Home of the Free, Land of the Brand

World turning its back on Brand America
The US is increasingly viewed as a “culture-free zone” inhabited by arrogant and unfriendly people, according to study of 25 countries’ brand reputations.

Now that I’d have to agree with that and I live here. And I’ve been overseas enough to see the damage done (as it happened, in some instances) by American tourists, who act as if the world was put out there to entertain/cater to them.

… a group of business leaders dedicated to improving the US’s image overseas, said help from the private sector was needed to repair Brand America.
“Right now the US government is not a credible messenger,” said Mr Reinhard, chairman of DDB Worldwide, the advertising group. “We must work to build bridges of understanding and co-operation and respect through business-to-business activities.”
Such initiatives could include lobbying for less stringent visa requirements for foreign students entering the US, increased cultural exchanges between US businesses and their foreign counterparts, and courses in diplomacy and foreign languages at business schools.

Well, considering that the visas which let the 9/11 monsters in were student, I think ‘stringent’ should stay ‘stringent‘ and is not at all a bad thing. Cultural exchanges are all very well, as are biz school language courses. But they can’t make up for a basic lack of manners and civility, wrapped in blissful ignorance, that permeates our society here. If you’re a rude, know-it-all boor in Poughkeepsie, you’re going to be one in Paris or Prague. And what a delightful ambassador for your native land, leaving such a vivid impression on the poor minion who answers your room service call, offers well meant instruction when you’re doing something impossibly rude in their culture or tries to give you directions.
An Aussie exchange officer in our squadron once told me that they could tell who to steer clear of when the tourists came off the ferry in Sydney. Hawaiian shirts, straw hats, clutched guidebooks, dumpy shorts and white socks with sandals all scream ‘warning, warning, warning!’ And the Australians speaka dee Anglais! God forbid they’re dropped in a truly foreign port. I’ve seen their like from Hiroshima to Chichén Itzá; even running interference when they were haranguing natives for directions or whatever, not having a clue how truly appalling their behavior is. Sadly though, they probably wouldn’t care if they knew because it’s all about “do you know what these tickets cost me??!”
Sometimes these goobers do the right thing, however inadvertently. Take the well-to-do couple we knew in Norf Cackelackey. They’d finally turned over the restaurant and marina to their kids, then were off on their dream three week tour of South America. We’d seen them the day before they left and then saw one of the kids a week later. “Hear from your folks? How’s the world tour going?”, we asked. “Oh, they’re home. Only gone three days.” We were astounded and worried, as they were in their mid-60’s. “What happened?! Everyone okay?” ‘Fine’ was the answer, but…

“Daddy said he just couldn’t stand it anymore -no one spoke English! So they came home.”

Yeah, it was like a foreign country or something.

7 Responses to “Home of the Free, Land of the Brand”

  1. Ken Summers says:

    Yeah. Durn furriners are everywhere!

  2. Even in their own countries! Somebody’s GOT to do something about that.

  3. Mr. Bingley says:

    What was that old Steve Martin routine about going to France?

  4. Ken Summers says:

    I don’t know the Steve Martin routine, but when I was in jr. high I absolutely failed to convince a classmate that when he visited a foreign country, HE was the foreigner. Somehow, he just couldn’t grasp that.

  5. John says:

    Hey, hey, hey! I learned Japanese in biz school. ‘Course, I’d already done hard time in the USSR, so after dealing with real Commies, with like, official Hammer and Sickle paraphernalia (and real, working AKs, too) any other “cultural adjustments’ were easy to make.
    Did I ever tell you the Committee for State Security detained me twice?

  6. John says:

    Oh yeah, remind me to recount sometime the chowderhead who visited us in Japan who didn’t like the Japanese food they served over there because it tasted different from the food in the Japanese restaurants in New Jersey!

  7. it tasted different from the food in the Japanese restaurants in New Jersey!
    Did you ever see ‘Big Night‘, John? It’s New Jersey raining havoc on cultural cuisine authenticity yet again.
    Primo (Tony Shalhoub) and Secondo (Stanley Tucci) have journeyed from Italy to New Jersey in the mid-1950s, determined to make a killing with an authentic Italian restaurant, The Paradise. But their food is a bit too authentic; Primo may prepare a superb risotto, but most of his customers are wondering why they can’t get a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. Secondo tries to convince his brother not to berate the customers for requesting more “American” dishes, but Primo stands firm. Meanwhile, Pascal (Ian Holm), another local restaurateur, is doing great business with “Italian style” food the brothers wouldn’t bother to spit on.

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