Saturday, March 18, 2006

Americans are from Mars...

My interview for my prestigious and rapidly decling alma mater was enlivened by two features. The first was a remarkably pretty fellow interviewee with whom I went drinking the night before my interview; the second was the sight of my future senior tutor (a very well-regarded Russianist) kicking his legs as he sat on his sofa.

The fact that I got through my interview is largely due to the fact that my hangover reduced my natural tendency to elaborate loquacity (which some of you may have noticed). However, the fact that I had just finished reading Linda Colley's book Britons: Forging the Nation helped too. It's a good book, incidentally, focusing to a large extent on the way the British define themselves in oppsition to the French.

In the Guardian, however, she has gone off one again about Americans and America under the subtle banner of "The star-spangled fantasyland of the fake and the home of the bogus."

Her main point seems to be that American politicians are so primitive and backward that they seek security in macho military posturing. This is backed up by the observation that Brokeback Mountain did better at the Baftas than at the Oscars. Res Ipsa Loquitor as we lawyers like to say.

What a contrast we see in Britain! Here Blair and Cameron are positively feminine in their appearance. Cameron even pats his wife's bump! Moreover, "Blair and he do not need to strut upon battleships, however much they might enjoy doing so" not least of course, because the only battleship Britain still has is HMS Belfast and that's not very struttable these days.

My beef with Ms Colley on this is that, using the same old tired jokes (Cheney and Bush are draft-dodgers, Bush on the USS Enterprise was 'in drag' and so on) she states that the US is both more advanced in the field of female emancipation and overly reliant on masculine posturing. It seems that the whole article is little more than an excuse to let off a stream of invective and innuendo. This is an article full of both sound and fury, signifying nothing. What that makes Ms Colley, I think we all know.


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