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Sunday, October 04, 2015

How to Be American

How to be American. The title alone is enough to send some into fits of apoplexy screaming about chauvinism, imperialism, and perhaps even racism (that word gets thrown around a lot these days with little care for proper usage, like a big word idiots use incorrectly). None of those opposing a How to Be American essay would have anything but praise for this bag of clich├ęs video about how to be Italian. Most of us will find it charming. We like Italians. You could probably get away with a similar video about how to be English or Spanish or Greek. Speak with an English accent and suddenly you become more interesting to many Americans as we seem to have an inferiority complex about our own brand of the language we speak. I think our accent is awesome as are so many things about our culture so I wrote a list of ways how you can be an American, too. I tried as hard as I could not to be an asshole which is difficult because I'm American.

1) Have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of American films. If there has been a funnier movie in the past 30 years in any language or accent than The Big Lebowski, I haven’t seen it. Sure, we make a lot of crap, and we invented Adam Sandler movies, but we also made The Godfather, The Wizard of Oz, and Groundhog Day.

2) Strike up conversations with complete strangers. I won’t go so far as to say that Americans are friendly, or friendlier than other people, but I will say that it isn’t a big deal for us to chat with someone sitting next to us at a bar, or on a bus, even if we didn't attend grade school together.

3) Gush on and on about the natural beauty of our country to anyone willing to listen (and anyone unable to run away). We may not have thousands of years of recorded history, but gorgeous territory we got. I insist to everyone I meet, both Americans and foreigners, that they should visit every kilometer of the Pacific coast of the USA. Every mile is breath-taking. Of course, it’s also beautiful both to the north and south of our western border but that’s up to Mexicans and Canadians to promote.

4) Drink too much, eat too much, work out too much, et cetera. I have joked before that in our language we don’t have a word for “moderation” which is a lot easier to pull off and is more believable when you’re speaking in another language. If you watch five minutes of British TV you’ll hear jokes about how stupid and fat we Americans all are. We’re also fitness fanatics and compulsive readers, too. It’s like Eddie Murphy’s joke about black men and big dicks, “Yeah, we eat watermelon, fried chicken, chitlins...we've got big dicks. All you white guys are saying no, no, they like chicken, but their dicks are normal like ours. If you’re going to believe one stereotype, then believe them all.”

5) Since we aren't buried in tradition we tend to accept new things rather easily. Vietnamese food? Why not? Yoga? Don't mind if I do. Brazilian music? Turn it up!

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