I'm not an American, though I have been there. I definitely don't want to come across as an American touting my own country and being (ignorantly) dismissed or insulted for that, so let's keep that fact clear: I'm not actually a Yank, and I'm not a pro-American douche that has never been there either.
But making this issue more annoying to me is that my own country has a similar problem. In fact, it might be even worse here.
Basically, there's an assumption that bothers me. One that's heavily based in ignorance. We've all heard it, whether we're from America or not, some of you will have said it yourself. Americans are classless, have no taste or culture and nothing they make is any good - their food is inferior and crappy, their beer is watery and useless and their wine is utter shit! Isn't that right, folks?
Except all of that is bullshit, and it's hilarious to see how many Americans believe this stuff themselves. In fact, I've often wondered if much of the anti-American sentiment in the world comes from people in other countries clutching desperately at America's self-criticism and running with it.
No nation I've ever visited or met anybody from is anywhere near as self-critical as the United States of America. The only one that comes close is, you guessed it, Australia. Australians are determined to ignore just how astounding out nation is and how lucky we are.
In fact, Australians often confuse themselves for Americans. No joke, by the way, they absolutely do. But only when it comes to the bad things. Nothing is more annoying that facing off with argumentative university dickheads besmirching their own country and yelling about how we do this, or that, or have this policy or that one, when they're actually talking about what American does. We're possibly America's closest ally but we do things very differently from them, yet the typical left-wing university student here seems to entirely borrow their politics and aesthetics from American ones. It's bizarre.
Why are you whining about our involvement in Afghanistan, dude? We're there to rebuild infrastructure and maintain regional security, we're not responsible for bombing civilians; we didn't even let our planes fly over the cities in case they got shot down and landed on civilians. Why aren't you talking about something relevant, like the proposed carbon tax, our ridiculous import restrictions or potential abuses of the lack of separation of powers due to our executive and legislature being one and the same, because we still idiotically pander to a defunct and risible institution we call "Royalty?" Oh, I see, you can't get as righteously angry then. Gee, sorry to tell you we don't kill Arab children, I thought you'd like to hear that.
Internationally, of course, we have the same problems. Case in point, you guys think our best beer is Fosters. You cannot be serious. That's like us thinking your best beer is Budweiser - wait, no, you guys actually drink and advertise Budweiser.
But of course, Budweiser is your best beer, isn't it? That's the best you can do, right America? If you're not a beer-connoisseur, you probably think that. Whether you're American or not. You'd be very wrong, as America has some of the greatest brews on the planet. As does Australia, for that matter. Full-bodied, flavorsome and in many cases, very creative.
But Budweiser is what the typical Yank, drinks, right? No culture, no taste in good beer! OK, so you all drink Budweiser, Coors and shit like that mostly. So what? Cheap, watery beer is popular everywhere, there's always a market for it, and those beers aren't as bad as you might think. They are exported down here and I don't mind myself a Budweiser - it's nothing compared to the American microbrews I drink but so what?
Even in legendary beer capitals of the world, such as the Czech Republic and Germany, there is a place for piss-poor beer and it's usually not that bad. Except ours, Victoria Bitter can go to hell - I'd rather have a Budweiser. The problem is, only the best and yet most likely to succeed in the export market products are ever exported. This is true with everything. So you won't see the cheap shit the Germans drink, only the stuff that is good but also likely to succeed commercially in America.
So when you compare a Heineken to a Coors and conclude the Dutch make better beer than America, you're literally taking a Dutch beer that was selected as the best representative of the Netherlands that would also most likely to appeal to the American palate, so it would succeed commercially by appealing to the masses, and comparing it to a cheap domestic beer that I have never seen exported.
Wine? Well, we should all know about the French pricks who reacted "with horror" when they selected American wines as superior to French wines in a blind test. Wine-tasting is bullshit to begin with, but that story sums it up pretty well. I've also heard critics state Australian wine is superior now, and I can believe that. We also don't overprice things based on "prestige" or "reputation" (brand-name; $200 for a bottle of wine? You're drinking the Nike of piss, mate).
There is a big problem with Americans co-opting, or stealing, names indicative of quality, origin or creation process, and a writer for Forbes believes that's a deliberate move by the American government to keep their people ignorant of just how good the rest of the world's shit is: http://www.forbes.com/sites/larryolmsted/2012/04/14/ko... For instance, if it's not made in Champagne, France, influenced by that area's clime and terrain, then it's not champagne, and it's illegal to call it that anywhere except America.
But as that same writer points out, why do we care about Kobe beef in the first place? Americans, you produce your own, better beef. In fact, your imitation Kobe beef is a self-insult like the Fosters or Becks of your beers; it's actually made worse than the original, the flavor rendered down, in order to have mass-market appeal. It's not the best beer of Germany/Australia, or steak from Japan, it's just a pretty good product, nothing special, designed to have the most market appeal while still holding the mystique and allure of being an "import."
Again, make no mistake, I'm not talking up, or down, any nation on the planet. That's my point, we all have strengths and weaknesses and make good stuff. The cheap, popular stuff, like Mc Donalds and Budweiser, is always simple and cheap, not the best representative of what a country can produce. In Germany, the most popular beer is Oettinger, which oddly enough is exported and I can tell you its main selling point is its price.
As for food in America in general, the only problem with it is you have too damn much of it around. Again, McDonalds is not a good example of American cuisine. Yes, I just used that term without irony, shut it. In fact, American McDonalds is garbage - it's much nicer in other countries. No, to rank American food, you have to spend a lot more and go to the right places, same with everything. Comparing the cheap nasty crap appealing to the ignorant masses to another country's five-star cuisine is just idiotic and of course it's going to make your culture/country look bad - many westerners, not just Americans, don't even know what counts as good western cuisine. We never have it, it's everyone else that eats it.
I had a wattle-and-lime glazed kangaroo rump two weeks ago. How many Australians know there's Australian cuisine? Put your hands up, go on. Yeah, that's what I thought.
To wrap this journal up, there's one last thing to say: Americans have culture. They are very cultured. Their culture is so dominant, they have a nasty habit of being overwhelmed by it and some of them don't know anything about other cultures. That's okay, at best most of us only know a minimal amount of trivial nonsense about other cultures anyway!
It's ignorant in the extreme to say America doesn't have a culture or history. Hardly, they're fucking obsessed by their history. C'mon, Australians, who was our first Prime Minister? No Google or Wiki, come on. I can tell you the first American President, thank you Animaniacs. Where's our equivalent of Animaniacs teaching us, huh? Hell, name FIVE Australian Prime Ministers.
Of course I'm only asking Australians to answer that. Americans won't know because there is no need for them to know anything about our history. It's not interesting and all they really need to know is that we were a British colony like them.
They have a rich, exciting history packed into a short time-frame that founded a multifaceted culture that is so dominant it has pervaded the entire world like dye through wool. Half the things we wear, say and do either are American, were popularized by Americans, or were improved on by Americans. Some of it is great, some of it is preeeetty shitty, but we all have those crappy aspects too. If you're going to say that Britney Spears and toddler beauty pageants are good examples of American culture, then I'm going to say football hooliganism and The Spice Girls is British culture at its finest. Of course it isn't.
Speaking as someone with British heritage, comparing the two, no reasonable, rational person can observe America and its history and declare it has neither history nor culture. It doesn't matter how "old" their culture is, it still exists and it's quite rich; that's a completely arbitrary definition of "culture."
I'm no pro-American asshat. I like the country and some of the people, but it's not perfect. It has flaws, and in a way they're a very unique nation - sometimes in very negative ways. But nothing annoys me more than people hypocritically and confusingly attacking Americans for things when they tend to be just as bad as them. America-bashing is just as annoying as unbridled, ignorant nationalism. They're nothing more than two sides of the ignorance coin.
The ultimate thing to take away from this journal is this: we don't drink Fosters and Americans make good beer. Sometimes. Just like everybody else.
This is the best I've ever seen the point made: http://imgur.com/gallery/zIKsN Despite the ignorant comments, of course. Great point, the EU is a conglomeration of multiple nations. Thanks for helping the pro-American side. You really think the artist didn't know that?