Friday, April 10, 2009

The Listening Project - Where now?

One of the points that was made multiple time in The Listening Project was the idea of America overstepping its bounds, attempting to control more than it could handle, and as a result we have become "an empire in decline." What do you believe the United States should or needs to do, or, as a single international community, we as a 'global family' needs to do in order to make a better world? How should we change our involvement in different countries, and how will that change affect us and the rest of the world? Should we even be concerned with self-image or simply doing what we believe is right? Or are the two related?

This movie gives us many many different oppurtunities to cover ideas of national versus international identity, global involvement and identity, and the importance of questioning who 'we' are and who 'we' want to be. Don't let my questions limit all of your guys' answers. Write what you think, what you believe, what you oppose, and why.

Have at it.
-Flip Senn

57 comments:

Flip said...

Sorry for the typos.

cypresstreee said...

The comparison between the Romans and the United States was one of the most interesting points that I came accross today; the Romans kept expanding and finally they couldn't control all of their land, and the empire collapsed. The United States has been interfering in the matters of other countries since the late 19th century, and even more so during Theodore Roosevelt's presidency. The question then is still the question now: how much of a right does the US have to take matters into their own hands?

Self-image and doing what is right should be related, even though sometimes doing what's right isn't popular. In the long term, if we do what is right for the whole world, not just what is best for us, the world will have a better impression of America. Of course because what is right isn't always popular, it could hurt our image in the short-term. Our involvement in the Middle East isn't popular, but for me the question becomes, is what we are doing right now, right? It isn't popular, and many people don't think it's right, but in 100 years it might be considered correct. Many of the people in the film considered 9/11 as the turning point in US foreign policy and consquently the turning point in their opinion of America. It's been a little less then 8 years since 9/11 and less since the beginning of the Afganistan and Iraq Wars; no one knows what the long term consequences of these wars will be.

Finally, I thought the interview with the Palestinian woman who believed that all of the powerful CEO's in the US are Jews was interesting; she was so convinced that she was right. So my question is, how many things about other cultures are we sure are right, but are actually incorrect? Where do we get the opinions that we have?

Cypress Lefsky

JgrG said...

I felt like the movie was incredibly biased and only presented one side of the majority of issues brought up. An example of this was the Israeli Palestinian segment. They make a very 1 dimensional portrayal of the wall. The example of conflict created is a man was harrased when trying to buy winter clothes for his children. When one of the biggest issues so far is that it prevents people from reaching vital resources such as water and considered a human rights violation. I would prefer to watch uncut footage because that is the only way to assure there is no bias present.

Elliott said...
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Elliott said...
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Ian B said...

Can someone do a lead post with a link to this?

http://phstok.blogspot.com/2009/04/what-would-be-best-way-to-resolve.html

Drivebracket said...

I'm not sure now, as I was even before this movie, as to what course we should take in our world today. The way I see it is this, and please correct me if I'm wrong:
Our government, and by extension we, look like jerks. With luck our current president will correct some of these images, but love him or hate him (I plead with everyone to hold judgment until he has been in office for at least two years, as it stands the man isn’t even out of his first hundred days and some folks are already calling him a success or denouncing him for a failure, give the man some time people! Its just too soon to tell.) he is only human and who knows how things will end up. As a country we’ve been jerks for a while, even discounting this whole War on Terror business and all the shenanigans its caused, just look to your history class to see all we have been doing since our nation was founded. And like it or not, we do meddle a fair bit in affairs that are definitely not ours. So I guess I would say that I agree with a few people that spoke in that movie, without question we need to keep a much closer leash on how many pies our fingers get into as a nation. I’m not saying we shouldn’t meddle, but we should meddle with much more care, a strategy which would prevent us from over committing or rashly acting in relation to any nation and by doing so hurting ourselves. A strategy which would also ensure that in the end we do what is right by our species, and not what is right by us, should goodness and not selfishness infect our leaders somehow. And we also need to look to ourselves before we look to others, I think it was the guy from Mexico who spoke about the violence in our schools, and the issues we have. Until we master the crime and problems in our own streets, and until we can police ourselves, we really have no business being world police, or aiding others.
-David

justina said...

I have to wholeheartedly agree with David on this one. There were definitely some opinions in there i agreed with, and they weren't the positive things that were said about America, to be honest.

The thing is, we are stereotyped by our leader (whichever one that is at the time) because he is the "figurehead" of our nation, and the one American lots of people hear the most about. So if our government makes "bad" decisions, it reflects right back on us because we chose him to lead us. The next step would include demonstrating that not everyone in America is of the same beliefs and/or mindset as every other citizen, and that we stand apart as individuals even as we stand together as a nation. I'm not saying that we need to give up our pride, just that we have to show that we can be proud as well as compassionate. This follows the idea of a "citizen of the world", which I both agree and disagree with.
The final image that stayed with me after the movie was the elderly man who claimed that all Americans are liars. My question: we may know that each and every person is different, and that not every citizen is the same as the rest, but how many of us would it take to consciously *realize* that? Would it take a few? or hundreds of thousands? (And I mean this to both Americans and citizens of other countries). That was the one thing that really got to me.

griffin said...

Whose fault is it that other cultures can't discern between America's leaders and citizens?

vishnu said...

This documentary was interesting to me because I hadn't ever thought about the perspectives of others upon Americas before. But I think that most of their opinions about Americans are based upon the actions of the US government. That is definetly not the opinion of every single Americans, but i can understand from where most people in other countries derive their opinions from, the media. Not many people outside of the country know the little conflicts which occur inside the country due to differing opinions within Americans upon the government. Some of the people in the video did suggest that not all Americans are supporters of the war etc. and one shouldn't blame all Americans based on the doings of the government. There were also others who hated Americans just because of the country's involvent in other countries. It is interesting to see how different people's opinions originate; either from the media or with direct involvemnt.

kaitlynL said...

I agree with Cypress, in that the point where the movie compared the United States to the Roman Empire, was fascinating. I do see many similar qualities in the two, and I definitely can see where they are coming from in making that comparison. I am a firm believer that we should try and do what is "right," but I am also an idealist, as I believe that we should really try and make sure that the decisions that we make about getting involved in other countries' affairs, should be equally "right" and beneficial for that country. It seems as if once a country is able to get as much power as we have, they will just continue to try and build the "empire," and I do believe that eventually it will become inevitable that we will collapse, just like our predecessors, that have attempted to do the same thing.

Ian Schmid said...

I think that even though the US has a HUGE impact in the world, it is not the responsibility of The US to play peace keeper, and negotiator. We have too many problems of our own, and, in my opinion, these problems need to be fixed before we can try and become a positive part of the global community. We need to pull all our envlovment out of everywhere, because before we can fix others, we must fix ourselves

p.s. my bad on the typos (if there are)

Hannah said...

I guess this leads me into thinking about the Peace Corps, and how their mission is based on only giving where and what it wanted. I think a major problem with the U.S. and a large contributing factor to the issues many other nations have with us is that we tend to handle international affairs with a certain level of big-headedness. We are unattentive to their specific needs and rather we make far-stretched assumptions such that overall they are failing as a nation and therefore need help in some form. In reality, some of our contributions to other nations almost go wasted, in a sense, and we don't leave even a mark because it's sometimes not aimed at an area the country struggled with in the first place. It's unfortunate because I really do believe that we try to make an impact, and we do-- just sometimes not in the right places. I think it all comes down to international communication.

Which, of course, is far easier said than done.

-Hannah

Lauren P said...

Before we even watched the movie, and Mr. Malone asked us to think about how the world sees America, I came up with two things. I remember writing down that the world would put us into one of two groups: a country just starting to some together to help people, or an empire on the decline. Either way, I thought, the United States was in a period of transition.

It surprised me to see how much of that prediction was accurate (in the 14 countries they went to, at least.) What I especially found interesting was how many people said that America was a crumbling empire. Just like the Roman, Greek, or British Empires, they believed that America, too, had reached its’ peak. And who knows? The fact that this thought had occurred to me before I watched the video could man something. Maybe America really is struggling to retain its power. On the other hand, it could mean nothing. Sure, we have been interfering with other civilizations, but we certainly aren’t obtaining new land (or at least not on this planet.)

Maybe it’s just because I’m an American that I can’t or don’t want to see what we really are. That is the argument that many people made against Americans. Yet even after the mixture of all the positive and negative comments, I actually agreed with most of them. Americans are scared. Sure, some are. Americans want to help others; yes I’m sure most do. The United States went to Iraq for oil: that is defiantly a possibility, for who am I to say yes or no when I have not thoroughly researched the subject myself.

But above everything, one comment stood out the most. One person said that we are all on this world together.

And I agree with them. When I think of this country that I have been born and raised in I do not feel so strongly that I am American. I am human.

Phil_S said...
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Phil_S said...

To build off of and reinforce Ian Schmid's comment that "we [the U.S.] have too many problems of our own" to be delving into the issues of other countries, I'd like to ask, how many of these problems are a result of our involvement in those countries? For example, virtually every single country which we have our hands in, so to speak, greatly taxes our economy in some form or another.
-Phil Schaeffer

Pfiester said...

I found the basic concept of the film to be a refreshing change of pace from what the majority of today's media typically expresses. Instead of overtly trying to persuade and convince the audience of the certitude of a particular position, this movie introduced the notion of pausing and listening to others' perspectives. I particularly liked the short clip of the man near the end of the movie who spoke about having two ears and only one mouth to make listening easier. While I agree that the film had its agenda and biases (which were prevalent throughout in the editing, the musical score and when it was poignantly used, and the choice of Americans to send abroad as well as their interviewees) I feel that by letting people unabashedly express their opinions with little priming from the filmmakers the objective of providing a period of time for the viewer to just "listen" was achieved.
The film was an opportunity to give a voice to people around the world on a subject that concerns everyone. As an American I know this can seem a little ego-centric but I do believe that decisions that America makes have a heavy impact nearly everywhere in the world. Globalization has created a new interconnected society and consequently every decision the U.S. makes should be measured in its global impact. Several people in the film expressed dismay in the U.S.'s involvement in other countries, while others called for the U.S. to look beyond itself and use its affluence to affect positive change. This begs the question of how to balance these international demands for the U.S. to either pull out of its own self preoccupation or to detach itself from other nations' affairs.
I was really touched by one of the students in the film who stated that she and her school mates knew all about America and American culture and yet Americans know nothing about her or her country. This movie inspired me to pause, listen, and educate myself before making snap judgements about other parts of the world. Who am I to pass judgement if all I have to go off of are stereotypes?

griffin said...

Ian, I cant say I agree with this "fix ourselves" solipsism. A good deal of our involvement in the world is based on the idea of trying to fix ourselves; if the world benefits as well, great! For example, we started this war to benefit ourselves, so a religious zealot wouldn't once again kill thousands of Americans. This was no grand scheme to help the world; indeed, if it was, we would be just as concerned with stopping the implementation of sharia law in Britain as with destroying al-Qaeda.
Lets take your stance for a second and take away all US involvement in the world. Imagine, not a single person involved with the US government past our borders! Just think of the possibilities:
- a complete resurgence of Taliban in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan (potential there for a nuclear war with India).
- rapid destruction of stability in Iraq.
- zero plague, malaria, etc. prevention in endemic areas around the globe
- no chance for fair trials at Gitmo
- etc, etc..
Really, Ian?! Really? Care to revise your stance?

Ali said...

I definitely agree with Griffin -- a lot of the people who were interviewed focused on the citizens rather than government. I'm not saying that ALL US citizens are perfect (there are definitely some that fit in with the stereotypes shelled out by the other people), but i found it interesting that they lumped everyone together.

Another thing i was thinking about was the Listeners themselves.
How would it have been different if, say, they were all cowboys? Or all African-Americans or all short Caucasian women? How much do you think the appearance of the Listeners affected the answers?

emfea said...

I think the most valid point that came across is that the United States should fix their own problems before reaching out and getting involved in other countries' problems. I would certainly describe the United States as power hungry. But the government disguises this hunger under the banner of "spreading freedom to developing countries." The government did this with Iraq now and Cuba in the early 1900's. Overall the conquest for their "freedom" is a conquest for us to legitimize getting involved in these other countries business. Why would we try and grant liberties to other countries citizens when we can't even guarantee rights to the all the citizens in our country. I think the United States should look inward for a little while, look around and realize that their own country is beginning to crumble, their own citizens are suffering. After this realization hits, maybe they will consider fixing our problems.

I also thought it was interesting and rather relieving, that many of the people who were polled made it a point to distinguish their feelings for the United States government from their feelings for American people. I would have thought that they would tie American citizens to their government and vice versa to construct a singular prejudice against Americans. I am a person who feels very little connection to the government and disagrees with many things the government does. I find it relieving that people from other countries can still view the citizens of America as individual people and base their judgment off of the people that they meet, rather than what the government is doing.

My question is: If you had to answer the questions that Mr. Malone gave us before the movie again, how much would the movie change and influence your answers?

emfea said...

Emily Feavel

griffin said...

A common thread I see in a good deal of these conversations is that the US must fix itself before it can presume to fix others. I wonder: which problems exactly? How many of these problems must be fixed before we “intrude”? When do we make the switch to helping other countries? It seems this rhetoric of fixing ourselves first is 1) COMPLETELY unjustified (from what I have read of these posts) and 2) possibly not the best tact to take. Should we not attempt to fix Darfur? Would it not have hurt the US’s economy if there had not been the G-20 meeting a few weeks ago? Is that not meddling in other countries affairs? Should we act as though the world is not now a global economy/society and just isolate ourselves? Maybe we should learn from North Korea if that’s the course you think is best…

KellyC said...

I thought the movie was interesting and brought up some good points! Whether it was biased or not, the documentary definitely shows how much influence America has on the rest of the world! Because the United States is such a wealthy, powerful, country, we can potentially inflict a lot of harm or help a lot of people in other countries. Many foreigners seem to make judgments about America based on the government and leaders. Although they can separate American citizens from the government, the political system played a large part in many of the foreigner's opinions. This shows how important voting is and making sure the president of the United States is someone you want to represent you! How can you individually influence the perception of the United States to people from other countries?
Kelly Cannon

Callie said...

While watching this movie, I made the connection to what we (the juniors) are studying in History right now about Imperialism. I think that many US actions and foreign policy decisions have been based on trying to gain power and compete with other powerful nations. It was interesting to look at this issue though history as an AOK. However, I think that a lot of the people's opinions about America were more of a result of the spread of technology, religion and culture than the spread of politics.

While I agree to some extent that the United States has become "an empire in decline," I think that it is a combination of external and internal problems that are making the US seem less powerful. I think that economic problems have weakened the position of the United States in world, as well as the fact that the United States depends on many other countries for our resources and goods. The US's actions with other countries, such as Iraq, I think have also contributed to a more negative image of the United States. However, I don't think that the US is that big of an empire to begin with (I mean, all the United States has are islands like Guam and Puerto Rico, not huge chunks of other continents like other historical empires)so I don't think that the US could be compared to other empires that declined.

On another note, I think Ali brings up a good Knowledge Issue about the listeners themselves. I noticed that the man who was Asian-American went to China, and the woman who was African-American went to Tanzania. I think that it is possible that the people they talked could have identified with the Listeners more and seen them less as outsiders if their appearances were similar. They might have said different things if the appearance of the interviewer was that of an outsider.

Another knowledge issue is that the listeners were inconsistent in the questions that they asked people in other countries. Sometimes they asked about peoples' perception of America, and sometimes they asked more about the role of the US in the given country. They also switched between calling it the United States and America, which I think could have influenced people's responses because the word "America" has more idealistic connotations. This is an example of how language can affect what we know about things because the language influenced the information that the people in the film said.

Furthermore, a lot of the listeners' questions and people's responses were translated. If the translator favored or disliked the US, their translations might affect what the people actually had to say.

Finally, I don't think that the US can define what other people think about it from just 4 people interviewing people in only 14 countries. There are always going to be people of opposing viewpoints in other countries and there are just to many people on this Earth to condense identity of the United States in one hour and a half film.

-Callie Mabry

Laura Jo said...

I think from a stand point of global opinion, America is in a lose-lose situation. Although we are facing some difficult times now, the United States is still in a position of superiority and influence when it comes to the global community. No matter how our government decides to deal with issues of foreign policy, there will always be harsh critics. In the movie, I believe it was a man from India who made a comment along the lines of, "The United States needs to come help us and take us out of poverty." Many people agree with this man and believe that the United States has an obligation to step into other countries and provide relief for the less fortunate.
On the other hand, many people criticize the United States for coming into places like Iraq or Afghanistan. They believe we've gone too far in trying to control government systems in foreign countries.
If we don't do anything, people think Americans are selfish and lazy. If action is taken, others believe we are abusing our power as a superior nation. Where is the happy medium? It is impossible to please everyone, but can a compromise be made? I don't think so. No matter what the United States government chooses to do, there will always be conflict, criticism, and disapproval. The only power we as an individuals have is to either choose to agree or disagree with what our government decides to do with our power as a nation.

Danya said...
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AllenZhu said...

Once again, I'm just want to reestablish the fact that many opinions formed of Americans typically are based on the American government and the actions of the government. People may believe that all Americans support what the government is doing, but in reality, that may not be the case and it is an inaccurate judgment of Americans when we are judged based solely on our government. Also, I feel that in doing a documentary such as this one, it would be hard to get all perspectives of Americans and different situations, but it still provided good opinions, some of which I was surprised about.
The perspective that I like to take in expanding boundaries and such is to try not to interfere with others when possible. I believe that it will or it has gotten to a point where it is hard to control. Mostly, I think that it would be better for America if we focused on domestic issues and potentially solved internal problems rather than interfering elsewhere when sometimes we don't even have the capability to do so. I understand that we can't solve every single issue in the U.S., but there are too many domestic issues for the government to be interfering too much in other countries.
As a whole global community, maybe the best method would be to have each country attempt to solve their own problems and if they ask for help, then we can give it to them. Of course, if some countries are going out of hand and should not be left alone, then it would be potentially best to interfere. Hopefully this all makes sense.
Anyways, the movie was good and interesting. It kept me engaged and the dialogue was all very interesting and the different perspectives that were shown were mostly new to me.

s.hannon said...

What i found was interesting was the point made my the canadian by saying that "we earned our freedom". to me, this idea is an idea that our entire culture/society is built on. you get what you work for. it doesn't mean that other countries don't have the same policy, but i found that it was interesting that the united states has made that theme aparent in everything that we do. we take what we can or think we deserve. not everyone of course, but as americans, that is our image. it was just interesting how that was the explination and the justification for our actions.

-shannon finnell

Peter XP said...

One thing important to address was the Flip's concept of acknowledging the self-image of the U.S. along with taking actions to improve the world. Through the video there were many examples of American influence on other countries within even their cultural bounds, affecting the music, diet, fashion, and religion. This impact denotes how significant just the image of the U.S. is upon other countries and not just the actions in the world. Therefore we should set a good image for the U.S. by promoting environmental awareness and funding education while disproving unhealthy foods and use of oil.

Ali's subtle poke at the choice of listeners was interesting. Like Cali said, the producers tended to pair up different listeners to certain countries, such as the Chinese/Vietnamese dude to the people in Tokyo, Japan. The effect may have caused less of an opinionated answer for the interviewees as they were more comfortable with the listener. The producers probably wanted them to be at ease with the questioning too but that issue holds significance in the film.

LN* said...

I didn't watch the movie, but one of the things brought up in class caught my attention...should we feel the need to know as much about other countries as they know about us? The first problem I found with this idea is that it is impossible! Or at least very difficult. The reason that many feel they know so much about the US is because of our media and the media is not always the best way to get a feel for a culture. For example, when I lived in Wales everyone thought that my school back home was like the one in mean girls...ya definitely a problem. I think that the media and the government are responsible for the outlooks of others on Americans. Should we be at fault for other misconceptions? We can definitely avoid contributing to them when we visit other countries, but I definitely do not agree that Americans are the only ones responsible for being ignorant. And maybe ignorance is better than taking the media output from a different country as reliable information about that culture.

JWolff said...

I just wanted to comment on the language issue that come up in class concerning the word "empire". It seems to me that some people have a negative idea on the word. I think its because every empire we have studied involves that empire falling. If all other "empires" have fallen, it gives the idea that the US will fail sometime in the future as well. Others believe the word empire has a positive idea. They were very powerful and contributed many advances and new ideas to the world. Even though they conquered other cultures, the empire's ideas were able to get around. You can definitly see the relation with the US and as the movie put it "Roman Empire".

Jensen

Jake Rogers said...

This documentary was very interesting. I personally agree with comparison of the Roman Empire and the United States. At its height, the Roman Empire had more enemies than it had friends in the world. This is what led to their eventual downfall. I can see the similarity in the US as we constantly make enemies in the world, to in part to preserve our self image as a super power, by removing "threats" to our national security in Afghanistan and Iraq. This reflects on our government as jerks like David said. This reflects poorly on the people of the US as well as other countries see the American people in total support of the president's decision, even though that is far from the truth as we know it. We need to start doing good for the benefit of the world, not just our country.

-Jake Rogers

Selina Lujan said...

I have to agree with Hannah, as a nation we tend to not be culturally sensitive and choose to ignore the specific needs of other nations. Also, when we do decide to contribute it appears to benefit and highlight America, rather than actually make an effective impact for the better in other nations. It was interesting to hear about the many different perspectives that the people from different people from nations had on America as whole. Personally, I feel that the U.S. has creates a false image of the American people. Especially, as most people assume all Americans live such materialistic lives. I believe this presumption is due to “the big headedness” as Hannah suggested. Overall, I believe there should a more accurate and balance understanding of the American politics and culture.

Selina Lujan

griffin said...
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christine said...

I agree with what Hannah said about how the U.S. tends to focus on what we think people need rather than what they actually need. The U.S. is condemned either when we do too much or too little, and this judgment is made according to the global community. But this open criticism is mostly directed towards the government and not towards the people. It's different for people here to be able to criticize their government rather than foreign people that we may not know a lot about, and that's probably what insults people the most. There are a lot of things that people could say about each other's cultures, but that's because we're only concentrating on certain issues.

There is also the issue of when the government and the people are involved in the blame. When people indiscriminately use America as a label for the government only, there's a huge language issue. Are they talking about the government, the people, or both? And does it really matter who they're talking about since the blame is on the entire country anyways?

-Christine Lee

griffin said...

This documentary was, if not unbiased, very interesting. The most poignant part, the comparison of our society to the Roman Empire, is also the most ambiguous of the whole film. Looking up the reasons for the Roman Empire's fall brought up interesting facts: there is no clear consensus on the cause; almost 250 theories have been put forward to explain this event. Indeed, a great deal of speculation has been brought forward that it was not any great expansion of Roman boundaries or imperialism that brought about the fall (contrary to the film, if I recall correctly); poorly managed economics, subsistence agriculture, plague, and defending itself from invasion were far more detrimental than Rome's spreading boundaries. It appears as though the films analogy of Roman imperialism leading to destruction, though stimulating to our nightmare of usurpation, is ultimately groundless. As is its application to our society.

Katy J. said...

I think that one of the things that the US needs to do before it can tend to other countries is tend to itself.
Many countries are either glad the US interfered in their country, or they are really ticked off that the US did. But, without the support of a healthy nation, they can't even interfere to get any reaction at all.
Right now, I'm really upset that the US isn't the same superpower that it used to be. It's still a much better place to live than other places, but I think that at the moment, the US is in a huge rut. I don't really want to clean up for the mess that was made when I grow up. The way the country was run for a while was really carefree and progressive, because of the rebellious nature of the generation of our parents. Because of that, I think our generation has become very level headed in comparison, and as soon as our generation becomes old enough to change the US as a whole, either by running for offices or holding rallies, we are going to make a big difference and make the whole world see us in a better light.

Adong said...

I don't think we are an empire in decline because India and China rely on U.S. business to have work, so economically we are not in decline at all. However, because of the last 4 years and the government we had most of the repect that we had had as a global and political power has dinimished. Countries are upset over our lack of foresight of the war and the way we choose to exert our power. I agree that we should at least try to solve our own problems, like poverty, the economy right now, and other problems in the U.S. that is similar to problems in other countries that we wish to help. How can we help solve their problems, when we can't even solve ours?
However, by trying to help other countries we are actually trying to get globally involved in the world, which is what we strive to be instead of just taking care of ourselves we want to help others. But, I think we need to lower our standard of reponsibility that we have of trying to help everybody and concentrate on problems that we can control. Once, we have solved those problems, I think then we can expand more, but not sooner than that.
Alysia Dong

Michael W. said...

Whew this is a lot of good stuff, some of the things you guys have said is really interesting.

First of all, on what griffin said about the US and Rome comparison. I don't disagree with what you say at all, but what one has to see is that the root cause of some disease, troubled economics, and even invasion may have been Rome's expansion. On the other hand, I would think that US intervention in other nations can not be regarded as expansionist, so therefore it would be difficult to make the connection between the two "empires." However, as Callie mentioned with the Imperialist actions taken by the US government that we are learning about in history, I don't doubt that many countries blame/hate the US for it.

One of the sentiments that the film really hit on was how many of the people in the other countries disliked the Bush administration. I think when they refer to Bush, we can assume they mean his foreign policy actions. One of the interesting things to think about is with the new Obama administration, how much of this is changing.
Looking at a recent article on yahoo news in fact,
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090418/ap_on_go_pr_wh/cb_obama_summit_19
There has definitely been a change in how leaders of other countries view the US now. Many leaders, such as Chavez of Venezuela no longer feel that the President of the US is unintelligent. I think that the movie, although it provided an interesting search for opinions of the US around the world, is limited in that Politics and policy change almost everyday. As people hear about a particular couse of action taken by the US or other countries, people's sentiments change. If we understand this point, we are able to see the inherent knowledge Issue in creating a film such as this. This KI can be understood in regards to Callie's thoughts on which person went to which country. If this is true, then we see that immediately, there could be a change in feelings toward the American people since these other cultures are able to easily relate to people of the US.

Another KI that I wanted to bring up was the Language KI, not in regards to the word "empire," but as a whole. Did anyone notice how most of the people interviewed spoke english, or had a family member/friend that spoke english? In this case, we see that translations of the words and understanding of those words can have different connotations. I'm not sure how exactly this could affect the interpretation of the film, but I do see it as an issue that needs to be taken into account.
Likewise, there is often barriers with what people say when they are on film, and with what they would say to their family members. I think that this could easily have affected the overall appearance of the film.

Finally, on the issue that Ian brought up about "fixing ourselves first," I have to agree with Phil, that the world is connected, in economics, politics, and even culturally. If the US is considered a powerful player internationally, do we have the right to step in and stop injustices that we see happening in other countries? Or would it be better to have organizations like the UN, which is often run by the US' powerful influence, step in and try to end genocides without the support of the US. What one has to see in evaluating whether or not to look inwardly or outwardly, is that the earth can not be separated into sections that don't affect each other. Every time the wind blows, the air that we breathe could be taken to another country. Instead of "trying to solve our own problems," I think its necessary for the US to do what it can about both problems. Yes, we do make mistakes, but the biggest mistake we could ever make would be to forget about the problems of other human beings in other countries, and just care selfishly about the US. Since the world definitely needs the US whether for its economic strength, or for its strength on the International board, it would be best for the world, if the US stepped into global injustices/problems when we see them, and if we fixed our own problems at the same time; it is definitely not impossible to do both at the same time, as we are trying to do.

Ben White Chocolate Olsen said...

I really like what Vishnu said about the stereotypes foreign countries have place on America and its people. Basically, these stereotypes have been based off of the U.S. government and not necessarily the people living in the United States. This is understandable because all these people hear of the U.S. is the news they hear in the media about our Governmen'ts actions. As a result, many foreigners believe that the United States wants to "rule the world" and is trying to control many other countries that appear to be struggling. I think that the United States needs to ignore these stereotypes and for the most part continue what they are doing or what they are attempting to do.
The U.S. is trying to act as a mediator in the world or keep the peace but once the U.S. enters a country to help, things get out of hand and unwanted violence breaks out. If the U.S. wants to become a succesful world mediator they need to get better at making peaceful negotiations.

Alex Kreger said...

I think this video reflected the very nationalistic view the United States holds. We expect other countries to have an opinion of us, even if we don't really know much, or anything about them. However, if the US is to prosper at home, it's extremely important that we work with the international community as well. According to James Carville, who is a democratic strategist, the US has backed out of many international agreements since Bush was first elected, including The Kyoto Protocol (where the US delegates were literally booed out of the room), The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (which would ban all nuclear explosions), the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention (the US negotiated for this for 10 years before abandoning it in 2001), the Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects, and The International Criminal Court (supported by every American administration since WW II, the Bush administration withdrew our signature from the treaty on May 6, 2002). These examples reflect the view the US holds oftentimes, that the international community is something to be worked around instead of worked with. The UN is often seen as a burden instead of opportunity to work with other countries. Changing this attitude will, I think affect how we work in the international community and thus what other countries think of us. In the end, it could seriously change and, hopefully, improve our image.
-Alex Kreger

Alex Kreger said...

Also, in response to Ben White Chocolate Olsen, I agree, peaceful negotiations are essential to the United States' image. Exhausting all other options before going to war is one way to gain the respect of the international community. Peaceful negotiations are essential to demonstrating that the US is not simply a bully, but truly trying to make a positive difference.

James said...

I agree with what Emily said, the U.S. uses this idea of spreading freedom to extend its power and get involved with other countries. The U.S. is power hungry and is using this idea of spreading the freedom, that everyone in the U.S. supposedly has, as an excuse to gain power. In this I think the U.S. is overstepping its boundaries and needs to stop trying to control other places. It needs to work on fixing the problems within its borders before attempting to fix other places or controlling more places.

Shellie said...

AHHH MRS. KING!!! I TOTALLY FORGOT THIS WAS DUE ON FRIDAY!!! I'M SO SORRY. and... I was a little asleep during the film... so I didn't really catch that much... Also, sorry. :( I'll come in to talk to you on Monday and try to do as much as i can right now. Again, I'm so sorry. >.< o.O;;;


Okay, first of all, starting with the Rome/America example. When is enough enough? When will the United States crumble as a nation? When will we fall apart from corruption and being too powerful? Because clearly we haven't fallen conpletely yet, but we've started, right?

Secondly, I think that the United States has become so much of a power that we've quit being concerned with self image because we can usually just force people to go along with what we want, or if someone doesn't like what the United States is doing, that's just too damn bad. I tink we should be concerned with self image. We've made too many enemies in this world in the last half century. Not everything we do is right, but not everything that gives us a good image is right either. So then, what is more important? Doing what we know is right? Or doing what makes us look the best to other nations? We need to find a balance. But we also need to learn what the right thing is.

My personal image of the United States is that we kind of suck as a world power and a nation. I'd rather not be American, but that's hypocritical, because I don't know how to be anything else.

- Michelle Moon o.o;;

annelise gilsdorf said...

I think that the contrast between self-image and doing what is right is in close connection with the involvement of government versus the interests and wishes of people on a more individual level. It was interesting to me to hear the comments in the video about how America's government was the problem, not necessarily the people. I suppose that for me this seems to be a reflection of an overhwhelming concern for how we appear to the world at large. I wonder if perhaps we would obtain a better image if we were to stop thinking about it so much. However, as a nation that has said it will uphold certain ideals I think that we put ourselves under that much more scrutiny. People expect a lot of America, and because we make it a point to state our ideals and motives (whether genuine or not) I believe it gives other countries and their people the chance to be more critical. So I suppose what I'm trying to say is that the scrutiny we come under is a byproduct of our high ideals, and, in promoting our self-image I think we can sometimes set ourselves up for ridicule.

Eric Yin-Yang said...

A lot of the people interviewed stated that they had a problem with the government, not so much the people. I feel that the American public needs to be more aware of the goings-on in the political sphere. We need to make sure that the government is representing not only US interests but world interests. The people have a great of amount of control in the affairs of the US, and it is time the public attitude turns towards a greater preservation of peace, ecofriendlyism, education, health care, and infrastructure.

On Peter's comment, I completely agree. The US is a model for other nations not only in its structure as a federal republic but also in its customs and fashions. However, as seen in the documentary, some are starting to doubt the benefits of following US culture. We need to take action in bettering our food, reducing our aggression, and helping the environment.

Spencer said...

Being a proud Canadian born citizen, it is easy to agree with the harsh opinions of foreigners upon the United States. Many of my peers in Canada view the U.S. as "the world police" invading whatever country they want with their Army and Marine Corps. With all of it's political and military power, it is easy for the country to be seen as an empire. As mentioned in the video, perhaps America will fall as all empires before it has. It may be an irrelevant issue, but I would keep a close eye on the nation of China. The Chinese may be the heir to the thrown of "world police" after the potential downfall of the United States.

-Spencer Donnelly

tucker said...

dear mr malone or ms king:
i still need to see the rest of the movie.
love sarah t.

and as for the blog goes, ill respond to what i saw:
i agree with whoever said it was a little unfair. the other people seemed to be angry that we can't help them in everything...i feel like they almost expect too much from one country. i mean, yeah, we help people, but of course we're going to help those who will later be able to give us something more than a small country that ive never heard of that will never be able to give us something in return.

Ry Barney said...

In response to the film, right off the bat i felt that the movie was trying to convey the idea that many of the countries that were presented knew a lot more about the US, then the US knew about that country. And all i have to say to this is... DUH. the US is a world super-power. We have a HUGE impact on many of the goings on in the world and are very influential culturaly. Many other countries, such as countries in Africa for example, may listen to a US Rapper. Where as most americans couldnt tell you the name of a single african entertainer. We are the richest and most influential country in the world and so its very understandable that other countries would know us better than we know them. Just because other countries know about my country does not obligate me to learn about theirs. Also, all the US should do is stick to its principals as a country set down since our birth as a nation. We are about democracy and freedom. If the people of the US as a whole decide that we should have a larger impact on the world, than we should. However, the nation is simply too split right now between those who think we should take action and those who beleive we should mind our own business. Because god knows there is enough trouble within out own country and we don't need more by being involved in others. However, when conflicts or issues involving one nation affect or can potentially affect the US, then our involvement becomes necessary.

Ryan Barney

katealta said...

I agree with Hannah and others when they say that America does tend to handle certain affairs with a level of big-headedness, but i also think that our involvment in certain issues is a good thing. Just like Griffin said, a lot of major global issues would remain unresolved without the US being somehow involved. Back to what Hannah said, i think the US can be occaisionally unattentive to the specific needs of Countries. Also that we make far-stretched assumptions such that overall they are failing as a nation and need help in some form.

I also agree with Ryan's point of view- the video seemed to want to point out that other countries knew a lot more about the US then the US knows about them as a negative thing. Its not that a lot of Americans ignorantly pass by some kind of information that other coutnries are getting- its just that most of those countries dont have a huge influence on our lives and for that reason we arent well informed.
-Kate

RayF said...

Going off of what kate and ryan have said I think that many of the opinions expressed in the video were quite good at conveying the message of how much americans (america) display a sense of "Bigheadedness". I too believe that many of the countries who look up to the United States in awe of the grandeur/fame/wealth we garnish for ourselves are given a warped, twisted view of the united states. The video really made me think, and i compared the relationship of US to other countries that look up to us as looking through a bubble. From the inside, all we see is a reflection of our own internal issues and nothing else. However, looking in, i believe other countries can not only blatantly see the superficiality and shallowness, but also the pseudo-patriotism needed to throw our country headstrong into conflicts we don't have any place in. Perhaps its an inflated ego from being the world super power. I think that would be an interesting question to ask, however off topic it may be, what is it that seems to give us the right to involve the US in matters that don't concern us?

Kaitlyn T. said...

I really enjoyed the Listening Project and the points it brought up... I think it's really good for everyone to realize when they are overstepping boundaries and trying to accomplish more than they can handle. In some ways, I think Americans have had good intentions in everything that we have tried to do but good intentions aren't everything. It's also important to realized other people's culture differences and maybe what would be best in America is far from beneficial in another country. The Listening Project brought up some of these differences...
~Kaitlyn

Scott-de-la-Trout said...

Soooooo, I thought this movie was pretty dang interesting and a good idea. From what I could tell they were pretty objective. They picked countries all over and all different types of Americans (hopefully that's not offensive.) Their message of listening was appreciated by me.

But, the thing with these projects is that the answers you get is all situational. It's all who you talk to. So to sum up a countries believes by interviewing a couple people just doesn't suffice. Interviewing a hundred or a thousand people still wouldn't be enough because not everyone is represented. Talking to kids on a college campus would yeild you a different answer than interviewing retired folks would. But even then, not all old fogeys have the same opinion about things.

Anyways I missed the end of the movie so I don't know how they concluded the video, but in the beginning they advertised themselves as seeing what certain countries thought of America, but really you just saw what random Canadian girl at the bar and what random old Chinese man thought about America.

Again I don't mean to offend but the project they took on is an impossible one.
-Scott Trout

kirsten said...

As a whole i believe that everyone should try to be as tollerant as possible of each other but of course that's cliche. tollerance is one of the biggest words in our vocabulary today. so is there anything different we can do than just trying to be tollerant of each other? taking time to understand one another would be my first idea. in tolerating one another, we put up with differences but we don't understand why the differences are there or how we could learn to integrate them into our lives too. so that would be my first suggestion as what "the whole world" could do to make it a better place. on another note, i thought it was interesting how i had stereotyped how other countries would feel about the US. i thought that almost all of them would dislike us, but i found that there was much more diversity in the answers that were given even within each country than i had thought there would be. i was really happy i got to see that movie because being in an INTERNATIONAL program, i think it's really worth it to find out what the rest of the world thinks of the US, not just how we as Americans think of ourselves.

SusieP said...

I felt like this movie was a great learning experience for me. After watching it, I found myself thinking about how much I really didn’t know about what other countries think of America and Americans in general. This makes me wonder if they know what we, the American people, not the government, think about them. It would be interesting to see the changes that would result from a mutual understanding of each other as individuals. I know that my perspective of America and Americans changed simply from watching this movie. Opinions are always changing, which is part of the problem. If they go back and try to do the project all over again in 10, 20, or more years, the results may be completely different. You never know. Also, I agree with Scott about how the Listening Project did not get a large enough sample. This whole time we have been discussing how the American government may be what foreign countries see as the identity of all Americans. This can also be turned the other way, how can the opinion of one person represent what the entire country thinks or believes. Anyway, that is just a thought. However, without categorizing at all, understanding other cultures and beliefs would be impossible. I think that there just needs to be a balance and, when categorizing, there should be an awareness and recognition that the labeling is not representing every individual. Overall, I think that there is a lot that can be taken away from this movie, both positives and negatives that are important to understand and apply to your own life.

Bonnie said...

Our world grows exponentially more and more crowded by the minute. As populations expand and worlds collide, life across borders become more and more intertwined, making the issue of United States involvement in the international community not simply a matter of foreign policy, but of values and cultural views. With globalization, much of western life and ideology has bled all the way through to the proletariat life of even the most removed of cultures like that of the Masai village in Tanzania, not to mention internationally involved countries such as the ones visited in the Listening Project - China, India, Afghanistan, Russia, Palestine, Israel, France, Britain, Brazil, or Mexico. We export to these nations our products, our troops, and also our way of life. That way of life and outlook has begun to protrude in an unwelcome way into the lives of those not living in the US - one example of which would be what the former Black Panther leader in Tanzania pointed out, with the US being 4% of the world population, yet consuming up to 40% of the world's resources. Our way of thinking was what resulted in our involvement in the Middle East, though whether that involvement was welcomed is questionable. I think that as a nation we act without consideration, losing sight of the social ramifications within the black and white of economic and political benefit. What the United States should or needs to begin doing is rather start thinking rather than just acting on selfish missives, and respecting other world views in not dealing with everything in a heavy-handed manner.

In regards to the documentary itself, I personally think that the movie didn't really do a great job in representing the views of the other countries. While the personal cross section on the individual life of a few people in each country gave a very personal view into the the perspective of one person, their views were presented as being representative of their entire respective countries. Realistically, however, the views of one person, being exposed to different events in life are in many cases vastly different from the next. Speaking from the my own limited perspective, the DJ they picked from Shanghai didn't exactly capture the what I found local sentiment towards the USA that much of China has towards western foreign nations to be, which varied in scope from opportunity (financially speaking, from tourist scamming, to a chance at better education and salary) to scorn and dislike due to strong nationalist views (a view not represented in the movie, I guess), to condescending ones regarding its operatives out of borders, particularly in Iraq.
Just my thoughts, and I apologize for this being posted late late late late late late late.

kgibbs said...

It intrigued me that it seemed a message of 'America screwed this up and needs to get out/away' came at the same time as 'why don't they fix it'. I believe instances need to be decided on a case by case basis including the significance of them to America and our resource/time limits. Every day and political situation is different, so they can't be painted with a broad "should" brush. Much of this is also clouded by our hindsight of what was best. The hope is to always do better in the future.