The Good, The Bad, (but not the Ugly…) – The Bad (1)

About a month ago, I shared with you what I really like about both the Unites States and France (‘The Good‘).  This time, I tell you about what I do not particularly like about them.
Elisabeth Donato 4/03/2012American patriotism at its worst

I’ll start with the United States:

Ten things that annoy me about life in the US, and that I would not miss if I returned to France:

1. The legendary American friendliness (that I also love) is rather superficial.
Don’t take too seriously a future dinner invitation mentioned by an American couple whom you’ve just met at a party. It will probably never materialize.

2. The food quality and options are abysmal.
Processed foods reign supreme. Meats are loaded with hormones, and vegetables are genetically altered. Of course, things have improved greatly, as a strong ‘foodie’ movement, gung-ho on organic meats and produce, has emerged over the past few years; but a great majority of Americans do not eat healthily.

Elisabeth Donato 4/03/2012Americans think that this is food.

3. Americans are very naive about international politics – and their general knowledge of world geography is abysmally lacking.

4. The exacerbated patriotism that is rampant just about everywhere.
Most Americans are flag-waving individuals convinced that their country is the best in the world. I find it troubling that certain ways of thinking can be qualified as ‘anti-American’.

5. The lack of universal health care.
And the fact that many Americans are opposed to it.

6. The predominance of the “religious right” in this country.
The conservative religious right scares me, and the current Republican ‘war’ on women’s reproductive rights is downright frightening.

7. The whole jock scene and culture.
And I may be contradicting myself, since I stated, in ‘The Good’, that I like American football…

8. The total lack of an adequate public transportation system.

9. The general lack of elegance, and even slovenliness of many Americans.
I am not saying here that all Americans are slovenly, but many are – just come to my local Wal-Mart and you’ll see for yourself.

Elisabeth Donato 4/03/2012
Americans will even shop in their pajama pants.

10. The prudishness that seems to prevail in this country.
I once read this, originally written by Milan Obradovic (who lives in Los Angeles), in the German magazine The Stern:

“On U.S. beaches, any garment tight enough to show the faintest outline of male genitalia is completely unacceptable. Men wear knee-length trunks lined with an extra panty to make sure that their manhood is suitably restrained and camouflaged. For women, going topless can be punished with a steep fine or even arrest. To a European, the moral standards of the American majority are a mystery – and a pity.”

In my next article I will tell you what I do not particularly like about France.

About the Contributor

Elisabeth Sauvage-Callaghan

I am a native of France, and a retired French university professor living in the USA. I return to France every year and love discovering new places I have not yet visited. I am interested in issues of bilingualism and expatriate identity. I enjoy good food, great books, and all kinds of music.

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  1. Emmanuelle Tremolet Apr 19, 2012 at 8:26 PM - Reply

    Bonjour Elisabeth,

    Je partage avec vous l’ensemble des remarques faites sur les Etats-Unis. Est-ce une vision française ? Est-ce que je partagerai ce que vous n’aimez pas au sujet de la France ? Mystère… Je suis impatiente de lire votre prochain article. Au plaisir de vous lire…

  2. Amber Apr 25, 2012 at 12:11 AM - Reply

    A very interesting article. Here’s my take on a few of your points:

    How can we expect to learn anything about the world outside the US when the media refuses to report on it?

    I think it’s safe to say that Wal-Mart is a microcosm unto itself. I would never go out in public in pajama pants, or no pants for that matter, although many of the “people of Wal-Mart” do. I do love getting those forwards that show pictures and pictures of shamelessly-dressed people.

    And although I agree that many Americans go overboard when a TV program shows a little butt crack or whatnot, I have never understood the need of showing boobies all over TV, as is the case in France. 🙂

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