This YouTube video of The Chaser’s Julian Morrow asking the simplest questions of residents of America’s heartland (and posing as Honest John for part of it) has been doing the rounds of the ex-pat community following its original broadcast on ABC-TV.
The level of many Americans’ ignorance of the world outside the USA demonstrated in this video is, as always, horrifying to those of us who have the least scrap of awareness about world politics. We are all aware of the paradox of America’s role in our world – too much economic and militaristic influence, a total lack of interest in the mistakes of history, and dismissive of an internationalist approach to preventing conflict; combined with a profound lack of curiosity about the outside world in which it seeks to interfere.
The Chaser team selected its American targets very carefully, of course, and outside the major metropolitan centres there are infinite numbers of easy ones. In New York City, for example, Morrow would never have gotten away with posing as the Prime Minister, and I’m convinced the locals here would have been able to answer most, if not all, of his questions. I have seen the late-night talk shows here (Jay Leno on the west coast, David Letterman and Conan O’Brien on the east coast) show similar videos ridiculing the ignorance of their own countrymen and women.
For all these reasons, I continue to insist that living in New York City is NOT the same as living in America. It’s splitting hairs, I know, but it helps.