Generally thought by non-Americans and people who have not lived abroad to be derogatory term due to the general stupidity of American tourists, this perception can be employed to excuse oneself from difficult situations.

Students, urban explorers, and suits can all exploit the well-justified reductionist stereotype for fun and benefit. It can also expose some interesting personality traits of those who subscribe.

It is very unfortunate, but I've run into this general perception whenever I travelled abroad.

When visiting a foreign country with limited exposure to other cultures, you are automatically at a disadvantage because you do not know the local customs and (usually) the language. When they ask where you are from, if you answer American they automatically assume you are a rich Texas oil baron with the manners of a retarded goat. I had one guy ask where my Ten Gallon Hat was. It saddens me that the Americans that they had met before were, basically, assholes. I had to work at overcoming the stereotype. I didn't wear flashy items to show I was well off. I took the time to learn local customs and as much of their language as I could. When the group I was with passed a group of monks in Thailand and I was the first one to automatically properly perform a wai, they realized that not all Americans are thoughtless jerks.

Actually, while I was in Thailand, the local folks looked down on the Germans the most. Siemens was installing an elevated train system, and they had a lot of German folks there. Of the nine I knew personally, only one treated the Thai people with any respect. There were a bunch of British folks there too, and every one I knew treated the Thai with respect. Needless to say, the Brits and I were invited out all the time, which annoyed the Germans. Perhaps it was the fact that the Germans were in charge of getting things done, and they had a lot of pressure on them.

I ran into this stereotyping in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Guangzhou (China), Bahrain, Hong Kong and (surprisingly) in the Phillippines. You get this jokingly in Canada, but it's more like two brothers picking on each other.

All I can say is it is your responsibility to leave a good impression on the local folks you come in contact with. When I was in the Navy, my Commanding Officer said it best:
"Remember, you are Ambassadors for your country. What you do here should be remembered with fondness, not bitterness."
Discounting my government and the things it does, I do my best to let the people I meet on my travels know that not all the folks from the United States are Ugly Americans.

Just a quick note from a Canadian about the stupid American archetype/stereotype that runs rampant north of the border.

I think most relatively modest Canadians who have at least a minor capacity for empathy realize that this stereotype is unfair to the large majority of Americans, and that per capita, the USA probably doesn't have any more mind-numbing, blithering idiots than we do. However, any Canadian that lives in a large city will have the same story about stupid Americans to recount. Here is mine:

Having met a perfectly nice couple from Iowa in a Toronto bar one night, I was asked the following question:

"How long will it take to get to Vancouver by car, 'cause we have a couple of hours to kill tomorrow."

The worst of it was that after telling them that Toronto and Vancouver are farther apart than London and Moscow, all I got was blank stares.

Now, in the interests of fairness, I should also say that the masochistic pleasure that most Canadians get in repeating these stories should probably be taken as more evidence of our mixed frustration with and envy of the United States.

The first track off of Eddie From Ohio's 1998 release Looking out the Fishbowl, this song shows off Julie Murphy-Wells' great ability to emote and to take on a character with her singing voice. In this one, she's your typical college graduate who loves Whitman and Sartre and Borges, infatuated with the allure of a foreign country. You can decide for herself if she's truly in love, but know this: if she were from any civilized nation, she'd be able to find one language in common with him, N'est-ce pas?

The hook of the song owes a quick debt to the Indigo Girls' Closer to Fine, but the tight percussion work on the djembe is all Eddie's.


lyrics:

You've got exactly sixty seconds to tell me what you meant that,
one short minute to apologize.
You've got exactly sixty seconds to tell me what you meant that,
and I hear the murder rate is on the rise.

I'm in love,
and I do not speak the language.
I'm in love,
but I don't understand!
I'm in love,
and I do not speak the language,
but I try to speak the language
of this foreign land.


Here I am! Stupid American! Here I am.
Here I am! Stupid American! Here I am.


You've got exactly sixty seconds to think about that stupid question:
a baguette doesn't come with a bag.
You've got exactly sixty seconds to take back that stupid question--
it's called a "baguette", don't you get it?

I'm in love,
and I do not speak the language.
I'm in love,
but I don't understand!
I'm in love,
and I do not speak the language,
but I try to speak the language
and it comes out sounding like:


Here I am! Stupid American! Here I am.
Here I am! Stupid American! Here I am.


His heart is Italy,
his kiss is Paris,
his body is Brazilian,
my heart is, my heart is...
Ohhhhhhhhhhh...
-klahoma.

You've got exactly sixty seconds to kiss me like a European,
one short minute to show me how.
You've got exactly sixty seconds to love me like a spy.
I've seen those foreign films! Do it, do it!

Now I'm in love
with a man who says "Te amo,"
I'm in love!
He calls me "ma petite chou chou,"
I'm in love!
and I try to speak the language,
but I can't understand a single word he's saying.


Here I am! Stupid American! Here I am.
Here I am! Stupid American! Here I am.
Here I am,
Here I am...


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