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Foreign Opinions About America

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Vogue - February 1939

Is There an American Art? (Current Opinion, 1922)

Prior to the establishment of the New York School in the 1940s, there has always been a popular belief among Europeans (and a few Americans) that the art produced in the U.S. was purely derivative and lacked true originality in conception and style. In this 1922 article some of these Europeans and Americans step forward and identify themselves while continuing to crack wise on the topic; however, the editors of 'Art News' will not suffer this abuse and they return fire offering plenty of evidence to the contrary.

 

American Dominance in Pop-Culture (Stage Magazine, 1939)

The editors of Stage magazine were dumbfounded when they considered that just ten years after audiences got an earful from the first sound movies, the most consistent characteristic to have been maintained throughout that decade was the box-office dominance of American movie stars, directors and writers. After naming the most prominent of 1930s U.S. movie stars the author declares with certainty that this could not have been an accident.

"And the Movies: all them stories, all them fables, all them beautiful women,all them amazing children: Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney, Jane Withers, Jackie Searl,and the others. Even Europe in the movies is America. Even Charlie Chan is American. Even Mr. Moto is American. Even war in the movies is American, instead of neurotic. And the newsreels: the style of them,the energy and comedy of them: the imitativeness, the invention, and absurdity of them for the sake of comedy. America made these entertainers,and now, very naturally, they are making America."

 

America Vilified in the European Press (Literary Digest, 1928)

"Envy and admiration as well as ridicule and praise are found in the many articles the European press devoted to this country. Our big business astonishes them, our so-called lack of culture inspires thinly veiled contempt, while our homicide records lead some rather irascible English critics to speak of the United States as 'the Land of Liberty - for the murderer.'"

Yet for all their contempt there was one thing they couldn't live without: click here to read an article about how much the Europeans loved American silent comedies.

 

Things 'Americain' in France (Literary Digest, 1927)

Whether for good or for ill, the American people have left their thumb print on much of the French language - the liberal sprinkling of the adjective "Americain" was ever present in 1927, as it is today. This article seeks to explain the meanings and origins of such French expressions as:

• "Eleve a L'Americain",
• "Coup de Poing Américain"
• "Homard a l'Americaine"
• "Rase a L'Americaine"
• "Vol à l'Américaine"
• "Oncle D'Amerique"

-among other numerous other phrases inspired by the free and the brave.

 

Gertrude Stein on America ('47 Magazine, 1947)

"What our most famous literary expatriate really thought of her country".

 


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