It has often been said, with the influx of certain fast-food giants, Hollywood blockbusters and words like awesome, that Great Britain is becoming more and more Americanized. However, what is often overlooked is that this is also happening in reverse. For such a tiny island, Great Britain has culturally influenced the United States perhaps more than any other country. And here are 5 ways in which this is happening.
British literature has, of course, been making its way into the American psyche for generations. Indeed, long before J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter saga, which has sold in excess of 100 million copies in America alone, took the U.S. by storm, Americans were turning to Tolkien, Dickens, Austen and Shakespeare. Film and stage adaptations of the Lord of The Rings, Oliver Twist, Pride and Prejudice and, well, every Shakespeare play ever written have substantially boosted sales of said literature.
Like numbers 1 and 3 on this list, British music has been adopted by American consumers throughout much of recent history. While One Direction, Coldplay and Adele are adored by certain music lovers this side of the ocean in 2013, British music makes up what seems to be 50% of the golden hits played on classic rock stations throughout the land: you’ve got Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen; Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin; Rocket Man by Elton John; Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd; and far too many songs by Phil Collins. Prior to the seventies, of course, the U.S. was subject to a pop culture invasion, led predominantly by The Beatles – with The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Who not far behind. But the British influence goes back even further than this: did you know that the so-called graduation march was actually composed by British composer Edward Elgar and has often been considered for the country’s national anthem?
3. Film and Television
As I touched upon in number 1, films based on famous British books – a list that also includes James Bond – have had a huge impact across the United States. But there is also a plethora of original screenplays and television shows that have made the pan-Atlantic transition too. From Richard Curtis movies such as Love, Actually to grittier films like Trainspotting, British films have been a relatively huge hit in the U.S. over the past 20 years. Alongside this success, meanwhile, shows such as Dr. Who and Downton Abbey have gained considerable success, while U.S. remakes of British shows like The Office and Shameless have transferred to American television to high acclaim. That is not to overlook, also, classic programs such as Upstairs, Downstairs, Fawlty Towers and Benny Hill, all of continuing to gain airplay.
British style pubs can be found in most major U.S. cities and are often identifiable by the presence of the St. George’s flag and a photograph of Winston Churchill. For British expats, these establishments – though not always completely authentic – are a God send. Firstly, their menus typically offer a selection of British dishes, such as shepherd’s pie, fish ‘n’ chips and bangers and mash, while Newcastle Brown Ale and Guinness are almost always among the drinks on offer. Personally, the thing I like most about visiting a British style pub is that they show live British sports. This brings me on to point number 5.
5. Football (the real kind)
Whether Americans care to admit it or not, football (soccer) is starting to take off in the United States. In Indiana alone, it is not terribly difficult to find a set of goal posts if you fancy a kick about, and soccer jerseys – albeit usually ones from other countries – are becoming rather common in major cities. This influx perhaps lends itself as much to the Hispanic community as it does to any British influence, but the money England’s biggest football clubs (Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea) spend on overseas marketing cannot be overlooked either. Such is the USA’s growing enthusiasm for football, that I predict the country’s national team will win the FIFA World Cup within 30 years.
What other ways is America becoming more like Britain? Let us know in the comments!