Monday, February 28, 2011

The British Invasion

During my short time living in the United States, the American fascination with England and its people has not, admittedly, taken me by any great surprise. After all, Harry Potter has been the official must-have literature for swathes of American pre-teens for over a decade.

Additionally, the Royal Family continues to hold a place in the hearts of millions of Americans who long for their congressional politics to be replaced by a monarchy. And of course, The Beatles, whose triumphant march across the Atlantic paved the way for a plethora of other America-breaking chart toppers.


But even though the existence of these iconic British mainstays is nothing new in American culture, becoming, as I very quickly did, the focal point of this culture in a small city in the Midwest was indeed a tremendous revelation. To be greeted daily by star-struck teenagers and/or inquisitive old ladies is a privilege I once imagined was reserved only for the rich and famous. Not so in little Anderson, Indiana (and, indeed, much of Small Town, USA), where just a simple utterance of the word "rubbish" is enough to convince many that I, the "British guy," represent the second coming of Christ (who is very popular here, by the way).

Whether I am innocently buying apples from the grocery store or casually talking to my wife in public, it is almost impossible to avoid provoking some kind of inane stare from at least one passerby. In moments when this is the case, it is absolutely imperative that I don't make eye contact with the person, lest he or she bug me for my autograph.

In all seriousness, though, being British in a small American town does have both its advantages and disadvantages. For instance, and this is very much an advantage, no one ever seems to get angry with me. I could be stealing food from a man's refrigerator and he wouldn't care in the least. In fact, if anything, he'd probably thank me for blessing his hard earned supper with my delightful British hands. On the other hand, however, being British in a small American town can get old pretty quickly - much like the same three questions that are always asked of me: 1) what's that accent you got there? 2) which part of Australia are you from? and 3) do you have any brothers back home who I can marry?

Now, don't get me wrong; I mostly enjoy the attention. Who doesn't want to feel special? But what kind of "special" is this? Are we Brits only adored because, quite simply, we are Brits and sound "intellectual?" Do we just appear nicer as people? Or are we just funny? To be honest, I've not been able to answer this question yet. But, following the success of British film The King's Speech at this year's Academy Awards and the forthcoming Royal wedding, the British invasion of America shows little sign of slowing down. Perhaps - for now, at least - it is better to be a part of it.

2 comments:

texmurphy said...

Wow, a good read, and I feel the answers I wanted. I read this and the ones above actually.

It's just crazy... how we used to talk, and then you go the USA and somehow become a mini-celeb for being English (or British).

If there are any hot ones who want someone to marry, I'm young (hmm), free (legally) and single.

Oh, this is Phil by the way.

Laurence Brown said...

It's like George McFly says; if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.

I think secretly, I always wanted to live here, but I never thought it would entail the things it has.

Wait, you're single? (Ha!) But you want to marry? (Ha!) And you haven't dated every hot American girl already? (Ha'raaaaaaaaaaaaagh!)

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