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What stereotypes do you think Europeans have of the U.S.?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on May 25, 2007

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Photo of Angela Howell-Gibbs

“That we’re jingoistic, ready to go to war before diplomacy, unsophisticated cowboys.”

Photo of Kevin Flickinger

“I think they think we are too big and powerful for our own good. I think they have a better sense of family, and so they think we put too much emphasis on work.”

Photo of Ana Codita

“They think we are less relaxed and more stressed out. And they think we’re more simple-minded and profit-oriented.”

Photo of Preston Hall

“They think our government, economy and people in general are greedy and power hungry.”

Comments

Sigmund 6 years, 11 months ago

Who cares what the Europeans think of US? It is not as if they it matters a great deal. I mean do the French care if I think they are a bunch of surrender monkeys or the Italian's are sweating because I think they should bathe more than once a month? Nope, and why should they? When the BBC broadcast the following is it any wonder the Brits think we are a bunch of hicks. Enjoy, but be prepared to be stereotyped in the most unflattering terms. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW0ubzvxSlU

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Gareth 6 years, 11 months ago

A spoiled drunk teenager, waving a gun in a crowded room.

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oldgoof 6 years, 11 months ago

The goof is reading this thread from a brasserie in Paris right now and having much fun with the topic. He is receiving the most questions from the French trying to understand the US immigration issue. ...and a few q's on Bush.

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paladin 6 years, 11 months ago

Methinks I didest know not aptly thy question. Woe unto me.

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moveforward 6 years, 11 months ago

snoozie says "In our experience many Europeans believe Americans to be ill-mannered, poorly educated and overfed simpletons."

I would agree, many of us are.

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none2 6 years, 11 months ago

I've been overseas myself, and I think what matters is not what a group thinks, but an individual. You cannot change the mob mentality about some group, you have to change attitudes one at a time. You'd be surprised what stereotypes can be broken down on an individual basis.

Case in point, I had always heard that French (especially from Paris) hate people who don't speak french, hate even more those that try and mess up. Likewise, I heard that they aren't very clean and won't work if they don't have to...

Well I was up in the Eiffel Tower, and another American in my group was asking the young lady at the counter for French Fries. I told him that the French call them frites. The lady was so impressed when she heard me that when it was my turn and I asked for crepes, she made me one even though she had already closed down that section of her counter. Well stereotypes were broken on both sides in just that 10 minute encounter. I learned that SOME French DO appreciate when you at least learn some word that is french -- even if you don't pronounce it with the perfect accent. It is the EFFORT that matters. Likewise, I learned that some French are not lazy. She would have been well within her right not to make me a crepe, but she decided to anyway. On her end, she realized that there are some Americans who take an interest in their culture, language. I think my friend also learned from the experience. She wasn't mad at him for saying french fries, but her whole outlook brightened up when I told him to say frites.

Sure not everywhere was a great experience. In Stockholm, I was lost and unfortunately, I don't know any Swedish nor did I have a translation book with me. So when I tried to ask for help, one lady was really insulted. I guess I was a dirty American in that situation. Next time I'll make sure to have more language translation books with me.

Likewise, I must admit that I did have a hard time with several Europeans that had a very bad odor -- due to the fact that some do not believe in daily bathing. One man on the bus was so bad, that I thought I was getting nauseated. Likewise, I'll never understand the concept of all public toilets being pay toilets. After seeing older European guys urinate in public, it was enough to think they need to socialize their toilets and make them free. At least it would keep the older men's anatomy a bit more private.

The bottom line is stereotypes are less important than individual relationships. If you are fortunate enough to be able to travel, get to know individuals. Don't just stick with your friends on the tour. You'll probably find things or people you don't like, but you'll also find people and ideas that you do like. When there are some people or ideas that you do like, then you realize that stereotypes serve very little purpose.

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peppermint 6 years, 11 months ago

Europeans think Americans are obsessed with material goods, spoiled, over-entertained, poorly informed, prejudiced, and fat.

Because we are.

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JLoh21 6 years, 11 months ago

most Europeans could care less about us since the fall of the soviet empire. They will love us again once they get themselves be overrun by islam and need rescued by us again for the fourth time in the past hundred years.

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snoozey 6 years, 11 months ago

My wife & I frequently travel out of the country. In our experience many Europeans believe Americans to be ill-mannered, poorly educated and overfed simpletons. The Canadians generally don't find us to be overweight. Its not just a stereotype. Spend some time abroad and you will have a different take on present day American culture.

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beatrice 6 years, 11 months ago

oscar, Heck, it's 2007 and we haven't even caught Osama bin Hidin'! It is all the fault of our lying, good for nothing President! Why, Bush is so ....

(friday, friday, Friday, FRIDAY!!!) nevermind

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Ken Miller 6 years, 11 months ago

I agree with most of the posts here that Europeans likely see Americans as short-sighted, mean, arrogant, fat, stupid, lazy, pompous, with a "better than thou" attitude. But I also think Europeans, like many other peoples across the globe, are very afraid of us. And that's because most of the rest of the world knows, given our history, that if you screw around with the U.S. too much, you just might piss us off enough to get us up off our fat rear-ends, have our nearly dysfunctional leadership pull together, and destroy anything in our way.

That's why the Al-Qaeda tactics seem to be working so well. The current enemy is not afraid of us, but they also know how far to push without completely awakening the sleeping giant. They came close on 9/11 - but it's 2007, folks, and we're still talking about Al-Qaeda.

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sunflower_sue 6 years, 11 months ago

bea, great Roy joke! Made me giggle.

I thought we were just all Phat now.

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Souki 6 years, 11 months ago

I've found that Europeans often think of us as children -- loud, sometimes charming, sometimes belligerent, often unable to restrain ourselves.

That and fat.

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Harry_Manback 6 years, 11 months ago

A lot of European men are surprised to find out not all American girls are promiscuous blondes (blame Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, etc.) for that one. Also, we're not all fat either!

When I studied abroad in Spain last year, I was surprised to find that EVERYONE knew about Kansas, and then I was referred to as "Dorothy" from then on... Nobody knew where Kansas was, just that there were a lot of farms here. I had to reemphasize the fact that I'm from Kansas CITY, a city, not a farm! Kind of reminded me of visiting the East coast...hahaha!

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TheHeartlessBureaucrat 6 years, 11 months ago

Thank you for catching my spelling error in my joke about not being able to spell Lichte...Leich....Lik......uh...that one place.

Whaddya expect from a Kansan? We don't even pronounce the names of our towns and neighboring states correctly.

Cheney. Arkansas City. MacPherson...

Missouri!

THB

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The_Original_Bob 6 years, 11 months ago

Snap -

This is one big country full of Bob's. There is even an underground element that has had their Bobness stripped by the electronic media. They must lurk around with false monikers as the Site Staff is always on the look out.

Of course, using Nick Danger is probably not advised.

Brother in Bobness

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sgtwolverine 6 years, 11 months ago

Stereotypes are self-propagating. LJW is just taking the easy road here.

But stereotypes also are equal opportunity -- there are stereotypes about everyone. Americans are war-mongering cowboys; the French are snobby and they make a habit of surrendering; Germans could drink the Atlantic Ocean dry in a day; Austrians are good at skiing. Whatever. All I know is that my life's goal is to be a snobby war-mongering cowboy who could drink the Atlantic dry while skiing. (Sort of like Bode Miller, but without actually being Bode Miller.)

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prospector 6 years, 11 months ago

That we are pompous idiots.

Stereotypes are divisive. Why does the LJW propagate this? Shame on them!

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beatrice 6 years, 11 months ago

Das, Lichtenstein is in the museum, next to the Warhol.

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Bone777 6 years, 11 months ago

That we are extremely good looking and smart....

Oh, that is my wifes opinion.

They think we suck!

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OTSSweeper 6 years, 11 months ago

If I could say one thing to Europe and the rest of the world, it would be a loud..."Who's your daddy?!!!"

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Flap Doodle 6 years, 11 months ago

They think many of us are called "Bob".

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imastinker 6 years, 11 months ago

ceallach -

I can't quit laughing at that.......An indian attack. That's really funny.

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ski_bum 6 years, 11 months ago

I know that they can't stay away from our mountains, and they make great ski lift operaters!!

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Gootsie 6 years, 11 months ago

jingoism [ jÃ-ng gÅ ÃzzÉm ] - noun - Definition:

belligerent nationalism: extreme patriotism expressing itself especially in hostility toward other countries. jingoist adjective, noun

I had no idea what it meant - the noise you make when you are heavy and are dancing?

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Das_Ubermime 6 years, 11 months ago

"2. That none of us know where Lichtenstein is:and that we can't spell it."

What, you mean Liechtenstein? The country next to Switzerland? Cuz I don't know where Lichtenstein is

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Ceallach 6 years, 11 months ago

crazyks, I too grew up in a house that lived in fear of an indian attack. Therefore, we developed many practices to either divert or lessen the length and severity of said attacks. The one that worked best was "you better stop, that will make gramma mad!" :)

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Ceallach 6 years, 11 months ago

That we do not bathe often enough or wear deodorant . . . oh wait . . . that's not us . . . nevermind.

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Linda Endicott 6 years, 11 months ago

The cow story is cute...

I've always considered myself a city kid. But, growing up in a small town (or what others consider small, anyway; that's pretty relative), I knew lots of people who owned farms and had cows. We went for rides out in the country on some of those hot, summer evenings, because it was a lot cooler out there.

So I knew what a cow was. I knew what cows looked like. Seeing one didn't amaze me. However, knowing what they looked like and what they ate was pretty much my entire knowledge about cows back then.

Many years later, while a friend and I were driving to KC, we were on I-35. I saw a bunch of cows in a pasture along the road, standing by the fence. I rolled down the car window and yelled out, "how now, brown cow?"...because of course, some of them were brown.

He looked at me like I was nuts. (that's beside the point) But really, how many times in your life can you say that line and really mean it?

I had some cousins that back then lived in the country. During the summer they would come visit us, one at a time, and stay with us for a week. We used to take walks around town. During these walks, one of them constantly asked me, as we passed houses down the streets, "who lives there?" She was amazed that I didn't know. Living in the country, where the houses were very sparse (back then, anyway), she knew who all her neighbors were. She was shocked that I didn't know people who lived only two or three blocks away from my house.

When my sister went to college, she had a girl in one of her classes from New Jersey. The girl had been afraid to come here. Honestly, she thought the Indians were still attacking, and that they would have to travel by covered wagon and put them in a circle for protection.

Since the Europeans don't live here, pretty much all they have to go by are our movies, TV shows and such. Which of course are woefully inaccurate and usually display anyone living outside of LA or NY as country bumpkins. They usually portray Texans as cowboys and country folk...they don't mention places like Houston, Austin, or Dallas. And everyone from Kansas is a farmer...no mention of KC, Topeka, Wichita, Olathe...and they probably never even heard of Lawrence...

It's all pretty relative, I guess.

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acg 6 years, 11 months ago

The stereotypes the europeans have about us are boundless and we can list them all day and probably never get to the end. But, as someone stated above, we can do the same thing in return (French chicks are hairy, etc.). The thing about stereotypes is they're generally pretty true. Yes, we have lazy, uninterested, undeducated, fat people here that want to keep up with the jones' and watch nascar, but for every stereotypical "American" that we have, we have 100 other phenomenal human beings that make their mark on this planet every day. I dislike a lot of things about America, but it's still the greatest nation on the planet. So, screw you, European people! We rock!!

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 6 years, 11 months ago

Swiss teens think american pop music and prom magazines are cool, their parents think jellybellys are tops

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trinity 6 years, 11 months ago

that we u.s.-ians worry too much about what people think? doh!

friday friday friDAY!!! friday friday friDAY!!!! friday friday friDAYYYYYYY!!!! i'm just here for the conga line. and the weak beer.

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beatrice 6 years, 11 months ago

I think most of their stereotypes are the same ones many of us have about ourselves -- too fat, terrible diets, work too much, that religion plays too large a role in our selection of presidents, that we really aren't smarter than a fifth-grader, and that we make the best movies for the masses. The ones that surprise me are when they assume we are all rich, and despite what they dislike about us most still want to visit the U.S. if they haven't already. Depending on the country, they also don't think we are any ruder than are the Germans, Italians, or Spanish.

To see American (and French) stereotypes played out in a great foreign film, check out the animated The Triplets of Belleville. Wonderfully funny. A perfect friday, friday, Friday, FRIDAY!!! kind of movie!

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Crossfire 6 years, 11 months ago

I think that in Europe they use the same type of stereos that we use here, but probably with less emphasis on the low frequency band. Although the Swedish death metal bands do rely on the very low frequency, but more of sustained osulation and less of a pulsation... What? ...not type of stereo...stereotype. Oh... ...never-mind.

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blue73harley 6 years, 11 months ago

I think there are a lot of people bunny-hopping in our conga line today.

Friday, friday, friday!!!! friday, friday, FRIDAY!!!

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Ceallach 6 years, 11 months ago

"They see us as utterly selfish, greedy, uncooperative and worse. Sadly, there are a lot of Americans who are just that way."

Sadly, there are a lot of Europeans who are just that way!! They hate Americans but love the greenback dollar.

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TheHeartlessBureaucrat 6 years, 11 months ago

  1. That we're all country music fans.
  2. That none of us know where Lichtenstein is...and that we can't spell it.
  3. We pat ourselves on the back for stuff we did 60 years ago (WWII) but expect the rest of the world to "suck it up" when they're angry about something that happened 60 years ago.
  4. Many of them think we drive on the wrong side of the street.
  5. That our views of sex are too puritanical.
  6. We all own guns.
  7. That David Hasselhoff's and Jerry Lewis' talents are wasted on Morons like Yankees.
  8. That our diet consists of Chicken McNuggets, corn, Iraqi babies and crude oil.
  9. That our beer is watered down and we all like it that way.
  10. We're not articulate enough to write a paragraphs so we make our points in top ten lists.

I have three friends in Europe...one in London and two from Ireland. Over YEARS of contact with them, this is some of my impressions of their views of us.

But I love this country. It's a little messed up and our beer doesn't have enough hops in it but I love it anyway.

...and they sell Guinness in many local liquor stores.

THB

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Gootsie 6 years, 11 months ago

Dang, there went my capital letters again.

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Nick Yoho 6 years, 11 months ago

"Criminal punishment system too liberal on criminals, whch allows for repeat offenses by offenders."

Sunshine you've got to be kidding,do YOU believe this too?

The U.S.has more prisoners in jail,or on probation than any other country on earth! both in numbers AND by percent! There is a prisons for profit system going on here. Anyway,That problem is mostly because of the failed drug war.prohibition creates a)non-victim criminals,-users,which clog up the courts and use up police resources which could better be used to fight real crime,control traffic,serve the public,and such. b).(prohibition creates)artificially high prices,causing addicts to go out and commit REAL crimes.(muggings,breaking into houses,shoplifting,ect.. c)creates a black market,like alcohol prohibition created the mob.These people don't play.Many of the violent crimes are because of these people.The the drug market was controlled,and heavily taxed,treatment made more available to those who need it.The jails would be nearly empty and the crime rate would be almost nil. Two more things,1)prohibition causes unemployment.Pot users,who are far less dangerous than alcohol users can't get or keep many good paying jobs.because their pee is dirty.Should they be denied a job because they'd rather enjoy a less harmful drug after dinner,instead of a martini?THAT makes the crime rate go up! B)Young folks put in prison for minor non-victim drug violations,are exposed to hardened criminals.these people Rape,poor Bubba jr.,and he is only 19! In prison,he also gets to be "hardened"just like them.When all he really needed,was some treatment,or maybe even just an even break getting a job.

So,no,I don't think we aren't tough enough on crime, but Dennis Moore does!Here is the letter he sent to me yesterday,He seems so proud!

http://moore.congressnewsletter.net/mail/util.cfm?gpiv=1999949407.52321.233&gen=1

his new bill will put 50,000 more cops on the street! Too bad they will be fighting the wrong crime.

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Gootsie 6 years, 11 months ago

What harley, Ceal, and Sue said.

friday, friDAY, FRIDAY!!!! friday, friDAY, FRIDAY!!!

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75x55 6 years, 11 months ago

Who cares? Shall we go over all the stereotypes of various European nations? We could spend half an hour on the French alone.

Here's an American stereotype that seems to fit some of the previous posters - a lot of insecure types who are too worried about what others think of them and constantly looking at themselves for any flaw.

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monkfellow 6 years, 11 months ago

so, would they please not come here to push their way in front in those theme park lines,demand full service the minute they walk into a resturant, and decide anything not New York, LA or Florida is just prarie or swampland populated by uneducated and unsophisticated hicks? While they're at it, quit applying for visas to live and work here, please.

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Nick Yoho 6 years, 11 months ago

I read a comment yesterday about a (U.S.)woman and kid in England,riding on a double decker,the kid said "look mommy a cow".A woman heard the American accent,and asked where they were from,that he hadn't seen a cow.the kid said "Texas".The woman was flabbergasted.she couldn't believe there were places in the U.S.,Texas no less where there weren't cows and cowboys.They think its the wild west here.The story is told much better in the comment of this: http://smirkingchimp.com/thread/7639 the rest of the "look a cow"article is pretty interesting too.

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Kat Christian 6 years, 11 months ago

Fad obsessed. Always keeping up with the Jones or to have better than your neighbor. Less family oriented. Americans are too stressed out. Criminal punishment system too liberal on criminals, whch allows for repeat offenses by offenders. Education system is behind by global standards.
Health care system inadequate.

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macon47 6 years, 11 months ago

i can only guess more of them want to move here, that we have folks wanting to move to their country

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Das_Ubermime 6 years, 11 months ago

Pretty much the same as they have seen us since the start of this country. Except we have more guns than they do now, so probably a little more intimidated now than they were in the beginning.

"That's just the way it is Some things will never change That's just the way it is Ah, but don't you believe them"

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mick 6 years, 11 months ago

8:19 says "Who gives a $h@# what they think." I think that's right. They see us as utterly selfish, greedy, uncooperative and worse. Sadly, there are a lot of Americans who are just that way.

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preebo 6 years, 11 months ago

BABBOY,

See Iraq Invasion... For starters.

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Raider 6 years, 11 months ago

They think we are fat, greedy, classless and don't know how to dress.

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BABBOY 6 years, 11 months ago

Who gives a $hit what they think?

See WWI, WWII and Cold War.

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Ceallach 6 years, 11 months ago

I think they think we think it doesn't matter what they think.

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preebo 6 years, 11 months ago

I think arrogant covers it. Maybe even Prideful (not a positive by the way).

For those who are going to jump on this and say, "What is the matter with pride in one's coutry?" I would say when it comes at the cost of your reputation and as result of Zealotry then it is not pride but arrogance.

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paladin 6 years, 11 months ago

I don't think that there are any electronics made in the US anymore. They are probably all made in China or some such place and sent to Europe somehow.

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 6 years, 11 months ago

Don't want to be an American idiot. One nation controlled by the media. Information age of hysteria. It's calling out to idiot America.

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blue73harley 6 years, 11 months ago

That we embrace the roundabout as much as they do.

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