Created By: ClevomonMarch 9, 2011 Last Edited By: ClevomonDecember 25, 2011
Troped

Dirty Foreigner

People from other countries have bad hygiene.

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Trope
One of the easiest ways to look down upon another person is to make fun of their personal hygiene. This extends sometimes to entire nationalities. Thus, the Dirty Foreigner trope was born. This trope is strange in that it, in particular, unlike the Evil Foreigner and the Funny Foreigner, is a Discredited Trope at best, possibly verging on a Dead Horse Trope, and is most often used today in subversion, as a quick and easy way to tell that a character has a prejudice against another group, and that character is usually painted in a negative light.

No Real Life Examples, please. There is a reason that the character who implements this trope is usually looked upon in a negative light.

Needs A Better Description. Rolling Updates.

Examples:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books
  • In Viz, a foaming at the mouth rabid dog enters Britain through the then recently opened Channel Tunnel, followed shortly by its French owner, who explains that the dog isn't rabid but ate some soap having mistaken it for cheese, because we do not have soap in France.

Film
  • Borat portrays Kazakhs this way.

Literature
  • In Isaac Asimov's The Caves Of Steel protagonist Elijah Baley notes that the Earth rhyme against the foreign "Spacers" (people who settled worlds besides Earth) always seems to include "Dirty Spacers", and that "dirty" seems to be a common insult against those you hate. Ironically, the Spacers consider Earth people as dirty, and are correct, as the Spacers have eliminated most communicable diseases and compared to them, Earth people are bags of disease and a danger to Spacers due to a mostly unused Spacer immune system.
    • In addition, when Elijah Baley visits a Spacer world in the sequel, the bathroom is so clean it gleams (because it is cleaned by robots after every use and uses advanced materials) that he wonders how he will adjust when he had to go back to using communal bathrooms on Earth.
  • Historical downtimers are treated this way in Time Scout.
  • In Tom Sharpe's novels, the mutual respect with which the two kinds of white South Africans look upon each other... both British-descended and Dutch-descended Afrikaaners will use the trope of soap-innocence to describe each other...

Live Action TV
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Anya punishes a philanderer. When his girlfriend wishes he was a frog, Anya makes him French. Now he smells.

Radio
  • This American Life: in a bit by David Sedaris that takes place while he's living in France, on the French subway he overhears an ugly American Hawaiian Shirted Tourist and his wife talking loudly about (among other things) how much French people stink. Including Sedaris, who (a) isn't French, he's only living there and (b) just took a bath.

Web Original
  • "Tales of the White Street Society" by Grady Hendrix has the very obviously prejudiced protagonist repeatedly claim this of the Irish.
Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • March 9, 2011
    halfmillennium
    We already have British Teeth for the specific 'Americans think the British have yellow teeth' idea (at least, I think that's what the page is for).
  • March 9, 2011
    sainatsukino
    The trope may cover in-works examples of pretty much any native nation who met europeans explorers and thought they were filthy, and began referring to them as such in their language, I guess?
  • March 9, 2011
    peccantis
    ^^ British Teeth is actually broader than that, and more bout crooked teeth than yellow teeth is I how I remember it.
  • March 9, 2011
    Clevomon
    Ah, okay then. I hadn't seen that trope before. Glad to know. So then, it could be considered a subtrope, since there are other stereotypes included in this one, or it may be X But More Vague, in which case, I'm still ready to trash it.
  • March 9, 2011
    Chabal2
    Apparently the French don't shower or change their clothes (no idea how that one got started).
  • March 9, 2011
    peccantis
    Americans get this from any nation who don't wear shoes to indoors. Quote from Azumanga Daioh:
    Osaka: In American homes.. (...) You can go inside without your shoes, right?
    Yukari-sensei: Yes..
  • March 9, 2011
    peccantis
    IMO definitely tropeable. Dirty isn't necessarily funny.
  • March 9, 2011
    Clevomon
    So, presuming it is tropable, we next need to figure out what sort of description should be written. Needless to say, what I wrote won't work.
  • March 9, 2011
    Fanra
    • In Isaac Asimov's The Caves Of Steel protagonist Elijah Baley notes that the Earth rhyme against the foreign "Spacers" (people who settled worlds besides Earth) always seems to include "Dirty Spacers", and that "dirty" seems to be a common insult against those you hate.
      • Ironically, the Spacers consider Earth people as dirty, and are correct, as the Spacers have eliminated most communicable diseases and compared to them, Earth people are bags of disease and a danger to Spacers due to a mostly unused Spacer immune system.
        • In addition, when Elijah Baley visits a Spacer world in the sequel, the bathroom is so clean it gleams (because it is cleaned by robots after every use and uses advanced materials) that he wonders how he will adjust when he had to go back to using communal bathrooms on Earth.
  • March 9, 2011
    randomsurfer
    This American Life: in a bit by David Sedaris that takes place while he's living in France, on the French subway he overhears an Ugly American and his wife talking loudly about (among other things) how much French people stink. Including Sedaris, who (a) isn't French, he's only living there and (b) just took a bath.
  • August 21, 2011
    peccantis
    Launchable with three examples, passable name, and ok description?
  • August 28, 2011
    Ryuuma
    Real Life example: many Italians jokes that Frenchmen stinks and are not too familiar with the concept of hygiene in the first place.
  • August 28, 2011
    Lavalyte
    L. Ron Hubbard's diary when visiting China : "They smell of all the baths they didn't take."
  • August 28, 2011
    Clevomon
    Eh... I'm worried that a Real Life section would turn into Flame Bait.
  • August 28, 2011
    Hadashi
    I think we should avoid it TBH
  • August 28, 2011
    SKJAM
    Yeah, this is another No Real Life Examples trope. It's often a mistaken assumption anyhow--different diets make people smell differently, which visitors interpret as "unwashed smell."
  • August 29, 2011
    VincentGaribaldi
    It often pops up in media with a French (or whatever) woman who doesn't shave her armpits. Also, The Elbonians from Dilbert, whose entire country is covered in at least 3 feet of mud.
  • August 29, 2011
    Clevomon
    @Vincent Garibaldi

    Can you think of a particular example with the French (or whatever) woman in media?
  • August 30, 2011
    VincentGaribaldi
    Not at the moment though I'll try. As far as I can recall it's mostly a comedy trope when I've seen it. Like a pretty British girl who repels someone wit her smile. Someone will look at a pretty French woman but then she raises her arms...I'll comment when/if I find a specific incident though.
  • September 4, 2011
    SKJAM
    • "Tales of the White Street Society" by Grady Hendrix has the very obviously prejudiced protagonist repeatedly claim this of the Irish.
  • September 29, 2011
    BOFH
    Comic Books
    • In Viz, a foaming at the mouth rabid dog enters Britain through the then recently opened Channel Tunnel, followed shortly by its French owner, who explains that the dog isn't rabid but ate some soap having mistaken it for cheese, because we do not have soap in France.
  • September 29, 2011
    surgoshan
    • Historical downtimers are treated this way in Time Scout.
  • September 30, 2011
    surgoshan
    • Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Anya punishes a philanderer. When his girlfriend wishes he was a frog, Anya makes him French. Now he smells.
  • November 20, 2011
    mtlwriterguy
    This is more than a trope, this is a Truth In Television, an almost universal human prejudice. Almost every majority group in the world will -- at some point -- characterize a local ethnic minority or a hated group of foreigners in the same ways: They smell bad, they have bad hygiene, their men are sexually predatory and are after our women-folk, they (usually) have bigger sexual organs than us, but that makes them stupid. In the Middle Ages, European Christians said this about Jews. In the slave era and after, American whites said this about blacks. In the pre-Israel era, many Palestinian Arabs said it about the Zionist Jews. In the post-Israeli independence era, many Israeli Jews say it about Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. Historically the Cree said it about the Inuit and the Inuit said it about the Cree. The Serbs said it about the Croats and vice-versa. There are dozens of sociological studies showing this. Sad, but real.
  • November 20, 2011
    BooleanEarth
    • Borat portrays Kazakhs this way.
  • December 23, 2011
    AgProv
    In Tom Sharpe's novels, the mutual respect with which the two kinds of white South Africans look upon each other... both British-descended and Dutch-descended Afrikaaners will use the trope of soap-innocence to describe each other...
  • December 25, 2011
    randomsurfer
    The very first line in The Drew Carey Show was an Orphaned Punchline about this.
    Lewis: ...and that's why the French don't wash.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable