Thursday, February 16, 2017

GlobalMedia: Intercultural Com: "The Ugly American" (W6-P6) [VID] Sp17

What are the 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 group's 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 1958 novel about an American who travels abroad and expresses an ethnocentric attitude.  The novel was made into a 1963 film staring Marlon Brando.

Now to another film.  How does Disney's Pocahontas fit into this discussion?

Do you spot the ethnocentric attitude from John Smith in this Pocahontas clip?
(If the video clip does not work, then the Disney's Pocahontas film can be found on sites like Netflix.  If you find the full film see the segment from about 35:45 to about 40:00.)

Given the similarity between Pocahontas and Avatar (see below), then you might explore the "ugly Earthling" aspects of Avatar.  Can you think of other related films?

* 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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