How America got so Stupid

1 Aug 202313:57


TLDRThe video script discusses the stereotype of Americans being ignorant about the world, highlighting statistics such as the low passport ownership and lack of exposure to foreign cultures. It delves into historical reasons, including American imperialism and Cold War policies, that contributed to this insularity. However, it also notes a shift towards more global exposure in recent years through social media and diverse content, while pointing out that knowledge levels vary across different demographics within the country.


  • 🌍 The stereotype of Americans being ignorant about the world is somewhat true, as evidenced by their lack of knowledge about other countries and global affairs.
  • 📈 Only 40% of Americans have passports, compared to higher percentages in Canada and the UK, indicating less international travel and exposure.
  • 📺 American media dominance contributes to a lack of exposure to foreign cultures, with American-made films and TV shows dominating the charts and airwaves.
  • 🎬 Hollywood's global influence, especially during the mid-20th century, led to a one-way cultural exchange where American films were widely seen abroad, but foreign films struggled to find American audiences.
  • 🚫 The Hays Code, with its strict regulations on content, limited the diversity of films shown in the US, further isolating Americans from foreign cultures and narratives.
  • 🔒 Cold War era policies and paranoia contributed to a restricted flow of information and media from communist countries into the US.
  • 🌐 The internet has the potential to break down these barriers, but American insularity persists, with a preference for American-made websites and content.
  • 🎵 The American music market has become less insular over time, with a growing presence of international artists in the charts.
  • 🏆 Foreign films and filmmakers are increasingly recognized at the Academy Awards, suggesting a growing appreciation for global cinema in the US.
  • 🤔 Knowledge about the world in America is not evenly distributed and is influenced by factors such as education, income, and political beliefs.
  • 💡 The video suggests that American ignorance is a complex issue, influenced by historical, economic, and cultural factors, rather than a character flaw of the people themselves.

Q & A

  • What is the main reason behind the stereotype that Americans are ignorant about the world?

    -The stereotype arises from the fact that a significant portion of Americans show little interest in other countries or their cultures, as evidenced by low passport ownership and limited exposure to foreign films and global news.

  • How does the American media landscape contribute to this stereotype?

    -The American media is predominantly American-made, with American films and TV shows dominating the charts and airwaves, leading to a lack of exposure to foreign perspectives and stories.

  • What historical factors have played a role in creating an insular American culture?

    -Historical factors include American imperialism, Cold War paranoia, and moral puritanism, which have all contributed to a focus on American culture and interests at the expense of global engagement.

  • How has the American film industry influenced the global perception of American culture?

    -Hollywood's ability to produce grand, colorful films has captured the global imagination, leading to a widespread influence of American culture around the world, but also contributing to a one-way cultural exchange.

  • What was the impact of the Hays Code on the diversity of films shown in the USA?

    -The Hays Code, with its strict regulations, prevented more artistically liberal European films from being shown in American cinemas, and those that were shown were often edited to remove content that didn't align with American values.

  • How has the American music market changed over the years in terms of international influence?

    -While in 2000, 92% of the music in the USA top 50 was American, today it's more like 60%, with artists from various countries making a more significant impact on the charts.

  • What recent changes have led to a potential increase in American exposure to global content?

    -The rise of social media platforms like TikTok, which have an element of randomness in their content curation, has increased the chance of Americans being exposed to international videos and perspectives.

  • How does political affiliation in America correlate with knowledge about the world?

    -According to a 2022 survey, committed Democrats and committed Republicans scored higher in knowledge about the world compared to swing voters, indicating that strong political convictions may be associated with greater global awareness.

  • What is the significance of the increase in foreign films nominated at the Academy Awards?

    -The increase signifies a growing recognition and appreciation for international cinema within the American film industry, moving away from an American-only awards show to a more global one.

  • How does the script suggest that American ignorance about the world is not entirely their fault?

    -The script suggests that a combination of geography, historical events like the Cold War, and economic factors have created an environment that inadvertently led to a lack of global awareness among many Americans.

  • What example from the script illustrates the paradox of America as both an expansive empire and an informational prison?

    -The paradox is illustrated by the fact that while America has a significant global cultural influence, particularly through media, it also has a relatively insular domestic media landscape that limits exposure to foreign perspectives.



🌍 American Ignorance and Global Awareness

This paragraph discusses the stereotype of Americans being ignorant about the world. It highlights statistics such as the low percentage of Americans with passports and their lack of interest in foreign cultures, as evidenced by the dominance of American movies and celebrities in their society. The paragraph also touches on historical aspects, like the post-WWII era when the US consumed a large portion of global newspapers, and the influence of American media on other nations. It contrasts the openness allowed within the US with the restrictions imposed on incoming foreign content, contributing to a limited exposure to global perspectives.


📰 The Spread and Control of American Media

The second paragraph delves into the global spread of American media and its impact on other countries. It describes how Hollywood's dominance in film and the Americanization of foreign cinemas led to a one-way cultural exchange. The paragraph also discusses the barriers to foreign content entering the US, such as strict regulations during the Cold War and the Hays Code, which controlled the content of American films. It highlights the limited representation of non-American cultures in American media and the challenges faced by foreign artists in entering the US, reflecting a broader pattern of cultural insularity.


🌐 Changing Tides in American Cultural Consumption

This paragraph explores the gradual changes in American cultural consumption and awareness. It notes the increasing presence of non-American music and films in the US charts and awards, indicating a more diverse cultural influence. The paragraph also discusses the role of social media in exposing Americans to global content, challenging the insular nature of American culture. It addresses the distribution of knowledge about the world across different demographics within the US, suggesting that while many Americans may be ignorant, it is not a uniform trait and is influenced by various factors such as political views and education levels.



💡Dislike Ratio

The term 'dislike ratio' refers to the proportion of negative feedback or dislikes compared to the total number of views or engagements on a video or post. In the context of the video, the creator is expressing surprise at the differing reactions to their content about the Soviet Union and the United States, highlighting the concept of a dislike ratio to show how audience reactions can vary dramatically based on the subject matter.


A stereotype is a widely held but oversimplified and often inaccurate image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. In the video, the creator discusses the stereotype of Americans being ignorant about the wider world, which is a generalization that not all Americans fit, but is used to illustrate a broader point about cultural awareness and international knowledge.

💡Passport Ownership

Passport ownership refers to the percentage of a country's population that possesses a valid passport. In the video, it is mentioned as a metric to compare the international travel tendencies of Americans with those of Canadians and Brits, suggesting that a lower passport ownership rate among Americans might contribute to their perceived lack of knowledge about the world.

💡Cultural Imperialism

Cultural imperialism is the spread and dominance of one country's culture over another, often resulting in the loss or dilution of the latter's cultural identity. In the video, the concept is discussed in relation to American media and culture's global influence, suggesting that the pervasiveness of American culture around the world may contribute to a lack of exposure to other cultures for Americans.

💡Global Affairs

Global affairs refer to matters of international concern that affect the lives of people worldwide. In the context of the video, it is suggested that Americans, on average, show less interest in global affairs compared to citizens of other developed nations, which is seen as a contributing factor to their perceived ignorance about the world.

💡American Exceptionalism

American exceptionalism is the idea that the United States is unique or superior to other nations due to its history, culture, and political institutions. In the video, this concept is implied in the discussion about why Americans might not feel the need to travel or learn about other cultures, given that America is seen as having everything one could want geographically within its borders.

💡Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is the right to express one's opinions without fear of government censorship or retaliation. It is a core value in the United States and is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In the video, the concept is discussed in the historical context of the United Nations and the American delegation's push for a global free market of ideas, highlighting the importance of this value to the U.S. and its influence on international relations.

💡Cold War

The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, from the end of World War II until the early 1990s. It was characterized by political, economic, and military rivalry, but did not escalate into full-scale war. In the video, the Cold War is discussed in relation to American media consumption and the regulation of information flow, illustrating how it influenced cultural exchange and perception.

💡Hays Code

The Hays Code was a set of moral guidelines that were applied to most U.S. motion pictures released by major studios from 1934 to 1968. It aimed to regulate the content of films to ensure they adhered to certain moral standards, which often led to the censorship of various themes and the promotion of a specific moral vision. In the video, the Hays Code is mentioned as an example of how strict regulations in the film industry could limit the portrayal of diverse cultural perspectives and narratives.

💡Media Concentration

Media concentration refers to the ownership and control of media outlets by a small number of corporations or individuals, which can lead to a lack of diversity in content and perspectives. In the video, the concept is discussed in relation to the dominance of American media companies and their impact on the cultural consumption and worldview of Americans.

💡Cultural Exchange

Cultural exchange is the process of sharing ideas, values, and practices between different cultures. It fosters mutual understanding and can lead to cultural enrichment. In the video, the creator discusses the limited cultural exchange in the U.S., where American culture is widely disseminated globally, but there is less exposure to foreign cultures within the U.S., leading to a one-sided cultural flow.

💡Informational Prison

An 'informational prison' is a metaphorical term used to describe a situation where individuals or a society have limited access to diverse sources of information and perspectives, often due to external restrictions or self-imposed isolation. In the video, this concept is used to describe the paradoxical situation of the United States being a global cultural influencer while having a population that is relatively uninformed about the wider world.


The contrast in reactions to videos praising the Soviet Union and the United States reflects a tendency to seek information that confirms pre-existing beliefs.

The stereotype of Americans being ignorant about the world is largely true, as evidenced by the lack of knowledge about basic geographical facts.

The percentage of Americans with passports is significantly lower than that of Canadians and Brits, indicating a lower inclination to travel internationally.

The increase in Americans with passports since 1994 was due to the requirement for travel to Canada and Mexico, not an increase in global travel.

Americans' lack of interest in foreign cultures is shown by the dominance of American movies in the highest-grossing list in the USA.

The under-informed state of Americans about global affairs like the Kyoto Protocol and knowledge about international figures is compared to other developed nations.

The ease with which Americans name celebrities versus their difficulty in naming basic geographical entities points to a cultural focus on entertainment.

The pervasiveness of American culture globally, such as the near-ubiquitous presence of Coca Cola, is highlighted by the few exceptions where it's not sold.

Historical context is provided, showing that post-WWII America was more well-read, consuming a majority of the world's newspapers.

The United States' push for a global free market of ideas during the formation of the United Nations is contrasted with its control over information flow.

The influence of American media on developing nations and the reluctance to redistribute media-creating capacity is discussed.

The impact of the Hays Code on the content and expression in American films is detailed, explaining the restrictions on various themes and imagery.

The insularity of American culture is shown through the limited representation of foreign cultures in American media, often through an American lens.

Despite the global access provided by the internet, Americans still predominantly engage with American-made websites and content.

The changes in the American music market, showing a decrease in American music dominance and an increase in international artists, is noted.

The correlation between knowledge of the world and political views in America, with committed Democrats and Republicans scoring higher in a 2022 survey.

The conclusion that American ignorance is not evenly distributed and is influenced by a mix of historical, political, and economic factors.

The paradox of America as both an expansive empire and an informational prison is highlighted, suggesting a complex relationship with global knowledge.



You wanna know how I got this dislike ratio?


I make a video praising the Soviet Union and nobody bats an eye...I make a video praising


the United States and everybody loses their minds!


OK fine, I hear you, you only want to hear things that confirm what you already believe.


I get it.


Let’s talk about why Americans are stupid.


There’s a famous episode of the Jimberly Kimblerly Live where clueless residents of


Los Angeles fail to name a single country.


Is this South Africa?


-We have the country of Asia Greenland or Iceland or something.


Although these are no-doubt cherry-picked and I’m sure if you stood in a big city


all day and shoved a camera in peoples’ faces and asked them questions, you’d be


able to find three minutes’ worth of people who couldn’t answer on the spot.


Miss, for a dollar, name a woman.


-Name a woman?


Yeah -uhhhh….


But the stereotype that Americans are ignorant about the wider world is largely true.


These people can’t name a country because they don’t care about other countries.


40% of Americans have a passport, compared to 66% of Canadians and 76% of Brits.


In 1994 it was only 10% of Americans.


But that doesn’t mean Americans have gotten more globe-trotting since then, it was because


after an above-average episode of The News, it became mandatory to need a passport when


entering Canada and Mexico.


So it’s fair to say a very small percent of Americans will be leaving this corner of


the world.


As I said in a previous video – America has all you’d ever want geographically within


her borders.


Why go anywhere else?


The foreign cultures, maybe?


Americans don’t care about that either.


On the list of highest-grossing movies in the USA, you have to go all the way to 520th


place to get a movie that isn’t American.


It’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, by the way.


Couldn’t even beat The Nutty Professor, someone please check up on Ang Lee.


Neither do global affairs hold an average American’s interest.


When asked about the Kyoto climate accords, who the Taliban are, or who Nicolas Sarkozy


is, Americans are woefully under-informed compared to other developed nations.


In 2009, only half knew that last year’s Olympics were held in Beijing.


Oh but of course, when asked to name American celebrities, they had no trouble at all.


At the same time, we non-Americans are flooded with American culture.


Some British people know more about American politics and history than their own.


France had to pass laws banning radio stations from playing too much American music.


There are only two countries where Coca Cola is not sold.


Wait scratch that, this journalist from Finland bought at coke at a water park in Pyongyang


in 2017.


And what’s this hiding in the background of somebody’s holiday snaps at the Hotel


National de Cuba?


Look, you know something’s up when remote tribesmen in the Amazon rainforest who don’t


even have electricity know who Michael Jackson is.


Americans used to be quite well-read.


After the Second World War, Americans consumed 63% of all the newspapers in the world, and


they used this to their advantage.


In 1948 the newly formed The United Nations created a list of human rights that all countries


should strive to uphold.


One area that Americans were particularly interested in was this one, article 19.


“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression… and receive and impart information


and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.


What the USA wanted was a completely level playing field.


Anyone can buy any media from any other country.


A global free market of ideas, released from the shackles of censorship.


For if everyone can gain access to the truth, we cannot be marched into the same kind of


ignorance and intolerance that characterised the Axis nations of war.


This is admirable; freedom of speech is a core value of the United States and many other


Allied nations.


But some delegates, like those from India, questioned the US’ motives; if you believe


in an equal access to information and culture, shouldn’t you redistribute some of your


media-creating capacity to developing nations like ours, so that we all have an equal opportunity


to tell the world our stories?


The Americans would not budge.


Of course, they knew that deep down that India was right.


The American delegation to the convention was highly populated by journalists and media




They knew that if countries couldn’t afford their own news, they would be increasingly


reliant on buying news from American wire companies like the Associated Press.


Which was good for both the media companies’ profits, but also the US State Department,


who would no doubt have been licking their lips at the prospect of a billion people all


reading news with a specific American spin on it.


In 1944, The Associated Press sold news to 38 countries.


Within eight years that had doubled to 70 countries.


In the 1950s, around half of films shown in European and Asian cinemas were American,


and two thirds in Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina.


Which makes sense – Americans made grand, technicolour films brimming with Hollywood


sparkle because they could afford to.


Whereas war-torn Europe, impoverished Mexico, and nuclear obliterated Japan were stuck making


small-scale comedies to keep up morale.


One of the most popular French movies in 40s France was 1949’s The Big Day, a mostly


plotless movie where a whimsical French postman gets up to whacky mischief in a quaint village.


There just wasn’t the money or resources for anything else.


Hollywood captured the European public’s imagination, and they wanted more.


But why was it only a one-way street?


Because while you can do or say whatever you want within the United States, the constitution


also says that the American government can regulate what goes in and out.


During the Cold War, anything that might be considered “communist propaganda” could


be seized by the Post Office and never delivered.


Books or even souvenirs from communist countries, for instance.


Pamphlets criticising US foreign policy.


Immigration reached a low point in the early 70s with only 4.7% of Americans being foreign


born, limiting Americans’ interaction with different cultures.


Obviously it wasn’t totally like North Korea, plenty of foreign movies and music were allowed


into the US.


But the media that caught on was either already Americanised, or so plastically exotic that


it doesn’t really say anything about the culture where it is from.


The Beatles were British, yes, but they got their start covering American rock-and-roll




When John Lennon stepped out of line, the American government made sure that he knew




Movies imported from Japan were mostly samurai flicks, with very few movies set in the modern




The film Ikiru is widely considered the best Japanese film ever made if you ignore people


who have never felt the touch of a woman.


But this existential drama about a depressed lonely man was only given a limited release


in California, and the poster was edited to feature a stripper who is only in the movie


for like a minute.


The narrow stream of European movies that made it into the USA came in the form of the


French New Wave cinema, movies that were stylistically inspired by American films, but also so stuffy


that few audiences would ever want to watch them anyway.


This was further stifled by the Hays Code, a set of extremely strict regulations that


were in place from 1934 to 1968.


If you’ve ever wondered why old black-and-white films seem so dry, it’s because of these




Some things that were completely banned from ever being shown in any film included:


Bad guys winning.


All movies must end with the police outwitting the evil criminals, or the criminals causing


their own demise.


Any nudity.


Even the silhouette of a booba is an instant ban.


Blood or dead bodies.


When people get shot in old films they usually just clutch the wound, but no actual blood


is seen.


Pointing a gun at somebody in the same frame.


This is why guns are always held at waist-height.


Kissing for longer than 3 seconds.


Interracial couples.


White people as slaves Criticism of religion, or of any other country.


Naturally, this prevented the more artistically liberal European films from being shown in


American cinemas, and when they did get a U.S. release, they were usually edited to


remove the violence in movies and sex on TV to comply with good old fashioned values.


At least until the rules were abolished in 1968 and replaced by the age rating system


we have today.


Even as the Cold War ended and the internet gave Americans unparalleled access to the


rest of the world and all of human knowledge, they still prefer to hang out on a handful


of American-made websites dominated by Americans.


The insular culture of 20th century America has carried over to the 21st.


Tightened border security after Septiembre Undécimo means foreign musicians can have


a hard time getting visas.


In 2002 the touring visa of a German orchestra was cancelled after it was discovered the


cellist had a criminal record for shoplifting a pair of tweezers in 1991.


When they tried again for a visa in 2004, the cellist had to undergo an hours-long interview


with Homeland Security and had to physically pick up his visa from the US embassy.


Global cultures might be more present in American media, but they’re always through the lens


of American characters.


Such as The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise, where he plays a white guy in 1870s Japan.


Seven years in Tibet, another American in China.


Indiana Jones – American in Egypt.


The Bourne Identity, American in France.


Inglourious Basterds, Americans in German-occupied France.


And for the ladies in the audience – Mamma Mia.


For a movie set on a Greek Island, there’s not a single Greek person in that entire movie!


Is there any hope for America, or are they destined to be stinky dumb rednecks forever?




In 2000, 92% of the music in the USA top 50 was American – making it the second-most


insulated music market in the world after Pakistan.


But today it’s more like 60%, with Brits, Canadians, Latin Americans and Africans making


themselves more seen in the charts.


Each year there are more foreign films nominated at the Academy Awards than ever before.


What used to be an American-only pay-to-win awards show is now an international pay-to-win


awards show.


As social media platforms have an element of randomness in what they show to users,


there is a higher chance of Americans being shown videos from other countries, forcing


them to take note.


It seems the revolution will be TikTok’d.


I’ve been giving the impression throughout this video that it’s all or most Americans


who are terminally undereducated, but American ignorance isn’t as evenly distributed as


you’d think.


That study I mentioned earlier?


When adjusting for English proficiency, income, and education levels, Americans are really


no different to their European counterparts, and in some cases marginally smarter.


Knowledge about the wider world even correlates to political views, and not in the way you’d




A 2022 survey asked Americans 12 questions about the world, such as who is the British


prime minister, what does the Indian flag look like, and what this symbol represents.


The people who answered the most questions correctly were...committed Democrats and committed




Swing voters, those enlightened centrist chads, were the stupidest.


Only 40% of moderate Republicans could name the US Secretary of State, compared to 60%


of convicted Republicans.


Only half of moderate Democrats knew that the USMCA trade agreement replaced NAFTA,


compared to 66% of people who are strongly pro-Democrats.


Also I just thought it was funny that the more an American knows about the European


Union the more favourable view they have of it.


So are Americans ignorant?


Many of them are, but it isn’t their fault.


It’s a mix of geography, American imperialism, Cold War paranoia, moral puritanism, and economic


factors that create a paradoxical nation that is both the most expansive empire, but also


an informational prison of their own making.


God bless, you stupid bastards.

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Related Tags
Cultural ImpactAmerican IgnoranceGlobal AwarenessMedia InfluenceHistorical PerspectiveCold War PoliticsCensorship EffectsInternational RelationsCultural ExchangeEducational Disparity