i was listening to mark kermode reviewing the borat movie tonight and, amongst other things, he commented that there was an ‘anti-american’ streak to it that he felt uncomfortable with. while he was speaking mostly in referance to the film it got me thinking (plus i can’t get to sleep because i foolishly drank a mug of cofee at midnight so i could watch the rest of spiderman on dvd) and i decided to post my thoughts.
there is, it’s true, a river of anti-american sentiment running about a mile wide through britain at the moment. it’s roots are explicable and, largely, understandable but it is becoming increasingly rampant and – like any form of racism – unpleasant. it’s starting to make me uncomfortable too.
the eighties and early nineties in this country looked frequently towards america as a source of cultural aspiration. pepsi cola, levis guys, mtv. i for one was obsessed with beverly hills 90210. i discovered i had ‘bangs’, didn’t want to catch ‘mono’ and wanted to waitress in the peach pit so badly i could almost taste laverne’s apple pie.
and when we got tired of all that ‘apple pie’ kurt came to help us restle with our tortured souls.
by the mid ninties the revolt had begun. we wanted our music, our clothes and our government back. england for the english. select ran a union jack cover emblazoned with the words ‘yanks go home’ and offered us the cream of britpop as proof of our own cultural self sufficiancy. the shining jewel in the crown came with blair. new labour. new era. new cool britania.
generally speaking most brits never really noticed clinton, in the words of joni mitchell, till he was gone. the groundswell opinion is that blair dragged britain into a war that wasn’t ours. that when bush said that we were either for him or against him we picked the wrong side. when richard curtis takes the time out to question ‘how special the special aliance is’ in a hugh grant rom-com you have to worry about your PR.
right now we have a nation where everyone under, like 23, sounds, like, totally american, dude. and everyone over 23 is quite happy to say in polite company ‘i wish they’d just bomb that whole fucking country’
we are a nation divided by the cultural instability of another country.
i get why people rage against the states here. i find myself using words like ‘fall’ (autumn) and ‘ass’ (arse!) and it annoys me. when eddie izzard compared america to the roman empire
beware america… you will collapse from within, like a wet souffle
i laughed like a drain.
rednecks, pimps, god botherers and gun toters right?
and yet i still, on a daily basis, enjoy art, music and film made by americans. i communicate daily with americans whom i love to bits. racsism is at heart a generalisation. a sweeping statement. oswald mosley used to tell his jewish ‘friends’ not to come to his rallies because they ‘wouldn’t like it’. so fucking british.
i know why the u.k is angry. we need to hold on to our own identity and america does need to get a grip, in so many ways. and i guess you needed to be told – but it’s getting out of hand. it’s so o.k now to be passionately anti-american (rather than anti-bush, say) that i do not envy any american brave enough to live here.
that said, we don’t like the french much either – and i saw my first polish immigration joke on tv this week. catherine tate in case you’re interested. so maybe things will cool down for all you ‘yankees’ over here soon…