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Monday, February 22, 2010

On National Stereotypes - The Ugly American

The Origin of The Ugly American

The term “ugly American” derives from the 1958 political novel of the same title by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer. “The Ugly American”is fiction based on reality, alluding to Americans losing political presence in Southeast Asia because of their failure to understand local culture.

Very interesting. Most of us non-native English speakers will narrate various instances or various degrees of acquaintanceship with Americans or, better still, with people from the United States.

It couldn't have been any different with this writer who, all along his young life, has come in contact with Americans from virtually all corners of the great U.S. of A. And he has been there, too. So this is a first-hand account.

Drawing from these varied "experiences" he too has reached his conclusions about the natives of the big country to the north including, especially, that to some of them, he owes his ability to write and speak English, plus some of his prized possessions, this, that and the other and, believe it or not, his ability to stop and think before he leaps.

Surely enough, he did get the chance to see all the sides Americans are said to have, or rather, as the article above explains or implies, Americans might display when faced with cultural, geographical, demographic, ethnic, linguistic and quite frankly, anthropological challenges of humanity.

All to his credit, really. He now knows much better and has decided that the best course of action when meeting people is to watch their actions regardless of their ethnic or national origin. People will act constructively when they are in tune with their hearts.

If their hearts are pure and clean, surely what follows is only a reflection of their inherent virtues. Otherwise, what may emerge even when all the filters are on, is only pretense and arrogance and other reproachful acts as we have seen in the news of late.

Amazingly though, this observer of reality cannot but be proud of a close circle of friends, they are Americans by the way, he could not do without. Their friendship is priceless. He cheers for them and guarantees they are in his meditations. So awesome they are there.


  1. Very interesting. The stereotypical Ugly Americans will arise when there's no AC and not enough ice in their Coke. I find it hilarious that the writer thinks she's gonna get physically ugly after three days without water, and how she fears getting ripped off or abused by locals. To be fair, this can happen to any nationality in a foreign country, but it's a funny cliché about Americans that I find true to a certain extent, as they've had access to certain commodities before other countries and they take them for granted. I tease my American bf about it all the time when we travel.

  2. I too was "baptized" Mormon and when the bishop of the Hollywood 2nd Ward offered me a ride home and put his hands on my crotch I realized they were hypocrites...only the Sunday before he came and gave a sermon on the evils of homosexuality. He didn't know I was in the Hollywood 1st Ward and was there when he delivered the sermon.
    The Mormons are probably the most fanatical next to Jehovah's Witnesses.
    obrigado pelo comentario, parabens,seu blogue vai muito bem.