You need to login to do this. Shylock victim or villain essay don’t list it on a work’s trope example list. If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?
If you poison us, do we not die? Something from the past that seems like a huge load of Values Dissonance. Only it turns out it was comparatively Fair for Its Day. Maybe the Historical Hero Upgrade or Historical Villain Upgrade wasn’t that unfair a reflection on the person’s views.
This doesn’t automatically make the work immune to criticism: something less dissonant than its contemporaries can still be pretty darn dissonant. Oftentimes, though, a little research will show that something cringe-worthy or laughable today is also something worthy of applause for what it stood for, and the context can be important in interpreting the work at large. Please remember that this trope does not mean “surprisingly enlightened for its time period. It means “more enlightened for its time period”, which is not necessarily the same thing.
If a vintage work has a message that comfortably fits modern audiences, that’s Values Resonance. Innocent Bigot and Racist Grandma are related tropes. Today, we have Hebrew National’s hot dog commercials, reminding Gentile consumers that “they” are “really choosy about what goes in. There’s some contention, including a lawsuit, as to whether Hebrew Nationals are actually kosher. Often noted in the case of Osamu Tezuka that, while the content of some of his work is offensive by modern standards, he was actually a very enlightened writer for his time and would likely appreciate the more open minded nature of today’s society. Lots of people complain about Honey Kisaragi from Cutey Honey being a huge Ms. Yellow Claw, published by Marvel precursor Atlas Comics, was named for its villain, a rather racist Yellow Peril character.
Luke Cage’s blaxploitation origins are a bit cringe-worthy to read. Heck, in-universe he rather considers the yellow-disco-shirt-Holy-Christmas era an Old Shame. A lot of the entries in Captain Ethnic can count as this. They might be embarrassing stereotypes but they were sympathetic heroes of color in a time when almost all superheroes were still white people.
Will Eisner laid out a similar defense for Ebony White from The Spirit. Tintin has what would be considered very racist portrayals of minorities today. However, Tintin and the heroes always treated these people with respect, while the villains would not treat them this way. This is why Nelvana chose to Bowdlerise some of the stories.
In The Broken Ear, Tintin still disguises himself as a member of the boat crew, but rather than dress in blackface like in the comic book, just wears a wig and has a fake moustache. It’s quite jarring to see Digby saying that “The black boy’s done it, sir” near the end of the first Dan Dare story, but it was remarkable that a 1950s British comic would have a black African as supreme commander of the Earth forces in the first place. Dan certainly treats him with all the respect owed to his rank. Nero: Petoetje was a black Papuan native adopted by the white Flemish woman Madam Pheip. Despite being brought to Belgium he kept walking around in his native dress for several albums. This is a bit embarrassing nowadays, but at the same time no other comic strip at the time had a little black boy as part of the main cast. Circles was first published in 2001 and the story continued up to 2004, with each chapter being a season of the year.