Projection, He Who Fights Monsters, Karmic Transformation, Cultural Cringe, I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham, and The Horseshoe Effect. Contrast Pretend Prejudice (in which a person pretends to hate a group but secretly likes or tolerates them), Hunter of His Own Kind (which usually involves Half Human Hybrids) and Color Me Black (where a bigot is forcibly turned into a member of the group they hate, usually by supernatural means). Armoured Closet Gay is one common Sub-Trope. If the hater doesn't realize that they're a member of the group they hate, they might just be a Tomato in the Mirror. See also Stop Being Stereotypical in which a person doesn't hate his group, but is embarrassed by the behavior of some members.


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    Films ó Animated 
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Judge Frollo professes to be a devout Christian who longs to purge the world of sin, yet he's the most corrupt person in the whole movie. He also hates the Romani people, yet he develops an unhealthy obsession over a Romani woman. His hypocrisy is lampshaded in the opening song, and countless people even call him out on it. He also uses Psychological Projection to find faults in others and blame them for his misery, but refuses to acknowledge his own faults to the end due to his self-righteous pride.
  • In Inside Out, Disgust's (and thus Riley's) dislike of broccoli is a running gag throughout the film. Disgust has been stated to have been designed based on broccoli. (This connection is lost in the Japanese dub, where every mention and appearance of broccoli in the film is replaced with green bell peppers.)
  • In Turning Red, Tyler expresses disdain for fans of 4*Town but is secretly a fan himself and fears revealing it.

    Films ó Live-Action 
  • In American Beauty, the homophobic neighbor turns out to be a closeted homosexual.
  • Subtly hinted at for comedy with Nigel Powers in Austin Powers in Goldmember: "There are only two things I can't stand in this world! People who are intolerant of other people's cultures... and the Dutch!"
  • The film The Believer is about a young Jewish man who despite growing as in a religious lifestyle, later becomes extremely antisemitic and joins the American Nazi Party, hiding his true identity until itís later exposed in the press, after which he commits suicide.
  • Chink is a movie about Eddy Tsai, a self-hating Asian who becomes a serial killer targeting other Asians. He changes his name to "Richards" and falsely claims to have been adopted by white parents.
  • In Die Hard with a Vengeance, the character of Zeus is a black man with serious problems with white people, most especially white racists. Eventually McClane calls him out on the fact that he's acting like a racist himself.
  • Gretel in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is revealed to be a witch by inheritance. This leads to no Character Development whatsoever.
  • In The Human Condition, Kaji openly states his moral disgust for deserters and POW escapees. He becomes both by the end of the film.
  • The main character of Inside A Skinhead / The Believer is a highly anti-semitic white supremacist despite being of Jewish origin himself. [
  • In I, Robot, Detective Spooner (Will Smith) displays an intense dislike towards humanoid robots... despite being a cyborg. Although, he does have a tragic reason for that one.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service: Arthur is an elitist prick who has it in for Eggsy the Working-Class Hero throughout the movie. He later turns out to be in league with the Big Bad and tries to poison Eggsy, but a simple sleight of hand trick leaves him the one choking to death on laced brandy. For his final dying expletives he speaks in a very coarse East End accent, implying that he started out in the lower classes and put on snobby airs to distance himself from his origins as he worked his way up the organisation.
  • Milk subtly suggests that Dan White may have been a closeted gay man himself, adding another dimension to his crimes.
  • Brian from Monty Python's Life of Brian hates Romans only for his mother to reveal that he is half-Roman. He hates them because they have invaded his homeland, not because they are Romans, though.
  • Long before The Chappelle Show and its iconic black white supremacist, a much less comedic version of this idea was used in the 1963 film Shock Corridor, which featured a black KKK member in an insane asylum. In case you missed that one, suffice to say that anti-black rhetoric sounds even more terrifying when it's being delivered by a Scary Black Man.
  • Surrogates: The Prophet, a man leading a group against the eponymous surrogates, is himself a surrogate, controlled by the inventions' creator at that.
  • Lampshaded in This Is England: one of the far-right extremist characters, Combo, is a racist played by a mixed-race actor... hence his Meaningful Name.
  • The movie Thor spends much of its arc following the self-destruction of Loki, setting him up for his role as the villain of The Avengers (2012). His racism against Frost Giants clearly has deep roots but was never a major part of his life until it turned out he was one. Along with being a "Well Done, Son" Guy who seems honestly to be The Unfavorite and regularly suffer All of the Other Reindeer, and with knowing he's actually responsible for Thor's exile and the fact that they're currently at war, and combined with unexpectedly being temporary king, this violent undermining of his entire identity causes him to go completely insane.
  • In Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Chad hates hillbillies because his mother was raped by a hillbilly Serial Killer who also murdered his father. The serial killer was actually Chad's real father, the proof being an old newspaper article with a photo of the killer, who looks exactly like Chad. Chad, already murderously insane by that point, has a total breakdown when he learns the truth.
  • Jay of The View Askewniverse often makes homophobic remarks, but it's been hinted he's secretly gay or at least bi.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Judge Doom turns out to be a Toon in a human mask. Possibly justified in that he was motivated by greed, not bigotry, although he makes several anti-Toon statements prior to The Reveal as well (claiming, for example, that Toons are naturally lawless and deserve the most brutal punishments imaginable). It's probable that he's saying those things not because he believes other toons are like that, but because he knows that HE is like that. Another possible interpretation is that Doom, being an evil Toon, simply has it out against other Toons, true to stereotype. After all, his master plan involves wiping out Toontown.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • Erik/Magneto hates Nazis due to being a survivor of the Holocaust but ultimately embraces racism against non-mutants. This is highlighted in X-Men: First Class.
    • Enforced in X-Men, where Magneto's crew mutates Senator Kelly, the US government's biggest backer of mutant suppression. Itís implied that he might have come to regret his bigotry but we don't really get too good a gauge of how he feels about it since he dies from the forced mutation right afterwards.


  • Pink Floyd's The Wall has the main character become the very thing his father had died fighting against, as noted in the later songs "In The Flesh", "Run Like Hell", and "Waiting For The Worms" least within his own mind. This is made even more noticeable in the movie version.
  • Titledropped in "Brush the Dust Away" by in Flames, "We think we're in control then we become the things we hate"
  • The video for "Sugar, We're Going Down" by Fall Out Boy, is about a teenage boy with antlers, who starts dating a girl whose dad despises the fact that she's dating a boy with antlers. In the end, the dad gets hit by a truck while trying to shoot the boy, and as Antler Boy rushes over to help, it's revealed the dad has deer hooves.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • During a segment on WWE Raw, CM Punk taunted John Cena with the fact that he (and by extension, Cena's hometown of Boston, of which Raw was taking place in that night...) was no longer the underdog by consistently being the "top dog" in the WWE, stating that he was no longer the Boston Red Sox, but rather the New York Yankees. Naturally, Cena didn't take too kindly to the comparison and promptly decked Punk after his comments. This got turned around on Punk years later in All Elite Wrestling after both Eddie Kingston and MJF accused him of being a dynasty like Cena instead of the renegade the fans fell in love with all those years ago. Unlike Cena, Punk was annoyed and irritated by their words but didn't get angry at them, nor did he deny them, because they were correct. As one of the most popular wrestlers in WWE history and one of the biggest names in all of professional wrestling, he is a dynasty, and he acts like it too.
  • It's often remarked by fans that Randy Orton also embodies this. Orton started off his career as "The Legend Killer" attacking and then defeating several in-ring veterans and legends, portraying the archetypal cocky, young hotshot, full of arrogance and disrespect. These days, Orton himself is a legend and a shoo-in for the WWE Hall of Fame when he eventually retires — albeit, he's a legend his younger self would've gone after if he lacked any self-preservation.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Played for Laughs when Ron White uses this logic against his homophobic Cousin Ray.
    Ray: Man, this world would be so much better if there weren't so many queers.
    Ron: You know what, the next time you have a thought...let it go. Besides, we're all gay, it's just a question of to what extent.
    Ray: That's bullshit, man! I ain't gay at all!
    Ron: Yeah, you are, and I can prove it.
    Ray: All right, prove it!
    Ron: All right, you like porn?
    Ray: Yeah, I love porn. You know that.
    Ron: Do you only watch scenes with two women naked?
    Ray: No, I watch a man and woman making love.
    Ron: Do you want the man to have a little-bitty half-flaccid penis?
    Ray: No, I like big, hard, throbbing co— (Beat, with a look of realization) I did not know that about myself.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In After the Bomb, Emperor Daniel Christian, leader of the violently anti-mutant Empire of Humanity, is secretly a mutant himself. Since he looks human, as opposed to the Funny Animal mutants the empire wages war against, it's not as big of a deal, though his rhetoric combined with his burning hatred is still questionable.
  • In the Chronicles of Darkness:
    • Second Sight explicitly states that possessors of the two anti-psychic merits listed are latent psychics who have mental blocks preventing them from accessing their powers and that this in turn makes them virulently skeptical.
    • Banishers in Mage: The Awakening are either this or Boomerang Bigots: their flawed Awakenings give them an instinctive hatred for magic, but they might not understand it or know that they themselves are mages. One group firmly believes that they are Alien Abduction victims who gained superpowers from the experimentation, and whether they identify another mage as a fellow victim or as an enemy alien infiltrator depends entirely on whether they think the mage is on their side.
  • A campaign in Marvel Super Heroes had a mutant villain wanting to eradicate all mutants, founding an American NASI party, and of course being mutant himself.
  • Paranoia:
    • Every player character is a "Troubleshooter" whose job is to hunt down various types of traitors, including unregistered mutants. Due to unacknowledged malfunctions in the cloning vats, everyone in the setting is a mutant. Bonus irony if they're also a member of the "Anti-Mutant" secret society, the members of which are completely unaware that there's not a single genetically pure human among them.
    • Friend Computer vehemently hates Communism, and considers Communists to be the single greatest threat to Alpha Complex. Indeed, all other threats, like mutants or other secret societies, are considered tools, pawns, or fronts for Communists. This despite the fact that the actual Communists are only around because of the Computer's crackdown, and have little to no knowledge of actual Communist ideology). In most editions of the game, Alpha Complex under the Computer's rule is practically a Communist dictatorship.
  • In the Ravenloft setting, Malocchio Aderre seized political control of Invidia and initiated a pogrom against the Vistani. Malocchio's mother, whom he ousted from power, is part Vistani herself. Of course, she's no better; While most Darklords leave the Vistani alone, Invidia is one of the few realms where simply associating with them are liable to get a visitor killed.
  • While his official stat-line disproved this, it is rumoured in-universe that Emperor Karl Prosek in Rifts is secretly a magician.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Though the Warp is considered (Not without reason) an evil, corrupting force that must never be played with, or even acknowledged, the Imperium still makes heavy use of sanctioned psykers, who must wield the energies of the Warp to defend Humanity from, among other things, the creatures of the Warp. Unsanctioned psykers are exterminated, often by burning.
    • Psykers and navigators are also needed for FTL travel and communication. The last time FTL travel went down caused the downfall of human civilization straight from golden to dark age during Age of Strife. And that was when the only major opponent of humanity were Orks.
    • The Emperor is a psyker. Some members of Ecclesiarchy actually acknowledge that and look upon the psyker without disdain, while others would burn you for saying that.
    • The Adeptus Astartes (Better known as Space Marines) are Pro-Human Transhuman defenders of humanity in the extremely racist/speciest Imperium. Uriel Ventris views this as a noble sacrifice for a cause far greater than himself. Horus Lupercal viewed it as a proof that once the Great Crusade is over, he will be disposed of and forgotten.
    • Both Mortarion and Conrad Kurze became what they hated most. Mortarion led his homeworld in a rebellion against alien tyrants dwelling in the poisoned mists, then ended up ruling a carbon copy of it in the Eye of Terror with his own Space Marines as the tyrants. As for Kurze, he started out preying on the tyrants and killers of Nostromo, only to become a much worse monster than any he fought — which is probably part of the reason he accepted his own assassination.
  • Naturalized dryads from The Witcher: Game of Imagination will fight humanity to the death... while being brainwashed human girls and young women.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: Kokichi hates murderers and calls out Kaede for playing into Monokuma's hands by trying to murder someone. In chapter 4, he manipulates the Super Gullible Gonta into murdering Miu, playing the killing game just like Kaede did- but without her excuse of trying to kill the Mastermind. It's heavily implied that he allows himself to be killed in the next chapter because of how guilty he felt about becoming a murderer himself.
  • This trope is given something of a work-out in Fate/stay night, especially in the "Unlimited Blade Works" route: Archer is quite vocally disapproving of the idealism and stubbornness that seems to plague most of his 'allies' (especially Shirou), and yet it is repeatedly pointed out by several characters and scenes that he is, in many ways, just as bad when it comes to suffering from Chronic Hero Syndrome. Just to make things weirder, this is a LITERAL example in regards to Shirou, considering that they are the same person.

  • In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures, Dan does not take it lightly when he is told he is an Incubus and spends some time in denial about it.
  • Kevin & Kell: Throughout 2017 the Dewclaw family were being harassed by N.O.P.E., an anti-Mixed Species hate group. Lindesfarne, who suffered the brunt of the harassment due to the birth of her Mixed Species baby, had enough and tricked the N.O.P.E. members to spit on her car, which allows her to perform DNA tests. The result is that none of the members were pure-blooded as they thought to be. This has two effects: one member performs a HeelĖFace Turn and turns in the members who committed felonies, and the info revealed ensures no one in the group will trust each other ever again, leaving them decimated.
  • Rodney R Rodney: Most of the people who think Rodney is a crazy stalker don't really display the best respect for boundaries themselves. This includes sneaking uninvited onto his property to take pictures (and breaking one of his flower pots in the process), and literally stalking him to steal his hair. It Makes Sense in Context. The level of paranoia they display also makes them look worlds more unstable than Rodney actually is.
  • Scandinavia and the World: Turns out the homophobic (by Nordic standards) Faroe Islands likes yaoi.
  • Natani of TwoKinds is a complicated case. He was introduced as an extreme misogynist Kedrian assassin. We find out later that He's biologically female. The complication comes with the later revelation that Natani was injured on a mission and needed to have pieces of his brother's soul spliced into his to save him. This process partially overwrote Natani's personality with her brother's, including his attitudes towards females. Since we've seen very little of Natani's pre-splice personality, we don't know how much of his misogyny and self-loathing is his own and how much is his brother's influence. Nor do we know if Natani was trans previous to the spice.

    Web Original 
  • Neurotically Yours: Germaine hates how women are treated as nothing but sexual objects by men and are pressured to dress up in more provocative clothing yet has no problem using her own sexuality to manipulate men or allowing herself to become a slut while still complaining about how men are pigs.

Alternative Title(s): Disliking X Means You Are Secretly X


Comic Relief Characters

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