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Louis Ciccone: Your honour, may I approach the bench?

Judge: You've been watching too much American TV, Mr. Ciccone. No one "approaches the bench" in a Canadian court.

A special case of Reality Is Unrealistic, Eagleland Osmosis occurs when people outside the United States consume American pop culture and start to believe that aspects of their own society work like they do in these imported films and television shows.

The most common forms of this concerns the legal system, with people expecting to be "read their rights" if they are arrested, expecting that police should have a search warrant in cases where they do not need one under local law, or calling a serious crime a "felony". Another one is expecting 9-1-1 to be the number for emergency services, even when the actual number is usually displayed prominently on phonebooks and phone booths.

This isn't new, or limited to the United States--it's a side effect of World Power status. Elements of the major power's culture and language bleed into the popular culture of other countries. The Japanese adoption of Western customs like Christmas, Valentines Day, and wedding ceremonies are a good example. In older tales, an astute reader will find Limey Osmosis, Frenchie Osmosis, and even Kraut Osmosis. Granted, modern mass media and the Internet certainly accelerate the effect.

Compare with Edit

  • SoCalization, where southern California serves the same function to the US as a whole as the US does for the world in this trope.

Contrast with Edit

  • We All Live in America, where this time it's the Americans themselves who assume that things work elsewhere the same way they do in America.

Please note that while this trope is common in Real Life, examples here should only be from the media.

Examples of Eagleland Osmosis include:


  • Uninformed people demanding to be "read their rights" has become so common in Finland, the rather popular animation series Pasila constantly parodies, subverts and averts this trope.

 Hooligan: This is an illegal arrest! I wasn't read my rights!

Lieutenant Pöysti: They don't read you your rights in Finland, idiot! (after which Pöysti goes on to read the hooligan his hilariously over the top "rights," including gems like "Anything that you say can be used against you in court. Some of it will turn against you by itself, some of it will be turned against you through legal manouvering just to be irritating.")

 Suspect: Do you have a search warrant?

Pöysti: We don't need a search warrant! That's only done in America!

Officer Neponen: *whispering* We DO need a search warrant!

Pöysti: *whispering* Yeah, I know, but they always buy that America thing.

    • Of course, this is hardly limited to Finland.
      • Heck a lot of people in the US don't understand that police don't have to read you the Miranda Warning unless they intend to interrogate you.
      • And technically, they don't even have to read it to you, then. Failure just means that nothing that was said in interrogation is admissible as evidence at trial -- this isn't enough to sink most cases by itself.
      • AND they don't have to READ them to you while you're being arrested; quite a few police stations will give them to you later, and often in card form. You have to be informed of your rights, not have them read it to you, so they'll just give you a little card with your Miranda rights on them. Or just let you sit in a cell for a couple hours to see if you will spontaneously confess, which is admissible in court.
  • Parodied in a 2006 advertisement for a digital satellite television service in Greece. A poultry thief is confronted by a policeman in what seems to be a country village. He screams at him to freeze (in English) and when he finally reaches him, he tells him to "put the cot down, slowly" (cota is the Greek word for chicken) and remarks "you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can be used against you in the court of law". All this is said in English with a Greek hill-billy accent. The concept was later re-used in another hilarious variation, in the same village with an old lady and her donkey. This was Played for Laughs, since the company's channels would mostly feature Hollywood flicks.
  • In an episode of the 1980's Canadian comedy-drama TV series Seeing Things, the main character, journalist Louis Ciccone, is in a courtroom and asks the judge if he may approach the bench. The judge responds "You watch too much American TV, Mr. Ciccone, no one approaches the bench in a Canadian court!"
    • Kelly lampshades this trope not once but twice.
  • An old survey showed that many Queenslanders (and presumably other Australians) think that the emergency number is Nine One One. This happens in Mexico, too: even though the emergency phone is usually 080 or 066, some local police departments actually have arranged for 911 calls to be rerouted to emergency services.
    • So much so that Rescue 911 included a regular segment with host William Shatner reminding viewers in Australia of the correct number, which is 000.
      • The same thing happened for the UK showings, with Shatner giving the emergency number 999.
  • Les Connards Boiteux have a song American Wave about this. Appropriately, its lyrics are pidginized -- an unholy mixture of French and English.
  • A fictional example in Rush Hour 3: Lee and Carter hitch a ride from a Parisian taxi driver, who assumes that all Americans are violent action movie characters, and it seems that he is proven right when Carter and Lee are chased by motorcycle-riding thugs. The taxi driver gets to shoot the Big Bad in the back and kill him, and becomes really excited that he felt what it was like to be "an American".
  • Reader's Digest once ran a bullet about how American police shows caused some French people to demand to see a warrant before having their home searched, which wasn't required in France. This was in the 1980s. They would also quote "rights" from the American constitution, even though they have their own "Bill of Rights" called "Déclaration des Droits de l'Homme" ("Declaration of Human Rights").
    • Many French judges also get annoyed at hearing themselves being called "Votre Honneur" ("Your Honor", the American form of address) instead of the correct French address, "Monsieur le juge" / "Monsieur le président"[2].
      • The problems with forms of address also appear in Germany. "Euer Ehren" (your honour) is incorrect - it's "Herr Vorsitzender" or "Frau Vorsitzende". Sometimes "Hohes Gericht", under certain circumstances. But never "Euer Ehren".
  • From the German Sketch Comedy Switch, spoofing a German court-show (roughly from memory):

 Lawyer: Objection! I dont like what the opposition is saying about my client!

Judge: Rejected.

Prosecutor: Objection! You cannot reject an 'Objection' that doesn't exist [in German law]!

Judge: *to the prosecutor* Uh, good. Granted.

    • And from a little bit earlier in the hearing (roughly from memory):

 Defendant: Ehm... Objection!

Lawyer: *mumbling, holding the mike shut* As a defendant, you cannot 'object'.

Defendant: But I just don't want the jury members to be affected by the prosecutor's language.

Prosecutor: Objection! Juries also exist only in America!

      • And it's true, that German courts neither have 'Objections' as such, nor do they have 12-person juries. The German "jury" (yes, the name is still applied) consists of three professional magistrates and two sworn aldermen. It is nevertheless falsely used in the context above.
  • Lampshaded in The IT Crowd when Roy says to call 911 for an office fire and is reminded by Moss that 911 for the US and it's 999 in the UK. In reality, calls to 911 (as well as 112) will actually be rerouted to 999 on most (if not all) British phone networks.
  • Parodied in the Icelandic sketch show Mið Ísland where a defense lawyer in an Icelandic courtroom addresses the judge as "yðar hátign" (or "your highness" in English bungling even the American term) and ask permission to address the jury, only to be informed there are are no juries in Iceland. He then ask whether he may approach the bench (with the judge asking "what bench?") and explains that his whole case hinges on a moving speech before a jury that includes minorities. After the judge assures him there is no jury the defense lawyer advises the defendant to admit guilt before even the charges are read.
  • Truth in Television: A few years ago, Argentina started using 911 as a unified emergency number. It's the only x11 number, the rest of the standard services are still 11x. 911 (along with the European 112) is also the emergency number for cell phones worldwide.
    • In the nineties, the Dominican Republic had to change its emergency number from 711 to 911.
  • Every British legal show ever shows the judge banging a gavel to quieten down the court. They don't.
  • When Gordon Brown became the British prime minster, there was an outburst (whipped up by the tabloids) about the horror of an "unelected" prime minister, clearly expecting prime ministerial elections to occur akin to the election of an American president. Britain has never elected a prime minister. Ever. In the UK, the electorate only votes for a party. It's always the party, not the electorate, that votes for its leaders (different rules according to different parties; it's an internal affair). It's also a case of a short memory as John Major initially became prime minister in the same way as Gordon Brown a decade earlier, without even half the fuss over him being "unelected" (although even then there was some). This fuss also shows a lack of understanding of what a prime minister is as the power of government rests with the First Lord of the Treasury and not with the prime minister (who only has the responsibility for organising the Cabinet). It just happens that, for just over a century, the First Lord of the Treasury and the prime minister has been the same person... but it doesn't actually have to be (and if it was two separate people, the person living in Number 10 and running the government would be the First Lord of the Treasury, not the prime minister).

Notes

  1. And in Canada, it's "My lord"
  2. the feminine forms -- "Madame la juge" and "Madame la présidente" respectively -- should be used where appropriate