At this time in my life, I have neither the time nor inclination to keep up with most pop culture developments. Most things that are popular in our culture these days cause significant side-eye reflexes from me. However, one thing that I do approve of is the takeover of late night TV by witty non-Americans who speak English with charming accents. I am pleased to temporarily have HBO for no other reason than to watch John Oliver. If I could stay up late at night, I would happily watch The Late Late Show with James Corden (The Wrong Mans is still one of my favorite British comedy miniseries, and I am disappointed that James Corden’s new job means there probably won’t be another installment beyond the two part Christmas special). If only I could remember to turn on the TV when I am up at that hour either pumping or feeding the boys. When I heard that Trevor Noah was selected to take over The Daily Show when Jon Stewart steps down, I was predictably elated. He is hilarious, worldly, and intelligent. Now if only they could put a form of Jack Whitehall’s Backchat on American TV, we would be set.
I was thinking that I liked these American pop culture developments, because I thought it meant that Americans are becoming more worldly, and their comedic tastes are becoming more informed and international. But then in thinking more about it, I actually don’t think that is the case amongst the general American public. I think that the demographic that American advertisers are trying to appeal to are becoming more worldly, for sure. The professional, upper middle class who have whatever small percentage of this country’s wealth that the 1 percenters don’t have also probably are the last Americans with disposable incomes that spend them on things that networks are paid to advertise. Our political leanings are hilariously liberal and our preferred travel is international. It is why so many Tea Partiers seethe with rage at our demographic because you have people like me who go so far in these preferences so as to proclaim in the same vein as the Notorious RBG that the American Constitution isn’t even the best in the world anymore, the South African Constitution is. The sad fact though is that in spite of their superior Constitution, South Africa still suffers from the world’s worst income inequality, although U.S. political leaders are certainly trying to give them a run for their money in that regard.
So yes, I do love these late night pop culture trends, but I can’t help but think that because the American citizenry are so disempowered in the plutocratic political scheme in which we now live (it ain’t democracy), the only place we have these discussions anymore are in late night satires hosted by non-Americans.
And now, I come to the real purpose of this blog post, a chance to post pictures of my boys looking menacing in Chelsea gear. After all, if I learned anything from the book Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class when I read it (and I did learn quite a lot), it is about how soccer hooligan culture in the UK used to be this outlet for ingrained disillusionment with the rigid class system in the UK and now it is just another example of corporatized culture. We listened to a lot of The Streets to prepare for these photos (It’s all “Dry Your Eyes, Mate” whenever there are too many tears around here, y’all).
Is it okay if in this new worldly pop culture landscape I comment on the social class struggles of non-Americans too? Or is that still too much the American exceptionalism (even if I certainly don’t view Americans as exceptional at much of anything these days except the brilliance of mall food courts and drive through everythings).