Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Why do Americans love a winner and Britons love the underdog?

Many argue about the differences between Americans and Britons. British people think America is full of obese, arrogant loudmouths who wouldn't notice irony if it came free with a supersize McDonald's. Americans think Britons are uptight, painfully posh and fear sex, parties and generally anything fun - in fact we live our lives like Sherlock Holmes (not the cool new Robert Downey Jr one, but the old, stifled one that had a worryingly surpressed homoerotic relationship with Watson). These are both of course sweeping generalistaions that everyone knows are so far removed from the truth.

So let's make a sweeping generalisation. I think the fundamental difference between Americans and Britons is their attitude towards success. America celebrate it with flashing lights and a marching band. Britons detest it and mock it mercilessly. Americans are brought up to think they could be the next President; Britons are told it will never happen to you. No American would have rallied so strongly behind a team like Portsmouth, when they played high-flying Tottenham in the Cup this weekend. They would have considered it a travesty that a recently relegated team who have so many self-inflicted financial problems they make Icelandic bankers look careful, could beat a side pushing for the English football elite. They would think why aren't we supporting the team that haven't shot themselves in the foot and have played some football this year that is worthy of a European place next year. Fair point. But in Britain (unless you are a Spurs fan of course) we loved to see essentially a Sunday league team fumbling their way to the final and making Harry Redknapp look increasingly more like a toad that's had a stroke... or five.

Look at the most successful sitcoms from the two countries in the last ten years. In America you have Friends. A group of good-looking successful people, who despite many pit falls along the way, in the end wind up happy, rich and essentially winners. In Britain there was The Office (yeah I know there's an American version smart arse). A sitcom basically based around the shortcomings and embarassment of a slightly seedy boss, who thought he was the next comedy genius. It was an office mostly full of losers, but we rooted for them. Britons wouldn't have liked a smart, sophisticated boss. Even in the American Office, Michael Scott is just that bit more efficient than David Brent.

None of this really matters, or is probably true and I'm sure there's thousands of examples that would blow my theory out of the water. Personally as a Briton, I hope nobody ever reads this blog because then it would make it successful and then where do I stand?

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