THINGS THAT SET APART ITALIAN & AMERICANS
In some previous posts, I sometimes hinted at some differences in lifestyle and customs between Italians and Americans. I realize that the term “Americans” is too general since the U.S. are made up of many countries where lifestyle and culture can be different from each other. Even if I was living in an American state, I could not generalize and assume that what happens in my state is true for others as well. Therefore, what I come to say, maybe only applies to some Americans, but as you know, in these cases it’s the “hearsay” that counts, as happening for some clichés.
1 – The TV is one of the things that sets Italians and Americans.
For us Italians, television is one of the leading media and entertainment, and in every home there even is more than one television set. Yet, if you ask to Italian people if they watch TV, most of them will respond with a grimace, meaning, yes, but without commitment. As if watching TV is something to be ashamed of or showing laziness and waste of time. “Yes, while having dinner I just followed a little bit of that show and then a little bit of that other one….”
Anecdotally, Americans like to watch TV and talk about programs each other, while following “American Idol,” for example, does not mean being a nerd.
An Italian man at best can discuss a football game or about a political show.
Overall, for most Italians, laziness and “doing nothing” is almost something to be ashamed, and so to keep hidden. An Italian man hardly admits that has spent a whole weekend in slippers, between sofa and TV. In the eyes of the people, this would make him a debauched, a man with no interests or a bad father even.
As a cultural model or stereotype, ‘home’ and ‘home environment’ belong to the woman. The weekend is one of those times when a man, to the father of a family, shall be granted to stay a little more at home. It is allowed to lounge and dawdle. If man or husband would be too long sitting idly at home, he will become a burden for woman or wife. A marriage with a man who stays all daytime at home will not last long! Even in retirement, a man can annoy his housewife, at least during cleaning when he must buzz off.
2 – It is said that American men do not ever greet by a kiss, while a hug is socially accepted between men. We Italians, on the contrary, often greet with hug and kisses on both the cheeks, even if there is no family relationship or close friendship. This perhaps shows the way as we are more ‘warm’ and friendly, even if we are not gay men.
3 – Another difference relates to crime and in particular those guys that you Americans call “rednecks“, “white men“, “rube” or “local yokel” who have no a precise counterpart in Italy. Still for hearsay, they are people who can behave badly in public and walk around armed. By the way, in Italy it is forbidden the possession of any firearm and it takes a “justified” reason to be allowed to buy and carry one (license to carry firearms). There, everyone seems to possess and carry a gun and any offender is trigger-happy. Then, with regard to the killings, where anyone can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, it seems that in America these episodes happen more frequently. In Italy, instead, are far more cases of theft, especially burglary and car theft. Here, especially in big cities, every store or apartment is equipped with heavy metal shutters, security doors and electronic locks. While crooks and drug-addicted people can rob or pickpocket.
Next time I’ll talk about other differences.