Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Europe's love/hate relationship with America -- it's not just for breakfast anymore

Some Brits strike me as having a love/hate relationship with America, though they refuse to admit the "love" part. Apparently, this sentiment extends throughout Europe. It's a breezy, "cool kids" kind of attitude to espouse. Many see the U.S. as a blight on the planet, a land of loathsome or ridiculous people. A country whose movies, music, accents, outlook and holiday spots they also seem to love (at least the ones in NYC, Orlando and LA -- the rest are so far off their radar they'll merely blink if you say you come from Wisconsin and mentally insert the words "New York," as that is the vortex into which all other U.S. cities are sucked when you look in from the outside. Americans do the same thing with London, so it evens out) .

It's all a bit confusing and I've never been sure exactly how to explain it to those who haven't witnessed this split personality firsthand. Thanks to British writer A. A. Gill, I don't have to -- he's gone and done it himself, a whole book's worth of explaining in "To America with Love." I haven't read the book yet, but Vanity Fair did us the favor of printing an adapted article. It's interesting reading, and I admit, a bit surprising to see a Brit actually stick up for us Yanks.

Here's a taste if you don't have time to read his article just now:

"Stronger in some countries like France, less so somewhere like Germany, but overall the Old World patronizes America for being a big, dumb, fat, belligerent child. The intellectuals, the movers and the makers and the creators, the dinner-party establishments of people who count, are united in the belief—no, the knowledge—that Americans are stupid, crass, ignorant, soul-less, na├»ve oafs without attention, irony, or intellect. These same people will use every comforting, clever, and ingenious American invention, will demand America’s medicine, wear its clothes, eat its food, drink its drink, go to its cinema, love its music, thank God for its expertise in a hundred disciplines, and will all adore New York. More than that, more shaming and hypocritical than that, these are people who collectively owe their nations’ and their personal freedom to American intervention and protection in wars, both hot and cold. Who, whether they credit it or not, also owe their concepts of freedom, equality, and civil rights in no small part to America. Of course, they will also sign collective letters accusing America of being a Fascist, totalitarian, racist state."

Go on with your bad self, Mr. Gill!

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