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Response to flamingdem (Original post)

Tue Apr 17, 2012, 02:54 AM

6. Ever wonder how the term "The Ugly American" appeared?

According to Wikipedia, which I had consulted, still thinking of your original post, and learned it was used in 1948 by a Cuban photographer, who took a photo of an American jerk!


Constantino Arias' photo titled Ugly American,
showing a 1950s Batista-era tourist in Havana, Cuba.[1][/center]

The term was used as the title of a 1948 photograph of an American tourist in Havana by the Cuban photographer Constantino Arias (see infobox above)[38], but seems to have entered popular culture as the title of a 1958 book by authors William Lederer and Eugene Burdick. In 1963 the book was made into a movie directed by George Englund and starring Marlon Brando.

The best-selling, loosely fictional account provided contrasting characters with different approaches to opposing Communist influence in Southeast Asia, and the use of foreign aid in particular. The majority of the Americans exhibit a range of blundering, corrupt, and incompetent behaviors, often concentrating on impractical projects that will serve more to benefit American contractors than the local population. A minority are effective because they employ knowledge of the local language and culture, but most of these are marginalized and some even considered suspect. As a result, their influence is more limited than it should be.[39]

The title character, Homer Atkins, is introduced late in the book. He is "ugly" only in his physical appearance. His unattractive features, rough clothing and dirty hands are contrasted with the bureaucrats' freshly pressed clothes, clean fingers and smooth cheeks. Their behaviors have the opposite contrast: Atkins cares about the people of southeast Asia and wants to help them create practical solutions to their everyday problems; the bureaucrats want to build highways and dams that are not yet needed, and with no concern for the many other projects that will have to be completed before they can be used. [40] The book led to a move by President Dwight Eisenhower to study and reform American aid programs in the region.[41]

In the book, a fictional Burmese journalist wrote, "For some reason, the people I meet in my country are not the same as the ones I knew in the United States. A mysterious change seems to come over Americans when they go to a foreign land. They isolate themselves socially. They live pretentiously. They're loud and ostentatious. Perhaps they're frightened and defensive, or maybe they're not properly trained and make mistakes out of ignorance."[42]


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flamingdem Apr 2012 OP
Judi Lynn Apr 2012 #1
flamingdem Apr 2012 #2
naaman fletcher Apr 2012 #3
Bacchus4.0 Apr 2012 #4
naaman fletcher Apr 2012 #5
LineNew Reply Ever wonder how the term "The Ugly American" appeared?
Judi Lynn Apr 2012 #6
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