Monday, December 3, 2012

Ain't that America

  In late October of this year I had the privilege of traveling to England and staying in London. I also visited Liverpool. While I was there, I noticed a lot of British stereotypes were true. Not necessarily the bad ones, but a lot of things I had heard and learned about British culture were true. Of course, not all of these stereotypes applied absolutely everywhere, but this is what I observed during my visit.
  For example, Brits do tend to eat a lot of fish and chips, and it's on practically every menu I saw. They also drink an excessive amount of tea, and, unlike in the U.S, tea is generally preferred over coffee. There is also a British class system which was very easy to spot while walking the streets of London. Just by talking to someone you could tell where they ranked on the class system. Those incredibly stereotypical British accents, spoken by butlers on various television shows such as the nanny and others are considered upper-class British accents. They sound very royal and formal, and that's because they are. The lower class British accents almost sound like Liverpudlian accents, and this is probably because up until recent years, Liverpool was one of the more lower-class British towns. Their words are slightly more slurred than the upper class and they don't pronounce things as clearly. The middle class is just a mesh of the two. When simply talking to someone in England, such as a cab driver or a clerk at a store, you could tell what part of the class system they belonged to.
  Another British stereotype I discovered and was happy was true was how traditional Brits are. They have their red telephone booths throughout London, their traditional guards with the fuzzy bear hats, and for the most part, they were all very friendly. Gift shops throughout both London and Liverpool focused on their most famous aspects such as the union jack, tea cups, 'keep calm and carry on,' and their more famous musical acts, like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. After listening to "Autumn Almanac" by the Kinks, another British band, I realized some more British stereotypes. Just listen to the lyrics:

 I like my football on a Saturday,
Roast beef on Sundays, all right.
I go to Blackpool for my holidays,
Sit in the autumn sunlight.

  This song is about Brits in Autumn and early Winter; Hence the title 'Autumn Almanac.' Just these four lines give the general feel of the song and show how traditional England is. These next few lines are just what makes me want to become a Brit:

This is my street, and I'm never gonna leave it,
And I'm always gonna stay here
If I live to be ninety-nine,
'Cause all the people I meet
Seem to come from my street
And I can't get away,
Because it's calling me, (come on home)
Hear it calling me, (come on home) 

  This passage shows how Brits are so close with their neighbors and how they'll never give up their traditions. This makes me incredibly sad because in the U.S, we seem to always be changing. Now, this isn't always a bad thing, but I feel like we're competing intensely with other countries to become more modern and new. The Brits didn't seem to have this issue as much as we did.
  Thinking of these British stereotypes made me think of what stereotypes of us Americans that the Brits could have. So here you are; a list and collage of sorts of both British and American stereotypes, and just how true most of them are. I will confirm the American ones and the British ones to the best of my standards. Of course, not being a Brit, my confirmations will be based on my experiences in both London and Liverpool.

Of Brits

Fish and chips, a dish I saw very frequently in London.
Stereotypical British landscape, and flying over London, I noticed it was true.
The red telephone booth was more common than I expected in London.

  • Brits eat fish and chips like there's no tomorrow. True; From what I saw, fish and chips were on practically every menu. Although, I must say, when I purchased just chips, they tasted like fish because they were both cooked in the same oil. Yuck!
  • It rains every day. False; When I visited, it only rained once, and that was at night, so fortunately, I only experienced it once.
  • Pubs in Britain only serve warm beer. Partly true; While I'm too young to drink alcohol, my dad loves beer and was with me during the trip. In our hotel in London in particular, my father frequently ordered beers and was served with lukewarm ones, as well as air temperature ones. Because beer is disgusting warm, he ordered a colder one, and they couldn't find one. So to my experiences, this stereotype was true, but I'm sure it isn't like this in every bar.
  • Brits have bad teeth. Partly true; Sadly, while I was there, a lot of people had poor dental care. But I'm sure it isn't like this everywhere, this was probably just a poor observation on my part.
  • Brits are obsessed with the class system. True; Although the traditional class boundaries have become more blurred over the years, most Brits do tend to identify with one of the three main classes for better or for worse. I mentioned this above, and it's very easy to distinguish from each Brit's accent.
  • Brits love to celebrate Royal occasions. True; This is definitely true as Royal Weddings and Jubilees are lavish occasions that on my tour throughout London I noticed were mentioned quite often. These millions of Brits celebrating wave their Union Jacks as well, adding to the stereotype!

Of Americans

The American McDonald's and fast food stereotype.
  • Americans aren't intelligent. Partly True; Our education systems aren't as advanced as in other countries. But just like there are examples of incredibly unintelligent people in our country, there are also people that exceed standards and are very smart.
  • Americans are religious and will go to any length to protect their religion. (In England, I didn't hear a single bible reference or see a single religious thing, besides the churches in London.) Partly true; I know here near Boston we certainly aren't like that, but I've seen videos from the south, and there are groups like the Westboro Baptist Church that are setting horrible examples to the world of Americans.
  • Americans are racist and ignorant of other countries. Partly True; I don't mean to be stereotypical of my own country, but Americans down in southern countries that lack education (Not saying all southerners lack education, but I'm saying this is true to the southerners who do lack education) tend to be very racist, and sometimes even sexist.
  • Americans eat a lot of hot dogs and hamburgers. True; As there are many McDonald's and other fast food chains throughout the United States, I don't eat both hot dogs or hamburgers. In fact, I've never had either. Besides fast food chains, there are plenty of other choices for food here in the U.S. But yes, Americans in general do eat plenty of fast food!
  • They are all loud talkers, and are rude when out in public. Partly true; In both New York City and Boston, to my experiences, people walking on the streets are very rude. My dad in particular, a native Bostonian yells at practically every customer service man he's ever met. It's rude and I don't agree with it, but hey, it's America.
  • Americans are fat. Partly true; Sadly, this is actually more true than it should be. In the United States, obese people are incredibly common to be spotted simply walking down the street.
  • Americans under-dress in cold weather. True;  Some girls in my school still continue to wear flip flops and short even though it's December and nearly freezing every day.
So there you have it; The stereotypical Brit vs. the stereotypical American. Hope you liked, since this kind of post isn't typical of me.

The first half of the songs are British stereotypical songs, while the second half are American stereotypical songs. (Even though some artists in the 'American section' are British, the stereotypes these songs portray are American, in my mind.) The blue is British stereotypes, and the red is American.

1. "A Hard Day's Night" - The Beatles This song is probably one of the Beatles' biggest hits, so therefore, it's stereotypically British. Besides, the opening sequence of the film with the same name is the Beatles running through London being chased by fans. How could I not include that?
2. "A Well Respected Man" - The Kinks This song shows the stereotypical man, and since the Kinks are Brits, this is probably their vision of a stereotypical, well-respected Brit. (Catch on the sarcasm? ;)
3. "Lazy Sunday" - The Small Faces This song shows stereotypical lazy Sunday British life, and Steve Marriott's overly-pronounced accent is just too great not to include!
4. "Autumn Almanac" - The Kinks This is the song mentioned above. Read above for why I chose it. :)
5. "Happy Jack" - The Who I don't know why, but this song just remind me of stereotypical Brits!
6. "Holiday Road" - Lindsey Buckingham This song is featured in the movie 'the National Lampoon's Family Vacation,' which itself is a very stereotypical American movie. In the movie, us Americans are portrayed as tourists.
7. "Surfin' U.S.A" - The Beach Boys Title says it all, it had U.S.A in the title, so I included it.
8. "People Are Strange" - The Doors Americans are strange!
9. "It's Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It)" - The Rolling Stones Although this song is sung by Brits, us Americans are very obsessed with dirty, ranchy rock n' roll.
10. "Bad Reputation" - Joan Jett & The Blackhearts Us Americans have a horrible reputation!

1 comment:

  1. this playlist is perfect oh my gosh.
    you're the best playlist maker ever