"I love hitmen. No matter what you do to them you don't feel bad."—Marv, Sin City
Which groups are okay to ridicule, and which ones are not? This can vary by a lot from year to year, from culture to culture, from subculture to subculture, and so on: If a group is listed here, it does not mean that the group is universally considered an acceptable target, and it most definitely doesn't mean that the group should be targeted. While these lists might contain some truly legitimate targets, they are on the most part lists of prejudice - real as well as interpreted. In fact, Acceptable Targets are nasty consequences of the stereotypes that flow in our society.
Political correctness is usually stringently observed on television; crossing the wrong (i.e. powerful or popular) minority group can result in anything up to cancellation. But while a show will be very cautious not to offend powerful and/or popular groups, such as (non-effeminate) homosexuals, blacks, Jews, and the (non-mentally) disabled, there are some groups which have no such standards of protection: namely the powerless and/or un-popular—ironically, the groups to whom political correctness should most reasonably apply.
It's also worth noting that in general, most countries have a particular part or nearby country that they mock. For instance, the French usually mock the Americans, while United States locals love to mock the French. The English, Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders each persist in claiming that the other country has a tradition of sodomizing sheep, as well as overall national bigotry. There's no particular reason for this, other than thousands of years of wars. And, of course, the fact that the sheep are apparently sluts. The sheep thing shows up between the Scottish, Welsh, and northern English and in Italy between continental Italians and Sardinians, too. When in doubt, of course, one can always go for the Russians, who are still depicted as shadowy villains (often puppet masters using some "uncivilized barbarians" as lackeys) despite the Cold War having ended decades ago.
And as is shown by the huge number of groups listed on the pages below, pretty much ANY person in the world is someone's possible Acceptable Target. It should also be noted that each of these groups are also someone's Unacceptable Target. That a group is listed here does NOT automatically mean that it should be an acceptable target, nor that it should not be: most people can agree that many groups on this list are victims of prejudice and undue ridicule, while other groups may very well deserve what they get. What there will NOT be is any consensus about are which groups are which. Also note that examples are added by all kinds of people and for all kinds of reasons. No consensus will be expressed on these pages.
Due to the ever-increasing size of this article, the many different kinds of acceptable targets have been organized seperately for your viewing convenience:
- Acceptable Ethnic Targets (mockery of physical appearance or other inborn qualities)
- Acceptable Hard Luck Targets (mockery of people who tend to play the Butt Monkey)
- Acceptable Hobby Targets (mockery of... well, hobbies)
- Acceptable Inevitable Targets (when the Acceptable Target you're laughing at might as well be you)
- Acceptable Lifestyle Targets (a catchall category for the targets we couldn't fit anywhere else)
- Acceptable Political Targets (mockery of civic ideologies)
- Acceptable Professional Targets (mockery of doing what you have to do every day in order to keep on living)
- Acceptable Religious Targets (mockery of the Supreme Being one does - or doesn't - believe in)
- Once-Acceptable Targets (You'd need a time machine to get away with mocking these groups.)
See also Unacceptable Targets, the flip-side of this same coin. Compare Klingon Scientists Get No Respect, where the target does a valuable job for their Planet of Hats, but gets no respect because they don't wear the standard hat.
In short, everyone save for Unacceptable Targets.