Monday, April 24, 2006
In The Sunday Times this week I wrote a piece pointing out the blindingly obvious - that the best of American television news is far better than anything the British can manage. Read it here. This generated a wave of emails, all of them passionate and about half supporting me and half against. One point struck me about the antis. They tended to be obsessed - and intensely irritated - by the way presenters and anchors on US TV news sounded and looked. They hated their clothes, their hair and their voices. This is, of course, nothing to do with the quality of the shows. But my correspondents seemed to think it was. I tried gently to point out to them that merely because they found such things irritating didn't mean the Americans - the target audience, after all - did. In fact, it meant that is exactly what Americans like. I doubt that the angry mailers would have trashed TV news in, say, India or Africa because they didn't like the voices, the hair and the clothes of the presenters. They would have just accepted that these were different cultures. In making his argument, I suddenly realised this fundamental problem the British have with America. They can't accept that it is a different country so they get angry when it does not display our standards of taste, judgment, whatever. America is one of the most alien and exotic places in the world. If you don't know that, you don't know America.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 4:00 pm