Posts, Soapbox

Can we laugh at ourselves? I mean really laugh at ourselves?

Can we laugh at ourselves, meaning Australians , British, American, South Africans, Chinese whatever race you are?  Can we take it when another race has a go at us?  (Hopefully it’s a go at us in jest rather than in spite I hasten to add).

I ask this question because yesterday I was entertained by one of the Bloggers I follow posting an article on her Facebook page, “20 weird things that Americans don’t realise make them weird.”

I thought it was funny, she clearly thought it was funny or she wouldn’t have shared it.  But the responses she got shocked me.  I’m sure she wasn’t expecting that otherwise she may not have posted it.

Before we turn this into a “see that’s why I don’t like Facebook” bitchfest let’s move on from that for the sake of the story.  I happen to love Facebook.  For me it does more good than bad.

You see, lots of people hopped on and got really defensive.  They put their hands on their heart and stood up for themselves.  I’m wondering if it was just me who laughed it off or whether others could laugh it off as well.

By blogging about this I sincerely hope I don’t offend my American friends because that’s definitely not my aim.  I didn’t even share it on Facebook after seeing the barrage of comments and discussion it incited on her page.

Comments like “weird to whom?” “Everyone’s definition of weird is different.”  Of COURSE it is.  That’s the whole point.  Weird is something that goes both ways.  America’s love for canned cheese is weird to us Aussies (& Brits) and most likely our LACK of canned cheese is weird to them.  Newsflash: weird isn’t actually all that bad, it could be a good thing.

Then a person really went on the defense saying “Ah, do the damn math(s) in your head,” (in response to #3 why doesn’t the price on items here include  tax–why isn’t it the final price).  “If you’re living in that state you should know what your sales tax is,” she went on to say.  Isn’t that the point?  Why SHOULD we do the math in our head?  We’re not going to pay that price, they’re going to collect the TOTAL so why not list the full price?  It IS weird.  To us.  Because we’re not used to it (and neither should we get used to it).  We’ve seen it done our way and seen it done their way and we’re happy to give our brains a rest!  And do it our way.

America is a smart country; a) they get lots of tourists who don’t necessarily know you add tax or the tax rate for that state (or which state they’re in from one day to the next) and b) you can see other countries put the price including tax wouldn’t someone wake up and go, “World’s Best Practice, that’s so much easier, let’s change the way we do things.”  Change the bloody way you price things!

I digress again because that’s not the reason I decided to Blog about it either.

No, the reason I decided to Blog about it is because I read this story (which I’d been avoiding clicking into for days) about a CNN report taking the piss out of the New Zealand welcome for William, Kate & George (to me, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to you) on their recent royal tour.

I think we as Australians can laugh at ourselves–we’re a small country who does pretty well at sport, we’ve got some really talented actors and creative guys in Hollywood, not too bad at business and we have a LOT of bogans.  Our most successful comedy shows are those where we take the piss out of typical Australians (bogans or not).

But watching that CNN story made me cringe.  I’m not even from New Zealand and by the way Australians (as a rule) aren’t even supposed to like New Zealanders and this still made me cringe.

So what’s the difference between the San Francisco Globe article and the CNN story?  I think it’s that the CNN story seemed so condescending and ill-informed.

The journalist issued a half-assed apology which said we all got it wrong because she “does humour and satire and maybe we just didn’t get it”.  But I’m not sure it was the right approach.  Save it for Letterman sweetie, or the Comedy Factory.

OK, step back a minute, it’s not many people that greet the future King & Queen of England showing his (mighty taut) bum.  Lucky him.  Lucky Kate.  But, let’s face it that wasn’t why he was showing her his ass.

I wrote a piece last week about racism in America.  My daughter chuckles at school about how everyone seems quick to say, “racist much”.  They’re so aware of saying the right thing.  So why poke fun of the New Zealand culture and heritage.  Racist much.

I wonder if the shoe was on the other foot if a New Zealand journo poked fun at an “Native American” custom what reaction that would get.  CNN might get the experts in for that one (and hopefully give a rest to the “breaking news” coverage of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight.  Meow).

I don’t agree with everything in the Mamamia story either, I think in their own country Americans ARE culturally sensitive (as I wrote about last week maybe too much).  BUT did we have a right to get defensive about the CNN story but not the San Francisco Globe story?

I’d like to quote the last two paras of the article because it sums it up nicely:

“Just because an event is different from what you are used to or outside your prism of experience, doesn’t mean it is something to be laughed at. And when you’re a national broadcaster, you have a duty to help inform and educate your viewers; to help them understand the context of the news they are watching.

“CNN’s coverage was an insult to those who gave up their time to so generously welcome the royal couple to New Zealand. And it was also insulting to the intelligence of their American viewers; who deserved more from that news report than an appeal to base ignorance.”

Ah controversy.  Gotta love it!  Let me know your thoughts, I’m very interested!

xx It Started in LA xx

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1 Comment

  • Reply Daniela Scalcon April 15, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    The majority of Americans don’t know much about anything outside their borders. The cultural practices of other countries would only be viewed through the prism of American ‘culture’ and no-one takes CNN seriously any more anyway.

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