Popular Myths of US Culture/Fashion

(July, 2003: I spend net-time on some sites for English-speaking expatriates, and one thing people like to do is make fun of their host country (in our case, the Czech republic) by posting lists, such as “Popular Prague Fashion Myths”. Sometimes they’re good-natured, and sometimes they’re hateful…and sometimes they’re funny. For example: Fashion myth 1) Mullets still look cool, despite what anyone says. 2) Wearing tight, white pants with a black thong is not tacky. Etc.
So, in that vein, here is my list, with data gathered on a recent three-week trip to the US. )

The Top Ten Fashion and Culture Myths of the USA

1) Being so obese that you can’t walk normally—but rather have to do a hippo-like hip-shuffling waddle—is not only normal but sometimes downright attractive.

2) Even though you don’t regularly follow any of his teachings, plastering “Jesus” on everything from T-shirts and automobile bumpers to billboard is a great way to display your faith and remind those that don’t agree with you that they’ll burn in hell. (Note: It also is a good way to atone, so the MORE you defy the teachings of Jesus, the MORE you should proclaim his name.)

3) The fact that the anchor on the television news can’t say “penis” on TV (or, as in the story he’s reporting on, the fact that school children can’t look up the word on the internet on library computers to learn basic anatomy) is NOT censorship or a sad vestige of the nations supposed puritanical beginnings (as some evil, liberal, commies might assert). It is a basic and important protection of the nation’s “moral fiber”, and it works, as evidenced by our incredibly LOW murder, rape, and teen-pregnancy rates.

4) Anecdotes of your drunk-driving escapades are always a great way to entertain friends and impress people at parties.

5) Signs posted at public places, such as all-you-can-eat buffet tables, regarding the monitoring of children (e.g. “Children under 8 should be accompanied by an adult”) are only there for decoration. Letting your five-year-old dance around the table—tripping other patrons, licking spoons, and sticking his grimy, snot-covered hands in all the dishes—is not only your right, it’s a fine way to let everyone at the restaurant enjoy the little bundle of delight you created.

5.5) Even though you would step on the neck of a stranger—even a child—to get you or your family ahead, everyone else knows that YOUR children are the most important creatures in the universe. Should you be too busy to look after them for a few minutes or hours (say, because you’re trying on clothes, perusing a magazine in the check-out line, or talking on your cell phone), anyone nearby will be happy to do it for you.

6) Carrying a gun not only makes you safer, it's damn cool. Just look at Dirty Harry!

7) Driving a massive vehicle will protect you in a crash, and—even though you bought it knowing it was a threat to any other vehicles around you, not to mention the environment your children will inherit—you are NOT a selfish bastard for buying it…after all, aren’t you helping the US economy! Also, driving a “sport” vehicle will make the daily, two-hour commute to that job you hate seem much more like an exhilarating drive through the rugged country.

8) Having ridiculous laws that no one follows and even public figures flout (such as the legal drinking age being 21 years) doesn’t belittle your legal system or make it hypocritical in any way. It’s kind of cute and endearing!

9) The human body, and most of it’s natural functions are SICK and DIRTY. Yes, a naked body can be fun to look at it, sex can feel good (only if you’re married), and 90% of the advertisements you see are hinged on one or both of those two facts, but you should never TALK about these things or do them in public, and you should always feel ashamed when you do. Likewise, while we all have to expel waste from our body, it is dirty, shameful, and should only be done when absolutely NO ONE can see you.

10) Being “full” is absolutely NO reason to stop eating.

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