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Distorting the US?

In his lates movie, "Land of Plenty," German director Wim Wenders takes a critical look at the US after the Sept. 11 attacks. DW-WORLD readers shared their views on whether an outsider can accurately protray the country.

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Wenders is a long-time resident of Los Angeles

Wim Wenders has as much business critiquing Americans and American society as I'd have presuming to critique German society and German Kultur. No one who hasn't been raised in any particular country can possibly understand the nuances involved. I am sick and tired of the way outsiders reduce Americans to cartoonish figures simply to validate their pet views. -- Laurie Kunze

I believe outsiders can accurately portray life in the US, but they do have to go in with an open mind. A fixation of life in LA and a hatred for President Bush is not what I would call an open mind. -- Boyd Lawrence, USA

Wenders circle of friends only include like-minded thinkers (liberals). He has probably never has a discussing with Americans about why they love their country. He is probably puzzled why we would fight and die for our country, not like the French who run rather than defend their country. Although Germany also appears not to have the stomach to fight terrorism. I wish he would have gone home to his little apartment, high gas prices, high unemployment and unhappy people. Maybe he should just stick to doing pictures about Germans and leave us poor American alone. -- Marc Johnson Sr., USA

Of course outside film makers can portray life in any free country - I'm not sure what "accurately" means though. What we can say about him is he only "portrays" where he takes no risks for his health, safety or pocketbook. More power to him - it's up to others to decide how "accurate" he is. -- Harriette Rodari, Switzerland

Normally, I do not reply to such leftist-socialist people. However, I wish to state my perspective since I live in part of the USA far away from the leftist-extremism of Hollywood. First, Americans are not fearful. Most are living their lives as before, trusting in our government to tackle the problem of terrorism within the US. Second, most commentaries I have read from people outside the US have a very slanted leftist-socialist tone, a tone which the majority here reject. Third, again most outside commentaries view Christianity in the US as extreme fundamentalist. This is far from the truth. Most believe what is in the Bible is true and generally live their lives based on a belief in Jesus Christ as the Messiah. We are not an agressive people, that is not expansionist, rather the majority is actually isolationist. Many people cannot tell you what is happening in the world, let alone what is happening in other US states. We tend to focus on our lives and those around us. We want to be friendly with everyone, but distrust anyone who wishes us wrong. -- Keith A Peregrine

On the question, can outsiders like Wenders accurately portray life in America, to paraphrase Bill Clinton the answer is, it depends on how you define "accurately." America is such a huge and diverse and often contradictory country that it is actually impossible for anyone, whether US national or foreigner, to provide the one single valid "accurate" picture. Some groups - like the religious right in the US - of course claim to speak for a certain kind of America and would gladly quash all dissenting views and perspectives, which do not fit into their "accurate" description. This is why, as a US national living in Germany, I welcome Wenders' attempt - and that by any foreigner, for that matter - to provide a different perspective. Not because it might give Americans any true answers, but instead because it might help us to ask some truthful questions. -- Douglas Sutton

I certainly have not seen this film. However, the description looks like just another propaganda attack at America. Let's not forget what America stands for. This country was founded upon cultural diversity, and continues to attract more immigrants than the sum of all other countries combined. Do these millions of immigrants not see the paranoid xenophobia that this "artist" is so willing to portray? I have witnessed first hand the homelessness at many of the bahnhofs of Germany's large cities as well. I notice how, after much consternation, Mr. Wenders decided not to leave America. Maybe, just maybe he should tell us why he left Germany in the first place. Perhaps it had something to do with run-away unemployment, taxes, or a welfare state gone overboard. -- C. Kuch, USA







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