The British Invasion Makes a Comeback

I love the Brits, let me just say that up front, so don’t take what I’m about to write as a knock on our allies from across the pond, but I believe the British Empire is alive and well in the US of A. Yes, the U.S. suffers from colonial oppression, only Americans can’t see it, or maybe we can and are in a state of denial. We are an independent British colony. What’s the proof you ask?

Exhibit A:  Harry Potter.  JK Rowling has succeeded in creating a generation of literate Americans, who might otherwise have fallen prey to the video game industry.  Hogwarts is a household name.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some American kids aspire to go there believing it to be a real place.  Nor would I be surprised to learn that Brown University students believe Emma Watson is actually Hermione Granger.  Harry Potter has penetrated American culture so deeply that JK Rowling has replaced Dr. Seuss as the go to bedtime story author.

Exhibit B: Americans seem more interested in the agenda of the Royals than the agenda of the U.S. Congress.  I have to admit the debt ceiling debate is not very entertaining; important of course, but wholly unappealing.

Exhibit C:  Many have been tuning into British owned Fox to watch Major League Baseball, America’s favorite pastime, and the All-Star Game. And speaking of Fox, let’s not forget Rupert Murdoch who has had a profound impact on the U.S. news media, and not for the good unless you happen to be a Republican Tea Partying Fox “news” fan with a taste for the tabloids and scandals. He even has control over one of America’s once most respected rags, the Wall Street Journal.

Exhibit D:  And speaking of Murdoch and Fox, how about all the British network stars who are uncovering American talent left and right as if European explorers. Simon Cowell is like a modern day Francis Drake “discovering” American vocal talent and making a fortune for the producers of American Idol, Fox and himself which he has parlayed into his own show featuring more American talent on the X-Factor. ABC is even in on the act with two Brits, Piers Morgan and Sharon Osborne, judging America’s talent on America’s Got Talent.  And Piers Morgan somehow managed to land Larry King’s job on CNN.  John Oliver, another Brit, has made a big comedic splash on The Daily Show with John Stewart.

Exhibit E:  The Brits have also discovered America’s “best” amateur culinary talents with the invasion of the mighty Scottish explorer Sir Gordon Ramsey, and his popular shows, Master Chef, Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares. Thanks to Gordon, America will no longer be known as the land of hotdogs, hamburgers and pizza.

Exhibit F: And the Brits have brought dance to the American public too. So You Think You Can Dance America? The answer is yes and I had no idea. Had it not been for Nigel Lythgoe and company, Americans may never have known that it’s own people danced.  If fact, if memory serves, dancing is illegal in Paris, Texas.

Exhibit G: And of course where would America be without the medical mystery solving House doctor posing as an American. I knew his accent sounded suspicious! And one mustn’t forget the crazed bug eating adventurist Bear Grylls who shows the world and America on Man vs. Wild how to survive alligator infested swamps, the South Dakota Badlands and the deep woods of Maine with nothing more than a sharp knife and a flint.

The British Empire is making a comeback here in the US of A.  And Europeans complain about American cultural imperialism.

A Little Exploitation of the Solomon Islands

In the second installment of a series of random posts, I’ve blindly selected to explore an entry from page 1132 of the Webster’s New Explorer Desk Encyclopedia about the Southwest Pacific Solomon Islands.

I knew diddly-squat about the Solomons prior to reading the entry, but I have heard of one of the prominent islands in the chain – Guadalcanal. In 1942 Guadalcanal was one of the scenes of fierce fighting between the U.S. and Japan over control of the strategic island during WWII.   Guadalcanal Diary is also the name of a band I used to listen to in the mid 80’s whose only noteworthy song in my opinion is “Cattle Prod” off the album Jamboree.

The entry says the Spanish “visited” the Solomons in 1568, though I hardly think visited would be the correct characterization.   The Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana landed on the island he named Guadalcanal after his hometown.  On the island, he discovered a substance thought to be gold.  Believing he had stumbled upon King Solomon’s treasure, he named the chain of islands, the Solomons.   The islands are also known as the “pearls of the pacific”.  Hardly an innocent visit to befriend the natives.

“Explored and charted” by the Dutch, French and British, the Solomon islands became a British protectorate and eventually gained full independence as an island nation.  What of this term protectorate?  Did the Brits offer the islands protection?  Would not the term colonial oppression be a better descriptor?  Protectorate?  From what – active volcanoes for which the chain is known?  Or to protect the indigenous people from the problems  wealth can create as chronicled in Steinbeck’s The Pearl.

Visit and protect – such innoncent terms.  I wonder if the New Explorer Desk Encyclopedia is interested in exploring the truth?