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Overseas products and works have a (sometimes unfair) reputation of being utter crap, as they tend to have looser (or nonexistent) quality assurance standards, are made by underpaid, overworked laborers, and are composed of even cheaper raw materials. Depending on the time period, the country in question will shift, but it's generally a Second/Third world country. People from these countries often joke about their products as a form of Self-Deprecation.

On the other hand, certain countries boast high quality products stemming from their superior work ethic and/or starting materials (only the best, hand-picked Whatevers for Product Awesome).

A Sub-Trope of Public Medium Ignorance. The Super-Trope to Operator From India.

Examples of "Country X Art Ghetto"


In-Universe Examples

Advertisment

  • Ads for Discover credit cards depict their competitors' customer service support office (USA Prime Credit) as being in Ruritania staffed by one guy who claims to be "Peggy" and considers a room full of phones on hold to be "beautiful".

Film

 1955 Doc: No wonder this circuit failed. It says, "Made in Japan."

Marty: What do you mean, Doc? All the best stuff is made in Japan.

1955 Doc: Unbelievable.

    • This is a great example, because in the 50's, Japanese goods really were some of the lowest quality/cheapest goods on the marketplace (much like Chinese goods today). All that changed from the 60's into the 80's, of course, as Marty points out.
  • Son of the Mask: Loki constantly searches both in the Mask Meuseum in Edge City & in every store & house in Fringe City for the Green God-Mask. Every mask he finds are only exotic fake replicas with the engraved words:"Made In Pakistan", The real God- Had a mind of it's own.

Live Action TV

  • In The IT Crowd, Moss' fire extinguisher catches on fire as he attempts to use it. He wonders why and then sees the 'made in Britain' label — of course.
  • Outsourced (TV series) - It's about a customer service department based in India, and much of the humor lies in the culture shock that its American manager faces on a daily basis.

Newspaper Comics

  • Dilbert has the (fictional) country of Elbonia, home of crappy products and even crappier customer support.
    • This is saying something, considering how bad the products and services from Dilbert's own company are and how they are implied to get away with it because the competitors are just as bad. So for there to be a country that makes even worse products...

Video Games

  • An early case in LA Noire has somebody insulting a jewelry shop owner by claiming that all of his wares are made in Japan, and thus cheap, nickel-plated crap.

Western Animation

  • Bender from Futurama proudly shows the Hecho en Mexico label on his compartment door... which then falls off.
    • "Enjoy your affordable Swedish crap."
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Marge is in a store looking at a set of kitchen knives. When she notices that the label says "Made in USA", she decides against buying it.
    • A recent Simpsons Couch Gag, created by the famed graffiti artist Banksy, featured workers in a Chinese sweatshop toiling away to make merchandise and DVD sets. Can be seen here.
    • The Simpsons seems to like this gag. In another episode, when Homer is shopping for a new car and looking at a particularly crappy one, he asks the salesman what country it was made in, only to be told that said country no longer exists. This was more of a specific jab at the Yugo than at foreign products in general, though.

Web Original

  • Homestar Runner In the Strong Bad Email "licensed", one of the requirements of becoming an officially licensed unlicensed seller of Shoddy Knockoffs of Strong Bad merchandise is that the country of manufacture has to have changed names five times since Strong Bad was in seventh grade.

Real Life Examples

Food and Drink

  • American beer is also seen as crap around the world, by people who know their beer. For a long time, it was also seen as crap in America, but the increasing prominence of craft brews in the American market is changing some minds.
    • So is coffee for European tourists in America.
    • Russian beer is seen as A Tankard of Moose Urine in Russia itself. Nobody in the other countries wants to import it.
  • Many tourists are surprised that domestic products that are seen as horrific in their own country are well-known in other areas, i.e. many Americans find it hilarious that Budweiser is advertised as "the" American beer, and Australians feel the same about Foster's.
  • And, quite ironically, Budweiser originates from Budweis (or České Budějovice), in the Czech Republic. And Czech beer is generally regarded as very decent (as long as it is fresh from the tap).
  • Any Dutchman will tell you that Gouda that isn't made in the Netherlands is crap and tastes like plastic.

Other

  • Chinese products, obviously. Many people tend to treat the words "Made in China" as a warning label for poor quality. In particular, Chinese food products (as well as stuff like toothpaste) have a nasty reputation for being tainted with stuff that you don't want in your, your baby's, or your pet's body.
  • Prior to The Sixties, it was stuff made in Taiwan or Japan.
  • In the 1920s and early 1930s, when Richard Adams was growing up, Made In Germany was considered this.
  • Bad customer/tech support is often joked/portrayed as coming from India (if you're American, British or Australasian) or Eastern Europe (if you're European, although Europeans also get a lot of awful calls from India too).
  • Even American products aren't immune to this; for a very long time after The Seventies, Detroit cars were seen as crap (but see below for a major exception). It's only been very recently that this has changed. Ditto for British volume-produced cars.
    • The automobile industry is simply awash in this trope, but usually inverted, with companies producing elegant luxury goods outside their home region and more modest products within. In the United States, German companies are known for producing dazzling luxury cards, VW withstanding. And then you see this rolling down a dirt path in Afghanistan. Aside from the occasional sports car, Ford in the US means either trucks or modest sedans. Australia and Europe have models like this. Here are a few more American cars Americans in the States don't get to buy. And while many Europeans would think nothing of it, Americans may be surprised to see Mercedes buses. Japan is a notable exception, with relatively few European or American high end luxury models but fleets and fleets of practical consumer cars.
      • And now Chrysler is trying to invoke and invert this, starting with an ad spot featuring Eminem during the 2011 Super Bowl: 'Imported from Detroit'.
    • British cars produced en masse cranked this trope Up to Eleven in the 1970s, and never fully recovered. Before then, they were among the world's best. See also the True Art Is Made in Country X below.



Examples of "True Art is Made In Country X"

In-Universe Examples

  • Car manufacturers from Germany often boast "German Engineering".
    • Parodied in the Volkswagen "Unpimp my ride" commercials.
  • Pace picante sauce commercial: "Pace is made in San Antonio... by folks that know what picante sauce is supposed to taste like." / "This stuff's made in New York City."[1]
    • In the original commercial the line was "New Jersey", but they changed it to NYC... because Pace's competitor Ortega is based in New Jersey.
    • Ironically, NYC has a substantial Mexican population, making said commercial... a little unfair. Also, Pace has been owned for several years by Campbell Soup...which is also based in New Jersey.
  • The "Made in America" logo in ads, though that one tends to be less a boast of quality and more an appeal to patriotism.
    • "Made In Australia" logos are meant to be both a boast and an appeal to patriotism, especially when related to food.
  • Coffee producers often boast that their beans come from Colombia.
  • Fruits sold in the U.S. often advertise that they are from one of the U.S. states that usually produce that fruit. For example, "Florida oranges" and "California oranges."
  • The advertisement for Shamwow.

 Vince Offer: Made in Germany. You know the Germans always make good stuff.

Live Action TV

  • In one episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, the highest-falutin' grand dame from back home came to visit and critique the Clampetts' lifestyle. She was slightly impressed with the antiques that the Clampetts had in their house, which came from England and France; but her antiques came from even farther away — Japan. Cue Laugh Track.

Video Games

  • According to Team Fortress 2 supplemental material, Australia discovered "Australium" in the 19th century, causing all the men (and women) there to grow handlebar mustaches and rocketing Australia to a leading position in technological progress.

Webcomics

  • In Achewood, anything labeled "Hecho en Mexico" will manifest "Mexican Magical Realism", which can be as elaborate as Time Travel or as simple as a van where it rains on the inside.

Western Animation

  • In The Simpsons, Lisa never dreamed of Homer's American loaner car designed in Germany, assembled in Mexico from the parts from Canada could be so amazing.

Real Life Examples

Food and Drink

  • Scotch (Scottish) whisky.
  • Swiss or Belgian chocolate.
  • Belgian or German beer.
  • Danish bacon.
  • Danish butter cookies. (you know, the tins for Christmas)
  • French Wine used to be undisputed greatest, but has lost a lot of ground in the last 15-20 years to upstart "New World" wines from the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Nonetheless, lesser wine-growing countries like England or Austria will usually hold blind taste tests against French, rather than Australian or Californian, vintages to prove they can make good wine.
  • Similarly, French cookery used to be the absolute pinnacle of culinary achievement and French restaurants the height of sophistication. Although this is less the case now, you still find that the menus in any high-class restaurant of other cuisines frequently describe dishes using French terms; jus, timbale, coulis, entree. Of course, part of this is that the French were the first nation associated with international "cuisine", so they called naming rights, like musical notation all being Italian.
    • These days, it tends to be Italian cooking that's on the pedestal instead as they prefer simple flavourful "peasant food" over fussy sauces and preparations.
      • In part this is because Italian food does lend itself well to lower-class cooking; it's next to impossible to find a French-style restaurant in the US that's not ultrafancy, while you can find restaurants and bistros for most any other food style.
  • This extends to products named after a region of origin and known for their quality; appellation laws permit such products to be thusly named only if they're genuinely made there. You can't call it Champagne, Parmesan or Scotch unless it's actually from there.
    • Not all appellation laws apply internationally; the above is the case within the EU but in America "California champagne" widely sold as such and Parmesan is domestic by default.
      • That's because the authentic Parmesan is called Parmigiano-Reggiano. Knock off brands will still use "Parmesan."
  • Italian olive oil is treated like this, though an awful lot of the famous firms buy their oil from other countries in bulk quantities (usually Greece or Spain).
    • Similarly, many pasta manufacturers now buy their wheat from the U.S. (North Dakota specifically), but they continue to use Italian imagery because it sells better.
  • Prestigious American microbreweries like North Coast Brewing Co. and Dogfish Head are all the rage among (American) beer snobs.
    • This also rings true of craft beers in other New World nations like Australia and New Zealand.
  • While the status of Canadian technology and manufacture goods is dubious, the quality of a natural resource is generally assured when you're told that it was grown, mined, raised, et cetera, in Canada. This is mostly because Canada is the most developed of the world's various resource-rich nations, with much stricter quality control policies than almost anywhere else.
    • Ores refined in Canada are generally regarded as incredibly pure. The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf is the purest form of gold in the world.
    • Canadian fish is generally touted on menus; especially freshwater fish, salmon or cod, as is Canadian livestock, as most stock is grain-fed, rather than corn-fed, which most agree tastes better.
    • The quality of Canadian resources has been celebrated since the nation's inception. The whole country was basically founded on the quality of Canadian beaver pelts, turned into fancy hats, and later, Canadian trees were said to form every mast in the British navy.

Automobiles

  • Vehicles from Australia, especially four-wheel drive trucks or sport utility trucks, are generally described as being made to survive "harsh Australian conditions". All the deadly animals and so forth.
  • In an inversion of the situation with all other consumer autos, most Americans won't take a truck seriously if it's made by a Japanese automaker. To them, the only real trucks are made by Ford, GM and Chrysler -- or rather, one of those three, depending on who you ask.
    • Ironically, the Toyota Tundra is built in Texas while the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra are built mainly in Guadalajara, Mexico.
  • Japanese cars have long been seen as being built at an untouchable standard of quality, although the scandal over the Toyota recall (and previously the Mitsubishi defects issue) has tarnished this image. Japanese (and Korean) cars also have a reputation of being prime targets of theft since they tend to use parts that also fit into other makes and models.
    • There was a big issue over whether the first American-built Japanese brand cars in the 1980s would maintain their quality. It turned out the real problem wasn't American workers, it was American car company management.
  • In America, this applies to German and British luxury cars and Italian sports cars.
  • British cars were this before the 1960s, when most of them came under the British Leyland umbrella. See also Country X Art Ghetto section above.

Other

  • German and Japanese products. The cars in particular.
    • For photographers, all the best stuff is Made in Germany or Made in Japan. The knock-offs of the German stuff are made in Russia (for some very interesting reasons pertaining to the end of World War II), and the knock-offs of the Japanese stuff (including many many store-brand cameras using lens mounts varyingly similar to the Pentax K-Mount) tend to be Made in China. For what amazing photography innovations is America known? Disposable cameras.
      • Note that bullet point applies only to still photography. The US has always been a major innovator of film and video equipment.
    • Granted, disposables probably extended the use of film as an amateur/consumer medium by at least five years...
  • Many companies tell us that some food product or piece of technology is from a random European country (often Italy or Belgium for food, and Germany for technology) without any indication of why this is supposed to be a good thing. For instance, a Home Hardware commercial that advertises knives made of "German steel".
    • "German steel" probably refers to the area around the city of Solingen, where high-quality knifes and related steel products have been made for hundreds of years.
  • This also goes for the firearms industry. Some weapons are touted as having "European ergonomics." This is often a reference to shaped grips, stocks, and hand-guards, despite many European guns having down right horrible ergonomics or minimalist designs.
  • A UK advert for "caffeine shampoo" (??) proclaims itself as "German Engineering For Your Hair", and tells you pretty much nothing about what it is (beyond being caffeinated shampoo, and being German) or why you would want it.
  • Britain may be well the first country one thinks of upon the mention of 'Commandos' (being the first country to form such units).
  • The Swiss and clocks (the cuckoo clock may be the only thing they ever invented, but damn they do it well...) And of course, Harry Lime forgot to mention pocket knives.
  • Cuban cigars, though other nations are starting to catch up.
  • Egyptian cotton.
  • A Video Gaming example: Up until about two years ago when MadCatz made serious use of fan input to create their products, Hori corporation of Japan's Fighting Game arcade joysticks were considered the top of the line product for serious players, and if you bought anything else, you might as well just throw it in the garbage. Of course, the reason MadCatz's sticks are considered good is because they are fitted with Japanese Sanwa parts, which might be getting a bit meta...
  • Japanese Anime and Manga.
  • American films and cartoons.
  • British comedies and music.
  • "Made in New Mexico", for silver/turquoise jewelry assumed to be made by Native Americans.
  • The high-end bicycle market is split between Japan (components,) America (Mountain, BMX, and hand-built steel frames,) and Italy (racing bikes.) Anything actually made in those countries is high dollar, but most brands also manufacture in China and Taiwan.
  • Dutch bikes are considered a guarantee for quality in the parts of Germany that border to the Netherlands. They can be identified by the chain guard that goes all around the chain.

Notes

  1. "NEW YORK CITY?!"
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