Babylon Nights Question #7 ~ Americans

by Daniel Depp

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Babylon Nights Question #7 ~ Americans

Unread postby Liz » Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:07 am

Pg. 186: “Do you know why people don’t like Americans?” Vignon said.

“We have more money? Said Sapndau.

“you had more money,” said Vignon. “The Chinese are currently taking care of it for you. And anyway the EU is kicking your ass now as well. No, it’s because you never get past the emotional age of fifteen. You’re like underage drivers in a Maserati. It’s inevitable that someone gets hurt, but somehow it never turns out to be you.”


Comment on Vignon’s view of Americans.
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Re: Babylon Nights Question #7 ~ Americans

Unread postby nebraska » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:30 pm

In some ways I think he has a point. Too many people are only interested in doing what makes them feel good no matter the cost to others and are very much involved with material things. Both of those are immature behaviors, I think.

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Re: Babylon Nights Question #7 ~ Americans

Unread postby fireflydances » Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:28 pm

I think Vignon's attitude represents a fairly common perspective on Americans but one that is as much rooted in European history as it is a worthy critique of the American spirit. There's a great deal of truth in his analysis of Americans as over-grown teenagers utterly unaware of the impact their lifestyle has on the world outside their borders. Vignon has a thousand years of history on his shoulders. He is of knights and plagues and guillotines, of two massive wars and decades of poverty. Many of us are the sons and daughters of those who thumbed their noses at the past and jumped ship and scaled a fence and started fresh because they wanted more. I think Americans suffer a degree of naivete because we've been simultaneously protected and isolated by two oceans. Let's face it, we bumble along on vacation in Europe with our little phrase books, dressed like we are on the way to the beach, unable to converse with anyone if it isn't about the bathroom or the next meal. We must appear downright unconscious.

At the same time, individually one-on-one, we are not equal to the mistakes of our foreign policies, the greed of our robber barons or the superficiality of our entertainment mega-culture. I think Spandau is a credible representative of America, perhaps slightly Joe Yokel but also wide open to things, to ideas. And I think Vignon came away from the encounter with a more finely tuned definition of 'the American".
Last edited by fireflydances on Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Babylon Nights Question #7 ~ Americans

Unread postby Betty Sue » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:35 pm

Must admit I never quite understood our 'Ugly American' image and didn't get what Vignon was saying, but you laid it out pretty loud and clear, fireflydances!! Thank you. Not a pretty picture but inevitable, perhaps, under the circumstances....
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Re: Babylon Nights Question #7 ~ Americans

Unread postby moviemom » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:48 pm

Maybe Vingon has seen too many old Sylvester Stallone movies.
The year's no doubt, have changed me, sir. -- Sweeney Todd :sweeneysmile:

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Re: Babylon Nights Question #7 ~ Americans

Unread postby fireflydances » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:14 pm

:biglaugh: Good one!!
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Re: Babylon Nights Question #7 ~ Americans

Unread postby fansmom » Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:14 pm

I don't like it when anyone implies that all Americans are like this or like that. (Can I say that's an immature way of looking at any culture? :bigwink: ) I know Americans who don't speak English, others who don't eat hamburgers, others who don't drive. There is too much diversity, too much variety in this country for all Americans to be similar in any way.

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Re: Babylon Nights Question #7 ~ Americans

Unread postby gemini » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:18 am

I agree fansmom that Americans are individuals but unfortunately fireflydances is correct in the way we are seen by other countries.
When I read the quote Liz used from Vignon, it made me think of the statement that Johnny made that got him into trouble.
"America is dumb, it's like a dumb puppy that has big teeth that can bite and hurt you, aggressive," he said.

His sentiments seem a lot like Vignons. Wonder if Daniel intended the similiarity or not?
Fireflydances said: At the same time, individually one-on-one, we are not equal to the mistakes of our foreign policies, the greed of our robber barons or the superficiality of our entertainment mega-culture. I think Spandau is a credible representative of America, perhaps slightly Joe Yokel but also wide open to things, to ideas. And I think Vignon came away from the encounter with a more finely tuned definition of 'the American".
I agree with your sentiments that we are all not responsible for our foreign policies but I hope that the rest of the world does not think we are all cowboys. No offense meant to those living in the west but when foreigners call us cowboys it is not a complement. They use the term cowboy mentality as in quick draw or ruled by the gun.
I think this was Vignon's first impression of Spandau before he got to know him.
Oh and the part about money, Vignon sure had that correct.
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Re: Babylon Nights Question #7 ~ Americans

Unread postby Liz » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:23 am

gemini wrote:I agree fansmom that Americans are individuals but unfortunately fireflydances is correct in the way we are seen by other countries.
When I read the quote Liz used from Vignon, it made me think of the statement that Johnny made that got him into trouble.
"America is dumb, it's like a dumb puppy that has big teeth that can bite and hurt you, aggressive," he said.

His sentiments seem a lot like Vignons. Wonder if Daniel intended the similiarity or not?

I wondered that too, gemini, but not until today when I read Firefly's post. And I want to point out that Johnny qualified that dumb puppy remark by saying that we are a very young country (compared to others)…..that we didn’t have the long history behind us (like firefly pointed out). I can’t remember his exact words. But basically I took it as we were still growing up trying to find our way.
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Re: Babylon Nights Question #7 ~ Americans

Unread postby Liz » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:32 am

I agree with each of you in different ways.

Fansmom, I think he is generalizing and it probably comes from the general hatred toward Americans by various foreign countries. But I do think that it is generalized….as others generalize about Europeans or Middle Easterners.

Personally, I think that there is too much bigotry, intolerance and fanaticism--basically xenophobia--in the world.
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Re: Babylon Nights Question #7 ~ Americans

Unread postby fireflydances » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:40 am

I should say also that Vignon's view is static and backward facing. His "ugly" American is harder and harder to find here. I spent a good part of last year working for the US Census and it was such an enormously positive experience. There was no neighborhood that I visited, no apartment building that was the domain of one or two ethnic groups. Everyday I talked to people from all over the world. They invited me into their homes, made me feel at welcome. One unit African, the next one Korean, then Haitian, then Chinese, then Russian, then Irish then Italian then Dominican and on and on. Our diversity has made us strong and, fears aside, it will continue to keep us vigorous, creative and open.
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Re: Babylon Nights Question #7 ~ Americans

Unread postby nebraska » Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:17 am

fansmom wrote:I don't like it when anyone implies that all Americans are like this or like that.(Can I say that's an immature way of looking at any culture? :bigwink: ) I know Americans who don't speak English, others who don't eat hamburgers, others who don't drive. There is too much diversity, too much variety in this country for all Americans to be similar in any way.


I think all Vignon really could base his opinion on was the American tourists he met in Cannes, and they were probably very much like self-indulgent teenagers.

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Re: Babylon Nights Question #7 ~ Americans

Unread postby Buster » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:14 pm

the American tourists he met in Cannes, and they were probably very much like self-indulgent teenagers.
:harhar:

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Re: Babylon Nights Question #7 ~ Americans

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:01 pm

Don't forget the parts of our culture that we export to foreign countries, television, movies, advertisements for American goods that give them a snapshot of American culture. I lived in Europe for close to a year in the 80's. Remember the television show Dallas with J.R. Ewing, et al? I was on a train one time and an obviously nice dressed, intelligent business woman in the car with me noticed my luggage tag on my bag in the overhead bin and at the time I lived in Dallas. She looked at me, eyes wide, and says, "Dallas?? JR?? Horses, oil? Bang, bang?" :rolleyes: Of course I laughed and we had a nice conversation about the "real" Texas but she did honestly believe that was not an unusual way for people to live here. We all labor under misconceptions and generalizations based on what we see and hear of other countries and cultures. When you are lucky enough to take the time to sit with someone from another country and visit with them, you find out people aren't so different after all. :worldhug:
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Re: Babylon Nights Question #7 ~ Americans

Unread postby fireflydances » Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:09 pm

"Dallas?? JR?? Horses, oil? Bang, bang?"
Jeez, I can see her. :lol: Yeah, nothing like really talking. We'd all be family if we talked direct, one on one.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies


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