Tag Archives: England

The Unbearable Whiteness Of Being (Part I)

FACT: All Asian Americans are Asian by definition, but not all Asians are Asian Americans. The truth is that most Asians aren’t. While they may share an ethnic heritage, as well as many cultural similarities, Asian people who were born and raised in and reside in an Asian country have vastly different wants and needs and priorities than those who were born and raised in and reside in North America [and other non-Asian countries].

I wanted to start out with that quote for two reasons.

First, because it’s stolen from my co-writer’s post last Friday, which was a really good post you should read.

Second, because I think it does a good job of establishing the complicated and sometimes uncomfortable nuance that goes into addressing identity politics. Which is what we’re going to be talking about today and in the weeks to follow.

More specifically, we’re gonna be talking about White people.

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We’ll probably cover my use of this specific gif sometime later…

Before we dive in, I just wanna make something clear.

Race is a social construct – a series of categories that we’ve made up and ones we’ve made up only very recently in the scope of history. The fact of the matter is that there’s no actual place you can draw a dividing line when it comes to human beings and there’s no good reason you’d want to.

Not that it’s ever stopped us.

For better or worse, we have divided the world up into so many arbitrary categories, and those divisions have played and continue to play a major role in today’s culture. In spite of what some folks might suggest, ignoring racism doesn’t make it go away, and if we want to end the unspeakable hassle that is identity politics, we’re going to need to start by actually addressing them.

And here at Culture War Reporters, I think we’ve done a decent job. Continue reading

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CWR’s Brexit Breakdown

Well folks, it happened. In a move that continues to shock the world, Britain has dramatically voted to leave the European Union.

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And make no mistake readers- the Brexit is the worst thing that has ever happened. Or the best thing. Or…

Well, something.

For all the outrage, jubilation, and wild speculation, the reality of the situation is that most folks have been caught off guard by this decision- and probably none moreso than folks on this side of the Atlantic.

Plenty of conservatives- including potential American president Donald Trump- have applauded the Brexit, claiming it to be a victory for small government, autonomy, and “making Britain great again.”

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Which is something that should probably concern the rest of the world…

On the other hand, liberals have been howling that the Brexit represents a secession not simply from Europe but from progressive values, freedom of movement, and a commitment to peace and unity in general.

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With all that noise, dear readers, it can be tough to hear the truth.

And unfortunately, we don’t have it either. The reality is that this is an absurdly complicated issue with far-reaching implications and plenty of ramifications that we can only guess at. So rather than add to the din, we here at Culture War Reporters have gathered the most pertinent issues for your own consideration. Continue reading

Fame Day: American Literary Piracy

As I’ve already mentioned in a previous post, I’m back in school, so I feel like it’s my duty to share some awesome learning with you. After the piracy debate broke out between Evan and Gordon a little while back I settled on the perfect topic: how piracy saved American literature. Or, as we have been learning in my Canadian Literature class, how British Imperialism screwed over early Canadian writers. Quick, name 5 great Canadian writers! If you are anything like me you probably weren’t able to think up more than one or two. There are a lot more than that, by the way, you just have to look a little harder… and not necessarily in Canada.

Continue reading

Shame Day: Reactions to Thatcher’s Death

I am not a fan of Margret Thatcher.

Most people aren’t.

While you do have to recognize Thatcher’s accomplishment in being Britain first female prime minister (that’s one heck of a milestone, no matter where you stand), you really can’t help but wish the first female prime minister of Britain would actually be a good leader, rather than a nationalistic psychopath.

Beating unarmed bystanders- just one of the many accomplishments of the Thatcher years…

Continue reading

Shame Day: The British Monarchy

That’s right: the British Monarchy. I’m taking them down.

Again.

Being a radical lefty, there’s no one easier out there for me to bash than a woman making a speech about austerity measures while wearing a golden crown encrusted with diamonds pillaged from war-torn Africa and impoverished India.I have, in fact, done so before on another blog, and got chewed out by a Brit for daring to disrespect “my queen.” I responded to the (presumably) pasty twit that I’m not actually British and therefore am not a subject of an inbred German family.

I have never felt more American

So if I’ve touched on the subject before, why do it again?

Because this is something that really is a shame.

Let’s talk about money.

You can’t really argue with the fact that the money- tax money- used to prop up this family could be put to better use, “better use” being pretty much anything else- from reducing education costs to building new roads. Heck, even studying the mating habits of the sea otter would have more pay-off.

Because they are freaking adorable…

Now I can hear all you romantics and loyalists shriek out:

“BUT GORDON! IT’S NOT THAT MUCH! VERY LITTLE CASH ACTUALLY GOES INTO SUPPORTING THE MONARCHY!”

“Very little cash”? The queen- the queen alone- gets an allowance of a little more than a million dollars a year. Is that a lot of money?

Yeah, it is.

It’s a million dollars per year for having been born into one family and not another. It’s a million dollars that could be spent relieving poverty. And of course, it’s not just a million dollars. Not when you take into account everything else done for her. The security, the transportation, the servants- heck, the freaking A/C for any one of her royal residences probably costs more than I’d make in three years.

“BUT GORDON! WHAT OF THE TOURISM?”

Ah yes, the tourism.

Who could live without this stuff?

Because if the queen went away, the castles, the diamonds, the viking graves, the monuments- those would all just vanish as well. Tourists do not go to Britain expecting to have a face-to-face conversation with the queen. Tourism is not going to die with the Mountbatten-Windsors. Besides, if your entire economy is built on the frail shoulders of an octogenarian, you really don’t deserve to have a civilization to start with.

“IT’S DIFFERENT! THEY’VE GOT A CELEBRITY FOLLOWING!”

So does Honey Boo Boo. So does Justin Bieber.

“THIS OBSESSION CREATES JOBS!”

You think these people’s undeserved fame and fortune winds up creating jobs? Heck, war creates jobs, that doesn’t make it something worth pursuing. Greed, gluttony, envy and cowardice have given us thousands of jobs- some causes aren’t worth the effects.

“DIPLO-“

Don’t you dare say diplomacy. Don’t you dare.

An elderly woman with a funny hat isn’t going to do anything a bunch of children holding hands can’t- heck, Severn Suzuki did more in her five minute speech at the UN at the age of 13 than the Queen has done in her entire reign.

Let’s grow up, people.

Princesses are not from Disney. Princes do not sprout from frogs [I don’t think Gordon understands how fairy tales work. -Evan]. Royalty are inbred leeches draining funds from society that could be used help people who are actually productive. 1 million dollars isn’t much? Tell that to a bum begging for change. Tell that to a ghetto kid trying to get into college. Tell that to a war widow. This drooling over the royal family isn’t simply childish, it’s barbaric. There’s nothing quaint and charming about a handful of human beings enjoying fame and fortune simply for having been born.

No, that’s just a shame.

October 15: What’s Not Being Talked About In The News

For the most part, I try to keep my politics toned down here at CWR, but every once in a while, something comes along that straddles the line between ideology and culture that’d be wrong not to talk about.

I’m guessing you may have heard of Malala Yousafazi.

Young Pakastani girl known for being a women’s education and peace activist, shot by a reported Taliban assassin just short of a week ago and just today being flown to England to continue her recovery.

You may have seen this picture of her:

But the picture you may not have seen is this one here:

That’s young Malala wearing a hijab, a head-covering worn by many Muslim women as part of their understanding of modesty. Yep, Malala’s a Muslim– but that’s something you’re not gonna hear on the news or read in your paper.If Islam is mentioned at all, chances are, it’s in reference to Malala’s would be assassin- not her (or her friends who were with her). Why is that? How come the same frenzied media attention that is devoted to listing off every attack or offense on the part of “Radical Islam” utterly fails to note the Islamic element when it’s related to something positive. I can understand- maybe even overlook- the fact that the news doesn’t offer any attention to the millions of Muslims (the ones I grew up with) who just go about their day without doing anything to anyone. But the moment  a Muslim man or woman stands up for what he or she believes, even going so far as be nearly murdered for those beliefs and actions, religion disappears from the picture.

And while we’re at it, there’s another thing that’s been bothering me.

You remember Pussy Riot? Feminist Punk Band who got into trouble for playing anti-Putin songs in a historic Russian cathedral?

Why is it that when they got convicted of “hooliganism” and were sentenced to two years in prison (a term waaay disproportionate to the crime) the world united in outrage, and when Leah-Lynne Plante was arrested-

Oh.

Who’s “Leah-Lynne Plante”?

She’s an activist up in Washington State whose apartment was raided by FBI and SWAT Teams. See, back on May 1st, there was some vandalism that occurred in Seattle and Leah-Lynne was a suspect.

How many people who have vandalized walls or billboards actually have the police investigate them, let alone the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force? Of those people, how many have black clothes and books confiscated as “evidence”?

Obviously this has about as much to do with vandalism as Pussy Riot’s sentencing had to do with disturbing the peace. See, Leah-Lynne Plante is a self-proclaimed anarchist, and after refusing for a third time to answer questions before a grand jury. Considering the Grand Jury that’s investigating these and other alleged anarchist criminals was first created in March (two months prior to when she allegedly committed these crimes) doesn’t exactly reflect well on the whole “liberty and justice for all” element of the legal system.

But that’s all beside the point.

The point is, you probably don’t know about it. Your news has almost certainly never reported it, and considering the similarities between the two cases, doesn’t Leah-Lynne Plante’s case deserve your attention just as much as anti-government rockers off in Moscow?

Your media doesn’t think so.

And I think we’re being asked too much. I think we’ve had enough.

See, you can’t pick and choose- if the media want to take the violent or oppressive actions of Muslims as being representative of their faith, they have to apply the same logic to Muslim heroism as well. The same goes for equal air-time. The news can’t report on a bunch of women in brightly colored balaclavas for being broadsided by the state and then whistle Dixie while one in a black shirt has her home raided by men in kevlar.

Consistency- I’m not expecting that the news be factual (and considering it’s the news, that’s a pretty big thing to let slide) but they have got to be fair
or stop calling themselves reporters. If they wanted to pick and choose their battles, they should’ve become bloggers instead.

British Television VS American Television

Despite our focus on American issues, we here at Culture War Reportersrecognize that in our world of ever-shrinking borders, there’s plenty more out there than just the cloudless skies of Nevada or the homeless-packed streets of Toronto (Evan, seriously- if the healthcare system’s so good, why does Canada have so many crazy people?).

Today we turn our attention to our pasty cousins across the pond, more specifically, their TV,  excuse me, “Telly” (this is why you lost your empire- well, this and genocide), and how it stacks up next to ours.

CGI and Production Values

Now I have to admit- I haven’t extensively researched British and American television financing, nor have I had a chance to compare the two, taking into consideration differences in the economy and advertising fees over the past couple decades.

What I’m saying is- I’m not an expert.

That said, I don’t need to be an architect to tell you that chances are pretty good that a lot less money was put into making a tent than a condo. British TV shows, put bluntly, just seems to be vastly less funded than their American counterparts. Just take a look at this scene from America’s Battlestar Galactica.

Pretty intense, right? If there’s any poor-quality, it’s probably from the YouTube video, rather than the actual series.

Now look at this clip from Britain’s Doctor Who.

Way worse. And oddly enough, Doctor Who has a bigger fanbase than Galactica, and despite it’s ever-increasing popularity, still has to deal with props dug out of someone’s kitchen drawers. I’m not saying Doctor Who is bad- it’s not. It’s really good- only it’s tough to really feel the full effects of a horrific reveal when the monstrous alien that’s been lurking the shadows until now makes your sock-puppets look scary by comparison. I can’t claim to know the reason for it, and I’m not putting the Brits down for it- I’m simply saying that funding- especially in CGI- appears to be a significant difference between the worlds of British and American TV.

Pretty Faces

You’ve probably heard jokes cracked about this. Not the “British are ugly” or the “British have bad teeth” jokes- the fact that the people on British television have the audacity to look like the people you’d see on the street.

That’s not to say the Brits don’t share the American weakness for fantasizing and glamorizing each and every facet of life, but it’s pretty clear that it’s nowhere near on the scale we have here in the US. Here- take a look at the leading characters of the American version of Being Human.

The guy on the left is decently attractive, as is the girl, and the guy on the right looks more or less like a life-sized Ken doll. Idealized people- no question about it. Now look at the same characters in the British original:

There’s not a huge difference between the girl (the blonde girl is another character- ignore her), and the dark haired guy certainly isn’t his American counterpart and stop looking at that guy’s ears! Yes, they’re huge- they’re gargantuan– and no, this isn’t just an unflattering photo- they actually are trying to escape his head in the first three seasons.

The point is, when it comes to their actors, the British are- well, appear to be- considerably less shallow. They don’t need a couple of supermodels to tell a compelling story of murder, secrecy, and perversion- and speaking of which…

Raunch Codes

Watch this clip- but before you do, get all children and Weslyans out of the room.

Pretty nasty stuff, right? Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

People complain that American media is nothing but sex and violence, but believe me- those Axe commercials are prudish compared to the Brits (and indeed- most of Europe). We may give the Brits a run for their money when it comes to blood and gore but never will we compete with them when it comes to explicitness of this degree. It’s almost to the point where it’s not even repulsive- you’re just impressed at how logic-deafeningly far they take it.

But only almost.

The Dying and the Dead

It’s been said that the difference between British comedies and American comedies is that American comedies begin with everything going wrong and end with everything being fixed, while British comedies begin with everything going right and end with everything falling apart. I wouldn’t call a story where everyone dies of scurvy at the end a comedy, but then again, I don’t whittle my life away on a miserable island full of alcoholics and skinheads.

I can say that because the only people who hate the British more than the Irish, the Kenyans, the Indians, the Chinese, the Australians, the New Zealanders, Iranians, and the Egyptians are the British themselves.

The simple fact of the matter is that there is this viciously self-deprecating mentality that pervades every element of British culture (barring fox hunts, which are just weird) that couldn’t be further removed from the general sense of optimism that you tend to find in America. Just take a look at British crime series.

Now I’ve seen quite a few, and while this certainly isn’t universally true, what I’ve typically found is that British murder mysteries focus on the whole “Whodunnit?” element, whereas American murder mysteries either have a “How’d he do it?” or a drive to keep the murderer from murdering again. Gross over-generalizations, I know, but it does seem to be true that American crime series episodes end with the detectives patting each other on the back for having done justice, while British crime series episodes end with the detective giving some despairing monologue about the tragic depravity of all mankind.

Because that’s a very depressing (and therefore, British) way to end the post- allow me offer this:

To say I’ve been ragging a bit on the British would be an understatement, and no- despite our attempts to be unbiased, we here at Culture War Reporters don’t care much for contemporary English culture. That established, there may very well be something to be said for the Brit’s here. Is it pretty? Not remotely, but for all the weirdness (from our perspective) that British TV has to offer, it can’t be denied that it’s simply more “real” than American TV. The sets aren’t shiny, the people aren’t (exclusively) gorgeous, and a stories of sin and murder actually recognize human suffering. There’s certainly a lot from British TV that merits imitation here in America.

Except for sexually explicit sausage commercials. **** that.