According to Mike Myers, cynicism and hopelessness are not in America’s nature. The actor, writer, and comedian stopped by Rob Lowe’s podcast “Literally!” and, amidst the old friends’ engaging discussion of “SNL,” “Wayne’s World,” and celebrity encounters, began talking about the importance of positivity and hope, both during the pandemic and in life.
Myers used the conversation to discuss his love of the United States. Born in Canada to British parents, Myers is now a U.S. citizen, something he professes to both take seriously and as a source of great pride.
He drew out the fundamental difference between the cultures of the United Kingdom and Canada and the United States as between cynical doubt about others, in contrast to an optimistic sense that anything is possible. He boiled down the distinction as a judgmental “Who do you think you are?” versus “Who do you want to be?”
The desire to create, to build, and to constantly push oneself and improve is intrinsic to the American Dream. In a time when fewer and fewer consider themselves proud to be American, it is heartwarming to hear the country’s virtues extolled in an apolitical and genuine manner.
The full exchange is below:
MYERS: It doesn’t seem American to me. I have to say, having British parents, and having lived in Canada, one of the things that I always love about America is this sort of sense of… if you make anything this is the best place in the world. Because in Canada, really in Britain (less so in Canada now), it’s ‘Who do you think you are?’ In America, it’s very, ‘Who do you want to be?’ It’s just, this kind of cynicism just doesn’t feel like it’s in America’s nature, you know what I mean? America’s nature is, ‘Let’s go do it, man. Let’s make it.’ That’s what I love about– You know, I became a citizen, took the oath, take it seriously. My kids are American. I love the United States. We’re sort of out of character right now. It’s very strange.
MYERS: That’s America that we all know and love, is Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra.
LOWE: And I think it’s there. I think it’s there as much as it ever was, but you know, there are elements that want us to believe it’s not for the sake of ratings, for the sake of selling newspapers, for the sake of their own political agendas, for the sake of selling you something. You know, I don’t think anything’s changed except how we perceive it and what were sold.
MYERS: I can tell you, as somebody of English heritage, you know, cynicism, you know, ‘Who do you think you are?’ as opposed to ‘Who do you want to be?’ – which is America’s true nature – it’s a the ‘can do’ thing is so infectious and so right-on and so, what we all, those of us who are lucky enough to be allowed into this country, and I’ve lived in other countries, we admire that so much. I know it’s corny, but it’s true.
Being somebody who’s made things his entire life, I’m so grateful to the United States for just having the whole mindset of ‘let’s go make something. It’s possible.’ You know, if you were to have a restaurant in New York, you know in any other place in the world, they go, ‘You know, the restaurant business is hard.’ In New York they go, ‘Really? What kind of food is it?’ You know what I mean? I love that!