This last week there has been a lot of discussion about America and its place in the world. And one of the things that strikes me in relations to this is that a fair few British people hate America. In fact it’s a group of people Britons seem to be allowed to hate with a certain amount of impunity.
The amount of American culture in Britain is huge. The problem is that the British are drawn to its most base and stupid output. We love watching programs where Americans are stupid. Britain behaves, in lots of ways, like the critical parent.
It’s like we’re saying “Oh forget about Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer, Woody Allen, Tom Wolfe, Thomas Edison etc. You think you’re so smart with your multichannel television and nuclear technology. We don’t care about that America. When you come home we expect you to not swear, to stand up straight, and keep a clean nose.”
Britain is Americas tragically hip dad. We sit here dressed in clothes far too young for us and feel guilty about our need to be cool.
“I can’t believe that Jerry Springer”, we say while employing Trisha and Kilroy. “I can’t believe this President Bush” we say, while employing President Blair.
In the end it’s the classic Laius complex. Laius was Oedipus’ dad. We suffer from a love of America, and a deep sense of guilt about our love for America. It’s easier to hate America than to admit we hate ourselves for loving it.
So this week I think we might attempt a bit of a theme on the subject of America.