I have just spent the last 2 and a bit weeks in the good ol' USA and write this at the LA Airport as I am waiting for my flight back home to Jakarta. No doubt there will be more posts about how weird this country is soon enough, but for now, I will write about a phenomenon a good friend of mine named Damo made me aware of back when we were in high school in country Victoria, Australia: TV Land.
Raised, as we are, with probably more than a healthy serve of American pop culture there is a whole universe of cultural knowledge that we know intimately, and yet have never actually seen.
As an illustration, when someone says the words "school bus" to me, the image that pops into my head is an american style yellow school bus, complete with left hand drive. Yellow school buses probably constitute less than 1% of the school buses I have seen with my own eyes and 0% of those I have ever sat in, and yet, because of the insidious viral nature of American pop culture, it sits there in my mind.
To us, when we eventually do make it to America, everything is just like on TV. To us, America is TV land.
Most Americans that I've met in Australia and in my travels are, by definition, the worldly ones and tend to be from mid-higher socioeconomic brackets by virtue of the fact that they can afford to fly overseas. The thing which is most TV-Land-ish about the USA is everyone other than those people that I already know.
People saying "I done told you", southern accents, Cajun accents, almost complete lack of mixed race couples, guys wearing Hooters t-shirts, frat-girls with scary tans, apple pie, steaks big enough to choke a rhinosceros, buckets (no seriously... BUCKETS!) of Coke, Republicans, Creationists, singing preachers, etc. etc. etc.
This makes walking around the US endlessly amusing for people like me when they see stuff like the above. This amusement, however, does start to wane when a youngish black girl missing most of her teeth comes up to you waiting for a bus in LA asking if you need a date for the night. Only $60... No? Well, can you spare a buck then?
Just like in TV Land.
NB: Apologies to http://www.violinmp3.com/barber-adagio.html I stole their flag picture.