Alternate Title: My Ugly American Rant Part 2
My first Ugly American Rant focused on America’s influence via its public sector. Our dominating influence comes less from government and more from industry. Don’t think so? Put your money where your mouth is and see if you can live without us.
I’d been working on this idea for years but never published it. Then I came across this passage in Lebanese author Nassim Nicholas Taleb‘s Black Swan (highly recommended book, spawned black swan theory):
Whenever you hear a snotty (and frustrated) European middlebrow presenting his stereotypes about Americans, he will often describe them as “uncultured,” “unintellectual,” and “poor in math” because, unlike his peers, Americans are not into equation drills and the constructions middlebrows call “high culture” – like knowledge of Goethe’s inspirational (and central) trip o Italy, or familiarity with the Delft school of painting. Yet the person making these statements is likely to be addicted to his iPod, wear blue jeans, and use Microsoft Word to jot down his “cultural” statements on his PC, with some Google searches here and there interrupting his composition. Well, it so happens that America is currently far, far more creative than these nations of museumgoers and equation solvers. It is also far more tolerant of bottom-up tinkering and undirected trial and error. And globalization has allowed the United States to specialize in the creative aspect of things, the production of concepts and ideas, that is, the scalable part of the products, and, increasingly, by exporting jobs, separate the less scalable components and assign them to those happy to be paid by the hour.
But the point still stands. What would you dear anti-Americanists do without us? What would your life be like? Give it a shot.
I’m not going to make it so difficult that you can’t listen to the music genres of rock and roll, hip hop, jazz, or blues. The Brits have thoroughly beaten us at our own game of rock and roll. But no American artists – which would be especially difficult if you’re a fan of hip hop.
I’m the last person to argue for Hollywood movies. I watch less than one movie a month, and 90% of the shit at your local cinema loses my attention within 20 minutes. Unfortunately most of you love Transformers and Avatar. You’re going to have to get some high culture by watching foreign films. And for television you’re going to have to get by on soccer, British news and comedy, and your local productions including culturally and language-adjusted clones of American shows. ¡No se permite Los Simpson!
Entertainment’s not what’s going to trip you up. I shouldn’t have started there. I should’ve scored the first round knockout with technology. That’s right, no Google. No Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or Yahoo. You have to change your email address if it’s Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, or AOL. Hardware will be a little easier, but no Apple (I bet 1,000,000 pesos most anti-American snobs have Macs and iPhones), Microsoft, Dell, HP. You can’t use products from any of the Silicon Valley companies that have made the most impact on how we live our lives today.
You can still have internet and computers. But you’ll have to use a Toshiba or Acer. And your operating system won’t be Windows. You gotta use Linux on your Toshiba. That’s not so bad actually, Linux is the world’s best operating system. But you know your lazy ass don’t want to learn how to use it!
Once you’ve installed Linux on your Acer, and learned how to use it, you’re going to need a web browser. Unfortunately that browser won’t be Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Safari. It’ll be Opera. To search the web, you can’t use Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Baidu is the most popular search engine after those three. Do a search on that piece of shit for “expat chronicles” – nothing! I don’t know what you’re going to use. I don’t know what social networking site you’re going to use either, but I know it won’t be Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, Orkut, MySpace, hi5, Flickr, Bebo, or CouchSurfing. I don’t know what’s left. Maybe easier to drop social networking.
If you’re web savvy enough to be social bookmarking, you can’t use Digg, Delicious, or reddit. Fortunately you’ll have a worthy substitute in Canadian-born StumbleUpon, which should please the most fervent anti-Americans I’ve ever met – CANADIANS. If you have a website, you can’t publish it with content management systems WordPress or Blogger. But you can use Japanese-owned (although American-authored) Movable Type or the Belgian Drupal (ironically the CMS for whitehouse.gov). It should be refreshing to learn that, although recently acquired by Microsoft, Skype was invented by genius Swedish innovator Niklas Zennström.
You’ve realized you can’t boycott America. The country dominates the internet. It’s so one-sided, why don’t you do me a favor and let me know when somebody outside the United States develops some internet shit that matters.
I won’t claim all denim jeans for the boycott. Only American clothing brands aren’t allowed, which you’d probably be better dressed without. But for me, I’d have to replace most of my wardrobe and even get a new style if I weren’t allowed Levi’s, Nike, or Converse (true powerlifter shoes).
As in denim, I won’t claim cheeseburgers and french fries. But you sure as hell can’t eat at McDonald’s or drink Coca-Cola. I don’t consume either, but don’t front because you know there’s a profitable McDonald’s in your town. Your countrymen are lining up to pay for that shit. I can’t even think of a non-American restaurant with presences all over the world. Can you?
You’ve already quit trying. It’s OK. But here’s some more food for thought.
In a 2011 study on the world’s most valuable brands, those highest recognized, 9 of the top 10 were American. You may talk a big game about the end of the United States, but when you vote with your dollar you choose American products again and again and again. The top 10 from the Brandz study:
- China Mobile
- General Electric
Many people think China’s taking over the world. They’ve certainly come up, but they’re largely a one-trick pony. They make cheap shit. Boycotting China would be the next most difficult country to boycott, but it wouldn’t be difficult. If you live in a developed country, you’d just have to look at the labels for the stuff you buy at WalMart or whichever store sells cheap shit and, instead of buying the one Made in China, buy the one made in the Southeast Asian country. If you live an a developing country, you just buy the locally-made cheap shit.
Not until China can move past making cheap shit and being the world’s factory floor will they be influencing the world as much as the States. Their big brands like Baidu and that Chinese FB knockoff are only big because (A) their own market’s so big and (B) they face little competition from America and Europe because of (1) the language and (2) willingness to comply with Chinese censorship and other Communist Party of China government bullshit.
They don’t have to develop anything. They just copy what the West puts out and either (A) do it cheaper or (B) translate it to Mandarin. I know many telecommunications professionals in Bogota who complain about Chinese company Huawei. They do zero R&D, but after Ericsson or Siemens (European innovators, for the record) or whoever develop a new technology like 4G equipment, Huawei duplicates the technology and undercuts price. Chinese industry doesn’t lead, it follows.
I only heard about that Chinese Facebook site because a friend in China sent me a screenshot of this thread. I couldn’t have made that up, HILARIOUS! (the comment in English)
I will give China props for taking more gold medals in the last Olympics, although they were the home team and they didn’t get the most total medals. I also must award props if I wrote three paragraphs on them.
Disagreeing comments welcome as always. But if you’re gonna cry “poor research” then you better back it up with substance and a link to a credible source.
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