How is it that the majority of Salvador crave what Americans are known for creating and consuming (iPhones, iPods, the latest Blockbuster hits, Nike shoes, the NBA, NFL, shirts that have phrases they can’t even read, the list goes on) while all the while criticizing our every move? This idea has baffled me since my arrival here in the state of Bahia’s capital. Brazilians’ perception of Americans, on the one hand, is that we, in general, are lazy, culture-less exploiters who have a weird addiction to fast food–but it is the same country that produces ingenious products year in and year out.
I have spoken with a few Brazilians regarding this strange contradiction. I learned they by and large completely seperate the Americans as people from American products, ignoring their obvious connection. Is this fair? I felt a bit disrespected to be honest. I felt used, as if my country’s reason for existing is to produce entertainment and brand-name goods. What most bothers me is that I arrived in Brazil without any stereotypes because Brazil simply does not get much attention in the America media, but here I have passed few days without hearing the news mention the U.S or overhearing a conversation about American politics or consumer habits. The exposure the United States receives here allows Brazilians to paint a detailed picture of the country and its citizens, although it is overly generalized.
In response, I have tried to really show that the United States is so complex on all levels just like the state of Bahia, and it is impossible for the international media to capture this. Our culture is diverse, but culture all the same.