Friday, June 27, 2008

The English : Judge, Jury and Executioner

The English have, no doubt, gotten a pretty raw deal in modern media. Look at any action flick or poorly written space opera, and you can be sure that the fellow in the over-starched grey uniform will give his orders with a terse, aloof accent that, while not one that can be found anywhere in the world, nevertheless is one that the World in General thinks the Brits have. The Brits also appear to be on the side of oppression in almost every historical epic worth mentioning. Even if it's say, Ancient Rome, you can bet your toga that Nero will have the flair of the Isle.

It's as if America has some sort of ancestral memory of the Brits, scars of taxation without representation and taking orders from gentlemen with fancy accents and powdered wigs. I imagine that'd be a wound that wouldn't heal well.

But in many ways the US still holds the English in powdered wig role. Anytime one needs the Authority on something, or A Real Serious Decision, it's always someone with an accent that sounds most at home making comments about "Chelsea" or ordering a scone. The Severe English Judge has become a trope in reality TV. If you have judges judging things: dancing, singing, dancing in groups, there is some bloody Brit in there making the FINAL DECISION.

There are two throwaway judges, usually, The Artist, who adds nothing useful and just wants EVERYONE to win, the Wannabe, who tries to make some sort of critical point but is hindered by his overuse of the word 'dawg', and the Brit.The audience pretty much ignores ALL judgements except for the Brit's. The Opinion That Matters.

Americans aren't to be trusted in their assessment. They are too 'rah-rah why can't we all win', yet at the same time, by the very nature of contests, someone has to win. So it's up to the Brit to nod his well coiffed head and either give begrudging approval or sit and ponder while he constructs the best way to destroy the aspiring singer/dancer/group dancer's dreams in a way that only a Greater Demon from the ninth circle could.

I think it's also the sentiment that the Brits, and Europe in general have more rigour. Things are more Old School Serious over there. One gets images of 2nd Grade children having to memorize every little country in western africa for their geography lessons, whereas in the America the children just have to find the US on a globe. Maybe this is part and parcel with Britain having Tradition and History. I mean, when there have castles, they aren't ironic remakings of a bygone era, they are actual castles (albeit bought up and inhabited by some media baron or Madonna).

It's the order of the world. The Brits, have Rigour and Judgement, the Americans, well, they have the guns, I suppose.

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