I read a lot of books. No surprise there, right? I mean this is after all a book blog. But it’s true, I do. I eat up books at an alarming speed, barely pausing for breath between each paperback and fiction. Well, apart from to shove my nose in the pages and inhale that rich scent of a good story (Seriously, I would wear that smell as perfume). Recently though, I have had no new books to read. I was scanning my bookshelf looking for an old favourite instead, when I realised something. Hardly any of my books were British?
How peculiar. Where was the UK in these stories? Where was London and Cardiff? Glasgow and Belfast? Where was my home country? How as a 16 year old British girl, who bought her books from almost solely British sources (Does Amazon have a nationality?) could I have so few books actually set in Britain? And if Britain wasn’t here, what was?
America. I may not have had London but my bookshelf was jam packed with places like Chicago, New York, Detroit and Walmart. I’ve never been to America but somehow I have managed to accumulate rather a large amount of American fiction!
And that was fine by me! I mean I love my American fiction. A lot of it is warmer and sunnier than the UK with all of its cloud (In January I forget what the sky even looks like) and by now I’m used to the American terminology and school system, so the plotlines are just as good to me as any other country’s.
But I realised as I began to re-read my American fiction that maybe my country wasn’t entirely misrepresented in my bookshelf. There were Brits living in these American worlds, whether they were exchange students or recently moved families. The problem was, they were horribly inaccurate. For starters, all these Brits were boys, where were all the British girls? And of course, they were horribly stereotyped. Let me give you an example.
Your typical American Fiction British boy:
American Fiction tends to feature two kinds of British males. The Rich Brit and The Poor Brit.
The Rich Brit talks like he was raised on a diet of caviar and liquid gold, which of course he was. He walks with his nose in the air and treats you like one of the many maids that doted on him as a child. He is from London, and before he was unfairly removed from his extravagant home in Kensington Gardens and shoved into your American high school (which he openly despises) he went to the biggest and best British boarding school ever built, where they rode ponies in the yard and played quidditch and had secret midnight feasts in their dorm rooms with lashings and lashings of ginger beer. The Rich Brit craves scones like no one’s business
The Poor Brit is more common, in more ways than one. Though he may not necessarily be poor he still has an air of it about him like Bert from Mary Poppins. He does not eat scones but instead will talk about Earl Gray and big English fry-ups that he once consumed every morning. He talks fairly posh as well (we all do in Britain, don’t we?) but his language is littered with phrases such as ‘Cor blimey’ and ‘bloody ‘ell’. The American girls all laugh at the way he says ‘ass’ but cannot resist his crooked smile and British charm. He does not know what a T-Shirt is dressing instead like some kind of time lord. The poor Brit is also from London (because that is the only British place American fiction seems to be aware of) and likes to reminisce on the cobbled roads, and double decker buses and his old job as a chimney sweep. Those were the days. The Poor Brit is always the love interest.
The Real British Boy:
The Real British Boy does not talk posh, even if he is from London. If he has an accent it’s Yorkshire, or Glaswegian or Geordie. He goes to a normal school, just like everyone else, and may never have played hockey in his life. The thought of buying a tea and scone for lunch is absolutely alien and he sticks instead to a cheese sandwich and an apple. His diet would not be affected if he moved to America, nor would his clothes seem out of place. In fact, most of the brands he wears are straight out of America anyway. He likes Harry Potter but the closest he has ever gotten to Hogwarts is the Warner Brothers Studios. He was probably raised in your average suburban house on a very ordinary street. He is barely distinguishable from an American boy… although he probably does say ‘arse’ instead of ‘ass’
Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating the American Brit a little bit (or an awful lot), but my point still stands. I don’t expect American fiction to be absolutely chock-a-block with British kids, but a little less of a stereotype would be nice. The thing about London, in my readings anyway, is generally true. It would be nice to have the British kid be Northern Irish or Scottish just once.
|Can you tell the difference?|
It’s not a huge problem, (I still love American fiction anyway) and maybe Britain does it to American kids too but that issue doesn’t seem so apparent. But maybe before an American writer makes the British kid a crucial part of their plotline, instead of marathoning every BBC series ever made and using J.K. Rowling as your guide they should visit Britain, or even just talk to an actual Brit. I love America, but us Brits don’t like it when you see us as all the same, especially when that all the same is so far from the truth. So, America, don’t be an arse, let’s stop the stereotypes!
So, what do you lot think about this issue, especially all you Americans and Brits? Have you noticed this? Do you mind? If your view is completely different to mine, then say so! I love different opinions! Go on, let’s get a good ol’ discussion going down in the comments section!