RVOD080 What It Means to Be an American, Part 2

(1952, Educational/Short, color)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

The rest of the world eats dirt.

Rating: ***1/2

In a Nutshell:

It means, um... What was the question?


Being an American means that factories like this can argue with, um, tables on its head?  Or is it like a river?What It Means to Be an American, Part 2 picks up right where What It Means to Be an American, Part 1 left off—with fruit farming.

Yes, being an American still means that you are a surly fruit farmer, arguing with your field hands in front of your tender-aged children. Moving on, the representative sample of Americanhood also includes an African American construction foreman, a civic-minded gathering of gangly teenage boys, and several elongated bodies of water. Oh, and industry. Not a specific industry, just industry in general, which foreign nations are purported not to have.

America, won’t you?


Being an American means something like this.  Whatever this is.If you thought Part 1 was stream-of-consciousness, then boy howdy, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Part 2 pauses briefly to finish its fruit farming thought (its stupid, irrelevant fruit-farming thought), then slips its moorings to drift gently and aimlessly down the river of incoherence. We’re just so darn lucky to be American! That foreman sure is black, isn’t he!! Look at that well-built roof!!! That kid can balance tables on his head!!!! Other countries don’t know what cars are!!!!! Hey look, water!!!!!!

Disembaudio starts us off on the commentary with, “Previously, on What It Means to Be an American,” after which Kevin does his best impression of Part 1 by taking a few seconds to run down a nonsensical list of places you might live if you are, in fact, American. With that out of the way, the short begins. When the narrator mentions an American’s right to attend any church he pleases, Bill adds, “Except the secret ones.” When he goes on about how people in some countries fear the police, Mike clarifies, “Countries like China and Louisiana.” When, after many, many false endings, the short finally winds down, Kevin summarizes, “Rivers, churches, badminton—this is what it means to be an American.” Part 2 is a bit shorter than part one, but it’s also weirder and faster paced. The riffers keep up with it nicely, making the latter half the funnier half.