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War on Everything
January 19, 2007 6:53 PM   Subscribe


 
Make that "irrelevance."
posted by augustweed at 7:01 PM on January 19, 2007


It actually shows a well-known social engineering technique. If you act you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, people will just assume that you are.
posted by delmoi at 7:07 PM on January 19, 2007


Oh wow. In the "ignorance of many Americans" link this girl first answers that "We won" the Vietnam war, and then, suspecting a trick asks "Wait, we're we even in the Vietnam war?"
posted by delmoi at 7:24 PM on January 19, 2007


And, just in case you are wondering what John Howard actually looks like...

The Prime Minister of Australia
posted by cheaily at 7:36 PM on January 19, 2007


There ought to be a class in school whose sole purpose is to teach people that if you don't know shit, shut the fuck up.
posted by odinsdream at 8:09 PM on January 19, 2007


This is funny, but as I said after I recovered from laughing my guts out the first time I saw it here in Australia on Aunty, I can't help but wonder how many American's they went through who actually knew the answers to the questions they asked, that they never showed.

I'll now repeat what I said in this AskMe question on the supposed ignorance of geography many Americans supposedly have.

During my University years, one of my lecturers, who taught a subject on American Politics, referred to the old story that Americans don't know squat about geography unless they're bombing it. He made a very good point about why this could be so.

America is an enormous country. It's landscape and climate in the north is vastly different to it's landscape and climate in the south. In many respects this is true of its culture, too. A resident of New York is an American but he is vastly different from his brother in Texas. Both are different from their brothers and sisters in California.

My lecturer made the point that because of the country's large size, and because of the vast changes in lifestyle and culture the average American would find as he travels his own country from north to south or east to west, America has tended to be a very inward looking country, politically speaking. And how this relates to the 'Haw haw, Yanks don't know geography unless they bomb it' cliche is, as my lecturer put it, if you have to get your head around so much to do with your own country, you're not going to spend a lot of time memorizing the geography and culture of the rest of the world.

I don't know how true this actually is (given I don't live in the US) but given my lecturer is supposed to be an expert on the US and specifically its politics, I give it some credence. I especially like it because it's more than just a simple "Ha, Americans are stoopid."

And finally, yes, cheaily's link does indeed link to what our PM looks like, but I prefer this picture of him which was on the front page of The Australian recently. It was taken during Howard's Christmas vacation. Dear John, for the love of God and all that is holy, in future, please do not ever wear shorts in public again. Thanks heaps.
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:14 PM on January 19, 2007


Didn't I see the 'ignorance of Americans' episode on the Jay Leno show back in, say 1999, when I was drunk in Montreal and my only options left, after the soft-porn, were some irritating Vermont local news broadcasts? Yaaawwwnn....
posted by repoman at 8:21 PM on January 19, 2007


Haha great video.
I'm refraining from clicking the second one, however. I'm pretty ignorant about my own country, I'm not going to lie. There are just too many states, too many capitals, and I haven't been to nor will I go to the majority of them, and when will I ever be in a situation where I need to know what state a certain city is in? I'm more concerned about knowing the area in which I live, or other countries and their capitals.

I'd like to know how most Russians, Chinese, or Brazillians fair at geography.

I've also gotten used to people thinking Rhode Island is part of New York. ::sigh::
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:14 PM on January 19, 2007


It's not what you think, citrus.
posted by IronLizard at 9:26 PM on January 19, 2007


Having spent half my life in Europe I'm sure that Europeans are exactly as ignorant as Americans when it comes to geography.
posted by fshgrl at 9:31 PM on January 19, 2007


Where in the world are the mass of people well-informed about the rest of it?

It does bug the shit out of me how ignorant Americans are, with their disproportionate influence in the world, but I don't blame them one bit. America is most of a very diverse continent. If it weren't the United States, but instead an EU-type federation, noone would bat an eyelid at the ignorance of, say, the citizens of Minnesota, any more that they care about the geographical knowledge of the Luxembourgeois.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:38 PM on January 19, 2007


Interesting point, Effigy.

As a dual citizen of both the US and Oz I've often found the differences between the two countries to be amazing. I suppose the US has spent so much of its recent life as a (if not the) major power in the world. As such, why would its citizens need to know much more than that fact...their country is good and great and here are the reasons: x,y,z.

On the other hand, Australia is pretty close to the same size as the US, has massive variations in landscape, climate, fauna and yet regards itself politically as part of a region (Asia Pacific), not just as a sole entity. Curiously they also seem to have big chip on their shoulders when it comes to all things American.

I'd love to see someone like Jon Stewart do a rebuttal whereby he came to Queensland and asked punters similar questions. Aside form a fair few suspicious looks and suggestions he piss off I'll bet he'd get more than his fair share of moronic, drawling Aussies to step up to the camera and mouth off with hilariously ill-informed answers.

I guess my vague point is that yes, morons do reside in the United States. But I couldn't throw a Frisbee in Bondi on a Saturday without hitting a couple either.

Art
posted by Artaud at 9:52 PM on January 19, 2007


I didn't really laugh at the two videos featured...

A. Because the secret of video cameras is that in 90% of the cases no one is watching the cameras. If they are, most of the time there are many of them and only one person watching. The truth of the matter is most of the time they are only there to record any crimes for evidence later.

B. You can find ignorant and/or crazy people the world over. I bet I could go to any country and find enough people to piece together a video similar to this.

Which is too bad because I like the some of the ideas and their name was good too.
posted by rfbjames at 10:17 PM on January 19, 2007


When I lived in the UK 10 years ago, I had the hardest time with Brits not knowing where Seattle was.

No, Americans probably couldn't name or place the Australian PM. But can these Aussie tossers name the twelve teams of the Big 12 conference? Of course not. And that's what's really important.
posted by dw at 11:10 PM on January 19, 2007


But for some reason it seems to be important for John Howard and the Liberal (sic) Party in Australia to tell other Australians that he is well know (or at least known) in the US. This justifies his sycophantic relationship with your President apparently.
posted by dangerousdan at 12:07 AM on January 20, 2007


I can't say I have ever heard Howard claim that.

And how can you do a Youtube/Chaser's post without this? Anyone want to guess how long he would have lasted without being shot in the US?
posted by markr at 12:22 AM on January 20, 2007


The Chaser, not The Chasers (which is something else completely different).
posted by oxford blue at 1:15 AM on January 20, 2007


I'm not falling for it.

Whilst most comedians portray americans as dumb, and most brits as suave & sophisticated, living in the UK & watching comedy central I know that it ain't the case.

The best thing to counter the US's appalling image abroad is clear: lots more Jon Stewart & Steven Colbert.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:46 AM on January 20, 2007


markr:
that is hilarious. People fell off their stools to get away from him!
posted by dash_slot- at 4:50 AM on January 20, 2007


I guess my vague point is that yes, morons do reside in the United States. But I couldn't throw a Frisbee in Bondi on a Saturday without hitting a couple either.

There are proportionately more dumb Americans, though, which makes it easier to laugh.
posted by goo at 5:00 AM on January 20, 2007


I didn't really laugh at the two videos featured...
You can find ignorant and/or crazy people the world over.


And therefore... ignorant people aren't funny? Wow, do you ever laugh at anything? "Yeah, that guy slipped on a banana peel, but you know, banana peels are slippery, so it's a natural result. And besides, he could have gotten hurt."

I found the surveillance-camera one pretty tedious after a while, but the American-ignorance and stocking-over-the-head ones had me laughing pretty hard. That Vietnam War bit delmoi quoted really had me cackling.
posted by languagehat at 5:57 AM on January 20, 2007


To be fair, these guys are skilled in getting the stupid responses that they want and have gotten just as stupid responses from Australians in different segments as well.

It is (well was) a great show though. The podcasts got me through a lot of long bus rides.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 7:02 AM on January 20, 2007


There ought to be a class in school whose sole purpose is to teach people that if you don't know shit, shut the fuck up. -odinsdream

Amen to that citizen.

In the US it seems that the illusion of intelligence is valued more than actual knowledge.

In my opinion, it's OK to be ignorant, but it's stupid to pretend you're not.
posted by jaronson at 7:29 AM on January 20, 2007


MORON ALERT
posted by phaedon at 7:43 AM on January 20, 2007


There are proportionately more dumb Americans, though, which makes it easier to laugh.

Conducted a survey, have we?
posted by pardonyou? at 10:19 AM on January 20, 2007


I found the videos funny, but I'm betting that a lot of the silliness of people not being able to answer basic questions can be attributed to a couple of things; Nervousness at being in front of a camera, and being asked a question so simple, you are second guessing yourself as to what is being asked. "How many sides on a triangle?" Come on, nobody is that out of touch. Couple these reactions with some clever editing, and you have a fun clip of people looking goofy.

The stocking mask clip was great, but markr is right, it wouldn't be a good gag to try in the US.

(By great a mean a fascinating look at people in their first stages of terror; as they come to believe that something really bad is about to happen. Another example might be running into a restaurant with a road flare and a remote control screaming 'Hey, I have this road flare! I would like to know where I can safely dispose of it, then I would like a table for one, please!' All people are going to see is a screaming guy with what could be dynamite and react accordingly. Interesting? Yes. Cruel? Definitely. A great way to get yourself hurt? Most likely.
posted by quin at 10:53 AM on January 20, 2007


markr:
that is hilarious. People fell off their stools to get away from him!


Yes, watching people fear for their safety is always a laugh riot!

It would be really funny if someone wears a ski mask and has a shotgun and forces the clerks into the back of the store where they tied them up - and then explain they just wanted to test the strength of the new rope they got. I bet video of that would be hysterical.
posted by Bort at 11:11 AM on January 20, 2007


I liked the guy who thanked him for helping in the Iraq war; that's a well-brought-up young man right there.

At least this lot is supposed to be funny. I watched a Christian indoctrination video this week that's supposed to teach me how Evolution is completely mistaken (it's here) and the key plank was that random people in the street couldn't explain the transitional fossil record.
posted by bonaldi at 12:12 PM on January 20, 2007


Conducted a survey, have we?

Who needs a survey? The probability of the cohort of dumbass in the US being greater than the entire population of Australia is high enough for confidence.
posted by goo at 2:37 PM on January 20, 2007


Conducted a survey, have we?

Who needs a survey? The probability of the cohort of dumbass in the US being greater than the entire population of Australia is high enough for confidence.


The probability that you don't know what "proportionately" means is also high enough for confidence.
posted by dw at 3:09 PM on January 20, 2007


I find lots of things funny languagehat, including your comment, just not this. Its just too cliche to be funny to me... look at the dumb Americans!

This is a bit on Jay Leno for pete's sake, and no I don't find Leno funny.

Just my opinion though, maybe I just haven't had enough coffee to enjoy life today.
posted by rfbjames at 4:06 PM on January 20, 2007


augustweed, thanks for posting these. Awesome!
posted by snsranch at 4:30 PM on January 20, 2007


Point to Zaire on the map... go on you you smug f$%k!

John Safran made a classic call on the Australian Worldliness vs. United States ignorance in his "John Safran vs. God" television series in 2004 - that still has me chuckling.


If you couldn't point to Zaier, you're an idiot.
If you could point to Zaier - you're an idiot too...

posted by channey at 4:00 AM on January 22, 2007


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