WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
"From the number of cannibal village chiefs with Oxford or Harvard degrees, I'd say someone better investigate what they teach in law school".
Recon 5

Named for a line spoken by North Korean villain Colonel Moon in the James Bond movie Die Another Day, this refers to Western (often Oxbridge or Ivy League) educated foreign characters who are encountered by Westerners. Whether heroic or evil, a typical plot is for them to either be assumed to be an "ignorant native" or else use Obfuscating Stupidity as a Fauxreigner before revealing their education to Western characters.

Also frequent is a comment to the effect that while they gained skills from this education, something they experienced added to their revulsion for the West, whether it was unpleasant aspects of Western culture in general or the fact that the Westerners were racist toward the character (the latter is especially common in works taking place in time periods when racism was still acceptable).

May employ a Completely Unnecessary Translator.

Examples of Majored in Western Hypocrisy include:


  • Subverted in the Keith Giffen era of the Justice League. The noble savages of Kooey Kooey Kooey send a promising son to the mainland to learn at Oxford -- because they want to modernize the island. They embrace Western Culture as soon as possible.
  • Lawrence in the Rogues' "New Year's Evil" story is the demon-summoning nephew of a modern-day Asian warlord and has an Oxford education.

Films -- Live-Action

 Colonel Moon: I know all about the UN. I studied at Oxford and Harvard. Majored in Western hypocrisy.

  • In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Chattar Lal, prime minister to the Maharaja of Pankot, attended Oxford.
  • Night at the Museum : The Mummy, though, of course, he couldn't have actually studied there -- instead, his knowledge comes from being kept at the Cambridge Egyptology department.
  • In The Mask of Fu Manchu, it is mentioned that Fu Manchu has a doctorate of philosophy from Edinburgh, a doctorate in law from Christ's College, and a doctorate in medicine from Harvard.


  • James Bond series
  • Fu Manchu is one of the earliest examples.
  • Axis of Time: The monstrous Hideki.
  • Jingo by Terry Pratchett: 71-Hour Ahmed plays up his foreignness, but was educated at the Assassin's Guild, the closest thing to a posh British public school on the Disc. He plays up his education in Klatch, for pretty much the same reason he plays up the Klatchian stereoptype in Ankh-Morpork.
  • Flashman and the Tiger: Flashman encounters the son of a Rupert of Hentzau Expy who describes public schools as having conditions worse than Siberia but helping to toughen him up to take on Englishmen; also, there is a character in Flashman's Lady who is an English-educated Barbary pirate.
  • Babar may be a colonial allegory, with the Elephant King representing Western-educated leaders are looked upon favorably by European powers (in this case France).
  • Evelyn Waugh's novel Black Mischief has the Emperor Seth of the fictional African country Azania, who includes among his numerous titles a bachelor of arts degree at Oxford. The character is an interesting combination of strawman liberal, Well-Intentioned Extremist and Tragic Hero.
  • Frederick Forsyth's novel The Dogs of War is kind of on the Unfortunate Implications side, as there is an Oxbridge educated African leader who is one of the few honorable African characters in the book, with both sides of a civil war being portrayed as a bunch of savages. He represents a third group of people and eventually takes power, allowing for a somewhat optimistic ending.
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne: Captain Nemo; whether a Pole or Indian Prince, he is definitely steeped in Western culture, ironically enough, the same culture he is at war with.

 "You're an engineer, then, Captain Nemo?"

"Yes, professor," he answered me. "I studied in London, Paris, and New York back in the days when I was a resident of the Earth's continents."

  • Invoked in Dorothy L. Sayers' Have His Carcase. When Lord Peter Wimsey, Harriet Vane, and the local policeman all hear a story revolving about an Indian rajah who allegedly did not know about banknotes, the policeman objects: what sort of Indian rajah would not know about banknotes? Why, many of them had been educated at Oxford.
  • Doctor Dolittle series: Crown Prince Bumpoo of the African nation of Jolliginki. Of course, while he likes studying at Oxford (except for math, which he hates, and the silly European habit of wearing those ghastly shoes all the time) it has mostly succeeded in turning him into an Upperclass Twit and an Ethnic Scrappy.
  • Tir Ram, the ruler of a fictional Indian state in the Virgin New Adventures Sherlock Holmes crossover All-Consuming Fire.

 Holmes: I am honoured to meet your Highness. May I compliment you upon your excellent grasp of our clumsy tongue.

Tir Ram: I was at Eton and Cambridge, Mr Holmes. I even speak Hindi with an accent now.

  • In the Lord Darcy novel A Study In Sorcery, some Native American warriors deliver a note to the Angevin camp by tying it to an arrow fired into the officers' tent. The attached message ends with the signature of a tribal leader, Laughs-Last, complete with the initials for his Oxbridge-awarded graduate degree.

Live-Action TV

  • Yes Minister : A humorous version was used where Hacker sees a news story on the new dictator of an African country and immediately recognizes him as a schoolfriend who also attended the London School of Economics -- prestigious but not quite Oxbridge. Given that the show is on the cynical side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, the (admittedly amusing) casual racism of the British characters is complemented by the obvious corruption of the African character.
    • YMMV. He's not presented as being corrupt, just as manipulative as any successful politician. Part of the joke of the episode is that the British characters were expecting to deal with an uneducated dictator and end up being outplayed at their own political game.
  • An episode of Jeeves and Wooster where Bertie blacks up and attempts caveman-speak to impersonate a visiting African chief is arguably saved from cringeworthiness when the real chief shows up and turns out to have been educated in England and be better-spoken than Bertie. I say, not that being better spoken than Bertie Wooster is much of a feat, mind you.
  • MASH: This happened a few times, generally with the Korean/Chinese/whichever doctor getting the better of obnoxious racist Frank Burns. One of them had even gone to Colonel Blake's alma mater.
  • Referenced in Blackadder III. After the Prince has a drunken night with the Duke of Wellington's nieces, he considers fleeing as far as Mongolia to avoid the Duke's revenge. Blackadder points out that the Duke is a close personal friend of the Chief Mongol. "They were at Eton together."
  • Usutu makes a fool of Matt Parkman in Heroes:

 Usutu: You must find your totem - a spirit guide that attaches to your subconscious. It will lead you on your journey.

Parkman: What is that, some, uh... African mystical mojo thing?

Usutu: Carl Jung, Analytical Psychology. You don't read much, do you?


  • Spoofed by The Goon Show in the episode "The Gold Plate Robbery": Visiting Morocco, Neddie Seagoon meets an Arab nomad who went to college in Cambridge and speaks English like a native -- with a broad Cockney accent.

Western Animation

  • In one episode of The Wild Thornberries, the Thornberries encounter a tribe of natives who were planning on cooking and eating a runaway Darwin. When Nigel tried to apologize and explain that Darwin was their pet, the chieftain revealed that he knew how to speak English thanks to language tapes. The chief then picks up a call from his friends on his cellphone and tells them that they won't be eating Darwin, so they'll just drive into town for steak.

Real Life

  • The leaders of the Negritude movement in France's colonies, the London-educated barrister Gandhi, the Egyptian Islamic fundamentalist and U. of Northern Colorado alum Sayyid Qutb, sometime Prime Minister of Vietnam Ho Chi Minh, Sun Yat-Sen, founder of both Modern Chinas, and many, many more. More or less every revolution against colonial powers in the last three centuries was started by a small group of highly Western-educated native countrymen. The man that takes the cake may be Jawaharlal Nehru, big-shot in the British Indian National Congress and the first Prime Minister of the Indian Republic; his upbringing and outlook was so (nigh-painfully) British he described himself as "the last Englishman to rule India."
  • Many of the people responsible for the worst human rights violations in 1970s-1980s Latin America were military or security personnel trained at the School of the Americas (now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in an attempt at re-branding), run by the US government.
  • Radovan Karadžić, leader of the Bosnian Serb Army and on trial for War Crimes, went to Columbia. Charles Taylor, genocidal leader of Liberia went to Bentley University.
  • As an Older Than Feudalism example, at least from the perspective of the Romans, could be considered Arminius, the chieftain of the "barbarian" Germanic tribe of the Cherusci. Young Arminius served in the Roman army, and got as reward Roman citizenship and the rank of an eques (a specific aristocratic class). And he gained Roman military training, which later back home did come in handy, when he and his Cherusci crushingly defeated the Romans in the historic Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.
  • A stock plot in Russian jokes is someone being captured by a cannibal tribe and discovering that the chief is an alumnus of the Moscow Patris Lumumba University (that specializes in educating foreigners, often from third world countries)
  • Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy, studied at Harvard (in addition to the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy).
    • One of his officers, Admiral Chūichi Nagumo, spent several years as part of a Japanese mission studying naval tactics in the United Kingdom and the United States between the world wars. Not at all surprising when one recalls that the Anglo-Japanese alliance was only dropped in the early '20s and that both Empires had received some measure of US assistance in the latter part of their War against Germany.
  • Jose Marti, (a Cuban revolutionary from the turn of the 20th century) once said (in relation to American, where he got his education), "I know the monster, because I have lived in its lair."
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.