What aspects of American culture are often misunderstood?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by David Baranyi, Sep 19, 2003.

  1. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    I have one personal experience to share with this. A couple of years ago we had a representative from one of our clients come visit for a week from France. While the guy was here we took him to a number of good restaurants. We pretty much avoided chains and took him to a variety of places including Tex-Mex and Mexican, as one should do in Texas. When he would check in with the people he worked with they kept asking if he was eating at McDonald's every day. Apparently they believed that's all we eat.

    There were a couple of other things that happened with this guy. We found it slightly amusing when he reacted with horror to seeing my boss's old seventy-something vette sitting in his garage with a bunch of crap piled on top of it. He thought that was just sacrilege. Also, the first thing he did after arriving at his hotel in Dallas was to call a taxi and going to see South Fork. And I'm not making that up!

    I think another thing that's misunderstood about Americans is that many of us are interested in other cultures. Probably the biggest reason why other countries look down on us with regards to that is that many of us don't speak any other languages and they might think we don't don't bother learning out of arrogance or something. But I think that's partly a failing of our schools, that wait to teach foreign languages to late, and it also goes along with the fact that we can spend the majority of our lives without ever needing to speak another language so it's not as important to us.
     
  2. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    The everyday thing which seems to flummox Europeans the most when they come here is that you can't smoke anywhere. A Greek friend of mine nearly snapped after her first three-hour lecture in college, grumbling about how "if America's the Land Of The Free, how come you can't smoke anywhere? It doesn't make any sense, since this is where all the ____ing tobacco comes from!"

    (And, yeah, everyone from the home office of the foreign-owned company I'm currently working at smokes. Nasty)
     
  3. David Lawson

    David Lawson Screenwriter

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  4. Hunter P

    Hunter P Screenwriter

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    Another misconception is that all American males are very well endowed and great lovers. From what I hear, it is not true that ALL of us fall into this category. I think I read an article somewhere that said some scientist discovered one male who was merely well endowed and only a good lover. But he may have been an immigrant so I am not sure this disproves the theory.


    Edit--I misread the first post. I misread the word "popular" as "porn" in the following sentence:

    "People around the world get an idea of American culture through popular entertainment, such as television shows and movies."

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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  6. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  7. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    The original question really needs to be answered by non-Americans as our misunderstanding of others' misunderstandings is two versions removed from reality.....
     
  8. JamesHl

    JamesHl Supporting Actor

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    Speaking of the religious question a few posts up, I think the fact that we seem to be overall more religious, especially publicly so, has to do with the people that our country was founded by.

     
  9. DonnyD

    DonnyD Screenwriter

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    It is really sad that people from other countries get their ideas of American life from watching our silly sitcoms and also the news media. Even we Americans get our info from the same and even though we know life is really NOT like all that, we still seems to let it permeate our day to day routines.
    That's why I never watch any sitcoms since they are so contrived and most are not even close to being anywhere close to being a snapshot of real life and its worries.

    There remains a real reason that other countries believe that America is a land of milk and honey and all want to come here to 'get rich'.. or otherwise.

    Another sad note is that the freedom that we Americans are so proud of is often used by some to do what ever they wish......and these snapshots of life are proudly picked out and displayed on CBS, NBC and other media news outlets.
     
  10. L. Anton Dencklau

    L. Anton Dencklau Second Unit

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    ..
     
  11. Eric Kahn

    Eric Kahn Guest

    I think alot of europeans have no understanding of the physical size of the US and because of this, and our lack of public transportation outside of major cities, the fact that over half of highschool aged teenagers have cars is probably baffling to them
     
  12. Chris_Morris

    Chris_Morris Screenwriter

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  13. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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  14. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    I was working with some people from Warsaw, Poland a few years back. One of the guys had his wife with him, it was her first time in the states. He decided to do a weekend siteseeing trip in the rental car, starting from Warwick, RI. He asked his wife what she would like to do or see, she said "Niagara Falls, The Grand Canyon, Washington DC, The Redwood Forest, listen to Jazz in Harlem, Blues in Chicago and go to a day at Disney World". She was very surprised to hear that the area of the USA on the map was not the same area as a comparably sized map of Poland.

    I agree that most people unfamiliar with American Culture do not realize just how diverse and varied our culture is. I was asked by my friends from Poland what our national cuisine is and I said "it depends what region you are from, we have hundreds". They could not understand what I was talking about, so I played along with them and said "McDonalds". It's what they wanted to hear anyway.
     
  15. Steven K

    Steven K Supporting Actor

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  16. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Jeff, your post is interesting because it encapsulates what this thread is getting at: the misperceptions people in one country may have about the people and lifestyles in another.

    It's similar to when a New York-based magazine does a "Los Angeles" special issue. I remember reading how an editor at New York magazine complained about a California correspondent's travel expenses in this state, asking him to drive, say, from Los Angeles to San Francisco instead of flying so often. The correspondent phoned his editor back, asking if he would ever consider asking his East Coast reporters to drive from New York to Boston instead of flying.

    The editor said no, of course not. Boston is too far away. The California reporter then informed his editor that San Francisco is twice as far from Los Angeles as Beantown is from the Big Apple.

    It's hard for some Europeans to grasp the sheer geographical size of the U.S. And it's even hard for a U.S. resident, especially for one living in a large media market, to grasp the cultural diversity within the country itself.

    I have relatives in the South, and every time I visited there it amazed me how fundamentally different even "middle class" culture is in different areas of this country. I often felt I was visiting a different country. And some of these same relatives said the same thing about California upon visiting the state.

    Diversity is cool. [​IMG]
     
  17. andrew markworthy

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  18. David Baranyi

    David Baranyi Stunt Coordinator

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    I recalled around the time of this year's Super Bowl that a Canadian HTF poster living in the United States did not understand why the U.S. military appeared on this event. I also recalled that he was somewhat uncomfortable about it and may misunderstand the military presence.

    Everyone, the thread is about aspects of American culture that are often misunderstood by non-Americans, not what common stereotypes non-Americans have about Americans.
     
  19. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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  20. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    I know what you mean. We have upper-middle class relatives in the suburbs of Richmond, VA. To them, the Outback Steakhouse is a nice place eat for someone's birthday. When a birthday roles around up here in Philadelphia, the question is: The Palm or The Capital Grille, or someplace nicer, like Le Bec-Fin.

    They also dislike the city because they have to walk it, and constantly complain about how "fast-passed" our lives are.
     

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