Cultural Personality Makeover
Somebody, frequently an Ordinary High-School Student
, discovers something: a photo, a family record, etc., that reveals some long-lost ancestor or unknown relative belonged to some particular unusual culture. This leads the person to realize they themselves are, technically, at least, a part of that culture too.
Suddenly, they become absolutely entranced by the notion of being part of this new group. The character begins researching, reading all about the culture, it's history and background, and famous people who are a part of it. They start to decorate with tribal trinkets or symbols, changes their clothing style to incorporate "traditional" parts of the garb, and may even begin to act in the manner that the group is supposedly supposed
to act like. This will usually start to annoy their friends and possibly offend people of the particular culture who have known about it their whole lives, as the newcomer is behaving more like a stereotype than a real human being, and could end up getting them a Pretender Diss
This trope will almost always end with a Snap Back
, where the character realizes they are subsuming who they really are in favor of this, and either give up the new culture entirely, or, depending on the continuity of the series, may still keep some subtle hints to it as acknowledgment without obsession. It seems to be a method by creators to add a bit of flavor to a character or to explore the issues of cultural identity, though depending on the culture and how stereotypically the character acts, Unfortunate Implications
- Played for laughs on Will and Grace, when Jack gets a postcard from his mother briefly saying that his father was "a black boy". He doesn't change how he acts, but insists that everyone treat him differently. Turns out his father was one of a family of Irish-Catholic brothers whose surname was Black.
- Parodied in an episode of How I Met Your Mother: Barney and his black half-brother James were raised by their mom, and they never knew who their fathers are. Then they meet James' dad, an African-American minister, for the first time. Barney, who desperately longs for a father figure, manages to convince himself the minister is his dad too, despite the fact that he has pale white skin and blond hair. Barney then starts acting like a steterotypical African-American, and it takes a while for his friends to make him see the minister couldn't possibly be his father.
- Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation, big-time. He was orphaned at a young age and raised by humans in the Federation. He should normally have the same morals and cultural bias as any other Federation citizen but instead he acts like a transplanted foreigner because he's so into being a Klingon. Other Klingons are nowhere near as honorable as he is.
- In Kevin & Kell, Fiona Fennec, once her fennec ears grow in, begins to explore and embrace the dress and style of her fennec ancestry. She becomes disillusioned when she realizes the fennec community she has joined online is rather hateful and spiteful of outsiders, but ultimately decides to still appreciate her background and wears traditional colors rather than the full outfits.