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:

Phil Warnell said...

Democracy
Patriotism
National Interest
Space Exploration
Baseball

Anonymous said...

Shopping Malls
No sidewalks
Fast Food Chains
Great Landscapes
Small Talk

... impressions of a tourist from Germany

Georg said...

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

Jean-Philippe said...

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

Michael F. Martin said...

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

dileep said...

Jazz
Feynman
Terrorism
Creationists
Ivy League

dileep said...

Replace Feynman with QED :P

Sojourner said...

post consumer waste
hollywood
nasa
war
native americans

Uncle Al said...

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.)

David B. said...

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

Bee said...

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.

Thomas Larsson said...

Turn right on red. Definitely un-European

Giotis said...

freedom
pride
simplicity
ingenuity
stubbornness

Neil' said...

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? ;-)

stefan said...

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

Low Math, Meekly Interacting said...

Exceptionalism.

That one pretty much says it all.

Anonymous said...

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

Phil Warnell said...

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

SFJP said...

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...)

SFJP said...

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

SFJP said...

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.

CoffeeCupContrails said...

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

Anonymous said...

Bee:

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

Peter Shor said...

Bee,

Is Hollywood a place or an industry?

So:

Hamburgers,
Hollywood movies,
Big cars,

Bee said...

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.

Bee said...

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.

Bee said...

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.

Aditi said...

Political Correctness
Guns
Extreme need for privacy
"Friendliness"
Consumerism

Anonymous said...

helpfullness
politeness
wastefullness
filmindustry
wheat

Anonymous said...

Hamburgers
Big screen TVs
SUVs
Ipods
Long commutes

Christian said...

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

Bee said...

Size (Big, Bigger, American)

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

Peter Lund said...

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

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

Anonymous said...

Creationism
Bailout
MIT
Spaceshuttle
Starbucks

Christine said...

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

Georg said...

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

Phil Warnell said...

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

Sojourner said...

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

best,

Anonymous said...

What the American Dream means to me:

Wake up!

Proud American said...

Satire

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

Gordon said...

Televangelists
Creationism
Scientology
Guns
PC

Anonymous Snowboarder said...

come now people.. APPLE PIE!

Phil Warnell said...

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

Georg said...

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

Dorvek said...

Dollar$
Dollar$
Dollar$
Dollar$
and, la$t but not lea$t:
War$