Tuesday, February 21, 2012

GlobalMedia: "The Ugly American" (U3-P6)

Counterproductive attitudes that Americans can have about people from other countries?*
  • "Foreigners coming to live in the U.S. should adapt American ways."
  • "Asians do many things backwards."
  • "Much of the world’s population remains underdeveloped because they don’t take the initiative to develop themselves."
  • "Americans have been very generous in teaching other people how to do things the right way."
  • "English should be accepted as the universal language."

Q: Central theme in the counterproductive attitudes expressed above?
A: Ethnocentrism: a belief that your groups ways are the best ways.

Imagine a person working in development communication who heads into a development project abroad with the above attitudes. How would things work out?

The phrase "ugly American" comes, in part, from a novel about an American who travels abroad and expresses an ethnocentric attitude.  The novel was also made into a film staring Marlon Brando.

Do you spot the ethnocentric attitude from John Smith in this Pocahontas clip?

* Of course, this could go the other way. People in other countries can have ethnocentric views toward the U.S. --  The ugly _____.

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