A few days ago I broached the subject of films.

Amongst the many comments there was one from Mac.  He pointed to two of his posts which he reckoned would drive me nuts [his words, not mine].  Things we can learn from films about the American way of life.



While not quite driving me nuts, they do include a couple of things that had intrigued me in the past, and continue to do so.

He mentions the ability of American drivers to cover miles of road without ever looking at where they are going.  I know a lot of women in Ireland seem to have perfected this trick, but any time I try it, I inevitably pile into the car in front [or end up in the ditch].  Being a driver, I always feel a little nervous when they do that stunt on screen but maybe I'm just being over cautious?

And talking of driving there are a couple of other facets that intrigue me.

How come any time anyone is going somewhere by car they always find a parking spot directly outside their destination?  I don't think I have ever seen a film where they arrive and then have to circle the block several times looking for somewhere to stick their vehicle.  In my experience, any time I want to visit a particular shop in Skobieville I have to park a considerable distance away as there is either no parking allowed anywhere near the shop or else all the spaces are full. 

Another one that has me sitting on the edge of my chair is the American ability to reverse at high speed out of a driveway onto a road without a single smash, or at the very least a screech of tyres and a loud honking horn.  I don't think I have ever seen them reverse as far as the pavement and then check to see if there is any traffic coming.

No one in America ever seems to need a piss or a dump.  Unless it is part of the plot, no one ever goes to the jax.  In the same vein, no one ever coughs, yawns or sneezes unless the plot involves them coming down with a deadly plague.  By the same token, unless it's a puerile comedy, Americans never ever fart.

Another miracle of American life is that everyone seems to live just inside their front door with a telephone handy.  Our hero [or whoever] strides up to the front door and knocks [Americans don’t have door bells apparently] and within a second or two the door is opened, proving conclusively that the resident is just standing there waiting for a caller.  The same applies to phone calls – the phone is invariably answered within the first two seconds.  Do Americans ever get caught in the shower, or go into a back room that is a distance from the door or phone, or hang their washing in the back garden?  By the same token a caller never hangs up just as someone reaches the phone to answer it, which always happens to me.

America seems to be full of highly successful architects.  All families live in the same leafy suburbs where he is an extremely successful architect with his own extremely successful business, while she is either an artist or a teacher.  Unless of course they are down and outs living in a mobile home where he just spends his time slugging beer and beating the girlfriend.

It never rains in America, unless it's part of the plot where someone has to take shelter in a haunted house or meet a handsome stranger in a shop doorway.  The kids play happily in the garden in the sunshine.  Roads are always completely dry, with ne'er sign of a recent passing shower.  Thunder and lightening only ever happen when something creepy is about to happen?

Frankly, America seems to be a very predictable and boring place with none of the little vicissitudes that make life interesting.

It's nothing like Ireland anyway.

Thank God.


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My ongoing education — 10 Comments

  1. Hi GD
    My greatest irritations are to do with wasted power.In American films when somebody arrives at their home if they’ve been away for hours or even days every light in the house is on .The second is related in that all suburban houses seem to have lights on porches,up paths and driveways and randomly scattered on lawns that are illuminated for every hour of darkness.
    Maybe as with their petrol (gasoline) the Merkins just pay a lot less for it than we do ?

    • Ah but there is no need to worry there.  There is a very significant portion of the American population who, upon hearing a suspicious sound in the house will creep from room to room without ever switching on a light.  Maybe those creepers are aware of the wastage caused by non-invaded homes and wish to compensate?

  2. As a sort of aside, I was musing to myself the other day about historical dramas, which are one of the few types of TV that I occasionally watch and enjoy.  Particularly if they are British-made (or Irish, of course), they tend to do a good job now of showing the gritty, hard realities of life in the past, particularly the very distant past like the Middle Ages.  Except for one thing … why aren’t there loads of sick people around? The levels of disease, with no public sanitation of any kind and zero modern medicines, were enormous back then, particularly the dreaded Syphilis which, until the advent of TB in Victorian times, was far and away the biggest killer of them all.  When was the last time you saw an actor in one of these historical dramas covered in sores or infectious lesions or uttering the words: “God save me, the pox has me bad this time, m’lud,” whilst scratching frantically at his vital bits and pieces?  It seems that apart from where the plot demands it (a main character falling ill with a “fever” for example, or dying off, or a child falling dangerously sick in order to be saved by a doctor (usually) with a surprisingly advanced – like 400 years – amount of medical insight), or where the programme is a dramatic reconstruction of a specific illness like the Plague or something, no-one in the Middle Ages ever got ill at all, not even the peasants!  And the rich people always look so beautiful (which they often weren’t) and so clean (which they definitely weren’t, either).  Amazing.

  3. It always amazes me how people in films make arrangements.

    "How about dinner Thursday?"

    "I'd really like that"

    "Til Thursday then"

    "Fine, Bye"

    Excuse me?  Where are we going? Are you going to pick me up or shall I meet you there?  What time?  Sorry, can't make Thursday, how about the following Wednesday?  No, that's no good for me…….

    • So true!  They must all be psychic!

      And the way the heroine is all alone, scantily clad, made up to the nines, doors unlocked, windows open,evil marauder in the vicinity … Lock the door woman and put some clothes on!!!  Or the hero's glamourous side-kick in stilettoes breaking her heel in the mud… don't they have sensible shoes in America?


  4. Grandad,
    Thanks, and I tend to agree with all you say.
    A couple of points relating to comments from GeorgeD and Jax.
    I agree, the lights are always on unless there’s been a spate of killings in the neighborhood and a friend calls on a friend. No answer to their knocking. Check door. Door open. Enter house/apartment. All is in total darkness. Move round house/apartment softly calling name. All done in the dark. Never ‘think’ to turn on a light.
    I vaguely remember an historical {hysterical?} costume ‘drama’ movie from the fifties{?} about Richard the Lionheart where the King announces to his Queen that he’s off on another of his adventures. As the Queen flounces from the room she says, “War, war, war; that’s all you think about Dicky Plantagenet!” It doesn’t get more factual than that.
    And finally, the old one: All you paranoid folk out there who check behind shower curtains for murderers; If you find one, what’s your plan?

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