If you’ve spent any time overseas, you are either familiar with the widespread Anti-Americanism being perpetuated on the backpacker circuit or guilty of contributing to it. It’s such a big problem that it’s truly inescapable.
Although the prevailing Anti-American sentiment has taken the form of distrust-under-the-guise-of-acceptance since the election of President Obama, it is not genuine. “Giving Americans a chance” is simply trendy right now. As much as they’d like to deny it, backpackers love trendy.
During the George W. Bush era, it was far too easy to hate on Americans. Since backpackers also love stereotypes*, any American they met while traveling was categorized as a redneck agent of capitalism, war and ignorance - three things backpackers openly codemn. Any possibility that said American could be an open-minded, educated Gore voter (which most young backpackers were) was promptly disregarded.
Keeping on the theme of stereotypes, Europeans are without a doubt the most condescending people on the planet, so it should come as no surprise that they are the most active Yankee bashers as well. The French, for example, have a long history of hating the United States (see Why do the French hate us?). They are quick to overlook, however, their known affinity to several pillars of Americana: Hollywood movies, cigarette smoking, blue jeans and black music.
Contemporary Anti-Americanism has led many Canadian backpackers to mistakenly believe their shit does not stink. This notion is the product of an overwhelming national inferiority complex, similar to that of Kiwis to Aussies. A vast majorty of Kiwi and Canadian backpackers are convinced that because everybody seems to hate their more powerful and cooler neighbors, it makes themselves superior. Consider renowned Kiwi movie director Peter Jackson for a moment. Dude is talented. But he is by no means cool.
It’s about the accents. Canadians and Kiwis will tell you their accents are markedly different from those of Americans and Aussies, respectively. The foreign ear, however, can detect no such differences. Thus, a common scenario takes place across the globe:
- Canadian/Kiwi speaks.
- Foreigner assumes speaker is American/Aussie, expresses dislike.
- Canadian/Kiwi freaks out.
- Foreigner apologizes, retracts and feigns approval for Canadians/Kiwis.
- Canadian/Kiwi feels awesome, purports to being cooler than Americans/Aussies.
About 10 years ago, a nasty rumor surfaced that American backpackers, so fed up of being vilified at every turn, were sewing Canadian flag patches onto their backpacks. These allegations were no doubt a smear-campaign-under-the-guise-of-a-beenou-campaign created by a smug prick Canadian. Or maybe it was a Kiwi…
*Note: This blog is riddled with stereotypes.