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Asian Rudeness

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In Western Countries, stereotypical "Chinese Tourists" have a reputation for extreme rudeness. They talk loudly and sharply, come across as bossy and arrogant and impatient and aggressive, cut into or try to bypass queues, leave restaurant tables with a giant mess, or even vandalize historical artifacts.

This is in fact a relatively recent development (see also Hordes from the East, in which Mongols were seen as this by the Westerners). During the Imperial Era, China was referred to as the "land of ceremony and etiquette"—concepts which were exported to (and can still be found to some extent in) neighboring countries like Mongolia, Korea and Japan, although these are generally not as rigorously applied there as they were in China. Traditional Chinese etiquette was born out of centuries-old Chinese religious practices and Confucian doctrine, which are notoriously multi-tiered systems. However, as China was being torn apart by Western powers and Japan during the New Culture Movement, there was a dedicated effort to "modernize" the country. The results were an overthrow of the monarchy, an attempt at simplifying the Chinese writing system, and the abandonment of many Chinese cultural elements such as highly formalized speech, traditional Chinese clothing, Chinese superstitions, and coming-of-age ceremonies. This was further exacerbated by the Communist Cultural Revolution, which denounced these rules as relics of feudalism, and this trope was born as a result.

The concept of course does not apply only to the Chinese—but given that China is the dominant regional culture (largely a result of it being the most populous country in the world), the rest of Eastern Asia has subsequently been associated with such rudeness. Japan is the major exception; their people are known for strict adherence to etiquette, respect, and politeness in all situations. Although this was very much averted historically with both the Chinese and Koreans viewing the Japanese as rude and backwards, and the Japanese have been often portrayed as the Proud Warrior Race Guys even in modern stories thanks to Cyberpunk.

Some of this perceived "rudeness" comes from a linguistic Cross-Cultural Kerfluffle—speakers of Chinese and many Southeast Asian languages often find it natural to speak with a kind of pitch and tone contour that can come across as a bit strident or hectoring to speakers of non-tonal languages. Differing cultural notions of what is rude and what isn't don't help, either; Chinese Etiquette can be as foreign as the language, and may even make one come off as an Etiquette Nazi.

This trope is often Played for Laughs (with cultural posturing all too often a part of such humor), but can also be Played for Drama, especially among children of Asian immigrants growing up among these clashing cultures. It might even cause Stop Being Stereotypical. Can be seen in an Asian Store-Owner and can overlap with Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy, or (in Japanese media) Bokukko or even The Idiot from Osaka.

Common Western equivalents include the French Jerk and the "Ugly American" Stereotype, the American tourist (often in a Hawaiian shirt), businessperson, or bureaucrat who exhibits all the worst traits of the boorish variant of Eagleland when traveling abroad.

Contrast Japanese Politeness (although Japanese people are not always portrayed as polite) and Inscrutable Oriental (where the Asian is more of a pompous know-it-all).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, the Chinese characters Syaoran and Meiling act a lot ruder compared to the mostly nicer Japanese characters, at least at first. While Syaoran eventually softens up, Meiling never truly stops being snide and sarcastic, even post-Character Development. Despite being a Japanese work, the Chinese are still seen as foreigners in Japan, hence this trope being in effect in manga and anime.
  • In the English version of Hetalia: Axis Powers, China comes to a meeting of the Allies very late. He states that he was cooking and that:
    China: ...My cultural arrogance means I am neither sorry nor remorseful.

  • Jasper Carrott noted after a visit to Hong Kong that spoken Chinese could make "I love you and wish to have sex with you" sound like "I intend to wrap barbed wire round your testicles and pull it tight, then to batter you senseless with a concrete block." He suspected it would be impossible to express love or affection in Chinese — it wasn't that sort of language.
  • Margaret Cho does an impression of her mother that relies on this trope but tends to be decidedly affectionate. Most of her mother's brashness comes from trouble with the English Language (the only one Margaret speaks) and urgent concern for her daughter. In her rush to Mama Bearing, some things just come out wrong.
  • Stand-up comic John Pinette (who is quite fat) had a bit about being thrown out of an all-you-can-eat Chinese Buffet:
    You been here four hour!!! Why you been here four hour?! (owner's rage continues to rise as he tried to convince John to get out) ...You go home NOW!!!
  • Jimmy O. Yang mentions how during his time at ping pong camp, his dad tries to give a pep talk to him but still manages to insult him:
    Jimmy. Jimmy. You're going to play well, okay. Even though you slow, even though you weak, and you suck.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men: Sunfire started off a villain (albeit misled by his Evil Uncle), but even after he became heroic, he's still grouchy, short-tempered and outright racist. The march of Character Development changed a lot of this, though he's still not going to win personality competitions. Curiously enough, when his cousin Mariko first appeared, she said he'd always spoken of the X-Men with respect, when his last outing with them had him do nothing but complain the whole time. Can't win with that guy.

    Fan Works 
  • Claire from Ma Fille, who is Korean, becomes a smart-mouthed bully as she grows up, which causes her friendship with Katrina (the titular "fille") to crumble.
  • Harry Potter and Touken Ranbu characters accompanying him in Touken Danshi and The Order Of The Phoenix due to averting Japanese Politeness hard: they seem out to turn the entire British wizarding society against them. They ruthlessly demand special treatment for Harry, look down on British wizards, dismiss and insult them often, and even assault people for minor slights.

    Films — Animation 
  • Ming Lee from Turning Red falls into a lot of this trope for the stereotypical "helicopter parent", doing things ranging from spying on Mei at school and trying to fight with the security guard to causing a scene at Daisy Mart when she mistakes Mei's drawings of Devon, the clerk, for a sign that he's a groomer. Needless to say, her overly demanding and coddling behavior proves to be a constant source of embarrassment for Mei, which winds up inadvertently fueling her transformations.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Lois from Bad Santa snaps at everyone and never stops scowling.
  • Cold Pursuit: The main character's Asian sister-in-law levels a perpetual Death Glare at him when he visits his brother. However, since disaster immediately follows his visit, she might have cause.
  • The woman at the Chinese take out drive-thru in Dude, Where's My Car? impatiently asks "And then?" over and over again.
  • The Korean shopkeeper in Falling Down refuses to give Bill any change unless he buys something, and when his high prices won't leave Bill any change to make a phone call, the guy tells him to get lost. This is one of the first incidents that cause Bill to snap.
  • In Great White, Jijo is consistently obnoxious, opinionated, superior, demanding, and condescending from the moment he arrives, up until he accidentally causes Benny's death.
  • Zigzagged in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Evelyn is a very grumpy, disgruntled person to her family and customers. This mostly comes from her ongoing existential crisis and dissatisfaction with her own life choices. Over the film, as she confronts her relationship with the world, she softens to those around her. Her father Gong Gong is also generally a mean bastard. But he is surprisingly accepting of his granddaughter's sexuality. Completely averted with Waymond, Evelyn's All-Loving Hero husband.
  • Leslie Chow from The Hangover qualifies, as he has an aggressive attitude and tosses off insults quite freely.

  • "The Paper Menagerie": Jack's father tells his neighbors that his Chinese wife doesn't speak good English, and to not mistake her lack of fluency for rudeness.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Eddie Huang's bossy, overbearing mother Jessica on Fresh Off the Boat plays this trope for laughs.
    Jessica: I miss my friends from D.C. We had such nice conversations.
    (Gilligan Cut to Jessica and three other women screaming at each other in Taiwanese)
  • Frontier Circus: In "The Inheritance", a Japanese acrobat and judo expert joins the circus, and quickly alienates the rest of the troupe with his arrogance.
  • Mr. Kim from Kim's Convenience does mean well and makes an effort to be accommodating to his customers, but he's still bossy and grumpy. This is enough to make Gerald terrified of him at times, especially when he's being trained as the store's new part-time worker and can't do anything right with Mr. Kim around (contrast to when Mrs. Kim trains him and he does a spectacular job).
  • London Tipton from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody fits this bill, being the rich Spoiled Brat daughter of the hotel entrepreneur Mr. Tipton himself who constantly mocks those less fortunate than her (especially Maddie), is a narcissist who acts superior to others and tries to make everything about herself.
  • Played with on Las Vegas in the case of Polly the Korean manicurist. She's rude as anything, not because she's unusually bossy or callous, but because she doesn't hesitate to prattle on and on about her sex life in mixed company.
  • Miss Swan in MADtv (1995) demands to be let into a store past closing hours, refuses to cooperate with pretty much anyone, and loudly and casually makes derogatory remarks about gay people, calling them "monkey in the bush". The actress who plays Swan claims the character is based on her Hungarian grandmother, and the TV execs claim she is based on Bjork, so the "Asian" ethnicity is not solidified — but many suspect that these claims are to avoid accusations of yellowface and racism, rather than to provide insight for legitimate character background.
  • The Night Of has a theme of professionals being rude and callous toward others in various ways. The Asian herbalist is rude in a stereotypically Asian way. He's mostly silent, and when he does speak, it's in curt, blunt, and often rude statements. His accent isn't very strong, so it's not a case of him simply not being very proficient in English. That's just his personality.
  • Nowhere Boys: Andy's nainai.
  • Chang in Orange Is the New Black is definitely not interested in making friends with any of the other inmates.
  • Spoken of approvingly in an episode of QI. The characters discuss how unfortunate it is when job interviewers make applicants talk about how excited they'll be to get some menial service job and what they'll "bring to the company" — and how with that in mind, it's nicer to see people who look openly miserable with their jobs. Phill Jupitus says he and his friends used to go to a Chinese restaurant specifically because they were treated like shit there and found it hilarious, that one time they were interrupted mid-meal and told to move to another table on a different floor of the restaurant.
  • Samurai Gourmet is Japanese, but still manages to grab this trope because the "madam" of "The Demoness's Ramen" is a horrific Chinese lady. In fact, hers is the only meal of the series that Kasumi gets no pleasure from, and that's saying a lot.
  • Saturday Night Live has had some fun with this over the years.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Sumie Sakai (the one flipping off the camera) is an example of practicing foreign etiquette, supposedly. Or maybe she just has an odd sense of humor?
    "I'm Japanese! Of course I'm nice!"
  • Satoshi Kojima in Ring of Honor claimed he couldn't understand what the referee was trying to tell him (stop cheating) because "I'm Japanese, goddammit!"

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ninjas And Superspies by Palladium Books includes a section in the back detailing how locals in Asian countries will be rude and racist toward Western visitors. One wonders if the author Erick Wujcik had a bad experience on vacation.

  • Christmas Eve from Avenue Q is not so much rude as extremely blunt and loud. She will tell characters harsh truths to their faces rather than spare their feelings, which may or may not be a positive quality in her chosen field of being a therapist. She also openly criticizes her husband in public, though this may be because she is frustrated with his laziness and because she genuinely cares about helping him to follow his dreams. Strangely enough, she is actually an inversion of another trope seeing that she is Japanese.

    Video Games 

  • Tales Of A Gay Asian: Mr Bak-mei reminisces about being saved by Americans, only to hurl racial slurs when he sees they are Black. Both the old angry Asian man and blonde trans woman Sengchou (despite her whitewashed appearance) are weirded out by tanning and don't give White people eye contact. However, compared to Bak-mei, the latter's issues are mostly ego related, not racial.

    Web Original 
  • FAG: Occurs in Wiz War 100's parody video when he portrays an angry reviewer who bluntly curses and is rude to the viewers. He speaks in broken English, thereby making the rude character an Asian stereotype.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: Mrs. Zales is a foul-mouthed, bitchy middle-aged Korean woman. Her daughter, Mackenzie, is also an Alpha Bitch at her school.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!:
    • Francine's Asian adoptive parents mistreat Stan (a rare reversal where Stan is the victim of flaming Jerkassery instead of giving it). Subverted when they rescue Stan from a burning building.
    • Toshi regularly insults other characters. But since he speaks exclusively in Japanese, no one understands that he's being rude to them.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: Di Lung, Chinese inventor of Mecha Courage, is a first-class Jerkass, best epitomized by the following one-liner: "Watch where you're going, you fool!"
  • Family Guy:
    • Stewie recalls a Mall Santa who was Asian and unpleasantly rude.
    • Peter fights with Mr. Washee Washee, the Griffins' dry cleaner. Though while Mr. Washee Washee had every reason to be mad at Peter being his obnoxious jerkass self, he is also quite ill-tempered and violent.
    • The Chinese Trix ad had Chinese children refusing Trix cereal to the rabbit (also redone as Asian), with the rabbit declaring "YOU SHARE" and beats them up mercilessly before running off with the spoils.
  • Amy Wong in Futurama can be verbally disagreeable on occasion. Her parents, though, are just greedy Jerkass ultra-capitalists in the same vein as Mom. Given her ultra-bourgeois upbringing, Amy is more often simply a Genius Ditz Rich Bitch, becoming more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold over time.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Uncle is verbally caustic on a regular basis, even to his family, but there are occasions when he is extremely polite. Tohru's mother is also quite... acerbic, to say the least. It could simply be a case of Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior! in their cases, though.
  • Kahn and his family from King of the Hill, who are Laotian, abuse people verbally on a consistent basis. In Kahn's case, though, it's not a simple clash of cultures; he really is a Jerkass who openly insults his neighbors by calling them hillbillies. Although in later seasons he mellows out significantly and even becomes friends with Hank. It's also explained that he's bipolar and his rude personality is a side effect of his medication. Kahn's daughter Connie averts this trope. She is very polite and is frequently ashamed of her parents' rudeness (though she doesn't suffer fools gladly and can be pretty nasty to people who get on her bad side).
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Lê Chiến Kim, confirmed to be of Vietnamese extraction by the show's creator, is a downplayed example in the first season. He has occasional Jerk Jock moments such as bullying Ivan over his crush on Myléne or needlessly antagonizing the zookeeper's new panther. The second season largely drops these moments in favor of showing Kim as a cheerful Cloud Cuckoolander.
  • Robot Chicken: One skit shows Iron Man's metal-ness marching through metal tunnels, clearly wearing The Mandarin's patience thin.
  • In The Secret Saturdays, the family visits Japan and Kid Hero Zak tries to haggle with a street vendor over a V.V. Argost doll. The vendor smugly raises the price in response to every number he throws out, saying "My time is valuable and you are wasting it." Zak ends up begging him to stop and forking over a fistful of bills.
  • Cookie Kwan is a minor The Simpsons character — as she puts it, #1 on the West Side (although she also works on the East Side... but stay out of the West Side!). She's been a minor recurring character ever since this appearance. In "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish", the Simpsons decide to try out the Happy Sumo Japanese restaurant. As they enter the front door:
    Chefs: (holding up kitchen knives) IRASSHAIMASE!
    Simpson Family: AAAH!!
    Hostess: Please, do not be alarmed. Our chefs are just saying "Hello".
    Homer: Oh, okay. (to chefs) HELLO!
    Chefs: AAAH!!
  • According to the creators of Total Drama, Heather is Asian (technically half-Asian, since her dad's shown to be white). Also, there is a very good reason why her label is "The Queen Bee".

    Multiple Media 
  • Angry Little Asian Girl:
    • The titular girl Kim gets mad at pretty much everything and anything. She is never seen smiling and constantly talks in an angry tone. Gendy Alimurung of LA Weekly described Kim as a character who is "angry about boys... racism, sexism, fitting in, not fitting in, love, her hair, her depressed friend, perfect people, stupid people, blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, the weather, religion, apologies, her dolls and her mother."
    • Kim's mother, Mother Lee, is even worse, being an Obnoxious Entitled Housewife who talks angrily to her daughter all the time and wants her to not make friends and instead just focus on schoolwork.
    • Averted with Kim's Dad who is much more calm and soft-spoken compared to his wife and daughter.
  • Jurassic Park has two prominent examples: