ENGLAND Vs. AMERICA: An Englishman and I on Royal Babies, Dating in the UK vs. the U.S., and Classism

#LILGRIPESInterview

~Lillian Gao with Danny Watkins

FROM LILY ALLEN TO BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH and all the way back to the Mod fashion and British invasion of the ’60s, I think it’s safe to say most Americans are Anglophiles. We consider England our forefather, our closest ally politically, and our United Nations BFF. I have always yearned for an extended dialogue with an authentic Englishman/woman about the comparisons between our countries. Luckily, my London pal, Danny Watkins (@DannyWatty on Twitter) volunteered for the gig.

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Yes, he’s a Ginger (“I’d call myself a semi-Ginger.”) Our two-nation tête-à-tête covered all from classism to One Direction and I must note that neither of us speak for our respective nations, the peoples who live in them, or the creeds those peoples may hold.

Comedy

LI’L GRIPES (Henceforth referred to as USA):

Do English people like “Seinfeld?”

DANNY WATKINS (Henceforth as ENG):

We love “Seinfeld.” Jerry is God.

USA: I figured! That show is sooo British at heart. Random. Understated. How about the American “Office”?

ENG: The American “Office” has its moments. Steve Carrell is great; it took me about an hour into “Foxcatcher” to take him seriously.

USA: I feel like that the U.S. “Office” was too dry for many Americans, despite its success, and probably too on-the-nose for Brits.

ENG: We’re not generally fans of America taking our shows and changing things round so that Americans “get them”

USA: Yeah, we get it. You guys think we’re dumb.

Besides “Seinfeld,” what ARE your favorite American shows?

ENG: “Modern Family,” “30 Rock,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

USA: Oh, those are 3 of my top 10 favorite comedies of all time, no joke. Probably top 5.

ENG: Oh, I must say Lil, you got good taste in humour.

USA: Thank you. Because you’re British, that means SO much more.

Ricky Gervais

USA: Do Brits in general like Ricky?

ENG: I really like him personally. I followed him from the start.

USA: I think he’s caused, intentionally in part, quite a stir trolling the internet and Twitter about atheism.

ENG: I think there’s a 60/40 split in his favour here. Also, I’d rather people had opinions than sit on the fence. He’s a brilliant writer–I challenge anyone not to be moved by the UK “Office”…the relationship between Tim and Dawn.

Royal Babies

embargoed-prince-george-princess-charlotte-royals-today-inline-02-150606_c73184ca6665d88e6eaab7afdad902e0_today-inline-large
Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Are those their official titles? I don’t know. Don’t care. (Photo courtesy of the AP)

ENG: American views on this?

USA: “Look boring as f***.” -Official American statement.

They’re babies. We’ve seen them before… Seriously, how does the general English public feel about the Royal Family?

ENG: Actually, a majority really like what the whole royalness brings for tourism here. Plus, we think Americans are well into the royalness.

USA: Some people with nothing else to do are.

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Outside the hospital of Princess Charlotte’s delivery. Photo courtesy of the AP

Colloquialisms

What is “LDN”?

Official shortening of London (I personally learned this first from a Lily Allen song)

“MONG” is a popular bad word over there.

USA: What is up with the term “Mong?” Ricky Gervais constantly takes those hideous bathtub pics and captions them “Mongs.” I can only surmise that’s short for “Mongoloid,” but Americans do not use that term, ever. That is as bad an insult over there as calling someone a “retard” here, right?

ENG: Amazing! Love how you know we call them “Mongs.” Ha-ha, Mong is so not acceptable. If you call someone a Mong, it is the same as “retard” here. If you call someone with Down Syndrome a Mong, that is so wrong.

After Ricky got in a TON of hot water in the UK for his incessant use of the word “Mong” to caption his distorted-face selfies. He later publicly apologized, saying he didn’t know people actually still used that word to describe people afflicted with Down Syndrome.

Twitter - @rickygervais- Good Monging everybody h ____1319720798730 article-2050854-0E72C12F00000578-238_468x348

USA: Funny how this story didn’t make it in the US, given our oblivion to the roots of that term.

“BANTER”

ENG:  The word “banter” is so overused here… it’s kinda cringe-inducing.

USA: “Banter” is not used enough here. Well, it’s used adequately but not ad nauseum.

“YOLO” and “BAE”

ENG: YOLO has just left social speech over here, slowly drip-feeding banter out of the consciousness. The irony is that YOLO has only lived once.

USA: YOLO died in America a year ago, I think. I can’t wait for “Bae” to do so as well, here. I didn’t hate YOLO, I admit. People said it ironically after a while. With “Bae,” nobody says it any other way but seriously. What’s wrong with good old “babe”? It’s the same number of syllables!

ENG: I agree, it’s awful. If “Bae” is ever used in a sexual situation, there should be an eject button that shoots the penis right outta there.

“PROPER” means something different there.

British for “very,” as in “He’s gone proper insane.”

“RIDE OR DIE” is not used in the UK.

USA: Our countries are Ride or Die.

ENG: “Ride or Die…That sounds like a porn film.”

USA: Ha-ha…that’s a common term here used to express undying loyalty. I think. I’m not one for street cred.

Dating

USA: Do you think I would do well in England?

ENG: Ha-ha…do well? With men or businesswise? Or both?

USA: Well, both if I’m going to relocate! Actually, my best friend since 4th grade–that’s whatever school-level English 9 year olds are at–lives there… Like, are employed and good-looking Englishmen shy about asking girls out?

ENG: Ahaha, you considering moving over here? I think we assume New York ladies ooze confidence and are definitely the initiators. But then again, I also just assumed New York Men weren’t shy?

USA: That’s the problem! Europeans think American girls are all sluts so they don’t have to try with us!

Hahaha…I’m exaggerating but you get it. But if I asked an English guy out, would he take me seriously? Because in NYC, the problem isn’t that the GOOD men are shy. It’s that they’re almost all taken.

ENG: Wait, American girls aren’t sluts? F*** movies for their unrealistic expectations of women.

National Lampoon's European Vacation (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.)
National Lampoon’s European Vacation (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.)

USA: The straight men population in New York is scarily low, as far as dating goes. Hahhaha stop watching Van Wilder!!!

ENG: If you asked a guy out, I imagine he’d take you seriously. Ha-ha wait, I thought spring break was like a whole year thing, every year. And that Pornhub.com was a live stream of everyday American life. Dayum, i feel proper dumb right now.

Classism

USA: What did you for college–sorry, UNIVERSITY, for?

ENG: I didn’t do university–I did high school and left and got a job working in retail, worked my way up, and manage a store now.

USA: Oh, nice…

Is the issue of class really that much bigger a deal there than here? Obviously, it’s hard for u to gauge–I’ve just always heard that class is a big deal in the UK.

ENG: Ohhh absolutely!!! Massive here. The Tories are pretty much well-off elitists. And it’s quite worrying with them being in charge. The poorer stay poorer and the richer get richer. It does feel like these people in charge of our country are out of touch with the rest of us.

USA: That’s fascinating–You don’t see England like that at all from the outside. But yeah, class is viewed so differently in America. There is the super-elite and there’s the super-poor. But there isn’t as huge a sense of separation between the two groups.

The American class system is a bit more complicated than in England. There are more factors at play. There are plenty of poor conservatives and plenty of ultra-wealthy liberals.

Entertainment

USA: Which American actors do you think do the closest or worst Brit accents?

ENG: I watched “Nymphomaniac” quite recently and Shia LaBeouf’s British accent is a thing of death. Meanwhile, my favourite accent to do is pretend to be in “The Sopranos.” …. And this is where you hate me, Dr. Who & Sherlock… they just go over my head. it just drags for me. “Luther,” however, big fan.

USA: I need to start Luther ha-ha. I know Idris Elba from everywhere but his own show.

ENG: Idris is a Don. We love him. Mainly because he’s a successful black man.

That’s another thing, over here, black actors feel like they have to go to America because they don’t get chances here.

IDRIS ELBA FOR THE NEXT JAMES BOND (Photo courtesy of GQ)
IDRIS ELBA FOR THE NEXT JAMES BOND (Photo courtesy of GQ)

USA: Benny–I call him “Cumbie”–it’s kinda OUR thing–said the same thing you did. About black British actors having to go to America for good roles. Explains a lot.

ENG: Also, I’d love to follow Steve Buscemi about for the day, watch him decide what cereal to buy in the supermarket…

Does he use shampoo and conditioner? How long does Buscemi take to decide on which pajamas to wear to bed and does he lounge about the house in them or just put them on to sleep in?

One Direction

USA: By the way, is Cumberbatch like your Bieber? I mean, Bieber is your Bieber. But I imagine Cumby is 10,000x even bigger in the UK.

ENG: We don’t want Bieber. Actually, I’d say Zayn EX One Direction is our Justin Bieber.

USA: Ohhhh, true. Hahaha Zayn. Why did he drop out? I did not care enough to Google that for myself.

ENG: The statement claimed it all got a bit too much for Zayn.

If I had to choose one of [One Direction] to die of an overdose, it’d be Zayn.

USA: Well, to be honest, I loved that one song, “Story of My Life.” It sounded like an actual band’s song. Harry has the strongest voice by far, though–so, not a big loss.

ENG: I think I’m a secret fan–I mean, it’s not a secret but yeah.

Political Parties

USA: On Twitter, your bio says as in the Labour Party? Is that the big liberal party over there?

ENG: As in a big fan of watching pregnancies. No, they’re Centre Left.

USA: What’s the big “true Left” party? Like, you know for us, it’s Democrats, the lefties, vs. Republican, the right-wingers?

ENG: They’re the Liberal Democrats–but nobody likes them… Labour and the Tories/Conservatives are essentially our Democrats and Republicans. Also, that makes me think,

“House of Cards” is one of the few shows American TV has gone and improved. Kevin Spacey is my hero.

USA: See… Now I feel really moronic. I had no idea that was a Brit show first. The Daily Mail published an article about the recent Labour candidates attending some segregated ban-Islamophobia rally.

ENG: Yeah, The Daily Mail is a notorious right-wing paper that tries to scare people into believing all of Islam is bad. That story didn’t make it here. It’s owned by Rupert Murdoch, who owns two of the big papers over here, plus SKY TV. His papers are very politically biased and anti-Labour and Pro-Tory.

A run-of-the-mill Daily Mail front page. (Photo courtesy of the Daily Mail)
A run-of-the-mill Daily Mail front page. (Photo courtesy of the Daily Mail)

USA: He owns Fox News and the New York Post here.

ENG: Yeah, [Rupert Murdoch]’s a massive wanker. It’s insane how an old Australian man can control this country’s thought process before an election through his media.

USA: Murdoch is definitely an enigma. Sometimes it seems he’s closer to being a Libertarian. Well, he says he does not officially support the Republican party here. He’s an “independent.” Who knows?

ENG: America is harder to control, too, I feel.

So considering how Murdoch pretty much helped this current government into power, they owe him a favour now. It all leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

USA: Yes. Exactly.

Australia did very well with its anti-gun laws a while ago… That law would never work here. [America is]  too populated, too diverse, too factional…

ENG: We’ve gone really deep, Lil… I feel both our governments may be watching this right now.

USA: Our nations have a solid bro status. I think we didn’t do much harm today.

England and America... Best buds 'til the end. (Photo courtesy of richardfalk.wordpress.com)
England and America… Best buds ’til the end. (Photo courtesy of richardfalk.wordpress.com)

 

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