British Stereotypes in America




“British Stereotypes in America”



Let’s face it, in The United States, we do not understand cricket, we do not understand tea, and we certainly do not understand hidden emotions. Of course there is more to Britain than these cultural icons, just like America is not just made of cowboys from “Dallas” and loud egotistic tourists. However in the year 2000, there are still several myths surrounding the British culture that are very much alive today. Many people in the U.S. and I am sure many other countries tend to think of Britain as a land full of rose gardens, cricket, Oxford, and people drinking tea with their little pinky in the air with the Queen. Myths and legends stem from reality distorted, this in turn continues to affect the real image portrayed by a country.
One famous characteristic that the British I am sure would like to rid themselves of is horrible bland food. It is a common misconception in American that everything that moves or doesn’t is boiled, and stuffed into some sort of animal organ. I believe this originates from the fact that these people have experienced so much grief in the forms of World Wars, which they learned to swallow it and not complain. There could be another explanation though; they might actually like it. Americans definitely have different tastes and this creates one of our cultural differences that we like to torment the British for. Serves them right for trying to not give us our independence, how dare them “let’s make fun of their food”. With the addition of “Two Fat Ladies” and the “Ainsley Harriott Show” (British cooking shows) in America, hopefully some of these misconceptions will change.
The British are also perceived as being a docile, non-violent country. This comes from years of conditioning of learned techniques that have developed this casual attitude.
“…historically the English have in fact been a fairly violent lot. However, for at least two centuries, the ability to control aggressions has been a source of pride to the British”(p.90, Snowden). Americans would say, “no dogs allowed” whereas the British would say, “we regret that in the interests of hygiene dogs are not allowed on the premises”. For years it has been the parents’ job to punish children into submission to rid them of their “badness”. Look at Britain’s harsh boarding schools in comparison to the United States’ public schools. It has also been said that the British are wonderful sportsmen because they do not mind losing. I am sure they do a great deal, they just do not throw tantrums or punches like Americans do. That in itself is a stereotype. Americans take glory in winning and are poor losers, whereas the English are good losers and are modest when they win.
Yet another common stereotype give to the British is that they are a frigid, sexless, and unexciting people. This is far from the truth however according to a study done in 1998 by the Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York of 53 countries in the world. It showed that Britain had the largest population of un-wed women under age nineteen that are sexually active. It has been conceived over the years as George Mikes says, “Continental people have sex lives. The English have hot water bottles”. The results of the study stem from the enormous youth culture alive in Britain that most people do not think of when they picture Great Britain. Americans still believe that the British are stuck in the Victorian Age simply because the English are very apt at hiding their emotions behind a “stiff upper lip”. Why are the British, especially the English considered unable to show their emotions? I believe it goes back once again to World War II. It was a reaction to tough times and defeat, a way for the nation not to panic when things went wrong. “…the capacity to turn a calm and confident face to even the most hazardous circumstances, was clearly something the British cultivated and were proud of during the darkest days of World War II”(p.84, Snowman). Heroes that kept their nerve go back to the days of the chivalrous knight in armor that charged unflinchingly at an opponent. The terms unflappable, private,