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09 June 2005 @ 12:33 am
Being British and Pessimistic  
So I've just been watching The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson because I find him beyond charming and I like being called a cheeky wee monkey once a day and I can't sleep. But anyway, he had actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste on the show. He's from Glasgow and she's from London, so they started talking about the reasons why they like living in the US, and the main thing they said was the fact that people are so much more optimistic here. They both agreed that in the UK, people like to see others fail - to the point that people are expected 'to be complete rubbish.' On the other hand, in America you can fall down on your arse and someone will help you back up and tell you how well you fell on your arse. She in particular noted that she was very confused when she first moved here because if you asked people how they were, they'd be "Just great!" or whatever and she would think "Well, I feel awful, what the hell is wrong with me?" They both thought the whole thing had something to do with the class system in the UK, too.

I suppose I found it interesting because from the 'real' British people I've known - mostly you weirdos who might be reading this - I just haven't seen the level of pessimism they described. Is it an age thing? Do you see this in your parents? Do you see it in yourselves and just hide it well? Curious, sleep deprived minds want to know.

In other news... ummm... Altoids Raspberry Sours are really excellent.
I feel: curiouscurious
Sophie: Andysophie10 on June 9th, 2005 09:46 am (UTC)
I think it's my grandparent's generation thing. But that's because they were born when things were bad (during the 2nd world war).
Teesside Snog Monster: pandajiggery_pokery on June 9th, 2005 10:27 am (UTC)
I see it in the culture and I hate it; I see it in myself sometimes (hopefully, possibly, less often than at large...?) and hate it when I see it in myself. Self-loathing, there! Perhaps it's all borne of self-loathing?
leiabelle: keep 'em comingleiabelle on June 9th, 2005 11:11 am (UTC)
I don't know if this has any relevance, but I was perpetually weirded out by the British use of "Are you alright?" in place of "How are you?" To me it always sounded like the person asking expected something to be wrong, and for the first month or so that I was there, my response was something like, "Yeah, why? Do I look ok? Am I bleeding or something?" XD
basically, I rule: HP - Harry/Hermioneslashkilter on June 9th, 2005 01:33 pm (UTC)
I think it's just a different attitude and way of treating each other. It reall befuddled me when I came to the US. I was sitting across the aisle from this American family and the woman immediately began cooing about how pretty my hair was. Same thing happened in the hotel - I was walking down the corridor to our reception area, and a man walking behind me with his little daughter said how nice my hair looked.

You just wouldn't get that here and it really confused me - in a way it is really nice, but I'd probably get tired of it after a while. I'm not saying I like being negative, but... it's a bit sad, really, I prefer being sarcastic and snarky to being friendly, I guess. Schadenfreude lives?
Cat: Mind the Gapcat_mom on June 10th, 2005 01:48 am (UTC)
As an American, I really noticed the difference when we lived in England. There is a hilarious book by Jane Walmsley called "Brit-Think, Ameri-Think" and here's a few of her thoughts on the British pessimism: "[but] they've seen the future, and decided that it doesn't work, and is not worth getting hot and bothered about. They are united in the belief that most change is neither possible nor desirable, which also rules out improvement...If the formula for American soap opera is high life and success, Brits prefer low-life and failure. [They] seem to find them soothing. They provide proof - if any is needed - that most men lead lives of quiet desperation; nasty, brutish and short. They match the national pessimism about 1)things changing for the better 2)things changing at all. Yanks find it thrilling to think there are yet more dizzying heights to achieve; Brits find it comforting to know that there's always someone worse off than YOU are!"