Posted by: Godfångst | February 17, 2009

Spot the American: A Contest

ugly-americansMany people I know, especially my friends and acquaintances from La Belle France, remark on the incredible…*ahem*….visibility of Americans. One can hear us from some distance away, I’m told, and we are sure to be yelping for a cheeseburger and an extra-large Coke with ice whether we’re in Hanoi, Mumbai, or Quito. We’re constantly comparing our destination with “back home” and talking about how much better things are in America, and we don’t know anything about the culture, history, geography, or language of any civilization more than 10 miles beyond our hometown.You can get those for half that price at Walmart, you know.

Fair enough. But do you really expect Americans to learn about other countries? Ours is so big, and there’s so much going on. Just keeping up with Britney, Lindsay, Hilary Duff, the Jonas Brothers, and Brangelina takes up all one’s time. And those of us who don’t follow Britney are far too busy splicing genes, inventing enterprise infrastructure software, or running cults. Others are kept quite busy being teachers or restocking the shelves at our liquor store–or both. The rest of us are currently incarcerated.

The Americans who travel are usually only allowed two weeks of vacation per year, maximum, so they only have enough time to arrive, get over the jet lag, scope out the local castle or other high-altitude point of interest–especially if you get there by sky tram or high-speed elevator–and then buy souvenirs, have an overpriced meal, pack up our 70 kg of baggage, and run, sweating and cursing, for our return flights.

Furthermore, our brains are scanned when we reenter the US, and if it’s found that we’ve learned too much about a foreign culture, about its superior healthcare system, its liberal-minded childcare policies, or its relaxed attitude toward work or same-sex marriage, these memories are promptly erased by means of a special electronic device. And that’s what microwave ovens are for, too–they erase any traces of language or culture we may have picked up in Switzerland or Belize. Heat up a tray of mini-pizzas, lose that smidge of conversational French you learned in Bordeaux.

Also, we talk loudly because we are all hard of hearing. America is a very loud place. A running list of Walmart specials, reminders about terrorism alerts, presidential dicta translated into 56 languages, and a steady stream of synthpop are playing out of giant loudspeakers at top volume 24 hours a day in every public square, and most of us have severe hearing loss by the time we’re 15. We ingest so many chemicals that most of us are sterile and suffering from acute ADHD. We can’t get treatment for these disorders because none of us have adequate health insurance, as Michael Moore has so helpfully pointed out to the world. I had to decide–a cochlear implant or a boob job? Guess which one I chose.

mcdoWe don’t read because books are more expensive than iPods or flat-screen TVs, and most of us don’t even remember how to read any more–and the ADHD makes anything we do read pretty meaningless anyway. They put something in breakfast cereal and all fast food to make us addicted to sugar and fat so that we must either eat at Pizza Hut or deal with aural hallucinations all day long, which makes it pretty hard to concentrate on working or watching our favorite TV programs. And we like Coke because it’s cheaper than water here in the US, and our water has chemicals in it that make you want to watch even more TV, so I try to stay away from the tap if I can help it.

But enough about us. What about YOU? You think you know us, but you don’t know us. You don’t know us at all. You may shake your head at the obnoxious group clustered in front of the Louvre or the Taj Mahal, but those are tourists from Malta or the People’s Republic of China. It’s not our fault that everyone speaks English nowadays. We sent you all those TV shows and movies for your entertainment and cultural enlightenment, not for to learn English with!

Anyway, if you’re so smart, you Finns, Fijians, Congolese and Turks, see how well you do on the following quiz.

Identify any Americans you might see in the multinational mosaic below.

Answers are printed below in the comments.

1

1

2

2

4

3

3

4

6

5

8

6

5

7

7

8

9

9

10

10

Advertisements

Responses

  1. I’m sure Americans in general do get a lot a criticism and bad-mouthing from all over the world, some of it hard truth hitting home and other comments just down right nasty. Americans are loud and for the most of us (well in South Africa that is) obnoxious, but with all the different cultures in South Africa, barriers and languages here, we are forced to accept everyone here and have respect for their cultures. Some might be quiet and insignificant and other cultures loud and bumptious but all earning their equal, just and fair part in society. I do however think that other cultures can sometimes forget to be considerate to those around them and maybe, just maybe that’s where a clash in differences comes into play.

    ‘Chemicals in the water’, being brain washed by society ?.
    I on the other hand wouldn’t even dare drink water from the tap here, not because of all the ‘brain washing chemicals’ but because of a hard hitting reality here, cholera.
    True to a point, after a long two week holiday (forced leave or not) in a beautiful country somewhere on this earth, we return to a life we know well with routine and society has made us into such ‘machines’ it does erase your wonderful memories slowly. It’s sad, but it’s also a choice you make.
    Maybe the rest of the world is so busy trying to sort out the problems in their own country that they weren’t concerned about who Americans really are.

  2. Just goes to show you can’t judge a Yank by his cover. Any of these people could be or look American. The only American is Number 3. The rest are as follows:

    1. Burton Cummings, Canadian, lead singer of The Guess Who. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burton_Cummings
    2. Loulou Lamotte, Swedish Idol contestant extraordinaire. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loulou_Lamotte
    3. Martha Nussbaum, Professor of Law and Philosophy, University of Chicago. My idol. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martha_Nussbaum
    4. Dutch model Daniella van Graas. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniella_van_Graas
    5. Brazilian singer and cultural icon Milton Nascimento. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milton_Nascimento
    6. Anglo-Argentine actress Olivia Hussey. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivia_Hussey
    7. Australian novelist Peter Carey. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Carey_(novelist)
    8. Mexican TV journalist Lilly Allez. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilly_T%C3%A9llez
    9. The Turkish Prime Minister. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recep_Tayyip_Erdo%C4%9Fan
    10. The brand new Prime Minister of Iceland, whose job I don’t envy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%B3hanna_Sigur%C3%B0ard%C3%B3ttir


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: