Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Still slightly less embarrassing than William Hague's baseball cap

Contrary to initial appearances, this CiF piece is not a belated ramble about the Oscars. In fact, it's a desperate attempt to squeeze one last droplet of interest from the bloody US Presidential primaries, which feel as if they've been going on since some time before the War of Independence, or maybe even the arrival of the Vikings.

"This weekend's Oscar shindig has been interpreted by some as evidence that Hollywood (and, by extension, America) is taking a more global view. Among numerous European wins, for the first time in over 40 years, no American performer won an acting award.

Of course, this is nonsense. If anything, the most prominent movies, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood, are as American as any big winner in recent times. They are meditations about the same big themes of America - capitalism, violence, man's relationship with the land - that obsessed the likes of John Ford, Orson Welles and Sam Peckinpah. American audiences have always preferred to watch their own culture on screen (however negatively it is portrayed) to that of somewhere unfamiliar...."


The full piece is here, but don't blame me for the title.

Also, did anyone listen to this? What do you think? Did Paul Weller spawn Nick Clegg?

PS: On the subject of which (Weller, not the primaries), this is quite fun. Just as I'm not doing the anti-American thing, Ian Austin isn't doing class warfare, of course not, heaven forbid, etc, etc...

19 comments:

llewtrah said...

Why is Obama wearing a maid's outfit? Didn't USAnian blacks get emancipated and no longer need to wear the uniforms of domestic servants?

amyonymous said...

i was amazed at the vitriolic comments there.... wow. i was also quite amazed at how many people (UK and US both) seemed to think McCain is a sure winner. Maybe its just my california perspective, but he is a sure loser in my world.

p.s. i really liked the first part of your article about the oscars and the american-themed movies ... and agree with you completely.

Jun Okumura said...

That just shows you how desperate and cynical Obama is. He's pandering to the maids vote in Somalia, his birth nation.

You're welcome, llewtrah. It's good to know, isn't it?

You're

Jun Okumura said...

Please ignore second "you're".

Tim Footman said...

If Obama really wanted to piss off the right, Llewtrah, he could dress up as a French maid. Ooh la la!

Thanks, Amy. I still maintain that the big cultural divide is that your lot (as a rule) don't get sarcasm/irony, while the Brits don't get hyperbole.

By rights, Jun, Obama should be wearing a grass skirt and flowery garland, and saying "book him, Dan-o".

amyonymous said...

tim - i teach in a high school filled with students (all 90 of them) who really really get sarcasm and irony. i am surrounded by it constantly. of course, they love to watch british comedy shows, too, so they are all a bit off . . . .

patroclus said...

Having studied the recent televisual output of the US and the UK, I can confirm that the US has a firm grip on irony, sarcasm and subtlety (see Arrested Development, Battlestar Galactica, Boston Legal etc.), while we Brits appear to be letting go of all of those things left, right and centre (see Skins, Torchwood, Two Pints of Lager, etc.).

And don't even get me started on Doctor Who.

Tim Footman said...

Amy/Patroclus: Fair points: and on no side of the Pond to they appreciate massive, sweeping generalisations...

patroclus said...

I should confess I've only ever seen the first ten minutes of the first episode of Skins, so that was a bit cheeky of me. Plus we can still make jolly decent stuff when we put our minds to it, like the first series of Life on Mars.

Also I think it's fair to say that the Americans only ever see the best of British TV, and we only ever see the best of theirs, which is why each nation seems to think that the other one makes better telly.

tenderhooligan said...

Do you get involved with the comments on CiF, Tim? They get so, as amyonymous above said, vitriolic.

Tim Footman said...

Skins must be good, P. The wunderkind Gogarty wrote for it, after all. And I'm equally cheeky, having analysed (in the Cif piece) two films I still haven't seen.

I do, hoolie. I get very annoyed with those who stick up a post, disappear from the face of the earth, then complain that people have been nasty to them. And I do find that people moderate their language somewhat if the target of their ire appears 'below the line'.

Billy said...

"Also I think it's fair to say that the Americans only ever see the best of British TV, and we only ever see the best of theirs, which is why each nation seems to think that the other one makes better telly."

I think that is probably why.

marshaklein said...

All I know about skins is that daughter (an avid fan) told me not to watch it as "it's not suitable"!

Tells me all I need to know, really.

marshaklein said...

"my daughter", obviously.

patroclus said...

It's also interesting what some people said about how Americans not having passports isn't (necessarily) a sign of cultural backwardness.

In Europe it's only us paranoid island-dwellers who demand that you show a passport to get into and out of the country. On the continent nowadays you can drive all the way from Porto to Krakow without a passport, and you can certainly see a lot of 'cultcha' along the way.

Tim Footman said...

Billy (quoting Patroclus): Actually, I'm not quite sure about that. We don't just get The Sopranos and The Wire, we get Saved By The Bell and Baywatch as well. And doesn't Living TV run those tacky daytime soaps? When crap UK TV goes stateside, it usually has to be adapted (eg Pop Idol > American Idol, Man About The House > Three's Company).

Marsha: Which presumably made you want to watch it even more?

I only mentioned the passport thing as an example of the all-Americans-are-isolationist-morons sort of diatribe that I didn't want to get into, and linked to a discussion that put the whole thing in context. The fact that Americans tend not to go abroad because they only get 10 days' holiday a year is probably far more significant (and far more indicative that the country has its priorities completely wrong).

amyonymous said...

"The fact that Americans tend not to go abroad because they only get 10 days' holiday a year is probably far more significant (and far more indicative that the country has its priorities completely wrong)."

now you've hit on a REAL problem, Tim! this is one good reason i became a teacher and can have 3 months off each year. but my husband? only fourteen days..... it's barbaric!

patroclus said...

Well yes, this is a very good point too - plus the fact that to get anywhere else from America (apart from Canada and Mexico) you have to go on an expensive long-haul flight, while we can just nip across to France on a £5 Ryanair flight and we've 'gone abroad'.

And speaking of which, I don't see a lot of French or Italian people going on holiday outside their own country, but no one has a go at them for being cultural isolationists. Even though they probably are.

Anyway, now that air travel is officially bad for the environment, the mind-broadening benefits of travelling the world will probably start to get played down a bit. Tim we'll be even more reliant you to bring us news and culture from the other side of the world. At least until we get another dispatch from Max Gogarty.

Oh now, I've gone all CiF, brrr.

Tim Footman said...

Haven't seen young Master Max yet. But then I don't usually hang around the Kao San Road, pointing and laughing at cultureshocked 19-year-olds with lemonjuice hair, henna tattoos and mozzie bites like dinner plates. Well, not much.