Monday, December 29, 2008

Do other countries generally misunderstand each other?

I think so! I was walking to the bank today, and passed a Long John Silver's restaurant. On the sign was "LONDON STYLE FISH AND FRIES $1.99."

Oh, come on! Almost everyone knows that over in the UK they call them "fish and chips!"

Of course, however, I've heard of a UK restaurant that really misunderstood American food...

(By the way, an actual American fast food breakfast consists of coffee, tiny hash brown patties, an egg patty, cheese, and a breakfast meat like sausage or bacon sandwiched in a biscuit, english muffin, croissant, or even in a tortilla.)

Speaking of cuisine, my father and sister (Dad lived in Mexico for awhile while he was growing up, my sister went on a few mission trips there) tell me we have Mexican food all wrong. One item often served in Mexico you won't find at Taco Bell: cactus.

And now let's move up to the stereotypes. By now a lot of us know that every Japanese man is not a karate master and not every Chinese person is a Sumo or Kung Fu master. Still, stereotyping people in other countries REALLY irks me. I can't really enjoy Weird Al's "Canadian Idiot." I know it's all done in fun, but I just can't. I also find that episode of The Simpsons where Bart offends Australia repulsive. Are we Americans really so ignorant of other cultures? I mean, take a look at this stereotyping of Scots done by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane:

That would have you think that every Scotsman wears a kilt all the time and the only instrument they know are the bagpipes. Forget that! For the ongoing adventures of a real Scotsman, see here. (And by the way, they love Back to the Future over there.)

Man, if we could only realize that not-that-down-deep, most cultures are the same, we might have fewer international disputes.

Well, I guess we all do agree on one thing: even though it's not good for you, everything is better fried in hot cooking oils.


Nathan said...

I think that the real key to humor based on stereotypes is whether the people making such jokes actually MEAN them, and sometimes it's pretty easy to tell. I mean, The Simpsons gets pretty much every foreign country it visits totally wrong, and it's not like they don't also make fun of Americans even more frequently. So I don't think the Australia episode was meant as a swipe at Australia so much as at the stereotypes themselves. And the whole thing about the booting was parodying something that actually happened in Singapore, anyway.

Jared said...

True. I have heard the audio commentary for that episode, but I still can't enjoy it. The thing is, we tend to go for these parodies and not bother to look at how these countries really are, which leaves us with only the stereotyped image in our minds. And don't think I'm picking on just the US. Other countries think we're dumb! (And in some cases, they are correct.)