Mr. Bean & Cultural Stereotyping

Mr. Bean and teddy Now. Before I start this post, you should be warned, it could come across a little bit ranty. It is, if this is of any consolation, a Friday. Which means almost nothing when you are travelling, other than the fact that all the pubs are likely to be busier if you go out.

I wish to raise the issue of cultural stereotyping, and wonder if it is just me who finds the worldwide phenomenon that is Mr. Bean just a little bit odd. And if you are wondering what I am wittering about, here is a standard conversation that I may have whilst on the road, and someone realises I am from the UK:

Me: Oh hi, who are you, where are you from?

Other person: Ohmigod you are from the UK! I love Mr. Bean!

Me: Er, yes. Right. <sidle away gently>

This, I should point out, is not a problem unique to being English. My girlfriend, who happens to be German, ends up dealing with the belief that all Germans are obsessed with David Hasselhoff, and in particular, his singing. The conversation is a little bit similar to the one above, only instead of the “I love Mr. Bean” it is replaced with “Germany! You must love David Hasselhoff!”. This is, to be fair, probably worse.

Still, I find it rather tragic that the sole cultural export that appears to be instantly recognisable, and in fact, loved, worldwide, when someone discovers I am English, is a rather silent, and somewhat moronic TV character, played, in case you didn’t know, by Rowan Atkinson. It’s not like the UK doesn’t have other exports. Football hooligans for example. Or the belief that everything tastes better with ketchup. Hmm wait. Maybe Mr. Bean isn’t so bad after all.

I guess it makes some sort of sense. A knowledge of English isn’t really necessary, as there is never really any talking. The humour is slapstick and therefore easy to get. It’s not Monty Python, but I guess, it is as least British.

I wonder if other nationalities find themselves to be instantly categorised by some aspect of their culture that to them seems, well, plain weird. Do let me know in the comments. In the meantime I’m going to wrap a union jack around my waist and raise a glass of sherry to the queen, whilst humming rule Britannia. Which, of course, is how I always pass my Friday afternoons. Cheers!

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