Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Houston, wir haben ein Problem...

Interesting -- though not really surprising -- poll results at Daily Kos (via Yglesias).

It's reassuring, as it seems Americans like Europe just fine. And, interestingly enough, very similar results appear for the cities of San Francisco, New York and France.

It's somehow good to know exactly who lies outside the mainstream on this one.


Kris said...

I'd love to see what Europe thinks of the South, a bit higher than 48 percent favourable, I'd imagine!

More possum and grits are needed in Stockholm, it seems.

It does seem an awfully large question though. If "Europe" doesn't know what "Europe" is, what hope has Billy Bob got?

J. Carter Wood said...

I can't speak for the rest of Europe, but in my experience, many Germans seem to like (what they imagine to be) southern culture. There's a fairly substantial country and western fan base here, though it's not exactly mainstream.

(With a few rare, but sometimes excellent, exceptions.)

Your exposure to it all kind of depends on whom you hang out with.

Of course, during the Bush administration, that appreciation became a bit narrower; still, Clinton was a southern boy, and he was pretty popular, I believe (I wasn't here at the time).

I think that more Germans identify with the iconography and image of the American south (and south-west) than with the actual politics.

Or food: I'm not sure possum 'n' grits are going to do much for trans-Atlantic relationships.

As tasty as it sounds.

Funnily enough, many Americans main image of Germany comes from the German south. Which is, in some ways, about as accurate as the opposite assumption.

And yes, as you note, it's a rather vague question. Though I don't imagine that most Americans took it as a question about their view of the European Commission.

As to 'Europe' not knowing what 'Europe' means, a short anecdote.

For a few years, I taught English at a German university. Most of the courses were on legal English, but I had a few more generally culture-oriented courses (which were a lot more fun, let me tell you). During one session, I was trying to get the students to think about national identity vs. European identity: to what extent, I asked them, did they feel 'European'.

They seemed a bit bewildered by this question, but a few made the interesting point that they tended to really only recognise their European-ness when somewhere else in the world (visiting the United States -- especially the South -- was frequently given as the occasion for this...um...eureka moment).

The discussion went quiet and then one student raised his hand and said: 'I'm sorry, I just don't really feel that European. But then I'm Bavarian, I have a hard enough time feeling German.'

Kris said...

I like the notion of bluegrass fans deep in Tittmoning. There should be space in all of our lives for country and western.

In an odd way, I share the sentiment of your Bavarian student. I think of myself as being from Burnie, and I have no shame in telling people that [in Tasmania, Burnie has been seen as a akin to Birmingham, Alabama]. I also identify (proudly) as a North West Coaster. Of course, I’m a Tasmanian before I am an Australian [again, being Tasmanian is like being Alaskan]. Yet if I’m introduced to a Belizean I’ll tell them I’m Australian. Not only that, I’m an Australian of Scot/Italian/Irish stock, that is, I’m a European-Australian.

This morning, I'm stuck pondering whether or not I have got space in my life to identify as an Earthling as well?

The Wife said...

And what would Erol Flynn say to all that, I wonder - him being Tasmanian, too:


J. Carter Wood said...

Yes, Kris, it can certainly get a bit crowded in identity land.

Just make sure you leave some room for being a citizen of the United Federation of Planets.

I didn't know Errol Flynn was Tasmanian. That's cool.

Kris said...

Errol remains quite the icon here in Hobart. Cafes, hotels, parks, beaches, streets all named after him. There is an odd sense of public pride in the man's sexual exploits.

The Wife said...

"Errol remains quite the icon here in Hobart. Cafes, hotels, parks, beaches, streets all named after him. There is an odd sense of public pride in the man's sexual exploits."

Really? That sounds like fun! I like swashbuckling guys in tights.

I trust you will initiate your sons in Hobart's dirty secrets (once both of them have a full set of teeth, I mean).

Anyway, I used to think Tasmania was next to Transylvania.

Kris said...

By all accounts Errol Had to creatively use tape when wearing tights, something down there apparently distracted the leading ladies.

We're proud of the man.

I know people who confuse Tasmania with Tanzania.