Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Oversexed, overpaid and over here"

"What's your summation of the US Great Health System Debate?

It seems unimaginable to "most thinking Australians", there are about twenty of us, that a government would have to battle so hard to ensure that a reasonable health insurance scheme was available to everybody.

And yet we see on the TV news that many Democrat pollies are receiving death threats for daring to vote for such Socialist policies. It's as though a national health scheme was on the same level as nationalising the banks - come to think of it, in the light of recent debacles, even that may not be a bad idea !!!"
From email from a reader

The above appeared in my inbox a few days ago.

I left it in there for a while, being at a loss for words. How to explain?

In the end I made an attempt, but it was difficult. Because even though there are many similarities between Australians (as the email writer is) and Americans, their systems of government are quite different, and the cultural differences between the two groups are stronger than one would at first glance think. Australians and Americans are separated by more than a common language. How to explain how Americans are not really opposed to universal health care but that their fear of big government, or even just government, influences any analysis.

I did end up answering the email, but I wasn't 100% happy with my answer. There were too many barriers to explain away. Plus there's the anti-Americanism of many Australians to Americans, which started in WWII when the Australian men were away fighting in Europe and the Pacific, and Australian women were entertaining American GIs who were in Australia on R&R. There's nothing wrong with Americans, the men would say, when they returned to find "dear John" letters waiting, it is just that they are "oversexed, overpaid and over here".

Lest we forget ...

Then there's the widespread belief that Americans know little of other countries. Unfortunately the myth of the culturally ignorant American achieved a shot in the arm this week by American comedian, Robin Williams. I was watching Robin Williams on Letterman via YouTube. I'm not a Williams fan but any positive feelings I may have had about the man, took a nose dive. His take on Australia (here) is pretty pathetic.

I have decided that I don't even LIKE Robin Williams. I first went off him when he was in "The Dead Poets Society". I warmed toward him ever so slightly some years later, when he appeared in a Woody Allen movie (literally and figuratively) out of focus.

I suspect out of focus is his best angle. A gaussian blur with the emphasis on the blur.

But any positive opinion, however minute that I may have felt, disintegrated when I saw him on Letterman talking about Australia.

Williams' take on Australia was really off. Full of misinformation. Stuff about poisonous snails shooting poisonous darts, flying snakes and worse. Playing for the crowds for cheap laughs. And all said in a pathetic attempt an Australian accent.

There is certainly a place for satire and laughter in this world. But there is one important prerequisite. It has to be funny. Stereotyping any group or race as being low on the evolutionary scale and as being simplistic fools may get a laugh from Letterman. Fortunately most Americans have a bit more sense.

Australians all, let's boycott him.


Anonymous said...

Watched the Robin Williams and....gotta disagree with you, I kinda think he's funny. Yes, it was a phony accent but I don't know too many comedians that could do it right. Funny comments about Aussie footy, and funnymen usually play the crowd for laughs. Guess we can agree to disagree on this one,

chinamonty said...

To my mind he was OK in Mork and Mindy and nothing since. I do not like his comedy but when I hear him being serious I like the man. I will watch it on Youtube if it is there. By the way I dislike Letterman even more.

Ian said...

When I first read his comments, I was a bit annoyed, but after watching the clip, I realised it was just his off-the-wall, impromptu style and I found myself laughing at some of it.
I did stop to think why I would be upset? Was the country boy in me upset about being called English or was the former glebe-trotter in me upset at being called a redneck?

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