Thursday, June 10, 2010
Movies Portray Bad Images
Moviegoers overseas must have a very strange impression of the United States. What they usually see are crime, war, cowboy, failed-romance, spy, or other silly productions that appear to tell the story of a wild and woeful nation. It doesn't help, of course, when the American English is dubbed out in favor of hopefully equivalent idioms. (As an aside, it is hilarious to watch John Wayne speak Dutch!)
I brought several coworkers back to the States from Holland with me on business trips, and the first-time visitors usually took a day or two to stop looking around nervously for cops chasing criminals, to marvel at the huge automobiles by their standards, or to expect music and dancing in the streets all the time. I heard this over and over in each country in Europe: the real feel of America is quite different from the false impressions they had received from too many of our movies and from the drumbeat of anti-American propaganda. When I was able to read a Dutch newspaper, I was dumbfounded by the outright lies being told about us in many of the rags.
The leftwingers in Holland were very quick to pick up on American failures, and to suggest that our values were clearly terrible, just witness what we put into our films! Such often repeated stories become their truth about the US, and is used against us al the time--rightly or wrongly. It is surreal to witness distortions of our country rather largely based on the movies they had seen, and yet, to challenge them for their misconceptions is to invite a tirade of facts and fiction that is overwhelming, not to mention very self-serving for their agenda. When a true event somehow mimics one of their preconceived notions, all you can hear is: "SEE! What we thought is a fact. It happens all the time there in America!"
Several generations of Europeans have grown up with this anti-American media barrage day and night. After ten years of calling them out or defending my nation from their unfair attacks, I decided it was time to come home. There is no cure that will work well enough and comprehensively enough, I believe.