by Vivian Obarski
Dear Geek girls and Geek women —
First off, I’m coming from a place of love. Don’t get me wrong. But we need to talk. Specifically about the Anglophilia I’ve been seeing lately. Whether it’s Doctor Who, Sherlock, Shakespeare or whatever else, it seems like a lot of us geeks of the female persuasion are falling all over themselves when it comes to the boys from across the pond.
Nevermind the fact that tea came from Asia first (and what’s with never seeing stuff like “I like my men, like I like my tea. Hot and Chinese,” or “Hot and Indian”? Or if you’re gonna do Hot and British, why not some other guys like Idris Elba, Adrian Lester or Dev Patel — why’s the majority skinny white actors? I’m just askin’ yo.), but this stuff is really getting on my nerves as of late.
Maybe it’s because I’ve had to deal with the whole fetish thing as a Chinese-American woman, but I can’t help but feel for our friends from across the pond. It’s like a European version of those movies where the white people go to Asia and discover themselves thanks to a bunch of well-meaning, quirky native folk. Yes. I am being sarcastic.
Don’t get me wrong — there’s a lot of good stuff from England. I like a shepherd’s pie, Jaffa Cakes, Spaced, the comedy of Monty Python, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and tons more, but the impression I get from a lot of people online as of late is that England (because let’s be real, it’s England — specifically London a lot of Anglophiles are talking about) is better than anywhere else in the world.
That’s the thing of fetishizing that is gross to me (and it doesn’t matter the object of the fetish). It’s not an accurate or true picture of a place — and it’s not even necessarily an outdated view of a place, but more of what that place can fulfill in a person that they feel is lacking (see my last review of Seeking Asian Female) in their own lives. Maybe American men are lacking in manners and are kinda crass at times, but you know what? That’s everywhere. England is no better. I mean, the country gave us the viral story of a man getting his head stuck in a trash bin. Maybe we’re not as refined, but again, we’re talking about a country that also gave us Ali G In Da House. Not exactly the most dry and refined of comedies (disclaimer — I love Ali G in Da House — it’s just over the top stupid and I’ve found myself singing Montell Jordan and other New Jack Swing songs days later).
I’ve seen way too many essays on why BBC television is better than American television, which somehow ignores the fact that there’s a lot of brilliant American television like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Let’s not forget that Coupling was basically a spin on Friends, people. Moffat didn’t write the sexy friends comedy first. Nothing is original. We all riff and borrow ideas from each other. Moffatt is not the alpha and omega of writing (dear lord I hope not). I have yet to hear a British rapper outside of M.I.A. who can throw down with our rap artists here.
I just get this sense that with people with severe cases of anglophilia, it’s similar to people who love Mad Men and wish that they could live in the cool mod elegance of the 1960’s. What they’re looking for is an idealized notion of a simpler, or (on the surface) more civilized, posh or refined place that just doesn’t exist. It’s all illusions based on idealized notions. But maybe I get cranky about this because I’m unapologetically American. I was born and raised and continue to live in Wisconsin, and much like how Leslie Knope feels about Pawnee, I love Wisconsin, even though there is much room for improvement (I’m looking at you Governor Walker).
I also get cranky too because I’ve heard and seen enough about the bullshit that happens overseas to strip illusions away. There is no place that will be perfect. No city or country that will live up to one’s idealized notions. And until those fetishized notions are burned down, I don’t think you can love something fully. You’re just chasing dreams and never feeling satisfied.