Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Attitude Buenos Aires

Not honking your horn is listening to one another,
attitude Buenos Aires / Telerman administration

There's an odd profusion of propaganda campaigns here that feels a little old-fashioned (aren't direct appeals a little passé?) but at the same time can be quite slick.

The posters are all over town. The TV spots are common, too. That's been the case for as long as I've been here. But with city elections right around the corner, the propaganda machine is really in high gear -- no sense in the incumbent spending campaign money on reelection ads when he can spend public money reminding people how great he is.

The complete assortment of TV spots is here. Among the coolest ones are those done with animation, such as "New Trees" and "Public Areas".

Then there are the poster campaigns, some of which overlap with the TV spots and some of which don't. You've got your flu vaccine, you've got your expanded hours in public hospitals (shame on you for seeing that as a cynical political ploy), you've got your dengue fever prevention, and of course, national tango day.

As for whether these things have any effect, I don't know. Even before the campaigns, I wasn't smoking, throwing trash on the street or running people over.

I'm the kind of immigrant countries would fight over.


Anonymous said...

I noticed you have recently started calling yourself a USian. Please explain your choice and why some people don't like Americans calling themselves American.
Thanking you in advance,

Dan said...

There are a few different ways to approach this question, but the most basic thing to know is that it's a little "ugly American" for a United States citizen to refer to himself as americano in Spanish. Because it's likely to spark the rejoinder: "We're all americanos," since we all inhabit the Americas.

People from the United States don't exactly have an image abroad of being particularly knowledgeable of other countries, or even particularly aware of them. And they aren't inclined to see anyone else in North, South or Central America as "Americans." That said, while you can go back and forth about referring to oneself as americano in Spanish, I don't actually see anything wrong with referring to oneself as "American" in English.

My use of the term "USian" stems from a confluence of various things:

1. My belief that it's very important for expats to have bizarre affectations and annoying verbal tics, ¿no?

2. Hilarity.

3. The term that I would use to describe myself in Spanish (well, one of them anyway) is "estadounidense," which is United Statesian. Or USian.

4. A tacit acknowledgment that I am aware that many people in my situation would call themselves American in English and Spanish and that I am above them.

5. Too much time spent on the Internet, where this term is often tossed around, sometimes pejoratively, sometimes not.

Does this answer the question halfway satisfactorily? I hope so because that's all the blogging time I have for today!

Matt said...

One of the things i miss about living in argentina is the ridiculous lengths the politicians go to try and make the public forget that they're a bunch of low-down, dirty, rotten, lying thieves (the policitians that is, not the public- although some expats might argue that point). The poster campaigns and tv ads are always pretty cool, the 'actitud buenos aires' was a master-stroke by the mayor when it started a while back.

Despite having some of the worst politicians on earth, argentines are far more politically aware than most other countries. Most people would have given up by now. I guess the advertising does have an effect after all. And the legal obligation to vote. Possibly.

By the way, i'm not sure if your expat blog is the world's first but i'm pretty damn sure you're the only expat blogging from argentina.

Dan said...

I'll address your last point because I believe it is the most important. There are NO other expats blogging from Argentina.

If anyone reading this has ever thought about searching for other blogs written by expats in Argentina, don't even bother. Because there aren't any others out there.

None in Chile either.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your excellent and funny reponse. Now, first of all, do people really say "estadounidense"? And do people really use "americanos" to describe people from the Americas? I mean, how would that come up, exactly? It's hard to imagine a need to describe all the people from two continents in a collective phrase. How often is "Eurasian" used to describe people? I should also note that the 500th annversary of the naming of America just passed, so this conversation is very appropos, if I may use a French term on this blog.
--Matt Nickerson

Dan said...

Wow! You are really determined to wring every last pedantic detail out of me aren't you?

Of course, I am happy to oblige.

Would anybody use the term "estadounidense"? No, probably not in speech. You'd be more likely to see it written down in paperwork.

Probably the most common term used here to describe people from the United States is "yanqui." I don't know if the word itself is pejorative or if it's just used so frequently in pejorative contexts that it's a bit tainted. In any case, a couple weeks ago I actually had someone say it in front of me and stop herself mid-word. It was pretty funny. I had to tell her it was OK.

There's also "norteamericano," which I would probably use before "estadounidense" or "yanqui" to describe myself.

Returning to the original point, I should note that some people here might choose to call me an "americano." If someone else wants to say it, fine. But I'm not going to be the one who goes around calling myself that because I'll eventually get grief for it.

Finally, regarding whether "americano" is used to refer to people of the Americas: It's true,
it wouldn't come up all that much.

However, I just did subtitles for a documentary on Romanticism and Realism in Latin American literature. They referred to the influence of Europe on "America," even though they were clearly referring only to Latin America in this case. They also referred to "American" writers to differentiate them from European writers, but they really only meant Latin American.

I'm not sure where that fits in. I think it's acceptable because they were using it to distinguish the people from Europeans, rather than other residents of the Americas.

All of this academic, though. Nine times out of 10 the question people ask is not "What is your nationality?" but rather, "So, where are you from?"

Or if they're addressing me: "Why do you talk like that?"

Anonymous said...

Well, Yankee is our own term so I would take pride in it. It was a Dutch word used by colonists in N.Y. to refer to English settlers in yes, your native state of Connecticut.

In fact, maybe so many Argentines have called you Yankee because they sensed the reserved, frugal New England quality of your character.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Peron's Court can be the title of the book when you stick all the blog postings together and cash in.
-- Matt Nickerson