America has no intellectual culturegreenspun.com : LUSENET : Junkyard Wars : One Thread
OK I'm not an expert on England, but from what I can see, England celebrates intellectualism. For one thing, they have a poets corner in westminster abbey where the greatest british writers are buried. I don't know of such a thing in America. All I know is we have Arlington cemetery, where soldiers are buried. I think the British speak english better than Americans. They make better use of words and sentence structures, especially back in victorian times. I'm not referring to their accents or slang terms. I can't really point to a whole lot of specific things, but still, I perceive that in England, the elite are honored.
In America, it's a whole different culture. It seems like middle & lower class culture totally dominate. It's more accepted to speak English badly. We have WWF, MTV, monster truck shows, hip hop, etc. Eliteness is relegated to a small dusty corner like PBS and various obscure, uncelebrated places. Yes we have plenty of very smart people in America doing great things, but they're not publicly honored. They're hidden away. They're called nerds and geeks and are ridiculed. Instead, we give great acclaim to our athletes and entertainers.
So that's why when you have an American host, the way he tries to act american is by talking like a redneck. There's no intellectual american stereotype he can imitate, except for the nerd stereotype, which is a shameful one. There's no american version of the the classy british intellectual gentleman.
-- Richard Manahan (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 18, 2001
Umm. Have you been there? When I was last in the UK the Dukes of Hazard was one of the top rated shows on the telly. We see the UK through the BBC mostly. The Beeb is eletist and tax supported. and yes BBC english is Oxford english but regular people use slang and poor grammar just like us. the common Joe in the UK is remarkably like the common joe in the US or Spain for that matter.
-- stephenbinion (email@example.com), January 18, 2001.
"It's widely accepted to speak English poorly" DOOFUS!
-- Crusher (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 18, 2001.
Heh heh. Football hooligans are surprisingly intellectual too. They use their heads... To headbutt fans of the opposing team. Manchester United, OY!!
All kidding aside:
Richard, using prejudicial stereotypes is the antithesis of intellectualism. America has its share of celebrated individuals who took scientific exploration to a higher level. Cathy Rogers' inspiration for Scrapheap Challenge was the NASA engineers who cobbled together ad-hoc devices that saved the lives of our Apollo 13 crew. Guess what? THEY ARE AMERICAN!
Americans lack an intellectual culture? I submit, you just didn't know where to look.
-- Thomas (email@example.com), January 18, 2001.
Yeah the Football pitch (playing field) was behind BARBED FREAKING WIRE. There were more cops in the stands than food vendors. Firebombs were lobbed back and forth betwee the fans of the opposing teams. Ahh English culture. Gawd I miss it. The WWF pales in comparison.
-- Stephen A. Binion (Stephenbinion@hotmail.com), January 18, 2001.
I have marveled for a long time at what a disproportionate amount of creativity seems to come out of England. To name just a few examples (obviously selected from my personal tastes and areas of interest): the Beatles, Monty Python, Douglas Adams, Yes, ELP, Jeff Beck, J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker. Americans have been responsible for some creative revolutions and breakthroughs too, but when you consider the population size of the US vs. Britain, we don't hold a candle to them.
-- Eric (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 19, 2001.
Cum ON! I have heard this same type of stereotyping all my life. We Americans constantly discount our own value. We are downright prejudiced against ourselves. It seems our sudo-intellectuals feel it necessary to extol the virtues of every other culture but their own. All my life, I've been hearing how "Asian" or "European" culture, art, medicine, and philosophy is superior to our American versions. Of course we can learn from other cultures but as many times as I've heard this, I see no evidence any other Nation holds a candle to our individual freedoms, medicine, political philosophy or technology. Our education system and media do leave a lot to be desired and I wish that learning and philosophy were more highly prized. But why should kids desire to learn more when they're constantly told their culture is inferior? Don't get sucked into the common trap of hearing an accent and ascribing superior intellect to the speaker. This is as bad as saying "blonds are dumb." We Americans may not be as much fun to watch on a television show but we get the job done.
-- El Kid (email@example.com), January 19, 2001.
There is one thing I really do not like and that is stereotyping people based on the country from which they come.
Whatever happened to people just being accepted for being themselves, no matter where they live, rather than having to live up to some sterotypical standard.
There are brilliant, smart people in every country in the world, and just because they have a certain accent or skin colour, or whatever, doesn't mean they are inferior ...
I have wonderful, smart friends from all over the world, and I am learning from them constantly day by day.
I am from Canada, and for many years, we have had this stereotypical attitude that we are inferior to our good neighbours to the south, just because we do not constantly wave our flag for all to see.
Even in the Olympics, in the past, I have heard fellow Canadians making remarks, when a Canadian doesn't win first place, or even place at all, "Hey, typical - Canadians never win anything anyway. I don't know why they even bother competing". Well, surprise, surprise ...Canada hasn't been doing too badly in this area over the past few years. And, hey, we have had some major medical breakthroughs done by - yes - Canadians ....
I could go on and on, but I won't, because I could write a novel ...
No matter where you come from, you are great!!! No stereotypes - please and thank you.
-- Mary Harris (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 19, 2001.
A Brit who can't even spell iterteltual writes:- as someone who generally likes Americans and America I'm always amazed at how insular Americans are - one of the things that makes America great is that it is a nation of immigrants (as is Britain but over a longer timescale) yet the rest of the world only exists as bunch of stereotypes - I guess it's the size of the country that does it. shame - there's a whole world out there and as the song sez :- people are people (BTW I HATE tea so thats another stereotype shot)
-- Freddo (Freddo@goaty.com), January 19, 2001.
-- Waddy Thompson (email@example.com), January 19, 2001.
I believe you all have missed the point of the origional comments by Richard. He is intending to say he misses the old host, and is simply disapointed that Junkyard Wars replaced him with a Yankee. I myself am an American, but i have to agree. This new host doesn't stack up.
-- Jeffrey Ryan Wollard (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 20, 2001.
I'm sorry, but you are the one missing the point. Richard is basically stating that having a host like George means America has no intellectual culture (i.e, the subject of this thread). We all disagree.
Personally I think TLC could have found a better host if they tried, but it is unfair to indict a whole country as being cultureless just because of a TV channel's programming decisions.
-- Thomas (email@example.com), January 20, 2001.
What is so right about honouring the elite? who is to say that I should think myself inferior to some-one just because they are born into a rich/royal family or because they have speak with a haughty accent. As for people being honored for acomplishing great things here in blighty it simply isn't true. Most of our inventors in recent times have had to go abroad for investment, thats how we honor great minds. We do honor the royal family. Lets look at that shall we - someone is born into a certain family that used to have power over Britain but now exists solely for the purpose of tourism, and we are expected to revere these people as superior to us? - sorry but where's the logic in that? In truth we have as much crap on T.V. over here as you do over there. Scrapheap challenge (junkyard wars) is one of the best programs we have over here. Going off on a tangent Cathy Rodgers may say she was inspired by the appollo 13 thing , but surely she must have seen the 'great egg race' when she was younger. For all you in the U.S. , the 'great egg race' had a very similar format except the two teams were in a studio for 3 days and were given a certain amount of different materials to complete a challenge , it was bloomin good, come on Cathy you must of seen it. Uh oh here comes the royal executioner I gotta go
-- Paul Gasson (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 23, 2001.
Regarding the posting about football (soccer) hooliganism- there's NO barbed wire, or fences of any kind, at ANY English football ground. The last pitch invasion was in 1981. Football hooliganism is still present in many countries. England had a big problem 20 years ago, it's now been tackled and more-or-less defeated, but European policing methods (teargas etc) are way behind the times, so bad hooligan problems persist in continental Europe.
-- Damien Cavanagh (email@example.com), October 22, 2001.
In the Uk we too have lower and middle classes as in the States but it would be wrong to state that they dominate our culture. In the uk we do also watch WWF MTV monster truck but these are all on the lower channels and are viewed by minority. The vast amjority of britain watch the 5 terrestial channels and alot only watch 4 channel. Two of these are BBC one is ITV and the other channel 4. BBC are elitistbut so are ourselves(English). Itv is not as elitist as the BBC but still uses queens English and Channel 4 although showing American shows (Friends, Frasier, Sopranos to name a few) does show a lot of british made films and art shows which is why it was established. America suffers from commercialism of everything and because of this everything is brought down to its lowest denominator to sell as much as possible and this means cheap trashy TV as a whole. Tv influences culture and if you show trash then that becomes an acceptable way of life because Tv says so. We the English would perceive ourselves to be more intellectual, classier, more cultural than the Americans. When British comics target America it is always about the brashness, vulgarity and self obsession that Americans have. We see the Americans as neurotic individuals obsessed with therapy and blaming all their problems on some "inner personal thing". 3 facts to leave you with 1 Football hooligans are not thick lower classes but more usually educated proffesionals. Football is expensive (£200 a week to goto games twice a week with beer,travel and tickets is easily spent)and you must be wearing the right designer labels to look the part.
2 The brilliant Nasa engineers who saved Appollo 13 are the same lamers who got them in the sh*t in the first place. Risking mens life and wasting all American taxpayers money on what? Teflon frying pans!
3 Americans are fat!!!!!!
-- chris stoner (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 28, 2002.
>In the Uk we too have lower and middle classes as in the States but it would be wrong to state that they dominate our culture.<
The lower class predominates the population; your national census confirms this. The middle/upper classes make up the majority of Americans according to the recently (2000) completed U.S. census. The numbers as well as rates at which people attend institutions of higher education in the U.K. are also far lower than in the U.S.
>In the uk we do also watch WWF MTV monster truck but these are all on the lower channels and are viewed by minority. The vast amjority of britain watch the 5 terrestial channels and alot only watch 4 channel. Two of these are BBC one is ITV and the other channel 4. BBC are elitistbut so are ourselves(English). Itv is not as elitist as the BBC but still uses queens English and Channel 4 although showing American shows (Friends, Frasier, Sopranos to name a few) does show a lot of british made films and art shows which is why it was established.<
The U.S. has such channels as well, namely the various PBS-affiliated stations, as well as the History Channel, A and E, etc, etc. There is significant scientific evidence to indicate that correlates poor school performance to hours of TV watched (i.e. the more you watch, the dumber you get). Regardless, TV is a poor form of information representation no matter what the material being presented.
>America suffers from commercialism of everything and because of this everything is brought down to its lowest denominator to sell as much as possible and this means cheap trashy TV as a whole.<
That is a sweeping generalization. The BBC is the only entirely government-funded TV channel in Britain, as such it is the only TV channel that is insulated from commercialism. PBS is very similar, and presents nearly identical subject matter. There are many other TV channels that appeal to the "highest common denominator" available to the viewing public.
>Tv influences culture and if you show trash then that becomes an acceptable way of life because Tv says so.<
I would have to agree with this statement, but when you consider that some of our (American) worst programming has broad appeal (actually they rule the ratings roost) in Britain, what is that saying about British culture.
>We the English would perceive ourselves to be more intellectual, classier, more cultural than the Americans.<
How people view themselves and how they actually are almost never congruous. Given that the greatest minds of the Century, and the greatest number of Nobel Prize winners have been Americans I would say that your view of yourself (and more importantly, that of Americans) is way off base.
>When British comics target America it is always about the brashness, vulgarity and self obsession that Americans have. We see the Americans as neurotic individuals obsessed with therapy and blaming all their problems on some "inner personal thing".<
Do you actually know any Americans? Have you been to the United States? If all of your knowledge is gleened from what you see on the telly, I would have to say that you don't know what the bloody Hell you are talking about.
>3 facts to leave you with 1 Football hooligans are not thick lower classes but more usually educated proffesionals. Football is expensive (£200 a week to goto games twice a week with beer,travel and tickets is easily spent)and you must be wearing the right designer labels to look the part.<
And what does this say about your educated class? >2 The brilliant Nasa engineers who saved Appollo 13 are the same lamers who got them in the sh*t in the first place. Risking mens life and wasting all American taxpayers money on what? Teflon frying pans!<
Do the British have a space program? No? OOOOhhhhhhh...... The greatest technical acheivement of the British prior to WW2 was the building of the largest moving object in history. It was called the Titanic. It sank because of slip-shod construction and faulty engineering, killing thousands.
>3 Americans are fat!!!!!!<
Americans are also the single most productive, innovative, powerful (militarily, financially, politically), as well as the wealthiest people in the history of mankind.
-- Anonymous (email@example.com), June 06, 2002.
hah hah hah hah! why oh wy does everyone think that England is some haven of intelectuals. Believe me the intelectul folks of england are in the minority. Here is my best immitation of how the majority of london yobs speak. "'es gah dan 'a pub and ge' ih' ah' foi!" Translation: "lets go down to the pub and get in a fight"
-- aperson from thisplanet (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 31, 2003.
Please listen to what I have to say.... ~ As a child I was raised in America and in Lima, Peru. I went to school all year round... In Lima i went to a British private school and in Tampa FL I went to one of the most highly acclaimed private schools. As I grew older I started to realize the difference between both cultures... In America I was considered very intelligent, but in Lima I was competing against some of the brighest minds... but the difference was not in the intelligence of each and every single person, or the education. It was the PERSON itself, and the culture. I have traveled to Europe many times... and met many people, and Here is the difference. Children in other countries spend their time focusing on their future, education. And they become wise... kids in other countries are encouraged to be bilingual, or even trillingual. As I got older, I made a conclusion. America is overrun by the common man. The common man, what does he do? He betters the country, paves the roads, makes sure theres running water and electricity. This "idea" that everyone is the same... is so STUPID. Last month, I was walking through a shopping center in Paris... and I could relate to most people. But last week I was in a shopping Center in Miami... and as I looked through the crowd, I saw these kids immitating pop stars... wearing clothes that were five times their size. Whenever I hear a person speak, all i hear is slang... and a perverted English language made to immitate the pop idols.... But in England, whenever I speak to anyone, or watch BBC, I hear ENGLISH. The problem with America is two things. One is intellect. America is a society where the social class is based on nothing more than your INCOME. What about a person's intellect? The other problem is entertainment. Children admire these so-called pop stars. A man... talks about garbage, makes backround music with a computer, sells it to a record company, and makes MILLIONS. How is that possible? Only in America, where the children are fools for this "culture". Real talent should be honored. America is just one big show... where people make money off of other people's stupidity. In other countries, you have some of the most intelligent people in the world, people who have culture, manners, wisdom, and real talents. Yes there are people like that in America, but like Richard said, they are HIDDEN. Please email me with your comments, and if you want to hear more about my experience and thoughts
-- Xavier Rios (email@example.com), December 25, 2003.
I'm a Malaysian Chinese who grew up in Singapore, travelling widely and spending intermittent phases of my life in Massachusetts USA and Cambridge England. I'm now a medical student in London. Personally, I submit that national stereotyping harms nobody if it is taken with a pinch of salt. Furthermore, I'd ascribe the image of the 'ugly American' to the profound lack of geographical knowledge prevalent amongst even middle class and relatively well- educated American suburbanites. Believe me, that's from experience on both East and West coasts. Perhaps that might reflect how America has little need to look beyond itself as it is continually infused with 'new blood.' That said, the sheer size of the country makes it able to cough up geniuses and heroes in great abundance, all of whom contribute disproportionately to their nation in various fields. You have a critical mass of intellect that is more than sufficient to keep the USA powering ahead. Apologies for detracting from the main argument, which I'll return to now. There IS an intellectual culture in America, but most Americans take this for granted, depending on 'natural selection,' the cream of society to raise the bread as they rise. This is no different from any other country, but America has the added advantage of the tradition I (rather naively) term 'benevolent elitism' - most people feel a sense of duty to their fellow citizens - just look at the way Bill Gates, admired, despised and envied by all, gives billions to American charities. The USA still has principles - capitalism may make it seem governed by a harsh plutocratic society based on wealth, but it is this same driving factor, the desire to emulate success and the willingness to "brashly" roll up one's sleeves to dig in and help that makes the USA uniquely wonderful.
-- Jason Ho (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 01, 2004.