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What aspects of American culture are often misunderstood?


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#1 of 161 OFFLINE   David Baranyi

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Posted September 18 2003 - 09:48 PM

Note: keep international politics and nation-bashing out of this thread!

People around the world get an idea of American culture through popular entertainment, such as television shows and movies. Through such programs, foreign viewers get a positive or negative of Americans, their culture and of the United States.

Since American culture sometime is not self-explanatory, what aspects of it are often misunderstood by non-Americans?

#2 of 161 OFFLINE   Vincent Matis

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Posted September 18 2003 - 10:18 PM

Very hard to answer without going into forbidden territories (politics, religion,...).
However, I often heard the reason the Americans don't like soccer (the biggest sport in the rest of the world) is because they find soccer to be a slow, boring sport where nothinh ever happens.
Yet you love baseball and US football, both sports that are either slower (BB) or more often interrupted (US foot: 20 sec of "team meeting", 5 sec to get into formation, , 15 sec of shouted instructions, and 2 sec of running. Then 20 sec before the 5 players who jumped on top of the runner finnally get up... then time-out, then 20 sec of "team meeting",...)
Don't get me wrong I prefer baseball and US foot over soccer, but I gave up trying to explain both sports to my familly/friends...

- The obsession with lawsuits and PC, we get the impression that no matter what you do or say, you might get hit by a lawsuit anytime, anyplace...

Cheers,

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#3 of 161 OFFLINE   Philip_G

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Posted September 18 2003 - 10:35 PM

Quote:
- The obsession with lawsuits and PC, we get the impression that no matter what you do or say, you might get hit by a lawsuit anytime, anyplace...

this is kind of funny. I speak to european customers most of the day, as well as our office in europe. The german office had a customer that the reps actually wanted to sue in court over some things he said over the phone to them. Not even an american would sue for that Posted Image

#4 of 161 OFFLINE   Yee-Ming

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Posted September 18 2003 - 11:23 PM

Is there really a "the third date is the sex date" "rule" as propounded in Ally McBeal, or any number of TV shows portraying the dating life of singles?

Obviously it wouldn't be hard and fast, but roughly speaking is there any basis for this at all?

#5 of 161 OFFLINE   Mark Schermerhorn

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Posted September 18 2003 - 11:51 PM

Yee-Ming: there is no rule but it's fairly common, IMO. I couldn't put any kind of numbers to it though.

#6 of 161 OFFLINE   Mark Schermerhorn

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Posted September 18 2003 - 11:57 PM

David Baranyi: I think you've answered your own question. TV shows show Americans as being violent, shallow, oversexed, etc. Given no other information, I think people assume that TV shows give an accurate portrayal of America.

#7 of 161 OFFLINE   Paul M.Kuziel

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Posted September 19 2003 - 12:14 AM

Well at the risk of getting political, GUNS we Americans love our guns, we love to shoot them, clean them etc. That is one part of our culture that Europe will NEVER understand.
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#8 of 161 OFFLINE   Vincent Matis

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Posted September 19 2003 - 12:58 AM

Quote:
The german office had a customer that the reps actually wanted to sue in court over some things he said over the phone to them.

Yeah, unfortunatly in Europe, we are starting this trend too. Last year a guy in France sued "Meteo France" (the official company relaying inof about/analyzing/forecasting the weather) because they predicted rain for the week-end and the week-end turned out to be sunny Posted Image Posted Image

Cheers,

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#9 of 161 OFFLINE   Mike Broadman

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Posted September 19 2003 - 01:08 AM

Oh God, please don't use our TV shows as an idea of how dating is in New York, much less the US. Sex and the City and Ally McBeal, what little I've seen of them, take place in some fictional facsimile of NY, which I'm glad I don't live near.

#10 of 161 OFFLINE   Bill_D

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Posted September 19 2003 - 01:56 AM

I just returned from the UK and was quite amused to see quite a bit of "full frontal" and "back" for that matter of men and women on regular television without any censorship. The was no "action" but people in their splendor doing normal stuff not normally associated with be naked and on film. I would never make an assumption of the UK based on a couple shows that was able to take in. "Kirsty's Videos", a show quite similiar to our AFHV, was funny and also strange since the show interrupts the videos with staged naked people bouncing around. I dined every night with the natives and not once did they get up strip down and start bouncing around.

I would say that UK television is free to portray and script what US television insinuates.

#11 of 161 OFFLINE   Dan D.

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Posted September 19 2003 - 02:02 AM

On a lighter note, one of my favorite movies about how Americans are viewed by Eurpoeans is "Barcelona". There's one scene where a character is tying the Eurpoean view to hamburgers. The idea being that Eurpeans know Americans love hamburgers, but the burgers normally found in Europe are pretty horrible, therefore Eurpoeans think we are insane. I won't spoil the ending of the movie, but it's amusing if you've never seen it before.

That said, I've had some pretty good burgers in Europe so the concept may be outdated.

#12 of 161 OFFLINE   AllanN

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Posted September 19 2003 - 03:14 AM

Quote:
Is there really a "the third date is the sex date" "rule" as propounded in Ally McBeal, or any number of TV shows portraying the dating life of singles?

I don’t know of any rule. And defiantly like others have shown Ally McBeal or Sex and the City are nowhere close to reality. However, for me the third date on average is the, have dinner in, watch a movie and cuddle on the couch date. This is after the safe lunch date and the dinner and dancing (white man’s overbite optional Posted Image) first and second dates. Whatever happens from there is up to the couple I guess. YMMV
“Aquaba is over there, it’s only a matter of going.” –Lawrence "I am not now, nor have I ever been a psychologist" -Mumford
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#13 of 161 OFFLINE   Lew Crippen

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Posted September 19 2003 - 04:01 AM

I would say that Americans tend to be much more religious than popular entertainment indicates.
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#14 of 161 OFFLINE   David Baranyi

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Posted September 19 2003 - 05:45 AM

Not to bring up religion, but I do remember that Europeans had an issue with President Bush's open religious beliefs. As I understand, in Europe political leaders often do not reveal their reveal their religious beliefs for fear of being "politically incorrect." I will say no more on the issue.

#15 of 161 OFFLINE   Glenn Overholt

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Posted September 19 2003 - 05:54 AM

Yes, it is pretty warped. I just saw on the news the Emmey statues getting unloaded, with cameras clicking away. Who cares about them get unloaded from the back of a van?

No wonder we're all screwed up. Posted Image

Three's Company was another one, even when it was first aired. They had trouble scraping up their $300/mon in rent a few times, but then it sort of didn't become a problem anymore, and money seemed to be coming out of their ears. They really didn't show how a lot of us have trouble eating before that next check showes up.

And the violence too. One real case can become 10 or 20 episodes of different TV shows, all slightly different. They really need to understand that entertainment and our real life are two totally diffent things.

Glenn

#16 of 161 OFFLINE   Seth--L

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Posted September 19 2003 - 06:10 AM

The American-Jewish experience.
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#17 of 161 OFFLINE   MarkHastings

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Posted September 19 2003 - 06:15 AM

Quote:
Oh God, please don't use our TV shows as an idea of how dating is in New York, much less the US.
Take a look at the more popular "Friends" - I hope nobody really believes that NY is full of REALLY hot women who can't find dates and sit home all alone.
Quote:
I often heard the reason the Americans don't like soccer (the biggest sport in the rest of the world) is because they find soccer to be a slow, boring sport where nothinh ever happens.
I can't imagine that's the real reason...Soccer is very popular here in the states, it's just that the professinal aspect of the game isn't popular. I mean, how many kids grew up playing soccer? Practically everyone I know has had some involvement in the game. I even worked for a company where the boss would rent an indoor soccer facility and shut down the company just so we could all play indoor soccer against each other.

I think it's more the fact that Americans would rather play the game than watch it.

#18 of 161 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted September 19 2003 - 06:19 AM

Quote:
As I understand, in Europe political leaders often do not reveal their reveal their religious beliefs for fear of being "politically incorrect

No, they simply believe, and rightly so, that religion (or lack thereof) is a private matter and has no business in public policy.

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#19 of 161 OFFLINE   Vincent Matis

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Posted September 19 2003 - 06:20 AM

Quote:
Not to bring up religion, but I do remember that Europeans had an issue with President Bush's open religious beliefs. As I understand, in Europe political leaders often do not reveal their reveal their religious beliefs for fear of being "politically incorrect." I will say no more on the issue.

I won't comment on why we have an "issue" with GWB's religious beliefs (forbidden) but in Europe due to the separation between religion and the state, it would be indeed "incorrect" for a political figure to openly "favor" one religion over some others. I guess many political figures in Europe go to church (or synagogue,...) but it is considered a personal subject, not a public one...

Cheers,

Vincent

#20 of 161 OFFLINE   Steven K

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Posted September 19 2003 - 06:30 AM

Quote:
No, they simply believe, and rightly so, that religion (or lack thereof) is a private matter and has no business in public policy.

I don't see this thread lasting very long...

You guys should know better by now, nothing of this kind if tolerated on the HTF.


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