Television defines U.S.
October 25, 2007
The clerk asked “Where are you from?” “The States,” I replied sheepishly.
“Ah-maaay-reeka! The Superpower.”
That brief and instant statement came at me forcefully. Coming from the country that calls itself “Number One,” I never realized exactly how much the United States dominates the rest of the world.
“Do you support Bush?” is the first thing I’m asked when I refer to my home country. The people that I don’t lie to about being Canadian I fear will immediately hate me. Such is never the case, but they don’t hesitate to pull me into an unintentional guilt trip for my president’s actions.
Most of the perceptions of the States have proved to be embarrassingly true. We are the fat and ignorant.
As I attempt to defend myself as a United States citizen, they continue to impress me by informing me that Minnesota is a blue state. Honestly I admit that I would not be able to even name their president from whatever country they’re from.
The surprises keep coming as I find the rest of the world knows more about my country’s politics than I do. A German is telling me who to vote for in 2008 if I want the U.S. dollar to do better.
This learning experience continues to be broadened, for even The New York Times couldn’t tell me how the French citizens actually feel about their new ruler. I am actually excited to see what the newspapers will say about the country in the next few years.
During my down time in lounges of hostels, we flip through the channels. There’s the occasional British game show and BBC news, but generally majority rules to American television. “Scrubs,” “The Simpsons,” “House;” all of your favourite shows are theirs too, even if they don’t understand what is going on.
Music and movies have the same American power. Shouldn’t their English be better if they can sing the chorus to “Hey There Delilah?”
There are many things I do, say and own that cause jaws to drop. Making American style pancakes for some hostellers, they laughed at the stack of fluffy flapjacks on a platter and said, “Just like in the movies!”
Whether the things they see on the American moving picture becomes part of their culture or not, it is still known. Even worse, it makes me feel like my own culture is purely Hollywood and constructed for Fantasy Land.
To hear someone say that I am from “America” is strange. The name rings throughout their accent of “a place where dreams come true!” They might know quite a bit about the country’s politics and what our pancakes look like but they should probably get the name correct.
What right does the United States of America have over the rest of North America or Central America and South America for that matter?
I desperately want to take the American dreamers to the heartland. They will find the majority of Bush-scorners, the sensible that don’t consume McDonald’s and just as many punk-posers in Minneapolis as there are in London.
-Teresa is a journalism major and a geography minor. She is enrolled in the Semester Abroad: Europe program and has done research on the River Thames in London. She is currently backpacking independently across Europe.
Teresa Aviles is a student at UW-River Falls.