Friday, March 27, 2009

Quick, don't think: What's typically American?

Weekend quick poll: name five things you think are typical for the US of A. No names, no places. Will update the following list. Have a good start into the weekend, and our readers in Europe should not forget to spring forward on Sunday.


    Burgers, Hamburgers, Cheeseburgers: 5
    Political Correctness: 4
    SUV's, Big Cars: 4
    Christian Fundamentalism, Creationism: 4
    Teeth Whitening: 3
    Baseball: 3
    Wastefulness: 3
    Stars and Stripes/Patriotism: 3
    Space Exploration, NASA, Spaceshuttle: 3
    Obesity: 2
    Filmindustry: 2
    Guns: 2
    Intense competitiveness, Winner/looser: 2
    Drive Thrus, No Sidewalks, Driving everywhere, Long commutes
    Consumerism, Shopping Malls, Shopping network channels, Strip Malls
    Small Talk, Forthright openness, "Friendliness", Helpfulness, Politeness
    Brownies, Peanut butter
    Fast Food Chains, Supersized portions
    Writing checks
    Refusing to use the metric system
    Shaved pubic hair
    Air conditioning run amock (walk-in fridges)
    Democracy
    Exceptionalism, National Interest, Nabelschau (navel gazing), Pride, Absence of International News
    Great Landscapes
    Reality Shows
    Democrazy
    Believe in own propaganda
    Daylight saving time
    Country Music, Jazz, Hip-Hop
    Religious tolerance
    Fast and cheap but with low quality
    Anti-intellectualism, Math phobia
    Terrorism, War, Nuclear Weapons, Military
    Ivy League
    QED
    Native Americans
    Iced tea with sugar
    Root beer floats
    Freedom
    Simplicity
    Ingenuity
    Stubbornness
    Puritanism
    Rugged individualism
    Love of family
    Distrust of bigshots
    Extreme need for privacy
    Wheat
    Ipods
    Size (Big, Bigger, American), Big cups, Big screen TVs
    Starbucks
    Bailout
    "Oh my God!" screams
    College/University T-shirts
    Satire
    Scientology
    Televangelists


PS: You don't have to come up with items that are not already on the list. I count how many times they were named, I just didn't want to use a standard poll because this way you can suggest items yourself.

45 comments:

  1. Democracy
    Patriotism
    National Interest
    Space Exploration
    Baseball

    ReplyDelete
  2. Shopping Malls
    No sidewalks
    Fast Food Chains
    Great Landscapes
    Small Talk

    ... impressions of a tourist from Germany

    ReplyDelete
  3. Democrazy
    Believe in own propaganda
    Political Correctness
    Nabelschau (don't know a translation)
    Daylight saving time

    ReplyDelete
  4. I guess I can add to the list, so here it is:

    Teeth whitening (thanks to the Coen Brothers to make this even clearer)
    Baseball
    Country Music
    Wastefulness
    Christian Fundamentalism

    ReplyDelete
  5. Peanut butter
    Fast and cheap but with low quality
    Anti-intellectualism
    Math phobia
    Religious tolerance

    ReplyDelete
  6. Jazz
    Feynman
    Terrorism
    Creationists
    Ivy League

    ReplyDelete
  7. post consumer waste
    hollywood
    nasa
    war
    native americans

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thomas Edison, John Wayne, Superman
    Big Steel, Oil, Transportation, Utilities
    American Standard toilets
    Flag worship
    Banjos
    six guns
    depleted uranium
    oil drilling; Red Adair
    The Dollar
    Footprints on the moon
    "We come in peace. Shoot to kill."

    (Red Adair went to Hell where he enjoys an air-conditioned palace. It was that or all the fires gone in 30 days.)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Root beer floats
    Supersized portions
    Driving everywhere
    Shopping network channels
    SUV's
    Writing checks
    Iced tea with sugar
    Hamburgers

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi All,

    Thanks for your contributions! Please feel free to repeat what has already been said, I count. I didn't want a simple poll just because it wouldn't have been possible for you to suggest items.

    Uncle: You have disqualified. I said 5 items, no names, no places.

    Sojourner: I've dropped Hollywood, it's a place.

    Best,

    B.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Turn right on red. Definitely un-European

    ReplyDelete
  12. freedom
    pride
    simplicity
    ingenuity
    stubbornness

    ReplyDelete
  13. From hip-hop culture (and maybe gangs by roundabout), the young people often wave by putting one or two "v-signs" hands-down. I don't think the hip-hop thing has hit any other nation the way it has the USA (and we have the most "authentic" flavor.) BTW this is not meant as a put-down of US, I think the artsier non-thugish forms of HH are cool and enriching ... I employ it myself when dancing as "Uncle Sam" for Liberty Tax Service (an avocation for an eccentric, don't try to understand why an "intellectual" would do that ...)

    Also, how about elaborate clever advertisements and ad series and themes, that try to make a big cultural splash?

    BTW Bee, is "Democrazy" a typo or did you mean it as a clever snarky take on our style of democracy? I want to think the latter ... If a typo, let's make up a cool spin for it anyway; if deliberate, what did you mean? ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Thomas Larsson,

    Turn right on red. Definitely un-European.

    Actually, the Green Arrow is one of the few official regulations of the former GDR that has survived German reunification ;-)

    Cheers, Stefan

    ReplyDelete
  15. Low Math, Meekly Interacting8:51 PM, March 27, 2009

    Exceptionalism.

    That one pretty much says it all.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Positive can-do attitude
    unbiased easy-going
    energetic
    ingeniosity and creativity
    youthfulness
    tolerance
    open to new ideas
    latte macchiato
    civilized general manners
    Santa Claus (the red one is due to Coca Cola)
    round doorknobs
    artificial fingernails
    lack of taste in dressing
    loud cool talk everywhere

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Anonymous,

    You left out sincere, humble, modest, understated and unassuming, oh I’m sorry the one I was thinking of was actually English :-)

    Best,

    Phil

    ReplyDelete
  18. This is the opinion of a Frency who has lived some years in the US.

    1. Teeth whitening (because American people have known that smile was important much before other people in the world)
    2. Shaved public hair (at least for women. On nudist beaches in California or Florida, that's the decisive factor to know a priori if a woman is really American or a French or Italian tourist...)
    3. American only sports (Baseball, American football, NASCAR races).
    4. The only country in the world to still use old English measures and not the metric system...
    5. ... And of course puritanism (the US is the only country of the western world where Clinton's affair with Monica could have led to an impeachment procedure, which is still considered in France as worst than Bush election...)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Ooops, I meant "fancy Frency" not "fency" of course...

    ReplyDelete
  20. No, it is "Frenchy", not "frency", the "h" is not working well on my keyboard. And this leads me to the point 6 about what is typically American:

    6. Hope. Even if you're a homeless one, in America, there's still hope you can come back in the economic game.. if you're not already burnt by alcohol or drugs. But if you're a rich one, there's also still hope you could quickly become a homeless. Future, even immediate future, is not written for American, while Europeans have some difficulty to imagine their life could change dramatically in a few days.

    ReplyDelete
  21. CoffeeCupContrails10:54 PM, March 27, 2009

    Cheeseburgers with the yellow cheese sticking out.

    Reality shows of blonde women looking for love fighting other blonde women

    Reality shows of middle aged women looking for love fighting other middle aged women

    'International news' - or the absence of it

    ReplyDelete
  22. Bee:

    1. rugged individualism
    2. intense competitiveness
    3. forthright openness
    4. love of family
    5. distrust of bigshots

    ReplyDelete
  23. Bee,

    Is Hollywood a place or an industry?

    So:

    Hamburgers,
    Hollywood movies,
    Big cars,

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi Neil,

    I thought Democrazy was a deliberate typo (came from George, see above). There is plenty of Hip-Hop also in Germany. Best,

    B.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi Anonymous,

    Well, I will continue to ignore those who can't count to 5. It wasn't my intention to brain-storm everything anybody could possible connect to the USA but what are the most frequent first associations. I totally fail to see what's supposedly American about Latte Macchiato? Best,

    B.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi Peter,

    Hollywood is a place. Could mean many things. Like, bad actors, bad plots, starlets you'll never see again, obsession with looks? Best,

    B.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Political Correctness
    Guns
    Extreme need for privacy
    "Friendliness"
    Consumerism

    ReplyDelete
  28. helpfullness
    politeness
    wastefullness
    filmindustry
    wheat

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hamburgers
    Big screen TVs
    SUVs
    Ipods
    Long commutes

    ReplyDelete
  30. Nuclear Weapons
    Burgers
    Size (Big, Bigger, American)
    Patriotism
    Military

    ReplyDelete
  31. Size (Big, Bigger, American)

    Did you fly American lately? Maybe I'm paranoid but I believe their kneespace is constantly shrinking.

    ReplyDelete
  32. obesity
    big cars
    air conditioning run amock (walk-in fridges)
    strip malls
    obesity

    (as seen from the 4th floor in this part of Scandinavia.)

    ReplyDelete
  33. Creationism
    Bailout
    MIT
    Spaceshuttle
    Starbucks

    ReplyDelete
  34. Winner/looser
    Big cups
    "Oh my God!" screams
    College/University T-shirts
    Obesity

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hello Neil, Bee,
    that Democrazy was deliberate.
    But rather spontaneous, a kind of
    "Freuds Typo" :=)
    I wondered, whether somebody would
    see it.
    Georg

    ReplyDelete
  36. Hi Georg,

    I noticed it also. In that respect I’ve heard us Canadians being connected with Maple saps and Germans being Mercedes-Bent :-)

    Best,

    Phil

    ReplyDelete
  37. hi bee,
    Hollywood meant the film industry, you can count it there.

    best,

    ReplyDelete
  38. What the American Dream means to me:

    Wake up!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Satire

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qn9FlD_IPOE

    ReplyDelete
  40. Televangelists
    Creationism
    Scientology
    Guns
    PC

    ReplyDelete
  41. Anonymous Snowboarder11:37 PM, March 30, 2009

    come now people.. APPLE PIE!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Anonymous Snowboarder,

    Your right about that, yet I think the reason it was forgotten is that there are fewer moms and girls next door that make them, not to mention knowing how to :-)

    Best,

    Phil

    ReplyDelete
  43. Hello Bee,
    spitting this poll into Americans
    vs non-Americans might be interesting.
    Georg

    ReplyDelete
  44. Dollar$
    Dollar$
    Dollar$
    Dollar$
    and, la$t but not lea$t:
    War$

    ReplyDelete

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