Tom Cruise is in Brasil with his stepford wife promoting his tepidly reviewed movie Valkyrie. While there he thanked a crowd of people with “graçias” (except that they speak Portuguese in Brasil, Tom, not Spanish) and talked about how much he loves the tango (whoops! that’s Argentina, Brasil’s rival country—you probably meant to say “samba” right? Of course you did).
You don’t have to know everything about every country in the world, but if you’re visiting a country you should probably learn something about it—most importantly, what language they speak and how to say “please” and “thank you” in said language.
Tom, don’t you have an assistant or something? Maybe he or she could prepare a little half-page primer on each country you visit, which you could then read before you gaffe. Really, even just printing off the first page of the Wikipedia entry on Brasil would suffice; the first line is: “Brazil (Portuguese: Brasil).”
But more than that, don’t be so disingenuous. People know you’re just there to sell a movie and that you don’t really care about the country or the people. The public is well aware of how these things work by now. You’re no more genuine than a rock star who shouts, “Good evening <insert town/country name here>! You’re my favourite <town/country>, <insert town/country name here>! You are so much cooler than <insert rival town/country name here>, where we played last night!” Granted, a lot of people will scream and applaud at lines like these, but not because they think you mean it; rather, because they’re caught up in the fervor and patriotism of the moment.
So the next time you’re in Brasil, or some other country you don’t care enough about to even discover what language they speak, at least have the backbone to admit that you just want them to pay money to see your movie and leave it at that. Graçias. I mean, obrigado. Or maybe danke? Merci…?