“America? Nope, never heard of it.”

Recently, the BBC was out and about, questioning people in London, India, and Singapore:

Screen capture of the BBC web site.
Screen capture of the BBC web site.

A practical point: the BBC’s social media linkage there is useless. I can’t see how to link directly to that update (for your ease in accessing it). The “Share” facility for some dopey reason takes one only to the entire page, thus requiring a reader to scroll down through over two days of other posts to get to it.

In any case, the answers are varied, and in most ways pretty predictable. Some are positive, some negative. All are offered reasonably.

Regardless, I tend to laugh when I see questioning like that. I think media reflexively falls into the trap of assuming because they are interested in probing “something,” that “the person on the street” must be profoundly pondering it, too. For instance, I recall recently reading how, on the U.S. presidential campaign trail in 1940, some reporter was questioning potential voters in some roadside eatery in the Midwest someplace about their opinions on First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Why? Because surely EVERYONE had an opinion about her, pro or con, right?

So the reporter was caught out when some old-timer (who looked like he remembered the Lincoln presidency) replied, “Never heard of her.” The reporter thought the man had to be kidding. The old-timer knew that Franklin Roosevelt was president, but insisted he didn’t know his wife’s name.

Was that actually true? Or was he teasing the reporter?

Similarly, one guy replied to the BBC’s inquiry above by declaring that he didn’t think America was so great. As if anyone couldn’t have seen that answer to that presumptuous question coming from, like, a bazillion miles away? Or perhaps the BBC street reporter was questioning numerous people hoping someone would eventually say exactly that? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Posted by

Author: โ€œConventions: The Garden At Paris,โ€ โ€œPassports,โ€ โ€œFrontiers,โ€ and โ€œDistances.โ€ British Airways frequent flier. Lover of the Catskill Mountains...and the 1700s. New novel of 1797-1805, "Tomorrow The Grace," due out in 2019.