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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Amanda Knox was innocent of the grisly murder for which she did time in an Italian jail. There was no DNA link suggesting that the student from Seattle had slit the throat of her English roommate. Other evidence at the crime scene had been contaminated.

Yet to the angry locals, it mattered not whether Knox had just been convicted or vindicated, both of which happened. They stood outside the Perugia courthouse yelling “shame” and “murderer” every time a dark van rushed Knox away. They clearly hated her guts.

A new Netflix documentary on this 9-year-old case, “Amanda Knox,” shows why. It deftly balances the miscarriage of justice with the American’s in-your-face contempt for Italian sensibilities.

Knox comes off as a type, the American who seems to regard other countries as amusement parks for their adventures. She’s not the only example here but certainly the most bizarre one.

From the moment British student Meredith Kercher’s brutalized body is found, Knox seems to take little interest in or even notice of the tragedy. It’s an inconvenience to her fun agenda.

We see the Italian police carrying the body bag out of the house. News cameras start flashing, and an official shouts to the media: “As a courtesy, please stop! Have some dignity!”

Then we see a blank-faced Knox standing nearby, smooching ostentatiously with her boyfriend.

At the police station, Knox throws the F-word around at authorities. In an exhibitionist display, she does cartwheels and stretching.

Italians thought she was crazy, evil or both. Crashing insensitivity is somewhat foreign to them.

“In Seattle, I was cute,” Knox tells the filmmakers. “In Italy, I was the beautiful blond American girl.” Italians, it turned out, were not quite so awed as she thought.

During the recent Rio Olympics, Americans swelled with pride at the performance of their athletes. But then a handful of their champion swimmers deflated the good feeling with their disgraceful behavior in the host country.

The details: Ryan Lochte had drunkenly vandalized a gas station bathroom as he and friends were returning from a party. They could have just apologized, having already paid to fix the damage, but no. Lochte and his three teammates cooked up phony stories about being held up at gunpoint. Lochte said the robbers wore police badges.

To beat the rap on their own minor criminality, the Americans were willing to exploit Brazil’s painful reputation for violent crime. Brazilians were enraged.

The last example involves no crime, just an obnoxious presumption of American superiority. Jonathon Dunne, a Coloradan, has been badgering London subway riders to talk to one another. Chatting up strangers is not the local custom in the Underground. Londoners generally regard their time in the Tube as “sacred space,” a British etiquette expert explained to media.

Nonetheless, Dunne stands outside subway stations handing out badges with the words “Tube chat?” Far worse, he’s at Covent Garden with a bullhorn barking, “It is time to make London the friendliest city in the world.”

Dunne acknowledges that many of the people he confronts with his pushy camaraderie are not amused. But, he told The Wall Street Journal, “I’m expecting to change the culture of London.”

Those are high expectations for … exactly who is this guy? What would happen if a foreigner stood in Dunne’s hometown of Durango and harangued passers-by not to talk so loudly? I’d hate to think.

What’s going on here? Rampant narcissism? Immaturity? Arrogance? There may be some or all of that. Let’s just say it’s doubtful that these individuals would have tried the same stunts back home in America. And if that’s the case, their behavior is not naive innocence but plain ugly.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

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11 responses to “How Amanda Knox Embodies The ‘American Brat Abroad’ Attitude”

  1. Portia McGonagal says:

    One of the best experiences of my life was a semester (plus a few mos) abroad BUT, the reason I enjoyed it so much was because I immersed myself in the culture and stopped being an American for the time I was there.

    Too many of my cohort behaved like the spoiled, entitled brats they were, especially those from some of the more elite schools. They made no attempt to learn the language or try the food which to me were intrinsic to learning the culture. Consequently they were treated like American tourists (which they resented) and couldn’t understand why those of us who made a lot of friends and enjoyed our stay with our host families were having such a great time.

    Students should be the least of the “ugly American” tourist stereotype but that’s sometimes not the case.

  2. fortunev says:

    I saw a few of that type when I served in The Peace Corps, 2009 – 2011. Needless to say, they learned nothing in their two years of ostensible service.

  3. Thor Klamet says:

    All a typical American has to do is say he or she is Canadian and the resentment goes away. It doesn’t matter how he or she acts; that’s a myth.

    Knox acted like everyone else, freaked out. There was no cartwheel in the tiny police station rooms. The kisses were quick pecks after standing outside terrified for two hours.

    Everyone is unusual, idiosyncratic. If you are sterile and practiced and filled with fear every waking moment, you can hide your idiosyncracies and blend in. Good for you.

    If you want to know about the Knox case, about a modern day Emperor’s New Clothes, about a Monty Python skit brought to life by the Perugia police in 2007, read “They Didn’t Even Bother to Frame Her” on hardthinking.

    There, you will find the prosecution’s own words, their wild, overt, mind-blowing illogic and the Italian jurists and scientists who finally stepped in and laid it bare. It’s an insane story and has everything to do with a young woman who died because police gave a get-out-of-jail-free card to a mentally ill burglar and nothing whatsoever to do with a young woman’s behavior.

  4. Amelia1981Jones says:

    I don’t think it’s that simple. Raffaele Sollecito was Italian and he also spent four years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. He was a fellow Italian. If it had all been about Amanda being American, then they’d have let Raffaele go, wouldn’t they? Also, as someone who is half British and half Italian, I can tell you that the Brits behave far worse than any American when it comes to football, and lots of other situations. There are loads of badly behaved, “ugly” English people. They’re not all reserved and well mannered. These are all stereo-types, after all. Some of the loveliest people I’ve encountered in my travels have been polite, well-bred Americans. Anyway, I hope you’re wrong. I would hate to think that poor Amanda went through all of this simply because of her nationality!

  5. VoiceofEurope says:

    I think Amanda Knox “embodies” nothing.
    Behavior refers always to a single person, to an individual.
    Therefore we have to ask people who have observed her.
    What’s their opinion ?
    Amanda Knox was generally rated as poor. That’s fact.

  6. yenic says:

    Amanda did everything possible to make herself look guilty.
    Two things that aren’t clear:
    1) was she or was she not at the house of the murder that night? Her presence there convinces me with everything else that she was involved.
    2) if there were more involved, why didn’t Rudy cut a deal by selling out Amanda and the Italian kid’s involvement? I see no reason why he wouldn’t have done this, unless Amanda was innocent.

  7. J D says:

    Amanda Knox the example of a stoned and stupid whore. Who the hell reads Harry Potter while having sex.

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