Overly Stereotypical Disguise
Character goes undercover as an over-the-top stereotype
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(permanent link) added: 2012-10-03 16:14:35 sponsor: rt2012 (last reply: 2014-07-23 15:03:00)

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Sometimes when a character has to use the art of disguise, they go too far. If they have to pose as a member of a certain minority group, they incorporate every stereotype of said group possible into their costume. Probably the best-known instance of this: The spy/secret agent who wears a grey trenchcoat and black hat (as an effort to "blend in" with the general populace).


Examples:

Comic Books

  • The Adventures of Tintin: Bumbling detectives Thomson and Thompson would often attempt to go undercover by wearing ridiculously stereotypical disguises of whatever country they were in. One early book has them dress up in garish Chinese garb on a visit to Shanghai. They end up with a large crowd of pointing and laughing people following them.

Film

  • In The Hebrew Hammer, the main character and his love interest try to arrest the Big Bad at a Kmart by posing as a Gentile couple, complete with Southern accents, Christian paraphernalia, and American flags.
  • Admiral Aladeen in The Dictator dresses head to toe in the American flag posing as an American tourist during a helicopter tour scene, where he and his cohort are Mistaken for Terrorist.
    • Sasha Baron Cohen is frequently accused of abusing this trope in his films.
  • Marty's flamboyant cowboy attire in Back to the Future III, which he did lampshade, but (1950s) Doc insisted it was fine to wear. Marty switched to more reasonable clothes as soon as he could.
  • Gene Wilder's pathetic attempt to pass for African-American in the movie Silver Streak.
  • Team America: World Police has a funny subversion. The main character's job is to infiltrate into a Muslim terrorist group. He simply wraps a towel around his head, superglues hair to his face, and says, "Dirka dirka Muhammed Jihad." It works.
  • In Revenge of the Pink Panther, Inspector Clouseau goes undercover in Hong Kong in Yellowface, eye makeup for slanted eyes, a Fu Manchu mustache, a rice paddy hat, and a Qipao, while all the ordinary citizens around him wear business suits.
  • In High Anxiety, Richard is wanted for murder and he and Victoria need to bypass airport security, so they disguise themselves as a loud, bickering elderly Jewish couple. Their reasoning is that the louder and more obnoxious they are, the more they'll be ignored.

Literature

  • In The Man Who Was Thursday, Lucian Gregory repeatedly tries to infiltrate non-anarchist society by disguising himself as capitalists, priests, or military men. It fails each time because he's an over-the-top anarachist stereotype of these groups.
  • Sergeant Colon does this in a downright racist manner in Jingo, to the point that onlookers assume he's a spy for a country other than the one he seems to be from, since no actual spy would be so obvious.

Live-Action TV

  • The Goodies attempt to pass themselves off as Scottish is so over-the-top that the Scot they are trying to fool declares that they must be English tourists.
  • In Funky Squad, one of the square cops attempts to pass himself off a hippy by dressing as a cop's stereotype of a hippy. Not helped by the fact that he arrives driving a police car where he has crudely painted over the word 'Police' on the door so it reads 'Peace'.

Western Animation

  • In the "Honey Pot" episode of Archer, Sterling Archer attempts to seduce a gay man by dying his hair blond and wearing roller skates, skin-tight short shorts, and a shirt that says "Got Dick?"
  • Cartman goes undercover with Butters into a Chinese restaurant wearing a dǒulý, false buck teeth, and slanty eyes so that he can get secret plans for PRC world domination.
    • He also acts like a stereotype of retarded people to get into the Special Olympics.
  • Peter Griffin in Family Guy gets beat up after trying to disguise himself as a Jew, and doing this trope.
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