Why Americans Dislike Foreign-Language Movies!
Most Americans are open to learning about another culture. They are interested in educating themselves about people from different lands mainly through their food, language or traditions. However, some people "draw the line" when it comes to the subject of foreign films. Many Americans believe that their country has the best films while foreign countries believe that their films are the best.
Although there is no right or wrong answer to the question of which country has the best films, here are a list of reasons why most Americans dislike foreign-language movies.
A Foreign Film is A Different Experience
Western nations like the U.S. speak English but foreign language films are in a dialect that most Americans don't know about and that makes it a different experience on its own. Most people who are learning a specific foreign language use foreign films to learn more about that particular language. For the ones who are not watching a film for the sake of learning, trying to understand a foreign film may become daunting and something that is unfamiliar due to the language and cultural barrier. Having subtitles does help somewhat in the matter but the familiarity is lost in most cases for most American viewers.
Foreign films have found a niche in America but a small one at that. Unfortunately, those films are usually regulated to film festivals or special movie houses. Most foreign films tend to struggle selling tickets in the U.S., according to the L.A. Times (December 11, 2011). In each of the past 4 years, the top 5 foreign films have only grossed an average of $40M while American films abroad earn billions.
For the group of Americans who watch foreign films, they are only a select few willing to understand the differences and experiences of another culture that is unlike their own.
Reading Subtitles is a Chore
The common complaints why Americans don't like subtitled films are (opinions from movie forums and Yahoo Answers):
- Too much effort in reading and watching the film
- Subtitles move too fast on the screen
- Subtitles are not an accurate depiction of what's happening in the story
- Reading prevents from seeing the action in the middle of the screen
Overall, going through subtitles proved too much of a chore for most folks who just wanted to sit back and be entertained.
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English-dubbed Foreign Films Are Weird!
Americans who watch foreign films that are dubbed in English admitted that it is a weird experience. If a Chinese actor in a foreign language film is dubbed in English, the experience becomes strange, especially when the actor's mouth is moving and the dub doesn't match what he is saying.
The same can be said for American films being dubbed into another dialect. Many foreign audiences find the practice strange as well.
So why can't English films make a movie in Spanish or Mandarin or Hindi or Korean? The practice would be too expensive and would involve making another film in the process, complete with the actors speaking in another language. Unfortunately, it is not an easy process like an American band singing in Spanish or Mandarin or vice versa.
Even with the advent of new technology, dubbing is still the cheaper route.
Americans Believe U.S. Films are the Best!
Most Americans are loyal to their own films and they believe their films are the best when compared to the rest of the world! Foreigners also feel the same way about their films.
Yes, there may be some truth to U.S. films being the best when comparing special effects and massive film budgets, but NOT in the realm of storytelling which puts all films on a "level playing field."
Americans are comfortable with their own films because they are familiar with it. Understandable. Same thing can be said with foreign countries who are more comfortable with their own product than something from another country.
Sure, American films are the best when it comes to marketing their films around the world. That's why most Americans aren't surprised when people overseas learn about America through their films. Believe it or not, American films are part of the nation's foreign policy!
U.S. film are so popular that it's not a surprise that a Chinese person knows about Cary Grant or John Wayne; or a person in Africa knows about Al Pacino or Angelina Jolie; or a French teen knows about Kristen Stewart or Jennifer Lawrence.
If you ask most Americans to identify Chow Yun Fat or Mini Anden or Gong Li or Robin Padilla or Konstantin Khabensky or Kais Nashef or Donnie Yen or Toshiro Mifune or Aamir Khan, who are popular figures in their own countries and international cinema, they would have no clue.
Movies are America's most famous export around the world and most U.S. residents feel comfortable with their own films being their main source of entertainment!
To Each Their Own!
There is no reason to bash Americans for not liking Foreign Films. Same thing can be said for Foreigners not liking American films. To each their own!
There is a large segment of American movie-lovers who adore Foreign-language films. Millions of immigrants who came to America still enjoy films in their own native tongue. There are movie houses devoted to playing certain films for the different ethnic groups in the neighborhood. There are international film festivals in U.S. cities that are held annually for many groups such as Italians, Hispanic, Indians, Jewish, Chinese, Filipinos, Russians, Nordic, French, and many others.
Besides, just because an American doesn't like films from a certain foreign country doesn't mean that they don't like their people, food, traditions, and language.
To each their own, everyone has different likes and dislikes.