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Overly Stereotypical Disguise

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Sometimes when a character has to use the art of disguise, they go too far. If they have to pose as a member of a certain minority group, they incorporate every stereotype of said group possible into their costume. Probably the best-known instance of this: The spy/secret agent who wears a grey trenchcoat and black hat (as an effort to "blend in" with the general populace) decades after these went out of fashion. Also frequently occurs when individuals must disguise themselves as the opposite gender.

Compare Culture Equals Costume.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In the Mickey Mouse story "Dalla parte sbagliata", Mickey tries to blend in in a Banana Republic. Cue a panel of him walking around in a Mexican poncho while spouting stereotypical Mexican phrases, all while passers-by look at him in confusion.
  • In the Tintin comics, bumbling detectives Thomson and Thompson often attempt to go undercover by wearing ridiculously stereotypical disguises of whatever country they're in.
    • The Blue Lotus has them dress up in garish Qing-era garb (complete with pigtails) on a visit to Shanghai in the 1930s. They end up with a large crowd of people pointing and laughing at them.
    • Destination Moon has them wearing traditional ceremonial garb while undercover in Syldavia. As it turns out, they're wearing Greek costumes anyway.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet has Nick Carter, the most famous American detective, traveling to Prague to solve a case. His attempt to stay under the radar of the local press however fails miserably as he is dressed up in a Bohemian peasant's costume with bagpipes and all which makes him stick out like a sore thumb.
  • Back to the Future:
    • Marty falls into this trap with the "something inconspicuous" outfit he bought with Doc's money in Back to the Future Part II. The leather jacket and Sunglasses at Night would've been conspicuous enough, but then he tops it off with a nice trilby hat, which was not considered casual headwear and normally only worn with a suit in the '50s.
    • Marty's flamboyant cowboy attire in Back to the Future Part III, which he does lampshade, but (1950s) Doc insists is fine to wear (note that westerns were huge in 1955, but historical accuracy in westerns was not). Marty switches to more reasonable clothes as soon as he can.
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Baron's two spies attempt to blend in as Englishmen by putting on plaid coats, deerstalker caps, holding a pipe aloft, and calling each other "Basil". A nearby family sees them pass and looks at each other in confusion.
  • Admiral General Aladeen in The Dictator dresses head to toe in the American flag posing as an American tourist during a helicopter tour scene, where he and his cohort are Mistaken for Terrorist.
  • In The Hebrew Hammer, the main character and his love interest try to arrest the Big Bad at a Kmart by posing as a Gentile couple, complete with Southern accents, Christian paraphernalia, and American flags.
  • In High Anxiety, Richard is wanted for murder and he and Victoria need to bypass airport security, so they disguise themselves as a loud, bickering elderly Jewish couple. Their reasoning is that the louder and more obnoxious they are, the more they'll be ignored.
  • The Pink Panther: In Revenge of the Pink Panther, Inspector Clouseau goes undercover in Hong Kong in Yellowface, eye makeup for slanted eyes, a Fu Manchu mustache, a rice paddy hat, and a Qipao, while all the ordinary citizens around him wear business suits.
  • Gene Wilder's pathetic attempt to pass for African-American in the movie Silver Streak. The script called for a black patron to walk in and be fooled by the disguise, but Richard Pryor wisely convinced the filmmakers to show the guy clearly not buying it for a second.
  • In xXx, a spy dresses up in a tuxedo to blend in at the "Monte Carlo Club" which turns out to be a punk rock nightclub.
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    Literature 
  • In Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, a prolonged scene with the President and a staff full of political caricatures includes a "Chief Spy" with "a false moustache, a false beard, false eyelashes, false teeth and a falsetto voice" while in the office. It kind of seems better suited to how the book was eventually adapted as a stage play.
  • Discworld, Jingo:
    • Sergeant Colon does this in a downright racist manner (as well as Malaproper, calling the Klatchians "brothers of the dessert" rather than the desert and asking "Had any baksheesh lately?"), to the point that onlookers assume he's a spy for a country other than the one he seems to be from, since no actual spy would be so obvious. And especially Ankh-Morpork, being a Proud Merchant Race run by a Magnificent Bastard, would never send such an idiot.
    • 71-Hour Ahmed in the same book does this brilliantly. He keeps doing stereotypically "Klatchian" things (like offering to buy someone's wife for twenty camels) and speaking Morporkian badly, with a thick accent. It turns out that not only is he the police chief of Al-Khali, he was educated in the Assassins' Guild school and speaks Morporkian perfectly when he wants to. He actually puts on a slight Morporkian accent in Klatchian just to mess with people.
    • In Moving Pictures the Wizards of the Unseen University do this by disguising themselves as Wizards. Specifically they put some conspicuous wire in their beards, which convinces everyone else that they were locals in ridiculous Wizard disguises. This allows them to attend the Moving Pictures show "incognito".
  • In The Man Who Was Thursday, the anarchist Lucian Gregory repeatedly tries to infiltrate respectable society by disguising himself as a priest, a capitalist, or a military man. It fails each time because, as he was raised on anarchist propaganda, he acts like an over-the-top strawman of these groups.
    Gregory: When first I became one of the New Anarchists I tried all kinds of respectable disguises. I dressed up as a bishop. I read up all about bishops in our anarchist pamphlets, in Superstition the Vampire and Priests of Prey. I certainly understood from them that bishops are strange and terrible old men keeping a cruel secret from mankind. I was misinformed. When on my first appearing in episcopal gaiters in a drawing-room I cried out in a voice of thunder, "Down! down! presumptuous human reason!" they found out in some way that I was not a bishop at all. I was nabbed at once. Then I made up as a millionaire; but I defended Capital with so much intelligence that a fool could see that I was quite poor. Then I tried being a major. Now I am a humanitarian myself, but I have, I hope, enough intellectual breadth to understand the position of those who, like Nietzsche, admire violence — the proud, mad war of Nature and all that, you know. I threw myself into the major. I drew my sword and waved it constantly. I called out "Blood!" abstractedly, like a man calling for wine. I often said, "Let the weak perish; it is the Law." Well, well, it seems majors don't do this. I was nabbed again.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Funky Squad, one of the square cops attempts to pass himself off as a hippy by dressing as a cop's stereotype of a hippy. Not helped by the fact that he arrives driving a police car where he has crudely painted over the word "Police" on the door so it reads "Peace".
  • The Goodies attempt to pass themselves off as Scottish is so over-the-top that the Scot they are trying to fool declares that they must be English tourists.
  • Private Schulz is sent to infiltrate Britain wearing plus fours. It's only after he's been put on the plane that his superiors ask if they still wear plus fours in 1940s wartime Britain. This and a few other blunders (like asking for a coffee in a British pub) soon give him away and the police are soon on the lookout for "the man in the plus fours" as a suspected German spy.
  • The Sarah Silverman Program played with this. Sarah argued with a black man that being Jewish is harder than being black, and the two agreed to go through one day as the other ethnicity for a day to test it. Sarah dressed up in a horribly stereotypical and offensive way, receiving very unpleasant remarks, thinking they actually thought she was black and their responses were genuine racism. When she met the man in the usual spot she and the gang get their coffee and said that she agreed that being black was harder, the black man said he realised being Jewish was actually harder. He was wearing a yarmukle, peot, a long false nose, and a shirt saying 'I <3 Money'. The man left the place as the two exchanged suspicious looks.
  • Soap: In the fourth season, Burt and Danny decided to go undercover at a brothel to weed out organized crime in their town. After Burt forbids Danny from dressing like a pirate, Danny arrives at the sting dressed in a ridiculously offensive "Chinese man" costume.
  • Supernatural. In "Frontierland" Sam and Dean have to travel back to 1861 Wyoming. Aware that Dean is a massive Western fan, Sam reluctantly wears the clothes he's picked out for them, which sure enough don't resemble what everyone else is wearing. It's not that which gives them away however, but the fact that their clothes are unusually clean for strangers who supposedly just rode into town.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Team America: World Police has a funny subversion. The main character's job is to infiltrate a Muslim terrorist group. He simply wraps a towel around his head, superglues hair to his face, and says, "Dirka dirka Muhammed Jihad." It works.

    Video Games 
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Raiden's idea of an authentic civilian disguise while in Mexico is a gaudy mariachi sombrero and poncho draped over his completely unaltered cyborg body, not to mention his high-tech car and Bladewolf. The first two locals he sees are more perplexed by the bizarre attempt at blending in than anything.

    Web Original 
  • Exaggerated twice over in this video from The Onion, where investigative reporter Gavin Fisher decides the best way to infiltrate the underground Chinese bootleg market is to disguise himself wearing not only stereotypical Chinese clothes but also wearing comically round glasses and a fake buck teeth, complete with a terrible accent. Everyone is either not fooled or offended by it. When that didn't work, he tries again by crossdressing as a Asian hooker.

    Western Animation 
  • In the "Honey Pot" episode of Archer, Sterling Archer attempts to seduce a gay man by dying his hair blond and wearing roller skates, skin-tight short shorts, and a shirt that says "Got Dick?"
  • Family Guy:
    • Peter Griffin gets beat up after trying to disguise himself as a Jew and doing this trope.
    • In another episode, Peter infiltrates one of Meg's dates dressed in stereotypical Chinese garb, complete with buck teeth and paddy hat.
  • South Park. Cartman pulls this twice:
    • He goes undercover with Butters into a Chinese restaurant wearing a dǒulì, false buck teeth, and slanty eyes so that he can get secret plans for PRC world domination.
    • He also acts like a stereotype of retarded people to get into the Special Olympics — he loses so badly that he's given the Medal of Dishonor for it.

    Real Life 

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