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The Middle East (North Africa excluded)
- To most people the Middle East is just one large desert. Not entirely true, as Lebanon, Turkey and Iran have forests and mountains.
- This also brings up many desert clichés. Characters will be Crossing the Desert by camel under the hot scorching sun. Typical obstacles when crossing the Impassable Desert are heat strokes, intense thirst, sand storms, whirl winds, robbers and fata morganas of oasis that are simply not there. You might faint from hyperthermia, step on some Scary Scorpions, rattle snakes or a Giant Spider, feel Squick from seeing skeletons from previous unlucky travellers, sink into quicksand or lose all hope when Circling Vultures appear. If they are lucky they'll find a real oasis, a city or are rescued by a Bedouin Rescue Service. When they are really lucky they might also discover oil sources or hidden treasures beneath the sand. But this too can turn out to be a Hollywood Mirage in the end...
- Contrary to what popular culture wants you to believe it's not always sunny in the Middle East: reports of rain and even snow are not uncommon.
- All Middle Eastern countries are of course Qurac cities, ruled by sheikhs, sultans, shahs, califs, vizirs or evil wizards. The names of the fictional countries in this region all end in "-stan". Even though all of the real countries with such names are in Central and South Asia. (Stan comes from the Indo-Iranian languages, such as Persian and Urdu.) It may be mentioned that this Qurac's place is "between Persia and Iran".
- Popular Middle Eastern city images are temples, mosques and minarets. No image of the Middle East is complete without a scene where a muezzin is calling/chanting the ritual morning prayer.
- Most people know the Middle East as the setting for The Bible, The Talmud and The Qur'an. It was the breeding ground for the founders of Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Islam,..., yet to most people it seems to be just a region full of Muslims.
- In Ancient Mesopotamia, Assyria, Persia, Babylon and Phoenicia there were cities, art and a justice system centuries before much of the rest of the world had such luxuries. During the Middle Ages muslim scholars preserved many ancient texts and enhanced them with numerous important discoveries in the fields of math, astronomy and medicine. Various Western words are of Arabic origin and the positional base-10 numeral system had its origins in India but was transmitted to the western world through Muslim travelers and merchants. For this reason it is quite inaccurate and simple minded to describe the Middle East as an inherently primitive and backwards region.
- The oldest traditional stereotypes associated with the Middle East are derived from 8th to 18th century history and feature sultans, caliphs, grand viziers, shahs and sheiks dressed in turbans and long robes, typical of these centuries. Most common are images borrowed from Arabian Nights, including a Flying Carpet, dreamy palaces, story telling princesses, waterpipes, harems full of sexy belly dancing women, eunuch guards, thieving gangs with daggers and/or scimitars , people hiding inside giant jars, caves full of treasure, the giant bird Roc, people climbing on an erect rope and djinns fulfilling wishes. (See also Arabian Nights/Days).
- The films of Rudolph Valentino like The Sheik also provided the image of the young, sexy Arab prince abducting Western women into his tent.
- Another popular image is the Bazaar of the Bizarre. An exotic street bazaar and flea market will feature all kinds of strange, forbidden Black Market or fantastic items. A typical Arabic stock character is the cunning merchant who will welcome you in his store, haggle over the prices and afterwards sent you away with more useless junk than you originally intended to buy. If you want to register a complaint the bazaar will have vanished.
- Just like Indian or Pakistani people, Arabic people are frequently depicted as being shopkeepers or supermarket managers. In certain parts of the United States, Arabic-speakers are specifically stereotyped as owners of gas stations, with the ethnicity varying based on location. In Michigan, they tend to be Lebanese or Iraqi; in New Jersey, they tend to be Egyptian Copts.
- In Venezuela (and some Caribbean countries) there were a lot of street peddlers and shopkeepers of Arabic origin, all under the generic label of "turco" (Turkish) despite most of them being Lebanese or Syrian. There is a phrase, "con el turco atrás" ("with the Turkish man behind") which means that a person is pursued by their creditors, based in the real phenomenon of these sellers literally stalking the ones in debt.
- Negative stereotypes about Arabs are that they are all supposedly hyper-aggressive fanatical assassins. A typical image found in old books, films, comics and cartoons is that Arabs out of nowhere will pull out a dagger, sabre or scimitar. When they attack they will ululate, praise Allah or shout gibberish with many "ch"-sounds and heavy emphasis on the letter "r".
- The Middle East has become synonymous with bloodshed over the centuries. Especially since the second half of the 20th century Arabs are stereotyped as fanatical Muslims still stuck in religious traditions. They will be slaughtering sheep in the kitchen, beat and force their women into submission, have many children and will have sex with goats or camels on occasion. They are easily agitated and will haggle, shout, demand respect while not showing it to others, fight, kill, call out for jihads, suicide attacks, plane hijackings, terrorist bomb attacks and/or a Middle Eastern Coalition. Specific berserk buttons are infidels, Jews, scantily clad women, Westerners (especially Americans) and blasphemous remarks. When victorious they will ululate, yell "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great") and shoot in the air. These images are frequently exploited in racist, extreme right wing Western propaganda, as if moderate, calm, religiously tolerant or peaceful Arabs are non-existant.
- Arabs will often be Mistaken for Terrorist, solely based on their looks.
- The Middle East at large is generally seen by the West and East Asian countries (especially countries with heavy Western influences, like Japan and South Korea) as a problem that no one particularly wants to deal with, particularly after a decade and a half of The War on Terror, with a sizeable slice of public opinion in Western Europe being that it should be left to sort itself out.
- Positive stereotypes about Arabs are that they produce beautiful carpets, exquisite calligraphy and mysterious mesmerizing music that can last from one to three hours in length. Adding to the Oriental atmosphere are lutes, an oboe, tambourines, rhythmic percussion and sometimes a singer who sounds hypnotized himself.
- Arab handwriting is also world famous, especially since it lends itself perfectly for the most expressive and curly calligraphy you ever saw in your life. Still, there are many people who don't speak Arabic who tend to forget that you're supposed to read the sentences from right to left.
- Another stereotypical image is the rich Arab Oil Sheikh. He will have a huge beard, sunglasses, a turban (often mocked by Western comedians as being a towel or a diaper). Usually he is sitting in a tent and smoking a water pipe. He will take great pride in owning several cars, horses and a harem.
- All Arabs will praise or mention Allah in almost every sentence they speak. Other popular stock phrases are: "Salaam", "Peace be upon him", "May Allah be with you, my friend"...
- Arab women are either overdressed to the point of being nothing more than a burka ((which despite popular belief did not originate from both Afghanistan, Pakistan or the ME but from old Persian customs that were later adopted into Islam) or will be scantily clad and sexy belly dancers. They carry vases on their heads, wear henna or special piercings.
- Arabs have their own set of stereotypes about one another:
- Bedouins have two stereotypes, one old, one new:
- The old stereotype is of the Bedouins as noble desert nomads, living in tents and tending their goats/sheep/other livestock, proud and tough but honorable, and willing to help travelers who come their way and show them some kindness. They are also seen as the reserve of the ancient Arab culture; particular emphasis is given to the supposed closeness of their speech to the speech of the time of the Prophet Muhammad.
- The new stereotype is of the Bedouins as marginal, uncivilized merchants in guns and drugs (particularly hashish and other forms of cannabis), who are all-too-fond of using their products (both kinds). They are sometimes also seen as traitors for working with Israel in one way or another (most often, dealing in Israeli weed).
- In the Arabic countries themselves people from the Gulf States are typically portrayed as being filthy-rich lecherous drunks and drug addicts, who hide behind religion to justify their sinning. The guy from Saudi Arabia or the UAE or Kuwait who goes to Egypt or Morocco to marry another woman on the sly is practically a trope in itself.
- Bedouins have two stereotypes, one old, one new:
- In (beat 'em up) videogames, for whatever reason, there are a number of ambiguously Middle Eastern characters. That is, their design evokes the look of the region, and a few cultural clues may be mentioned, but mention of actual nationality is outright avoided. Examples include Zafina, from Tekken, who's background and cut-scenes hint at an Egyptian origin, but who has "unknown" listed against birthplace on her official bio. Word of God states that she is of "Middle Eastern" origin, but no more information has been provided. The newcomer in 7, Shaheen, might be a more stereotypical example. Algol from the Soul Series is another example - his name is clearly Arabic (literally "the ghoul"), as well as his move-list, and his story is an homage to the Sumerian (modern day Iraq) Gilgamesh epic, but his origin is never confirmed outright. Zasalamel, also from the Soul Series, is similarly ambiguous, with a look that references Egypt (his ibis-head scythe especially) and a movelist named after several Babylonian gods. The incongruently name Sinclair from Art of Fighting has an unmistakably Arabic look, complete with harem-pants, head scarf and a scimitar, although her country of origin remains unknown. Why the country of origin of these "Middle Eastern" characters remains unknown isn't clear, but it could be to avoid Unfortunate Implications in a sensitive global region, or simply to enhance the mystery of certain characters.
- Pullum Purna of the Street Fighter series, who hails from Saudi Arabia, is one of the few Middle Eastern characters with an actual nationality, and of course they gave her a stereotypical background (belly dancers and Oil Sheikhs and all of that)... In V, they have another Arabian fighter that looks more like a sheikh: Rashid, though as per the examples listed above, he is only ever described as "Middle Eastern", and his actual country of origin (albeit likely the UAE) has yet to be confirmed.
- Back when the country was named Persia it was known for the Shah, Persians with Pistols, Persian cats and Persian carpets.
- Iranians are seen by the West as religious fanatics. Ayatollah Khomeini did a lot to create this image. Another stereotype is that Iranians are terrorists who want to do nothing more then blow up America.
- Iranians are commonly mistaken for Arabs and receive the same treatment. When someone does bother to note the difference, Persians (the men, anyway) will be stereotyped similarly to the so-called Guidos. Think tacky "club" outfits with lots of gold chains, hair gel, cheap cologne, over-priced designer sunglasses, etc. South Park did a version of this in their 300 spoof. The track-suit "jock" variant of Guidos isn't usually associated with Persians quite as often, however. There's also the over-zealous Shi'a Muslim guy in the street, whipping himself until he draws blood (although it's actually illegal in Iran)" stereotype, but that tends to overlap with Arab stereotypes.
- Iran's western neighbors—particularly the Arabs—regard them as stuck-up know-it-alls who aren't willing to give credit where credit is due. The Iranians, for their part, tend to regard the Arabs and the Turkic peoples as somewhat barbaric fools, who were still nomadic nobodies at the time that Persia ruled everywhere.
- Many stereotypes about Persia/Iran originated in Ancient Greece and proved to be remarkably enduring, being the Trope Maker or Trope Codifier for Orientalism in general.
- Back when the country was still called Babylon it was mostly known for its Hanging Gardens, one of the Seven World Wonders. Iraqis still feel proud about their ancient history (Iraq being Mesopotamia, i.e. the oldest civilization in the world). The Babylonian empire is remembered for king Hammurabi (who codified one of the first law systems in history), Nebukadnezzar, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and biblical associations such as "the whore of Babylon" and the Tower of Babel.
- The city of Ur is known because, according to the Bible, Abraham was born there. Historically it was also known for the ziggurat of Ur.
- Nineveh is remembered being the capital of the Assyrian empire and the city Jonah went to, after surviving being swallowed by a whale.
- Bagdad also lives on as the archetypical Arabic city. If an Arabian Nights story is set in a specific Middle Eastern city Bagdad seems to be the most popular choice.
- Since 1990 the West knows Iraq primarily for the Gulf Wars and Saddam Hussein.
- Within the Arabic countries themselves the Iraqis are seen as the poor buggers. Naturally, seen as badass, and a bit tribal, but that's about all that can be said about them. Their dialect is noted for being difficult to understand, but also very cool, or at least intimidating (kind of like a Scottish accent in English).
- Most clichés about the country are derived from The Bible or the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even though Israel has a large Christian and Muslim community the Jewish community is always remembered foremostly.
- Most locations in Israel are known for are in essence temples or holy sites, like Bethlehem, Mount Zion, Masada, Al-Asqa Mosque, The Lions' Gate, King David's Tomb, the Armenian Quarter, The Wailing Wall, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, The Damascus Gate, the Lake of Galilea, the Olive Mountain, the Temple Mountain, the Valley of Jehosaphat, the Garden of Gehtsemane, Mount Golgotha, Mount Hebron, Mount Sinai, Cana (where Jesus turned water into wine during a wedding) and Nazareth and the Dome of the Rock. Only the West Bank and Gaza Strip are more famous now as conflict zones than for their historical merit.
- The one location that exists without a strong holy or violent association attached to it is the Dead Sea, which is actually a lake, by the way. It's famous for its high salt level which makes people able to float on it without being able to sink. And even this location is actually not just Israeli, but also bordering Jordan.
- All Israelis are Jewish in ethnicity and religion.
- All Jews Are Ashkenazi, All Jews Are Cheapskates... just see all the tropes listed at A Nice Jewish Index.
- Israelis are are seen as a Proud Warrior Race who know five different ways to kill you before you can take a breath. See Badass Israeli and Israelis with Infrared Missiles
- Israeli men are either young and athletic, or old men with long beards.
- Israeli women are all deadly beautiful, violent, Action Girl. At least until they get married, at which point they mysteriously transform into a haggish Jewish Mother.
- Israelis themselves have some stereotypes of Israelis, namely that they are honest—even blunt—to the point of rudeness, loudmouthed, are overly opinionated (to the point where they say "two Israelis, three opinions"), and are quick to argue about anything.
- Palestinians are all Muslims who wear Yasser Arafat scarfs.
- Within the Arabic countries themselves the Palestinians are seen...well... again as poor buggers. Also known as being crazy-tough and very proud.note Also noted for being crazy-smart; Palestinians who were expelled from their land but managed to get out of the country tended to take advantage of educational opportunities to get ahead, leading to a disproportionate number of Palestinian doctors and teachers in much of the Arab world. The similarity to the Jews—who similarly scattered (under duress if not direct threat of force) out of more or less the same territory and took up education as a means to counteract the effects of discrimination in the lands in which they found themselves—has not been lost on Palestinians, who have a particularly strong appreciation for irony.
- Regarding the Arab-Israeli Conflict:
- Team Israel's view: Israel is a plucky little freedom-loving democracy constantly under threat from evil Palestinian terrorists who love throwing rocks and bombs around. If not being threatened from within the country will have to strike back against non-freedom-loving dictatorships ten times its size.
- Team Palestine's view: Israel is a Nazi apartheid state where evil, racist imperialists mow down innocent Palestinians who were actually living in this country centuries before the Jewish population got their own state.
- Actual Israelis' view: Israel has a lot of problems, of which the Palestinian issue is just one. Heck, a lot of these Palestinians are decent guys, and excellent employees, as long as they stay on their side of the line. Anyone who can keep things stable while we figure out what to do in the future will get our support.
- Actual Palestinians' view: Israel is the occupier, yes, and they kill our people, but we're not about to deny we have some bad eggs who go out and kill their innocents. A lot of these Israelis are just ordinary folks, and truth be told they can be pretty nice employers as long as they stay on their side of the line (sure, it'd be nice if it wasn't always them employing us, but one step at a time, guys). Heck, we've even learned to like matzo. We'd just like a little dignity. Can we have a deal now?
- It may also puzzle foreigners that Israel has the reputation for being one of the safest countries in the world. At first, this seems almost like a joke, regarding the fact that it mostly makes the news with reports about violence. But in reality there is so much control from police and soldiers, with constant passport checks before you can enter buildings or zones that this reputation is really not that far off the mark.
- Best known for the historical city Petra.
- Within the Arabic countries themselves they are seen as being tough and resilient, loving life despite the crappy hand they've been dealt. Known as the leaders in the Arab world for good old-fashioned drunken debauchery (without the taint of hypocrisy that goes with Gulf revellers—Lebanon is 1/3-1/2 Christian and many self-identified Muslims are pretty much secular); despite this, also known for Hezbollah, (yes, Beirut is a conflicted city)—whose members are reputed for also being able to have a good time without alcohol (although, as is common in the Arab world, that doesn't include hashish...). Also noted as shrewd traders and businessmen, with contacts everywhere (quite true; there are four times as many Lebanese outside Lebanon than in it). Lebanese women, according to stereotype, are good-looking, uncovered, and kind of loose.
- For a while in Australia, Lebanese men (especially Muslim ones) were stereotyped as criminals and gang rapists. This was especially common during the Cronulla riots, though it seems to have died down.
- Usually stereotyped as a country full of oil sheiks.
- Also increasing known as the homeland of The Fundamentalist and primary exporter of extremism , with people increasingly observing that the differences between the self-proclaimed Islamic State and Saudi Arabia are mostly that one is more peaceful and long established than the other and the belief that the country is basically the Evil Empire. This is a belief expressed most eloquently by the Royal Band, who traditionally greet visiting dignitaries and responded to a state visit by King Abdullah in 2007 by playing 'The Imperial March', the theme music for Darth Vader.
- Otherwise best known for Mecca.
- Within the Arabic countries themselves they are seen as the more serious cousins of the Lebanese, sharing the same quasi-Camp accent that belies their inherent badassery, but without the fondness for just having a good time. They are also known for being intensely proud. Syrian women, according to stereotype, are even better-looking than the Lebanese, but more conservative.
- These days, Syria is mostly known as a conflict ridden hellhole partitioned between an insane President, an evil would-be theocracy of terrorists and any number of random rebel organisations.
- On the upside, though, the Kurds got a very good press in Europe following their heroic defence of Kobane, aided by Western airpower.
- The capital Damascus is also known because, according to the Bible, one of Jesus' future apostles Saul was struck down by God on his way to the city and converted to Christianity afterwards, taking the name "Paul".
- Turkey forms the border between Europe and Asia, symbolized by the Bosporus. To this day there are ongoing discussions whether it should be considered part of Europe or not? The same argument is made about Israel. Both Turkey and Israel compete along with the Eurovision song contest, yet none of them are part of the European Union. Usually Turkey is considered to be part of the European continent, while Israel is already the Middle East.
- Turkey is also seen as a Muslim country not too different from other Middle Eastern nations. While most of the population are Muslims the county is in fact a democratic, secular state with no official state religion and even freedom of religion and conscience, specifically stated in their constitution.
- The reputation of the Turks is kind of history-dependent.
- During most of the Antiquity it was known for Anatolia and its Anatolian civilization.
- After the fall of the Roman Empire it was known for the Byzantine Empire, which was ruled by Greeks.
- The Ottoman Empire was the most famous and powerful Turkish empire in history.
- People familiar with World War I know Turkey for Gallipoli and the Dardanelles.
- Since the 1920s the world knows at least one historically important Turk: Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey and also modernizer of its culture and society. He is still seen as a hero by the Turkish population and an someone who should not be criticized at all.
- Today Turkey is mostly famous for Istanbul, which used to be called Byzantion first and later Constantinople. The city is well known for the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace (made famous by the film Topkapi) and the Basilica Cisterne, which is a famous underground water reservoir. Foreigners often think it's the capital, which is actually Ankara, the only other well known location in Turkey. Ankara in itself is best known for animals like the Angora cat, Angora rabbit, Angora goat and Anatolian shepherd.
- Turkey also has one of the most recognizable flags in the world: a white moon and a small star seen against a red background.
- In popular culture Turks are often portrayed wearing a fez. In reality this hatwear has been banned since Ataturk modernized the country in 1924. If they are worn it will be part of a traditional ceremony, not everyday life.
- Romanians and other Eastern Europeans tend to see Turks as shrewd merchants, food shop keepers and peddlers of all fakes imaginable in the world. But this is based strictly on Istanbul, Ankara and other few modern Europeanized cities and the migration of Turk businessmen towards Europe after The '80s.
- Turks are often portrayed as being very proud of their country, history and heritage. The negative end of this stereotype caricatures them as people who have a supreme genocidal hatred for Armenians, Greeks and Kurds.
- Turkish women tend to be depicted as bellydancers.
- Since a "soft-Islamist" government took power in Turkey, the image in the Middle East has been influenced by their primary cultural export: Soap Operas featuring rich settings, convoluted family-related melodrama (just like they like it!), and fanservice beyond imagining (the star of Gümüsh, Kivanc Tatliug is so hot several women in the Arab world were Driven to Suicide when they heard he was getting married). Turkey has since become a soft-power powerhouse in the Arab world.
- A very old but very enduring stereotype of Turkey is that of a land of hedonistic pleasures: hookahs, strong coffee, Turkish delights (very sweet and tough to chew candy), veiled belly-dancers and the infamous Turkish baths, where you can take a sauna. In popular culture the Turkish massage will always be given by a huge moustached Turk who beats heavily with his fists on the back of his relaxing customer.
- The country is also famous for Sufi whirling, a specific dance style practiced by dervishes of the Sufi Islam. It's typified by men wearing a felt cap a, a sikke and a white dress, the dhikr. While they dance around in circles the dhikr whirls along.
- Since the film Midnight Express (1978) Turkish prisons do not have a very good reputation...
- Another negative reputation associated with the country are frequent reports of disregard for human rights, with people being arrested, tortured and executed for protesting against the government.
- Turkey has also gained a reputation for plagiarizing films and comic strips from other countries and putting them into a weird amateurish context. Though sometimes titles like "Turkish Star Wars" or "Turkish Rambo" are just slapped on the movies by Western salesmen, it cannot be denied that the similarities in plot, characters, soundtrack,... are sometimes perplexing. These movies are usually cheap, badly edited and have soundtracks that often jumpcut to another track when a scene abruptly changes. You'll also often notice instrumental music for which no copyright permission was paid. This would probably not be that notable, if it weren't for the fact that the makers often use very famous and recognizable melodies that you can immediately identify.
- In most of Northern Europe, the convenience-store owner who would be Asian in an American or British production will be an immigrant Turk (usually, though "generic Middle East" is gaining traction). Impressive facial hair is optional, shouty voice, huge gestures and Flowery Insults are not.
- And, to conclude, in the English language Turkey cannot be mentioned without making an Incredibly Lame Pun about turkey birds.
- South Asia and Southeast Asia are known for their native fauna. The mountainous areas of Bhutan, India and Nepal will be home to yaks, wolves, possibly a snow leopard, and likely a yeti in more fantastical works. The jungles will typically feature tigers, Asian elephants, monkeys (usually macaques - or, more likely, a capuchin), black and spotted leopards, peafowl, cobras, giant pythons and crocodiles (don't ever count on seeing India's endemic, thin-snouted gharial instead). Orangutans might appear, either in their native Borneo and Sumatra or as far northwest as India. Komodo dragons are infamous, but are rarely seen in their natural range outside of documentaries. The environment brims with archipelagos, volcanoes and bamboo. Typhoons, tornadoes, floods, monsoon rains and earth quakes will frequently ravage the land.
- Economically, the area has been known internationally for centuries for the trade of spices like pepper, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Rice, tea and rubber are also prominent export products.
- War, war, and more war. Everyone is either a terrorist, a victim of terrorism, a victim of a foreign army, or an oppressed woman. The Taliban's draconian rules will have been in place for untold centuries, never mind that the Taliban have only existed since the 1990s. Every great empire in history feels the need to invade, only to get burned by Afghanistan's sheer unconquerableness. Invading armies range from Alexander's Greeks, to Mongols, to Victorian Brits, to Russian commies, to the present-day NATO forces.
- Afghanistan is also known for the production of opium and heroin, which are exported to the rest of the world. While it would easy to blame people there: the locals who farm it don't really have a choice and only earn a small part of what Western drug dealers earn from this trade.
India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
India and Pakistan
- Indians are often confused with Native Americans as a pun.
- Both countries are often depicted as if they're more or less the same. With one important stereotypical distinction: All Indians are Hindu, all Pakistanis are Muslim. Sometimes Indian Muslims are acknowledged (although mostly in works dealing specifically about Hindu-Muslim tension), but Sikhs rarely are, despite one of the most stereotypical depictions of Indians (guys with turbans and big beards) being very much based around Sikhs—to say nothing of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being Sikh. Jains, Buddhists, and Christians are almost never mentioned (this despite there actually being more Indian Christians than Sikhs).
- India and Pakistan are also known for being horribly poor. People live in slums or rural backwaters, where they farm with oxen. They will all travel by train since they can't afford it any other way. And even then most train passengers will simply climb or hold on to themselves on top or on side of the train. Essentially, it's still The Raj but without so many upper-class British people. note
- Sim Sim Salabim: The countries also bring up images of very devout gurus, yogis, swamis, fakirs, snake charmers and other people who seem to be a cross between a philosopher, a Messiah, a cult leader, an illusionist or just someone who's difficult to understand from a Western perspective. Usually these people spent their time chanting mantras or spouting off wise aphorisms, in search of enlightment. They will be able to do all sorts of magical tricks like hypnotizing people, fly on a carpet, levitate, meditate, walk barefoot on burning coals, climb on an erect rope (Indian rope trick), stick knives inside their body, make cobras "dance" to the sound of their flutes or go without food for months! Sometimes they bury themselves underground with only their head or hands sticking out- or- in even more bizarre antics: with just their head stuck underground while the rest of their body remains above the ground in a stiff and upright position. They're able to twist their arms and legs in all kinds of seemingly uncomfortable positions. When they sit down or lie down they'll use a bed of nails.
- Indian and Pakistani religions and cults are usually hardly distinguished from each other (and often mixed in with New Age stuff). In the end they all worship the most well known Hindu deities in the Western World: Shiva, Brahma, Kali, Vishnu or Ganesha. They all practice yoga and veganism, believe in reincarnation and worship holy cows. They're usually two perspectives in Western popular culture. Either it's treated as being more deep, meaningful, spiritual and philosophical than other religions, or it's just dismissed as mindless scary brainwashing.
- Many images of India are derived from the ancient mysterious exotic days, usually overlapping with Middle Eastern Arabian Nights imagery.
- Other stereotypes are derived from 19th and 20th century British colonial times, for example: people going tiger hunting while riding an elephant. Jungle Book also did a lot to create the Western idea about India: jungles, bamboo, tigers, panthers, Indian elephants and rhinoceroses, cobras, wolves, monkeys, feral children,...
- Indian or Pakistani men all wear turbans. A long thick beard may be mandatory, but a moustache will do too.
- Indian or Pakistani women are all young, slim, long black haired women with a gopi dot on the forehead, dressed in saris. Expect a big deal to be made of their innocent/virginity; if they have a romantic partner, chances are it will be forbidden. And if they marry they will be child brides.
- When Indian couples have sex it's all kinds of Anatomically Impossible Sex positions learned from the Kama Sutra. Or instead of sex, they go dancing in various exotic locations like they do in movies.
- There are also a few very offensive stereotypes of Pakistani men as a whole, particularly in the UK following media coverage of incidents where several large gangs of Pakistani men have groomed and sexually abused young white girls. The high profile nature of these cases, and the fact that the media mentions statistics like "Asian men make up 3% of the British population and 25% of all sex crimes", encourages belief that Pakistani men are all paedophile rapists.
- In recent, times, a number of high profile rape cases in India, some of whose victims are foreign tourists, has also lent India a reputation for sexual repression especially among lower-classes.
- All Indians and Pakistanis eat rice, hot spices and curry which will burn your throat.. No miracle they sometimes go without food for months or simply starve to death.
- Modern stereotypical images of Indians and Pakistani depict them as shopkeepers, taxi drivers, workers in the "Indian" food industry (generally but not always Bangladeshi) or supermarket store clerks. Cf, The Departed.
- Another modern image is the Bollywood Nerd or Operator from India.
- All Indian movies are, of course, Bollywood movies. They will all be made in Bombay and feature a lot of young Indian men and women singing and dancing to a catchy and hypnotizing beat. The stories are usually romances, but the musical numbers are more important. In fact: the couples hardly every kiss each other! Usually the woman will sing in a very high pitched voice. Everything always has a bad acoustic echo to it and seems to be recorded on a scratchy soundtrack.
- Apart from Bollywood soundtracks most music in India will be sitar music, usually by Ravi Shankar. It will usually drone on for hours and bring the listener into a spiritual trance.
- No visit to India is complete without showing the Taj Mahal!
- The Ganges river will also be shown, but only when Hindus are washing themselves in the "holy" river.
- The monsoon seasons are also a point of reference, with either not enough rain or too much of it for months!
- A characteristic of British people contemplating former colonies in the East is that they'll stick to the old names and wonder why the natives had to go around confusing everybody by changing them. Perhaps younger Brits are more likely to use terms like Mumbai, Kalcotta, Sri Lanka; but many (perhaps older) people think "Stuff that, they've always been Bombay, Calcutta, Ceylon, and I'm not changing for change' sake!"
- Currently, Indian women are viewed as being oppressed and in need of rescuing from her so-called 'patriarchal' culture, especially by white men. Ironically, the people who focus on this ignore the fact that the Western world itself doesn't provide justice for its rapists.
- All Indians have an Overly Long Name.
Central AsiaIn popular culture, Central Asia is an extension of Commie Land, since all of them are ex-Soviet Republics in one form or another. They are also tend to be Muslim. With the exception of Tajikistan, they are usually described as "Muslim Chinese Mongolians", a stereotype that is partially untrue but not far off either.
- Kazakhstan will be portrayed exactly like in the film Borat. They are disliked by other Central Asians for looking down at them; indeed they have the best Central Asian economy and the most modern.
- Kyrgyzstan has an unpronounceable name for a country. They are regarded as Kazakhstan without the nightlife.
- Tajikistan is the oddball: they are a people related to Iranians and Afghans and speak a language related to them. In Russia, they are considered to be the equivalent of Mexicans. In Afghanistan, the Tajiks are considered to be rather timid by the majority Pashtun population.
- Turkmenistan is basically the resident North Korea on the block, with the deification of their first president abound. They are also fond of shishkebab.
- Uzbekistan is considered to be more conservative and laid-back than the other Central Asian countries, but they are also a Commie Land. In Russia, they tend to be equated with immigrants. The Uzbeks also are fond of jewelry.
East AsiaRacial stereotypes associated with East Asians are:
- People from this part of Asia often suffer from Interchangeable Asian Cultures and Identical-Looking Asians. Non-Asians often refer to all people of South East Asian descent as being "Chinese", even if they weren't born there. The same applies to other Oriental phenomena.
- Historically, and especially during the 19th and 20th century, Westerners saw East Asia as the Yellow Peril. A group of people who had strange and frightening traditions and could not be trusted in any way. The Japanese involvement in World War II and China becoming a Communist country in 1949 hardly diminished this fear. The oldest threat however, remains the Japanese and Chinese economic growth. Western colonials supressed it for most of the centuries, but since the second half of the 20th century it became very current again.
- Jokes about their typical eye shape. People from a different race will often mock it by stretching their own eyes with both index fingers and take on a goofy, cross-eyed expression, complete with imbecilic grin. Derogatory terms like "slant eyes" and "slitty eyes" are also derived from this.
- Asian Buck Teeth: Another racist image is the East Asian with buck teeth, long fingernails and coke bottle glasses. The "very bad teeth" thing is still very much in play. Not only has orthodontics only recently started to catch on and are still very expensive, but females with crooked teeth are actually considered kawaii for supposedly having the crooked teeth of a grade school kid. Braces, as a result, are not nearly as prevalent as they are in North America. This, along with Asian eyes, are always included for yellowface.
- Asian Speekee Engrish: They often speak Engrish, replacing the letters "l" and "r" with each other. Or gibberish with many words that rhyme with "-ng"-sounds, like Ching Chong.
- Asian Rudeness: To westerners Asians may come across as being impolite, impatient and always talking loudly and sharply to everyone. This is usually stereotyped by having an Asian shout untranslated gibberish while Westerns stand by bewildered. This stereotype is mostly derived from the fact Chinese culture in particular values bluntness and that many Asian languages apply different tone and meter to articulate certain words and sentences.
- All Asians Wear Conical Straw Hats: Expect every Asian to wear a conical straw hat on his head.
- When they travel it will be by boat, either a sampan, junk, catamaran or a maru. They will be fishing and use the ship as a house too.
- Inscrutable Oriental: Asians are often portrayed as mysterious people who don't express their emotions or opinions and just seem to stand by and observe. This causes distress or nervousness with people from other races who are unable to tell what these mysterious people are up to? When they speak, they will always mumble seemingly deep and confusing aphorisms and Ice-cream koans.
- A subtrope of this stereotype is the Magical Asian, a doctor or physician who conducts strange rituals and brews weird medicines and poisons.
- The most negative subtrope of this stereotype is the Asian executioner, who sadistically torments his victims for hours and days, while remaining unnerved by the pain he causes unto others.
- In high contrast with their "emotionless" image Asians are also often seen as a bunch of imbecilic grinning and giggling people. See also Asian Airhead.
- All Asians showcase tremendous respect to their ancestors.
- All Asians are submissive and bow a lot, especially women and especially Japanese. Unless you insult them, because then they will showcase Asian Rudeness or martial skills.
- All Asians Know Martial Arts: Whenever an Asian appears in popular culture he or she is always an expert in martial arts. (S)he will jump, kick and hit others at break neck speed while making Funny Bruce Lee Noises. Not only that, but when (s)he encounters other Asians in the streets they too join in the fight, leading to Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting. May overlap with Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy.
- Also, different martial arts traditions from different Asian countries will often be confused with each other. For the record: Judo, Aikido, Sumo, Jiujitsu, Ninjutsu, Kenpo and Karate are Japanese. Kung fu, Jeet kune do, and Tai chi are Chinese. Taekwondo, Hapkido and Taekkyeon are Korean.
- Asian men have their own set of stereotypes:
- Asian and Nerdy: Asian men are often stereotyped as small, weak and pathetic nerds. They will usually be math or computer experts. If they are first-generation immigrants, they are also bound to be extremely demanding to their children and having absurdly high expectations, especially regarding education. Found, for example, in Wayne's World and made popular by this meme. They will also be ridiculed for having small genitals.
- Whenever a strong and actually sexy Asian man is portrayed he will usually be a martial arts expert.
- Old Asian people are usually wise, bearded men who, again speak in aphorisms, teach martial arts and are forever trying to calm down their young, enthusiastic students. They will be a Magical Asian or a medical expert. When they are not teaching they'll be meditating or singing an Asian Rune Chant.
- Asian Store-Owner: Asians will be owners of grocery stores.
- Asian women also have their set of stereotypes:
- Young East Asian women are usually portrayed as mysterious attractive and exotic dancers, masseuses, manicurists, geishas or prostitutes. They are often depicted as being very submissive, yet delicate flowers. Of course, they will be experts in unusual or exotic sexual techniques.
- Dragon Lady: Somewhat a subtrope of the exotic and erotic young Asian female, only this stereotype is not to be trusted at all. She will use her beauty and sexual techniques to exploit or manipulate men.
- AsianHooker: Another subtrope, where stock expressions like ''"me love you long time"'' will be uttered.
- Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow: What makes these submissive Asian female stereotypes especially simplistic is the ignorance of the Westerners who use them. For instance: geishas will be pigeonholed as prostitutes, while their actual activities are far more complex than simply giving men sexual pleasure. Also, they forget that you can't be a proper East Asian woman without a spine of your own. It's apparent that people who still use this stereotype today are unaware of 'Raise The Red Lantern'' or any novel written by any female Chinese novelist in the past thirty years.
- Still, the "submissive East Asian woman" stereotype is not simply a Western idea. They can also be seen and heard in many East Asian films and animated cartoons, where these girls tend to talk and moan in a very high pitched squeaking voice, always accentuating their own weaknesses and reservations. Especially during erotic scenes.
- Asian Baby Mama: An out-dated stereotype, mostly associated with Westerners having an affair with Asian women, resulting in pregnancy afterwards and the man fleeing back to the West.
- Asian Airhead: Young Asian girls will be stereotyped as giggling idiots.
- Young East Asian women are usually portrayed as mysterious attractive and exotic dancers, masseuses, manicurists, geishas or prostitutes. They are often depicted as being very submissive, yet delicate flowers. Of course, they will be experts in unusual or exotic sexual techniques.
- Asian cuisine is also subject to stereotypical ideas. Most of the time they will eat nothing but rice, noodles and soja sauce and preferably use sticks instead of knife and fork. Apart from that they will enjoy sea food, such as sushi, fish eggs and whales. Chinese delicacies like thousand-year-old egg and bird nest soup are well-known among Westerners, and Koreans are said to favour kimchi and dog meat.
- Dragons Up the Yin Yang is often used to portray an Oriental atmosphere. Some Asian string instruments will do the trick too.
- Every cheap and dangerous product will always be made in Eastern Asia, usually by slave laborers, before being sent to the Western World: "Made in Korea", "Made in Hong Kong", "Made in Taiwan",...
- The Chinese have been stereotyped as if they still live in the days of Imperial China. They wear douli on their head, long pigtails and keep their hands hidden in long robes. They enjoy walking in queus behind each other, sometimes dressed up as a Chinese dragon. The men have long beards and moustaches, while the women suffer terrible pain because of the foot binding tradition. A reference to mandarins and their Emperor will be made, despite the fact that The Last Emperor was forced into abdication in 1911. Many of these images are influenced by Dream of the Red Chamber, The Nightingale, Turandot and countless Wuxia movies.
- Other stereotypes from this time period are throwing babies in the river, extreme animal abuse, lighting fireworks during Chinese new year, Chinese dragons, Chinese opera, Chinese acrobatics and the games ping pong, go, mah-jong and Chinese chess and checkers.
- The Chinese are also pioneers of invention: paper, ink, gun powder, fireworks, the compass, the wheel barrow, the printing press, windmills, paper money,... and were pioneers in clock making, hydraulica, astronomy, shipping, farming, music theory, military science,... Throughout history they were famous for making silk, vases and porcelain.
- Chinese philosophy is famous too: Confucianism, Taoism, Feng Shui, Yin and Yang, the I-Ching,... This again leads to the idea that Chinese mainly speak in aphorisms.
- Chinese water painting is famous for depicting many idyllic scenes of nature, usually mountains, lakes and rivers with cranes in the vicinity.
- The Great Wall of China, The Forbidden City, the Tian An Men Square and the Shaolin Temple will be shown or visited at one point. And don't try to show Beijing without bringing bicyclists in view. Visiting Shanghai without being shanghaied is less difficult.
- A popular stereotype is the insanely intelligent and evil Chinese villain with a beard or long Fu Manchu style moustache. He often practices Ancient Chinese torture methods like slow slicing and the Chinese water torture. (Examples: Fu Manchu, Li Shoon, Dr.No.) The female counterpart is the Dragon Lady, who will always wear a Qipao dress.
- Chinese also form secret societies (The Triads and the Tongs).
- All Chinese organisations, temples, societies,... have the word "lotus", "jade" or "snow flower" in them.
- Chinese also form secret societies (The Triads and the Tongs).
- A more gentle stereotype is the Chinese doctor or pharmacist who uses strange rituals, drinks and techniques to cure his patient. Often he is a practitioner of acupuncture. See Magical Asian.
- In westerns and comic strips Chinese people were often depicted as proprietors of laundries, opium dens or simply cheap workers.
- More modern stereotypes about China are basically referencing Red China. During the 1960s and 1970s the Chinese were portrayed as sexless, androgynous, personality-free Mao freaks who dress in the same blue uniforms and whose lives are centered on The Little Red Book and overly complicated bureaucracy. They will ban a lot of Western stuff (There's a reason why the TV tropes article about censorship in universal countries is called Banned in China.). Tibet will remain occupied as far as they are concerned.
- Chinese with Chopper Support: The Chinese military is basically people in helicopters.
- Another stereotype derived from Red China is the overpopulation. Ever since Mao told all Chinese parents to produce as many children as they could the population quickly rose out of hand. Today 1.38 billion (!) people live in China. That's right, over one-and-one-third billion of the seven billion people on Earth reside in China. For reference, the third-most-populous country, the United States, has about 300 million—in other words, as far as China's population is concerned, the population of the United States is a decimal point. To get things back under control the Chinese government then issued a "one family, one child" policy, which unfortunately lead to parents killing their infant if it was a girl. So, the government tried to campaign daughters in a more positive light since then.
- In the rest of the world the Chinese are mainly seen as restaurant owners, cooking several rice products and handing out fortune cookies.
- The Chinese also eat a lot more different animals than in other cultures. This has lead to the stereotype that the Chinese will eat anything.
- When attempting to demonstrate Chinese might/threat, there is always this giant dragon with big, fat "CHINA" written on its body which design shows absolutely no attempt to note that Chinese dragons and Western ones are not the same at all. Then again, it's all propaganda...
- All Chinese People Know Kung-Fu: When you're Chinese: you know kung fu and tai chi.
- In (beat 'em up) videogames, Chinese characters are unsurprisingly numerous. Both sexes are nearly always clad in period costume - Mao collars, Qipao (for the women) and Odango - double for females, single for males. Chinese female characters are nearly always portrayed as heroic, alluring, either very sexy or very cute and highly proficient at the more acrobatic, elegant forms of Kung Fu, a depiction no doubt inspired by the original, pioneering video games Action Girl, Chun Li of Street Fighter fame. Other female examples who follow this theme include Xianghua and her daughter Leixia from the Soul Series, qipao-clad Leifang from Dead or Alive, Li Xiangfei from The King of Fighters (who's a little "wackier" than previous examples but still fits), Litchi Faye-Ling from BlazBlue and kung fu movie actress Pai Chan from Virtua Fighter.
- Chinese male beat 'em up characters generally come in one of two flavours. There's the wise, bearded Old Master type, who's ancient age hides his incredible skill, with examples including Gen of Street Fighter fame, drunken fighters Shun Di and Chin Gentsai from Virtua Fighter and The King of Fighters respectively, Tung Fu Rue from Fatal Fury and Wang Jinrei from Tekken. The other popular Chinese male depiction is the straight up Bruce Lee Clone, as seen with Fei Long of Street Fighter fame, Marshall Law from Tekken, Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat, a medieval version with Li Long from the Soul Series and Jann Lee from Dead or Alive.
- More recent portrayals seem to indicate that the Chinese might be taking over the ruthless businessman role from the Japanese in Hollywood films. In fact, a growing number of modern works have the Corrupt Corporate Executive or the villain pulling the strings to be a gaunt, middle-aged Chinese man with high cheekbones who cares more about money than human life. This may be due to American fear and resentment over China's growing importance in the world and economic power, and all the debt the US owes them. "China still cool! You pay later!" Actually Chinese seen the first part of the sentence as Truth in Television; in The New '10s they started to wonder if have been too much of a Combat Pragmatist...
- Between the Special Administrative Regions and the Mainland China there is also stereotyping between both sides, Mainland China views the average SAR citizens (Hong Kong for example) as impatient, unpatriotic, classist, brash and complete workaholics, while Mainlanders are seen as moody and spoiled due to several policies in China (namely the one child policy), as well as extremely rude and selfish (thanks to a dog-eat-dog culture in certain areas of China stemming from government overhauls) and lack of hygiene. (letting their child take a dump on the streets)
- All cheap products are "made in China."
- Animals able to provide a specific Chinese atmosphere are panda bears and cranes. And a Chinese dragon as well, of course.
- Chinese music consists mostly of people playing an erhu.
- And who could forget the ancient urban legend that if you would dig a hole in the Northern hemisphere and continue digging you would eventually end up in China?
- Also home of some of the more influential epic literatures, but mostly, the oft-referenced are usually from Romance of the Three Kingdoms. See a mighty guy with cockroach hat? Probably based on Lu Bu. Also they even worship Guan Yu as a God (especially with that magnificent beard) and his spear, the Green Dragon Sabre, goes on to be one of the more recognizable unique spears/halberds.
- Following that is also Journey to the West, for the most part, any Expy of the Monkey King Sun Wukong would probably be Chinese if they're not Japanese. Also if the aforementioned 'mighty guy with cockroach hat' also adds up being 'monkey-ish', then they'd be referring to Wukong, not Lu Bu. Find more of these expies in Monkey King Lite.
- A big, modernized city full of tourists.
- In the years when Hong Kong was a British colony the Kowloon Walled City had an infamous reputation for being an overpopulated den of lawlessness with brothels, opium dens and bad or unlicensed doctors and dentists. The Triads and the Tongs ruled the place up until 1993, when everything was demolished.
- Martial Arts Movie: Since the 1960s and 1970s Hong Kong is best known for their large film industry based on martial arts pictures. All these films will have a Bruce Lee Clone fighting off other people in long, intense and sometimes gravity defying choreographed scenes that take up several minutes of screen time. When shown in the USA these pictures will have bad English dubbing (Hong Kong Dub).
- Hong Kong is likely to be filled with masseusses who will step on your back and give "happy endings" if you pay them enough.
- Lots of dead chickens hanging in the windows and lots of old ladies willing to behead any live chickens they get.
- A hot-spot for wealthy business men (both Asian and White) to visit and "relax".
- Extremely brash and impatient by Asian standards, filled with shopkeepers and passerby who will kick your ass for trying to ask for help. This is somewhat true, as shopkeepers in China are less picky about their customers than in America.
- Cheap products will all be "Made in Hong Kong".
- Japanese people are often represented as extremely polite (Japanese Politeness), intelligent, and obedient but dislike foreigners. They bow extensively and are ruthless, stoic business people wearing glasses and black suits. Their stock expressions are: "hai!", "sayanora!", "banzai!", "honorable", "regrettable", "ooooh so sorry, me so sorry" and "please" (usually spoken in an Engrish or Japanese Ranguage accent).
- The Japanese are often seen as extreme workaholics who never take time off and always try to be as good as they possibly can. Either at school, at work or at home. This comes into sharp contrast with their Real Life custom of spending for luxury and Conspicuous Consumption, mostly because unlike NewRussians or Arabs, Japanese don't brag.
- Might also be part of Japan Takes Over the World.
- The cheerful Japanese Tourist who films and photographs everything in sight. This has waned since the Japanese economic bubble burst, but still visible in works from the 80s and early 90s.
- The overweight sumo wrestler.
- The cute and sexy girl in school uniform. (See Joshikousei and Asian Airhead)
- The Yakuza is the Japanese equivalent of The Mafia and will thus be seen in many gangster stories.
- Japanese also have a reputation for honorable suicides, ranging from hara-kiri, seppuku to kamikaze pilots.
- Imperial Japan: Certain Japanese stereotypes are still derived from this time period with the Samurai, Ronin, Geisha and the Ninja as the most iconic examples. Activities like calligraphy, Japanese water painting, origami, flower arranging, haiku writing, tea ceremonies, kabuki plays, playing the gong, gardening... are also associated with this time period, though still in vogue today. The Emperor of Japan is also a stock character here. The image is mostly fed from countless stories and films in these settings, including the films of Akira Kurosawa.
- The Geisha in particular will be a Yamato Nadeshiko character, who is an Extreme Doormat in terms of loyalty, but shows a subtle, but definitely present, touch of iron, in that she is unwilling to let circumstances hurt the ones she cares about or distract her from her goals or missions. This is often accomplished so subtly that the target isn't certain how things got redirected — a kind of influence judo, if you will. Older yamato nadeshiko are better at this, while a younger one will make up for it in determination — especially when it comes to the man she loves, because that trumps everything else.
- Speaking of Geisha, they are usually (wrongly) thought of as prostitutes by Westerners.
- All Japanese houses are either pagodes or shojis with paper thin walls, tatami floor mats and fusuma doors that you can slide open.
- Some essential locations to bring in viewpoint when visiting Japan: the Tokyo Tower, the Imperial Gardens, the Itsukushima shrine and the Meiji shrine.
- Japan's involvement in WorldWarTwo also lead to a number of stereotypes: the stern and merciless Japanese officer, the sadistic soldiers, gruesome medical experiments in death camps, kamikaze pilots flying to their death, ... For many older British and American people this is the cultural referent. Ask a member of the Burma Star Association (war veteran) for his opinion of the Japanese as a people, and the reference points will be savagery, fanaticism, vicious cruelty to prisoners, racial superiority, and so on — much like how All Germans Are Nazis. But as with the Germans, this wholly negative perception is fading with the generation that fought WW2 or were prisoners in Japanese death camps.
- Since Japan was victim of two atomic bomb attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki expect many of their drama stories to be directly or indirectly referencing these tragic events. It remains a heavy subject there.
- Japanese popular culture often baffles other countries:
- Japanese comic strips (manga), animated cartoons (anime), computer games, horror and action films are often criticized for being disturbingly dark, complex, bizarre and violent. Often there is a strange contrast between cutesy sing-a-long themes, fluffy happy characters (think Hello Kitty) and incredibly painful violence. Frequently a scene will be interrupted for a long musical number, sang by twin fairies. Characters will also morph into new omni-powerful lifeforms for reasons that are difficult to grasp, but nevertheless awesome to look at.
- Their gameshows are notoriously surreal and sadistic.
- Their anime is often ridiculed. Non-anime fans seem to think Japanese cartoons are still at the quality of Speed Racer and full of giant robots flying around. Characters simply freeze in one position while a vague background goes by. You seldom see a realistic Asian in their cartoons: always white people with very wide eyes. Also, many will simply be thinly veiled toy commercials and have so many flashy scenes that they cause epileptic seizures.
- Also, All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles or disturbing rape and/or pedophilia induced hentai.
- The kaiju films are ridiculed for their bad special effects: men wearing rubber monster suits. The plots are surreal and consist of nothing more than Godzilla fighting other monsters for no particular reason.
- Their instruction videos and commercials are equally weird. Many famous Hollywood actors make TV commercials in Japan (Japandering) and these videos have become notorious because they often put celebrities in a weird context that doesn't have anything to do with their public image. For decades these commercials remained mostly unknown to Western audiences, but since the arrival of Internet their notability has increased, often to the shame of the actors themselves.
- Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: Much like New-York and Los Angeles in Hollywood films, or London in anything set in Britain, Tokio will be the most prominent location in Japanese popular culture.
- In (beat 'em up) video games, Japanese characters run the full gamut of character types (unsusprisingly, seeing as how most series have multiple Japanese characters), but the most popular depictions include the stoic, brooding hero type (often wrestling with some sort of inner turmoil) — as seen with Street Fighter's Ryu and Tekken's Jin; various boisterous bruisers (often Sumo wrestlers), as seen with Street Fighter's E.Honda, Tekken's Ganryu and Virtua Fighter's Taka-arashi; and finally the archetypal spirited, plucky school girl type, as seen with Sakura of Street Fighter fame, Hinata from Rival Schools, Asuka Kazama of Tekken fame and school-girl turned Magic Idol Singer Athena Asamiya from The King of Fighters.
- Japanese people are engineering geniuses, but they use this to create giant robots and very odd inventions, like square melons and toilets that produce fountains and play music.
- Japan also managed to provide some universally famous products like Nintendo, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hello Kitty. Expect a Japanese character in popular culture to make a shout-out to any of these products at one point.
- Specific Japanese dishes that will be referenced are octopus (usually alive), whale meat, sushi, fugu, sukiyaki, saké and wasabi.
- A more negative stereotype is the perverted Japanese man who is a Nightmare Fetishist, Basement-Dweller and possible pedophile. And also completely unwilling to reproduce or sexually regressive.
- Japanese people add "-u" to the end of every word. (This, of course, comes from katakana.)
- Oddly, the Ainu get more press in America than in Japan.
- In Japan itself, there's the stereotype of The Idiot from Osaka. It takes several different "shapes": an Osakanite can be seen as either an obnoxious prankster who never takes anything seriously, a Boisterous Bruiser who will punch first and ask what's going on next, a money-grubbing workaholic, or as a person who's somewhat... odd
- Among the Asians themselves, Japan is often viewed as an Asian version of the Confederate South in the USA. They have a similar "The South Will Rise Again" mentality as the American Southern States, with an unhealthy longing to the good old days of an absolute ruler.
- In the Middle East, Japanese are sometimes stereotyped as professional butt-kissers, Westerner-wannabes or in the worst case, as The Quisling toward Western countries. In the case of Japanese women, as prostitutes (albeit they share the same stereotype with other East Asians like Koreans, Chinese or Thais) and in the case of Japanese men, being effeminate (again, shared with the already mentioned countries)
- Since Japan has a very recognizable flag expect references to the "Rising Sun" to be made whenever the country is mentioned in fiction.
- Musically Japan is known for Ainu, a musical tradition by the Ainu people. The most well known instrument is the biwa, a sort of short-necked lute. Since the 1990s many people in the West have the impression all Japanese music is either J-pop, extreme Noise Rock or video game soundtracks. And, of course, this is the birth place of karaoke.
- Japan are known for their video games, with them pulling North America out of The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 and ruling the gaming industry from the 80's to Early 2000's with two of the three major console makers, Nintendo and Sony, being based there (Though Sony moved their console division to the US in 2016) as well as another former major console maker, Sega, also being based there, along with many other big gaming companies like Square-Enix and Capcom. While their influence on the industry has majorly declined since the Late 2000's in favor of Western (especially American and Swedish) influence, they still remain one of the biggest developers of video games.
- South Koreans are fanatical video game nerds who will kick your ass at any Blizzard game or Counter-Strike.
- Marriage culture: You want to marry a S. Korean girl, you have to defeat her father in StarCraft II
- Blizzard themselves has noticed this and make this the influence of creating D. Va/Hana Song, a pro-gamer mecha pilot from South Korea who was to become a mecha pilot because of her skill playing Starcraft II and possesses stereotypical competitive gamer attitudes, like being a braggart or sitting down and munching 'Doritos' and drinking 'Mountain Dew' while playing a game.
- Also, dry cleaning. More than a few Korean immigrants have had dry cleaning as their first job in the United States. Several catalogs even have a specialized Korean-language line to dial.
- More than any other Asian culture, Koreans are obsessed with cleanliness and hygiene in general, and their surroundings are sterilized of all other life accordingly.
- Koreans are not generally seen as distinct from Chinese or Japanese (see Interchangeable Asian Cultures); when they are, they get a similar treatment to the Japanese as stereotypical businessmen who are reserved and extremely polite. Korean women will probably be war brides or prostitutes. Most North Americans know of The Korean War from Mash and may forget that Western involvement ended over half a century ago; especially dumb Americans may confuse it with The Vietnam War and assume it happened in the 1970s or later. Despite its strong economic growth, there is no equivalent to Japan Takes Over the World although certain elements of Korean pop culture (music, soap operas etc.) have become popular overseas. There may be some reference to North Korean belligerence making everyone tense.
- If you've met someone from Korea, chances are that person is from Seoul. No other city or region exits in the country, apart from some of the metropolitan cities, most notably Busan.
- Koreans are the only East Asian ethnicity to generally be portrayed as Christian, although other Asian countries (the Philippines, East Timor, Georgia and Armenia) also have people of this religion. Not exactly helped by the fame of Reverend Sun Myung Moon, nor by how South Korea is among the few countries in their geopolitical sphere to have a significant Christian minority (with Presbiterian and Roman Catholic former Presidents, too.)
- Korean food consists of rice, kimchi, and dog. No exceptions.
- Though nicer works tend to play up the gogigui, or Korean barbecue. Some even say it's equal to, if not better than the (stereotypical) capital of barbeque itself, the United States of America.
- It's a bit of a stereotype in the Asian-American community that Koreans, especially the women, are really into plastic surgery. This is a stereotype inside the country itself - thanks to the uptick of more and more prosperity, there is a trend of materialism and an obsession with beauty, to the point of makeup being marketed toward men and teenagers getting surgery.
- The internet front has Netizen, which are often treated as a South Korean exclusive thing that puts most internet activists to shame in terms of a counterattack. Think of them as the exact opposite of a Reddit social justice warrior, extremely conservative beliefs as they spend most of their time in internet cafes espousing on their beliefs and vicious use of the upvote/downvote system.
- Since the 1960s Korea is also known for cheap TV animation. The preliminary ideas and sketches are usually done in the USA or Europe, before sending everything off to Korea. The Koreans usually do the hardest and most time-consuming parts, after which the almost finished product is shipped back to the USA or Europe.
- Every Korean, whether living in North or South Korea, is named Kim.
- North Koreans are Dirty Communists who have been brainwashed to talk about how great their Dear Leader is and view him as a Physical God. Everything foreign is banned there and the people live in complete oblivion of the rest of the world. See People's Republic of Tyranny.
- North Koreans with Nodongs: For Hollywood's purposes, North Korea seems to have replaced the Soviet Union as the default enemy country of the U.S. This often involves North Korea being portrayed as vastly more powerful and technologically advanced than it really is, in a manner similar to the Soviet Superscience trope.
- South Koreans stereotype North Korean defectors the way many countries stereotype poor unwanted immigrants, i.e. as an uneducated criminal class. Yes, discrimination is a problem. Many North Koreans living in South Korea try to lose their northern accents.
- North Korean women are considered to be more submissive and traditional than their South Korean counterparts. Feminism, of course, never made it across the DMZ. Some South Korean men seek out Northern women for this reason, viewing Southern women as too spoiled and judgemental.
- The Taiwanese really only have two stereotypes; they are either rage-filled bad drivers who are obsessed with betel nuts or otakus who write way too many doujins.
- Also, every Taiwanese person on the internet seems to know every other Taiwanese person. This is somewhat true, as the internet community on Taiwan is somewhat tight-knit, a consequence of being tiny.
- Although most Taiwanese are of Han Chinese ethnicity, they are treated as essentially Japanese in culture (probably stemming from being ruled by Japan for about 50 years until the end of World War Two and having the least bad overall attitude about the country in Asia, as well as having taken on some Japanese culture from the occupation).
- Taiwan may be confused with Hong Kong; there will be taxis, 24-hour laundries and teahouses where old men sit playing mah jong all day long. Traditional Chinese music will be heard.
- And every cheap product is of course "made in Taiwan".
- Many Americans don't differentiate Taiwanese people from the Chinese in terms of perception.
- Described as Las Vegas in Asia. This isn't far off the mark.
- Hong Kongers deride Macanese for being poorer than them.
- Bring up Mongolia and come up with Genghis Khan and The Horde.
- Chinese see Mongols as poor wretches deserving Chinese annexation.
- Russians—and to a lesser extent, other nationalities in the CIS—often see Mongolians as Asian Russians, since some minorities (like the Buryat people) are a Mongol subgroup and share some language and culture.
- In some languages, like Dutch, the word "Mongolian" was a politically incorrect term to refer to people with Down syndrome. The phrase was presumably derived from the fact that Westerners felt their physical apperance looked similar.
- The Shangri-La to the extremes. Most people are Buddhist monks. Oppressed and spiritual, and peaceful, never mind that the Tibetans had a martial tradition as well. The Himalayas will be seen as well, so mountain climbers will also appear at one point. Also expect the Dalai Lama and/or The Abominable Snowman to make a cameo.
- In more politically motivated works, Tibet may be portrayed as a Commie Land. Tibetan Buddhism will be the Good Old Ways, and its suppression under modern communism may be portrayed with a touch of The Magic Goes Away.
- The country is nothing but snowy mountains filled with yaks. The only food is yak meat and yak milk.
- In the 1950s the West learned about Tibet when in 1953 New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tibetan Tenzing Norgay became the first men to set foot on top of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. In the same decade the Chinese government occupied Tibet, causing the Dalai Lama to flee. His former residence, the Polata Palace, is the most famous building in the country.
- In the rest of China, the Uyghur majority are regarded as unruly and prone to terrorism, as well as being devout Muslims. Central Asians see the Uyghurs as either potential troublemakers or Central Asians that have gone too Chinese as the Uyghurs now tend to use chopsticks rather than the hand for eating.
Southeast AsiaIn popular culture, Southeast Asia is that place where the Vietnam War happened. It did not exist before then, nor did it have a culture except for mysterious statues of Buddhas and ruined temples half-hidden by jungle overgrowth. Everyone wears those conical hats and is a peasant, drug trafficker or ex-guerrilla. All Western tourists who go there will be caught up in some sort of scam or civil war or be imprisoned on trumped-up charges (usually drug trafficking). See: Holiday in Cambodia.
- Basically they are an even more refined version of Malaysian stereotypes.
- Being an oil-producing Islamic monarchy, the stereotypes of Gulf Arab states are also put into Brunei.
- Similar stereotypes to Cambodia (see The Bridge on the River Kwai for a major example) with the exception of being more devoutly Buddhist. The Burmese are either saffron-robed monks, armed revolutionaries or oppressed city folk. Unfortunately, this one is closer to Truth in Television.
- If British people think of Burma at all, there's a vague memory that we fought a war there once, didn't we? And a lot of our people were taken prisoner when it wasn't going well for us and forced to build a railway. Post-Imperial baggage means that unless the British are forced to sit up and pay attention, they think of places like this as they were imagined to be in Imperial days; and Burma was merely seen as an eastern extention of the Indian empire rather than a country in its own right.
- Angkor Wat, the ancient temple of the Kingdom of Angkor, is the most recognized symbols of Cambodia, even appearing on the national flag.
- Cambodia came under international attention in the 1970s, when it was revealed that the U.S government under instigation of President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger had illegally bombed the country during the Vietnam war conflict. Between 1975 and 1979 it even turned worse when it became a Communist tyranny ruled by dictator Pol Pot. Despite his short rule he still managed to oversee one of the worst genocides in history. Virtually everything about Cambodia is known from these events, powerfully depicted in the film The Killing Fields. As a result Cambodia lives in people's memory as a poor jungle country overrun by Communist guerillas and anti-Western fanatics who force their captives to do hard labour at gunpoint and starve. Phnom Penh is a fairly modern French-style city, but everything else is wilderness.
- Sadly, modern portrayals of the country depict it as a haven for child exploitation and Western pedophiles. The government, however, has put cracking down on it a top priority.
- See also: Holiday in Cambodia.
- East Timor's portrayal in fiction is rare and if does crop up, expect poverty, gang violence, and ethnic violence as common cliches.
- Stereotyped in the West as fanatical Muslims, even though Indonesian Islam was relatively moderate, until recently.
- If the maids in Hong Kong and Singapore are not Filipinos, then they must be Indonesian.
- All Indonesian men wear a songkok hat or a blangkon headgear. The cloth will be batik, ikat or songket.
- All houses are built on stilts.
- Historically, Indonesia is best remembered for its Dutch colonial history, exemplified in the Dutch literary classic Max Havelaar.
- Indonesian culture is famous for its dances and shadow puppet theatre.
- The martial art "silat" is also something unique to the country.
- Indonesia is also known for its volcanic islands, like the most infamous one: Krakatoa.
- The most famous Indonesian isle is Java, best known for the "Java Man", Javan coffee and tea and various unique animal species.
- Another famous isle is Bali, best known for its percussion orchestra gamelan music, dances and, recently, as the location for the "love" part of the book Eat, Pray, Love.
- Some Komodo dragons and the Javan hawk-eagle will make a cameo too.
- When it exists, is identical to Thailand despite being landlocked. The Souphanousinphones from King of the Hill are one of the few realistic portrayals of a Lao family that will be familiar to Western viewers.
- In the West, they are a more refined version of the Indonesians, and richer.
- Also in works concerning Malaysia, expect the Petronas Towers to crop up.
- For British people, perceptions of Malaya are largely stuck in a post-Imperial timewarp as a place where we used to grow rubber and fought a prolonged nasty war at the fag-end of Empire. We're not at home with calling it "Malaysia" and many people are genuinely surprised to discover that Singapore is no longer a part of "Malaya" but a different country entirely.
- Best known in popular culture for its capital Manila.
- Filipinos tend to be constantly confused with Hispanics, because not all of the population is of Asian race. Filipino women tend to be seen as sluts or mail-order brides. Then there are all the jokes about Filipino foreign workers caricatured as being practically everywhere.
- Negative perceptions of Filipinos characterize them as lazy, gluttonous, and heavy drinkers, who has the most number of holidays in the world. They tend to leave their jobs undone ( while uttering "bahala na sa diyos" meaning "leave it all to God") and instead prefer to drink alcohol and eat roasted pig. The positive side of this stereotype portrays them as pleasure lovers with an optimistic outlook on life.
- Whenever American media shows a white gay male with a "foreign" lover, it's almost always a Filipino man. Also, like Thailand, many of the prostitutes are thought to be MtF transsexuals.
- Either a lot of nurses are Filipino women, or a lot of Filipino women are nurses. Stand up comedian Jo Koy:
Jo koy: how many Filipinos are here?(crowd cheering)Jo koy: that's a lot of Filipinos. somewhere in L.A there's an empty hospital.
- The Philippines are also known for being more fluent in English than other Asian countries. Probably because of the history of the country being colonized by both Spain and U.S.A. This led to many foreign students from many parts of the world (specifically from Europe and other Asian countries) to study in the Philippines (all just to learn proper English without the Engrish accent).
- Filipinos are violent knife / stick fighters, an example of Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting. In modern views, they tend to be seen as deadly boxers (seen with Manny Pacquiao and Thrilla in Manila) and powerful fist fighters. In the army they are Filipinos with Firearms.
- In (beat 'em up) videogames, Filipino characters are described as above. Example is Talim in Soul Calibur
- Also most Filipinos are very, very, very Catholic. But a lot of them are also Muslims.
- For Malaysian and Singaporean eyes, Filipinos are nothing more than maids. In many films from Singapore there's a Filipino maid stereotype depicted as young and often uneducated. This hasn't gone without criticism. Just ask Devina Devida.
- Stereotypes of Chinese people apply to Singapore, being a majority-Chinese nation.
- Singaporeans are stereotyped by other Asians as arrogant know-it-alls and would punish anyone who chews chewing gum or smokes in public.
- Singapore is also known for being a pirate's nest.
- Singapore's reputation for being "Disneyland with the Death Penalty" is slowly gaining traction, as wind is caught of the illegality of chewing gun and the use of public canings in the country.
- British people tend to still think of it as an island which is part of "Malaya", and can be genuinely surprised to discover Singapore is now a different state with Malaysia as a neighbour. They also have a collective memory of Singapore being the playground of the Empire, a sort of Victorian/Edwardian colonial city, characterised by the old- time colonial style and splendour of the Raffles Hotel.
- In the past it was known as Siam and some of those historical time era clichés are still associated with the country, like the King of Siam and his multiple children, the city Angkor, Siamese twins and Siamese cats.
- Since being renamed as Thailand it is predominantly known for the capital city Bangkok, which is universally portrayed as a Wretched Hive full of seedy bars, strip clubs and brothels. There will be some mention of kathoey ("ladyboys"), possibly leading to Viewer Gender Confusion. If some other part of Thailand is shown, it will probably be a rubber plantation with elephants and palm trees everywhere, or a beach where Westerners go to live in wooden houses on stilts and surf. There will still be drugs and prostitutes, though.
- Expect Thai massage, Thai dancing and/or Thai boxing (Muay Thai)to be depicted as if they are general activities every Thai does.
- If Thai characters do turn up in Fighting Games, then they are almost universally portrayed as boastful, morally dubious (if not downright evil) Muay Thai boxers. Examples include Sagat and Adon, both Street Fighter veterans, Hwa Jai from Fatal Fury (complete with snake oil booze power-up moves) and Shura from World Heroes. This may stem from the fact that Muay Thai is brutal.
- Vietnam is "the country where that war happened". Period. They are Dirty Commies who wield AK-47s and live in underground tunnels from which they shoot at American soldiers. If captured, expect the white heroes to be subjected to all sorts of cruel tortures. Alternatively, there will be a Den of Iniquity where a short, stocky Vietnamese man shouts and forces captives to play Russian roulette. Vietnamese people are either farmers or draftsmen when they are not mercenaries, and the women are all prostitutes without exception.
- In popular culture Vietnam will only be used to show Vietnamese or American soldiers. That the country used to be a French colony is almost never mentioned.
- Vietnamese cuisine is one of the few positive images the world knows about the country.
- Vietnam's Latin-based alphabet (chữ Quốc ngữ) is extremely recognizable and distinct from it's neighbors.
- The Vietnam War is so engrained in popular culture that many locations still bring up associations with battles and violence: Saigon, the Gulf of Tonkin, Dien Bien Phu, Hue and My Lai. The most famous Vietnamese of all time, Ho Chi Minh, also thanks his celebrity in the West to this event. Not to mention countless Vietnam War movies. Even the Vietnamese new year Tet brings up associations with military battles.