By Dark Politricks
Today I woke up and turned the TV on. E4 was showing another Friends marathon. If you’re not from the UK you won’t know about E4 but they are a Channel 4 related TV station that endlessly repeats the US TV show Friends over and over again. Literally. I mean once they have played all 200+ episodes they just roll back to episode one and start again. They have been doing it for the past seven years ever since the show ended and it’s a joke.
Anyway the episode I was unlucky enough to catch as I awoke was the one in which the majority of the group were over in the UK for the marriage of Ross and Emily. It was all shots of Big Ben and Richard Branson pretending to sell UK memorabilia and cutaways with Fergie. Plus it had all the usual actors such as Jennifer Saunders and Tom Conti playing all the usual horrible English stereotypes the Americans love to believe in. I hated it.
In fact it seems that in the majority of US TV shows which star English characters one of the following stereotypes will appear and I hate them all.
-An upper class toff in some period drama set a hundred years ago. Think Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen and any other 19th century tosh.
-A posh Hugh Grant or Colin Firth like bumbling but dashing hero character. Think of any film containing those two actors.
-A crooked toothed Victorian cockney chimney sweep (any Charles Dickens works) or modern day Vinny Jones type villains. The US still love to portray the Brits as bad guys.
-A weak, effete, probably gay idiot – witness Tom Conti’s role in the Friends episode I mentioned previously.
I know we have our own stereotypes of Americans that appear in our own TV shows. These characters are usually tourist type characters waiting to be ripped off and they are usually overweight, brash, arrogant, insular and ultimately stupid. These stereotypes are just as bad and just as untrue and it’s a shame so many people:
a) believe in them, and
b) like to see them re-inforced in their TV shows. If the shows got no ratings they wouldn’t be shown.
It just goes to show you that it does no-one any good to believe anything they see on TV. It’s just a shame so many people take their world view from sources that are so so wrong in so so many ways and TV dramas are just one example of many I could give.
This episode of friends in which a variety of English stereotypes were delivered in the usual manner reminded me of a time when I was visiting the USA back during the Bush, Al Gore election and I was visiting a friend in Rhode Island. This was a time when I could still visit the USA.
I was travelling alone on a train back to my hotel in Boston surrounded by bags full of new goodies including a pair of brand new Nike trainers that were apparently the “in trainer” of the day (I was still quite young at the time). It was whilst I was lacing up my new trainers when I noticed across the aisle a group of of three young black men who were all staring at me intensely whispering amongst themselves and pointing towards me.
After a while they all got up together and walked over towards me and sat down on the empty seats all around me. Obviously this being the first time I had been in the USA and being still quite young my head was full of American urban stereotypes which included various images of people like myself being robbed and shot over a pair of poxy trainers. I was bricking it.
However instead of stereotypes coming into play these three young black dudes were actually very friendly and had just come over to talk to me about the new trainers. We got to chatting and once I mentioned I was from the UK they got to asking me a whole load of questions which revealed their own stereotypes, some of which I really couldn’t believe.
They seemed to think that all English people rode about on horses and that we all lived in little villages with cobbled streets and thatched roofs.
When I mentioned to them that actually we had cities as big, modern and unfortunately as violent as their own they honestly couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of my mouth. I honestly had real trouble convincing them that England was pretty much just a smaller and poorer version of their own country and that in fact cities such as London were in fact much bigger than Boston.
It seemed that their only knowledge of the UK and England in particular had come from US TV shows full of the stereotypes I mentioned earlier. What they got taught at school I do not know but then their TV channels are not flooded with UK TV shows in the same manner as ours are flooded by theirs.
It was just an example of how stereotypes come into play and are often wrong.
It was also unfortunately an example of how even though you might know the stereotype is most likely wrong it can still have an effect on your behaviour until proven otherwise.
I thought I was going to be shot and robbed for my new Nike trainers and they thought I was going to get off the train and jump straight onto a horse and ride back to my village in 17th century England.
These stereotypes I hate so so much are not going to be helped in the slightest by the events of this Friday’s wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. Just like the opening of Parliament by the Queen, the changing of the guard and basically any other event that involves our Royal family and international TV cameras it will only reinforce stereotypes that the majority of the country left behind many years ago.
From watching US TV it seems that America cannot get enough of the wedding. From Stephen Colbert to FOX News the wedding is all over the TV screens and it seems every minutia of the event is being scrutinised from what Kate will be eating in the morning to the timing of William’s bowel movements during the day. Every aspect of the build up has been covered and monetised from the awful “film” they made about their love story to all the royalist tat that is being sold across the globe, the majority of which most of the people in the UK couldn’t give a toss about.
I might just move in different circles from the England full of posh Hugh Grants and Cockney chimney sweeps that fill up the exported dramas to the US so I might be wrong on this, but so far I have not met one single person who actually cares one tiny bit about the wedding next Friday.
We are all very happy that we are being given an extra day’s holiday but I have yet to meet anyone who will be spending next Friday glued to the TV especially if it’s a nice day. No, the wedding may be an excuse for a day off but most people I know will have far better things to be doing than watching it live on TV.
Times have most certainly changed in regards to the Royal family and the trials and tribulations of the last major wedding and subsequent affairs of Charles and Diana may have played a large role in the undoing of our countries affection towards the posh scroungers. I for one remember when I was little on Christmas day at my Grans house we would have our dinner at 2pm on the spot and then at 3pm the Queens speech would start and we would all trot into the lounge to watch it.
My Grandad would salute the TV as the national anthem played and we all had to stand in complete silence whilst the Queen told us about her year of luxurious holidays and garden parties all funded by the tax payer.
That was a different generation. A generation that still remembered the second world war and had rows of royal plates and engraved china adorning their living room shelves and window sills.
Now at Christmas we always ensure that our dinner falls exactly across the Queen speech so we don’t have to waste any time listening to it. There isn’t a piece of royalist tat in the house and I am personally proud to say that for as long as I live their won’t be any either.
I wish Wills and Kate all the happiness in the world and I hope that William has the good sense once he becomes King to abolish himself and the rest of his parasitic family and turn our country into a republic.
I know that next Friday the royal wedding will be beamed around the world and that many people will be watching it. However I won’t be.
I will probably be stuck on my laptop trying to make some money whilst endless repeats of Friends play in the background.
As much as I hate the stereotyping of English people in US TV shows I hate watching the Royal family waste my hard earned tax pounds a lot more.