Pop Programs Seen Giving Teens Bad View of U.S

Article excerpt

Byline: Zachary A. Goldfarb, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

American pop culture has prompted teenagers in countries with close ties to the United States, as well as countries lacking close ties, to view Americans negatively, says a book to be published in October.

The book - "Learning to Hate Americans: How the U.S. Media Shape Negative Opinions Among Teen-Agers in Twelve Countries" - contends that though teenagers embrace American movies, TV and music, they believe that the violence, crime and sex portrayed in pop culture accurately depict ordinary life in the United States.

"These kids love our popular culture," said Boston University communications professor Marvin L. DeFleur, who wrote the book with his wife, Margaret, a communications associate professor at the school, based on a study they did last year.

"Using the lessons of the media product, they learn to hate Americans because they seem like despicable people," he said.

The State Department consulted a preliminary version of Mr. DeFleur's book this year while studying why negative views of the United States have emerged in recent years, possibly contributing to terrorism.

Ted Baehr, who studies family values and popular culture, said the work of Mr. and Mrs. DeFleur shows how bad impressions created by pop entertainment in the United States are spilling over into other countries and having international ramifications.

"It's really about how we want the world to see us," he said.

To do the initial study, surveys in native languages were submitted to about 1,200 middle and high school students in 12 countries: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, South Korea, Mexico, China, Spain, Taiwan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Nigeria, Italy and Argentina.

Mr. and Mrs. DeFleur found that teenagers in two Muslim countries, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, held the most negative views. …