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Misaimed Stereotyping

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The thing about stereotypes is that they reduce the amount of thinking and effort required. You can get an (admittedly sketchy) overview of an entire culture by absorbing a few ideas rather than doing an in-depth study. However, this sometimes encourages so little thinking that people can't even be bothered getting the stereotype right.

This isn't about the fact that stereotypes are often wrong because they over-simplify things. This is about times when someone makes a comment referring to a character's stereotype, when in fact the stereotype doesn't apply to that character at all.

For example, saying "Hey, kilt-boy!" to a Scotsman at least makes sense. It's probably inaccurate since most Scotsmen don't wear kilts most of the time, but at least the person has correctly identified the Scotsman's nationality and referenced a piece of clothing originating from that nation. However, it would be misaimed if they said it to an Englishman, or had said "Hey, baguette-boy!" to the Scotsman.

Compare Mistaken Nationality, Mistaken Ethnicity, and Interchangeable Asian Cultures. See also Insult Backfire, which usually follows instances of this trope.

This trope can happen when Cultural Blending (e.g. Spexico, Scot Ireland, Mayin Catec, Ancient Grome) happens in a character's head rather than the creator's.


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    Films — Animated 
  • In Inside Out, Anger blames San Francisco for ruining pizza, followed by the Hawaiians, even though Hawaiian pizza is Canadian.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • How High: Silas and Jamal mistake Wu-Tang Clan as "that Chinese shit" before showing they prefer rap.
  • Transformers has this exchange while household objects are being turned into robots using the All Spark:
    Agent Simmons: [looks at a Nokia phone] Ooh. Nokias are real nasty. You've gotta respect the Japanese. They know the way of the samurai...
    Maggie Madsen: Nokia's from Finland.
    Keller: Yes, but he's, you know, a little strange. He's a little strange.
  • In Swordfish, the FBI agent does this to a Finnish hacker when his lawyer points out that his crimes are not recognised in Finland: "Do you see a Finnish flag hanging on the wall, IKEA boy?". The hacker then gets two up on them by 1) pointing out that IKEA is Swedish, and 2) revealing that he actually understands English and was just messing with them.
  • In Super Troopers, several mildly racist comments are made to Ramathorn mostly about him being African or Mexican when he is in fact of Indian descent.
  • In Dumb and Dumber, Lloyd meets a woman who says she's from Austria. He responds "Well, then. G'day mate! Let's put another shrimp on the barbie!". This would require a few more letters in the country name.
  • Will Smith's lawyer character in Enemy of the State is called a "shyster" by another character. Smith's character claims "shyster" is mainly a term of derision for Jewish lawyers, and in his case, the correct slur is "eggplant". In truth, this claim is both wrong and irrelevant.
  • In Murder by Death, Milo Perrier responds to being called Frenchie with "I'm not a Frenchie, I'm a BELGIE!". Though interestingly (at another point in the movie) he says "Never underestimate a Frenchman's nostrils" in reference to himself.

    Live-Action TV 
  • There was an episode of Flight of the Conchords which involved a vendor who hated people from New Zealand. When asked for reasons why, he began describing Australians. The main characters corrected him and he apologized (and began hating Australia instead).
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Watergate", Sam and Daniel are with a Russian aboard her sub. It starts to leak, but Markov is having trouble repairing it:
    Jackson: Well given the obvious solid craftsmanship that went into this thing. I don't see how this could have possibly happened.
    Markov: If you're implying that everything Russian made is poor quality, actually the sub is Swiss.
    Jackson: So it occasionally catches fire but keeps perfect time?
  • From the CSI: Miami episode "Death Grip":
    Delko: Oh, come on, Calleigh... You want any real attention in this world, you got to have blonde hair and blue eyes. No offense.
    Calleigh: None taken. My eyes are green.
  • Seinfeld: George's mother takes some advice not to file for divorce from Jerry's Girl of the Week whose last name is Chang. Mrs. Costanza later rejects the advice because she was under the impression that Chang was Chinese, but she isn't. (It was shortened from Changstien.)
    Estelle: I thought you were Chinese!!
    Donna: I'm from Long Island.
    Estelle: Long Island?!?! I thought I was gettin' advice from a Chinese woman!!
    Donna: I'm sorry..?
    Estelle: Well! Then, that changes everything!
    George: What?!
    Estelle: She's not Chinese; I was duped!!
    George: So what?! She gave you advice; what's the difference if she's not Chinese?!?!
    Estelle: I'm not taking advice from some girl from Long Island!

    Web Comics 
  • In Panthera, Kira (who's Korean) often faces stereotypes meant for other Asian ethnicities.
    Kira: *thinking*' Aaand 0 for 3 on the ethnic slurs. When did this country's quality drunken racists go so wrong?
  • Spinnerette: In the fight at the Large Hadron Collider during the Multiverse Arc, the '90s version of Spinnerette confuses Swiss hero William Tell with a Swede.
    '90s!Spinnerette: Die, you Ikea-making troll!
    William Tell: Those are Swedish stereotypes! I'm Swiss. We are completely different!

    Web Original 
  • Gary: Landlord of the Flies: When Gabe comes to Gary with an Indian friend of his, Gary insults him by calling him a "spic"... a racial slur for Italian people. Much to Gary's frustration, both of them find it hilarious instead of offensive.
    "Wrong ethnicity, but I guess itís the spirit that counts."
  • Any number of Anglophone memes about Russian names being full of Ch\Zh\Sh sounds (which would be slightly more relevant to Czech \ Polish names.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy:
    • Played for laughs in one episode when Peter disparages Joe for being handicapped:
      Joe: We handicapped are a proud people!
      Peter: Yeah, when you're not drinking and smoking on your reservations, which we gave you!
    • Peter does this a lot. Another time, he claims that homosexual men "are a very clean people, and they have been ever since they came to this country from France."
  • King of the Hill:
    • In the first episode, Hank and Dale are working on Hank's truck.
      Dale: You know what the problem is? It's a Ford. You know what Ford stands for? Fix It Again Tony.
      Hank: [annoyed] Dale, that's a Fiat.note 
    • At the end of another episode, Bill, who cuts hair at the army base, corrects a recruit who moans about being made a jarhead. "Jarhead is the Marines. You're a grunt."
  • On the South Park episode "Weight Gain 3000", Cartman teases Stan about Wendy's report on dolphins.
    Cartman: If they're so smart, why do they live in igloos?
    Kyle: That's not dolphins, that's Eskimos!
    Cartman: Dolphins, Eskimos, it's all a bunch of tree-hugging hippie crap.
Later, Wendy finds her report with a note from Mr. Garrison saying the same thing.
  • Drawn Together: When Spanky gets downloaded with a virus and finds out video game characters have great insurance, Xandir agrees to marry him. Clara gets the authorities involved (she's homophobic, but they're only concerned about the fake marriage) and insist they consummate the marriage and prove they're gay by doing the hat dance. Spanky points out that Mexicans do the hat dance, gays do butt sex. When Clara challenges him to have sex with Xandir, he realizes he should have let the misconception stand.

Alternative Title(s): Misaimed Stereotype