John Hughes' Feb. 19 opinion column "It's Hollywood that makes them despise us" presents ideas that many people around the globe have about US culture. Hollywood exports the worst the United States has to offer and that brings consequences.
In addition, those living in developing countries absorb Hollywood's messages and transform them into their own personal and socio-cultural ideals, which is a psychological colonization of the worst kind. Furthermore, good quality independent films and public television broadcasts go unnoticed abroad.
It is not surprising, then, that many people around the world would never guess that millions of Americans actually create and enjoy great works of art of all kinds, that not everyone in the US is uncouth or ignorant, or that most American women would not jump into bed with any stranger at the simple wink of an eye.
Regarding "It's Hollywood that makes them despise us": Hollywood is indeed very very much responsible for wrongly influencing young people - and not just young people. I do hope this piece gets to those who need to read it. I choose simply not to watch such trash on TV or at the theater.
Regarding "It's Hollywood that makes them despise us": Without responding to your critique of Hollywood mores (other than to point out that the actual free marketplace determines success or failure of violent, sexist, and other questionable fare), I would like to suggest that the reason the rest of the world "hates the US" has more to do with the US's botched meddling with the internal affairs of other nations and our backing of so many undemocratic regimes in the past 60 years. If only our foreign policy lived up to the values we espouse in the Constitution, perhaps people around the world would feel less animosity toward us.
Consider the decades of US support for Saddam Hussein or Panama's Noriega, or even Osama bin Laden. These were all our allies. It is we who have decided it is convenient to turn those once-stalwart allies into enemies.
Does Mr. Hughes actually believe that people in the rest of the world cannot tell the difference between the fictions of Hollywood and the realities of our foreign policies in their countries?
In "It's Hollywood that makes them despise us" Hughes cites a study, "The Next Generation's Image of Americans," as proof that Hollywood is the problem. The questions in the study were designed to see if the images in all media, not just Hollywood, led to certain conclusions. That media includes news. That Americans are seen as violent and materialistic could easily be concluded from watching domestic TV news in the countries studied or American TV news. It's easy to bash Hollywood. But they're not the entire problem.
Regarding the Feb. 20 opinion piece "It takes a snowstorm to make a village": Roderick Nordell has hit upon one of the things that we have learned from many snows. People are almost always helpful and friendly during major snow storms. Seeing neighbors or strangers in similar situations seems to break barriers. I live in Buffalo, well known for its winters. As the snow melts, our separation may return, but storms provide a touch point in conversations for a long time to come.
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