diamond geezer

 Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving (and other mysteries)

A very happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers in the United States. As every Briton knows, Thanksgiving is that special day of the year when Americans eat turkey and pretend they're all descended from pilgrims. Or is it the day when you eat pumpkin pie and dress up in traditional native American headgear? Or is it the day when you fly long distances to eat pecan pie with their families? Or is it the day when you eat cranberries and start their Christmas shopping. See, nobody in Britain really knows, or cares. We've all got to go to work today, and your traditional family celebrations pass us by unnoticed. It's not bitterness, you understand. We don't care that in 1620 a few joyless Britons sailed across the Atlantic to found a nation who would later subjugate us in global influence (honestly, we don't). Your quaint day of Thanksgiving is just another Americanism which plays no part whatsoever in our lives.

Except on television. We watch a lot of your television, partly because you make so much of it. And your television series often feature aspects of American culture which are relatively alien to the rest of the world. Like, for example, those annual Thanksgiving episodes of Friends packed with unintelligible turkey-based nuances. Here are some other bewildering slices of American life which, to us Brits at least, exist only on screen:

"The Prom": Every American teenage TV series must, by law, contain one "Prom" episode. On their last day at school, all the characters dress up in posh suits and elegant ballgowns and then spend the evening dancing and trying not to kiss each other. Surely it would be more fun to dress down and get pissed on lager instead, and a lot cheaper?
"Little League": To the best of my knowledge, all tousle-haired American ten-year-old boys spend their weekends being whipped into line playing a version of institutionalised rounders. If I'm wrong, sorry, but that's how it always looks on children's TV.
"Vietnam": I know our film industry made far too many films about 'plucky valiant Brits' battling through World War Two, but Hollywood's still churning out far too many films about the agonies of Vietnam. We lost interest after the first fifty, OK?
"Football": But, but, but, that game on the screen's not football! That's lots of burger-fed teenagers dressing up in padded clothing and helmets and standing around in the middle of a big field occasionally running three yards before being jumped on. But there again, we invented cricket, so we're not much better.
"The First Amendment": There are lots of amendments, apparently, on such diverse topics as having to be nice to slaves, giving women the vote and being allowed to gun people down in cold blood. But the First is the most important one... whatever in God's name it is (and I believe I have the freedom to say that).
"Junior High": Sorry American scriptwriters, but when you set a TV series in a 'Junior High', I have no idea how old the children are supposed to be. 7? 12? 15? It's not easy to tell from the actors' faces anyway, because they all look 23.
"The Pledge of Allegiance": Usually seen as a mawkish conclusion to a particularly moral-filled half hour, with rows of gap-toothed kids chanting in reverence beneath a big stripy flag. It might tug at the heartstrings in the States, but it lacks all emotional punch outside the homeland.
"Yearbooks": In every college, so TV tells us, a bunch of do-gooding senior students go round taking photographs of everybody else and pasting them into expensive scrapbooks which they then distribute at the end of the year. I'm so pleased nobody tried that at my secondary school - my 1982 haircut is not something I want to relive.

Friday update: You've also suggested... "the World Series", "Spring Break", having a "den" at home, "Varsity", "Fraternities", "Sororities", "Semesters", "the Super Bowl", "Homecoming Queen", "The DA's Office", "NASCAR", "Cheerleaders", "Restrooms", "Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches", "Ballparks", "Summer camp", "Condos", "the backyard", "going to the Drive-in" and "taking out the trash".
Any more?

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream