Misinformed, angry, coffee-addled ranting.
WOO! Alright! Awesome! This past Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London the Pittsburgh Steelers took on the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh year of the NFL’s International Series in Britain. It was a thrilling encounter, that had everything – tension, drama, and a giant Viking mascot dressed as a Queen’s Guardsman.
However, despite the spectacle of the sport, one couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by the sheer American-ness of it all. Admittedly when something is known as ‘American Football’ it’s bound to be slightly Yankified, but with the sugary, saccharine overtness of American Pride one almost wanted to start clawing desperately for a rifle and a silly hat and a return to colonialism.
All the Americans on the coach to Wembley were overtly cheerful and friendly, seemingly oblivious to the fact that we were sat in traffic on the M1 in a coach smelling ever so slightly of piss. The cheerleaders were all identical barbie dolls, waxed, tanned and preened of any semblance of humanity or personality, clearly products of some nefarious cloning experiment – Attractive Woman 2.0, in which the only way to distinguish between them was by their hair colour and the serial number printed with a laser on the back of their neck. And while I was quite disappointed when Gene Simmons from Kiss ‘sang’ the American National Anthem without so much as a hint of ridiculous face paint or nonsensical tongue-waggling, it was the hideously cheesy LED American flag digitally waving behind him that was truly stomach churning.
One of the great things about Britain is that we’ve been around a long time. We’ve learnt a thing or two about how things work. And one of the main things we’ve learnt is that everything is just a little bit shit. Our weather is either too bloody hot or too pissing cold, our food is dull and all our friends are arseholes. That’s just the way things are. Americans haven’t quite grasped this yet.
If you’re in a shop in America, some shiny assortment of perfectly white teeth and perfectly tousled hair will come up to you, grinning from ear to ear and engage you in conversation. When an American says to you “Have a nice day buddy!” they actually mean it. How sickening is that? They, a total stranger, genuinely want you, another total stranger to be happy. What a dick. You’d never get away with that in this country. If a stranger comes up to you in this country it means they either:
A. Want your money
B. Want to tell you about how their cat can talk to them and how they’re actually the reincarnated spirit of Muammar al-Gaddafi come back to destroy Narnia.
Wishing happiness on strangers is a concept as horrifying to us Brits as not queueing in an orderly fashion or running out of teabags. We don’t really go in for that whole patriotism thing in the same way either. While the Americans are busy chanting “USA! USA! USA!” like gormless baboons struggling to learn the alphabet, we sit back and silently acknowledge that Britain has produced some of the finest inventions, music and literature in the history of mankind. And then we remember that we’ve also given the world Piers Morgan and our smugness quickly shrivels up and dies. (His doesn’t though. It just grows exponentially, feeding on the slowly rotting carcass of a homeless man he’s just killed using nothing but a laser beam made of his own smugness. It’s a vicious circle).
Now I’ve never been a huge fan of mindless patriotism. I’ve long since acknowledged that there are countless places better than Britain. I love Italy. I’m trying my best to be Italian, but despite loving the food and the coffee, I just can’t get the hang of the racism and governmental corruption. I’ll persevere.
I’ve never really understood the logic that being born in a place instantly elevates it as being superior to all other towns or countries based solely on the fact that it was lucky enough to bear witness to the majesty of your birth. It’s an incredibly arrogant attitude to have – that the geographical location of your mother’s vagina at a random point in the past determines the quality of that location. What makes you think your mother’s vagina’s so special? Eh? Eh? *Ahem*. Anyway.
And now, after a dispute in congress, the American government has shut down. Just stopped working. After failing to reach an agreement on the national budget, the government has effectively taken its ball and gone home, leaving over 700,000 federal employees facing unpaid leave with no promise of their missing wages being paid. It’s an unthinkable situation for most other countries. Even Syria has managed to pay its bills and maintain their workers’ salaries in the middle of its ongoing civil war. The Smithsonian Institutions and National Parks, including the Statue of Liberty have closed, and the teaching and healthcare professions will also face reductions in staffing.
That could never happen in this country. For one thing, there are complicated differences in the intricacies of the British and American governmental makeup which prevent such an occurrence from being possible, but also because as far as the majority of the British public is concerned the government doesn’t actually do any work anyway. We don’t notice when parliament is on recess because frankly we try to avoid politics on general principle, treating politicians with the same level of contempt as a dog turd steeped in horse manure and covered in cow shit.
And that’s the major difference between Britain and America. British politicians all seem to be homogeneous bland ex-public school boys with different coloured ties depending on their randomly assigned party, all desperately trying to race to the middle ground in a doomed attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator voter, using wishy-washy non-commital speech in the vague hope of pleasing everyone. American politicians are the polar opposite. Loud, brash and extremely vocal about their viewpoints, no matter how ridiculous and offensive they may be, American politicians make damn sure you know where they stand. In a country where guns can be a right and healthcare a privilege, it takes a special brand of lunatic to want to be a politician. And that, if nothing else makes America a damn sight more interesting than the UK.
We have David Cameron.
They have Barack Obama.
We have chavs.
They have gun-totin’, fag-bashin’, Jesus-lovin’ rednecks.
We have Hollyoaks Later.
They have Breaking Bad.