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Character and characteristics: a humorous look at stereotypes



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Character and characteristics: a humorous look at stereotypes


What the British think of Americans...


British people have mixed opinions about the Americans, reflecting the close but sometimes troubled relationship between the two nations. When people get to know Americans as individuals they have a lot more respect and affection for them than the popular, rather negative, stereotype (= fixed idea of a person's character) based on a casual meeting or on television programs might suggest.


For many British people the US is associated with power in international politics, Hollywood, money and violence. The British are a little jealous of America's power. But although Americans believe they rule the world, few of them know much about anything outside the US. The British think that money matters more than anything else to Americans, and they do not really approve of this and do not like brash (= too public) displays of wealth. They also believe that the US is a dangerous place where you cannot walk in the streets or subways without fear of being attacked. Despite this, many want to go there for their holidays. Young people generally have a much more positive attitude and love everything that comes out of America.


Many people see and hear American tourists in Britain and this influences their opinion of Americans in general. The average American man visiting Britain appears to be middle-aged or old, wealthy, and wearing a colorful shirt or check 'pants'. He is fat, because of the unhealthy foods that Americans eat, and friendly, but can easily become excited and rude. His wife wears little white socks, trainers and 'pants', and has a Burberry (raincoat) in case it rains. She finds everything British 'cute' or 'quaint', especially anything to do with the royal family. They both talk loudly with strong accents. British people make fun of Americanisms like 'Gee, honey!' and 'Have a nice day!' They think names ending with numbers, like William D Hancock III, are rather silly and pretentious (= suggesting importance without good reason).


British people believe that Americans have no culture, and that except for a few intellectuals Americans are not very interested in culture. Americans spend their free time watching baseball and football, often on television. If they want culture they get television programs from the BBC.


Seriously, however, there are, many more positive aspects of the American character. British people who visit Americans in their own country find them friendly and welcoming to visitors. They have no worries about class, they work hard, they enjoy the best living standards and the most advanced technology in the world, and they have an open attitude to life that is refreshing. The popular stereotype of white Americans is created by white Britons, but these people know that the US, like Britain, is a multiracial, multicultural society and are aware of the great variety of attitudes and lifestyles, as well as the problems, which that brings.


Date: 2015-12-11; view: 1315

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