Welcome to America. Land of the free, home of the brave. And birthplace to thieves. It’s time for another rant, so kick back and let me tell you what really grinds my gears.
I have too many issues with pop culture to count. I’ve noted several of them in previous posts. A big one is lack of originality. It seems that almost all major releases these days in basically every pop culture medium (film, music, television) is just another rehashing of some long-forgotten blast from the past, retooling of once-successful franchises, or blatant rip-offs from other cultures. And it seems to me that the easiest culture to steal from is the United Kingdom. (Not that they’re easy targets or victims or anything, just noting the similarities in culture, language, world views, etc.)
British culture has influenced the “American way” since somewhere around 1492. Fact. And through the decades those influences have fluctuated, but have undeniably been present.
I’d like to start with motorcycles. (Come on, are you surprised? Of course I would!) At first glance, from a distance, you may not spot a lot of similarities between a Harley Davidson and a Triumph. Victory cruisers are distinctly different from Nortons. Old fashioned Indians bear no likeness to the BSA’s of yesteryear. But with a quick history lesson I will educate you to see vast similarities. American motorcycles came from the military (in mass production). Pilots came home from war and longed to feel the rush of wind whipping through their hair. That desire was satisfied on a motorcycle. In England, it was much the same thing. In the mid 1900’s, the status of riding a motorcycle plummeted from high-class luxury to war veterans to back alley greasers. The affordability and danger gave birth to the motorcycle culture. And with that, came the need…the need for speed. The English daredevils adopted the nickname “Rockers” and created the Cafe Racer. Americans seemed content just being known as bikers, and started chopping off every non-essential part of the bike to reduce weight and drag – hence the term “chopper.” Starting to see some parallels here? Good, then meet me at the next paragraph for example #2.
Still with me? Moving on then. If you are unlucky enough to know me, then you are undoubtedly aware of my passion for music. Specifically rock & roll. Any kind of rock really: oldies, classic, 80’s hair metal, 90’s grunge, nu-metal, alternative, pop /rock (and Pop Rocks), christian (yes, really), rockabilly, and so on. And so on. (I think you’re starting to get the picture.) Even here though, as a country, America still plays second fiddle. While we have the right to lay claim to Elvis Aaron Presley, who may have started a movement, it was the British Invasion of the 60’s and 70’s that gave us some of the best music in rock history. England gave us The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, The Ramones, The Kinks, Bob Dylan, and so on, while domestically we had The Beach Boys, Grand Funk Railroad, KISS, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Jimi Hendrix. Note the great deal of discrepancy there. You have to go north of the U.S. border to get another handful of artists to even attempt to keep up with the Brits. Canada offered up groups like Rush, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, The Guess Who, and Blue Oyster Cult. (I am certainly, in no way what-so-ever disrespecting the contributions of anyone on that list. I am simply noting the amount of overseas talent compared to only a handful of relevant American rockers.)
Finally, we have what HAS to be the most blatantly ripped off medium – television. I’ve previously stated my disdain for “reality” shows, and wouldn’t you know it, the biggest show in America was shipped to us from across the pond. American Idol is a straight-up thieving of the Britain’s’ brainchild, Pop Idol. Zero differences. Ask Ricky Gervais how effective America is at lifting tv shows. In an awards show monologue a couple of years ago, following his speech, Gervais stated that after a short commercial break Steve Carell would come out and do the same exact speech, but get more laughs, more money, and more credit. That’s right, The Office is another perfectly good example of American unoriginality. Inevitably, the most watched show on the globe now has an American version as well. England perfected the art of the car show with Top Gear, only to have America come along and throw its’ half-assed hat in the ring. In a poor attempt to rake in some of the ratings, the History channel served up a U.S. version of the infotaining car show, only the platter was bare and offered a very minimal amount of what makes the show so great.
Luckily for many, the justice system in the United States is vastly different from Hammurabi’s Code (eye for an eye) or there would quite possibly be an awful lot of people walking around Hollywood without any hands. The punishment for kleptomania, you see, would be the removal of the burglar’s hand.
We’ve got G.I. Joe, but I’m not convinced he would stand a chance if pitted against James Bond…unless Captain America and the Justice League stepped in. And there we have it. Good, old-fashioned American ingenuity. Originality at its finest. Stan Lee is the mastermind behind our nation’s creativity. Comic books and superheroes are an American tradition – an institution of western civilization, if you will. And as long as Superman is on watch, we’re in good hands.
With liberty, and justice for all.
Thank you, that is all.