America (F**k Yeah!)

Hugh Bassett looks into lessons we could learn from the U.S.A


Another week, another email about The Union. Apparently there’s a referendum on something. After a quick Google of what ‘referendum’ actually means, I decide to do what I’ve done with pretty much every other email about anything vaguely to do with student politics, and heartily ignore it. This disinterest is nothing new and is not entirely exclusive; it in fact seems to be a rather British trait, the reason for which is surely that politics, student or otherwise, is, in this country at least, really rather boring.

Where’s the pizzaz? I can see little to no panache in a new referendum on how to “overhaul  governing documents to facilitate a Union structure that better serves its members”. Sure, it might be childish to ask for a little more ‘jazziness’ in the decision making process of public policies but hey, either you spice things up or you’re losing out to a re-run of that Friends episode where Ross is ‘Fine!’.

He wasn’t guys. he just wasn’t.

Now, you might be wondering the reason behind all this sudden ennui with politics, and I’m pretty sure the answer is obvious: Beyoncé. For the biggest news story of the past week or so, excluding the fact that frozen water fell out of the sky again like it does most years, is surely the 21st century’s favourite false idol and former Destiny’s Child Beyoncé Knowles singing at the inauguration of Barack Obama. Never has a concert inspired so many Internet column inches. You could barely move this morning without running into a photo-series on how ‘fierce’ Miss Knowles’ hair was as she sang the American national anthem. Yet, unlike the non-coverage of Katie Price’s latest union everlasting love, the coverage was deserved.

Despite doubts as to how the President would overcome social and economic problems he promised to overcome four years ago, he managed to throw one heck of a party. The variety of events included performances from Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys and Kelly Clarkson, with hundreds of thousands of people turned up to watch him get sworn in and, most importantly, MICHELLE GOT A NEW HAIRDO.

First lady of lookin’ fiiiine.

In contrast, here in little ol’ Britain when a new Prime Minister gets elected, they have a small private ceremony with the Queen where the new leader of our country kisses her hand or something. So instead of a big party, we get an octogenarian, presumably with a slightly compromised immune system, being slobbered on by some bloke (or blokes) behind closed doors. Just to recap, the Americans get Beyonce. We get nothing. Beyonce. Versus nothing.

What the recent inauguration reflects is really just the general bombastic-ness of the U.S.A in general, especially in comparison to us. Sure, we relish our reserved nature, our stiff upper lip and our ability to not constantly ‘therapise’ and talk about ourselves ad nauseam (well, some of us at least), but it can sometimes feel like we’re missing out on a little bit of passion.

It takes only a few cursory glances over the big nation across to the water in order to throw up some vital differences in our attitudes to life. Just take a look at their X-Factor. On our screens contestants shyly mumble about the hard life they might have had and make sure they always say ‘they’re having fun on stage’ just in case we thought they weren’t and that’s the reason we’d send them off, not because they’re terrible. In America, contestants practically murder half their family in order to just get on the show,  never forget to cry or have a ‘breakdown’ between every commercial break and if asked what they’re doing in the competition reply ‘I’m here to win’ with the cold unblinking stare of the man whose publicist just told him to marry Katie Price.

Go to your happy place. (Clearly Topman)

Even if our transatlantic brethren are occasionally misguided, fanatical even, in their beliefs, at least they believe in something. I mean they invented Scientology. And who can forget the time Oprah gave a bunch of people cars and they went MENTAL?!

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Sure, Americans might be (to generalise sweepingly) hilariously irrational, materialistic and misguided, but they do it with emotion. Have you ever seen an English person ever get that excited over anything apart from a new shape of teabag? Coming back to the inauguration, this is most easily seen in their leaders. These people truly and seriously care about who gets into power in their country. When David Cameron was elected did you see anyone driving down the streets, honking their horns and screaming about hope for the future? No. Everyone just had a sip from their exciting new tea and went back to ironing doilies or whatever. It would be incredibly refreshing to actually want a certain leader in power.

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In that respect, we should all take a leaf out of their books and just go a bit more bonkers about everything. Let’s jazz it up and have a big ol’ party everytime anything remotely exciting happens. We should get all members of the Top 40 to do a frenetic folk-dubstep version of ‘God Save The Queen’ while riding around London on chariots drawn by bulldogs just because a politician said something vague about hope. And for that matter, every time there’s a new union referendum let’s get the cast of Loose Women to give everyone cars. Maybe then I’d read those emails. Maybe.