Louis Ciccone: Your honour, may I approach the bench?
A special case of Reality Is Unrealistic
, Eagleland Osmosis occurs when people outside the United States consume American pop culture and start to believe that aspects of their own society work like they do in these imported films and television shows.
The most common forms of this concerns the legal system, with people expecting to be read their rights
if they are arrested, expecting that police should have a search warrant in cases where they do not need one under local law, or calling a serious crime a "felony". Another one is expecting 9-1-1 to be the number for emergency services, even when the actual number is usually displayed prominently on phonebooks and phone booths.
This isn't new, or limited to the United States—it's a side effect of World Power status. Elements of the major power's culture and language bleed into the popular culture of other countries. The Japanese adoption of Western customs like Christmas
, Valentines Day, and wedding ceremonies
is a good example. In older tales, an astute reader will find Limey Osmosis, Frenchie Osmosis, and even Kraut Osmosis. Granted, modern mass media and the Internet certainly accelerate the effect.
Compare with SoCalization
, where southern California serves the same function to the US as a whole as the US does for the world in this trope.
Contrast with We All Live in America
, where this time it's the Americans themselves who assume that things work elsewhere the same way they do in America.
Please note that while this trope is common in Real Life
, examples here should only be from the media.
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- Parodied in a 2006 advertisement for a digital satellite television service in Greece. A poultry thief is confronted by a policeman in what seems to be a country village. He screams at him to freeze (in English) and when he finally reaches him, he tells him to "put the cot down, slowly" (cota is the Greek word for chicken) and remarks "you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can be used against you in the court of law". All this is said in English with a Greek hillbilly accent. The concept was later re-used in another hilarious variation, in the same village with an old lady and her donkey. This was Played for Laughs, since the company's channels would mostly feature Hollywood flicks.
- A fictional example in Rush Hour 3: Lee and Carter hitch a ride from a Parisian taxi driver, who assumes that all Americans are violent action movie characters, and it seems that he is proven right when Carter and Lee are chased by motorcycle-riding thugs. The taxi driver gets to shoot the Big Bad in the back and kill him, and becomes really excited that he felt what it was like to be "an American".
- Attack the Block had the street youths constantly refer to the police as the "Feds". Although originating from the US, this slang phrase is used very differently in the UK due to the lack of a federal system like the US employs. It's mostly found among certain youthful demographics within London regions and does indeed refer to the police.
- Les Connards Boiteux have a song American Wave about this. Appropriately, its lyrics are pidginized — an unholy mixture of French and English.
- Rammstein's music video for their song "We're All Living in America" features people from around the world engaging in American activities such as watching tv and talking on cell phones while eating McDonald's food, while the lyrics repeat American staples.
- The video game KGB made by French developer Cryo is mostly an impressive case of Shown Their Work when it comes to the game's Soviet Russian setting. However, there is an odd slip-up where the Russian main character gives his estimate of an object's weight in pounds instead of kilograms.
- Pasila constantly parodies American legal requirements in Finland versus America.
- Being read your rights:
Hooligan: This is an illegal arrest! I wasn't read my rights!
Lieutenant Pöysti: They don't read you your rights in Finland, idiot! (after which Pöysti goes on to read the hooligan his hilariously over the top "rights," including gems like "Anything that you say can be used against you in court. Some of it will turn against you by itself, some of it will be turned against you through legal maneuvering just to be irritating.")
- Search warrants:
Suspect: Do you have a search warrant?
Pöysti: We don't need a search warrant! That's only done in America!
Officer Neponen: *whispering* We DO need a search warrant!
Pöysti: *whispering* Yeah, I know, but they always buy that America thing.
- Total Drama Island includes one of the characters saying "That's it, I'm moving to Canada," before realizing that he already lives in Canada.
- Reader's Digest once ran a bullet about how American police shows caused some French people to demand to see a warrant before having their home searched, which wasn't required in France. This was in the 1980snote . They would also quote "rights" from the American constitution, even though they have their own "Bill of Rights" called "Déclaration des Droits de l'Homme" ("Declaration of Human Rights").note
- Many French judges also get annoyed at hearing themselves being called "Votre Honneur" ("Your Honor", the American form of address) instead of the correct French address, "Monsieur le juge" / "Monsieur le président"note .
- The problems with forms of address also appear in Germany. "Euer Ehren" (Your Honour) is incorrect - it's "Herr Vorsitzender" or "Frau Vorsitzende" (Mr. or Mrs. Chairman). Sometimes "Hohes Gericht" (High Court), under certain circumstances. But never "Euer Ehren".
- The honorific issues are partly the fault of whoever imports shows, subtitling or dubbing literally instead of rendering "Your Honor" as the proper equivalent for the country the American work is being imported for. You might as well translate "Herr Vorsitzender" into English as "Most Venerable Front-seated", which is the literal meaning of those words (it's only dynamically equivalent to "Mr. Chairman").
- Truth in Television: A few years ago, Argentina started using 911 as a unified emergency number. It's the only x11 number, the rest of the standard services are still 11x. 911 (along with the European 112) is also the emergency number for cell phones worldwide. In the nineties, the Dominican Republic had to change its emergency number from 711 to 911.
- General Tso's Chicken, a popular "Hunanese" dish at American Chinese restaurants, was created by a Taiwanese chef (admittedly, of Hunanese extraction) at a New York restaurant (at least, that's one version of the story, but no one disputes that it was invented in United States and not in China). As such, it has been a virtual unknown in mainland China, especially in Hunan, where its namesake, General Tso Tsung-Tang, came from. However, after a few decades of official contact with Americans, the Hunanese are starting to adopt the dish as their own.
- The Church of England began releasing information several years ago about the rules for kissing during a wedding ceremony. Due to the amount of shows that displayed American weddings having the "you may now kiss the bride" moment, younger generations getting married in the UK were being caught out by the fact that they had no idea that British weddings do not traditionally allow for a kiss. Some churches do now allow a kiss, but only if its incorporation is specifically arranged beforehand. Many churches still won't allow it to be incorporated, however, as it's not a legal part of the ceremony and will only be allowed if the vicar permits it.