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How aggressive is US culture?

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  • How aggressive is US culture?

    This question may seem at first a little overboard, but then a few things that are part and parcel of US culture may, in and of themselves, seem a little overboard to someone not from the US. And most American don't even give those things a second glance.

    The most pervasive is aggressive and omnipresent advertising. Yes, they have this in most industrialized countries. In the US, it's overboard. It's everywhere. In fact, I bet if one tried to go into business and didn't have an aggressiveness promotional plan, one would find oneself out of business. Yes, it's that competitive. But I don't remember this all-pervasive presence when I lived in England and in Germany. And considering that most of that advertising is along the "it's along about you" theme, maybe other more collectivistic cultures do have concerns about the nature of the culture evolving into something completely unrecognizable.

    Another factor is that when Americans go abroad, they tend to want to have their cake and eat it too. The ruined castles and magnificent scenery is wonderful, but when time to eat, sleep, and get ready for the next day comes, we want the familiar comforts of home (not of being at home, but of our home country.) I must admit to a weakness on this issue. When still in Germany and I was travelling around, it didn't much matter where I was, when it came time to eat, I went looking for the Golden Arches. And I'm afraid that we just might not realize how vocal we get when we don't find them readily available.

    So, does the US give off the impression that we want the rest of the world to be like us? And do we do that in a "We're superior to you" way?

    I think a case could be made on both counts.

    Doug H.

  • #2
    This question may seem at first a little overboard, but then a few things that are part and parcel of US culture may, in and of themselves, seem a little overboard to someone not from the US. And most American don't even give those things a second glance.

    The most pervasive is aggressive and omnipresent advertising. Yes, they have this in most industrialized countries. In the US, it's overboard. It's everywhere. In fact, I bet if one tried to go into business and didn't have an aggressiveness promotional plan, one would find oneself out of business. Yes, it's that competitive. But I don't remember this all-pervasive presence when I lived in England and in Germany. And considering that most of that advertising is along the "it's along about you" theme, maybe other more collectivistic cultures do have concerns about the nature of the culture evolving into something completely unrecognizable.

    Another factor is that when Americans go abroad, they tend to want to have their cake and eat it too. The ruined castles and magnificent scenery is wonderful, but when time to eat, sleep, and get ready for the next day comes, we want the familiar comforts of home (not of being at home, but of our home country.) I must admit to a weakness on this issue. When still in Germany and I was travelling around, it didn't much matter where I was, when it came time to eat, I went looking for the Golden Arches. And I'm afraid that we just might not realize how vocal we get when we don't find them readily available.

    So, does the US give off the impression that we want the rest of the world to be like us? And do we do that in a "We're superior to you" way?

    I think a case could be made on both counts.

    Doug H.

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    • #3
      When I've been abroad, I've always tried to blend in and not draw attention to myself. I also try to go along with the culture of the country and even make a stab at speaking its language as best as possible. One thing we Americans assume is that someone will or should happily speak to us in English. Many Europeans gain some level of proficiency in multiple languages and can communicate with us, but we are so isolated and provincial, that we do not take it upon ourselves to try to blend in while abroad.

      As for advertising, it strikes me that the cities in Japan and Korea have intrusive advertising. I can't say how their message gets across, though. Here, it is all about making the consumer feel bad about himself before making the sale. Whether that is aggressive, I don't know. Intrusive certainly. What's funny is how you don't realize the pervasiveness till it is gone. With the hubbub over women at Augusta National, the Masters was shown on TV without commercials. After a while, I realized I was enjoying watching more than I had enjoyed televised golf before. No commercials. And when HBO had the rights to Wimbledon, the coverage sans commercials was noticeable and highly enjoyable.

      Still, you have to look at everything in our history. The fun part might be in determining when we first became aggressive as a people. Was it the Battle of New Orleans that took place after the War of 1812 had ended? Was it the manifest destiny that took us to the west coast? What about the land and gold grabbers in the 1800s? Socially, is it that we consume so much?

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      • #4
        here's a really annoying point of advertising - they keep changing the name of the sports arenas based on who ever happens to be sponsering that year. what happened to honouring someone through the naming of the sports arena after that individual? won't the name 'orange bowl' always be more memorable than the 'office depot center'? i go to the office depot center expecting to buy pens and paper, not see a hockey game. when will our roads get new names every year based on who gives the most bucks. I95 will become the "trojan highway", and florida's turnpike will become the "geritol-pike', but only for a year cause it will be changing next year. i find this really annoying that american culture can not honour people or places anymore cause the $$$ has gotten in the way....

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        • #5
          One thing I've been told alot by people from other parts of the world is that Americans do want the world to conform to us.

          When we first started in on the Taliban, the media would show the women wearing burkas(sp?) and we Americans thought "How awful!"

          Point is, some places in the world do things the only way they know. What seems oppressive to us is normal to them.

          What would a South American Native think when they see our women being forced by law to wear tops?
          Maybe they think that is oppressive. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif[/img]

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          • #6
            I have been abroad several times (but not "all my life," as one lady claims [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] ), and it sometimes seems to me that people in other countries are very pleased and a little surprised when an American, as I did, tries to speak their language, eats their food, appreciates their culture, and doesn't complain about their accomodations.

            I've also noticed that people who come here from other countries seem more intelligent, skilled, and open-minded than the average American. (Immigrants from Latin America seem to be the exception, but most of them put us to shame with their willingness to work.) This puzzled me, until I realized that only the best and brightest from the Orient or even Europe make it here or desire to come here. It seems logical that people who travel (except for "Accidental Tourist" types [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img] ) are by nature more intelligent and curious than the average person; otherwise they wouldn't even have the impulse to go.

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            • #7
              Well, consider TV's Ann Coulter, who thought it would be wise to convert Muslims in the Middle East to Christianity so these problems wouldn't exist. She said this on one of the last Politically Incorrect shows a couple years back. It was unbelievable in the sense that a media type would be that clueless about how the world works. But, that is typically American to go about converting people to the standard way of thinking here, even though in a sense she's a political extremist.

              Truth be told, there's a reason the term 'ugly American' exists. All cliches have a sense of truth behind them. Others in the travel groups I'd been with have been embarrassments. One thing Americans have trouble doing isn't blending, it's keeping the voice down. You could maybe not pick them out of a crowd till their mouths opened. We're a loud people with little reservation about it. We're a people that have coined phrases like the ultra-Texan "For us or agin' us" and that's how we act politically and socially.

              And it is inherent. Many immigrants I've run into, once they've been here for a little bit, become loud themselves. I guess the question could be, why are we so loud?

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              • #8
                Despite media ideas Texans are not that gung ho. The Dixie Chicks were right when they said that a lot of us were embarresed, and a lot of Texans have a much more cosmopolitian view of the world and its peoples

                Og just saying...

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