Every nation-state and (multi-national) country in the world has a unique series of cultures and traditions, and even the smallest of the world's nation-states (e.g. Singapore) has numerous diverse cultures and traditions. However, personal experience and common knowledge aside, you probably couldn't tell that just from consuming entertainment media.
Often, when writing a story set in another country, the writer basically takes their own country and substitutes in some foreign (or 'foreign') names, and might refer to a famous local festival or two if you're lucky. If you're not, it will be the writers' own country half-dressed-up as a Land of Hats in "the local style". If you find an author who demonstrates a more-than-superficial understanding of other countries and cultures, cherish them - for theyhave a gift.
The title is inspired by (but is not a direct quote of) a line in the Rammstein song "Amerika", which is about the spread of American values and culture across the globe.
Please note that, despite the trope name, this is not an exclusively American phenomenon; writers from other countries will often project their own cultural mores, vernacular, and sense of geography onto countries other than their own, including the United States, as well. Most common is the strange tendency to treat all the landmarks and major cities of a country that spans an entire continent as if they are within a couple hours' drive of each other. However, writers from non-American English-speaking nations writing chiefly for an American audience will often do this too.
Super Trope of SoCalization, when American media, most of whom is produced in or around Los Angeles, wrongly assumes that aspects of life in L.A. are the same at a national level.
Compare Creator Provincialism, in which nothing important happens outside the writer's home country. Politically Correct History is the temporal version of this. Also compare Canada Does Not Exist, a weird mutation of this trope that Canadian TV producers often impose upon themselves in order to sell their shows in America.
Contrast Eagleland Osmosis, where the influence of another country's media (chiefly the United States') causes people to do this to their own society. See also Values Dissonance, which is perhaps the most compelling reason why this trope doesn't work.
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The Opening Monologue of Code Geass makes a big deal about how the Britannian Empire has suppressed Japanese culture. However, the school system we see has almost nothing in common with the British system; it's really just the Japanese system with funny uniforms.
Death Note has some of the most Japanese "Americans" ever seen. At least once, a member of a crime family bows to another member - his subordinate, no less. It should also be noted that most of the Americans' names are completely fake-sounding (though a few do manage to at least be similar to actual American names).
Not to mention that every mafia thug knows exactly what a Shinigami is. And half the FBI speaks Japanese.
That could be contested though. Every FBI/CIA agent seen in the series is described as hand picked for their job. Investigating a murderer that is probably in Japan is likely a pre-requisite for the case. Ray Penber, for instance, was engaged to a Japanese woman, so his ability to speak Japanese might not be so unbelievable.
In Eden of the East, at least one American uses "Johnny" as a euphemism for a man's special organ. (It's also used by a Japanese person in The Tatami Galaxy, so it's apparently not a made-up euphemism.) Americans have...numerous common ways to say "penis," but "Johnny" isn't one of them. In a way, this makes it an example of Gratuitous Englishfrom an English-speaker.
Fairy Tail is supposed to be set in a Anachronism Stew fantasy equivalent of Spain, complete with ramen, a ryokan, a currency that's a much closer equivalent to yen than to the euro, and bento boxes.
It also has an impressive number of jokes based solely on the use of various suffixes. So many that when it was localized they ended up having to leave suffixes intact and tack an explanation on whenever someone reacts oddly to them.
Fullmetal Alchemist takes place in a Europe-inspired Fantasy Counterpart Culture. However, the characters retain certain Japanese mannerisms like bowing to greet others. The setting is essentially an alternate 1920s Europe, though, and Europeans did do a lot more bowing prior to the second World War, albeit the context wasn't quite the same as in Asia. One would bow during introductions, for instance, but not when greeting or thanking someone, except in the most formal circumstances.
Gunslinger Girl, though it's set in Italy, had many of the adult handlers be quite reserved towards their charges, probably causing Values Dissonance for any Italian viewers. They even bow sometimes. The girls don't act much like typical Italian girls, either.
Kaleido Star does this a couple times. It takes place in America, but the characters who are supposed to be non-Japanese occasionally do Japanese things, like bowing. One of Sora's friends, Mia, uses the Japanese gesture for "come here" (the maneki neko paw gesture), in an episode of Kaleido Star New Wings, but it may not count since she was signaling Sora.
Despite taking place in America (with a very realistic showing of racial diversity), the local high school in Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt flies a Japanese flag for some reason. Given the surreal humor the show is known for, this was likely intentional.
Red Garden is set in New York and does a good job of reflecting that, but a few bits of Japanese society leak through: people bow to each other, students have access to the roof of their school, the metric system gets used casually, etc.
Frequently in U.S.-centred comics of The Beano and The Dandy. For example, steering wheels are often portrayed on the right side of the car.
The Mayor of Cactusville in Desperate Dan dresses like the Lord Mayor of London, complete with gold chain of office and tricorn hat. Even British mayors don't really dress like that, except on special occasions.
Occasionally Donald Duck plays soccer or uses public transportation to commute; most Disney comics these days are written in Italy (not that those things aren't found in parts of Donald's home country of the U.S.A.).
Judge Dredd occasionally shows people driving on the left side of the road in America. Also, background text tends to use U.K. spellings.
In the comics, Superman, who ostensibly helps people all over the world and can fly anywhere on Earth with little trouble, is head of the Justice League of America. Despite their title, they don't seem to have a "jurisdiction" limited to America or even the planet Earth. The "of America" part is jettisoned in the Justice League animated series.
In the comics they were briefly Justice League International. Then JLI split into JLA and Justice League Europe, then JLE became JLI again. Then they abandoned the whole concept.
In the New 52 continuity, the original JLA is now known simply as the Justice League, while the Justice League International is a United Nations-sponsored team with a more racially-diverse cast. The new Justice League of America is a completely separate team created and overseen by the U.S. government, justifying the name.
The Muppet Show Comic Book: On The Road has a brief reference to replacement comedian Mitch Wacky getting his gags from Christmas crackers; a UK and Commonwealth tradition that doesn't exist in the US, where the Muppets live. (Writer/artist Roger Langridge is British.)
Swamp Thing supposedly lives in a "County". Unfortunately, it is also set in Louisiana, which has parishes, but not counties.note The purpose of parishes is to allow people who live in Louisiana to correct people who refer to counties. There's no legal difference.
In an issue of Ultimate Avengers, War Machine tells the second Black Widow not to refer to their teammate Tyrone (the original Hulk) as an "African-American" since he comes from England. Widow responds by saying she's still not comfortable saying "black", and asks if she can just call him "African-English".
The comic book W.I.T.C.H. tends to hint it's set in America (currency, American flags, law enforcement with US-like uniforms and cars and, in one vacation town, being led by a sheriff). The problem is, the human members of the cast act as generical Europeans (with a light leaning on how Italians act), and the traffic signs are obviously European.
In Axis Powers Hetalia fanfiction, it is a very common mistake for personified nations to act like people from the nation the author is from. For example, Nordics having an Asian hot pot tradition in a Japanese doujinshi.
A rarer version of this trope occurs with the naming of the British Isles- for example Englands brothers calling him 'Britain' or UK when in fact these are names for various groups of these countries- occasionally you get people refer to England as 'the United Kingdom of England' which causes a great deal of facepalming. More common is the miss use of British slang and accents (note the plural). I imagine that this also occurs a lot with other countries- and certainly isn't a one way thing...
Most Degrassi fanfiction these days is written by American fans, whose grasp of Canadian geography and cities seems to be limited to stereotypes. Two particularly egregious examples included one which depicted Toronto, Ontario as a small town of about 300 people only accessible by a long bridge over a lake from the United States, and a second which had a character drive from Edmonton, Alberta to Toronto in about eight hours, a trip which should take about a day and a half without stopping (as much time as a trip from New York to Salt Lake City) in real life.
Toronto is on the shore of a lake on the other side of which is the United States, so at least the author got that right. The problem is that the lake's name is Ontario, and "very long" is a mild description of what such a bridge would have to be like (there's about 30 miles of water between Toronto and the US shore). Not necessarily impossible ... the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway just north of New Orleans, for example, is almost 24 miles long ... but Lake Ponchartrain has an average depth of about 12- as opposed to the nearly average of Lake Ontario.
Eiga Sentai Scanranger sure likes to talk about its main character's love of Asian culture, but since he never actually demonstrates any knowledge of Asian culture (at one point the realization that people in Tokyo would speak Japanese falls on him like Dorothy's house on the Wicked Witch of the East) one kind of gets the feeling the author thinks of Asia as the same as America but with better TV shows, sushi and samurai.
Sailor Nothing is supposedly set in Japan, but the characters constantly refer to American media and pop culture. Some of this is understandable, some not; Hunter S. Thompson is famous, but why would Shin compare something to an NBC sitcom?
And, to counter this - there is a reason why so many American Sherlock fic writers need a "Britpicker". English children do not attend elementary school. Ever. Nor does John wear a sweater. A large percentage of American fanfictioners write fics for series set outside of America without at least researching local slang or terminology.
Many Sherlock fans also write Cabin Pressure fic. The most painful Britpicking failure - Gerti is not an 'airplane'!
There is a Shiki fanfic in which the residents of Sotoba do nothing remotely Japanese and seem more interested in the Gary Stu lead's attempts to introduce Halloween to them than they are in their own religion and traditions.
Reading an X-Files fic that has the very American FBI agents Mulder and Scully using such a high density of Britishisms that an American reader can barely figure out what they're saying is more than a little brain-bending.
It could arguably make sense in the case of Mulder, seeing as he went to college in England (though he never says anything in the show to give one the impression he adopted British culture to any degree). Scully, however, has no excuse.
Ironically, the opposite would be true of their actors. Gillian Anderson spent some of her formative years in England and slips into a British accent easily in real life, while David Duchovny has lived all his life in the States.
In about every AU fanfiction where the characters go to the same school, the school is very American. They use lockers, which most countries only have for the gym class, they change classes and friends get to meet only in some subjects, in most countries all the students stay in the same class for all the time with the same people, they rarely carry books in their backpacks, they carry binders etc. It's not a big problem until it's mentioned that characters wear Sailor Fuku. Or they're students at Hogwarts.
It should be noted that most American high schools don't even use lockers. Passing periods are never long enough and lockers are generally in inconvenient places.
This could just as easily be called "European Writers Have No Sense Of Scale In North America".
British Supernaturalfanfiction often has the Winchesters speaking in British slang and claiming that their small Indiana town is 30 minutes away from the Canadian border. Problem is, Great Britain is much smaller than the United States — "from Land's End to John o' Groats", the longest distance in the isle, means , whereas "coast to coast" in the USA means at least depending on where one is measuring from.note The drive from Jacksonville, Florida to Los Angeles along Interstate 10, the shortest coast-to-coast highway, is 2,460 miles; the drive from Boston to Seattle on I-90, the longest, is 3,101 miles. In Real Life, anywhere in Indiana is at least three hours from Canada by car, and that's just going from the northern extremes of the state to Windsor, the closest Canadian city. From Indianapolis, it's closer to five hours, and from Evansville, seven and a half. For anywhere of note in Canada, tack at least a few more hours on to that.
RPG writer Graeme Davis once wrote a scenario for the Call of Chtulhu RPG set in the 1930s where an NPC starts in Los Angeles, drives over to San Francisco on an errand, drives back and "spends the rest of the afternoon in her hotel room". (From memory, some specifics may be off.) For reference, Los Angeles to San Francisco is roughly a 6-7 hour drive via modern highways in a modern car (not counting the frequent backups along that route); the drive would have likely been even longer in the '30s.
A pair of German Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans wrote a fic in which Xander and Faith drive from Boston to California in 8 hours...
And then there's the story set in rural northern Canada, where the protagonist keeps himself warm through the winter by raiding the local used book store for Harlequin romance novels and by digging through his neighbour's recycling for their old phone books. Putting aside the fact that books don't burn very well, rural northern Canada doesn't have used book stores, recycling, or large telephone books (some phone "books" up North are the size of magazines). Even if paper did burn, the number of books and other paper products you could scare up within 50 miles would probably keep you warm for two or three hours; you need cubic yards of wood to get through a winter where it gets down to -40 or lower for weeks on end. Did we mention that they were going to pick these books up via car, even though vast areas of northern Canada have no roads?
Another Final Fantasy VIII fic had them celebrating Easter. One reviewer: "Why do the FFVIII characters celebrate the traditional resurrection narrative of a religious figure from a different universe?"
The vast majority of British schools have uniforms. This includes Hogwarts. Most American schools, especially public schools, don't bother with uniforms.
Hot Topic is unlikely to be brought up — there are vague equivalents, but most are local to one or two towns or cities. The closest thing to a national indie clothes shop would probably be an online store, which weren't that popular in the 90s.
Not to mention the problemsinherent in wizards from the Potterverse trying to buy clothes online.
It's easy to get mad at My Immortal but this is rather common with Harry Potter fanfic written by American fans. The "American exchange student" (or Japanese, for otaku fans) in HP Self-Insert Fic could be a trope all its own. It's to the point where some HP roleplaying communities require that all characters be born in the UK or Ireland, not just to keep with the established canon but also to remove this tendency.
It's also common for the British students at Hogwarts to suddenly start using American English. Seriously guys, we don't normally say 'sweater', 'pantyhose' or 'French fries'. (In case you're interested, they would be jumper, tights and chips).
Despite being ostensibly an American film, Tim Burton's Batman (which was shot at London's Pinewood Studios) comes off as British. The Joker holds up a bottle of "moisturising" shampoo in one scene, and at the end of the film Alfred can be seen driving an automobile whose steering wheel is on the right side.
Best Of The Best: The South-Korean Taek Kwon Do team cheered for their country as "Korea, Korea!" while it should've been "Hanguk, Hanguk!" "Daehan Minguk," being another possibility.
Ridiculously parodied in Brüno, when the Austrian protagonist appears on a talk show and talks about African-Americans... from Africa.
Audience: They're not African-American, you idiot! They're African!
Bruno: Zat is a racist word!
If only the parody wasn't so true to life. An otherwise intelligent TV critic referred to "the only two African-American actors in Game Of Thrones." She is referring to one Afro-British actor and one Nigerian actor. This would be more forgiveable if the show wasn't known for almost EVERY SINGLE ACTOR being non-American!
Notice how in G.I. Joe: Retaliation all of the world leaders were wearing flag pins? That just doesn't happen outside of America. In most of the countries represented in that scene, wrapping yourself in the flag is a not-so-tacit signal that you're astoundingly xenophobic, racist, and/or nationalistic.
Vantage Point: It's set in Spain, yet the Secret Service (the U.S. President's bodyguards) are seen seizing cars from the locals, as well as chasing, arresting and shooting them, even cops. Plenty of wars have started over much less.
Such a policy was proposed in real life. See here. The USSS asked Britain to allow its agents to shoot to kill when protecting the US president in the UK. The British said no.
Likewise, the original Aladdin is often said to be set in China, as this was the most distant and magical land that most Arabs had heard of. The character's names, the genies and so forth all seem Arabian, however.
So much so that every movie adaptation and many fairy tale books change the setting to a real or fictional Arab country.
Unless you are watching Arabic movie adaptations, which usually set the story in China, or, for the more conservative channels, in an Asian Muslim country. One of the most popular Aladdin adaptations in the Middle East, Allauddinum Albhutha Vilakkum (Malayalam title), was created in Malaysia.
The Alex Rider series of children's books subverts this this trope at one point. The British main character, who is undercover as a kid from the United States, uses language that is obviously not American and is chastised for breaking his cover. However, played straight for nearly every other scene set in the United States.
It's a minor point, but the American character in Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down refers to his apartment as a "bedsit," a very British term. Of course, it is set in England, so it's possible he just picked up the term, from his real estate agent or neighbours, perhaps.
Not to mention her partner, who is allegedly British but seems to think and speak using an awful lot of American terminology. The whole thing is so dastardly pointless, because the characters would have made just as much sense being from CNN instead of the BBC.
The BBC doesn't employ only British people any more than NBC,ABC and CBS employs only Americans. The camerawoman being African American is perfectly plausible. No excuse for the reporter though.
Artemis Fowl and the Eternity Code has Chicago Police Officers referring to an elevator as a "lift."
Japanocentric version: A Wind Named Amnesia takes place in the U.S., but in the novel Wataru refers to the fifteen-year-old Lisa as a junior high school student; fifteen is usually high school age under the American school system. (Wataru is speculated to be of Japanese origin, but that was before his memories were wiped — everything he knows now was taught to him by an American boy, so there is no in-story justification for the mistake.)
Bit of a border case - U.S. school structure is pretty consistent within a given state, but it is ultimately a decision made at the district level and there's a fair amount of variance state-to-state, plus a variety of experiments with different models. Until around the early 90's, junior high school ended at 9th grade (age 14) in quite a few places. So it was possible for someone to have a birthday during the school year and turn 15, though this may just be a case of Accidentally Accurate.
Perhaps the most ridiculous claim about Spain in Digital Fortress's long list of gross misrepresentations of Spain, also by Dan Brown, is that cranberry juice is a very popular drink in the country. Not only is cranberry a crop mainly grown and consumed in the United States, Spain is chiefly one of the few European countries were cranberry*
Fifty Shades Of Grey is allegedly set in America. Despite this, there is no concession to the setting whatsoever. People refer to "exams" (not "finals"), the very British "do go through."
Played with in For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. Robert Jordan, who left his conservative (US) Republican father's house to join the leftist International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. When he tells Spanish guerrillas that his father is a Republican, however, they think Jordan's family is also leftist, since the leftist faction in Spain for whom they are fighting is also the (Spanish) Republicans.
Older Than Steam: The Chinese Epic Journey to the West assumes that all countries have the same kind of governors and imperial courts as China and that all countries in the world recognise a monkey-faced being as looking like a thunder god (among many other We All Live In China examples).
Left Behind has references to "Captains" and "Lieutenants" at Scotland Yard — in the British police they would be "Chief Inspectors" and "Inspectors".
The British Saffy's Angel series has a recurring character who is a visiting American...and who speaks in distinctly British slang.
The Sum of All Fears mentions that the Super Bowl will be broadcast in Spain "in five different dialects" - implying that the event has a following there far larger than it actually does. In reality, American football is so small in Spain that when mainstream news cover the Super Bowl they only talk about the musical numbers. That's right, the teams in the Super Bowl aren't even mentioned.
Tom Clancy's Op-Center: Balance of Power: Aside of being actually Spexico, the Spain of the book has a government just like the US one, only with a king replacing the president. Spanish provinces are apparently as powerful as US states and have their own National Guards, and congressmen (read: deputies) have their own limos and drivers (in Real Life they don't).
Live Action TV
British TV series, Britannia High, was very much in the mold of American high-school dramas. It wasn't even a typical school - it was a theatre school. Even the series logo has an American feel to it.
Almost certainly this is because it intended to tap in to the success of the (very American styled) High School Musical franchise- at its peak around that time- and the producers didn't want to veer too far from the formula with Grange Hill style realism.
In his first appearance on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike suffers from a little of this: the phrase 'Uncle Tom', although widely used as an insult towards black males in the US, is usually used outside of it only to refer to avuncular male relatives named Thomas.
In an episode of the The Office US, Andy refers to the singing group Ladysmith Black Mambazo as "Ladysmith African American Mambazo". This is despite the group being from South Africa, not the United States.
Inspector Fowler, chief of a British Police station in The Thin Blue Line, attempts to teach his men the importance or political correctness, and at one point utters, "That would be the pot calling the kettle... errr, African-American."
Almost certainly intentional, to show how over the top he is being. "Black" isn't even considered offensive in the UK when applied to people of African descent, isn't offensive anywhere when used as a purely descriptive adjective to describe the color of an object, and the correct term if he was being really careful would be "Afro-Carribean" (since fallen out of use because most British black people now either think of themselves as completely British or skipped the "Carribean" part).
Somewhat justified in USA High as it's about a school for Americans in Paris, but even the non-American characters speak American English (in silly versions of their own accents).
On World's Craziest Fools, a British show hosted by the American Mr. T, Mr. T is made to use British terms for things.
As mentioned above, the subject of "Amerika" by Rammstein. It points out the ambivalence of American dominance in modern culture. On the one hand, many Americans expect the rest of the world to follow their example, but on the other hand almost every country in the world does incorporate a great deal of American culture. It also seems to hint at the hypocrisy of many people criticizing American culture and politics, while their own countries increasingly adopt American customs and participate in American business and military actions.
As mentioned above, the idea that 'black' and 'African-American' are synonymous makes its way into a lot of news broadcasts.
There was a newscast where the person was talking about some African country and kept calling the citizens of that country (in Africa) "African-Americans". Clearly, someone was doing a realtime search-and-replace on the word "black".
This was also the case when news reports described the two people who were electrocuted while being chased by police in France, triggering all of the riots. News outlets kept referring to them as African-Americans, even though they were neither Africans nor Americans. The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto makes fun of this practice by deliberately using African-American to refer to actual Americans from Africa no matter what their color, including, for instance, John Kerry's very very white wife Teresa, who comes from South Africa.
According to the US Court of Appeals and van der Lught v. the United Negro College Fund, it is now legally appropriate to call white Americans from Africa "African-Americans".
One American journalist interviewing a black British Olympic athlete repeatedly asked how being "African-American" affected his outlook on his situation, despite his repeated (and, to the reporter, baffling) insistence that he's not American.
During the US healthcare debate, it was claimed that Stephen Hawking would not be alive under the UK's "socialist" healthcare system. This was slightly spoilt when Hawking pointed out that he was English and had spent most of his life in the UK, and the NHS was in fact responsible for him still being alive.
Following Gordon Brown's calling an old lady "bigoted", which (obviously) hurt his popularity ratings, an American news station said something along the lines of "Liberal Democrat, Gordon Brown, is likely to be defeated in the polls by a Conservative Republican". *
The Liberal Democrats are actually a completely separate party to Brown's Labour party. While David Cameron is a Conservative, he is not a Republican in either title or beliefs. Not only that, but "Republican" has different meanings in the UK and the US; since the UK is a constitutional monarchy, so a republican is someone who wishes to replace the monarchy.
The Mikado has what are effectively Victorian Englishmen wearing Japanese costumes and going on and on about how Japanese they are.
Ko-Ko: It might have been on his pocket-handkerchief, but Japanese don't use pocket-handkerchiefs! Ha! ha! ha!
The Grand Theft Auto series of games is, in theory, set in America, but is made by Scottish developer DMA Design/Rockstar North; Americans who play it can tell this is neither real America nor quite Hollywood America. A lot of place-names in San Andreas are thinly-disguised ones from Scottish cities. There's also an exact replica of the Forth Rail Bridge. Rockstar are based in Edinburgh and Dundee, and evidently like their Creator Provincialism in-jokes.
One of the trailers for The Ballad of Gay Tony, a DLC for Grand Theft Auto IV, is done in the style of a celebrity news program. The (American) announcer refers to television as "the telly."
It's occasionally encountered in America, though usually among people with relatives from Britain (or Ireland), or who watch a lot of BBC comedies. Irish-Americans (some of whom, even generations later, speak dialects heavily influenced by Irish English) may just have independently arrived at the expression by the same route the Irish and British did.
One of the radio talk shows has a child refer to an actor as a "Paedo", which is a shortened slang for paedophile in the UK.
That's equally true in the US and Canada, though the North American spellings would be "Pedophile" and "Pedo".
Harvest Moon games are apparently set in Europe or America but the characters retain certain Japanese mannerisms such as bowing, a lot of the characters love Japanese foods, and some of the plants are native to Japan.
Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain are set in New York and Philadelphia, respectively, but were made by a French company, and there are a bunch of telling details — for example, both games feature apartments with the bath/shower and toilet in separate rooms, which is not unheard of in Europe but is pretty much never seen in America.
While Obs Cure is set in an American high school, it was made by a French developer, and it shows. Metric measurements are frequently used in place of American Customary Measurements, the parking lot has a large bike shed (most American schools have, at most, a small rack to park bicycles), dates are rendered in the form of "DD/MM" rather than the "MM/DD" format used in the US, British spellings are employed frequently, and a notice makes reference to the "Ministry of Health" (the US' equivalent is the Department of Health and Human Services). On top of that, one of the calendars still has the French names for the months of the year (octobre, janvier, avril), though that could just be something that the translators overlooked. If it weren't for the American flag in the gymnasium, one might guess that the game took place in Quebec rather than the US.
Resident Evil 3 Nemesis's Raccoon City is a supposed to be a modern, Midwestern, American city, but the size of the streets and presence of extensive back-alleys and shopping arcades are clear evidence that Raccoon was based on a contemporary Japanese city. For reference, many of the streets are blocked by a single, longitudinal car across the road. When's the last time you [Americans] saw a road that narrow, especially in a city of over 100,000 residents? Further games in the series that revisit Raccoon, however, seem to retcon them to the proper width.
Another example from the series. A memo in Resident Evil 2 has the police weapons storage being broken up and scattered around the station to prevent terrorists from stealing it. A real US PD would find such an order highly suspicious, as US city police are not all that well armed outside of SWAT units, and firearms are quite easy to obtain (acknowledged by the large gun shop).
That was (presumably) retconned as Police Chief Irons purposefully sabotaging the Police's efforts to save the citizens as well as themselves.
SimCity does a very mild—and entirely justified (though not Justified)—version of this by having the police be run and funded by the city government. On one hand, this just isn't true in many places, where either the national (as in France) or state/provincial/what have you government (as in Germany) is responsible for the police. On the other hand, this is SimCity we're talking about. What national government?
Although an American city could be reasonably expected to have all three, and will definitely have some state police in addition to the local force.
SimCity also has the city responsible for power plants and many other things that would in most places be run by private companies.
Or are municipal services. Admittedly, big plants are mostly in private hands.
Having been made in the UK, all the cars in Time Splitters: Future Perfect have their steering wheels on the right side. However, one of the missions takes place in Russia, where cars should have their steering wheels on the left side.
Almost all the games developed by DICE take place in America, even though the company is Swedish. Justified in Battlefield: Bad Company, as it is an Affectionate Parody of American action movies. However Mirrors Edge takes place in an unnamed city, in an unnamed country, at a nonspecified point in the future.
Despite the Sega Mega Drive being named 'Mega Drive' pretty much everywhere except North America, the majority of games sites, American or not, as well as this very site, use 'Sega Genesis' as the default name. Mega Drive games will be described as being for the Genesis even if they were never released in North America, only in Japan and/or Europe (e.g. Zero Wing). However, Mega Drive cartridges could be played on the North American Genesis as imports assuming they weren't region locked (many earlier ones weren't).
It also makes it difficult to search for info from a game if it is called something simple (and popular in the English language) like Bully in America, and (the arguably more distinguishable) Canis Canem Edit in other countries...
As a general rule, games which go through America before they reach Europe are not translated into British English. What makes this a true example is when the 'English' option on the language selection screen is the Union Flag in all its colours.
The official websites for some games ask for your country first, to take you to the appropriate version of the site with localized language and release dates. Some of these sites must assume that Canada is part of the United States, since the only English-language options tend to be the UK or the USA. It's even worse for French-Canadians, who can only choose the "France" option.
Even worse are websites which allow you to change language... and illustrate 'English' with an British flag.
There is one website where the English option shows neither the US or UK flags. Bioware's website features the Canadian flag instead. Points for averting the trope, but ...
Some sites go on and fail worse by using the Stars and Stripes with a Brit spelling, and vice versa
Many websites choose to use diagonally bisected combination of the Stars and Stripes and the union jack as if those were the only places where English was spoken. But attempts at being complete and inclusive lead to such things as combined German/Austrian/Swiss flags for the German language option (They forget Liechtenstein). Languages and Flags don't really map 1 to 1 very well.
Of course if the makers of these language selection interfaces were to be really strict they should use the 'English Flag' for the English Language option, unfortunately a lot of English speakers would not recognize the St George's Cross as their option. Using a US or combined US/UK Flag for English can thus perhaps be classified as a justified case of Viewers Are Morons and a Viewers Are Geniuses for all the other English-speakers in the world who they deem smart enough to figure out the correct option despite it not being represented by their own flag.
The Union Flag is the most recognized flag in the world, being on the national insignias of several nations (Australia, New Zealand etc) and playing a prominent role in the history of many nations (India, USA etc). So it is probably the best visual shorthand for "English language" given the limitations detailed above.
Similarly, if a site offers multiple languages and there's more than one variant of 'English', American English will usually be what's meant by the unmodified option. This is a bit like a Canadian site calling two variants of the same language French and French French, respectively.
Even if you can get a British English or French Canadian option (they're by no means standard), they can still contain a lot of mistakes in spelling, grammar or word recognition.
Frequently parodied on The Bugle, a podcast hosted by two Brits, one an expatriate living in New York. And it sometimes gets inverted, with the large contingent of American listeners — familiar with John Oliver from The Daily Show — writing in at their confusion over many aspects of British culture, language, etc. that, obviously, go unnoticed by the hosts.
Cracked.com is pretty bad about this when it comes to articles, even though Alexa says that almost half of their readers aren't from the US.
One memorable example comes from talking about the Australian Aboriginal concept of direction being in terms of compass points instead of relative directions, saying an Aboriginal would say something should go "two inches south". Australians wouldn't use the Imperial system.
Justified, in the sense they are based off an American magazine. Now that the title is an artifact, the justification comes from being based in the United States. Not like other countries' websites are immune.
Sometimes justified. One particularly jarring example was their list of the worst James Bond puns, which, in addition to the obvious ("I thought Christmas only comes once a year..." etc) consisted of puns based on British idiom, or pan-Atlantic idiom that had fallen out of use in America but not in the UK ("He blew a fuse." etc). Apparently "nobody talks like that". Well, apart from British people. Like James Bond. Interestingly, the highest rated comments were the ones that called them out on this.
Another thing with Cracked, especially Cracked Military, is that the reference pools for their lists seem to consist of "The North Atlantic people". I.e, America, Russia, and maybe Britain.
Satirized (possibly?) by The Nostalgia Chick. The very first thing she's ever said to us is "I, like most of the world, am an American."
Sadly, she ruins this by confessing the film Independence Day (1996) to be a guilty pleasure and telling the audience that the patriotic speech of the president in the film was cheesy, but still gave her a proud patriotic feeling. She probably wasn't aware that most other people in the world despises that scene because it seems to imply that all independence days in the world should now be celebrated on the American one, Fourth Of July. Of course, most American web presenters always have an American audience in mind.
Something similar happens on The Other Wiki. Some of their edit wars are over British vs American spellings, especially when it happens to be about something that both sides have a large claim on. For example, the World War II page is manned constantly by a group of patently insanenationalist Brits to swarm any suggestion that American English be used over British English.
Even TV Tropes is not immune. Many articles/examples/tropes are written from an implicitly "American" point of view, but a large number of pages/examples, including this one, are written from a "Brit" point of view (United States is called "America" or abbreviated frequently, British English, metric, pounds, and British standards told first) . It's quite a bit better than some other examples, however.
The Young Turks basically showed this trope by arguing that an Australian KFC ad was racist for implies blacks will do anything for fried chicken. The stereotype that blacks love fried chicken comes from the fact that fried chicken originates in the American South where descendants of slaves came from, and when they migrated to northern cities were often the only ones selling and cooking it at first. In Australia any blacks would likely be Caribbean or African immigrants, and the stereotype does not apply or is not known at all. It didn't help that they kept calling the black people in the ad "African Americans", when they were actually West Indies (i.e. someone from the Caribbean).
Futurama: According to this show, people elect a "President of the World" rather than a president of a single country. Fair enough, but still these elections are portrayed according to American traditions. An American, Richard Nixon, is president and the two major parties are puns of the American Democratic and Republican Party. You would think that if a real international presidential election took place there would be more candidates from different countries or at least a different election system than solely the one present in the U.S.A.
The same can be said about the World Flag, which is a derivation of the American Star Spangled Banner, of course.
Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi is about a real Japanese pop duo. Or so we're led to believe. The characters themselves say and do things easily identifiable with American culture as all the writers and animators are from North America. They attempt to remind the viewers that Ami and Yumi are from Japan by having them speak in Gratuitous Japanese, use chopsticks to eat, obsess over sushi, and spend yen (even though there doesn't seem to be any rate of conversion...), but it doesn't go much deeper than that surface veneer.
A minor example happens in Justice League Unlimited: the Injustice League attempts to rob a trainload of euros, but when we see some notes, they look more like American dollars.
Other then cultural references Kappa Mikey falls into this headfirst with people getting fired and rehired constantly, in Japan where a job in a company is considered a lifetime occupation and the main punishment is being demoted as opposed to fired
In Meapless In Seattle, an episode of Phineas And Ferb, Meap puts on a universal translator mustache labelled "Made in Georgia" and starts to talk in a Southern accent. Even ignoring the Fridge Logic of an Earth-made translator on an alien spaceship, non-Americans would think of the country rather than the American state when hearing the place name Georgia, especially in that context.
In-Universe example on The Simpsons. During a trip to the UK, Homer sees Bart being harassed by police and tells them off by saying "This is America, pal!"
Guild Candidate: Oh, so you only hunt African-American vampires?
Twilight: No, sometimes I hunt British vampires. They don't have "African-Americans" in England!
Candidate: Oh yeah, huh, good point.
Twilight: So I hunt blaculas.
Candidate: I was just trying to be...
Twilight: Man, I specialize in hunting black vampires, I don't know what the P.C. name for that is!
Another time, Hank and Dean are seen trying to find "African America" on a map.
A common mistake, particularly on the Internet, is to assume that everywhere in the world runs on the same time, or at least to not include a reference to the time zone of the author.
And assuming that summer happens between June and September everywhere in the world.
Time zone issues happen within the US as well; Pacific Time (UTC-8) is the default setting for most of the internet since the industry is based in Silicon Valley and Seattle. Traditionally, everything else defaults to Eastern Time (UTC-5).
Most time zones have an unambiguous reference to the location they cover. The US gives us, among others, "Mountain Time".
Discussing politics on an international forum can be difficult, as many people equate words like 'liberal' and 'conservative' or the colours of those parties with the title of the appropriate popular party in their country. The fact that those words suggest different things depending on country is also a confusing matter. Part of the problem lies in the difference between multiparty parliamentary systems and the US's two-party one. In America, "party" is more a broad label applied to a collection of several political movements. 'Republican', for instance, covers fiscal conservatives, paleo-conservatives, neo-conservatives, social conservatives, libertarians, and so forth. In a multiparty democracy, such broad amalgamations are less common because each can find their own success at the polls and in parliamentary alliances. It's a point-of-view issue. From an American perspective, multiparty democracies seem to showcase a fractured and atomized public, while from an outsider's perspective, the American two-party system seems inflexible and lacking in options.
And, of course, in the US the colour of the nominally right-wing party is red and the nominally left-wing party is blue... it's the other way round in most of the rest of the world. This is because during the age of color newsprint and television, the convention in America had been that blue represented the party to whom the sitting President belonged, and red represented the opposing party. The association of blue with Democrats and red with Republicans only began as of the 2000 election. The high visibility and drawn-out conclusion of the election led people to associate red with Republicans and blue with Democrats, a meme that has since been incorporated into signage, popular parlance, and even the names of political organizations. Elsewhere, red took on its connotations from the labor/socialist movement, which never gained much traction in the United States.
Part of this may be that members of labor unions are usually referred to as having blue collar jobs and voting Democratic, so in the US it would be counter-intuitive to associate red with a party that has a large base of blue collar workers. (But there is no such thing as a red collar job, to stretch the metaphor.)
That's a pretty obscure reference compared to the Red = Socialist/Communist association, which is definitely well known in the US. Watch any Cold War movie, and you'll see some General Ripper yelling about the "Reds" or calling someone a "Commie Pinko". And the Democrats are definitely more on the Socialist side compared to Republicans.
There are, however, 'pink collar' jobs - traditional women's careers - and (for extra annoyance or snickering, depending on your political sympathies) 'red-neck' is a tag frequently thrown at American conservatives by those who aren't.
Case in point - in Japan, one of the main parties is called the "Liberal Democratic Party". Its position on the political spectrum is centre-right.
The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers by Michael Newton includes an entry about Łucjan Staniak, Polish serial killer allegedly arrested in 1967. He is, however, considered a fictional character as no other source supports Newton's entry. The book states that he was an interpreter and due to character of his job he traveled a lot, so the authorities had trouble linking the victims found in different cities to one perpetrator and when Staniak was finally apprehended, he was deemed insane and committed to the psychiatric hospital. The problem is that the latter procedure was almost unheard of in communist countries (at least not in common criminal cases) and someone who knew foreign languages and travelled around the country would have been put under close surveillance (i.e. followed) by Security Service as a possible spy.
Foreigners always seemed shocked that the majority of Americans speak only one language: English. But in reality, this makes perfect sense considering the sheer size of the United States, which is larger than all of Europe (excluding Russia) combined. For the average American, it's perfectly normal to drive through several states (many of which are larger than whole countries) and never encounter anyone who doesn't speak at least semi-fluent English. And even most regional dialects, such as the fast-speaking people of New England to the slow drawl of the Ozarks, are very easy to understand and familiar to the American ear. When you live in a country that spans an entire continent, takes three days to cross by car, and everyone speaks the same language, there's very little reason or drive for the average American to become fluent in anything but English.
Similarly, expect to be wished a Happy Thanksgiving and asked what your Thanksgiving plans are, or how the turkey was, even if your country doesn't celebrate it, or if it already celebrated it, six weeks earlier.
If you used a spell-checking word processor in the late '90s and typed using a form of English other than American English, you can almost certainly recall an incident where the program flagged an acceptable word like colour or synchronise and questioned whether you meant the American spelling. Also know as PC LOAD LETTER
Microsoft Word seems to do this by default (in both Word 2003 and Word 2007), and will constantly revert to English (US) between documents until you get the settings right. Despite Word being perfectly capable of checking the system language settings it will still default to 'English (US)', much to the annoyance of British users (or any English speakers outside America) who will spell a word correctly and then have the spellchecker tell them it's wrong, and then suggest they misspelled it.
If you've been on the Internet long enough, you've come across someone who says that banning/deletion/suspension is a violation of the 'First Amendment'. Especially unfortunate because that's not true even in America. To clarify, the First Amendment of the Constitution prohibits Congress*
though in theory and practice, the protection has been extended to the other two branches of the Federal Government and to the state and local governments
from interfering with freedom of speech and the press, among other things. A private citizen can do whatever he wants with his own message board, and ToS for almost all of them will essentially give the owner/moderator absolute power over the content of the board.
To put it another way, as the old Net saying has it, the Internet is total anarchy composed of millions of absolute monarchies (or dictatorships).
If you ever get involved in a lengthy Internet flame war, expect at least one person to defend their actions with, "It's a free country!". Bonus points if the nationalities of each person involved in the fight have not been established.
In pull down lists on websites "United States of America" is either the first entry on the list, or down at the bottom between Uganda and Uruguay.
And some instances of the latter will automatically scroll to the bottom of the list when you open it, forcing those of us who live in, say, Australia to have to scroll all the way back to the top.
A particularly bad example is on iTunes where all the countries are lumped together by each continent... except United States and Canada who have their own box at the top. To some, especially British people, not just alphabetising all the countries together makes this seem pointless and even ethnocentric.
In the wake of the 2011 terrorist attacks on Oslo and Utøya some pundits claimed that the death toll would have been much lower if the Norwegian government hadn't suppressed the people's right to bear arms. Two problems with that: one, there is no "Right to bear arms" in Norwaynote It is legal to acquire arms in Norway, but it is subject to strict government regulations. In fact, the gunman's weapons were all acquired legally.note Actually, the argument made is that the Right to Bear Arms is a fundamental human right that is suppressed by nearly every government in the world, and two, Norway lacks much of the US self defense/gun culture. So even if someone on Utøya owned a gun, bringing one to a summer camp would be unthinkable.
Labor Day. In the US, first Monday in September. In many other countries, it refers to May 1st.
Labour Day in Australia can create a local variation of this trope. It is celebrated on the first Monday in October in ACT, NSW, and South Australia, the second Monday in March in Victoria and Tasmania, the first Monday in March in Western Australia, and the first Monday in May in Queensland and Northern Territory.
A similar effect occurs between Commonwealth nations regarding the Queen's Birthday holiday.
The Maiden Name Debate can be included here, as many cultures don't expect women to change their names when they get married
Military topics often involve this trope. Criticise a country's methods in any war and someone might inform all opponents, regardless of country, that you should be thankful for what their forces did, because otherwise you'd be speaking the native language of whichever country was the designated enemy of their country.
English, Scottish, and Welsh football fans like to sing "If it wasn't for the British you'd be [X]note To the tune of Ten Green Bottles" (usually German, French, or Spanish), though they do modify it for region (Russia, Germany, and Spain get "French" for "[X]" instead of the more ubiquitous Germans). When playing Israel, some fans were reprimanded by the F.A for changing the lyrics to "If it wasn't for the British you'd be dead."
The next time you hear someone decrying or discussing US governmental policies, odds are, they'll wind up talking about it as though the Federal government were the only government, somehow forgetting that the United States is composed of fifty individual states, each with separate governments and often drastically different policies. Predictably, this applies to US citizens just as often as anyone else.
Then again, the only aspect of US government policy that most foreign citizens are exposed to will be its foreign policy or its import/export policy - both things are set by the Federal government. Why should anyone in Europe care about traffic policy in Tennessee?
For example, you just heard that America is banning X. Those crazy Americans. No, one state-level representative proposed a bill in one house of a state legislature that would ban X in one jurisdiction, if it had majority support and passed a half-dozen procedural hoops. Americans can do the same thing to other states as well as when one representative from a fringe party in one European country says the European Union should ban X. Those crazy Europeans.
Further, while in practice each state's government is modelled after the federal government, in theory they can have any form of government they like. They could even elect a full-on dictator, if it suited them.
One of the facts that exposed the controversial This American Life story (on US Public Radio) Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory by Mike Daisey as at least heavily fictionalized was the way Chinese workplace was described was distinctly American, such as private security guards armed with guns. In PRC, no one other than legitimate agents of government, such as police, may carry firearms.
On Twitter, "Happy Fathers Day" trended on the first Sunday of September, as Father's day in Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, & Papua New Guinea falls on that day. Cue many confused tweets asking "Happy Fathers Day? Isn't that in June?"
A similar thing happens on Mothering Sunday, which is in March in the UK. A lot of "isn't Mother's Day in May?" questions always pop up.
Religious artwork often depicts figures from far-off parts of the world, hundreds or thousands of years before the work was produced, with contemporary dress and appearance for the region the artist is from.
Some websites participating in the anti-SOPA campaigns often encourages "everyone" to contact their local representatives and urge them to vote against it, forgetting that not all of us have representatives who are voting on SOPA or PIPA, both of which are American.
At least most have some sort of link for non-Americans to cast their opinion to their national representatives, since the American legislation threatens some worldwide online businesses, not just American ones, but the chances of non-American opinions getting widely listened in the matter are miniscule.
Similar approaches have been taken with British and EU bills similar in nature.
The term African American is the socially-accepted term in the US, and that's fine as far as it goes. However, its use to describe black people outside that country can be inaccurate to the point of being insulting- though at least one interviewer seemed unable to grasp this. Even in Britain (for example), the ancestry and family background of the majority of black people living there is of Afro-Caribbean or direct African origin and isn't "American" in any meaningful sense.
Also, call someone a "Negro" in post-1970 America and you'll be lucky if all you're treated to are dirty looks. In Spanish-speaking countries, though, that's pretty much the default word for a person of African descent.
Wales (one of the constituent countries of the UK, with a population of around three million) actually has this trope played straight and averted in equal measure. A lot of universities in Wales get a lot of students from the US who are confused that Wales isn't England (especially true in the more isolated universities). Conversely a lot of English people seem to believe that Wales is an utterly alien land barely out of the dark ages (to the extent that there are shortages of healthcare staff in west Wales as people believe you have to speak Welsh to work there (even in Pembroke, an area known in Wales as "Little England").
This last bit especially was lampshaded for laughs on UK sitcom Gavin and Stacey, in which the Essex-resident Cloud Cuckoolander character does an 'intensive course' in Welsh as preparation for a visit and is thoroughly confused when he actually arrives and no-one can understand him. "But it says on the street signs..."
My Japanese translation of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" explains on the cover that J K Rowling was born in the Wales Prefecture of England. As a Welshman, I am glad to find that Gloucestershire is part of Greater Wales, though.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been accused of the capital crime of treason against the US by Mike Huckabee, Glenn Beck and others. You can only commit treason by betraying your own country. Assange is an Australian citizen. That isn't even going into the fact that treason is a well defined crime in the US, and Assange's actions couldn't fall under either.
Many right-wing U.S. pundits seem willing to pay their respects to foreigners as long as those foreigners are "conservative" - which makes no sense at all, because the original definition of conservative was following the traditions of your own culture. The French Conservative party, for example, is hardly anything like the U.S. Republican party.