Friday, 23 March 2012

HOW DO YOU DO . . .  
British, English, ish, shhh!

Life throws up bitter black choices, life-changing and heart-breaking scenarios for nations. Syria, for example, a nation struggling to escape the genocide and suffocation, believing what hope is left after the utter cruelty and injustice that has befallen them. A group of unfortunate citizens that sadly aren’t alone. 

Britain, for example can at least take endless comfort in the growing group of fearsome existentialists discussing whether fish & chips or chicken tikka masala truly defines us as a populous and could they use it as a basis for their 8 part look on the British cultural zeitgeist?

Do we need to continue this endless analysis of our nations psyche? Our quirks’ and eccentricities itemised over and over again like we’re not acutely aware of them being actual, British, people. 

Why is defining yourself something we either seem to need to do, or a matter of acute stress that we haven’t?  Books, programmes, shows, reports and articles on: What is Britishness? What does Britishness mean to you? The end of Britishness? John Bishops Britain, Jamie Great Britain, Modern Britain, Don’t ever lose your Britishness, Being British. 

Don’t we now have enough?  Enough pouring over and dragging out trite generalisations and tired old types. Underdog, self deprecating humour, weather fixation, bad food, bad teeth, bad food that’s now good, faded musical prowess, world defining language, empiristic tendancies, it goes on and on into smaller incriments to the point where we’re unaware if we’re observing Britain, England, Camden, Camden High Street, or just our shop keeper we’ve delved, hacked, and boxed so much he cries whenever we raise our eyebrows.

Our imposed economic union makes us seek some sort of belated half-hearted cultural union. Trying desperately to understand shifts that aren’t that complicated and if we’d bothered to engage more with the other three countries bound to us and maybe those few million minorities over the last century or so we would had have more of an idea by now, rather than acting like a load of wide-eyed apes gaping through at people being people. 

Saying things like:

“Ahhmm, what interesting people.”

“Ohhh, I never knew they felt like that.”

“Um whoops, I didn’t know that was why.”

“That’s disgusting, look look. Urgh, you'd never catch me doing that

So don’t forget the minorities, yes of course, like you can forget to mention the glaring fact we’re not a mono-culture and haven’t been for sometime.  No hold it up like we’re proud, look, curry and jerk chicken, chinese and kebab, we love this!  It’s like saying; we know what you make us, but we don’t know you, but you make it so well, you can be this. This, or a bad thing.

What these features show is our myopic perspective, how we like to praise, sing, show, tour and tout to everyone this multicultural wide diverse self-important land but the simple fact that, y’know, we are the only one’s listening. It would also seem we aren’t even paying attention given are failure to pass our own citizen tests.

I hope other nations don’t have to suffer this endless psyche analysis, but I’m sure we’re not alone.  The Inuit’s probably debate the cultural impact of Pingu and wonder if igloos truly define them?  The Sweedes would undoubtedly reflect on whether anyone really knows them or really cares they’re around? And the Americans, well the Americans are on season 732 of ‘America: Great Bold and Proud Yeah!,’ an unedited series that documents everything any American has ever said as culturally important and abundantly significant to world life.  This is a nation so open about itself every part of it is on sale and ultimately replenishable like some ever fruiting hamburger tree or more accurately a Chinese plastic toy factory churning out commemorative 9/11 badges. 

Generally speaking, through travel, TV and shared experience. Culture is becoming increasingly homogenised, so instead of fighting it, go with it, become a world nation, blend and meld and become an identity that can work together in shared experience, otherwise we’ll defend and embitter, we’ll squabble and territorialise. If something is so important and great and good, it’ll shine through and if it doesn’t it probably wasn’t that great.

Unlike Syria at least we get the choice.

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