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Horyok
Americans schizophrenic when it comes to France

Mrs. Horyok (wub.gif) found this funny article on Yahoo! News this morning about the 'strange' appreciation Americans have of French people.

Apart from the funny read, I was wondering how strange it is that people's appreciation of other cultures are so biased at best, and mislead at worst.

1. What are your reactions about this article?
2. Can we expect people to understand each other's culture more as time goes by, or will clichés everlast?
3. Do you know foreigners who came to your country and had to fight off these clichés?
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moif
The link doesn't work for me... sad.gif
Horyok
Hey all,

Sorry about the broken link! I found the link again : http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050826/od_nm/...icans_france_dc. I hope that you'll have more success this time!
turnea
What are your reactions about this article?
It's a good thing. Some people might get the impression that a large number of Americans harbor some sort in irrational hatred for France. The article goes a long way suggesting that Americans are of differing opinions on this, just like everything else.

Can we expect people to understand each other's culture more as time goes by, or will clichés everlast?
Tough question. I think the cliches can be put to rest, but both sides have to realize that they are unacceptable. I would venture to guess there are some rather unflattering cliches about America in France... whistling.gif

Poll show about a third of French citizens have an unfavorably opinion of the US and Americans. That's about even with Americans opinion on France.

Both rest largely on irrational prejudices. You can't make the foolish become wise, but the ignorant can be taught. Education and better communication could help the situation.

Do you know foreigners who came to your country and had to fight off these clichés?
Americans have a history of hassling immigrants I'm afraid, and things are changing only slowly. sad.gif

There's an irony here in a nation that prides itself on being built by immigrants, nativists are always lurking about though.
blingice
QUOTE(Horyok @ Aug 29 2005, 09:48 AM)
1. What are your reactions about this article?
2. Can we expect people to understand each other's culture more as time goes by, or will clichés everlast?
3. Do you know foreigners who came to your country and had to fight off these clichés?

*



1. This entire article contradicts itself.

QUOTE(Reuters)
Arrogant is the best way to describe the French, according to nearly three out of every 10 Americans, but almost as many would call them open, a Le Figaro magazine poll showed on Thursday.


Ok, so that doesn't conclude anything. 30% isn't a lot to describe someone as bad, and 30% can't describe something as good. So when the stats these people give don't even add up to 100% it is pointless. It would be meaningful if it said 7/10 say bad, 7/10 say good. So basically Le Figaro needs some statisticians.

QUOTE(Reuters)
Some two thirds of Americans see France as a land of liberty and human rights in which people can freely practice their religion, and yet almost one third call it an anti-Semitic country.


Once again, two thirds think one thing so the remaining one third has to think another. Once again, no conclusion.

QUOTE(Reuters)
But the cliches associated with France tend to be more positive than negative -- ask Americans what best symbolizes France and the good things in life come to the fore, with Paris, wine, and gastronomy topping the list, while strikes barely get a mention.


Paris isn't a cliche, neither is wine. They are using two different things, cliches and symbols. They need to get that straightened. And besides, since Americans are so optimistic, they will generally think good things about the other country. If you said Russia, most Americans wouldn't say "Nukes."

I suppose I understand the horrible, horrible misinterpretation of the word "Schizophrenic" in this situation, but the misuse of the word just proves that the people in France who wrote this article are a few pages short of a book. Let me enlighten people here, and in Hollywood especially. Schizophrenia does not mean many personalities. That is Multiple Personality Syndrome. Schizophrenia means you hear voices.

Yeah, that's what I am feeling about the article.

Anyway...

2. It may be a long time before the French impress me.

3. Not really. I have had to explain away cliches against the Boy Scouts of America though.

Julian
1. What are your reactions about this article?
I think it's more an amusing illustration of the confusions that derive from mutual ignorance than a detailed analysis of levels of mutual Franco-American understanding.

2. Can we expect people to understand each other's culture more as time goes by, or will clichés everlast?
I think that we can never expect people to understand aother culture until they themselves personally engage with it, by actually going there.

The general French disinclination to visit Anglophone countries, and the general American disinclination to ever leave their own national borders, mitigate against there ever being a mutual national understanding based on anything deeper than national governmnet decisions and portrayals, often stereotypicial ones, in the media, which has it's own agenda anyway.

Trying to engage with a culture by expecting our domestic media to tell us everything we need to know about a country introduces too many intervening filters (journalistic, editorial, linguistic, and our own watching, listening and reading preferences) to ever give us an accurate, and more especially a balanced picture of what a country is like.

3. Do you know foreigners who came to your country and had to fight off these clichés?

I know several Americans in the UK who have settled here and have no plans to go "home" on a permanent basis. Their lives are here now, and they have embraced life here. Generally, they haven't had to do a lot of apologising for being American (or these days, for the policies persued by the US government), and (in the UK at least) they've told me that if they ever do get such questions, they just have to say they've lived here for however many years, so it's not really anything to do with them any more.

I've also met some American service personnel (though not enough to know if they are more or less representative than the ones who chose to come here). Generally, they seem to be less happy about being in the UK, and less keen to stay after their tour is over, though some (especially the ones who have moved into the local community rather than staying on their bases) are perfectly happy here, if a little more likely to bristle at any perceived criticism of the USA that they hear.

I don't know any French people that have settled in the UK. I've met French people in France, and (with my rather creaky French), my perception is that they are much more similar to the British (in outlook, instinct, humour, tastes and just about everything except some aspects of politics and aesthetics) than I had anticipated from media and cultural presentations.

My perception of Americans is that, apart from a some areas, they are far less similar to the British than I had been led to believe.

As far as any cultural hassles you get as a Frenchman in the USA, all I would be tempted to say is to couple the famous Gallic shrug with "I'm here, aren't I?". If they still hassle you after that, they may not be worth getting to know anyway.
Beetlemeetle
1. What are your reactions about this article?
2. Can we expect people to understand each other's culture more as time goes by, or will clichés everlast?
3. Do you know foreigners who came to your country and had to fight off these clichés?


1) I liked the article, and what is true for the USA and France is equally true for the rest of the world!

2) I believe that over time, cliches fade. Partly because in today's society we have so much more contact with and information about the rest of the world, which allows us to learn that people from other countries are fairly similar to people from our own... tongue.gif

So, as the world develops technologies that reduce the distance between countries, whether this be through the internet or through flight etc, contact and appreciation of other cultures grow. I think it is unlikely that this process will reverse itself...

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