January 07, 2009

ABC's 'Ugly Americans': Obnoxious George Bush Supporters

(Due to a miscommunication first, and then being beaten by 15 minutes getting a post up about the topic, I'm putting this aborted Newsbusters post here at 'ol CoR ...)

ABC News, in its “What Would You Do?” segment, had some actors portray George Bush-infatuated, moronic Texan tourists on the loose in Paris. And they got precisely what I’m sure they wanted (just wait and see):

"Howdy!" shouted Bob to the porter, in a Texas drawl. "Je m'appelle, Bob!" They were dressed in shorts and matching shirts marked: "Paris, Texas" and "Bush '08." Instead of Manolo Blahniks, they wore Crocs. They were loud. They were clueless. And they didn't know the difference between haute cuisine and oat bran. No doubt about it: Our ugly Americans stood out among the well-dressed Parisians.

Indeed. "Bush supporter" has to equal "clueless" and "boisterous," right.

These actors went out of their way to be literally as obnoxious as possible. The “wife” was ridiculously rambunctious at every turn, and the “husband” began singing the “Star Spangled Banner” when their boat left its dock, and actually shouted “George Bush!”(why??) when posing for snapshots. Yeah, sure sounds like a “typical” American to me.

The kicker of the segment was when the "couple" stopped by a local café. After bewildering the other patrons with their ridiculous antics, commentator John Quiñones offers the kicker (on part 2 of the segment, at approx. -04:39 on the video):

QUIÑONES: Apparently not everyone's amused by our couple's t-shirts -- or their politics. This woman is German.

GERMAN WOMAN: This is nearly as if I had a t-shirt: "I Like Hitler," you know?

Bingo. George Bush = Hitler! Perfect! See what I meant about ABC "getting what they wanted?"

But wait -- ABC isn't done yet. We Americans need just the "right" person to advise us on how to act properly when vacationing in Europe. Indeed, we need the counsel of ... Barack Obama! (On part 3 of the segment, at approx. -02:15 on the video.)

QUIÑONES: So how can American in Paris avoid becoming "Ugly Americans?" Well, this expert says it's not just about avoiding those faux pas'...

CLIP OF BARACK OBAMA: When Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe ... and all we can say is "merci beaucoup."

QUIÑONES: Try to speak the language, however crudely. The effort is usually appreciated.

"Expert?" Barack Obama? What foreign languages does he speak, pray tell? What's that? None? In fact, Obama said this personal deficit was "embarrassing."

What about that "obnoxious Texan" George W. Bush? Oh, that's right -- he speaks Spanish.

I’ve done a fair amount of traveling in my time, and I’ve never met idiots like the faux (hey, French!) couple in the story. The worst example I can recall was in San José, Costa Rica. I was standing in line at a popular ice cream joint, and behind me was an [older] American couple from a cruise (taking a few days to travel inland). I got my order and paused to grab a few napkins. The [old, American] woman literally yelled her order to the poor girl behind the counter – y’know, that ‘ol bit about how someone will supposedly “understand” you better if you speak loudly – and when the girl said meekly “No entiendo” (“I don’t understand”), the woman got angry, looked at her husband, and complained “They don’t even speak our language!” That was enough for me (who’s usually way too shy to interject in such instances): “Maybe that’s because you’re in THEIR country, ma’am!” I said.

The woman (and husband) shot me a dirty look, but said nothing. In the meantime, the girl behind the counter had gone to get the manager who knew some English. (That’s the way your average Costa Rican is, after all – very polite and friendly.)

The only other ignoramus I encountered abroad wasn’t American, but [Anglo] Canadian. He was the boyfriend of one of my then-girlfriend’s (now-wife) friends. He was loud, rude and demeaning to practically every “Tico” (slang for “Costa Rican”) he met, especially at clubs and restaurants. They didn’t hang with us anymore after I – politely (really!), mind you – told this guy to calm down and stop being so insulting to the country’s residents. Oh well!

This continuing ABC program will be interesting to watch as they attempt to “uncover” cultural negatives. I wonder if they’ll do an undercover investigation in, say, a typical newsroom so we can all see the “hidden biases” of the assorted reporters and newspeople. That’d sure be interesting, not to mention very revealing. But who in the hell would do it? How could they do it?


Posted by Hube at January 7, 2009 07:58 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

I've seen bits of the John Quinones faux news and everything I've seen are totally unrealist parodies of tourists. I've been to Niagara Falls Canada a few times and eight times to Tijuana Mexico. Never have I seen anyone acting like the nitwits portrayed in the Quinones pieces. I was particularly incenesed by the coffee shop segment. I would have fired any employee acting like the bufoons playing barristas.

Posted by: NorthCoaster at January 21, 2009 08:02 PM