Thursday, July 11, 2013

Great Arguments Are Made of These

We were chilling on the Garonne riverbank enjoying the gorgeous sunset when a lady approached us and said, "Hi guys, I'm kinda bored. May I join you?"

Of course, we said. The more the merrier. She was Korean-American, married to a French, but as her French was pretty dismal we had to switch to English. As the only person in the group who spoke decent English, I had the de facto duty of engaging her in conversation.

All was going well until she uttered, "I live in California, but I hate America. They have absolutely no culture." Naturally she was expecting me to concur, as if it was a sentiment shared the world over. As if, by virtue of not being American, I was supposed to agree that anything American is bad, that the Americans had no culture. The hatred towards Uncle Sam is supposed to be a universal thing, is it not?

Well, tough. Contrary to popular opinion, I, for one, find that the American culture is very present and not just in America, but all across the globe. How can I not, when I'm sporting a pair of jeans and T-shirt, when all I listen to is American music and its declensions, when half of my favourite films are American, when I even adopt American mannerisms when speaking English although my education was largely British.

"That's unfair and a bit hypocritical, don't you think?" I asked, looking her straight in the eye. She reacted accordingly with wide, judgemental eyes.

"What do you mean, unfair?" she queried.

"Well, for one, your outfit is clearly American. You speak with a distinctly American accent, and I'm pretty sure the hamburger is part of your diet. How can you deny the existence of a culture when you are immersed in it?"

"Because it's a stupid culture!" she retorted, obviously irritated.

"So you're acknowledging that it is a culture nonetheless, be it stupid or not?"

"Yes, but not a culture I'd like to adhere to."

"So now that we've established that they do have a culture, we can discuss whether or not it is stupid," I said cheekily, knowing that half the battle was already won because she had just indirectly contradicted her original stance about the nonexistence of the American culture.

"It is stupid, period," she said, probably hoping that such a flimsy argument would suffice. Well, again, tough. I'm going to need more than that, lady.

"I think you're confusing stupidity and practicality. Their culture might not be as ancient as that of the Indians, or as intricate as the French, or as elaborate as the Chinese. But the practicality of the American culture makes it prevalent in almost every developed nation. I'm proud of my beautiful Malaysian heritage and culture, but do you know that people come to Malay weddings wearing jeans and T-shirts instead of our own traditional attires? You want to know why? Because it's simple and practical. Like it or not, we've all adopted the American culture for the sake of simplicity and practicality. So much so that it's become an integral part of our culture, to the point where we deny the Americans their own culture. And that is highly hypocritical."

"If that's the case in Malaysia, then you guys are just stupid," she said, dead serious. Aha. Of course, when all else fails, go for the low hanging fruit. At this point I had nothing else to say to her because suddenly she came off as childish, on top of being pretentious and arrogant. She might have perceived my sudden silence as a sign of defeat, so she decided to go in for the kill. Or so she thought.

"How old are you?" she asked.

"25," I curtly replied.

"Ah, I see. Well, you're still young. Give it some time and you'll see," she said, and I swear I saw her grin triumphantly towards her own reflection in the Garonne river.

I just smiled. So, on top of being pretentious, arrogant and childish, she's also ageist. She is one of those dumbasses who think age equals wisdom. The mere fact that I'm almost 20 years younger than her somehow discredits all my arguments. I might not have lived as long as she has, but I consider myself very well-read and cultured, and I take pride in my maturity. Given her frail arguments and willful recalcitrance even when proven wrong, the only difference between her and me are the wrinkles around her eyes. She might be years older, but none the wiser.

You just can't win with these people.


Anonymous said...

U did not rebutt (not sure the spelling here) her? Would love to hear how u answer her.

Emma Amir said...

One of the most annoying people on Earth - ageist.

Yeah, you just can't win with these people.

tenku butang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tenku butang said...

follower no.109
done follow here,
do follow me back?..=) -->(official) -->2nd blog

Nazira said...

there are some american ways that i think we could adopt.. their straightforwardness. if they don't like something you do, etc., they tell it to your face. also i know first hand that when a group of people are planning on going for a dinner or a vacation, etc., they don't have to invite other people who know about their plans, and it's okay. and the other guys will not feel left out or anything if they are not included or invited. unlike many of us malaysians yg kalau nak plan something kena buat special group sometimes secretly sebab tak nak ajak orang lain tapi takut org kecik hati, yada yada yada. but it is understandable because some of the unrelated people with no shame might invite and include themselves into your plans. it's exhausting i tell you, too much time and energy wasted.