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Old Mar 14, 2006, 06:47 PM   #1
Peyton
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World's perception of America

I know there is a lot of diversity on MR (people from all over) and I have some friends who are Irish, French, and from Aussieland. I was wondering what most countries think of Americans.

Fat?
Stupid?
Materialistic?

I'm not the first two, probably materialistic though. This has always been interesting to me, thoughts?
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:00 PM   #2
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All i know is that it took a nose dive when george and his fellow draft dodging neocons took over. Down the tubes. Look at Clinton, when he travelled he was loved by everyone overseas almost, George just the opposite. This isnt because of George's personality. He has a great personality but he has rotten,rotten $$$ ran policy by the corporate corrupt. Thats the whole problem with George.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:05 PM   #3
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All Americans?

Are you looking for all Americans? Or just those in the United States?

Remember - Americans cover Chile to Alaska.

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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsalzer
Are you looking for all Americans? Or just those in the United States?

Remember - Americans cover Chile to Alaska.

Cute. I was just wondering wha the common perception of Americans *USA* have around the world. I know you can't generalize yadda yadda yadda, I was just wondering
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:08 PM   #5
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When your most noticed "exports" are things like the Ricky Lake Show, weapons, George Bush and war propaganda, what do you think the perception of America is?
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsalzer
Are you looking for all Americans? Or just those in the United States?

Remember - Americans cover Chile to Alaska.

add "ignorant" to the list?
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:11 PM   #7
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This is absolute stereotyping going off news, TV show audiences etc...


Americans seem to be very easily entertained. I flick through Freeview from time to time and oh yey, yet another american comedy on ABC or Channel 4. I've yet to laugh at any american show other than Home Improvement and Family Guy (which is hilarious, IMO). I caught the last 15 minutes of Hope and Sue (I think it was called) once, nothing made me laugh. Very unfunny, no subtlety whatsoever, clichéd characters and predictable scenarios. On the subtle note; everything had to be mentioned or commented on. The audience never laughed at the actual funny moment, but the reaction of another character.

The gun thing scares me crapless. Maybe it's all exaggerated but I'm scared to go there.

The people themselves tend to swear a lot, be as offensive as possible etc. But that is completely down to Final Destination and other horror films like that. and from those few TV shows I've seen. We have an american lecturer who is very nice and friendly, though communist true, but she's top.

Gangster culture seems very popular over there. Something that both scares and repels me.

I cannot stand the way American ran websites (Macrumors, Joystiq, Deviantart) all use dollars when talking about things. Forcing us brits to either use a rough mental conversion or to whip out the convertor widget. They tend to act like there are other countries, but we don't care much for them.

Remember! I put a disclaimer in my first paragraph. All but the last point were made through the media.

MORE: I find US films to be lacking too. Over glamourised, horrendously portrayed characters. Again no subtlety, no real humour, tired formats and genres... Last film I saw at the cinema? Narnia. Before that? Keeping Mum. I just catch the american stuff on TV if there really is nothing else on.
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Last edited by Dagless; Mar 14, 2006 at 07:18 PM.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gekko513
When your most noticed "exports" are things like the Ricky Lake Show, weapons, George Bush and war propaganda, what do you think the perception of America is?
But doesn't a lot of the world watch at least SOME American programming? US movies, music? Is nothing good in the perception?
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:13 PM   #9
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This is just me but...

A lot of Americans (USA) are over weight, but that is a problem that is rising in almost every part of the world (especially with fast food). They drive cars that are WAY too big for what they need and are very far from environmentally friendly. Many Americans (again in the USA) that I know are very stubborn and ignorant, but of course not all are. American society is also very raciest (SP?) (mostly with the youth but they're still part of the population), but again that is a problem with many places in the world.

Just my 2¢
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debroglie
add "ignorant" to the list?
Now, see, I was actually pointing out "self-important".

Though I guess you could probably add ignorant. Most European school children can probably name our 50 states on the map, but Italy is all that most U.S. Americans can spot.

Of course, when you only have 3 countries on your entire continent, it makes you geographically lazy.

Me, I can also point out England and Spain. That makes me 3 times as smart as my brothern!
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:16 PM   #11
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For good or for bad, here's a selection of single words which are often used to describe Americans. Standard disclaimer, I'm not saying all of these are true etc, but just to offer a selection of the ones I hear most over here.
  • Insular
  • Ignorant
  • Innovative
  • Tasteless
  • Gaudy
  • Friendly
  • Deluded (cf. the "greatest country in the world")
  • Interesting
  • Lazy
  • Bureaucratic
  • Uncaring
  • Capitalistic
  • Overzealous
  • Arrogant
  • Honest
  • Naive
  • Sheltered

Many more, but they're the ones I have for now.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:17 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by raggedjimmi
This is absolute stereotyping going off news, TV show audiences etc...
Thanks for the honesty, I think you're talking about 'Hope and Faith' and many people don't think that its funny. And yes we have a billion tv shows, and new ones every night.

You really shouldn't be scared of our guns, honestly, other than Dick Cheney, I never see guns or hear of people getting shot.

'Thug' culture is pretty minimalist too. Its only in certain parts. Its amazing to hear this, you should come over and give it a look, you won't be shot, I promise. Just a lot of people wanting to hear your accent and then badly trying to mimic it. cough cough madonna.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:18 PM   #13
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Im only 16 and I am livining in Spain but I grew up in NYC, usually, the ignorant 16 year olds I know generally think americans to be un educated hicks. They also simply hate america because of bush, when I ask why the only reason I EVER get is he is stupid and the war in Iraq. I dont support bush but I am a firm believer that if you dont know squat about the subject you are not entitled to an opinion, but thats just me.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:20 PM   #14
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Might as well move this to the Political Forum now.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:20 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peyton
Thanks for the honesty, I think you're talking about 'Hope and Faith' and many people don't think that its funny. And yes we have a billion tv shows, and new ones every night.

You really shouldn't be scared of our guns, honestly, other than Dick Cheney, I never see guns or hear of people getting shot.

'Thug' culture is pretty minimalist too. Its only in certain parts. Its amazing to hear this, you should come over and give it a look, you won't be shot, I promise. Just a lot of people wanting to hear your accent and then badly trying to mimic it. cough cough madonna.
no probs my opinion will probably change when I visit the states. like I said. I'm just going off what the media tell us brits and what your media produces.
my american lecturer is a top person, my guess is she isn't the only good american who runs around trigger happy. another image portrayal our media tell us.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:26 PM   #16
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Gross generalisations of course but that's what the OP was after isn't it?

- Talk too much
- Don't listen enough
- Ignorant of the outside world
- Shallow patriotism (flags everywhere but nobody votes)
- A bunch of God botherers
- Culture-less (strip malls, huge 4WD's and fast food everywhere)
- Full of themselves

This is not what I think of all Americans, I have friends and family there on the east coast around Boston and most of the people there that I know are none of the above. However a lot of the folks I've met over here certainly do fit into one or more of those descriptions.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:37 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chundles
Gross generalisations of course but that's what the OP was after isn't it?

- Talk too much
- Don't listen enough
- Ignorant of the outside world
- Shallow patriotism (flags everywhere but nobody votes)
- A bunch of God botherers
- Culture-less (strip malls, huge 4WD's and fast food everywhere)
- Full of themselves

......
Some people say these things about Aussies (aside from the religious bit ...)

My views?
I would agree with these descriptions of Americans (agreeing with Chundles re gross generalisations) but also of many English and SOME Aussies & Kiwis. Even true of SOME people I've met in the Middle East.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:41 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peyton
But doesn't a lot of the world watch at least SOME American programming? US movies, music? Is nothing good in the perception?
Well seriously, I think there's a some good things in the perception, but it's a mixed pot. US movies and TV shows have very good entertainment value, even though most of it is very dumbed down and fake.

I think Americans are also considered to be very competitive, capitalistic and good at business, which can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.

The American society is seen as materialistic, allows some freedom, but on the other side it's ruthless and has little regard for basic human rights. Which is a bit strange given the high amount of Christian people.

The stereotype of an American is someone who's outgoing and unafraid, but a little self centered, arrogant, ignorant of the rest of the world, slightly vulgar and can be a bit too much at times.

That's how I would sum it up, but don't worry, I know Americans comes in all shapes and sizes, physically, culturally and mentally.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:48 PM   #19
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I think you guys can further classify us "united states" people into yankees (rude, obnoxious, ignorant, arrogant, unpolite), and southerners.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:52 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Apple
I think you guys can further classify us "united states" people into yankees (rude, obnoxious, ignorant, arrogant, unpolite), and southerners.
You are aware that damnyankees is now two words?
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:52 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple
I think you guys can further classify us "united states" people into yankees (rude, obnoxious, ignorant, arrogant, unpolite), and southerners.
An southerners are not only rude, obnoxious, ignorant, arrogant and unpolite, but also religious. Is that what you mean?
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 07:53 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple
I think you guys can further classify us "united states" people into yankees (rude, obnoxious, ignorant, arrogant, unpolite), and southerners.
How would you describe southerners?

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Old Mar 14, 2006, 08:41 PM   #23
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My first impression of Americans when I got a chance to meet a bunch of 'em was they were really friendly and outgoing, easy to get along with and up for a good laugh.

However they did have extreme difficulty understanding my accent and didn't comprehend sarcasm that well.

They also didn't seem to have much interest in anything outside of the US, and they though ( and claimed) that 'their country was the best country in the world.'

I'm just speaking from my experience with a group of lads I met when I went to visite my uncle in The States last summer.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 09:23 PM   #24
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I’ve traveled a bit overseas and can tell you that from the people I encountered, most impressions of Americans were:

1. ARROGANT (especially when Bush took over as President)
2. Centered on American topics (Ms. America, Hollywood, whatever big news topic is going on in the States at the time); yet… absolutely and “completely” oblivious to things going on in the rest of the world. (ie. Ask who Slobodan Milosovic is and they wouldn’t have a clue. Ask who’s in the running for American Idol and they’d tell you in a heartbeat.)
3. Geographically Impotent. You’re lucky if they can locate most states in the US. Forget the rest of the world…though they’d probably feel guilty if they couldn’t locate France, the UK, Italy and Mexico.
4. I taught a course in Norway – my students' impressions were: fat and lazy. One girl said she walked into Wal-Mart and couldn’t believe all the people wearing sweats and even saw a lady with her hair in curlers. (Hmmm.... especially true in the South) Sadly – most other countries have more dignity of presence of themselves when going out in public. In Norway they dressed up more to go out more so than even when going to work - it was a sign of respect to others.
5. Culturally, American’s feel like ‘everyone else’ should have the same standards as us. As a simplistic example: if, in our country, women are treated as equal – well, damn it, all countries should feel the same. We impose our culture on other countries rather than respecting theirs. Whether we, as a nation, agree or not…unless there are human rights violations – we should RESPECT THEIR CULTURE a little more…or at least try to.
6. We are more focused on what other countries should do that we neglect our own faults. We try to fix THEIRS before fixing OURS.
7. We use political pressure to push other countries into making decisions – enough said.
8. On the GOOD side…technologically advanced. At least for the moment. Superpower. Force to be reckoned with. Great military power. We have Hollywood ? We have Condoleeza Rice, Madeline Albright and Colin Powell.
9. Clueless. Most Americans simply don’t know…and even worse, don’t CARE, that they don’t know what things are going on around the world. Insulated. Superficial.

Ok…enough of a rant. I really ‘do’ love Americans – I just think we should try to resolve a few things in our country.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 10:15 PM   #25
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After reading through these I guess I have a few comments. My biggest point of a agreement is ignorance of the world outside the US. Most Americans think America the best place by far and don't give other countries a second thought. But I feel part of that is not only cultural, but also practical. I do not speak any language besides English, because I don't have to. Maybe it would be nice to know French for the few visits to Quebec, but sorry to say it wouldn't be very helpful to me. Also, I can't afford to travel and see places internationally. Again, drives to Canada are about all I can afford. There is also diversity and range of places within the US that one can get reasonable exposure to different types of people and places within the US. Granted I realize there isn't really a comparision to going to different places internationally, but there are lots of unique experiences within the country.

I also think it is difficult to stereotype Americans on the whole. A businessman from Boston will be a lot different than a farmer in Kansas who will be a lot different than a surfer in California. There are a lot of stereotypes within regions of the US and I think those are perhaps easier to define. My friend at college liked to called me the "Stuck Up New Englander" (which wasn't true, but he thought was funny).

PS: Any America with half a brain thought Ricki Lake was total trash. Jerry Springer on the other had a strange cult-like following I can't explain....
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