The Ugly American

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Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture
The Ugly American

I always wanted to start up a thread with this title Laughing and watching the 1963 film of the same name with Marlon Brando bungling America's relations with the country of Sarkhan as Ambassador this morning gives me excuse to do so. Best line so far: To the Ambassador: "You democracy is a fraud! It is for white people only!"  Brando plays a smug, cocksure, patronizing ass. Hilarious, and quite a film for 1963. 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I've always wondered how Americans in 1963 and 1964 felt when they saw their theatre marquees plastered with "The Ugly American".  Laughing

Maysie Maysie's picture

Probably the opposite of how I felt when I worked in a bookstore when "Stupid White Men" was published. Smile

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Laughing

Maysie Maysie's picture

It was funny. Men (mostly white guys) would come in, shuffle their feet, not make eye contact and ask me, "Um, do you have, um, Michael Moore's latest book?" (the last part was mumbled and spoken quickly)

And I would say, a bit louder than necessary, and enunciating perfectly "Oh you mean Stupid White Men? Yes we have some copies of Stupid White Men here on this display, and there's some more copies of Stupid White Men over here. I read it, and Stupid White Men is a really good book."

Basically saying the title as many times as possible. Tee hee.  

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Were you actually trying to make it as difficult as possible for people who wanted to read Michael Moore's book?

oldgoat

Now see here Maysie, on behalf of stupid white men everywhere, I ....oh never mind, I see Spector got here first.

 

Tongue out

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Iggy strikes me as the quintessential Stupid White Man, and, before he returned, as the quintessential Ugly American.Laughing

Ze

Not to be too much of a wet blanket (sorry), but The Ugly American had among its morals that US imperialism was fine, but needed to be conducted more intelligently. It made a character based on the spy Edward Lansdale a hero of "cultural sensitivity" and was a bible for much of the 1960s counter-insurgency warfare carried out by the US in Asia. 

Now, The Quiet American, there was a critique of the whole US presence. Much better written than the turgid Ugly too.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I didn't know the history of the film at all, watched it for (as far as I can recall) the first time this morning, and thought it was ludricious - American imperialism is on full display, and the Brando character is all that and more. I should have added 'arrogant' to my description of the Brando character (and all that he represents) in my OP.

Frmrsldr

The movies The Ugly American, along with The Battle of Algiers, show the arrogance and ethnocentrism (chauvenism) of American and European culture that got the U.S. into the Vietnam War and explains why the U.S. made the mistakes it did in Vietnam.

The Battle of Algiers explains why the French went from the French Indo China (Vietnam) War (1945 - 1954) right into the Algerian War (1954 - 1962).

These two movies also explain the arrogance and ethnocentrism of the U.S., Europe and CANADA when it came to getting involved in today's wars of Iraq and Afghanistan (or both, in many cases). Seems like these countries have either forgotten or ignored history.

The last time Canada got involved in a colonial (imperialist) war was the Boer War. But that's no excuse as there is something called vicarious learning - learning from others' mistakes. 

Unionist

I read "The Ugly American" long ago. Never saw the movie. But then again, I see that movie every day.

 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Frmrsldr wrote:

The last time Canada got involved in a colonial (imperialist) war was the Boer War.

By "last time" you mean "last time before Afghanistan and Korea"?

By "got involved" you mean "sent significant numbers of troops"? Because we were "involved" in Vietnam and Iraq, among other adventures. 

George Victor

Came out about the same time as Nation of Sheep as I recall (will try to find it).

Yeah. William Lederer, 196l. Followed his Ugly American (1958)

It did NOT pull punches or deceive, as I recall.  And you have to look for Lederer to find it on Google...!  Just a chance circumstance, I'm sure.

 

And the Ugly American told an amazed readership that some people out there did not like what Americans were up to in the Far East.

In Sheep, he told Americans more specifically about themselves, why they were ugly.

Frmrsldr

Yes "sent significant numbers of troops" does exclude Canadian officers in Iraq and mercenaries in Vietnam. People involved in these wars were/are not officially recognized by the Canadian government.

Korea was an imperial war (U.S.S.R. and allies vs U.S.A. and allies) but not a colonial war. We were not there to continue or replace Korea's Japanese colonial administration: Unlike the wars of independence in Africa and Asia in the 50s, 60s and 70s where the colonial powers desperately tried to cling onto their colonial possessions.

Of course, there's more to it than this, but this was one aspect of the Vietnam War. The U.S. first propped up the French administration in Indo China, then the U.S. more and more directly got involved in the war. 

 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Frmrsldr wrote:

Yes "sent significant numbers of troops" does exclude Canadian officers in Iraq and mercenaries in Vietnam.

I wasn't talking about Canadian mercenaries. I was talking about how Canada was officially [url=complicit">http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Rhodes/1588/][u]complicit in the US assault on Vietnam.[/url]

And Canada was also [url=far">http://www.commonground.ca/iss/199/cg199_iraq.shtml][u... more into the Iraq war[/url] than just the presence of a few officers.  

Frmrsldr wrote:

Korea was an imperial war (U.S.S.R. and allies vs U.S.A. and allies) but not a colonial war. We were not there to continue or replace Korea's Japanese colonial administration

Wars between imperialist powers are usually over the right to exploit colonial territories. Korea was no exception.

Quote:
The American intervention in Korea is a brutal imperialist invasion, no different from the French war on Indo-China or the Dutch assault on Indonesia. American boys are being sent 10,000 miles away to kill and be killed, not in order to liberate the Korean people, but to conquer and subjugate them. It is outrageous. It is monstrous.
[url=Source[/url]">http://www.geocities.com/mnsocialist/korea.html][=mediumblue][u]Sou...

al-Qa'bong

I haven't seen the movie, but I read The Ugly American around 20 years ago.  I read Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone a couple of years ago and was amazed at the similarities.