Home / Culture and Society / Travel / Globalizing Americana: Part 12 – American Arrogance

Globalizing Americana: Part 12 – American Arrogance

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

American Arrogance

As a culture, Americana has influenced people the world over. From music and the arts, to food and theater, Americana has expanded beyond the geographic borders of the United States.

When traveling abroad, Americans should understand and attempt to learn the customs and traditions of people within their local community. Often, however, it is perceived that there is unwillingness by many Americans to do so, which unfortunately leads to the stigma of American arrogance.

In discussing accountability it was argued that in order to justifiably hold someone accountable for their actions they must have had knowledge of the expectations. Without this information it is difficult, if not impossible, to justifiably hold someone accountable for their actions.

Where there is arrogance there is an assumed or actual misuse of power based on a perception of superiority. Insofar as our discussion here pertains to the globalization of Americana, American arrogance is a necessary consequence of its globalization, a precariously dangerous consequence of its economic and military might.

Though this is certainly not an attempt to justify or even excuse the believed existence of American arrogance, many within the United States are unaware of their privileges, an oversight others find particularly offensive. Take, for example, the ease with which one, in the U.S. may simply walk to the kitchen, turn on the faucet, and drink a clean cool glass of water. This is a privilege. To many Americans, it may not seem like a privilege. It is simply taken for granted.

When traveling abroad, Americans should recognize that the conveniences they are afforded within the United States are luxuries that so many must do without. The knowledge of one’s privileges can allow those sensitive to the plight of others the necessary tact in espousing their discomforts.

Unfortunately, however, the perception of American arrogance is further fueled by the immediacy of American culture. As Americans, we are privileged to conveniences that are inaccessible to millions around the globe.

Burger King, for example, has recently come under fire for its advertisement campaign to find “Whopper virgins.” They have traveled to some of the most rural and destitute locations in the world, fully equipped with a state of the art production crew, attempting to find individuals that have never eaten a Burger King Whopper.

I can think of no better example, hypothetical or actual, that definitively embodies the notion of American arrogance better than Burger King’s most recent ad campaigns. The hubris, the ridiculous and pompous arrogance of the Burger King Corporation is rooted in the wonderment that someone hasn’t eaten their burgers. So bizarre the thought that in a world of billions of people, there might exist that sole individual that has yet to contaminate their system with Burger King’s wonderful Whoppers.

The arrogance is unbelievable – that the existence of such people is so incredibly bizarre that it justifies spending millions of dollars in advertisements and travel expenses to visually document their first taste of a Whopper. All that is wrong with the globalization of Americana and all that is most diabolical with the notion of American arrogance, is exemplified in the actions of the Burger King Corporation. On behalf of all semi-rational and decent Americans, I do most sincerely apologize.

The truth is that many within this land of plenty want more; many within this land of wealth struggle to amass more wealth; and so many Americans are in fact arrogant. There is a grave danger, however, with arrogance, with vanity, and with the narcissism inherent in Burger King’s audacious campaign to document “Whopper virgins.”

Others will not take lightly to arrogance. People are struggling to survive, struggling to meet the most basic of necessities for sustaining life – and here come the Americans with their film crew to document someone eating a burger.

Are we so blind as a nation that we cannot see the inherent evil in our practices? Are we so callused that we don’t recognize all that is wrong with such assumptions? If we are so jaded and so far removed from the struggles of millions around the world over, then we are in even graver danger as a nation.

The arrogant American is something to loathe. The arrogant American is demanding and unaccommodating, which is precisely why Americana must make a concentrated effort to undo the harms and injustices of our past. Simply acknowledging the suffering of others is the beginning of revamping our international respectability. We must, as a nation, realize that world is a collection of various cultures and people.

It is and will always be larger than the United States. For these reasons, when we travel abroad and when we advertise our products to a global market, we must be held accountable for our actions. We must at every instance try to understand and accommodate the concerns of others. Otherwise, the stigma of American arrogance may prove to be our undoing.

Powered by

About Jason J. Campbell

  • bliffle

    I think I’ve had a BK burger and I think I enjoyed it.

    But that was some time ago.

    I guess it wasn’t good enough to draw me back. Oh well.

  • LOL… Thanks, S. I was hoping it wouldn’t fall until after I’m dead.

  • STM

    Joanne: “I believe this is what happened before Rome fell.”

    The modern-day equivalent of Rome has already fallen … that was the British.

    You are the modern-day Byzantium, the other Roman empire, and I’d reckon there’s a ways to go yet.

    No need to panic just yet, Jo.

  • I used to was a Burger King manager before I came to live in the Land of Milk, Honey and Suicide Bombers. So, I know something about Burger King, and how it relates to American society and culture, if nothing else.

    Burger King, and the fast food joints it is part and parcel of, do not represent American arrogance so much as they represent the infantilization of American society.

    “Have it your way! Right away!”

    An ad campaign that was hell on us who had to manage the stores and make the fantasies sold in the ads come true. One hundred and eighty seconds (or less) to get it right every fuckin’ time. The customer was treated almost as an infant who had to have his diaper changed withing three minutes of peeing in it – or else!!!

    Jason, that is what these ad campaigns are all about. Americans gaze in their navels too much to be arrogant. They are too ignorant of foreign languages to be condescending. Watching American tourists on a Jerusalem street reminds me of just how much Americans take for granted in their insularity.

    What you take for arrogance is not the contemptuous looking down one’s nose of the average Frog or Pommie that you would see in your native Jamaica. It is the ignorance born of insularity and living under the delusion that history only happens to other people – but that the only important things worth knowing occur between the Atlantic and Pacific, north of the Rio Grande and south of the 49th Parallel. Everything else is treated with indulgence.

    One of the things that pisses Americans off about illegal immigration, for example, is that it forces the reality of the outside world on their insular selves. As you well know, the reality of the rest of the world – particularly the reality of Americans – is forced down our throats when we are not living within the borders of the USA. And the Americans cannot handle the turnabout.

    As for arrogance, we all live in cultures of arrogance. When this arrogance is broken, we’ll start to see real change on the planet. Until then, all we can do is hope for change we can believe in….

  • It’s unfortunate, but arrogance seems to have permeated the entire society, from our esteemed Congress down to the lowly homeless person camped in Golden Gate Park. There are pockets of decency, but I feel like they are few and far between.

    I believe this is what happened before Rome fell.

  • Bah Humbug Dave! Why so grim? 🙂 Well thanks for tabulating my article publications. Can’t say that I know how many you’ve written, though I did like your piece on states secession. Typically, I leave the tabulation for others, so thanks a bunch. I understand the concept of the whopper virgin and discuss it rather clearly in the piece. Patience is a virtue my friend, there is both bitter and sweet in my formula, start with the bitter end with the sweet, all’s well in the universe. Smile Dave, you’ll live longer. Peace.

  • Jason, is there anything about America which you don’t loathe?

    As for the BK ads, I take if from your description that you haven’t’ actually seen the ads.

    The point is not that their burgers have taken over the world, but that they want to find people who have never had any burger of any kind so that they have virgin palates and can make a fair comparison between a BK burger and a competitor’s burger.

    It’s a different and somewhat less arrogant concept. Plus these ads aren’t marketing the burgers to anyone but Americans, so I really don’t see who they are going to offend.

    If you want to talk about arrogance, let’s talk about the arrogance of writing a 13+ part series running down a country which most people in the world dream of coming to in order to escape the oppression of dictatorship, theocracy or socialism.


  • STM,

    LOL…the one thing I can assure you is that I’m not running outta stuff to write about. In fact I haven’t even started formalizing my argument yet. This is all warmup. Trust me its not all USA is bad, but it wouldn’t be fair to gloss over the problems. With respect to your larger point of lightening up, sure that’s a fair assessment. In the following piece #13 which has yet to be published I investigate some of the problems with a lack of sensitive. Sure being too PC can be a problem but in #13 you’ll see why at least I think this form of argument is justified. And to the broader question of Americans poking fun at themselves, such a claim assumes that each culture has the same sentiments of style, humor and wit, which I also discuss in the next section. That claim is also false. So depending on how much you like or dislike what I’ve written thus far, there’ll be a lot lot lot more to come. Peace.

  • STM

    Jason, I’m not American. I’m very happy where I am, and although I love to visit, I have no desire to ever live in the US.

    But geez, man, there’s a lot to be proud of in your culture – go easy on yourselves. Hamburgers, believe it or not, are fondly regarded elsewhere in the world as an American cultural icon and one of the great exports of the US.

    Let’s lighten up a bit here in regard to what is just a series of burger ads.

    It’s just a bit of harmless fun, for God’s sake. Did you ever stop to think the creative team behind the ad might also be poking a bit of fun at Americans themselves?

    As a non-American, I don’t find it offensive in the slightest. Actually, I think it’s not a bad concept for an ad campaign.

    What I do find offensive, however, is that too many people appear to have become so politically correct in the US, they’ve forgotten that’s it’s OK to have a sense of humour.

    Luckily, a lot still haven’t.

    Perhaps it’s always important to put these things in perspective.

    You know, like:

    Wall St greed bringing the entire global economy to its knees = bad America.

    Burger King having a bit of fun with a Whopper ad = America that still thinks it’s OK to have a laugh, especially as no one’s getting hurt.

    And with respect, after reading this, I’m starting to get worried that you’re running out of stuff to write about in this long-running series.

  • I read the book “The Ugly American” but only after a tour in Vietnam that took me to parts of Cambodia and Thailand. Many of my fellow American should take a page from that book and act more like Homer Atkins. That book and the recognition of arrogance in your article serves to prove that arrogance and ignorance are first cousins.