Overseas products and works have a (sometimes unfair) reputation of being utter crap, as they tend to have looser (or nonexistent) quality assurance standards, are made by underpaid, overworked laborers, and are composed of even cheaper raw materials. Depending on the time period, the country in question will shift, but it's generally a Second/Third world country. People from these countries often joke about their products as a form of Self-Deprecation
On the other hand, certain countries boast high quality products stemming from their superior work ethic and/or starting materials
(only the best
, hand-picked Whatevers for Product Awesome).
of Public Medium Ignorance
. The Super Trope
to Operator From India
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Examples of "Terrible Art and Products are Made In Country X"
- Ads for Discover credit cards depict their competitors' customer service support office (USA Prime Credit) as being in Ruritania staffed by one guy who claims to be "Peggy" and considers a room full of phones on hold to be "beautiful".
- Back to the Future Part III hangs a lampshade on how nations can change their reputations over time:
1955 Doc: No wonder this circuit failed. It says, "Made in Japan."
Marty: What do you mean, Doc? All the best stuff is made in Japan.
1955 Doc: Unbelievable.
- This is a great example, because in the 50's, Japanese goods really were some of the lowest quality/cheapest goods on the marketplace (much like Chinese goods today). All that changed from the 60's into the 80's, of course, as Marty points out.
- Son of the Mask: Loki constantly searches both in the Mask Meuseum in Edge City & in every store & house in Fringe City for the Green God-Mask. Every mask he finds are only exotic fake replicas with the engraved words:"Made In Pakistan", The real God- Had a mind of it's own.
- Godzilla (1998): Jean Reno's character is openly disgusted by American coffee. One of his colleagues hands him a mug of what he's told is French Roast, only for him to spit it out in disgust.
I thought you said this was French Roast! Colleague: American
- We the Living by Ayn Rand:
A habit which had sprung from nowhere and spread over the country, which even Party members could not check or resist for which no one was responsible nor could be punished, referred to all products of local inefficiency as "Soviet"; there were "Soviet matches" that did not light, "Soviet kerchiefs" that tore the first time worn, "Soviet shoes" with cardboard soles. Young women like Nina and Tina were called "Soviet girls."
- In The IT Crowd, Moss' fire extinguisher catches on fire as he attempts to use it. He wonders why and then sees the 'made in Britain' label — of course.
- Outsourced - It's about a customer service department based in India, and much of the humor lies in the culture shock that its American manager faces on a daily basis.
- Dilbert has the (fictional) country of Elbonia, home of crappy products and even crappier customer support. Word of God claims it's meant to represent American perceptions of "any country without cable television".
- This is saying something, considering how bad the products and services from Dilbert's own company are and how they are implied to get away with it because the competitors are just as bad. So for there to be a country that makes even worse products...
- An early case in L.A. Noire has somebody insulting a jewelry shop owner by claiming that all of his wares are made in Japan, and thus cheap, nickel-plated crap.
- In Shadow Warrior attempting to use a nonfunctioning vehicle will result in Lo Wang remarking, "Huh? Must be American made!"
- Homestar Runner In the Strong Bad Email "licensed", one of the requirements of becoming an officially licensed unlicensed seller of Shoddy Knockoffs of Strong Bad merchandise is that the country of manufacture has to have changed names five times since Strong Bad was in seventh grade.
Real Life Examples
Food and Drink
- US' beer is also seen as crap around the world, by people who know their beer, thanks in no small part to the Prohibition Era. For a long time, it was also seen as crap in the US, but the increasing prominence of craft brews in the American market is changing some minds.
- A lot of craft brewers, when they're feeling particularly honest, admit they wish they had the reliability and quality control that, say, Anheuser-Busch does. Budweiser may not be a great beer, but it's a famously consistent beer.
- So is coffee for European tourists in the US.
- In fact, most of the US' food, particularly chocolate has this reputation.
- Russian beer is seen as A Tankard of Moose Urine in Russia itself. Nobody in the other countries wants to import it.
- Many tourists are surprised that domestic products that are seen as horrific in their own country are well-known in other areas, i.e. many Americans find it hilarious that Budweiser is advertised as "the" American beer, and Australians feel the same about Foster's.
- And, quite ironically, Budweiser originates from Budweis (or České Budějovice), in the Czech Republic. And Czech beer is generally regarded as very decent (as long as it is fresh from the tap).
- Of course, as Europeans will tell you, Czech Budweiser beer is a rather different product than its American namesake.
- Any Dutchman will tell you that Gouda that isn't made in the Netherlands is crap and tastes like plastic.
- British food used to have this reputation, before London became gourmet mecca.
- It still has this reputation. Any Frenchman, when asked about British food, will irremediably evoke diverse bodily fluids and excretions.
- To be fair, this is France we're talking about here. Asking a Frenchman about British food is like comparing your average American hamburger to Kobe beef.
- On the other hand, every time a Briton makes fun of German cooking (not the most prestigious cuisine in the world itself), expect German media to react with derision of the kind that essentially says a rebuttal is unnecessary because of where the criticism comes from.
- A Cyclic Trope, caused by a variety of factors, but British desserts were generally highly regarded.
- Chinese products, obviously. Many people tend to treat the words "Made in China" as a warning label for poor quality. In particular, Chinese food products (as well as stuff like toothpaste) have a nasty reputation for being tainted with stuff that you don't want in your, your baby's, or your pet's body.
- Prior to The Sixties, it was stuff made in Taiwan or Japan.
- In the 1920s and early 1930s, when Richard Adams was growing up, Made In Germany was considered this.
- Hence the phrase "On the Fritz" being used for products that are broken.
- Bad customer/tech support is often joked/portrayed as coming from India (if you're American, British or Australasian) or Eastern Europe/North Africa (if you're European, although Europeans also get a lot of awful calls from India too).
- Even American products aren't immune to this; for a very long time after The Seventies, Detroit cars were seen as crap (but see below for a major exception). It's only been very recently that this has changed. Ditto for British volume-produced cars.
- The automobile industry is simply awash in this trope, but usually inverted, with companies producing elegant luxury goods outside their home region and more modest products within. In the United States, German companies are known for producing dazzling luxury cars, VW withstanding. Within Europe, however, Mercedes-Benz also makes economy cars and buses, which would surprise Americans but wouldn't get a second glance from Europeans. And then you see this rolling down a dirt path in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, In America, aside from the occasional sports car (like the Corvette or the Ford GT) and Cadillac's V-series sport sedans, American automakers are known for trucks, family sedans, inexpensive muscle cars, and luxo-barges. Australia and Europe have models like this. Here are a few more American cars Americans in the States don't get to buy. Japan is a notable exception, with relatively few European or American high end luxury models but fleets and fleets of practical consumer cars.
- And now Chrysler is trying to invoke and invert this, starting with an ad spot featuring Eminem during the 2011 Super Bowl: 'Imported from Detroit'.
- The current "Ypsilon" car model sells in the UK under the US Chrysler brand and is advertised with voiceover and music clearly trying to evoke the US. In truth, it's a European-designed, Polish-built car sold in most of Europe under the Italian "Lancia" brand(!) by Fiat, who now own both.
- British cars produced en masse cranked this trope Up to Eleven in the 1970s, and never fully recovered. Before then, they were among the world's best. See also the True Art Is Made in Country X below.
- French cars have never really had a good reputation since the 2CV, a classic example of The Alleged Car.
- Western Bullet Hell games are far more likely to be panned than Japanese shoot 'em ups, to the point that many shoot 'em up fans use the term "Euroshmup" as a term for badly designed shoot 'em ups.
- NES games that are made in Taïwan or America tend to get this treatment as well. They're either an unlicensed Obvious Beta or they suffer from The Problem with Licensed Games or both.
- This tends to be pretty relative though, as not every unlicensed NES game made in America and Taïwan is considered to be trash (though the majority of them are).
Examples of "True Art and Products are Made In Country X"
- Car manufacturers from Germany often boast "German Engineering".
- Parodied in the Volkswagen "Unpimp my ride" commercials.
- Pace picante sauce commercial: "Pace is made in San Antonio... by folks that know what picante sauce is supposed to taste like." / "This stuff's made in New York City."note
- In the original commercial the line was "New Jersey", but they changed it to NYC... because Pace's competitor Ortega is based in New Jersey.
- Ironically, NYC has a substantial Mexican population, making said commercial... a little unfair. Also, Pace has been owned for several years by Campbell Soup...which is also based in New Jersey.
- The "Made in America" logo in ads, though that one tends to be less a boast of quality and more an appeal to patriotism.
- "Made In Australia" logos are meant to be both a boast and an appeal to patriotism, especially when related to food.
- Coffee producers often boast that their beans come from Colombia.
- Fruits sold in the U.S. often advertise that they are from one of the U.S. states that usually produce that fruit. For example, "Florida oranges" and "California oranges."
- Some such commercials come across less as "it's from state Y, so you know it's good" and more "the Y state X lobby is desperate for you to buy their X. Please. It doesn't totally suck." Ads for California cheese tend to feel this way, at least if you grew up in some other part of the US where Wisconsin is usually regarded as the premium source for dairy products generally and cheese in particular.
- The advertisement for Shamwow.
: Made in Germany. You know the Germans always make good stuff.
- In one episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, the highest-falutin' grand dame from back home came to visit and critique the Clampetts' lifestyle. She was slightly impressed with the antiques that the Clampetts had in their house, which came from England and France; but her antiques came from even farther away — Japan. Cue Laugh Track.
- Saturday Night Live sketch "All Things Scottish", starring Mike Myers. Their slogan: "If it's not Scottish, it's CRAP!"
- According to Team Fortress 2 supplemental material, Australia discovered "Australium" in the 19th century, causing all the men (and women) there to grow handlebar mustaches and rocketing Australia to a leading position in technological progress.
- In Achewood, anything labeled "Hecho en Mexico" will manifest "Mexican Magical Realism", which can be as elaborate as Time Travel or as simple as a van where it rains on the inside.
- In The Simpsons, Lisa never dreamed of Homer's American loaner car designed in Germany, assembled in Mexico from the parts from Canada could be so amazing.
- On Avatar: The Last Airbender , Long Feng tries to convince the Earth King the reason the wreckage of a huge freakin' drill (clearly meant for breaching the walls of Ba Sing Se) has a giant Fire Nation symbol on it is that it was imported: "You know you can't trust domestic machinery." Much later, in Legend Of Korra, Varrick states that he imported the red carpet from the Fire Nation, because "they make the best red stuff."
Real Life Examples
Food and Drink
- Scotch (Scottish) whisky.
- Swiss or Belgian chocolate.
- Belgian or German beer.
- Danish bacon.
- Danish butter cookies. (you know, the tins for Christmas)
- French Wine used to be undisputed greatest, but has lost a lot of ground in the last 15-20 years to upstart "New World" wines from the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Nonetheless, lesser wine-growing countries like England or Austria will usually hold blind taste tests against French, rather than Australian or Californian, vintages to prove they can make good wine.
- Austria has about 50 times the winegrowing area of England, making the one decidedly "lesser" than the other.
- Similarly, French cookery used to be the absolute pinnacle of culinary achievement and French restaurants the height of sophistication. Although this is less the case now, you still find that the menus in any high-class restaurant of other cuisines frequently describe dishes using French terms; jus, timbale, coulis, entree. Of course, part of this is that the French were the first nation associated with international "cuisine", so they called naming rights, like musical notation all being Italian.
- These days, it tends to be Italian cooking that's on the pedestal instead as they prefer simple flavourful "peasant food" over fussy sauces and preparations.
- In part this is because Italian food does lend itself well to lower-class cooking; it's next to impossible to find a French-style restaurant in the US that's not ultrafancy, while you can find restaurants and bistros for most any other food style.
- Ironically, what's associated with French food overseas is rather ignored domestically, as what the French consider great food is usually "peasant food".
- This extends to products named after a region of origin and known for their quality; appellation laws permit such products to be thusly named only if they're genuinely made there. You can't call it Champagne, Parmesan or Scotch unless it's actually from there.
- Not all appellation laws apply internationally; the above is the case within the EU but in the US "California champagne" widely sold as such and Parmesan is domestic by default.
- That's because the authentic Parmesan is called Parmigiano-Reggiano. Knock off brands will still use "Parmesan."
- By the same token, the US signed an agreement with France and the EU in 2006 to enforce French/EU law concerning champagne, with a Grandfather Clause allowing brands of sparkling wine which had established use of "champagne" in 2006 to continue to do so as long as they very clearly labeled their bottles as [PLACE OF ORIGIN] champagne in very large letters.
- Italian olive oil is treated like this, though an awful lot of the famous firms buy their oil from other countries in bulk quantities (usually Greece or Spain). A not insubstantial amount is cut with other oils and produced by companies run by The Mafia. No, seriously.
- Similarly, many pasta manufacturers now buy their wheat from the U.S. (North Dakota specifically), but they continue to use Italian imagery because it sells better.
- Prestigious American microbreweries like North Coast Brewing Co. and Dogfish Head are all the rage among (American) beer snobs.
- This also rings true of craft beers in other New World nations like Australia and New Zealand.
- While the status of Canadian technology and manufacture goods is dubious, the quality of a natural resource is generally assured when you're told that it was grown, mined, raised, et cetera, in Canada. This is mostly because Canada is the most developed of the world's various resource-rich nations, with much stricter quality control policies than almost anywhere else.
- Ores refined in Canada are generally regarded as incredibly pure. The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf is the purest form of gold in the world.
- Canadian fish is generally touted on menus; especially freshwater fish, salmon or cod, as is Canadian livestock, as most stock is grain-fed, rather than corn-fed, which most agree tastes better.
- The quality of Canadian resources has been celebrated since the nation's inception. The whole country was basically founded on the quality of Canadian beaver pelts, turned into fancy hats, and later, Canadian trees were said to form every mast in the British navy.
- Argentinian beef is regarded as some of the world's finest. Other cattle breeds that get this treatment are wagyu cattle of Japan (which gives us Kobe beef) and the Scottish Aberdeen Angus. American-style Kobe beef was created by crossbreeding wagyu and Angus cattle.
- An interesting subversion comes in the form of Stilton cheese. Stilton cannot be made in the village of Stilton in Cambridgeshire, as it must originate in Derbyshire, Leicstershire or Nottinghamshire.
- Vehicles from Australia, especially four-wheel drive trucks or sport utility trucks, are generally described as being made to survive "harsh Australian conditions". All the deadly animals and so forth.
- In an inversion of the situation with all other consumer autos, most Americans won't take a truck seriously if it's made by a Japanese automaker. To them, the only real trucks are made by Ford, GM and Chrysler — or rather, one of those three, depending on who you ask.
- Ironically, the Toyota Tundra is built in Texas while the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra are built mainly in Guadalajara, Mexico.
- Of course, these people are forgetting the Toyota Hilux, the only vehicle that has ever been driven to the North Pole.
- Japanese cars have long been seen as being built at an untouchable standard of quality, although the scandal over the Toyota recall (and previously the Mitsubishi defects issue) has tarnished this image. Japanese (and Korean) cars also have a reputation of being prime targets of theft since they tend to use parts that also fit into other makes and models.
- There was a big issue over whether the first American-built Japanese brand cars in the 1980s would maintain their quality. It turned out the real problem wasn't American workers, it was American car company management.
- Recent issues with Japanese cars have been due to them outsourcing parts to other countries. Many consider the inclusion of French-made parts to be a major cause of this.
- In the US, this applies to German and British luxury cars and Italian sports cars.
- British cars were this before the 1960s, when most of them came under the British Leyland umbrella. See also Country X Art Ghetto section above.
- German and Japanese products. The cars in particular.
- For photographers, all the best stuff is Made in Germany or Made in Japan. The knock-offs of the German stuff are made in Russia (for some very interesting reasons pertaining to the end of World War II), and the knock-offs of the Japanese stuff (including many many store-brand cameras using lens mounts varyingly similar to the Pentax K-Mount) tend to be Made in China. For what amazing photography innovations is the US known? Disposable cameras.
- Note that bullet point applies only to still photography. The US is together with Germany the leader in film equipment, where the two major brands are Arri (German) and Panavision (American) and each is more or less the market leader on each side of the Atlantic. Panavision has dropped when it comes to digital cinema cameras, where Arri Alexa is the big favorite, but closely followed by American RED and having beaten out Japanese Sony (the previous king) which has made it's new model that might be the standard... Of course, Panavision gets the last laugh in the US though, as it's an integrated camera/lens manufacturer and rental house (to the extent that it sells none of it's cameras) in a business where almost all the customers are rental houses anyway.
- Granted, disposables probably extended the use of film as an amateur/consumer medium by at least five years...
- Many companies tell us that some food product or piece of technology is from a random European country (often Italy or Belgium for food, and Germany for technology) without any indication of why this is supposed to be a good thing. For instance, a Home Hardware commercial that advertises knives made of "German steel".
- "German steel" probably refers to the area around the city of Solingen, where high-quality knifes and related steel products have been made for hundreds of years.
- This also goes for the firearms industry. Some weapons are touted as having "European ergonomics." This is often a reference to shaped grips, stocks, and hand-guards, despite many European guns having down right horrible ergonomics or minimalist designs.
- A UK advert for "caffeine shampoo" (??) proclaims itself as "German Engineering For Your Hair", and tells you pretty much nothing about what it is (beyond being caffeinated shampoo, being German, and selling very well in Germany) or why you would want it.
- Britain may be well the first country one thinks of upon the mention of 'Commandos' (being the first country to form such units).
- The Swiss and clocks (the cuckoo clock may be the only thing they ever invented, but damn they do it well...) And of course, Harry Lime forgot to mention pocket knives.
- Cuban cigars, though other nations are starting to catch up.
- Egyptian cotton.
- A Video Gaming example: Up until about 2010 or so when MadCatz made serious use of fan input to create their products, Hori corporation of Japan's Fighting Game arcade joysticks were considered the top of the line product for serious players, and if you bought anything else, you might as well just throw it in the garbage. Of course, the reason MadCatz's sticks are considered good is because they are fitted with Japanese Sanwa parts, which might be getting a bit meta...
- Japanese Anime and Manga.
- American films and cartoons.
- British comedies and music.
- "Made in New Mexico", for silver/turquoise jewelry assumed to be made by Native Americans.
- Although this assumption is mostly based on the fact that if you buy it in New Mexico, the clerk you bought it from was almost certainly a Native American (and likely a woman), specifically to cause this assumption.
- The high-end bicycle market is split between Japan (components,) the US (Mountain, BMX, and hand-built steel frames,) and Italy (racing bikes.) Anything actually made in those countries is high dollar, but most brands also manufacture in China and Taiwan.
- Dutch bikes are considered a guarantee for quality in the parts of Germany that border to the Netherlands. They can be identified by the chain guard that goes all around the chain.◊
- German tanks have long been among the best. However in World War II they had a weakness for thinking they were in an engineering contest rather then devise means of efficient homicide. Their tanks were good but took up too much effort in their factories that could go to more tanks.
- There were also severe practical problems with some designs (such as the Tiger), like road wheels (which need replacement often) being behind bogey wheels (which need replacement rarely), making replacement of road wheels more work than it needed to be. Getting at the transmissions (which need a lot of maintenance on vehicles like tanks) meant taking it into a repair depot with a huge crane and taking the blasted thing half apart to get down to them. Between the high resource cost, and the high maintenance demands, it's no wonder the US and USSR could pour out cheap Shermans/T-34s and guarantee victory despite losing 3 or 4 Shermans/T-34s for each Tiger destroyed.
- American warplanes have long been good and sometimes great. The same can be said of American warships.
- American warplanes, powered by British engines.
- In the early nineteeth century US was the go-to country for simple speed in sailing ship design. Speed of course is often limited for normal mercantile use as it tends to come at the expense of capacity but in the clipper ship era various economic factors made speed more of a priority.
- An old joke states that in Heaven, the police are British, the cars are German, the food is French, the lovers are Italian, and everything is organized by the Swiss. In Hell, the police are German, the cars are French, the food is British, the lovers are Swiss, and everything is organized by the Italians.
- British steel, specifically when Made in Sheffield.
- Clydebuilt was, up until the mid 20th century, a byword for quality in British ship manufacture. Many shipyards operated along the banks of the river Clyde, particularly around Glasgow, and were considered so valuable that Clydeside became a key target in the Luftwaffe's bombing campaigns. The shipyards employed a great many people, leading to economic devastation when post-WWII competition with newer, cheaper shipyards outside of the UK forced many to close down. There are still a few shipyards surviving today, fabricating state-of-the-art vessels for the Royal Navy, and the term Clydebuilt can still be found being used as a mark of Scottish pride.
- Ironically, China was known for high-quality products for most of its history, especially silk. One of the main drivers behind the Age of Exploration was people like Christopher Columbus trying to find cheap and easy routes to China and its riches. Boy, how times change!
- Each Apple iProduct is marked on the back as "Designed by Apple in California" right above the legally mandated "Made in China" disclosure, what with California (Silicon Valley specifically) being associated with modernism and high technology.
- Japanese Bullet Hell games.
- Japanese NES games.