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  •  "The British And Their Bizarre View Of Americans" (12+ / 0-)

    I've often thought about writing a diary about "American Culture," where I would just throw the question of "What is American Culture?" on the table, and let everyone give their own opinion as a sort of Rorschach Test. The question of American Culture has allowed college sociology departments to write reams on the subject for a long time, and there is still no good answer to it.

    My own personal opinion is that American Culture is both amorphous & undefinable. The United States is a melting pot/salad bowl of many cultures that have come together. And while this has caused misunderstandings, prejudices, and resentments, it is also the source of our strength & appeal.

    Given the position of the United States during the 20th century & the start of the 21st, as well as the popularity of American movies, music, TV shows, consumer products, etc. during that time, things like Mickey Mouse & Coca-Cola became global symbols of Americana and spread with other American trends, memes, and tropes throughout the world. It's always interesting to see how all of this is ultimately assimilated into foreign cultures (for example; Japanese hip hop or the western influences in South Korea's K-Pop, where our music trends are emulated).

    BBC News has a piece that looks at the ambivalent nature of American Culture in the United Kingdom, in which the writer posits that the British view of American Culture is confused.

    Ambivalence shapes our response to almost everything that comes across the pond. This ambivalence would be just comprehensible were it to follow some sort of regular pattern, with the cultural repulsion of British conservatives neatly offset by their political attraction and the British left responding contrarily by loving to rock 'n' roll, while decrying the depredations of what is now the sole global superpower.

    But in fact the British conception of America remains hopelessly confused. Love and hate are intimately co-mingled, and there is no single cultural artefact or presidential utterance that doesn't set off a dissonant chain reaction in the heart and mind of the average Briton, whatever his or her political standpoint.

    We've only to look back over 2012 at the way in which we have responded to events across the pond to appreciate quite how messed-up this relationship is. For a start there was the long run-in to the November re-election of President Obama. The spectacle of US democracy in action is at once ridiculed and revered over here.

    Looked at one way it is an unholy combination of demagoguery and plutocracy, what with its pork-barrelling politicians soliciting corporate donations for prime time television advertising. Looked at another, it has the folksy honesty of a town hall meeting writ very large indeed. Aspirants to public office in the US may well dissimulate, but in a wide-open cultural landscape, with only the occasional ironic outcropping, there's hardly anywhere for them to hide.

    A little over a year ago, there were dueling columns on the question of the purity of the English language. One was from BBC News which layed out British complaints about American English & asked readers to send in "their least favourite Americanisms." A rebuttal pointing out flaws in the Brits' complaints appeared at The Economist.

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