What has this got to do with “He Was Weird?” After all, the only mention of Great Britain in the story takes place a few hours after the big climax when the BBC reports on the school shooting. I will admit that I shouldn’t have ended that part so quickly because in reality, the BBC would have spent the next ten minutes speaking about the American gun culture. There would have been experts giving their account and every newspaper would have been commenting about gun toting Yanks and that ties in perfectly to what I am going to be talking about with this post. I am American and the only time I had anything to do with firearms was when I was in the marines. This is just one stereotype about Americans I had to contend with over the 28 years I have been living in the UK. After this many years, it is taking its toll on me.
You are probably going to think I am very sad here but I enjoy reading the “Dear Deidre” column in the Sun. She is the agony aunt for the paper and a few weeks back I read one of her Casebook features about a man who met an old girlfriend, who was now living in the US and visiting in the UK. They hooked up while she was in the country, thus causing him troubles because he was cheating on his current girlfriend with her. What seemed to be left out the girl was cheating on her boyfriend but no one seemed to notice this because her boyfriend was American. So, (now you’ll think I’m really sad) but I emailed Dear Deidre pointing this out. She responded that the feature was about the man who had written her and not the girl and nationality didn’t come into it. I accepted that. However, I emailed her again saying that all these years of inaccurate stereotypes, the same stupid jokes and other things said about Americans which have been downright offensive and derogatory have taken its toll on me. She wrote back saying that instead of letting it get to me, I should watch how I interact with people to prove the stereotypes wrong.
Here’s the thing: I have been doing that for 28 years. It has been a never ending mission to prove that I am not that stereotypical American. If anything, it has been said that I go too far the other way. One ex girlfriend said that I should be a typical loud mouth American. Still it seems that to many people in the UK, I will have to keep going out to disprove stereotypes about my nationality. It gets tiresome from time to time although I have given up on those less than ten percent of Britons who will always hate Americans for the sake of hating Americans.
I must bring up the two times where things got bad enough for me to try to address the issue. The first time was back in the early 1990s when I happened to off sick on July 4 on consecutive years. The first year it was a joke and I went along with it. However, the second year, spearheaded by an alleged BNP member who, because there was only one racial minority working in the department, started to take a dislike to me. Anyway, when I came back to work, I had “July 4, We Know” and “Independence Day Sickness, We know you’re lying” written on my locker and other places. The manager seemed to be in agreement with them so I telephoned the Commission for Racial Equality. Their response floored me. They simply stated that white Americans didn’t come under the racial equality act even though if a member of a racial minority had experienced what I had, they would have taken up the case but in my case, I should just ignore it. This is my one major gripe about living in Britain. The fact that if anyone says anything even deemed remotely offensive about any other nationality, that person is branded “racist” and hung, drawn and quartered but anything that is said about Americans, no matter how derogatory, is okay. Some will play the card that it’s not racist because it is a nationality being attacked and not a race. That’s just playing on semantics and doesn’t justify it. Furthermore, when UKIP party leader Nigel Farrage made a derogatory statement about Romanians, he was immediately called racist. Strange, I always thought that Romania was a country so wouldn’t he be attacking a nationality? But it seems to be a racist statement so I would argue that if it’s racist about Romanians, then it’s racist against Americans.
The other instance was about three years ago and it appeared in the Sun. Morning talk show host Lorraine Kelly writes a Saturday column for the newspaper. In an article about Brittany Spears, she stated that Spears was loud, swore a lot, had rotten teeth and was smelly just like “any average Yankee bloke.” Those words hit me like a bag of bricks. When I recovered I emailed the Press Complaints Commission but they didn’t agree with my view that it was a racial slur. Furthermore, I even did a stereotypical American thing and phoned my union’s solicitors but was told there was no case. So, that’s it I thought, in Britain you can say whatever you want about Americans and the law will back you up.
On the subject of Miss Kelly, after reading a number of articles in her column for the past few years, I have come to the conclusion she is among the less than ten per cent I mentioned earlier. In fact, in my opinion, she is a blatant American hater! Now, I am not one of those fanatically patriotic American rednecks, (the sort that actually does give decent Americans like me a bad name in the UK), who see any sort of criticism of America as hatred for the country. Believe me, there are things about America that doesn’t make me proud to be one but I think Lorraine is one of those who like to colour us all with the same brush. So, I will now address some stereotypes and misconceptions about Americans for Lorraine and others who think like her.
1. While I have put on a little weight in my older years, I will never get so fat I will need the fire department to get me out of bed. Those types of people are few and far between and the average American is disgusted with that type. I have a bit more compassion for them. Still, as my wife and eldest stepson found when I took them to the US, there are also a lot of hardcore fitness fanatics there too.
2. Having served in the US marines, I strongly protest Miss Kelly’s and others’ view that the American armed forces are absolute rubbish. In the friendly fire incident she reported in her column I questioned the wisdom of sending Air National Guard units to the Middle East. Their job is supposed to be guarding the skies over America. However, the average soldier on the ground is as good as anybody, even British ones.
3. I have never owned a gun and many Americans don’t. The gun debate will always be a fierce one over there. As for school shootings like in “He Was Weird,” there are other factors that contribute to them beyond access to guns.
4. I never met any American who was actually named “Bubba.”
5. Most Americans know that Hollywood films based on historical events aren’t accurate.
6. While Hollywood actors are spoiled brats, for every top flight actor, there are five others who are just as good or better who haven’t gotten that big break. This doesn’t make American actors inferior to British ones.
7. Another thing about Lorraine, she swoons and praises British actors who land parts as top American figures but is the first to deride American actors who play British roles. Sorry Lorraine, you can’t have it both ways.
8. I have no intention of consuming all the worlds resources and deplore corporations who intend to do so. I don’t buy their pitch to working Americans that if those corporations didn’t consume the world’s resources, then all Americans would be out of a job.
Now before any Brit reading this goes BNP on me and says, “If you don’t like it here, then piss off back to America,” let me declare that I do like it here. Most people in Britain have accepted me and putting things into context, it has taken twenty eight years for the things I have written about to finally take its toll on me. Furthermore, I would like to thank many of the British people and even journalists who heaped praise on the Us World Cup team. The one virtue they succeeded at portraying to the world, which the England team seems to have forgotten: The name on the front of the shirt is much more important than the name at the back. I notice that Lorraine Kelly never mentioned them. Still, American bashing should be not tolerated any more than the bashing of any other nationality.
Next post: Thought About America from One in the UK
To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404849836&sr=8-1&keywords=he+was+weird