Created By: Yamikuronue on January 5, 2010
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Foreign Culture Fetish

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A fandom trope. Many fans, upon discovering that they like one aspect of a certain culture (the most common example these days being Japanese Cartoons), quickly decide that "Japanese cartoons are WAY better than [insert nationality of fan] cartoons". Soon after, some extremist fans (often dubbed "weeaboos" or "wapanese") begin decrying anything western at all, claiming that Japanese *everything* is better - food, clothing, language, technology, all forms of media. Often they're only enamored of The Theme Park Version of the given culture, purposefully ignoring all negative points.

This can lead at times to Hype Backlash against, well, an entire country. Also often leads to Pretty Fly for a White Guy on the part of the fan. Common non-Japanese targets include France (among the intellectuals) and America (in many countries). If they're only enamored of a given art from from a culture, that's True Art Is Foreign.

NO specific person examples please! Let's keep it general (genres or countries) or specific to works of fiction.

Fictional Examples:
  • The Mikado: "There's the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone/All centuries but this and ev'ry countrie but his own"
  • Patience: "I do not long for all one sees/That's Japanese."
  • The Cyber Punk genre has a Japanophile tenancy, partially as a function of key writer William Gibson's affinity and fandom and partially as a response to the impressive technological and economic progresses of Japan during the genre's peak. The future was going to occur there.
  • In Lucifer, the demons developed a vogue for 18th-19th century England (can't remember the period exactly) and were extremely pleased to have a soul from that era teach them how to best immerse themselves in it.
  • The Teen Girl Squad spinoff "4 Gregs" has Japanese Culture Greg.
  • Mentioned at one point in Something*Positive (other than the whole "smite the catgirld" thing) by one of the characters after she scared off some guy with a Calling Your Attacks moment: she says adding "Ancient Secret Chinese thechnique" will scare opponents off much more effectively, adding "White people are so much fun" or words to that effect.
  • Mad Men's Bert Cooper is very much the orientalist. That is, the old-school version of the japanese culture fetish.

Historical examples:
  • Ancient Romans adored Greek culture starting around the 3rd century BC.
  • Australia had (has) a very strong Anglophile streak, lessening in the 1970's to be replaced by America, though that's more of a conflicted fandom.
  • Hungary had a hardon for anything that's not Russian while the Iron Curtain was up. Then, after 1989 the foreign stuff started pouring in, and throughout The '90s people were going crazy for literally anything that came from west of the border. This eventually led to the development of an ultra-nationalistic cultural (and political) movement around the turn of the millennium.
  • During the High Middle Ages, and again during the Grand Siecle there was a French fashion, in which all true courtliness was done according to the manner of the French court, and, if possible, in the French language.
  • The Renaissance went through a Greco-Roman fad, which was repeated (naturally) during the Neoclassical period of the early 19th century.
  • In the 18th century, there was a Turkish fad (some of you may remember it from Amadeus.
  • After Napoleon's Battle of the Nile, there was an Egyptian fad, which was repeated in the 1920's after the discovery of King Tut's tomb.
  • There was a Scottish fad in Victorian England for a while (c. 1870-1880).
  • Ludwig II of Bavaria had a thing for pre-Revolution era France, Voltaire believed in a "benevolent despot" system after visiting Russia and Prussia, and in more recent times, there was this one black guy in post WWII US who firmly believed everything was better in the USSR, including the treatment of minorities. When Stalin died and the corruption of the system revealed, he never recovered from the shock.
  • "Eastern" Spirituality in so many of its glorious forms are really a "western" imagination of something deemed excitingly exotic, peaceful and, well, "spiritual", and most of all, full of opportunities to escape one's dull life.
  • Also applies to martial arts.
  • Oh, and way back in the 70s, everything American was sooo hip in Europe.
  • A very touchy example is the glorification of all things Africa by black Americans, most of whom are not seen as "fellow Africans" by people currently living on that continent, but are rather viewed as simply Americans with darker skin color.
  • Quite a few Estonians liked German culture in the late 19th century and tried to imitate it. They were called juniper Germans and has a reception of your typical Wapanese.
Community Feedback Replies: 55
  • December 27, 2009
    Assistant
    Oh, the Weeaboo Trope!
  • December 27, 2009
    Durazno
    Japan's the famous example, but do you think it happens with other nationalities as well? Like do you think people do that for, say... American movies or something?
  • December 27, 2009
    SKJAM
    Yep, as in the George Formby song, "Our Fanny's Gone All Yankee".
  • December 27, 2009
    dotchan
    Isn't the "Everything From Country X is Superior" thing already a trope, though?
  • December 27, 2009
    Yamikuronue
    Is it? I specifically searched for Japan because that's the most obvious example seen on the internet. I know we have tropes for "Everything from MY country is better", but if broadened, this would specifically be "Everything from that country over there that I've never been to is better than things in my country!"
  • December 27, 2009
    SKJAM
    We've had a number of YKTT Ws about it, but I dunno if they've ever been launched.
  • December 27, 2009
    Tannhaeuser
    From The Mikado (ironically): "There's the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone/All centuries but this and ev'ry countrie but his own"; and in Patience: "I do not long for all one sees/That's Japanese." Yeah, Weeabooism is Older Than Radio.
  • December 27, 2009
    Specialist290
    This actually predates the Renaissance--the ancient Romans went positively ga-ga over Greek culture starting around the third century BC (except for Cato the Elder, of course).
  • December 27, 2009
    Stormtroper
  • December 27, 2009
    Ronka87
    I had a prof like this last semester in French class: he was always railing against North American culture and comparing it with the apparently blissful French lifestyle, even though some of his claims were Blatant Lies.
  • December 27, 2009
    Shrikesnest
    In America at least, Japan gets this amongst a sizable subset of the geeks and France (or other parts of continental Europe) gets this amongst a sizable subset of the intelligentsia.
  • December 27, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    We already have Pretty Fly For A White Guy, which touches upon the "weeaboos" somewhat.

    Also, I'm afraid this might end up degenerating into people accentuating the negative about Japan. Let's be careful here.
  • December 27, 2009
    Twin Bird
    Remember, insist you're the superior race long enough, and sooner or later people will start backing you up.
  • December 27, 2009
    Shrikesnest
    Forgot to mention that a lot of the Japanese are just as crazy about America, adopting our sports and throwing Gratuitous English into their sentences.
  • December 27, 2009
    melloncollie
    This better be a no examples page, if it's going to be about "weeaboos".
  • December 27, 2009
    Yamikuronue
    At the very least no real life examples. There's a couple works presented above that describe fictional weeaboos.

    I actually proposed it because I noticed we don't have the anti-Anime backlash troped anywhere; it's just a Hype Backlash of this trope, though, so not tropable itself, but we didn't have this one either.
  • December 27, 2009
    jason taylor
    Sometimes Twin Bird. But the race most famous for insisting it was a superior race ended up getting laid waste for doing so.
  • December 30, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Mentioned at one point in Something Positive (other than the whole "smite the catgirld" thing) by one of the characters after she scared off some guy with a Calling Your Attacks moment: she says adding "Ancient Secret Chinese thechnique" will scare opponents off much more effectively, adding "White people are so much fun" or words to that effect.
  • December 30, 2009
    jojabar
  • December 30, 2009
    Camacan
    I find this trope fascinating. Particularly the way Foreign Culture Fetishism is so creative. The target culture is never taken straight: it's always an imagined culture, a rich gumbo of the fan's own culture and an idealised image of the foreign land. Where the foreign land has a reality and an image, it's only the image that comes through. Then there are things that never were: imaginative creations. Being far away, your favoured land is a safe place to set your dreams. In The Art of Travel Alain de Botton explores Foreign Culture Fetishism. One of his stories is of a Frenchman who idolised English culture. The key point of the story is it all goes horribly wrong when he (the French anglophile) actually visits England himself: suddenly he has to face all the drab realities that had no place in his imagination.

    • Australia had (has) a very strong Anglophile streak, lessening in the 1970's to be replaced by America, though that's more of a conflicted fandom.

    • The Cyber Punk genre has a Japanophile tenancy, partially as a function of key writer William Gibson's affinity and fandom and partially as a response to the impressive technological and economic progresses of Japan during the genre's peak. The future was going to occur there.

    (Many of Gibson's works could be given as examples) (And as for weeaboo that word has always made me nervous since reading Perry Bible Fellowship :) )
  • December 30, 2009
    Dcoetzee
    Thirding Foreign Culture Fetishism. Sufficiently general, nice rhythm, describes it well.
  • December 31, 2009
    OrangeAipom
    omg irony of america vs japan
  • December 31, 2009
    Yamikuronue
    Foreign Culture Fetish is easier to use in a sentence: Character X has a Foreign Culture Fetish
  • December 31, 2009
    Chabal 2
    Fifth-ing Foreign Culture Fetish. Apparently this is Older Than Steam, as a number of rulers tried to make their countries conform to the idealistic version of other countries. Ludwig II of Bavaria had a thing for pre-Revolution era France, Voltaire believed in a "benevolent despot" system after visiting Russia and Prussia, and in more recent times, there was this one black guy in post WWII US who firmly believed everything was better in the USSR, including the treatment of minorities. When Stalin died and the corruption of the system revealed, he never recovered from the shock.
  • December 31, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Japan had a strong French fetish for decades, particularly the late 60's through the late 80's.
  • December 31, 2009
    Tzintzuntzan
    This is exactly what True Art Is Foreign is...I remember the YKTTW at the time, and it was originally about weeaboo, only to be immediately corrected with examples of french cuisine obsessives and so on, and turned into a more general trope.
  • December 31, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    This kind of happens in Britain, but with teenagers having a thing for America, and the American High School system. We're fed these diets of Sabrina The Teenage Witch, The OC, Gossip Girl, and all that stuff, and it is just made to seem more exciting. British culture doesn't have nearly the same "greatest years of your life" attitude towards the young, adolescents are mostly assumed to be nuisances and delinquents. There are very, very few British TV shows that focus on teen characters, (certainly none as mainstream as say, Gossip Girl, that are watched by adults too) and most of our TV dramas have any teens on the side.

    (correct me if I'm wrong about any of this, but when I was in school this vibe was definitely in place. and I really can't think of any teenage characters on shows like Eastenders, Doctor Who, Fawlty Towers etc)

    Also Victorian Britain had a total boner for Asian design.
  • December 31, 2009
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Also, in the UK in the late 90s-early 2000s there was a big thing with Indian culture, with films like East Is East and Bend It Like Beckham and tv shows such as Goodness Gracious Me.
  • December 31, 2009
    britninja
    You also get over-aggressive Anglophiles in fandoms with British source materials, such as Harry Potter and Doctor Who. Not at all uncommon to see (usually) Americans trying to wield British slang, starting to spell the British way, going into raptures over all things Anglo, even developing opinions on British politics, usually while missing fundamental points of usage or culture.
  • December 31, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Also, in the UK in the late 90s-early 2000s there was a big thing with Indian culture, with films like East Is East and Bend It Like Beckham and tv shows such as Goodness Gracious Me.

    they were made by british indians so i don't think they count.
  • December 31, 2009
    Yamikuronue
    This would probably be a Supertrope of True Art Is Foreign
  • December 31, 2009
    random surfer
    Rick Bayless of Mexico One Plate at a Time on PBS has this for Mexico. By ethnicity he's European-American but he fell in love with all things Mexican at a young age.
  • January 1, 2010
    Camacan
    Oy vey. On the one hand this is obviously very close to True Art Is Foreign but somehow that trope seems ... mean. There is nothing in Foreign Culture Fetish to suggest that the target culture is the One True Culture. It's a fandom trope: if anyone should know that fandom of A does not entail hatedom of B it is us.
  • January 1, 2010
    Tannhaeuser
    It does not necessarily entail it, Camacan -- unfortunately, it often does. That's the point of the Mikado quote, above.

    Other examples: During the High Middle Ages, and again during the Grand Siecle there was a French fashion, in which all true courtliness was done according to the manner of the French court, and, if possible, in the French language. The Renaissance went through a Greco-Roman fad, which was repeated (naturally) during the Neoclassical period of the early 19th century. In the 18th century, there was a Turkish fad (some of you may remember it from Amadeus. After Napoleon's Battle of the Nile, there was an Egyptian fad, which was repeated in the 1920's after the discovery of King Tut's tomb. There was a Scottish fad in Victorian England for a while (c. 1870-1880).
  • January 2, 2010
    TBTabby
    The Teen Girl Squad spinoff "4 Gregs" has Japanese Culture Greg.
  • January 2, 2010
    Captain Weeaboo
    If I may say, I wholeheartedly support this trope.
  • January 2, 2010
    Tulling
    Don't forget the recurrent "Chinoiserie" fad. See The Other Wiki for details.
  • January 2, 2010
    archie
    Hungary had a hardon for anything that's not Russian while the Iron Curtain was up. Then, after 1989 the foreign stuff started pouring in, and throughout The Nineties people were going crazy for literally anything that came from west of the border. This eventually led to the development of an ultra-nationalistic cultural (and political) movement around the turn of the millennium.
  • January 2, 2010
    Bisected8
    This (British) troper once met an Anglophilic American. He was more ignorant of Britain than the average American. In fact they were decades behind on politics (seemed to think we still had O levels and the associated system, was under the impression that the coal miners strike never ended, etc), knew nothing of accents, pubs or the difference between England/Britain and hadn't even heard of Wales. Plus they thought "Rule Britiania" was then national anthem. >_<
  • January 2, 2010
    Yin
    Fictional example (what, did you think this was wholly non-fictional?): In Lucifer, the demons developed a vogue for 18th-19th century England (can't remember the period exactly) and were extremely pleased to have a soul from that era teach them how to best immerse themselves in it.
  • January 4, 2010
    Yamikuronue
    Am I ready to launch?
  • January 4, 2010
    Chabal 2
    Seems launchable, but be sure to include a link to The Theme Park Version, which is pretty much what these people think their foreign culture of choice is like.
  • January 4, 2010
    Edgukator
    There is a strain of Wrestling fandom that proclaims everything from Japanese pro-wrestling to be superior to anyone else who has laced up their boots.
  • January 5, 2010
    Camacan
    Before launching: did we ever work out how this differs from True Art Is Foreign?
  • January 5, 2010
    Tannhaeuser
    By the way, the "this one black guy" reference sounds a bit patronizing. I think if we cannot identify the person involved more exactly (was it Paul Robeson, I wonder?), that reference ought to be quietly dropped.
  • January 5, 2010
    Cao Cao
    While Japan is the chief beneficiary of this trope nowadays, the irony is that the Japanese themselves did it on two occasions in their history: in the 8th century they decided that everything that came from China was superior to whatever they had, and they Sinicized the hell out of their culture. Then in the Meiji era they did it again with Western ideas, technology, and even fashion.
  • January 5, 2010
    notmypicture298
  • January 5, 2010
    Camacan
    @notmypicture298 hold yer horses: to repeat did we ever work out how this differs from True Art Is Foreign? We don't want this to end up on the CutList a day after launching :)
  • January 5, 2010
    artman40
    • Quite a few Estonians liked German culture in the late 19th century and tried to imitate it. They were called juniper Germans and has a reception of your typical Wapanese.
  • January 5, 2010
    Sabre_Justice
    True Art Is Foreign is more of a True Art trope and seems to be on a smaller scale than this; it's one thing to be a particularly strong fan of French cinema, Japanese cartoons, etc, but this trope seems to better describe a fascination with their perception of another country entirely; including lifestyle, politics, history, etc.

    There's the dude with a room filled with anime posters, and there's the dude who has more katanas than shoes, eats imported junk food and aspires to make his home in 'Glorious Nippon'.

  • January 5, 2010
    JackButler
    A very touchy example is the glorification of all things Africa by black Americans, most of whom are not seen as "fellow Africans" by people currently living on that continent, but are rather viewed as simply Americans with darker skin color. A friend of mine from Nigeria once told me that he thinks the entire thing is quite humorous.
  • January 5, 2010
    Caravelle
    An example in fiction : Mad Men's Bert Cooper is very much the orientalist. That is, the old-school version of the japanese culture fetish.
  • January 5, 2010
    Chabal2
    Quick question: could a guy who listens to foreign music without bothering to learn what the words mean count as this trope? Because if it's the case, I heard there was quite a commotion when Moulin Rouge came out, because five-year-old girls ended up singing "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?" (Hint: It translates to "Would you like to sleep with me tonight?")
  • January 5, 2010
    vijeno
    Real Life:

    • "Eastern" Spirituality in so many of its glorious forms are really a "western" imagination of something deemed excitingly exotic, peaceful and, well, "spiritual", and most of all, full of opportunities to escape one's dull life.
    • Also applies to martial arts.
    • Oh, and way back in the 70s, everything American was sooo hip in Europe.
  • January 5, 2010
    Yamikuronue
    It's the supertrope to True Art Is Foreign
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=clpgu6kpp5uli7ec4e7hzn2a