Some folks have an uncritical admiration
for all aspects (not just one medium) of a foreign culture. 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 targets include Japan (mostly on the internet), France (among the intellectuals) and America (in many countries). In real life this phenomenon is called xenophily or xenophilia, which is a whole other trope
in fiction, usually. Often accompanied by Cultural Cringe
No Real Life Examples, Please!
, on the personal level. Cultural or country level examples are fine.
A sub-trope of Cultural Rebel
. Compare Germans Love David Hasselhoff
and Occidental Otaku
. Contrast Creator Provincialism
and Cultural Posturing
. See also Race Fetish
, where this sort of thing gets a bit more...personal.
- In the Gilbert and Sullivan operas:
- 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."
- Modern Speculative Fiction sometimes replaces Japan with China as the superior world power, but Westerners aren't as quick to fetishize Chinese culture (with the notable exception of Joss Whedon and Firefly fans), following at least a century of Yellow Peril and Red Scare stereotyping of China as an Evil Empire.
- A possible reason for this is that, while their histories have had their ups and downs, the United States has a very long record for fetishing the Japanese instead of the Chinese. So it probably always came much more natural otherwise.
- The character John Connor spends a good deal of the film Rising Sun pontificating about how noble Japanese culture is.
- Which is rather amusing considering that the rather Anvilicious Word of God (according to the literal Author Tract at the end of the book) is that we should beware Japan's rising power (remember this was written before their economic bubble burst).
- 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.
- It's implied that this obsessing over other cultures is pretty much all that the high ranking demons do anymore.
- Presumably the artistic community in Hell is profoundly lacking. Which is ironic.
- The Teen Girl Squad spinoff "4 Gregs" has Japanese Culture Greg.
- Mentioned at one point in Something Positive (other than the whole "smite the catgirls" thing) by one of the characters after she scared off some guy with a Calling Your Attacks moment: she says adding "Ancient Secret Chinese technique" will scare opponents off much more effectively, adding "White people are so much fun" or words to that effect.
- Likewise, there's a strip where PeeJee and Audrey (both Asian) mock Gwen Stefani's pop adoption of Japanese memetics, complete with having four "Harajuku girls" who follow her around and aren't ever referred to by their real names. PeeJee suggests the girls are likely "tutoring" Stefani in Japanese — "Seeing a withered little pop star trying to order sushi in Japanese and instead telling the waiter about her intense venereal disease would be better than any Christmas bonus I've ever received."
- Mad Men's Bert Cooper is very much the Orientalist. That is, the old-school version of the Japanese culture fetish; he has shōji partitions and has ukiyo-e prints (including The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife) in his office (which he makes people remove their shoes before entering).
- In the historical novel A Gathering of Days, the main character doesn't want to call her stepmother Ann "Mother", so she settles on "Mamann". The stepmother approves, saying something like "we can say it is after the French, and therefore the height of fashion".
- In the novel You Only Live Twice, Tiger Tanaka puts down Westerners who live in Japan and emulate and study (and often marry) the Japanese. Bond calls him out on this and Tiger admits that many of these scholars are sincere but Tiger is still rather old fashioned and racist toward any non-Japanese.
- Leroy Green in the film The Last Dragon is an African-American man who displays a whole lot more interest in Asian culture than just learning Kung Fu.
- Georg from Naeturvaktin admires anything to do with Sweden and Swedish culture. A new employee from Sweden is one of the few people in the entire series he treats pleasantly or respectfully.
- Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband features a French character who is a devoted Anglophile (i.e. he likes British stuff).
- German philosopher Oswald Spengler stated in The Decline of the West that westerners essentially had this for the classical Greco-Roman civilization, which is more different from us than many of us think. Our theater actors don't wear buskins and masks, and there's usually no chorus either, Deus ex Machina looks too much like Ass Pull to us, and our countries aren't governed by two consuls sharing the power, and there aren't annual elections for them either. (Thank God!)
- The Gaulic chief Aplusbégalix (Cassius Ceramix in English) from Astérix has this for the Roman empire. Even if it makes no sense. "We'll build an aqueduct even if we don't need one, because it's ROMAN!"
- Also note how everything in his home is a cobbled mix of Roman and barbarian elements.
- The same comic starts with a panel where a young Gaulic man gets his hair cut Roman style, while an older, long-haired Gaul looks on disapprovingly. Just like an old square from The Fifties or The Sixties would when meeting a hippie (alternatively, a member of La Résistance seeing a collaborator).
- Django Unchained has Candie, who has one for the French. Strangely, it only extends to being called Monsieur Candie and naming a slave after a character from The Three Musketeers, he can't speak or understand French. When Schultz has to tell him that Alexandre Dumas was black (by the standards back then, having a black grandfather was enough), he doesn't take it well.
- In Kin-iro Mosaic, Shinobu has a European culture fetish, while Alice fetishize on Japanese culture. One scene played this conflict for laughs: Shinobu said she wants to dye her hair blond for this trope, and also for this trope Alice strongly refused.
Historical examples (roughly chronological):
- Ancient Romans were heavily influenced by Greek culture starting around the 3rd century BC, to the point of hijacking Classical Mythology entirely. Oddly enough, until the 1st century BC, any Roman publicly admitting to being interested in Greek culture was considered abnormal. Even Hadrian (2nd century AD) was made fun of for being a bit too Greek (his nickname was Graeculus, little Greek). Meaning that while there was a clear Greek influence, no Roman would be caught dead admitting it.
- The Greeks themselves had a thing for Ancient Egypt and to a lesser extent Phoenicia , borrowing their math, science, philosophy, and some customs. Of these, probably the most significant is the Athenian City Dionysia—a state-supported festival involving plays, music, and wine for everyone—which was probably inspired by a similar Egyptian festival dedicated to Osiris (both Dionysos and Osiris were fertility/agriculture-related gods dismembered, reassembled, and brought back to life). Both festivals involved participants waggling sculpted phalluses in commemoration of the dismemberment (Osiris' member was replaced by a wooden one, as a fish ate it).
- The Greeks loved Egypt so much that eventually the Pharaoh set aside a city-sized chunk of land for them to build the colony of Naucratis on.
- Egypt itself was ceased by Alexander and became Greek as time went on. It remained one of the bastion of Hellenism for centuries and its capital (one of the numerous Alexandrias, the only one that really endured) was a beacon of civilization.
- The Japanese adapted many of their cultural traits from the Chinese, most notably their writing systems (kanji literally means "Chinese characters"* ) and Chinese Buddhism, which was fused together with the indigenous Shinto religion.
- Love of Japanese culture is oft mocked on the internet as "Weeabooism", from a Memetic Mutation borne of Perry Bible Fellowship comics and an Imageboard word filter for "Japanophile." And it doesn't just refer to particularly obsessive anime fans ("Occidental Otaku"). Not even the ones who own a few too many katanas. "Weeaboo" means a special brand of obsessive, crazy idiot who believes everything Japanese is superior, and wants to move to Japan and become a video game programmer/anime producer/manga artist/ninja/other hilariously improbable career. Enough of them actually accomplish the moving to Japan part, where their dreams are invariably crushed, to the point where the Japanese themselves have developed a stereotype about them...
- Parodied by the Save Points in Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, which all spout pretentious diatribes about how Japanese gaming is obviously superior to Western "garbage" such as Madden or Baldur's Gate and uses Gaijin as an insult. At least one of which is actually taken from a real argument used online.
- Quite a lot of Japanese also have this for America and Britain, you will find gratuitous English of varying coherence on many things, sometimes to the point where its used with no knowledge of meaning, makes one wonder why people bash weeaboos when many in Japan are just the same with English.
- They also borrowed a lot of political ideas from Germany and Prussia, as they were the dominant power when Japan was modernising — this is why their parliament is still called the Diet.
- During the Meiji period the government encouraged adoption of parts of Western culture/society and technology in hopes of "catching up" to the Western powers, both economically and militarily (to some factions, as a means to an end — being able to kick out the Westerners). However, while the government had a somewhat set idea for how to go about this — "Western technology, Japanese Spirit" was the motto — some civilians and government/military officers alike would end up favoring particular, unintended aspects of the countries they went to or heard about.
- Turns out Japanese are also capable of having their dreams shattered... in Paris.
- Lolita fashion draws inspiration from the Victorian era Europe.
- During The High Middle Ages, and again during the Grand Siècle (i.e. the 17th century) 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.
- Where Britain and The High Middle Ages are concerned, it might be slightly related to the fact that the entirety of the British nobility and upper-class was ethnically and culturally French. For other reasons (mainly being the most constituted nation of the bunch), same effects were experienced in Northern Spain, Northern Italy and Western Germany (notwithstanding that the whole West of the Holy Roman Empire was made of modern Eastern France at that time).
- In the 18th century, there was a Turkish fad (some of you may remember it from Amadeus).
- The Renaissance went through a Greco-Roman fad, various facets of which repeated throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Notable instances include the Augustan fad of the 1730-1770 period, the Neoclassicism of the 1820s, and the Greek Revival of the 1880s. Romanticism began as a sort of Hype Backlash against the Augustan period.
- German philosopher Oswald Spengler stated that westerners essentially have this trope for the classical Greco-Roman civilization, which is more different from us than many of us think. Our theater actors don't wear buskins and masks, and there's usually no chorus either, Deus ex Machina looks too much like Ass Pull to us, and our countries aren't governed by two consuls sharing the power, and there aren't annual elections for them either. (Thank God!)
- British statesman Lord Chesterfield mentioned this in his Letters to His Son: "I was not without thoughts of wearing the 'toga virilis' of the Romans, instead of the vulgar and illiberal dress of the moderns" (letter 149)
- Incidentally, Niccolò Machiavelli had the same impulse 250 years earlier; unlike Chesterfield, he acted on it.
- You'll notice The American Revolution took place during this time. Several of America's Founding Fathers, particularly Thomas Jefferson, were fond of The Roman Republic. Note how the upper house of the U.S. Congress is called "the Senate" and then there's the abundance of Greco-Roman architecture in Washington, DC. Also, part of the reason the bald eagle was chosen as the new country's symbol was apparently because the Romans had a thing about eagles. However, the Founding Fathers were not fond of The Roman Empire and hoped that enough checks and balances would prevent the United States from emulating Rome's eventual slid into dictatorship.
- There was a Scottish fad in Victorian England for a while (c. 1870-1880).
- After Napoleon's Battle of the Nile, there was an Egyptian fad, which was repeated in the 1920s after the discovery of King Tut's tomb.
- Around late 1700s to the 1850s there was also a massive craze in Europe for Chinese-style (Chinoiserie) art and especially porcelain.
- King Ludwig II of Bavaria had a thing for pre-Revolution era France.
- Ludwig's grandfather, Ludwig I, had a thing for Ancient Greece, which is why the German spelling of "Bavaria" was changed from Baiern to Bayern.
- Voltaire believed in a "benevolent despot" system after visiting Prussia and becoming pen pals with Catherine The Great.
- Her son, Russian Emperor Pavel, was a great admirer of Prussia, just like his (probablynote ) father Peter III, to the point of returning to Prussia all the lands conquered by his mother. This definitely didn't endear him to his population and especially his courtiers, especially given what a jerk he was about it, and directly led to his assassination a couple years later.
- And in more recent times, baritone singer and African-American Communist Paul Robeson, who in post WWII US, 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.
- Communism believes that at the root of racism and sexism, there was classism, and to get rid of these, you had to abolish class. So a classless society like the USSR would in theory have neither. This occurred famously with Stalin's invitation to all American Blacks to come to the USSR (though this was as much to shame the United States and show the USSR to be morally superior), and the Chinese Communists' "tractor women", who were women trained in a traditionally male field, using the tractor. It's also why there have been close ties to Communism and both America's Civil Rights Movement and Second Wave Feminism. Robeson was not acting on a cultural fetish so much as ideology and willful blindness. He extended this selective blindness to both Mao in China and Castro in Cuba.
- Friedrich Nietzsche was very fond of French, Russian, and Classical Greek cultures, and considered them superior to his own German culture and based a fair amount of his philosophy on this. Towards the end of his (sane) life, he began to emphasize his Polish roots, to the point where he would sometimes deny that he was German at all and insist that he was entirely Polish. (As Poles were second-class citizens in Imperial Germany, he may have just been trying to annoy people.)
- Quite a few Estonians liked German culture in the late 19th century and tried to imitate it. They were called Juniper Germans (Kadakasakslased). This led to some odd things, like the Kalevipoeg—the Estonian national epic—being written by a fellow named Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald.
- Similarly, north from Estonia, Finland also fell in love with Germany during the early stages of Finnish nationalism, to the point that the newly independent Finland was supposed to become a monarchy, with a German prince as the new king. The end of the First World War cut those plans short. This allegiance to Germany came back to play in the Second World War, with some regrettable implications...
- British people, even those critical of its politics, love America and couldn't live without the culture. Many rural areas in the UK have large shopping parks or malls, just like in America, except that the country is far smaller. Particularly relevant because of the Cultural Cringe - many Brits feel that they are should be able to live in America as a result of the similarities between culture.
- Australia had (has) a very strong Anglophile streak, lessening in the 1970s to be replaced by America, though that's more of a conflicted fandom.
- Oh, and way back in the 70s, everything American was sooo hip in Europe.
- Hungary had a hard on 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.
- This is typical of most post-East Bloc countries in general, but Hungary's case is somewhat special in that under the so-called "goulash communism" instated in the 1960s, the Hungarian economy was the most open to the West within the Bloc (which isn't saying much; even Yugoslavia—which had a similar economic system necessitating some trade controls but was neutral in the Cold War and thus not part of the Eastern Bloc—saw far more trade with the West than Hungary).
- A very touchy example was the glorification of all things Africa by black Americans (mostly in the early- to mid-nineties), 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.
- Especially odd was the use of Swahili by such groups, when it is an East African language that none of the West African slaves would have understood or even heard of. They actually spoke a wide variety of tongues — Fon, Wolof, Yoruba, Ibo, Fula, etc., but virtually none would have spoken Swahili.
- This trope also tends to occur whenever white people dare to turn a popular aspect of black culture into something Totally Radical. Note the amount of rock acts in the early Aughties that tried to marry their genre with rap, or cringe worthy commercials where a "hip grandma" or culturally sensitive college kid would says things like "that's da bomb" or "that's tight" with a straight face.
- "Eastern" Spirituality in so many of its glorious forms is 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.
- It doesn't help that the New Age movement has gotten so tangled up with what the west considers Eastern mysticism.
- The mangled "Eastern" Spirituality can be detected in the differing views on reincarnation: Westerners view it as a way to return to the world and have a better new life, whereas Easterners view it as a negative cycle that must be broken.
- There's a reason for this, as the reincarnation isn't an "Eastern" concept as such: there were a culturally Western faiths with a belief in reincarnation: for example a Pythagorean mysticism, which indeed espoused such views.
- Additionally, most Westerners who accept Buddhism do so because it fits their atheism/agnosticism and Scientific Rationalism. They tend to strip all the supernatural and ceremonial elements out of Buddhism and declare it a philosophy, or say it's something other than a religion. They view traditional Eastern practice of Buddhism as a perversion of Buddha's message, and that Asian cultures have been doing it all wrong. Go over to the discussion section of the other Wiki's article on Buddhism, and you will see a 5+ year argument over the definition of Buddhism. Those who favor describing it as a religion tend to come from Asian cultures (they even cite their own language's wiki).
- The website Stuff White People Like notes that the Asian religions liked by Westerners are usually the opposite of what they grew up with and religions that don't have much restrictions (which is why Islam is not a common religion for Westerners to convert to).
- Also applies to martial arts.
- The bizarre Israeli-fetish found in some strains of American Christian fundamentalism, and the appropriation of Jewish symbolism found in some Christian groups. It comes off as both philo-Semitic and antisemitic at the same time. Gets more than a little freaky when you find out a chunk of that fundamentalist population loves Israel because they think the unification of the Holy Land and the rebuilding of the Temple Mount are necessary for Christ to come again... and they don't really seem to care about what happens to the Jews after that.
- This fetish also makes many of them as rabid as the most extreme right-wing Israelis (with the added bonus of being thousands of miles away from the practical results of their proposed policies) and blithely indifferent to what happens to the Palestinians. The real life complexities of the situation don't really interest them at all; whoever gets in the way of the Holy Land being under complete Israeli control is the enemy of God, to be crushed or swept aside without mercy. In this, they actually agree with the craziest of the crazy of Israel, the ultra-right-wing Religious Zionists, who tend to be ultra-Orthodox Jews as well as far-right wingers politically aiming for the "redemption" of the Land of Israel: it's the same thing, it's just that the Jewish ones are hoping for an unknown Messiah, whereas the Christians think they know who the Messiah is. As a result, said rabid right-wing Israelis consider them very valuable allies.
- All this, by the way, makes things very confusing for American neo-Nazis. Should they support the left-wing party or the pro-Israel party? The rest of the right doesn't care about their plight, of course, as the neo-Nazi movement is small enough to comfortably ignore.
- The essentially same happened among the large part of the Russian far right, who chose to throw away the intense, bitter Antisemitism that was a traditional trait of the movement, and instead come as downright Zionist. This is for somewhat different reason, though, and has mostly to do with a shift of their object of hatred towards Muslims and perceprion of Israelis' "raghead bashing" prowess.
- There is a small, but obsessive, fanbase for Monaco, and its lavish culture. This can largely be attributed either to the reputation of the casinos of Monte Carlo or the fact that the country's most famous princess was Grace Kelly.
- Related to both the Monaco and Israeli fandoms is the long-standing fetishization of "Arabia" and the Bedouin culture in American movie making (the adaptation of The Sheik (which starred a Mexican-descent actor as the lord of the burning sands,) and the quasi-historic Lawrence of Arabia as only two examples.) In more recent years, some political factions in the USA have gained a deep affinity for Arab and Muslim culture. This has taken a particular edge in the progressive support for the Palestinian side in the on-going Mid East conflict - a support that glosses over the significant differences between progressive & fundamentalist Palestinian approaches to homosexuality, women's liberation, protection of ethnic minorities and respect for religious freedom, among other issues.
- The French have had a cultural obsession with Africa and Africans for going on a century now (it wanes in popularity every few decades and then comes back). Picasso famously represented it in a few of his paintings (many of those distorted faces are actually meant to be African tribal masks), and Josephine Baker is still a household name. The obsession came about through a combination of French colonialism and an influx of African American expatriates settling in Paris after each of the World Wars.
- Brazil is a country with a cultural obsession of "mixing" with other nations — it's been a long held belief that Brazil's strength comes not from its racial purity, but from its propensity for mixing with as many races and cultures as possible, thus adopting their best traits into the larger Brazilian culture. There have been waves of cultural obsession, including Japanese, Arab, American, Portuguese, African, German, Italian, etc. At any given time in their history, the Brazilian intelligentsia has been obsessed with some nation's culture.
- (White) America has had a long standing fascination for Native American, even through their displacement. The Boston Tea Party protesters dressed in buckskins and feathers as a symbol of their American identity, playing "Cowboys and Indians" has been a long time kids favorite, and people from the military (Mohawk hairstyles for paratroopers during WWII) to New age hippies (who seem to believe in the Magical Native American stereotype) seem to love wearing the culture. There's also the recent trend of feather headdresses as fashion accessories, as well as "Indian Girl" tattoos. This does not make most Native Americans very happy. Especially not that Navajo Print hip flask that Urban Outfitters sells. This is much more likely to be a random melding of traits from a dozen different cultures spread over the continent than from one specific tribe as well, making it downright confusing to people with actual knowledge.
- The Weeaboo have new hipster cousins: Koreaboos. Love for K-pop and Korean food today is similar to love for all things Japanese in the 1990s.
- Scandinavia and the Nordic countries get a lot of this. If its not a general fascination with Vikings and such things, it is most probably admiration of the Nordic welfare system. Music is also important, with some foreign Metalheads in particular, who seem to believe that the famous Black Metal and Death Metal scenes of Norway and Sweden respectively, are totally mainstream and played on pop radio. It isn't so.