Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Hesitant Anglophile, or How England Helped Me Come Into My Own

I don't think it's a stretch to say Americans have longstanding obsession with the United Kingdom. It probably comes from the fact that the US was one of their former colonies and the first to fight them for independence, but we've never truly separated ourselves from the UK. Our histories are intrinsically entwined and we've always been dependent on establishing some kind of alliance together, for better and for worse. And if Hollywood trends are anything to go by, the next generation of popular actors and shows are coming exclusively from the British Isles. America has British fever, and it's probably never going to go away.

I cannot claim to be exempt from this rule, as the title of this post suggests. Ever since I was a child I have attempted to perfect the golden standards of the British accent. (Last time I checked, someone told me I sounded more Australian than English.) I watched Monty Python and Eddie Izzard on repeat throughout my teen years. I have an unhealthy obsession with British television from Doctor Who to Luther to My Mad Fat Diary. Many of my favorite actors, singers, and bands are British (including my celebrity crush, who I'd rather not name here). I've always been fascinated with British history as the sort of real trendsetters of Europe - particularly the Tudor era where Henry VIII and his descendants pretty much began modern England with petty marriage politics and paranoia. Many of my favorite plays come from England, from Shakespeare to George Bernard Shaw. I can't escape it - I will forever be fascinated with the United Kingdom.

The key world here is "fascinated". Whenever I hear someone say they're an Anglophile, I generally find that they think the sun shines out of the UK's ass. And if life has taught me anything, the grass is always greener on the other side. I recognize the United Kingdom has some serious issues - I don't understand how anything gets done in their parliamentary system, there's major class divisions affecting their current political and cultural landscapes for the worse, and they gave us Fifty Shades of Grey. No place is perfect, just as no one can be perfect themselves.

That all being said, I still adore the United Kingdom. And the reason why is that life has given me two major opportunities to love the nation - a theater partnership with a British theater school and a semester aboard in undergrad. And those experiences have truly helped me come into my own.