The World According To Damien
in a World gone mad – one sane voice emerges…

Damien on… Americanisation

I love Americans – they are emotional, creative and good fun.

But while I am happy to eat a McDonalds fishburger and chips, swilled down with Coke – and watch “Dexter”, “House”, “The Blacklist”, “Elementary”, “The Dome” (two of which star ENGLISH actors) and Jon Stewart, Dave Letterman et al on my TV – I still get pissed off how the British are happy to absorb their CULTURE as well.

An English friend sees American culture as being a PART of British culture – but I do NOT. And in an attempt to explain why, I am reproducing (so remember, this wasn’t originally written for this column) the end of an e-mail I recently sent him…

…regarding this business of Americanisms infecting the World – I think where we differ is that you consider Britain to be a PART of America and I don’t. Thus it is a case of one country sticking its nose up the arse of another – which is to be deplored and ridiculed.

I mean, we are ALL of us “related” – if you wanna go back far enough (religious [*****]s would claim back to Adam and Eve, about 10,000 years ago, somewhere around modern-day Croydon). But we have since EVOLVED into different cultures – and are right to be PROUD of our efforts.

Of course I’m not one of those prats who would take up ARMS to defend them. “My country, right or wrong” is bollocks – Schurz ACTUALLY said: “my country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right” – but many Americans have truncated and subverted his quote to justify their country’s APPALLING foreign policy record. And (false) patriotism is indeed the last refuge of a scoundrel (from Johnson).

But I get irked when people SURRENDER to attempts to subvert and dominate MY CULTURE – such as it is.

Patriotism? Nah – not really. Just a local identity. Like, I came over all unnecessary when I viewed the ACTUAL painting of Constable’s “Haywain”. It’s f[**]kin’ ENORMOUS – and postcards do it NO justice.

But the reason I teared up was because it reminded me of an identity that I didn’t even realise I HAD.

And all to the soundtrack of Vaughan Williams’ Greensleeves – or Elgar’s Nimrod. [******], hit THIS (and listen to the WHOLE 2’48”) to maybe FEEL what I’m banging on about…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IO53oeZ9kQ

John Constable's 'The Haywain'

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10 Responses to “Damien on… Americanisation”

  1. You have explained your position carefully. But I still cannot quite see the objection. Language changes under various pressures. One of these is at work in the influence of US show biz on UK audiences. Seems fine by me.

  2. It’s a subtle thing: the absorption of words from all over – is inevitable and fine. The thing that disturbs me is the CULTURAL shift caused by people’s desire to be something they’re NOT. Like AMERICAN!

  3. Supermarkets; fast food outlets; mass produced affordable cars; popular entertainment in music, TV, and radio; and many other American-led new technological applications for the convenience of the mass public…

    But all these American innovations are improvements on earlier (mostly European and Eastern traditions, often implemented by Euro and Asian immigrants) and are seized upon by the public in UK and elsewhere because they are obviously A VERY GOOD IDEA!

    Stand back a bit and try to lighten up! (As they say!)

  4. This one’s gonna run and run, ain’t it? Did you see what I did there? Which, incidentally, is ALSO an American reference…

    But I still stick to my guns (I’ll stop that now). I love Jazz, Blues (R&B) and like Soul, ’70s Disco – plus watch a LOT of US TV and have seen most of Hollywood’s worthwhile films (oh, alright – movies). And if money were no object, I’d not have a Ferrari or Roller – it’d be a ’59 Caddy.

    However, driving a ’59 Caddy would be FINE. I would not be (like those who use American SPEECH, which is my main grouse) trying to APE the Yanks – merely driving the most stylish car ever built.

    And I eat at fast food joints, shop at supermarkets, drive an assembly-line-built chariot. All VERY good ideas. I’m not anti-American – or even anti-American goods.

    Even their words and expressions are sometimes fun – and dare I say it – occasionally more expressive than ours. Indeed, if it wasn’t for those people who CONSCIOUSLY IMITATE Americans out of sick-making fan-worship, I’d probably use more myself.

    It’s not the AMERICANS’ fault – it’s OURS!!!

  5. This is fascinating!

    I CANNOT PROVE it but I have never doubted that I use what I am told are Americanisms automatically, without any thought of copying.

    My case is a little difficult to be certain about because, when I first visited my siblings in Canada in 1979 I was told by my little sister that she deliberately decided, for the sake of her children’s not being different from their school mates when they reached that age, to use only North American terms. So it was hood at the front of the car and trunk at the back. And so on.

    I do not have a car. In latter years, I have noticed that the term ‘automobile’ is not universal in USA. ‘Car’ is used a lot. I do recall being made to wince occasionally by some American attitude betrayed by terminology but I have forgotten exactly what it was. It might have been a PC issue.

    The religious thing is alien to us less-affluent crammed-together in narrow streets Brits somehow. Quite a lot of that stuff slips in to a certain type of family show. It is a little bit similar.

    I confess to using ‘freeway’ rather than ‘motorway’ or, in this conurbation, Way… we have Slip Road, Wessex Way, Canford Way, Upton By Pass… There is a missing bit thanks to Green lizard and butterfly lovers. I reckon it is a freeway. But such roads were called that in LA because they were not toll roads, they were free.

    Then there is the reverse way, where the USA folk grab British terms. Did not the 1960s musicals have an effect like that? I am trying to think of examples.

    I think you are correct about deliberate copying to an extent, but it does not bother me. Why not bring us back together? I did not find a single café in LA where there was not a reasonable choice of tea…

    I have just remembered that black, aka African, Americans originate great masses of new lingo. Here we might very well have an urge by pink, aka Euro, Americans to deliberately (what the heck is the word that means suck-up but is not pejorative?)

    Gee, this is a tough one!

  6. P.S. I was serving in Dixons at Salisbury when somebody was on vacation (aka les vacances, or holy days) and sought the cathedral. I directed him and said “Cheerio now” as he turned to leave. He froze, Spun round. And said “Good afternoon”. One last point. I sometimes think that we in UK change terminology faster than the Americans. They seem sometimes to be olde worlde quaint. We forge ahead. Then there is East Coast, Mid-West, and West Coast diffs. Examples of all these? Darn my socks! I fergit.

  7. P.P.S. Dear old Harry Webb, aka Cliff Richard! He was utterly Elvis-ized by singing all those songs. Then he worked hard at getting rid of it. As for me, no way was I going to emerge from listening to AFN all thru my teens and not soak up that lovely accent. I was and still am always sliding into it when I get excited… with the inevitable questions. I have yet to think of a good answer…

  8. I recall how in the mid-Sixties, the pirate DJs used “mid-Atlantic” accents almost to a man (listen to the terribly terribly English Simon Dee’s first broadcast on Caroline) and likewise Roger Moore in the early “Saint” episodes – and you don’t get more terribly terribly English than HIM.

    Regarding your sister: her intent was commendable, but her fears largely unfounded; kids are TOTALLY influenced by their peers – LITTLE by their parents. Check out the kids of immigrants – their folks speak like back in their Old Country, while their kids have completely absorbed the local words, expressions and dialect.

    Additionally, there are a surprising number of words and expressions that we think of as being terribly terribly English that in fact originated in America in the distant PAST (they started whittling away at the English language as soon as they ARRIVED in the New World …which was WAY back!)

  9. Hold on… I am now confused as to which side you are on! As far as I am concerned, the more transfer of new words and expressions takes place, the better. One planet. One lingo. That is what we want.

    The other puzzle in all this is the way self-perceived lingo purists defend stuff which MUST BE NEW. We KNOW that because, for example, a play by Bill Spear Shaker, about some Henry or other, is so packed with archaic words and expressions. I guess purists are really defending the chat of their childhood. Understandable… I would love to have recordings of my parents’ expressions which I have now forgotten.

  10. Ah, well – the only side I’m on is MINE.

    But regarding Americanisms, I don’t worry too much about their NATURAL flow – my main quibble is when prats DELIBERATELY use them to try to appear COOL.


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