Do ugly Americans/Europeans really exist?

Just some random observations about the differences between what’s considered an ugly American or ugly European. A lot of it might sound as if I have a chip on my shoulder, but I really don’t.

As I was was walking down the street today, I happened to pass an English pub (I’m in the USA) where they were showing one of the world cup games on the big screen. I passed by just as a goal was scored and I started hearing screams of delight from the mostly male crowd, followed by chants of “USA!, USA!, USA!”.

It got me to thinking. I remember a thread here a few years ago where a european doper said that he (and apparently most other non-americans) didn’t like such brazen acts of chest pounding and national pride for a sports team on their turf. If I remember correctly, he had just watched an olympic event in which the American team won, followed by these chants. The thread starter claimed that it showed poor sportsmanship to boast about these things.

My question to Americans: If you were walking past a sports bar in any American city and you heard a group of Germans chanting “Germany! Germany! Germany!” (or “Deutschland! Deutschland! Deutschland!”) following a goal, would you think it was a brazen (and offensive) act? I wouldn’t. In fact, I think it would be pretty cool rather than an act of disrespect (as the poster from the old thread suggested).

I’ve always been interested in how Americans are viewed outside of the USA, especially by Europeans. Of course there are ugly Americans, but there are also ugly French, ugly British, etc. And interestingly, there’s always a response to one of these threads from a European that claims to have personally witnessed a big fat American in Italy wearing a 10 gallon cowboy hat standing up in a gondola saying (loudly) “Doesn’t ANYONE here speak English??”. I don’t doubt that a less dramatic version of that happened, but I think Europeans tend to embellish a bit when it comes to reporting ugly American sightings.

I’m reminded of a recent trip to Paris. I was standing in a short line at a tobacco shop to buy some postage stamps. While in line, I was practicing my phrase under my breath, and when my turn came, I meekly asked for postcard stamps to the USA in my best phrasebook French (which is not that good, trust me). I assumed the lady at the counter spoke English since I was in a touristy area, but I thought I’d be polite and at least attempt it in French. After I mangled my request, the lady behind the counter gasped and said in English, “In THIS country, we say bon jour first”. I was a bit shocked, but apologized and said bon jour. I got my stamps and walked back to my hotel, tail between my legs. She was extremely condescending and in my opinion, an ugly French person.

I know that it’s customary in Europe to greet the shopkeeper when entering a small shop, and I think that it’s typically done in the USA too, but it’s not something that would be considered rude if one didn’t. Would it be okay if I worked in a shop in the USA and admonished a European for saying “good morning” as they entered my store? “um, sir…in the USA, we really don’t require you to say “good morning” when you enter a shop”.

I guess my beef is that if someone in Europe does something a certain way, it’s considered “culture” or upbringing, but if an American does something different, it’s considered rude and/or classless.

Yeah, some Americans tend to be louder and more demanding, but that’s how we (a lot of us, anyway) are here. Should we become meek and passive during our vacation in Europe, just to please the locals? Should Americans demand that Europeans speak loudly and confront poor customer service while visiting the USA?

This is not really related to “ugly Americans”, but I remember watching something on tv several years ago about a group of American women who travelled to some middle eastern country, and on the plane (and presumably in guidebooks) they were told that they must adhere to the local customs and cover their faces when in public. It got me to thinking, should middle eastern women travelling to the USA be forced to remove their face covering when the arrive on US soil?

Maybe I do have a tiny chip on my shoulder…

Well, no, unless they were chanting “Deutschland Uber Alles!”

On second thought, if Germany won the World Cup, then perhaps that would be appropriate…

Thanks for accusing us all of lying, but actually we don’t need to. I could personally give you several examples of American behaviour very similar to that which you describe.

The trouble with being loud and brash or whatever else you said Americans are, is that when you’re being gauche or rude, it stands out more than for instance a very quiet European person fucking something up in the US. I have no doubt that there are rude and oblivious people of every race, nationality, ethnicity, etc. But if you do it loudly, you have to expect people to notice you more.

You should of course tailor your behaviour to where you are. If you’re a guest in someone’s home and they don’t like cigarette smoke, would you light one up? Would you demand a drink in the home of an alcoholic, or to eat black and blue steak in the home of a vegan? Well, our country is our home (“our” meaning everyone, you too), and a certain adherence to the social norms and mores of that home is what is expected of a guest. “Just to please the locals” makes it sound as if you’re doing them a tremendous favour. You’re not. They’re doing you a favour by letting you visit and experience some part of their country, culture, whatever. Of course if you don’t like that culture and aren’t prepared to attempt not to offend and upset the people to whom it belongs, you’re very welcome to stay at home.

Yeah, sure. I’ve spent a lot of time in Europe and have encountered plenty of rude-ass Europeans (although of course they are the small minority, as most people everywhere I’ve ever been are nice and all), including a few who are happy to tell me what’s wrong with America and how all Americans are stupid or don’t know anything about Europe (usually lacing their rants with lots of misconceptions of how the US government works, etc).

One of my coworkers in Bulgaria pissed me the fuck off by spouting off about America a couple of times, both on occasions when I was being nice about Bulgaria. I have no idea why she thought it was okay to do this, and these experiences don’t represent my overall time living in Bulgaria very well. Most people were perfectly pleasant, and if they wanted to talk about America, it was usually innocuous sorts of questions like “in America, do people eat sunflower seeds?” or “in America, do people drink rakia?”.

Someone: Do you like Bulgarian music?
Me: yes, I do!
This particular coworker: Yeah, it’s not like your horrible American music, it’s so terrible.
Me: I don’t think you know very much about American music.

The second time, I lost my temper. One of my coworkers had given me, as a going away present, a cookbook of Bulgarian food. I was really genuinely excited and touched.

Me: This is so wonderful! I can’t wait to try some of these recipes! I know I’m going to miss some food here so much, thank you so much!
Once again, this particular coworker: Yes, because food here is so much better than it is in America. All you eat is McDonald’s and it’s horrible. American food is really terrible!
Me: Oh, and you know this from all of the time you’ve spent in America, right? You have no idea what you’re talking about and I don’t know why you think it’s okay to say such rude things to people about their home countries to their faces.

This reminds me, I have no idea where I put that cookbook. Some of the recipes turned out to be, uh, challenging in the US (I can’t figure out how to recreate some of the things they call for), but I should at least try.

One of my co-workers just got back from a trip to Germany. While she enjoyed the beerhouses very much, she was annoyed that not one of the bands there would play the Chicken Dance for her. They didn’t even seem to know it, which seemed less than authentic to her.

You’re not being treated as liars–you’re being treated as if you gloss over your own bad behavior, when you do the same things we do. The reason we don’t say anything when you come over is we respect different cultures, and give you a pass for being rude because you don’t know our customs. There’s no reason you guys shouldn’t extend the same courtesy.

Anyways, you’ve got it backwards: in most countries. we are paying you to come. It’s in your best interest to be nice to us so you’ll keep getting our tourist dollars. If we did just stay home, we’d still be perfectly fine, but you’d be the ones losing money. We’re doing you a favor.

Well, that’s superimposition for ya.
Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-a-Ling.” is actually pretty popular in the Bierhalle setting. Popular one to sing a ling, ling-long.

Try a few out and bring them to a Dopefest. I’m sure we can find a few guinea pigs.

There were plenty of English people in the pub I was in tonight singing England! England!

I reckon you’re allowed a pass for mindless nationalistic chanting during the World Cup. Any other time would be different though.

I bet they weren’t doing it for long, based on tonight’s performance. :slight_smile:

More gauche than, say, the French folks at Arlington Cemetery who were laughing, talking loudly and taking flash photos of the horses and caisson that were bearing a dead soldier to his final resting place? More gauche and disrespectful than the foreign tourists at the Tomb of The Unknowns who were asked to leave when they wouldn’t stop taking flash photos at the changing of the guard? More assholish than the German vacationers in Hungary who were smashing beer bottles and shouting at the top of their lungs outside my hotel room until the wee hours of the morning? Examples are easy to come by, but it’s unfair to paint an entire country with a broad brush, as some do.

The USA chant has always sucked and is a perfect example of poor sportsmanship.

I’ve never glossed over any bad behaviour by anyone of any nationality. Indeed as I said, there are examples of unpleasant people from everywhere. Personally I tend to believe that there are far more pleasant people in the world, but that’s beside the point. However whether anyone glosses over anything or not is beside the point; there was a definite accusation of dishonesty. The OP said “a European that **claims **to have personally witnessed” “I don’t doubt that a less dramatic version of that happened, but I think Europeans tend to **embellish **a bit” (my bolding, obviously). How is this “not being treated as liars”?

We do extend considerable courtesy to people from all countries; it’s unfortunate when it’s abused, and I’ve never said it’s only Americans who do that. In fact I said exactly the opposite. And you do say things when we come over: usually, “Oh that’s so cute, you’re British! Say raspberries!”. Out of interest, can you actually give me an example of a British person being actively rude in America?

And yeah, you’re absolutely right. Europe would collapse without your money. Please don’t stop coming. :rolleyes:

Chefguy, I find your examples pretty shocking, especially the people at Arlington. You did somewhat prove my point though, which is that when you do things loudly they get noticed more. I never said Americans had the monopoly on making an inappropriate amount of noise. And I agree it’s unfair to paint a whole country the same; tell the OP, who said that Americans were loud and demanding.

Not “Ugly French,” “Typical Parisian.” This jibes with the majority of my encounters with the locals in Paris, and I’ve known a few people from France who seemed to dislike Parisians almost as much as Parisians dislike everyone else. Anecdotal evidence, sure.

No. I might think to myself, “Hm, I didn’t realize we had that much of a German population here” and then go on about my business. I know that even well-behaved American tourists are pretty easy to spot simply because they’re tourists: they know how to behave like 'merkins but don’t usually have time to grasp the culture they’re in before they have to head back home. Same thing happens when outlanders come to the USA, but considering the range of general nuttiness and difference we cotton to (vocal minorities notwithstanding) I generally don’t regard them one way or the other. If they’re in need of help or miss a subtle American point of etiquette, I’m more than gracious as I think just about anyone else on the planet (with the exception of Parisians) would be.

I have a sort of “opposite” person in my life.

My mother-in-law, my “wife’s” mom.

She lives in Montana, but makes special trips to Canada for yarn, that she insists she can’t get here in the US, at all. Even online.

At the beginning of the year, she went to Europe to buy cheap trinkets. No joke.

And while she was there, all she could go on and on about to my “Wife” on the phone was how much more sophisticated everyone was, and how much better France, etc. were than the US.

Coincidentally, they all “got” her much better than the folks back in Montana, and she really felt at home.

Sadly, the “wife” didn’t have the sack to say she should just stay there. hehehe


Is she your wife, or isn’t she?

I didn’t witness this, but there was a story in our local newspaper about World Cup fans at an “Irish” pub in town during the England-U.S. game, featuring a photo of one English and one American fan, each dressed up in garish flag costumes. Supposedly everyone yelled loudly for their respective underachieving teams and no serious injuries were reported.

I could live without this, but I do enjoy when one of the cute-sounding babes on the BBC World Service radio news talks about “the body of law” (it’s fascinating when you hear “law” pronounced with at least two "r"s on the end of the word).

Counting the Internet? :smiley:

Loud tourists of all nationalities tend to get noticed. Based on one recent international opinion survey, Americans were well down in the pack when it came to obnoxiousness (I’m far to nice to mention who came out on top).

She said Bulgarian cuisine, not Peruvian.

Didn’t it originate with the 1980 US Olympic hockey team, a nadir in our history: hostages, malaise, post-Vietnam, …avacado toilets & mauve blowdryers, etc.?

Um…“Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!”?