Remember last week when that frat guy was on his cell phone in the grocery store and nearly ran his shopping cart full of beer into you while talking loudly about his plans to get ‘wasted’ and ‘score’ that night? Or on your last airplane flight? That person sitting next to you whose elbows extended well into YOUR space? How about last night on the news, the pundits screaming at each other, each making completely absurd arguments?
Well then, my friend, you know what it is to hate us. As Meyer says:
We perceive other Americans as belligerent in arguments, boorish in manners, vulgar and violent in entertainment, greedy in business, ostentatious in style, and phony in a big way. We’ve come to embody the caricature of the “ugly American” in our own American minds.
Why is this? How did we get this way? How can nearly all of us hate our own culture and have it still be our culture? These are the questions addressed by Dick Meyer in “Why We Hate Us.”
I think that I used an entire pad of Post-It notes while going through “Why We Hate Us,” marking passages I found particularly interesting and pertinent, things I thought I might want to quote in my review. I decided, however, that most of you do not want to read a 25 page review – plus you might want to get the book for yourself! Each chapter was well focused and cohesive, with a nice mix of research and anecdotal evidence. Although he waited until the end of the book to write one summary chapter dealing with what we can do to effect change in our culture, there were hints and suggestions of ways to change one’s own life throughout each chapter. By the end of the chapter on OmniMedia, for example, I was nearly ready to sell my television (although not ready to give up the online world of books or NPR).
I thought this was a fantastic book, and one I will go back to and read selections from whenever I become particularly annoyed by some crass example of American culture.