Acceptable Lifestyle Targets

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A subset of Acceptable Targets. These deal with people who just have personal tastes or preferences which get skewered by the mainstream.

Even a brief perusal of this list will show that most of these targets are "extremes"—people who are beyond the mainstream middle in some way or another. For examples, Vegetarians, and the Vegephobes, are both on this list. Humans apparently don't like it when you go too far one way or another... or at least movie directors don't.

Some of the most typical targets:

  • Geeks/Nerds. It still seems acceptable to make fun of somebody if their preferred hobbies aren't "cool" enough. See also Loners Are Freaks. Seems to be diminishing for "computer" nerds as of late. If you can make a video game people are amazed now, not repulsed. Everyone else with a "tech" hobby is still out of luck.
  • Fat / Overweight People. Very commonly represented as pathetic, obnoxious losers that's okay to make fun of them; and always the reason for their physical condition is their own fault as they tend to be seen always eating junk food. And if they are female they tend to be the Abhorrent Admirer.
  • Nice Guys. Okay, they're able to get along with anyone, have many friends, are easy to talk to, funny, but on the downside they're going to be portrayed as slightly reserved, never happy with themselves, have Jocks and assholes think they're easy targets and will generally be shown to be useless when chatting up women, and the woman will go for the Bad Boy anyway. Maybe the Dogged Nice Guy will get her in the end. Can be trapped in a weird subcultural purgatory of being too cool to be a nerd but not cool enough to be with the Popular clique. It doesn't help that there's a kind of self-described "Nice Guy" who's really just packing a poorly-concealed streak of passive-aggressive manipulation, that quickly turns into resentment towards women who don't buy it.
  • Those who still live with their parents. Can also be filed under Acceptable Hard Luck Targets. Recently in many western cultures, especially for American men, moving out of your parents' home has become a sign of maturity. Guys who still live with their parents into their twenties are therefore considered man-children who are incapable of growing up or looking after themselves. Moving back in with your parents is seen as a humiliating last resort taken only by people who have lost everything. The trope is often invoked in media as a quick way to establish a man as a loser. Never mind that some parents do charge their children rent, and that their children are often charged with having to help maintain the house. Women, however, have a slightly lesser stigma attached to them because they are not as socially pressured to be rugged individualists—in fact, a single woman might be seen as selfish and cruel if she doesn't give up her independence to move in with elderly, failing parents. The trope is notably averted in many cultures that prize the extended family, such as Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa, Pacific Islands, Southern and Eastern Europe where sons are often expected to stay in the family home at least until they marry, and even then not stray too far from their roots. It may also be averted in Europe for the fact that extended family may have lived in the same house of years because of high housing prices, although it wouldn't be uncommon for say, someone who has lived in the same house all their lives and has their parents living with them may have merely been given the house because they're old enough to maintain it.
    • It certainly doesn't help that any time adults who live with their parents (or whose parents live with them) are represented, the media only seek out those who help to reinforce the stereotype. In other words, the jobless loser who can't do even the simplest things for himself and has to have Mommy do everything for him and who is utterly abhorrent to any prospective romantic partners because of this. Such people are probably in the minority, as it is likely that most adults who have similar living arrangements make an equal contribution to the household or are at least employed.
  • Drug users. Drugs are for losers, the government says so and they never lie. In fact, the US government has paid TV networks to make sure that anyone using drugs was portrayed as a loser. ER, Beverly Hills, 90210, Chicago Hope, The Drew Carey Show, 7th Heaven and other shows had their scripts reviewed by the government and changes made so the network could pocket some cash.
  • Intellectuals. Similar to Explicit Atheists, Intellectuals are acceptable targets, and have historically been framed as unpatriotic, immoral, and/or degenerate by democratic-populists as well as totalitarian movements seeking mass appeal. In media, Intellectuals are often portrayed as out-of-touch Ivory Tower academics whose knowledge and intelligence stand in contrast to and is usually inferior to the life experience of more sympathetic 'street-smart' characters. They are usually characterized as elitists governed entirely by logic (or at least a flawed facsimile thereof), and as such are often cold or dispassionate toward others. Frequently a "fine line between genius and madness" is invoked by more "down to Earth" characters.
  • Timid guys. Female timidity is acceptable and enticing, but for the media male shyness is ridiculous and inappropriate. In short, it's a Double Standard. Shy guys are usually the targets of the worst abuse in High School (a little bit like the Nice Guy). Said abuse intensifies as they grow older if they haven't won over their shyness. This is because, for the media (and many people in Real Life), shyness for a man equals being a coward, a loner and a bad person. There's also a tendency in some female-aimed media to depict any man who's withdrawn around women as a delusional stalker, a ball of violent and unresolved sexual frustration or an immature man-child who never grew up. And if he happens to be unattractive, then he's probably a psychopath too.
  • Hippies and Granola Girls. Unlike members of most other easily identifiable musical subcultures like punk or metal, hippies tend to be unfailingly depicted in popular media as horrendously uncool, self-absorbed, lazy, smelly, insufferably self-righteous and possessing a philosophical outlook that falls somewhere between well-meaning but oblivious naivete and outright dope-addled stupidity.
  • Emos. Generally regarded as a bunch of whiny poseurs who cry, write poetry, and cut themselves in order to seem unconventional or to attract attention, and who blow even the mildest slights or issues completely out of proportion in order to feel Wangsty about them. Also, there's the matter of the music. Note that this applies to depressed people as well (thusly blending the emo with those who have mental disorders). Those who are genuinely bitter, jaded, and cynical are accepted, but this is usually limited to old people (or the Jerkass main character in a popular webcomic). If you're under the age of 21 and object to some part of life (even if it's a valid or idealistic objection), you might as well brush your hair over one eye, start writing sappy poetry and threaten to commit suicide.
  • Students. Students who go onto higher education receive quite a lot of stick, a lot of it from those who, for whatever reason, didn't. This takes form in numerous stereotypes: the insufferably self-righteous and smug Student Activist, usually a 'leftie', lecturing all and sundry on how they're so intellectually and morally superior to the rest of humanity; the boorish and obnoxious Drunken Frat Boy using higher education as an excuse to live a life of sex, booze, partying and uninterrupted hedonism at the cost of someone else (usually the complainer, whether parent or tax-payer). It seems to be a combination of the prejudice against intellectuals discussed above, jealousy (higher education traditionally being the preserve of those who can afford it, which plenty can't) and sheer irritation at the fact that some higher-education students can be pretty insufferable, most being at the age where they're convinced that they know everything there is to know and / or have a right to do whatever they want to have a good time, without actually having the experience or maturity to back this up. Students are also often accused of not doing 'real' work and living an 'easy' life. Sometimes it can even be taken to the extreme that anyone who's ever willingly participated in any form of organized education doesn't know how the world "really" works.
  • Certain College Majors. Tied closely to the above, certain fields of study are seen as useless. If your chosen major isn't strongly tied to a well-known and specific occupation, then you're just wasting your time. This one is distinct from students in general because it's making the assumption that going to college in the general sense is a good and responsible thing to do, but certain majors are "cheap", "cheating" or "wrong". The argument is that if you're in one of these majors, you're a witless slacker who intends to stretch your studenthood out as long as possible to keep sponging off your parents or you are someone who would do well, if not for the fact that you stupidly chose a major that obviously provides Crippling Overspecialization and no marketable skills whatsoever. And mixed majors may get some flak for not making up their minds.
    • English majors in particular, but really everyone in the "social sciences" will be considered intellectual lightweights.
    • Philosophy students, which is kinda funny when you consider philosophy includes logic and ethics. They are basically getting a degree in winning arguments and making other people feel stupid and/or morally wrong.
    • Math majors are both soulless number-crunchers and have no marketable skills.
      • A belief which is quite bizarre, since advanced mathematics is a highly marketable skill and requires creative thinking. For a while there before math majors became common physics majors were making a killing in the financial sector because they were the only ones available with the requisite skills, after all actual physics jobs were scarce and didn't pay nearly as well. This belief seems to be attributable to the fact that most writers (and most people) don't understand what mathematicians do and so assume it is something esoteric and useless.
      • Also, keep in mind that in the United States, the biggest hirer of mathematicians is... the National Security Agency.
    • Computer Science majors are all geeky software pirates or stuck-up Linux elitists.
    • Majoring in science or engineering tends to get a free pass. After all, they're the ones who are going to invent the next Twitter or iPhone. On the other hand, students of technical degrees are robotic, have no appreciation for the arts/have no soul, are no fun at parties and are terrible writers.
    • Religious Studies majors are likely to be labeled as a religious nut job who wants to spread their crazy beliefs to the masses. Either that or someone who is only interested in fads as Religious Studies has increased in popularity since the 70s.
    • Any sort of Art major (painting, sculpting, writing, Film, Theater, ect) is going to be portrayed as a stuck up artist who thinks that other art ((read Hollywood, Broadway, Publishing companies, ect)) are not really art or an idiot who couldn't care less about his well being because art generally does not pay well given the cost of supplies and the fact that most artists are not hired. Not as common in works as real life due to Most Writers Are Writers.
    • Any "nerd" or "geek" character who studies their chosen field "too hard", even if it is the "right" one. Someone who spends too much time reading books clearly isn't learning the "important" stuff in life and won't last 5 seconds after graduation.
    • Business majors. Seen as another "cheap" major that anyone can get, plus it's proof that your life's desire was to be a Corrupt Corporate Executive.
    • When you graduate college, don't become another overworked, underpaid, perpetually stressed graduate student whose myopia in their field only serves to make other characters seem more knowledgeable about life and the grad student's own studies. If you're a medical student, on top of that you must subsist on ramen to avoid crippling debts while you cripple patients. You'll only leave this trope to enter Acceptable Professional Targets. If you're a law student, you're the same as a med student but without a soul and become an even bigger butt of jokes when you graduate.
  • The childfree: Adults who choose not to have children are sometimes accused of being selfish, lazy, or Child Haters. Also, some religious types will claim that the childfree are "rebelling against God" by choosing not to procreate. Often childfree people are shown to abruptly change their minds once they have a small amount of contact with a child, suggesting that their stance was misguided or based on ignorance.
    • Ironically in this same list are large families. Cheaper By the Dozen aside, most media depicts those who have a large number of children as either religiously fanatical, selfish, poor and only having children to live off their benefits, unable to control the instinct to breed, or just plain stupid (they don't know that sex is what makes babies). There seems to be a very narrow area of the ideal number of children for a family.
  • The Popular/Pretty People. If you're pretty or popular, you're assumed to be dumb, vapid, and shallow, peaked/are going to peak at high school, and have no real worth at all. And that's if you're not evil...
  • Goths. Ready for mourning at any time of day? Think cemeteries are a great place to hang out? Listen to depressing music? Well then, clearly you must be either preparing to shoot someone else or meticulously planning your own suicide. And you're probably still in high school. Negative attitudes towards goths became particularly apparent in the light of school shootings such as Columbine. While those incidents often lead to public cries to teach students to tolerate each other and stop bullying, at the same time they ostracize and demonize goths.
  • Hipsters (please note that this type is not to be confused with hippies; the two terms were once synonyms). A nebulously-deployed yet relatively specific category of cool person (or aspiring cool person), typically denoted by a constantly-shifting taste in fashion (trucker hats, white belts, skinny jeans), musical taste (indie rock, dance-punk, Garage Rock revival) and cultural interests (embrace of irony and postmodernism, being seen at cool parties). Sure, that attitude was all well and good when Quentin Tarantino was the new hot thing, but somewhere between Pulp Fiction and the rise of "metrosexuality," hipsters became associated with snobbery, gentrification (see: the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn), superficiality, self-absorption and inauthenticity, and it is now common, almost reflexive internet parlance to attach the word "douchebag" after mention of the word "hipster". The main complaint seems to be that hipsters are simply an advanced level of poseur, re-appropriating the style and cultural trappings of a culture or counterculture they didn't get in on the ground floor of—and they're spending lots of money to do it half-assedly. Most confounding of all, unlike just about every other lifestyle target mentioned on this page, almost nobody actually admits to being a hipster, therefore making them one of the most acceptable targets of all: the self-hating and/or in-denial Acceptable Lifestyle Target.
  • Vegetarians. Vegetarians are often lumped together with hippies and art students. They don't eat meat? They're unhealthy! (Even though respected nutritionists and health experts acknowledge that meat causes all sorts of health problems, and that vegetarian diets are far healthier.) You eat too much rabbit food and there's something wrong with your brain! There's also a gender bias, as men are supposed to be shoveling down T-Bones, burgers, and fried chicken or else they're too girly or are gay; whereas herbivorism is often a standard for a woman. Female vegetarians are also obviously portrayed as healthy, whereas male vegetarians are often sickly or unnaturally thin. Rarely (if ever) will a character become a vegetarian for medical reasons or health reasons; they will almost always be so for political motives around animal rights. And this will inevitably see the character transform into an insufferably obnoxious and self-righteous moralizer haranguing everyone around them and acting as they're the Second Coming because they no longer eat meat. This is changing; as vegetarians are becoming more accepted and many of these types (ie, the moral crusaders) have split off into Vegans. Another reason is also cultural differences, ie, a Vegetarian in India is something completely normal for men and women.
    • Vegans. Vegans are constantly made fun of and criticized for being even worse than vegetarians. Like vegetarians, God help you if you are a male vegan because then you don't even eat cheese and eggs. Also, if you're a vegan, then you are either a hippie, a member of PETA, or both. There exist numerous stereotypes about vegans doing stuff like calling 911 because a fast-food chain is serving meat.
    • Vegephobes. While vegetarians are slowly gaining acceptance, their opposite number—those who don't like eating vegetables—are not. The assumption is that you must eat your vegetables, or there's something wrong with you. Perhaps you were defiant when your parents tried to make you eat vegetables, and now you're carrying that chip on your shoulder into adulthood. The reality is that, with adequate vitamin and mineral supplementation, the human body is adaptable enough to thrive on just about any kind of diet—vegan, exclusively carnivore, exclusively grain-eating, or otherwise.
    • Pescetarians. Often confused with vegetarians. A lot of people actually don't know what this term means; so they act like they're vegetarians who cheat. In reality, they're actually following a biblical standard because fish isn't considered a meat, although nutritionally it is. It's not uncommon to see many middle-eastern people who are pescetarians. This is a little more accepted, especially in places like the middle east, coastal areas, and islands (like Guam and Japan) where fish is much easier to obtain, especially fresh fish, as opposed to areas like the middle of Europe and North America.
  • The Politically Correct. Everyone who doesn't buy into stereotypes is an uptight, overly sensitive, ultra-PC censor with no sense of humor. This attitude is a popular refuge for comedians who like Black Comedy and Crossing the Line Twice, accusing everyone who doesn't like them of this. Note that pretty much nobody refers to themselves as "politically correct". Note as well that there are very few things quite so politically correct, today, as proudly proclaiming one's own political incorrectness.
  • People Who are Athletic. According to pop culture, everyone who plays sports (in high-school, at least) is a dumb jock, and every cheerleader is a shallow bitch. And of course, says pop culture, everyone athletic (jocks) are all bullies who have nothing to look forward to in life past high-school, if they graduate. Cheerleaders too are at the high point in their life, says pop culture, and they're all shallow sluts who spread malicious rumors about each other and their rivals. Never mind that athletes and cheerleaders may just be regular people who enjoy their respective hobby, or that plenty of athletes/cheerleaders go on to have successful and fulfilling lives after high school, in fact, high school athletic participation is associated with a high future income for men.
  • BDSM couples. A dominant man is a misogynist, a dominant woman a bitch, a submissive man a doormat and a submissive woman even more of a doormat. BDSM practitioners also tend to be stereotyped as unattractive, overweight, middle-aged weirdos. See Bondage Is Bad.
  • People who, in their spare time, rant about their jobs. Jobs can be stressing. And of course not everyone has the same tolerance of stress as everyone... so if someone's complaining about a retail job, then some people will laugh, but there are people who say that they're just spoiled inconsiderate brats who are not going to last long at the job and actually think that all customers aren't that dumb.
    • This also extends to other jobs, too. Just having a bad day at work (or several) or working in a bad environment seems to bring up the, "If you hate your job, then why don't you quit?" response. Typically, even laughing at stupid customers, bad coworkers, etc., brings up this. (It's a guaranteed that if you make any rant related to your job in the internet, you'll be told, "Quit then, if it's so bad".) When faced with the, "Then why don't you quit your job?" response, don't mention, "Do you know of any other job openings?", because they're not listening.
  • Alcoholics. As Mitch Hedberg put it: "Alcoholism is the only disease you can get yelled at for having." Alcohol is more or less a part of almost every culture... both the love for it and the hatred and constant jokes about it. People who choose to regularly drink themselves silly or pay money for alcohol are constantly being made fun of. There's one in almost every family, the one person who's drunk off their ass almost 24/7. And they're always either homeless, extremely poor, childless, single, and are only happy when they're drunk. College students are also on the receiving end of a lot of alcohol jokes, either because they're irresponsible drinkers and binge drink the day they turn 18-21, or because they are frat boys/greeks and are encouraged to drink by their Fraternity/Sorority to do so. This is almost always flipped as soon as the person admits they have a problem, and it becomes a sympathetic Very Special Episode.
  • Teetotalers, a.k.a. Non-drinkers and Dry Crusaders. There are plenty of valid reasons to drink alcohol... and likewise there are plenty of valid reasons to not drink alcoholic beverages (such as the taste, the price, a Freudian Excuse, and not wanting to get drunk around people). But if you don't drink alcohol, no matter the reasons you have for not liking it, you will be made fun of, chastised, castigated, punished, and pressured to drink until you do shove it down your throat. Expect to be called nicknames like hippie for refusing to drink it. Even worse than teetotalers are Dry Crusaders—prohibitionists who want to ban alcohol completely and see it as too much trouble. This one has its historical basis in the reaction to the sanctimonious personalities of most prohibitionists of the 1920s and 1930s, but expect peer pressure even if you're just making a personal choice.
  • Metalheads. Thanks to incredibly stingy radio play, the average person has only a ridiculous straw-man image of what heavy metal is, or at least doesn't understand the purpose behind most of the tropes of the genre. And do they try to gain a better understanding? Do they fuck. Metal is associated with cultural outcast status at best (admittedly a contingent of the genre's fanbase doesn't help this image) and at worst lowbrow culture and low intelligence (strange, considering the abnormally high compositional and instrumental ability requirement). Its listeners are portrayed as thuggish, mean or outright stupid, and the musicians are still given the Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll stereotype. Additionally, the music is considered random noise, and is considered by a large amount of people who've never listened to it as "not real music", largely thanks to the use of "death growl vocals", because most people find it hard focusing on anything in music that isn't vocals (Indeed, by not having a melody, death growls facilitate the increased prominence of instruments). As such, metalheads themselves are ridiculed by showing devotion to this genre.
    • There are actually two types of metalheads in fiction, and the stereotypes associated with them are different. The gentler clichés get attached to the "hair metal" crowd, whose members are often treated basically as hippies: kooky, lazy, mildly rebellious, drug-addled, and/or speaking in a Southern California accent (perhaps because Van Halen, who kicked off the movement in the late Seventies, were from Los Angeles). Then you have the "death metal" freaks, who get slapped with the same stigma associated with Goths, only much nastier. (This got really bad in the early Nineties, after two Nevada teens ritualistically killed themselves after listening to Judas Priest's "Better By You, Better Than Me," causing all metal—even particularly sexually explicit but otherwise harmless hair metal—to be associated with Satanism.) Metalheads are also stereotyped as Always Male, with the possible exception of airheaded female hair-metal fans—who, at best, only like metal musicians because they are "cute" and, at worst, are sluts who will give blow jobs to anyone who can get them backstage to meet their heroes. Which brings us to...
    • Female Metalheads. Oh, where to start? While there are some male metalheads who are thrilled to pieces to find a girl who shares their tastes, there are others who refuse to take them seriously or resent that they are "intruding on a male's domain". They also often get stereotyped as not being conventionally attractive—whilst "pop chicks", at least, have a feminine physical attractiveness. Conversely, feminine-looking female metalheads tend to not be taken as serious metalheads—which doesn't help, of course, that there are some "metalhead girlfriends" who only listen to heavy metal in order to impress or appease her boyfriend. Ironically, there are even some anti-metal feminists who view the genre as being inherently anti-women[1]—even as some female metalheads see it as a form of female empowerment (who, after all, are defying the traditional gender norms of listening to pop and/or soft rock). Finally, women who hold more traditional views of gender norms tend to view female metalheads as being socially aberrant (same as if she didn't like shoes or clothes shopping).
  • The Rich. Rich people are often portrayed as sycophants, morally bankrupt businesspeople, pretentious, and they often are portrayed as LOVING to show it by wearing extremely expensive clothing or by regularly binging on ultra expensive activities and hobbies. Expect derogatory comments about those poorer than them. Rich people as targets are especially used during times of economic down-turns, especially those working for massive businesses like insurance, oil companies, computer industries, stock market junkies, etc. Rich women are often shown as gold-diggers who live in the lap of luxury, or if they are a breadwinner (Sometimes the Breadwinner), then they are shown as being extremely out of touch with their family and almost never being able to sit down to cook. (Shown in Daria, in which Helen heats up frozen Lasagna nearly every night, considers it a rare treat to cook for her family, and overhears people laughing about other women taking Maternity leave.) The level of acceptability goes double for any rich person who is Caucasian, and quadruple if they happen to be Jewish, with further varying degrees of acceptability depending on their careers. (If there exists any positive portrayal of a rich Jewish banker, then you'd best take a picture because it's probably the first time you'll ever see it.)
    • And even worse are Children born into rich families. They are frequently portrayed as spoiled rotten brats with no compassion for others and never having to work for anything in their lives, they just ask for it. Girls are always shown as having a rich "Daddy" who pays for them and are often either a Rich Bitch crossed with Alpha Bitch. Girls who marry into money are seen as gold-diggers who vow never to work. Boys are also shown as spoiled but also being trained to one day take over their family job, sometimes being forced too. However, the male rich kids are much more likely to be depicted as drug-addicted date-rapists, relying on their family's money and connections to get them out of any trouble their consequence free life-style gets them into. Like the above, this goes double for whites, quintuple for Jewish families, and sextuple for bankers.
    • EXCEPTION: Baron Rothschild. Rich? Check. Banker? Check. Jewish? Check!
  • People with tattoos/piercings. Oh, sure, go mutilate your body because you think it looks "cool", we all know that everyone who does it will regret it later. Oh, and by the way, the only people who ever get tattoos or non-ear piercings are bikers, obnoxious punk rockers, thugs, or sluts who just can't wait to show them off.
    • This stereotype is actually not as bad nowadays as it was prior to the 1990s, when much of the above actually was true, if only because "decent" folk bought into the negative imagery and wouldn't have been caught dead with tattoos or piercings. At best, tattoos were associated with the circus (which, while generally viewed as wholesome, still has some unsavory connotations), while piercings were thought to be just for Gypsies and pirates. The anti-tattoo prejudice was at an all-time low in Victorian times, when actual criminology textbooks were published explaining that anyone with a tattoo was obviously a criminal.
  • Smokers. Frequently lectured on the dangers of their habit, when they're commonly known. Ultimately, the smoker will know the risks, and it's their body to treat as they choose, but try telling that to the anti-smokers. It's considered socially acceptable to give someone a long lifestyle choice lecture for choosing to smoke. On the other hand, they do get the Smoking Is Cool benefits, so it all sort of evens out.
    • This licence to lecture smokers can particularly amusing when a twenty-five stone hambeast starts whining at a smoker about the damage they're doing to their heart, arteries, etc.
    • More recently, users of electronic cigarettes usually get lumped in with smokers of "analog" (tobacco) cigarettes. It seldom helps to explain that e-cigs produce no second-hand smoke (no smoke at all, in fact, just vapor), and do not contain any chemicals known to cause cancer. They see someone inhaling from a cigarette-like device and exhaling what looks like smoke and jump to conclusions. That there are, at the time of this writing, bills in the works to outright ban e-cigs, despite the fact that they are demonstrably safer than ordinary cigarettes, is quite telling.
    • Smokeless tobacco users. Despite chew/dip/snuff being sold in all fifty states, if you admit to using, you're a hopeless redneck with fewer brain cells than teeth (an ever-decreasing number in both cases).
    • The justification for complaining about smokers was that they will be costing taxpayers (the majority of whom are nonsmokers) and the health-care system more in the long run; this turned out to be false: smokers died years sooner than nonsmokers, so they needed significantly less of the expensive medical operations.
    • Of course, if you were smoking in front of the person or someone's kids, there is a reason they may feel justified in annoying you; you could potentially be doing something far worse to people who didn't choose this lifestyle. This is a moot point for smokeless tobacco users, though the media doesn't tend to differentiate.
  • Single Mothers (not to be confused with widows and divorced mothers). While they tend to be sympathetically portrayed in individual works of media, they are often ridiculed in the abstract, especially in the political concept of the "welfare queen" who keeps having children she has no interest in raising so that she can live off of taxpayer dollars.
  • Divorced people.
  • Single people, since we are at it. The fact that tropes like Old Maid, Christmas Cake and Crazy Cat Lady are still prevalent in media, shows that this world is still not willing to let single women get away with their singleness. Single men aren't portrayed that good either. Behind the apparently awesome life of the single Casanova there's a shallow Man Child, living in perpetual disorder since, you know, men aren't able to manage their own houses without a woman doing the chores and emptiness.
  • Feminists. If there is a woman who identifies herself as a feminist, she will be a Straw Feminist with hairy legs and extreme hatred for all the men in the world. Of course, it's all because she never had any man interested in her.
    • If there is a man who identifies himself as a feminist, he's clearly an Extreme Doormat and traitor to his gender who's sacrificed his testicles at the altar of self-loathing... or he's trying to get in the good graces of the Straw Feminist he's dating. He'll give it up when he gives her up; i.e. at the end of the episode.
  • Optimistic people. While goths and emos are made fun of for their perpetual sadness, people who are continuously in a good mood don't always have it easy either. In a lot of sitcoms and a few movies, cheerful and optimistic people are seen as lower than dirt while depressed and depressing cynics can get away with murder.
    • This can also be seen in people's general attitudes. Ever notice how someone who looks on the bright side is being naive while someone who expresses a more pessimistic view is being realistic?
    • This might be due to Optimism bias, in that one who is genuinely realistic is being seen as pessimistic because they are below the optimistic norm.
  • The Homeless. When they are not portrayed as thieves, they are shown to be suffering from various mental disorders or having inexplicable, often absurd behavior (like urinating in their own shoes or having orgies in stolen cars). This is especially typical in comedy. While mental illness no doubt is one reason a person can end up homeless, fiction seems to treat it as the only way one can end up transient, nobody ever is homeless by bad luck and circumstance. Brings the Warped Aesop that there's no point in helping, as a homeless case will just walk back to the gutter where he/she is "naturally happy" with their eccentricities as soon as your back is turned. As homeless people tend not to see much tv, and they have limited opportunity to complain about such stereotypes, they are likely to remain as acceptable targets for a long time.
  • Straight Edge. If you're straight edge you're either A) a fun hating, sour youth that dislikes social interaction, or B) a Principles Zealot that will beat the crap out of anyone who so much as looks at a glass of alcohol. There are a few bad eggs, especially in The Nineties, but mostly, straight edge people just want to respect their bodies and believe it's more Badass to stay sober than to do drugs.
  • Virgins on the Western world at least, especially if it's a man, althought it's applied to women as well. Or in general, people who don't seem to have a very active sex life, even if they don't want one. More than likely because almost everybody takes the Sex Is Cool trope WAY too seriously, thus having them treat like never having/not wanting sex like it's going to cause the end of the world.
Examples in media:


Geeks / Nerds[edit | hide | hide all]

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Mike from Something*Positive is your archetypal picked-on nerd, despite growing in personality throughout the comic and even raising a family. Nowadays he's depicted as getting way too excited about geeky things while ignoring day-to-day things like changing his ugly kid.
    • When Mike was first introduced, he was a Jerkass who was convinced that he was a Dogged Nice Guy. That could have something to do with it.


Nice Guys[edit | hide]

New Media[edit | hide]

  • The Craigslist "Letter From a Former Nice Guy" displays toxic levels of the resentment—and is skewered thoroughly here.

Web Comics[edit | hide]


Living With Your Parents[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

  • A typical example comes in the film Live Free or Die Hard, which uses the trope to subvert the character Warlock's fearsome reputation as a master hacker. It turns out that he's a total loser who lives in his mother's basement, playing video games and collecting geek merchandise.
  • In 8mm, the killer lives with his mom, who is completely oblivious to his problems.
  • The whole plot of Tanguy involves exasperated parents who try to get their grown son to move the hell out so they can have their own lives back.
  • The 2006 Matthew McConaughey film Failure to Launch likewise builds its premise on this trope. Tripp (McConaughey) is 35 years old, and though he has a job and friends and hobbies, automatically qualifies as a loser and cannot keep a girlfriend because he lives with his parents.
  • Wedding Crashers: Chazz, who was idolized by the main characters who thought he was the best thing since sliced bread, turns out to be a complete loser. Our first indication of this? He lives with his mother (and demands that she make food for him and his friends just to drive home how stunted he is).

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In Frasier Frasier must frequently defend himself from the trope, pointing out that his father lives with him, not the other way around. In fact, Frasier did invite his father into his apartment to look after him, which is a socially acceptable arrangement.
  • The most extreme example of this is Ted from Scrubs, the pathetically inept sad-sack attorney who not only lives with his mother, but shares a bed with her.
    • Wayne Campbell of Wayne's World: he admits this is "both bogus and sad".
  • George Costanza.
  • The main trio of Reaper all lived with their parents when the show started. While this was never truly made fun of, it was considered "pathetic," and used to show that the trio lacked drive each in their own way.. Sam was purposely encouraged not to try to hard by his parents (who assumed he was going to be taken to hell for their sins), Sock is lazy, and Ben was too weak willed to get out from under his mother's thumb. All three overcome this when they move out halfway through the series and get an apartment together.
  • Howard Wolowitz, Casanova Wannabe of The Big Bang Theory is portrayed as somewhat of a loser, which is punctuated by the fact that he still lives with, and is regularly infantilized and nagged by, his mother. Apparently the writers feel that this wasn't enough to make him a complete loser, so as the series progresses his feelings toward her are becoming more and more creepily Oedipal.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Tony Cipriani in Grand Theft Auto III is a Mafia boss who still lives with his mom and frequently gets yelled at by her.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • An example of the difference in cultural norms can be seen in Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who lived with his mother throughout his term of office. Americans mocked him for living with his mother, but Polish voters didn't see anything wrong with in an unmarried man still living at home.
  • Living with your parents is pretty much expected in China. Traditionally, it is quite normal for three generations to live under the same roof.
  • Subverted in most of the Arab world. Most young people are expected to live with their parents until they earn enough money to purchase their own homes and get married.
  • On its way to becoming a Dead Horse Trope in America, thanks to the global recession. Getting sacked from your job and using all of your resources to pay bills is reason enough for most people to come crawling back to Mom and Dad.
    • Also, it is more common for adults to delay moving out of the house and to hear of vicenarians who not only still live with their parents, but never moved out in the first place.


Drug Users[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

  • In Die Hard, Harry Ellis establishes himself as a scumbag by using cocaine.
  • The anti-drug movie Reefer Madness has gained particular notoriety, especially in the pot community, for its Anvilicious anti-drug aesop and its total ignorance of marijuana's actual effects. The film has been made into a comedic musical, which then received a film adaptation of its own.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • It's debatable whether Series/House is an example of this; the show can't seem to decide whether he needs his pain meds or is just using them as a crutch and could live with a lower dose, and while he's brilliant professionally one could make a strong case for his personal life counting as that of a loser.
    • Don't forget the episode where he took LSD in order to figure out that week's mystery illness. Still can't work out whether that's intended to be a positive (Look! The drug can be useful!) or a negative (it was House taking it, after all) portrayal.
  • Averted in Spaced where the main characters often use drugs casually with no references to side-effects or any aesops in sight. The only character who seems to have developed a habit is the landlady, who is a heavy wine-drinker. At the worst, their drug use is simply a distraction in the way of growing up and getting their lives in order, no worse than video games or laziness. A Lampshade Hanging occurs in Frost and Pegg's Perfect Night In where Pegg tells the audience, "Don't worry, this isn't a sitcom aimed at young people that makes tentative reference to casual drug use but then pussies out by including some punititve moral message."

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Drug use being bad is notably inverted within an inch of its life on Code Monkeys. All of the cool and/or funny characters use drugs without any consequences. In Dave's case, a few episodes even imply his best games come out of programming sessions where he's high.


Intellectuals[edit | hide]

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Often subverted by The West Wing, one of the key themes of which was the need for politicians and their staff to treat the American people as intelligent thinking adults—an approach that, in the show, often worked. This went from its sympathetic depiction of the unashamedly intellectual and knowledgeable, yet equally warm and personable President Bartlet and his also intellectual, educated staff to its frequent depiction of complex or obscure political issues in a fashion that respected the audience's intelligence.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • The Chinese Cultural Revolution viewed anyone considered an "intellectual" as a dangerous parasite requiring "re-education". If he were lucky, an intellectual (which for the Revolution's purposes included virtually anyone with a college degree) would be "re-educated" by just being forced to work in a rice paddy or as a manual laborer; if he weren't, he'd simply disappear.
  • Even worse in Cambodia where intellectuals were simply killed. Sometimes people were considered intellectuals just because they wore glasses.
  • At one point, the government of Equatorial Guinea even banned the use of the word "intellectual".
  • Intellectuals in any autocratic regime are often persecuted. Usually because being educated means they're more well equipped to intellectually battle ideological nonsense... and if you're a dictator, you just can't have that, now can you!
  • Sometimes this doesn't apply, at least not to people educated in practical fields, because dictatorships wanting any sort of industry need scientists and technicians same as everyone else. Sometimes though, they just don't care.


Hippies[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

  • In the The Pursuit of Happyness the main antagonists are Hippie thieves who exist only to steal Will Smith's income, the bone-density scanners he sells. Capitalist fairytale, indeed.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The finest example of the hippie as object of derision in popular culture is probably Neil from The Young Ones, a character who possesses most of the aforementioned stereotypical hippie traits and a host of others including but not limited to vegetarianism, strident if misguided activism ("vegetable rights and peace"), and disapproving upper-class parentage.

Role Playing Games[edit | hide]

  • Hippies are one of many unusual enemies in Kingdom of Loathing, and pretty much all of them are self-righteous, unhygienic vegan stoners.
    • Considering that one of the game's creators is a self-professed hippy, this may fall under Self-Deprecation.

Web Original[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • South Park, known for its Libertarian views, frequently makes hippie characters the butt of jokes or satire. The show usually characterizes hippies as disheveled dropouts or ignorant college kids who really don't understand the issues that they claim to protest and are more interested in recreation than doing anything of value. They are the sworn enemy of Eric Cartman, who takes Refuge in Audacity when bashing them in comedic ways. In one episode, a hippie rock concert is treated as a natural disaster a la The Core.
  • Both used and subverted by Futurama's late Waterfalls, a family of hippies who tend to wind up dead. While Waterfall Senior was an easy going, not very competent, over-the-top bleeding-heart conservationist-turned-penguin hunter, Waterfall Junior was an obnoxious, trouble-making, human-hating animal-freak, responsible for such weirdness as forcing vegetarianism on a very unhappy lion. Old Man Waterfall, on the other hand, is portrayed as a brave and noble champion of freedom, who lost practically every part of his body (and his spirit!) fighting for what he believes in. This is all juxtaposed, however, by the explanation for his dedication to freedom—his comically unpopular lifestyle. His last words: "I request a Satanic funeral!"

Emos[edit | hide]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]


Students/Homeschoolers[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

  • The "art students on the bottom of the heap" position is played completely straight in Art School Confidential-for the first half hour, when it's trying to be a comedy. Later in the movie, when it's trying to be a Mind Screw crime thriller, it ignores the "student" aspect almost entirely. The short comic upon which the movie is based also plays the notion straight.
  • Averted in The Brothers Solomon the two protagonists were both homeschooled, but the reason they know nothing about women isn't because of being homeschooled, it's because they grew up in a remote location where there were NO women whatsoever. The trailers, naturally, didn't let this on.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Many of the jokes in the world's oldest surviving joke book, an ancient Greek tome called Philogelos, use students (and scholars in general) where the modern equivalent would be a Dumb Blonde. Example joke: Discovering that a ladder has twenty steps going up, an intellectual (sometimes translated "student-dunce") asks if it has as many going down. (Of course, this is more of the Absent-Minded Professor concept.)

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

Rimmer: How did you get into Art College?
Lister: The normal way you get into Art College. The same old, usual, normal, boring way you get in. Failed my exams and applied. They snatched me up.

  • Mathematicians (pre-Numb3rs) tend to receive a lot of flack for being incomprehensible even by scientist standards ("Yellow Cake", anyone?) and for working on concepts that don't seem to have anything to do with anything in the universe.
  • From 30 Rock:

Jack: We might not be the best people --
Liz: But we're not the worst.
Together: Graduate students are the worst.

  • Some people ridicule The Duggar family on 19 Kids and Counting for homeschooling rather than sending their children to school.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The whole idea that art students are somehow the least among students isn't because they're art students—as Craig's Pissed, mirrored here, will show, it's because they're artists who were then given the student stick. This is true regardless of what sort of art you're actually studying-although graphic designers are the most likely to experience it, because work with Muggles more than most other fields.
  • This Youtube video

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Mac Hall has had computer science major and English majors at one another's throats. The computer science majors see the English majors as intrusive and narcissistic, while the English majors see comp sci people as workaholics who need to get laid. Both are played for laughs (it is a webcomic, after all).
  • PHD pretty much is this and only this.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In an episode of Futurama, Guenter the monkey expresses a desire to be a moderately intelligent monkey in a suit-which is why he's decided to go to business school!
  • The Simpsons will throw in a grad student joke every so often. "Bart, don't make fun of grad students. They just made a terrible life choice."
  • Ezekiel on Total Drama Island could be seen as a big Take That to homeschoolers; he's portrayed as being ridiculously socially awkward, was voted off first for being a Straw Misogynist and later became convinced of his own coolness regardless.

Theater[edit | hide]

  • Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard featured an ineffectual, middle-aged man who kept going back to school, making himself a perpetual student. Definitely Older Than Radio.


No Kids / Lots of Kids[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In an episode of Two and A Half Men, Charlie Harper, the last person on Earth who should even think about raising a child, decides against a vasectomy because he spent enough time around his nephew.
    • Though that sounds less like a total conversion and more like his being open to the idea after being staunchly opposed to it.
  • The Duggar family is an extreme instance of the "too many kids" situation, as shown on their reality show 19 Kids and Counting.
    • Though this could be seen as a subversion, because the show does not judge their lifestyle choices, and rather serves as a documentary of the positives and negatives of such a large family.
      • Also slightly subverted in that although they are a very conservative religious family, they are uniformly nonjudgmental of other people. In fact, they embody many of the good things about religion; particularly love, curiosity about the world and generosity and compassion toward others, while most representations of families with similar beliefs in the media are unflattering and emphasize the hypocrisies that sometimes occur in fundamentalist behavior.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • An episode of The Simpsons has the childless form an activist group ("The children are our future. Today belongs to me.") that try to remove all child-friendly things in town. They are defeated when the children give them hugs, and succumb to the common germs carried by kids, in a nod to War of the Worlds.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • The case of "Octo-Mom". At first it was a bit like the septuplets in terms of media coverage. Then it came out that she already had 6 kids (all via in-vitro fertilization) and was simultaneously drawing Welfare payments. Eep.


Hipsters[edit | hide]

Literature[edit | hide]

  • More Information Than You Require defines hipsters as jocks who want to be nerds but won't admit it, and hilariously makes fun of the "...'ironic,' 'joke'" t-shirt, sarcastic jeans, cynical tube socks, derisive sneakers, and a morose belt."

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

Hipster: [wearing a shirt that says '"Vote" McCain'] Hey Stephen, I'm a hipster, and I can't remember if I bought this shirt ironically because I actually hate McCain, or if I in fact support John McCain, or if maybe this is a band that I'm into...
Stephen: You actually support John McCain. Yes he voted with George Bush over 90% of the time, but he did it ironically.

  • Nathan Barley was an out-and-out attack on London's "new media" hipsters of the early and mid 2000s who were portrayed as shallow, stupid, gadget-obsessed and sexually amoral. Ironically, it's been claimed that the show's biggest fans were the very people it was parodying.

Magazines[edit | hide]

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The website Stuff White People Like focuses primarily on hipster-type interests (Whole Foods; Michel Gondry, Sarah Silverman), and discusses the reasons white people like these things with thinly-veiled condescension. Although it was written by a white guy and a half-white half-Asian guy.
    • So if white people are ridiculed for liking "world" (read: non-white) music, they are mocked. But if they like stereotypically white music (polka, for instance), they are mocked too. What are they supposed to like, if anything?

Web Comics[edit | hide]

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • If a hipster gets into politics, then that adds another level of mockery; along with charges of snobbery and superficiality come charges of ill-informed unearned self-righteousness. For example, when a high-end British boutique recently debuted reusable shopping bags with "I Am Not A Plastic Bag" printed on them, many satirists often sardonically extended this to such qualifiers as "No, you're a pretentious twat" in derision of the kind of people it was perceived would buy them (particularly considering that most shops sold similar reusable shopping bags at a much cheaper price without the condescending self-righteousness).
    • Then one ethical choice crashed into another, as the bags turned out to be made on the cheap in unknowable circumstances in the Far East.
  • Liking any band/show/movie outside the mainstream can often be perceived as pretentious affectation, particularly if said affection is also coupled (as it often can be) with an excessive disdain for anything "popular".


Vegetarians[edit | hide]

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • If it's a medical drama, and the victim of the week is a vegetarian, you can bet that their vegetable love is somehow responsible for their illness, especially in House.

Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

Stand Up Comedy[edit | hide]

  • Ron White's joke was that his vegetarian friend's system was kicking back beef broth, and that he's never seen a healthy looking Vegetarian.
    • Though deconstructed a bit, due to White saying that he has no problem with vegetarians - just his friend's reasoning for being a vegetarian is what bugged him. It wasn't that he didn't like meat or that he wanted to eat more healthful food - but because he was worried over the amount of waste cattle make and the effects they would have on the environment.

Friend: How are you helping the environment?
Ron White: ...I eat the cow!


Divorced People[edit | hide]

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Two and A Half Men: Alan's ex-wife, Judith, is portrayed as a lazy, money-grubbing misandrist whose favorite hobby is making his life a living hell. She has lightened up on him in recent seasons, but only because she remarried and her second husband, Herb, is now the target for most of her abuse (he has left her several times over it, but always goes back). His second ex, Kandi, isn't portrayed in a much better light, but in her case she's far too dumb to be mean.


Feminists[edit | hide]

New Media[edit | hide]

  • Blogger Amanda Marcotte had the temerity to point out that it is creepy and disturbing for a man to wait until he and a woman are alone in an elevator in a strange city at four o'clock in the morning before he invites her up to his room for "coffee". For this she found herself on the receiving end of a series of incredibly vicious attacks, accusing her of everything from denigrating the sufferings of Muslim women under sharia law (that one was from Richard Dawkins!) to calling all men rapists.
    • I believe you are referring to Rebecca Watson of the Skepchicks.

Smokers[edit | hide]

Advertising[edit | hide]

  • In the 1980s, a sneaker company ran an ad featuring a cigarette in an ashtray, with text stating forthrightly that if smoking was the only occasion on which the reader breathed deeply, the company did not want you to wear their sneakers.

New Media[edit | hide]

  • Go to any discussion forum with posters who pride themselves on being diverse and tolerant. All lifestyles, conditions, orientations, etc. are defended vigorously and anyone displaying a lack of tolerance is quickly smacked down (as they should be). But bring up smoking and watch that tolerance disappear in an instant. Smokers are called everything but human beings and heaven forbid one should ever admit that they have the habit. It's as if all of the not-so-politically-correct things they wish they could say about other groups gets saved up and piled onto smokers when the topic comes up.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  1. although it's actually certain hip-hop artists who are notorious for being misogynistic