Sunday, 11 October 2015

An American on an American in Europe.

I just watched a YouTube video on the subject of ‘The 10 things about Europe that most shock Americans.’ (Note the word 'shock.')

The (American) presenter explained in the intro that it is aimed explicitly at Americans going to Europe for the first time (so I’m not supposed to be watching this, presumably? I felt guilty, but watched it anyway.) I’m so glad that I did because it gave me something to write about - My Two Favourite Things about Europe That Most Shock Americans (according to an American):

1. Europe isn’t one country. There are lots of countries here and they each have their own language, so don’t get angry if you encounter somebody who can’t speak English. Not all of them do.

2. Europeans are so worldly and well educated. Anybody you talk to will probably know more about what’s happening in America than you do, so read some newspapers before you come.

This is seriously funny, right? And one person, presumably European, commented:

This tells me more about America than it does about Europe.

(Come to think of it, I suppose it might have been an American who left that comment – one of the more erudite variety who knows that they speak French in France, German in Germany, and that Donald Trump is an asshole.)

I declined to leave a comment (I wasn’t supposed to be watching, remember?) Nevertheless, I’m curious to know whether this is a true reflection of American insularity. Any American who is not shocked by these revelations (you qualify if you’re already aware that Italians mostly speak Italian when they’re in Italy) may feel free to enlighten me. Americans of my acquaintance, however, should ignore the whole post. He wasn’t talking about you.

And I’m only kidding... (And I can't criticise anyway, since I was about 14 before I learned how to spell Mississippi.)

Edited to Add:

It just occurred to me that somebody should recommend this video to Ben Carson, just in case he gets the White House job.


Madeline said...

I enjoy watching BBC documentaries on YouTube, and I am always impressed by their ability to narrow in on the real dregs of American society. From what I've seen, you'd assume that the average American weighs 50 stone and is functionally illiterate, or is otherwise intellectually or morally compromised in some way. Actually the documentary I watched last night had a good example. It was about Western men who seek Russian brides, and the sole specimen representing the US was a bald Texan whose only criteria for a partner was that she be sincere, kind, loving, not fat, childless, not a slut and half his age.

The BBC will probably never stop making these documentaries and I will never stop watching them, because if there's one thing all Americans love, it's watching stupider Americans.

JJ Beazley said...

Are you telling me off? Is this akin to what they say about brothers - that they fight each other mercilessly but close ranks if an outsider threatens? I'm guessing probably not, but you can never tell with you.

The man who made this mini documentary seemed a like a genuine American giving genuine advice. He kept a straight face through the whole 10 minutes, although his face was very fat so it was difficult to be sure. And apparently he does another one called '10 Things about America which shock Europeans.' I didn't dare watch.

Why would Western men be seeking Russian brides? I mean, I love the accent but is it enough? What else is different about Russian women? And I wonder how the average bald Texan defines a 'slut.' And why do you mention that he was bald anyway? This wouldn't be a hair thing, would it?

Madeline said...

I didn't mean to tell you off, but it amuses me to think that you would perceive it that way; I guess tongue-in-cheek is more difficult to convey in text than it is in person.

The documentary seemed to suggest that there is a large number of marriageable women in Russia that isn't met by the numbers of marriageable men due to said men being dead or permanently drunk (I'm oversimplifying, but that was the gist of it). The women are forced to seek partners outside of their country due to their lack of options at home and their desire to get out of Russia, the worst place on Earth (again, according to the documentary). The appeal to Western men is the number and variety of very young, seemingly impressionable women - so many that it is possible to pick and choose among them the same way you would a piece of art or furniture. The men who are looking for brides in this market have failed to find suitable partners in their own country due to undesirable personality traits like being Texan.

I think the baldness stood out to me because there was a scene of him shaving his head in preparation for meeting his Russian dates. I'm assuming the lack of hair makes his Stetson fit better.

JJ Beazley said...

I'm really glad you told me this because I've developed a habit of asking women with Slavic accents 'Where are you from?' (Oddly, I never encounter men with Slavic accents.) If one of them answers 'Russia' I now know to be on my guard. If they're so desperate to escape the worst place on earth, they might consider even me to be an acceptable port in a storm. What a shattering prospect that would be. And although I'm not bald yet, the follicles are definitely in retreat and I've no intention of razing the rearguard.