Sunday, February 20, 2005

19% of all downloads

As you know, I like to sometimes get a little philosophical about the British-American relationship, which I will do after I mention 2 things:

1) Capes was right. Mary had her b'day. The trip to Italy counted as my gift. That, and the taxi we took home from the airport instead of riding the train/bus.

2) BK pointed out ties between the Italian town we visited, Aosta, and Valdosta, Georgia. It seems that former governor of Georgia, George Troup, had a plantation named after the Aosta valley in Italy (Val d'Aosta). But my attempts to find out WHY Troup picked that name were fruitless. This, by the way shows a couple of things: i) How great the internet is, 2) How much better it could be if publishers would allow their old books on the internet for free. The answer to why Troup chose the name is undoubtedly tucked away in some book in a library in Georgia, a book that has been read by three people and hasn't been checked out in 15 years. More libraries need to follow Google's cue. And, yes, that would make my research alot easier.

3) Now to the philosophical part. I chose the title of this post as it is because it shows the percentage of all illegally downloaded American TV shows in England. That's right, the English love our TV programs. Number two is not much of a surprise either... Australia. It seems our fellow English speakers can't wait a week to see the newest episode of 24 or CSI, so they download them immediately after they become available on the internet. The fact that the programs are better quality than most of the stuff they have in their countries, and the fact that they are in English is certainly the primary factor for their success. But there is something deeper underlying this trend.

Critics speak of American hegemony, and it exists in many ways. But the truth is that most of the influence of America on culture is soft hegemony... people in other countries like what they see and hear and adopt it. Unfortunately, often times they choose the worse parts of American culture (but thats the stuff of a future post). When I came to England, I did have fears of anti-Americanism, and as I posted before, I have certainly heard some. But, in general, the Brits (and Aussies for that matter) see themselves as more like America than any Western European country. That is a sweeping statement, but the longer I am here the more I believe it. As a result, much of American culture is simply swallowed here. No doubt in the past it went the other way around.

My fears that the Iraq war would make us a target for some undue comments (because we are Americans) were way off. It didn't occur to most Brits to hate America because of the war. Maybe they hate the Bush administration (this is no nearly as prevalent here as I'd imagined, either), but hating America would be unnatural. Sales in McDonald's and Gap weren't affected after the war started (as I've heard that they were in other European countries). In fact, I asked a British friend to name his top 5 favorite movies the other day, and they were all American. And the funny thing is, he'd never even thought about it. He just liked the movies. There are definitely exceptions to this kind of thinking here, but I think it is typical.

In summary, Britain is NOT little America, but she, on the whole, really likes her sister across the ocean. Smarter people than I have said these kinds of things, by the way.


Post a Comment

<< Home