Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Common Stereotypes of Americans

As we all know, different places in the world see Americans differently, and we Americans see cultures outside of our own different also.  In preparation for our trip, I did a little bit of research to see what kinds of stereotypes we will be walking into upon arrival in London.  Some of the stereotypes were good, some not so much.

When I first found the common stereotypes, I was happy to see that there were some positives!  I have heard nothing but bad things about how other countries treat Americans, and it had me a little worried.  One of the first good ones I found was generosity.  America gets this stereotype because of the aid and supplies we send countries all over the world.  Generosity is a good stereotype to be put into, but it could also lead to the stereotype of being a sucker, which I have also heard of Americans being categorized in.  Another positive stereotype associated with Americans was being optimistic.  On the website I found this, it stated that "Optimism is seen as the driving force behind achievement of the American Dream. Europeans are “trained” to be more down to earth realists, and optimism is seen as foolishness."  I believe that optimism is a great thing, and it probably is the driving force behind the "American dream".  Perhaps more countries would be as successful as America if they were as optimistic.

The bad stereotypes of Americans far outweighed the good ones, sadly.  One of the first ones I found was being materialistic.  Apparently other countries tend to view Americans as caring about nothing but money, judging everything by its economic value, and disrespecting those countries with a lower socioeconomic status.  This one I can maybe see simply because we do have so much more economic status than a lot of other countries, and by providing aid we may step on toes and maybe make them feel inadequate rather than them realizing we are simply trying to help.  The last stereotype that I want to share is gun loving and violent culture. It is true that we have a long historical fondness of guns, and that is definitely portrayed in our media, but are we a violent culture?  I don't think any of us like to think so, but we do have some of the highest death rates caused by firearms in the developed world.  And it doesn't help that the international media often reports on American mass shootings, making the incidents well known throughout the globe.  Never mind the fact that those kinds of killings account for a very small amount of firearm deaths.  Along with the international media portraying our "love for violence", America is also ranked number 1 in gun ownership.  That statistic seems to backup the "gun loving" side of the stereotype.  So maybe we are "gun loving" as a whole, but I choose to disagree with the stereotype that we are a violent culture.  We definitely have a lot of violence, but we also have a lot more peace than many countries in other parts of the world do, and that's got to count for something. 

After doing a little bit of research, I'm not sure I feel better about going as an American or worse.  I think that it's common for any country to have good and bad feelings about foreigners, and the good news is that everyone has their own opinion.  All we can do is spend the next two weeks showing off the good parts of America, and maybe we will change someones mind about our country. 

1 comment:

  1. Did you notice how prominent most of there stereotypes where in London?! I do believe that American's are optimistic! It did seem as if most people in London wore nice dress clothes to go work in an office building somewhere. I suppose that would be me being stereotypical :(. It is sad to say, the more time I spent there, it made me realize that we almost have an obsession with guns. Do you think we should have stricter gun regulations? I do believe that American's do have positive stereotypes, as well, such as, generosity and friendliness.