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Ugly American is an epithet used to refer to perceptions of loud, arrogant, demeaning, thoughtless and ethnocentric behavior of Americanmarker citizens mainly abroad, but also at home. Although the term is usually associated with or applied to travellers and tourists, it also applies to US corporate businesses in the international arena.

Definition

The Encarta dictionary defines "Ugly American" as: stereotypical offensive American: a loud, boorish, nationalistic American, especially one traveling abroad, who is regarded as conforming to a stereotype that gives Americans a bad reputation. In contrast, Dictionary.com defines "the Ugly American" as: Pejorative term for Americans traveling or living abroad who remain ignorant of local culture and judge everything by American standards.

Other use

Sport

The term has also been used in the international sporting arena. At the 33rd Ryder Cup held in September 1999, the United States over-zealously celebrated after Justin Leonard holed a 45-foot putt on the 17th green, resulting in extensive and adverse media coverage. Later, at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the term was widely used after members of the US 4 x 100 relay team pranced around the stadium, flexing their muscles and making poses with the American flag, after winning a gold medal. One foreign journalist called the incident "one of the most cringe-making exhibitions that the Olympics has seen". This event was very heavily criticized by the American press and public. The members of the relay team were contrite and apologized for the incident the same day. Then, at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turinmarker, the term was regularly used after the skiing superstar Bode Miller, who bragged about skiing drunk before the Olympics, was adversely compared to the term "Miller time," and went home medal-less. A lesser-known teammate was sent home for fighting in a bar.

In tennis, John McEnroe was regularly cited in the media as being an "Ugly American" for his on-court tantrums and off-court negative comments about Londonmarker and Parismarker. In contrast, Andre Agassi who early in his tennis career was labeled a "potential ugly american", managed to transform himself into a crowd favourite. In women's tennis, Serena Williams's outburst at the 2009 US Open semifinal against Kim Clijsters, reiterated that the "Ugly American" was no myth.

Science

In the scientific fields, the term has been widely used by the international community for the failure by the US to adopt the metric system. Along with Liberiamarker in Africa and Burmamarker in Asia, the US is one of only three countries in the world who have not adopted, or swapped to the metric system.

Politics

In May 2008, the US House sub-committee passed a Bill (House Resolution 4080) that would allow more foreign fashion models to work in the United States, and was subsequently dubbed the "ugly American bill". The Bush Administration was often referred to as "The Ugly American" because of its foreign policies.

Movies

The 2004 film EuroTrip was originally slated to be named "The Ugly Americans" due to its depiction of stereotypical American tourists in Europe. The producers changed the title shortly before its release.

Origin

The Ugly American


The term originated as the title of a 1958 book by authors William Lederer and Eugene Burdick. Ironically, the character referred to as the "ugly American" is one of few Americans who does not exhibit the traits now known by that term. In 1963 the book was made into a movie directed by George Englund and starring Marlon Brando.

The best-selling, loosely fictional account provided contrasting characters with different approaches to opposing communist influence in Southeast Asia, and the use of foreign aid in particular. The majority of the Americans exhibit a range of blundering, corrupt, and incompetent behaviors: often concentrating on impractical projects that will serve more to benefit American contractors than the local population. A minority are effective because they employ knowledge of the local language and culture, but most of these are marginalized and some even considered suspect. As a result, their influence is more limited than it should be.

The title character, Homer Atkins, is introduced late in the book. The "Ugly American" is an engineer whose unattractive features, rough clothing and dirty hands are contrasted with the bureaucrats' freshly pressed clothes, clean fingers and smooth cheeks. Their behaviors have the opposite contrast: the engineer wants to provide practical solutions to day-to-day problems faced by the populace; the bureaucrats want to build highways and dams that are not yet needed, and with no concern for the many other projects that will have to be completed before they can be used.

The book led to a move by President Dwight Eisenhower to study and reform American aid programs in the region.

In the book, a fictional Burmesemarker journalist wrote, "For some reason, the people I meet in my country are not the same as the ones I knew in the United States. A mysterious change seems to come over Americans when they go to a foreign land. They isolate themselves socially. They live pretentiously. They're loud and ostentatious. Perhaps they're frightened and defensive, or maybe they're not properly trained and make mistakes out of ignorance."

The idea of the ignorant or badly behaving American traveller long predates this book. Mark Twain wrote about The Innocents Abroad in the nineteenth century, and Algonquin Round Table member Donald Ogden Stewart wrote Mr and Mrs Haddock Abroad in 1924.

See also



References

  1. Richards, Erin (2006). Are you the ugly American? CNN Travel. Retrieved online March 16, 2008.
  2. Wederspahn, Gary (2008). Avoiding the "Ugly American" Stereotype Practical Planet. Retrieved online March 16, 2008.
  3. Winter, Greg (2004). Colleges Tell Students the Overseas Party's Over The New York Times. Retrieved online March 16, 2008.
  4. Clark, Jayne (2006). That 'ugly American' image is getting a makeover guide. USA Today. Retrieved online March 16, 2008.
  5. Sherwell, Phillip (2007). Straight-talking McCain vows to fix world's view of the ugly American. The Telegraph. Retrieved online March 16, 2008.
  6. Moriarty, Erina (2001). Time Travellers. How to Avoid Ugly American Syndrome. Retrieved on 2 May 2008.
  7. Holstein, William (2005). Erasing the Image of the Ugly American. The New York Times. Retrieved online March 16, 2008.
  8. Gross, Daniel (2007). Are You an Ugly American? Newsweek. Retrieved online March 16, 2008.
  9. Clark, Hannah (2006). Are You An Ugly American? Forbes. Retrieved online March 16, 2008.
  10. Alban, Debra (2006). CNN. How not to be the ugly American. Retrieved on 2 May 2008.
  11. Rosenbaum, Andrew (2002). Harvard Business School, Boston, Mass. How to Avoid Being the "Ugly American" When Doing Business Abroad. ISBN: 1591393485. OCLC: 52962937.
  12. Encarta Dictionary (2007). Ugly American definition Retrieved online March 16, 2008.
  13. Dictionary (2008). Result for: the Ugly American Retrieved online March 16, 2008.
  14. Sports Illustrated (1999). United Slobs of America' British media rips 'ugly Americans' for celebration. Retrieved on 1 May 2008.
  15. BBC News (1999). The arrival of the golf hooligan. Retrieved on 1 May 2008.
  16. Ulfelder, Jay (2001). City Paper Online. Game Face: Is Sportsmanship in the Eye--or the Color--of the Beholder? Retrieved on 11 May 2008.
  17. Sappenfield, Mark (2004). Task for Olympicians: How Not to be the Ugly American. Retrieved on 2 May 2008.
  18. NBC Sports (2006). Skiing drunk 'not easy,' Bode says. Retrieved online 1 May 2008.
  19. Raasch, Chuck (2006). USA Today. Sports, politics tied in Olympic moments. Retrieved on 1 May 2008.
  20. Fein, Paul (2005, p. 253). You Can Quote Me on That. Published by Brassey's. . ISBN: 1574889257
  21. Alfano, Peter (1988). Tennis: Ascendant Agassi Wins Tournament. The New York Times. Retrieved on 9 November 2008.
  22. The Politics of Sports - Is Serena Williams Career Permanently Marred by 2009 US Open? (13 September 2009). NBC Sports: Newsvine.com. Retrieved on 14 September 2009.
  23. Steffensen, Jen (2004). The Ugly American in a Metric World. The DoG Street Journal. Retrieved on 18 August 2008.
  24. Metrication US (2008). Metric system reas ugly head in US Election. Retrieved on 18 August 2008.
  25. CIA World Factbook (2008). Appendix G - Weights and Measures. Retrieved on 19 June 2008.
  26. Nelson, Robert (2000). Applied Technology Institute. The International System of Units. Retrieved on 13 May 2008.
  27. Russ, Dick (2008). Ugly American' bill passes committee; allows more foreign models to work in U.S. WKYC Cleveland. Retrieved on 25 September 2008.
  28. Debusmann, Bernd (2008). Obama and a makeover for the 'ugly American'. International Herald Tribune. Retrieved on 1 January 2009.
  29. Walt, Vivienne (2003). French see Bush as the ugly American. USA Today. Retrieved on 1 January 2009.
  30. Berrigan, Frida (2003). The "Ugly American Problem" in Colombia. Foreign Policy in Focus. Retrieved on 1 January 2009.
  31. LeBoutillier, John (2003). The New Ugly American. Newsmax. Retrieved on 1 January 2009.
  32. Mitchell, Elvis (2004). Eurotrip (2004). The New York Times: Movies. Retrieved on 18 September 2009.
  33. Hollywood gets ugly (7 November 2003). BBC: Collective. Retrieved on 18 September 2009.
  34. .
  35. MacArthur, John, R. (2001). The Ugly American Mindset. Toronto Globe. Retrieved online March 16, 2008.
  36. OCLC: 287560.
  37. Mutual Security Program (1956-57). Dwight D. Eisenhower Library Abilene, Kansas. Retrieved online March 16, 2008.
  38. Stesney, Julie (2005). The Ugly American. Failure Magazine. Retrieved online March 16, 2008.
  39. Twain, Mark & Cardwell, Guy. [1927](1984). The innocents abroad ; Roughing it. New York, NY. OCLC: 10799668. ISBN: 0940450259. Retrieved online March 16, 2008.


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