America: A deceptive country?

Have you ever woke up on a morning, looked out in the window, and see it is sunny outside? You walk around your room, picking the shirt that you feel it will fit on this very “sunny” day. After picking your shirt, you walk outside and find yourself in a 60 degrees weather with a bit of a wind, realizing that you are cold and your clothes do not fit this weather at all. Looks can be a bit deceiving, can it?

Our society today revolves around media. Silvio Waisbord from Media and the Reinvention of Nation mentions that today, our culture is shaped by media. What media exposes is what makes of us today regarding how we talk, think, and act.

The United States of America heavily weighs our culture through media. Because of the immense exposure of media we have, other people in different countries usually perceive that our lives are perfect. We, Americans, are living up to the American dream. The American dream is having a white house, with white picket fence, a wife/husband, children, and perhaps a dog named Spot that is running around in the front yard. We do not have economy problems. We are not poor. We buy clothes and food all the time with out obligations. And if we want, we can stop by and visit Hollywood stars to share a cup of coffee or maybe knock on President Obama’s door for a cup of sugar when we need. Based on my experience of teaching in Kenya, Africa for three months, I have had many Kenyans asking me if I have ever had dinner with Obama or if my house is big as what you see in the movies. As I left Kenya, they asked me to give them some money.  I told them I did not have much to give except for my things that I did not want to bring back with me to the States- they gave me a perplexed look. They thought that Americans were always rich and never had money problems. They say that they always see Americans so happy all the time with fancy cars and big houses on television or in magazines. Well, looks can be a bit deceiving, can it?

Our country is probably the only country that holds the most television shows, movies, different brands of newspapers across the nation, different websites, and a variety of radio shows. But, we do not share information about how we have human trafficking, our economy is horrible (maybe superficially), homeless people on the streets, people living out of cardboard boxes, some governments not doing their jobs, and so forth. If everyone in the world knew about how much problems we have in our country, I do not think that there would be that many people from Mexico or Africa desperately wanting to live in this country so they would stop having problems. Some people in different countries, specifically developing countries, look at America as a “Hakuna Matata” place. But without media, we would not have a sense of “belonging” in our culture. Sometimes we just need
some convincing that our country is doing just fine so we can feel that we still belong here. (Waisbord, 389).  But, in the end, we all know that looks can be deceiving, can it?

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One Comment to “America: A deceptive country?”

  1. I think you make an interesting implied distinction here (I suggest) between public diplomacy and the way the media portrays American culture nationally or to more developed countries. In one way, yes, we are seen abroad (perhaps in more rural or impoverished areas) as being rich, wealthy, and elite. But certainly the media continues to broadcast daily our economic troubles, the difficulty of some Americans to find jobs or food. It’s intriguing to think about the variety of news outlets available in the U.S. compared to the outlets available in other countries and who is the source of the information. Your entry makes me question how much I know about other countries simply by reading about them in the news. Our readings pointed out the fact that much of the international reporting was initially done through US outlets before diasporic news outlets became available (or in-country outlets) that arguably may more accurately reflect daily life.

    I think it’s important for us to remember how large and diverse America is. Media certainly informs us, and may even occasionally define what makes us belong. But there is no one description of what it means to be American. It may have been built with a specific dream in mind for some, but more than that it was built on principles that extend beyond the physical manifestation of those dreams. It seems that even when America is “down,” we’ve been able to recover rather quickly in the past, avoiding the chronic suffering we see in so many other nations. And while we may not be able to go to Obama’s house anytime, he is currently holding a raffle for donors to have dinner with him, so it IS possible!

    Ultimately, I agree with your sentiment that people can often serve as little ambassadors (even if unofficial) to educate others around the world about some of the falsities they’ve heard via media. And if more Americans lived “counter-culturally” then perhaps we could avoid the financial crises we’ve gotten ourselves into in the first place. I don’t know why the media doesn’t report on that more…

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