Being abroad for over 6 months has given me real incite about a lot of things. But today we are going to talk about How the World sees America and Why.
I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing over 200 people from all over the wold. Think my sample set is large enough? I can promise you that I was not very scientific about it though. What I can say is that I’ve heard and seen enough to form one of my famous analogies.
Last night I was in a club in Prague. There were a bunch of kids dressed in grunge attire. I was with 5 french people I met in my hostel and 3 Brazilians. The were American music videos playing all night and in the course of only one hour I saw chart toppers from the 60’s to 2006. The best part was that the locals were dancing to the music (regardless of style) like Russian prostitutes from the 80’s (not a lot of rhythm, kind of bouncy). Being in this place I realized that as I was choking on the dense indoor smoking, the locals were gorging themselves on American culture. Offspring, Michale Jackson, No Doubt, Tom Jones; It didn’t matter. People were going ape shit over anything we made. It was grand. Many of these people didn’t speak a word of English, but then the corus for Bon Jovie came on they were all “LIVIN ON A PRAYYYYERRR!!!!”
Almost every time I talk to someone who is not American (or Canadian. Canadians have a pretty damn good grasp on American culture, since they have been “Emulating it for ages” according to many Candid Canadians I have spoken to.) I hear one of two things. 1: You know less than 18 percent (the number changes every time by the way) of Americans even have a passport.
I didn’t miss the question mark by mistake. This is a statement, not a question.
The second thing I am always TOLD is how Americans only Eat McDonald’s (Thanks Super Size Me Movie). Then come a lot of other sensational statements that vary widely.
But I NEVER get any positive statements like “Thanks for the past 50 years of Movies, TV, and Music.” Not to mention the actual invention of the Television, Internet, Personal Computer, Mobile Phone, Jeans, Airplanes, and just about every other important Invention in the past 200 years. All I get are statements like “America doesn’t have a culture.” and “Americans are the fattest people in the world.” No Thanks for Bailing us out of two world wars.
But that’s alright. I understand completely. I didn’t at first, but I get it loud and clear now. America is the Boss. What? (say my international readers). Ya, we are the boss. We are currently the ONLY super power in the world (though it Kills the English to admit it). But think of it in a work environment.
You all work right? That means you have all had a boss at one point or another. No one is lucky enough to have NEVER had a boss. Imagine if that boss walked down the halls every morning (as you are still shaking off that hang over/ morning grogginess) and screamed “I’m number one! Fuck yeah! In your face employees! You fucking suck and I rule over you.” I Imagine that you might have some negative brooding at the old water cooler? Well when Americans chant “USA, USA, USA” this is basically how the world feels.
Better yet; what if the boss locked himself in his office all day, every day and just sent out emails saying this? What if the boss decided to stop listening to people’s problems? This is how the world felt about George Bush. They were upset because he didn’t have any interest in hearing any other nations opinions.
A special note for the English; what if your 6 month old son (“you don’t have a history or a culture”) was among the first to stand up to you while you were the boss? His name was America and he was among the first children who not only resisted you, but kicked your ass? (revolutionary war). To add insult to injury, he then came back and saved you 2 times when he was only 3 years old (or was he?)(WW1 and WW2)
Still with me? But wait a second Alex, this is just a bunch of American rhetoric. Don’t worry, the warm and fuzzy part is coming soon.
Back to how fat and stupid we are. The same reason that the Czech people jump up and down to all of our music is behind this. There was a little film that came along by the name of “Super Size Me” that was a documentary of what MIGHT happen IF someone only at McDonald’s for a whole month. It also makes reference to how poor our eating habits are in general. But somewhere along the way, in the mass consumption of our culture, the world decided that this movie was a fact and that the Hypothetical situation.
I’ll have you know that in China, if you want to take your date to a fancy restaurant, It’s McDonald’s. Not because it’s the most that you can afford, but because you find it to be an amazing delicacy. This was said directly by a few bilingual Chinese friends of mine.
And if you go into a Pizza hut in Eastern Europe, be prepared to be waited on by a man in a dress shirt, slacks and a tie. That’s right, shitty old Pizza Hut is being worshiped in many parts of the world as fine dining.
Oh one more thing. KFC (one of my guilty, once a year, (NEWYEARS DAY) Pleasures) ain’t too shabby either. You can find it as a favorite among many Europeans too. I went out with the Brazilians and the French the other day and they chose KFC. Yuck. And I also had to by a bathroom ticket (which is a rant that I’ll save for another day)
Just like when you hear a roomer about the boss at work, bam, you fixate on this. You tell yourself that he is not that special of a guy after all, thus devaluing his accomplishments in a childish jealous denial. It’s the same thing that the liberals did to Bush when he became president ” you know he did cocaine when he was in college. You know he has the lowest IQ of any president we have ever had.” These are the statements that rung through the hall for 8 years. And the 8 years before that it was something along the lines of “you know he cheated on his wife. you know he used a cigar on that poor girl. you know that he left a stain or he blouse.”
Everyone wants to fixate on the spectacular. Sensationalism is what sells right?
Then along came Obama. The door opened and the boss started walking through the halls to tell them he was interested in their opinion. That they were worth something as an employee. This is why the world likes Obama.
Here’s the funny part. Any boss that is worth his or her weight in Salt knows that people say things behind his or her back. But for the most part they take it and they let it go without pulling their employee into the office and ask them why THEY dropped out of grad school and THEY don’t put in any more that the 40 hours (35 in France) that is absolutely required of them. The boss doesn’t dare compare their employee’s ambition to their own. The boss would never be recognized for the immense risk that he/she takes every day. Or that perfectly rare quality we call initiative.
The truth of the matter is that that boss ( I am referring to the owner of a small business) is assuming all of the risk in the world. Something that the employee might not ever understand (as they put in just enough to not get fired).
Wow, now your just talking crazy. So are you’re telling me that you think the rest of the world is working for the US? No, not at all. This is where the analogy gets a bit confusing (or maybe not).
But before I go on, lets talk about why America is what it is today.
Being abroad, I am surrounded by like minded people. This means that everyone who I meet is relatively independent and values traveling. It’s like living in a water cooler convention for a year and then being convinced that the world is obsessed with water coolers. I have surrounded myself with people who are (usually) not afraid to take risks.
Yesterday I was on a free walking tour through Prague. The guys giving the tour only worked on tips alone. None of them were from the Czech Republic, but all of them were risk takers. My leader was Mick: a late 20’s Aussie who had married a Czech girl who he met in a hostel in Costa Rica. He was the type of guy who doesn’t spend any time worrying about paying the bills, or what age he was going to retire. He was too busy having the time of his life. He was too confident to worry about IF he would make it. He believed in himself enough to know that, where ever he was in the world, he could eat and be happier than most anyone I have ever met.
What does Mick have anything to do with America being the boss you say?
It’s simple. America was started by a bunch of Micks. A bunch of people who were not going to sit around and take the status Que. A bunch of people that just assumed that sitting on a sweaty disease ridden boat for a few months was worth the CHANCE for a better life. Initiative. This is the key word for the day.
I want you to imagine for the rest of your read that everything in the whole big world revolves around one or two words: Choice and Chance. Make them into a simple phrase. “You always have a Choice to take a Chance. Always!”
Now you are starting to think like Mick.
Back to America. Just as you will find an extremely dense population of people who value traveling over stuff and security while abroad, you would find that the people who originally started this country would have made great entrepreneurs. Great business owners. Great bosses. Great risk takers. Great Choosers and Chance takers.
The people who stayed back in England were not fed up enough to FIND a way out. The are equivalent to many of the people who say. “I want to do what you are doing more than anything else, but I can’t just quit my job.”
Oh Yes. You Can.
If you are like Mick, you know that you’ve got “IT” and that “IT” can be used anywhere. Most people value security a lot more than greatness. And for them, they are loving every second of their secure life. Right?
Today, America is not 100% bas asses like it started out as. Those bad asses had children and those children had children and sadly, the bad ass gene is not passed forward to everyone. It will dissipate among the masses over time and then we get “a bunch of people who eat McDonald’s for EVERY meal and only 16% of Americans having passports.”
But there is the saving grace. America is an environment created by Bad Asses (remember) and they created this environment to preserve the path to the top for Bad Asses. That is, If you have the guts to make the Choice to take a Chance, you CAN (not Will) make it to the top quite easily compared to anywhere else in the world. Any one can start the next Nike, or Micro Soft. How many other countries are set up like that? Not many, this is why we have so many risk takers immigrating into the US. Because they are ready to make it big and made the Choice to Chance it. Don’t worry, If they wanted a free ride, there are plenty of Countries with a MUCH better welfare state. Oh ya, and those inventors. Many of them were not born in America. They came here because they knew their invention would actually be made instead of shelved by a government without the money or initiative.
Ok ok, this is where my beloved brother refers to my talk as self help bull shit. Which is fine. I’m getting sick of the C words myself.
But not every employee is a 9 to 5 er. Some of them work their asses off (China) and have the guts to take the lead. And I’m not so dense as to believe that America will always be THE BOSS. We Won’t. We will be the next England (thinking we are the Boss, but really just a whole lot more charming than we used to be, because we don’t have to make those decisions that the we used to as the boss.)
ALEX. I’ve just read 2135 words! Is there a point to all of this?
I’m exhausted from writing this crap. You decide.