Wednesday, June 08, 2011
THE LAST WORD ON AMERICA
Leaving America is like leaving a bio-dome.
While you are there, the only news you hear is American. It is so large and diverse that it generates its own news 24/7. At the same time as there are Tornadoes in middle America, there is a fine art exhibition on the East Coast, a cholera outbreak in the South and a celebrity filled movie premiere in the West.
This all happens within the space of a day and more news develops constantly, all within their own borders.
As an outsider, I felt cut-off from the globe, but for Americans, it explains to some degree why they are blissfully unaware of the world around them. That enduring statistic is still true: in 2011, only between 20-30% (depending on where you get your figures) of Americans have a passport. In other words, if you were in a room with five Americans, only 1 of them is likely to have ever seen outside their own borders.
It is a truly unique experience, being in a first-world country which is the human equivalent of a fishbowl.
For example, I was chatting to a cab driver in NY, hoping that by empathising with me as a person, he might think about driving in a manner less likely to end in my death. It didn't work, but life is like that sometimes. I survived, however, and was struck by one particular part of the conversation. We were talking about American politics and Economics, and he was utterly surprised at how aware I was of the domestic political situation in the US of A. When I asked him what he knew of recent major events in Australia, his answer was hilarious and sad at the same time.
His example of a major event in recent Australian history? The death of The Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin.
So, for any filmmakers, distributors, or even actors out there looking to appeal to 'The American Mainstream' remember: 4 of the 5 Americans in that room are unlikely to share your worldly, non-American, perspective.
Why else do you think Mel Gibson ended up with an American accent?