Saturday, February 06, 2016

Bleg: The Stereotypical American ... ?

Get a brain, morans!

I've been asked to give some suggestions for an academic project, and I thought I'd ask you to help brainstorm, especially if you were born in another country, or lived for a while in another country, or are closely connected to people meeting either of those two criteria. The question is this: what are some of the characteristics that people outside of the United States believe the stereotypical American possesses? (Apart from thinking only people who live in the US are called Americans, I mean.)

You can respond in the comments below, or via email, Facebook, Twitter, text message, etc. Your name will not be passed along, nor will any offense be taken. (Since I already know I live in the greatest country in the world! ;))

Thanks in advance.


ledocs said...

Generalizations about Americans that one might hear in France, or in Europe more generally:

Open and friendly.

Disproportionately religious.

Disproportionately violent and/or interested in gun ownership and use.

Unusually provincial. Do not know foreign languages, do not know about foreign cultures and their history, do not know their own history.

Unusually optimistic, not to say naive.

I have nothing at all original to contribute on this topic.

bjkeefe said...

Well ... by definition, stereotypes, amirite? Hard to be original there!

Thanks for weighing in.

Anonymous said...


The most important definition is what is an American?

It depends...

A "natural born"citizen? Where was that individual raised? A major metropolitan area? City vs Suburbs? A rural area? Appalachia vs "Deep South" vs Western States vs West Coast vs Northwest Coast?

Tourists that visit Europe will project a different stereotype than soldiers stationed overseas. Different racial, educational and cultural backgrounds will have different projections.

A complete generalization will give a gray picture as all the opinions will neutralize each other.

If you want to restrict the question to France (or any other specific Country) the projections will vary widely from High School students (mostly from an upper middle and upper socioeconomic background); College students trying to understand the language, culture and history; Businessmen whose projection will depend on what are they trying to sell.

Alastair said...

I guess that most Australians would view the stereotypical Yank as loud, opinionated, arrogant ("we're the best country in the world"), ignorant of other countries, relatively conservative politically, overweight or obese, sports-obsessed, and excessive consumers.

Many of these stereotypes also apply to Australians as well - but I guess you didn't ask about that!

Alastair said...

Just realized I omitted some of the more positive attributes from my description of the American stereotype. Being enthusiastic and vocal in their support of something is definitely part of the American stereotype. In a crowd, the stereotypical American will be the first person to shout "woo!".

The stereotype also extends to having the biggest and best of everything. Huge cars, ships, jets. I think this is viewed b Australians with some repulsion at the excess, but also with envy at the achievement.

I don't know if this is what you were after, but I'm pretty sure Australians have a special need to be recognized in America. As a movie star, for instance, you haven't made it until you've made it big in the US. We are obsessed with it - although I think that says more about us than the stereotypical American.

Aidan said...

My impression of the Japanese stereotype of Americans: big, loud, uninhibited, unrepressed, fat, lacking a delicate sensibility, weirdly accepting of violence and guns, inappropriately open and friendly, talkative, blunt. For what it is worth, I think the stereotypes are more about defining the "us" vs. the "them" -- it is more about how Japanese stereotype themselves with the counterpart being the "other". Japanese who live here and regularly interact with Americans have much, much more nuanced views and do not lump "Americans" into a single bucket.

bjkeefe said...

Thanks, everybody. I'll respond at more length later.

Anonymous said...

the man in the photo is a counter-protester--a kind of performance artist. He misspelled the sign on purpose. He's not a moran.


bjkeefe said...

I have heard that, too, ice9. But I still love the picture, staged or not.