-

Jump to content



Photo
- - - - -

What aspects of American culture are often misunderstood?


This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
160 replies to this topic

#21 of 161 Keith Mickunas

Keith Mickunas

    Screenwriter

  • 2,044 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 15 1998

Posted September 19 2003 - 07:08 AM

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.

#22 of 161 Jason Seaver

Jason Seaver

    Lead Actor

  • 9,306 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 31 1969

Posted September 19 2003 - 07:55 AM

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)
Jay's Movie Blog - A movie-viewing diary.
Transplanted Life: Sci-fi soap opera about a man placed in a new body, updated two or three times a week.
Trading Post Inn - Another gender-bending soap, with different collaborators writing different points of view.

"What? Since when was this an energy...

#23 of 161 David Lawson

David Lawson

    Screenwriter

  • 1,359 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 11 2000

Posted September 19 2003 - 07:55 AM

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

Did no one else catch this slip/pun? Posted Image
He obviously misinterpreted what it means to "be bullish."

#24 of 161 Hunter P

Hunter P

    Screenwriter

  • 1,483 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 05 2002

Posted September 19 2003 - 08:04 AM

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."

Posted Image
GIR, UNLEASH THE MONKEY!
MONKEY!
"I am the Doctor of Death, and I have come to cure you of your life." --Endless Mike, The Adventures of Pete and Pete

#25 of 161 Andy Sheets

Andy Sheets

    Screenwriter

  • 2,371 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 06 2000

Posted September 19 2003 - 10:16 AM

Quote:
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",...)

I think the distinction is that Americans get frustrated with sports that feature lots of movement but little result, i.e., scoring. It just seems like soccer is the sport most prone to that particular kind of action, with teams constantly attacking the goals but seemingly never managing to hit one in. You could say it's because of good defense, but many Americans don't buy that and demand more points on the boards. I mean, if NFL games started ending up with scores like 6-3 every single time, the league would lose its popularity really damn quick Posted Image

I haven't seen anyone mention that many people outside the US are convinced that half the country is illiterate and that we live in a ruinous warzone because we have so much fun shooting each other with our handguns and assault rifles Posted Image

#26 of 161 Michael Reuben

Michael Reuben

    Studio Mogul

  • 21,769 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 12 1998

Posted September 19 2003 - 10:26 AM

Quote:
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.

Not that this makes it any more realistic, but Ally McBeal was set in Boston.

To me the biggest difference between the real America and the TV version is that the TV version weighs a whole lot less. (Tom Clancy had a great line in his Sum of All Fears commentary. Paraphrasing: "Actresses don't look like real women, because real women eat." Posted Image )

M.
COMPLETE list of my disc reviews.       HTF Rules / 200920102011 Film Lists

#27 of 161 Dennis Nicholls

Dennis Nicholls

    Lead Actor

  • 7,743 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 05 1998
  • Real Name:Dennis
  • LocationBoise, ID

Posted September 19 2003 - 10:56 AM

The original question really needs to be answered by non-Americans as our misunderstanding of others' misunderstandings is two versions removed from reality.....
Feline videophiles Condoleezza and Dukie.


#28 of 161 JamesHl

JamesHl

    Supporting Actor

  • 813 posts
  • Join Date: May 08 2003

Posted September 19 2003 - 03:08 PM

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.

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

What, coherent opinions that aren't even particularly inflammatory?

#29 of 161 DonnyD

DonnyD

    Screenwriter

  • 1,154 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 12 1999

Posted September 19 2003 - 10:41 PM

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.
"There comes a time in the lives of men, when taken at the tide, you're liable to ****ing drown..." R. Farina
"or go broke due to upgraditis..." D. Davis

#30 of 161 L. Anton Dencklau

L. Anton Dencklau

    Second Unit

  • 251 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 23 2000

Posted September 20 2003 - 12:20 AM

..

#31 of 161 Guest_Eric Kahn_*

Guest_Eric Kahn_*
  • Join Date: --

Posted September 20 2003 - 02:47 AM

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

#32 of 161 Chris_Morris

Chris_Morris

    Screenwriter

  • 1,887 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 04 2002

Posted September 20 2003 - 03:48 AM

Quote:
Soccer is very popular here in the states, it's just that the professinal aspect of the game isn't popular.


And that's a catch-22. It will never become a 'mainstream' sport (whatever that means) until it gets the media oversaturation like some sports do, but as long as the media keeps up their beliefs that all Americans hate soccer, it will never get that exposure. Most of the sports media doesn't realize that there is alot of money out there to be made by promoting soccer, and the "making fun of soccer J6P mentality" is past its prime. SI is the only ones that seem to be getting the message.

Quote:
I think the distinction is that Americans get frustrated with sports that feature lots of movement but little result, i.e., scoring

Yet our 'national pastime' is a game that features very little action, and most of the time very little scoring. Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

Chris

#33 of 161 MarkHastings

MarkHastings

    Executive Producer

  • 12,013 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 27 2003

Posted September 20 2003 - 04:18 AM

Quote:
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.
AMEN!!!! Everytime someone doesn't get their way, they have to bring up the 'Freedom' card. Posted Image We may have a lot of freedom, but that doesn't mean you can do whatever you please. Free? Yes - Free from rules? No!

But I guess it's that same freedom that allows others to make moronic complaints about our freedom Posted Image
Quote:
Yet our 'national pastime' is a game that features very little action, and most of the time very little scoring.
I think baseball is more popular because of the Beer Posted Image

Homer Simpson: (While watching a baseball game during his act of giving up beer): I never realized how boring this game really is!

I do agree that most find soccer boring because of the low scores. Just look at basketball to see why Americans like scoring. I just can't imagine a game, where an average of 200 points total, can be so popular.

#34 of 161 Jeff Gatie

Jeff Gatie

    Lead Actor

  • 6,530 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 19 2002

Posted September 20 2003 - 05:34 AM

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.

#35 of 161 Steven K

Steven K

    Supporting Actor

  • 832 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 10 2000

Posted September 20 2003 - 06:53 AM

Quote:
What, coherent opinions that aren't even particularly inflammatory?

Yes, if they mention religion

#36 of 161 Jack Briggs

Jack Briggs

    Executive Producer

  • 16,725 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 03 1999

Posted September 20 2003 - 07:23 AM

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. Posted Image

#37 of 161 andrew markworthy

andrew markworthy

    Producer

  • 4,766 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 30 1999

Posted September 20 2003 - 08:18 AM

Quote:
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.


Oh, but we *do*. The more educated amongst us are very well aware of the issue and the arguments on both sides.

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


Not so. Tony Blair (our Prime Minister) is openly religious, and so are a lot of our politicians. The difference is that establishment figures who are religious tend to belong to fairly traditional churches (e.g. the Church of England or Scotland or less frequently, the Methodists or the Roman Catholics). Generally worshippers in these churches don't proclaim their faith from the rooftops - 'establishment' relgion is not generally seen as evangelical. What you guys often consider the norm would over here be classed as fairly fundamentalist/non-traditional, and whilst it has a reasonable following in the UK, it's not the principal form of worship. Just as an illustration (and *please* no-one mar this thread by arguing about the rights or wrongs of this), there has been very little fuss in the UK over teaching evolution in schools - it's pretty much accepted by the mainstream churches.

Okay, back to the main topic. I think it's fair to say that Brits generally have the following conceptions of the USA (and I guess the same goes for most of Europe):

(a) You are absolutely clueless about what is going on outside your own country. The statistic about the abysmally low percentage of TV news coverage devoted to the rest of the world is often quoted over here.

(b) We think you have far too much choice of consumer goods. This is often interpreted as envy - it's not. We just can't work out why you need so many types of breakfast cereal.

© We think you expect way too much of friendship in the early stages. E.g. any greeting of a stranger that falls short of orgasmic delight is taken as another example of European aloofness.

(d) You have far too many lawyers specialising in litigation. The rise in litigation cases in the UK over the past few years is blamed solidly on you guys.

(e) We still can't work out why you want to vote ex-actors into key government posts.

(f) We find it fascinating that you can't understand the rules of cricket, but then have an electoral system that makes them child's play in comparison.

(g) You think we're obsessed about the events of 1776. Absolutely nobody gives a toss about them.

(h) You are far more interested in the Royal Family than we are.

(i) We cannot understand how you can have managed to make the game of rugby even more boring than it already is by turning it into American football (and incidentally, we think you're big girl's blouses for wearing all that protective padding).

(j) Say what you like, your main summer sport is rounders.

(k) You are convinced that all Brits are either cheerful cockneys or snobs. This is like saying that every American either has a Bronx accent or is from New England.

(l) Your spelling system is designed for people with a lower IQ.

(m) You have no good actors of your own, and so have to import Brits to play all the best or most demanding parts (i.e. the villains) in your movies.

(n) You are a nation of hypochondriacs yet eat more fatty, sugary, salty foods than any other nation.

(o) We are pretty clued up on basic American slang, but you don't seem to want to reciprocate. Otherwise, you wouldn't continue to Christen kids 'Randy'. Though in fairness, you do, after several years, seem to becoming aware that 'Willy' can mean more than an abbreviation of 'William'.

And in spite of all the above, we secretly love you. There's only the Dutch we probably like more (their queen is more cuddly than ours), but as nothing much happens in the Netherlands (sorry, Cees!) we instead spend an awful lot of time watching your TV programmes, hearing about you on the news, etc.

#38 of 161 David Baranyi

David Baranyi

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 81 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 17 2003

Posted September 20 2003 - 08:30 AM

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.

#39 of 161 Keith Mickunas

Keith Mickunas

    Screenwriter

  • 2,044 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 15 1998

Posted September 20 2003 - 10:10 AM

Quote:
(h) You are far more interested in the Royal Family than we are.

I've always wondered why you guys think this. I've only known one or two people that cared much that Princess Diana died. And it seems like paparazzi with regards to both celebrities and the royals is far worse overseas than it is here in the USA. It seems like only Madonna and Michael Jackson get the kind of attention here that many celebrities get overseas.

Of course, our fascination with the royals could just be because it's such an archaic idea that it seems quaint and interesting and a little amusing to us. Plus we've never had that, at least not since 1776.

Quote:
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 think this is particularly telling. My boss, an Indian Sikh who grew up in Africa and went to university in the states, is shocked that I've never been overseas. Well for us, it takes quite a lot of time and money to take a trip to any country other than Canada or Mexico, and even those can be time consuming depending on where you live. A middle-class family of four that doesn't live off credit, like the one I grew up in, can't afford those kind of things, something my boss just can't relate to. For us, a two week trip by car can take us to a wide variety of places, likewise in Europe a similar trip can take you to a wide variety of countries.

#40 of 161 Seth--L

Seth--L

    Screenwriter

  • 1,344 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 22 2003

Posted September 20 2003 - 11:21 AM

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.


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.
Well - There it is.
My Music Collection


Back to After Hours Lounge



Forum Nav Content I Follow