In an American movie, if a scene depicts the character going to a country such as Mexico, or China, etc, they sometimes will play “traditional” Mexican or Chinese music. In a foreign film, if they were depicting America, what type of music would they play? And when I say America, I mean the US.
I don’t know if the question is answerable. The talkies spread American music far and wide, so it’s not like the rest of the world didn’t get plenty of exposure to the original stuff.
Of course, everything gets filtered by the local idiom. In movies from the Eastern bloc, I seem to recall a lot of inappropriate instrumentation, for instance a rock ‘n’ roll band with a trombone in it.
While it certainly depends on the genre of film to begin with, I would think most likely modern pop/rock music, either American or the native equivalent. In some particular circumstances such as a scene in the deep south, perhaps a banjo or something? I think the idea of playing “ethnic” music in foreign country scenes in American movies is just playing off the stereotype that any country that isn’t America isn’t nearly as developed and hip and thus doesn’t have its own long history of modern globally-influenced music… which is of course totally false.
I was watching the BBC the other day. The reporter was talking to different Americans about climate change. He drove from DC to W. Virginia to talk to some coal miners and for the WV transition they played banjo music.
Well, working along this theme here, and rephrasing the OP’s question: When a foreign film wants to stereotype the US, and do it with background music, what do they play?
We’ve gotten part of the answer, they play banjos for the US south, and trombone laced rock and roll elsewhere. Is that it? Or has US movies so spread about the world, they stereotyping the US is now impossible? Like, only the US stereotypes the world, everyone else is so multicultural they’d never do that sort of thing? Do people in France scoff at US movies set in Mexico, “Oh, ze mariachi bande, like i didn’t nowe ze vere in la Mexique. Oh, US movie, club us on ze head vit ze obvious”
I saw a segment from Gordon Ramsay’s F-Word, about eating wild caught American Crayfish in Britain. (They’re an invasive species, so it’s good ecology to eat them.) The show I saw on BBC America, then I saw it online, and the version online was different. It showed them crawling around on US flags while Stars and Stripes Forever played in the background, a bit that was cut out for US distribution.
Is that what foreign films do? Does everyone get off a plane at JFK or a NYC subway to the tune of a Sousa march?
That’s the thing, I’m trying to come up with a movie that “stereotypes the US” (as opposed to “stereotyping loud Americans”) and can’t come up with any. You could use country music if it made sense for some reason, but while we know there is such a thing as country music, we don’t expect to hear it in NYC. If metal made sense you’d use metal, if rockabilly made sense you’d use rockabilly, and if you were filming a movie about Bill Clinton there would be saxophones.
Take a look at the current Top40 list for Spain. The top10 are Milow, Bisbal, Alejandro Sanz, Black Eyed Peas, Leona Lewis, Fito y los Fitipaldis, Nelly Furtado (in Spanish), Alesha Dixon, Efecto Mariposa, Beyonce: belgian, spanish, spanish, american, british, spanish, canadian, british, spanish, american.
While there’s only 2 americans (and one of them is a group which includes at least one immigrant), many Spaniards tend to assume that “anybody singing in English is American, unless otherwise specified (or unless their accent indicates they probably speak English like a Spanish cow)” and I think that both Brits are known in the US; the Canadian definitely is.
I can’t think of any specific films… but I’ve seen Springsteen used for segues to America on TV more than once. I think that in many places around the world, the Boss is considered the most American of all musicians.
Springsteen, or specifically “Born in the USA”?
“Born in the U.S.A” seems to be the most popular, but I think I remember hearing “Glory Days”, “Darlington County” and “Born to Run”, too.
Nah, every country does it. In Britain, we’d probably get a blast of Yankee Doodle Dandee or similar, which I guess is the British equivalent to the US programme playing ‘Rule Britannia’ (with obligatory shot of Big Ben and a red bus) when the cast of Sex and the City or Friends pays a visit.
In Britain, we’re certainly more likely to play something like that than ‘rock’, as we tend to regard that as a common/global sound. A blast of American based rock or pop wouldn’t make the audience think ‘USA!’ unless it was specific (such a Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA’).
Moving to Cafe Society from GQ.
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I watch old foreigh movies almost exclusively - mostly European from the end of WWII through the '70s.
Frequently I notice that popular American music is played in places of entertainment. For example Rainer Werner Fassbinder shows young persons going to a party or a club the music is almost always popular American - in English, even though the movie is otherwise mostly all German. Fassbinder is perhaps the most persistent and consistant in using American music but quite a few other directors do too.
That’s probably what the music in these kind of venues actually would have been, rather than some point the director was making.