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What aspects of American culture are often misunderstood?


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#41 of 161 OFFLINE   Jeff Gatie

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Posted September 20 2003 - 11:53 AM

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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.


I went to a wedding in North Carolina once. I dry-cleaned and packed my suit. When I went to get dressed for the wedding, my southern belle girlfriend asked why I was wearing a suit. I told her we always wear a suit to a wedding, why? She said that I was going to be the only one at the wedding in a suit besides the groom and she was right. Weird thing is, I did not feel strange or out of place, because where I grew up you wear a suit to a wedding (it's all those other people who were dressed wrong)!

#42 of 161 OFFLINE   Jeff Gatie

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Posted September 20 2003 - 12:04 PM

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You are absolutely clueless about what is going on outside your own country


We're not clueless, we just don't care!Posted Image

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We think you expect way too much of friendship in the early stages


You obviously have never been to Boston!Posted Image

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We find it fascinating that you can't understand the rules of cricket

Nope, again we just don't care!Posted Image

#43 of 161 OFFLINE   Seth--L

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Posted September 20 2003 - 12:27 PM

(f) We find it fascinating that you can't understand the rules of cricket,


In a past English history class, I asked the professor who was from the UK to explain the rules, and he refused saying it would take just too long.

but then have an electoral system that makes them child's play in comparison.


The system makes sense, but in typical American fashion, no one bothers to learn it (while still bashing it).

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


Either can I.

(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).


I agree.

(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.


That's not true by any extent. The reason that foreigners are used for the roles of villains is because their accents simply makes them different than the clearly American hero.
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#44 of 161 OFFLINE   Garrett Lundy

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Posted September 20 2003 - 01:11 PM

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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) Correct. Unless there is a war going on, we don't hear about it. Of course our country's military functions as a global police force and we've spent the last 60 years bothering in other countries wars. If your not killing us, we just have to ignore you because we only have 30 minutes of news to talk about the counries that ARE killing us.

(b) You make consumer choice sound bad. Yes we can choose from roughly 5000 different models & options on a new car, because of this car companies have to offer us more for our money.Posted Image

©??? I don't understand this one

(d) Are you suggesting lawyers might do something else!?

(e) They look better on TV

(f) We can't play cricket. If we tried the schools would expel us for having weapons.

(g) I always thougt the brittish lived in constant fear. I hear your likelyhood of being robbed in any given year is about 80%

(j) "your main summer sport is rounders." Umm..... huh?

(k) If you mentioned redneck you'd pretty much have the whole country summed-up.

(l) ROTFLMAO

(m) We import chinese actors and directors too

(n) We just assume France is worse and we don't feel so bad
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#45 of 161 OFFLINE   L. Anton Dencklau

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Posted September 20 2003 - 01:13 PM

..

#46 of 161 OFFLINE   Seth--L

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Posted September 20 2003 - 01:41 PM

If your not killing us, we just have to ignore you because we only have 30 minutes of news to talk about the counries that ARE killing us.


And 10 minutes of that news time is devoted to who celebrities are sleeping with this week, with another 10 reserved for sports.
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#47 of 161 OFFLINE   Chris Lockwood

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Posted September 20 2003 - 01:59 PM

> The everyday thing which seems to flummox Europeans the most when they come here is that you can't smoke anywhere.

Apparently they never go outside or to bars.


> (b) We think you have far too much choice of consumer goods.

Why is that a problem? We think you have far too many languages.


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

People have to run to win, & the US isn't the only place where actors have been elected. Wasn't there a porn star elected to some parliament in Europe?


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

I guess Redd Foxx was a lot more popular in the states than overseas.


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

Where do you think most of it came from?


> 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.

Don't they have US maps over there? I wouldn't go to Europe expecting to see London, Rome, & Warsaw in a weekend, & I don't have to be an expert to look on a map to see how far apart those cities are.

#48 of 161 OFFLINE   Keith Mickunas

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Posted September 20 2003 - 02:02 PM

Andrew's comment on slang made me think of another important difference that might be significant here. We export a lot more TV and movies than we import. That's why y'all might know our slang, and we don't know all your's. Of course others have pointed at that perceptions of Americans shouldn't be formed based on our sitcoms. Why if we thought British TV shows we see are an accurate portrayal of what life is like over there, we'd think you all were stupid, oversexed, the men wore dresses most of the time (and I'm not talking about kilts), and often get involved in large scale chases on foot involving women with large breasts.

As for the French, just watch the Simpsons to see our perception of them. Posted Image

#49 of 161 OFFLINE   Keith Mickunas

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Posted September 20 2003 - 02:06 PM

Tony Robinson, Baldrick on Black Adder, was in Parliament. Christopher Guest is a Baron and I recall hearing about him attending some gathering of the House of Lords once, but then again he wasn't elected. So we're not the only ones with actors in government.

#50 of 161 OFFLINE   MarkHastings

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Posted September 20 2003 - 02:49 PM

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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.
In all reality, the reason for so many choices has absolutely nothing to with the fact that we NEED them.

The real reason is because of "Marketing" - Shelf space is GOLD in the supermarket. To take your cereal example - Let's say the cereal isle (for example) has 100 designated 'spots' to put cereal. If General Mills only produced "Corn Chex" then they would only be allowed 1 'spot' to put their cereal and the other 99 'spots' would be filled with competitors cereal. This would basically surround GM's cereal and they wouldn't have much presence in the cereal isle.

So what does GM do? They come out with 'Rice Chex', 'Bran Chex', 'Corn Chex with nuts', 'Corn Chex with raisins', etc., etc., etc. This way they now have a reason to occupy MORE shelf space in the supermarket because they have MORE product. They actually could care less if some cereals even sell well, it's all about PRESENCE and getting more of your product on the shelves so that consumers would have a better chance of buying your stuff over the competitors.

The same goes with salad dressings and soda, etc. Do you really think it's necessary for Ken's to have "Russian Dressing", "Thousand Island Dressing", "Lite Russian", "Lite Thousand Island", etc. etc.

So it has nothing to do with the fact that Americans need so many 'choices', it's more of a tug of war between companies, the shelf space, and who can dominate the isles.

#51 of 161 OFFLINE   Jeff Gatie

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Posted September 20 2003 - 03:02 PM

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Don't they have US maps over there? I wouldn't go to Europe expecting to see London, Rome, & Warsaw in a weekend, & I don't have to be an expert to look on a map to see how far apart those cities are.


Oh yes, she looked at a US map. She just assumed the US map covered about the same square miles as the same size map of Poland. She just could not fathom that an entire country could be this big and assumed you could drive from one end of the map to the other in a daytrip's amount of time. You can't blame her, she comes from an area where you can travel to 7 or 8 countries in a weekend, we can barely cover 7 or 8 states in the same time. Remember (and this is the point of the thread) she got all her information about the US from the Communist Party before the 80's and from CNN and Hollywood after the 80's. She probably thought 'Friends' and '90210' were set in the same state.

#52 of 161 OFFLINE   Todd H

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Posted September 20 2003 - 03:31 PM

Life in America is exactly like the television show "The Family Guy." Posted Image

#53 of 161 OFFLINE   Glenn Overholt

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Posted September 20 2003 - 03:39 PM

Andrew, that was bold! You did know that you'd be getting all kinds of strange replys, I hope.

Here are a few more.

As for the news, we don't have much choice on that. When CNN started up, they had a lot of news from all over the world, but as the months went by, they sort of dropped it. You'd think that they don't want us knowing what is going on anywhere else.

As for actors that get new jobs, and I tread lightly here, we are not supposed to have any 'career' politicians here. This is all in theory, mind you, but they are supposed to get elected for one term, and then go back to the job that they were doing before.

And on the 'bad' guys in films. It makes it easier for us to quickly figure out just who the bad guys are, and I've known this for years. I just finished all of the commentaries on Stargate, Season 4, and they even mentioned that in one of them.

The size of this country is a problem too, as you have already heard. Not to get too picky, but this is one country about the size of all of Europe, and looking at it that way puts it in a slightly better perspective, especially with differnt sections being so different, yet so alike too.

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#54 of 161 OFFLINE   David Baranyi

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Posted September 20 2003 - 04:00 PM

Not to be rude, but can everyone stop "hijacking" my thread?!

#55 of 161 OFFLINE   Mark Romero

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Posted September 20 2003 - 05:36 PM

Not to be rude, but can everyone stop "hijacking" my thread?!


Your thread??

#56 of 161 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted September 20 2003 - 07:10 PM

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Tony Robinson, Baldrick on Black Adder, was in Parliament. Christopher Guest is a Baron and I recall hearing about him attending some gathering of the House of Lords once, but then again he wasn't elected. So we're not the only ones with actors in government.


Err - no, no and no. Tony Robinson is (or was) leader of one of the actor's unions. Christopher Guest wasn't a baron, he was a lord (there is a difference, old chap). He did attend the House of Lords (the second chamber in the British Parliament) for a brief while, but then his seat in the house was removed along with most of the other hereditary peers (the majority of members of the House of Lords are elected after a lifetime of work in usually something to do with government, with a smattering of distinguished writers and scientists).

There have been very few actors/people from the entertainment industry in the UK Parliament. The only two I can think of are Gyles Brandreth (a TV presenter and author) and Glenda Jackson (the actress). However, both had been active in politics throughout their lives.

As regards the other defensive responses to my earlier comments, I should have added just one most comment in my original post:

(p) You are incapable of spotting British sarcasm.

Just to clarify a couple of things that seem to have got you baffled:

(1) Rounders is a game with pretty much the same rules as baseball. However, in the UK, it's only played by young girls.

(2) The remarks about all that padding that American footballers wear is based on the fact that rugby union and rugby league are both played with no protective padding, and if you think American football is rough, just watch a rugby game sometime. Oh yes, and there are no constant delays - it's non-stop.

(3)
Quote:
I hear your likelyhood of being robbed in any given year is about 80%
Posted Image No, definitely not.

Oh, and just to clarify something:

Quote:
Why is that a problem? We think you have far too many languages.
Welsh is spoken by about 30 per cent of the population of Wales and is a mandatory subject to study in Welsh schools up to the age of 16. Scottish gaelic is spoken in some of the remoter areas of Scotland. Irish gaelic tends to be spoken by some of the Irish catholic population in Northern Ireland. However, these languages are spoken *in addition* to English. There are either no or very very few people who only speak either Welsh or Scottish or Irish gaelic. There are also of course speakers of various languages from the Indian subcontinent, for the same reason that you guys have a lot of Spanish speakers.


Quote:
Why if we thought British TV shows we see are an accurate portrayal of what life is like over there, we'd think you all were stupid, oversexed, the men wore dresses most of the time (and I'm not talking about kilts), and often get involved in large scale chases on foot involving women with large breasts.


Damn, we've been rumbled.

#57 of 161 OFFLINE   Jason_Els

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Posted September 20 2003 - 07:13 PM

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(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.

I hear this SO frequently when I travel to Europe so I've developed a response that Europeans can understand:

"Imagine you had 20 minutes to describe every news-worthy item occuring in the entirety of Europe. Imagine you had 10 newspaper pages to describe the same. Imagine you had 25 magazine pages, not including ads, to describe a weeks worth of the same. The population of the US is, roughly, the same of Europe. Now what about the whole world?"

It never fails. The oddest part is that Americans have more access to news sources than any other single European country and possibly more than the whole continent. We have more newspapers, TV stations (broadcast and cable) and a vast array of targeted special-interest journals. The Brits, Irish, and Dutch (they all speak English!) have an unfair advantage in that they are (usually :P)) fluent in English so they can share in the bounty. As most Americans do not speak a second language and those that do (other than Latin-American-Spanish Spanish speakers) have rare chance to practice it, we publish, with few exceptions, soley in English.
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#58 of 161 OFFLINE   Adam Barratt

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Posted September 20 2003 - 10:03 PM

One difference I've always noticed is the general reaction to criticism and the seriousness with which ones country is taken. Here in New Zealand, foreign visitors often joke about the number of sheep, our accents, our population and geographical isolation or any number of other things. We always laugh and no-one is offended. Likewise Australians with their corked hats, didgeridoos and boomerangs and Brits with their rain, tweed jackets and constant tea drinking. No one takes it too seriously. Posted Image

When speaking with Americans I am always careful not to make these sorts of joking comments about the US as they tend to provoke somewhat defensive reactions. Even this thread has some examples of this.

Adam

#59 of 161 OFFLINE   Jeff Gatie

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Posted September 21 2003 - 03:22 AM

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Here in New Zealand, foreign visitors often joke about the number of sheep, our accents, our population and geographical isolation or any number of other things. We always laugh and no-one is offended.


That's because that stuff is really funny!! Posted Image

#60 of 161 OFFLINE   Keith Mickunas

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Posted September 21 2003 - 04:16 AM

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Tony Robinson is (or was) leader of one of the actor's unions. Christopher Guest wasn't a baron, he was a lord (there is a difference, old chap).

On IMDB Christopher Guest is listed as the Fifth Baron Haden-Guest and I once read he inherited the barony from his father. In Jamie Lee Curtis IMDB biography they have "Became Baroness, Lady Haden-Guest, when her husband inherited the Barony in 1996."
They also list Tony Robinson as being "Member of the UK Labour Party's National Executive Committee." so I was a bit off on that as I guess that's not an elected nor government position.

With regards to the comment someone made about too many languages, I think he was likely referring to Europe or the rest of the world, not specifically the UK.


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