Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Damned Foreigners...

I know I've spoken ill of reality TV in the past. Honestly, I think it may very well be the worst thing to ever happen to television in the history of the world.

Besides Full House, obviously.

Even though I generally hate reality shows, Susan and I both enjoy watching the Amazing Race.

In case you've never seen the show, the basic premise is that teams of two race around the world completing challenges in each destination. The last team to finish each show gets eliminated.

Now, me liking this show is not necessarily contrary to my dislike of reality television. The Amazing Race is about as far from reality as you can get and still call it "reality TV".

Unless you make it a daily habit to fly from country to country and complete insane and often painful events while local people laugh at you.

So... You're probably wondering why I'm bringing this up.

Well, Susan and I missed Sunday night's episode, so we had to catch the rerun.

No, I didn't download it through one of those bad, bad torrent sites. What would make you think such a thing?

Anyway, we downl... Watched the newest episode last night and I noticed something funny.

One of the teams, a pair of women who were friends, were racing through China trying to complete this leg of the race. As they went, they of course had to deal with many local people.

This is the funny part... One of the women started complaining that no one spoke english.

In China.

She was actually getting incredibly angry and rude because people in a foreign country dared to speak a foreign language.

Does that make even the smallest amount of sense?


Apparently, at no point during the race has it occurred to this woman that SHE'S THE FOREIGNER.

She's jumping in cabs and asking people for directions, stopping people on the street and asking for help, and all the time she's getting mad at them and making fun of them because they don't speak English.

Seriously. I'm not even exaggerating. She was snapping at people and making comments about them just because she was the useless one in the situation.

How dare someone in China speak Chinese? How dare they?

They must be stupid.


Because someone in the conversation is stupid and it's either:

a) the guy speaking Chinese


b) the crazy American lady running through town eating pig testicles and yelling at people because she can't understand them

Must be the Chinese guy, right?

Speaking Chinese in China... Can you even imagine?

I'm not saying this is something all Americans do when they travel. No, sir. Most people expect people in a foreign country to speak a foreign language.

That's downright logical.

Even the other teams on the race are pretty accepting of the readily obvious language barrier. They're nice and kind and do their best to communicate.

Sure, they have problems, but they don't take it out on the locals. They realize they're the problem.

Not this lady. No, she freaks out every episode yelling at people because they don't speak English.

The other racers must, apparently, be too polite to point out she doesn't speak a second language either.

I mean... I know I'm an asshole.

A big one.

But even I draw the line at openly mocking someone for not speaking English in a non-English speaking country.

It probably has something to do with my extreme dislike of prejudice.

Or the fact that I'm not retarded.


At 6:55 PM, Blogger Leut said...

Most people who work in the travel business agree that Americans are the worst tourists in the world for just that reason.

At 7:55 PM, Blogger Sean said...

Whenever I'm in a foreign country, I get extremely embarrassed when I don't understand what someone is saying. I try my best to speak [insert language here], but I really, really suck at languages. Instead, I'm forced to bow my head and say the one phrase I always manage to memorize(I'm sorry, I don't understand) over and over.

My dad on the other hand, is a different story... if we asks someone who doesn't speak English a question, when they don't know how to respond he will repeat the exact same thing, just louder each time. As if speaking louder will make the language less foreign...

At 9:40 PM, Blogger David said...

I like the Amazing Race too. I likewise found it funny and annoying. I'm waiting for that team to be kicked off....

At 12:01 AM, Blogger Rabid Ferrets of DOOM!!!™ said...

I love language barriers. I've been to France, China, and Italy, and I loved learning enough of the various languages to communicate.

At 4:22 AM, Blogger Gyl said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6:50 AM, Blogger Cidolfas said...

I don't travel much, so going to Paris last year was difficult for me. I did find one person who spoke English (she was from England). When I told her I was from Toronto, she said, "Well, you're from really far away!" I did a double-take and thought "What do you mean, I'm from far away! I'm from up close, England is really far away!"

That's when it really hit me where I was. 8-)

If someone doesn't travel, it's hard to wrap one's head around the idea that really, yes, you are in a foreign country, away from home, and nothing is the way you expect it any more.

Obviously not excusing being a moron about it, of course. 8-)

At 7:10 AM, Blogger Jakk Frost said...

Now, I'm in no way saying Americans are unique in this, but it does seem that the US has the highest percentage of people who travel to another country with the mindset that they're not the foreigners, the locals are. (Note that I said "seem").

Even the perception of American tourists by locals bears out the statement that they are the worst tourists. My parents once went to Cancun, Mexico on vacation, and when they stopped for a bite to eat at a restaurant, the staff were extremely dismissive of them, not quite rude, but clearly not wanting them there. At least until my mum started speaking in her clearly British accent. Once the staff realized they weren't Americans (we're Canadian in fact, with my mum a naturalized citizen), they were all over my parents giving them tremendous service and such. To top it off, they refused any tips because of their prior behaviour (and if you've been to Mexico you know that in general they work for tips in tourist areas).

Unfortunately I don't have any kind of strong accent, though my friends sometimes tease me that they hear an "aboot" every now and then (of course they lie...), so if I ever travel, I plan to wear some sort of Canadian flag evident on my clothing, like a little shoulder patch or chest lapel.

The funny thing is, I know some Americans who've done that when they travel too, wear a Canadian flag...

At 8:41 AM, Blogger Bufuman said...

I don't watch the show, personally, but I'm never surprised at how stupid Americans can act.

After all, it's hard to be disappointed if you don't have any expectations in the first place.

So the latest episode took place in China, eh? You know what the funny part is, Dave? A good 70% of the people in the background probably sold gil in your game that night.

At 3:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Square Enix started blocking chinese IPs RMT activity fell by only 99% proving that not all RMT are chinese.

At 5:59 PM, Blogger MinorAgentofChaos said...

he will repeat the exact same thing, just louder each time.Sean, out of curiousity, did you point out to him how silly this is?

I had a co-worker who did this when a Spanish-speaking customer called in; I called her on it, asking her if she really thought they'd understand *louder* English.

Mind, the company had passed out little cards with such phrases as "Hold on, please, I'll transfer you to our Spanish line" on it, but it never occurred to that wench to use it...

At 5:49 AM, Blogger nkelly1968 said...

My girlfriend and I love Amazing Race and almost never miss an episode. We usually DVR it to skip the commercials but when that doesn't work we watch the repeat on the Travel Channel (I'm apparently not literate enough to do the torr.. er... other thing). Those redheads are a trip, but the shoving match two weeks ago was awesome.

You know you are on a show; you know that you are being filmed and that the editors will manipulate the footage to tell whatever story they think might entertain the viewers at home... doesn't it make sense to try to steer them into a heartwarming story like the Father/Daughter team from the last race rather than the "ugly American" that the redheads are getting? Or god forbid that guy who berated his wife the first episode.

At 6:59 AM, Blogger selvig said...

I love TAR, and your blog too, been reading for quite a while.

and yes, it's always the people inthe country, not the racers*, who are idiots.

*There are usually 1 or 2 good teams per race, but most of the suck.

None worse than the Weavers from the (already terrible) Family Edition.

I say their dad jumped in front of that race car to get away from them.

At 2:32 PM, Blogger Surazal said...

I sure miss the days when Bannable Offenses was a video game blog.

At 7:06 PM, Blogger Tphares said...


I've been in the US a few times, I'm norwegian, and I have to say that most americans have been very polite and nice towards me when I couldn't understand.
So maybe it's ok not speaking english in english talking countries? :P

At 12:27 AM, Blogger Tyler said...

I think they're called "reality shows" because they're not scripted or staged. Most shows are scripted and staged, game shows are just staged, reality shows are neither.

At least that's my take on it.

And while I do agree that it's really dumb to spaz out at a person in a different country for speaking a different language, I'm fairly certain that every country in the world is supposed to teach their children at least a little bit of English.

At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets all complete the stereotype that Americans are fat, disgusting pigs whom are shorttempered and can't hold their liquor.

Come on people, you know you have the that one guy down the street that you think is a fucking moron, too.

It's like that for every nation, you just haven't found the right person yet. Generally, Americans are viewed as more radical because we don't give a shit about what other people think (Bad I know, I wish we took a more foreign approach).

So stop being nationalists.

At 3:01 PM, Blogger Ben said...

We used to have a show like that in the UK called Lost (and please note this was before the fictional drama series). The idea was a bit more evil though... Take the contestants and put them into two men teams. Blindfold them, drop them in the middle of nowhere somewhere in the world, don't tell them where they are, and tell them to get to Trafalgar Square in London. They have no money, but are given a tent and some survival gear depending on where they drop you. First one back wins some cash and gets to have another go.

I'm disappointed it got cancelled before I could try. Guess one team on the last episode made never made it back...

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Bonedead said...

Reminds me of an old lady I saw recently. She cut off someone who was turning and her car went into a yard or some crap. It was all her fault for being impatient. Yet she gets out of her car and starts yelling at the person she hit.

In the words of the great Forrest Gump: "Stupid is as stupid does."


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