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Scarlett Nation » Popular Culture » Why America is Better than the UK

Why America is Better than the UK

My name is Steve Doran, and I’m nice.

You may wonder why I phrase this as if it were an admission from a remorseful addict. It’s because I’m British. And while I’m very proud to be British, the cynicism that is so deeply ingrained in our national character is something I can well do without. On this one, I think we’ve a lot to learn from the Americans.

Most people I know balk whenever I suggest America is doing something right. Hating The States has also become deeply ingrained in our national character. Almost everyone I know has seen Team America: World Police, and given half a chance they’ll tell me everything the film already did – that America are trying to dominate the world, they’re crushing other cultures and ways of life in order to make everyone like them, apparently. And yet, when it comes to crushing the individuality out of people, the UK leaves the US in the dust.

In America, you can pursue happiness in any way you see fit. While there may be a group of people there to mock you, there will also be a group of people willing to welcome you in, and a far larger group in the middle happy to let you do your thing. If I were to go to a British audience and tell them I’d found happiness through healing crystals or Christianity or the Oprah book club, I reckon I’d be greeted by eye-rolling and sarcasm from all people present. That’s so American. Oh, you’re one of those are you, that believe in that rubbish. If demolishing a new way of thinking were an Olympic sport we’d take the gold every time, and be on the podium still complaining that we never had all this bullshit when we were kids. Even our children’s television presenters sound like they’re taking the piss when they say ‘just be yourself’.

Never is this more apparent than when it comes to people finding happiness through being nice. The British are very suspicious about anyone trying to be nice.

Let’s imagine, you’re walking along with your good friend when suddenly they go pale and collapse. A stranger see’s your distress and offers to take your car keys and bring your car to you, so that you can stay by your friends’ side. Said stranger then nicks your car. I’ve tried telling this story to Americans and the response is always anger at the thief – how awful, how could they, I hope they catch the guy. I tell British people, and the response is always “You gave a stranger your car keys? You idiot, what did you think would happen?”

Perhaps this explains the defensive way people react to me when I’m the one offering to get the car – the inability British people have to believe that I really am going to bring it back. The same reaction I get whenever I say that I don’t mind staying late, that you can have one of my cigarettes, that I’ll stay behind if there aren’t enough places. I get berated for being weak, for trying to hard. I get reminded that I don’t have to do these things, that I should just be myself.

Here’s the thing: that is me being myself. I don’t know if it’s that people have been raised to distrust it, or if it just makes people feel bad for not doing it themselves, or what, but British people have real difficulty believing it. We sneer in advance, so sure that it’ll turn out to be a self interested scheme that we react as if we’d already found out. We have more vitriol for Bono than we do the bankers that broke the country or the MPs who cheated tax payers out of their money – we shrug expectantly at that, we might even have a sort of reluctant admiration, but that guy who’s always banging on about charity? What is that about?

And then we wring our hands and ask how the violence of the riots could have happened, why this lost generation have no community spirit or love of their fellow man. I don’t know, maybe because every time they’ve suggested something selfless they’ve been greeted with a snort of sceptic and told not to be so naive? Maybe it’s because we equate autism and empathy with immaturity? Maybe it’s because any politician who suggested something purely because it was right, with no economic argument, would be laughed out of Westminster? We talk is wistful tones about a utopian Britain where teenagers help little old ladies across the road, oblivious to the fact that any teenager making such an offer would probably get a swipe from her handbag. Do you know what reaction you get if you suggest a community project in earnest? Let me tell you, it’s not supportive.

So, I am taking a stand. I’m Steve Doran and I’m nice. I will still give you a lift or buy you a drink or offer you a sofa for the night. It’s not that I’m trying to get to like me, it’s not that I’m trying to trick you and it’s not got anything to do with what I might get in return. I’m just taking some advice from the American’s and being true to myself.

And, as the American’s may well say, you’ll just have to deal with it.

Written by

Co-founder and contributor to Scarlett Nation.

Filed under: Popular Culture · Tags: , , , ,

  • Anon

    Mr Doran,

    Im British and Im currently stationed with American Navy and Air Force so I just want to add another side to your article. Lets get down to the basics, what are the main things that make the UK and the US who they are? Lets use a simple scoring system, win or lose…

    1. Language. American’s speak English…plain and simple. UK 1 – 0 US.

    2. Economy. What was the biggest contributing factor of the late 2000’s recession…the US Housing market. The fact that 10.8% of homeowners couldnt afford the homes that they lived in, which in turn caused US banks to write of 260 out of 512 BILLION compared to 227 from the entire European continent. Also, the Pound is stronger than the Dollar…and the Dollar is not american; its Spanish.  UK 2 – 0 US.

    3. Sports. Football, Rugby and Cricket vs American Football, Basketball and Baseball. Firstly, for a team to be world champions; they should compete against every country in World Cups, which football, rugby and cricket are all contested. Secondly; More people play English football than American…so shouldnt American Football be called Soccer? Overall, more people play English created sports than American…by a country mile. Thirdly, the Most valuable sports franchise is English…Manchester United at a whopping 1.8 Billion. UK 3 – 0 US.

    4. Military. Even though America can boast a much larger sized force than the British, can the American Military boast control of the largest Empire in History, From a country about 5 times smaller than Alaska? No. Isnt the British SAS considered to be the best Special Forces in the world? Didnt the American Delta Force try to copy being the SAS? Both Yes. Royal Marine Commando training; 3 times longer than US Marine training. If numbers mean that you are the best in the world then North Korea would be better than America. Quality over Quantity. UK 4 – 0 US.

    5. History. Well, theres not really much point in getting into this one, no contest. One point though; the US is legally still owned by the UK…you cant just go about making up your own countries and laws! UK 5 – 0.

    6. Icons. Which country has produced more key figures who have contributed to the world? Lets start with the UK; Issac Newton, William Shakespeare, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill (Even though he was half-American), Isambard Brunel. Now the US; Bill Gates…can’t really think of any, but then again; I only really needed to say Darwin and the UK would have won. UK 6 – 0 US.

    7. Entertainment. No doubt that the Americans have this when it comes to the Movie Industry, Hollywood is entertainment capital of the world. But what about Music? Queen, The Beatles, Oasis, Elton John, Tom Jones, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, The Sex Pistols. No question that when it comes down to building a legacy in Music, Brits know how to do it. I think this one is a draw.Still  UK 6 – 0 US.

    8. Food. I dont think there is much contest here either as there arent really any foods that the Americans can call their own. Easy win for the UK. UK 7 – 0 US.

    9. Drink. This is a tough one, Coca-Cola is huge but so is Whiskey. Both the UK and the US drink a lot of drinks from other countries. Draw. Still UK 7 – 0 US.

    10. Influence. Historically I think you will agree that the UK and Europe has a lot of input into the Blueprint of the United States and it is clear that the United States would not be anywhere near the country it is now if it was not for Europe. Nowadays, American influence is clear to see everywhere you go, however this is not a good thing. In the UK now I think there are more McDonalds, Burger Kings and KFC’s than schools. Television, Movies, Gangs and Guns are all contributing to the United States easily being the most hated country in the world. Where the UK are seen as arrogant, unapproachable and without good dentists (apparently); Americans are generally hated by nearly every country in the world, I’ve even met Americans who hate the fact that they are American. This is the first point for America but it has been earned through 200+ years of marketing and hatred.
    UK 7- 1 US.

    There you have it, 7 – 1 to the Brits. I could have gone into other areas like Education (The University of Cambridge is number 1 in the QS World University Rankings) and Crime (Bloods and Crips ring any bells?) but I didnt want to rub salt into the wound.

    The problem is that Americans think they are better than everyone else. This self-obsessed ideal is pumped into them at a young age and fuelled by the fact that they cannot see past their own borders. The majority of problems in the world which can be caused by a country are caused by America, either by their own doing or the fact that half the world hate America and the other half probably don’t own a television.

    With all this being said, Yes; the United Kingdom is great and always will be, but I will still drink Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Jack Daniels, use Facebook, Google and YouTube, watch Deadliest Catch whilst eating Pizza hut, Call people on my Iphone 4 and Skype and buy the Walking Dead boxed set from Amazon. These are the things that are America. Im proud to be English but you can’t avoid America for your whole life! Can you?

    • Anon

       Alright, I’m an American, and I will offer my rebuttal by auditing each point you make for your scoring system:

      1. Language.  Sure Americans do speak plain English in comparison to hackneyed image of the pompous Britain.  However I’d like to point out that there a spectrum in language and its sophistication in all countries of the world, though the ignorant, slurred-style of speaking among Americans is the image mainly known to the rest of the world.  Although, I give it to UK, because they have created better authors, and English is their language so… UK 1-0 US

      2. Economy.  Hahaha, is a British person trying to claim that his/her economy is better than the US’s economy?  Well then, if we go by pure quantity of money, then how could the United States’s recession destroy the majority of the world’s economy, if the US had a weak one?  The truth is that the rest of the hinges on the success of the United States.  And as our economy is projected to increase (2.5%) in 2012, Britain’s economy is projected a (.01%).  This point is made.  UK 1-1 US

      3. Sports.  Ah, so the old majority rules argument again.  So if the entire world plays “football,” and we play “soccer,” we somehow are rebelling against culture itself, and poo-pooing the rest of the world.  No.  Americans like “soccer,” and it is growing at a very rapid pace here, however we own our “American football,” because we invented it; it is part of our countries pride.  It has nothing to do about wanting to not call it what everyone else calls it, you seem to care much more than we do about this subject.  So what, you have “football,” cricket, and rugby… We have “football,” basketball, baseball, soccer, and some hockey thanks to the Canadians.  This is very subjective and there are no grounds for comparison so… omit UK 1-1 US

      4. Military.  We beat you in the Revolutionary War with a bunch of civilians/impromptu soldiers and a lot of passion.  We had to help you out in World War II (the right thing to do, of course). We have more bombs (atomic), which really decide good a military is.  We spend $711 billion on military, you spend $62 billion equivalently, which is not a good thing, but you wanted to compare military force, so there you go… UK 1-2 US

      5. History. You do have more history, but only because you’ve been around much longer.  This is a subject picked specifically to win points for the UK.  Might I remind you that we kicked your asses when our histories did meet in the Revolutionary War… I’ll give it to the UK for being around longer; good for you UK 2-2 US

      6. Icons. Here’s who you have: Newton, Darwin, Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, Stephen King…
      We have: Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Bill Gates/Steve Jobs, Marin Luther King Jr., Michael Jordan. 
      Inventions: You have: Television, Steam Engine, Radio
                            We have: Internet, Airplane, iPod, Car, Discovery of gasoline’s ability, fire station, postal service, paperclip, refrigerator, ice cream, usable light bulb… America is driven by ingenuity and creativity.  If you compare the last 250ish years, the US has done much, much more. US 3-2 UK

      7. Entertainment.  Yes we do have Hollywood.  You list these musicians from the UK, but where did they have to come to in order to be noticed? America!  I think that frankly, the US should get most of the credit with those musicians.  Not to mention the musicians/genres the US has produced: Michael Jackson, Madonna, Elvis Presley, Jazz, Country, Blues (father of rock), Rap (UK rappers are TERRIBLE).  UK really only has Rock, and that was really embraced in the US, so… US 4-2 UK

      8. Food.  What, you have some bar food to claim as your national cuisine, which is not much better than ostensibly nothing.  However, we do have ALL types of food here in great abundance, forget the ignorant notion that all we eat is McDonalds/KFC.  McDonalds/KFC are the products of American business, which is actually a successful model.  We also established our own seafood and deep dish pizza.  The good thing about America is that we are free to explore all types of cultures, i.e. I live in Philadelphia, PA, and in walking distance I could go to multiple Indian, Mexican, Chinese, “American” (burgers), Pizza, Italian, Japanese, Greek, Thai restaurants… I’m definitely forgetting a few, but none of them are British may I point out.  I’ll say its a tie, because I want to avoid stereotyping the UK, the same way McDonalds is erroneously embossed into the American identity.

      9. Drink. You’re right, “Coca-Cola is a huge, but so is “whiskey”… give me a break.  You know what else is big?  Water.  We all drink that, so I guess the clouds and Mr. Poseidon himself win this one.  No but really, talking about drinks, you drink our sodas, but we don’t drink your beers.  Your top beers are Stella Artois, Fosters, and Carling, none of which are from the UK… US 5-2 UK

      10. Influence.  No argument there, we win.  Maybe 100-200 years ago this would be the other way around, but as of this century, US is more influential… US 6-2 UK

      11. Education.  You have better primary and secondary schooling, we have better higher education.  You have Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College, UCL.  We have Harvard, Yale, MIT, Princeton, Chicago, Penn, Columbia, Stanford etc. So if the ends matter, the US prevails US 7-2 UK

      12. Crime.  You got us on this one.  I just want to make it clear though, that you hear about the “Bloods” and the “Crips,” in Los Angeles, but that does not mean those gangs are running the streets.  They stick to themselves, they shoot and rob each other.  As I said before I live in Philadelphia, which is notorious for bad crime, but except for the secluded pocket in far far north Philadelphia, crime is not an issue.  US 7-3 UK

      I could go to other topics to get easy points for the US, but there is no need.  I hear what you say about how American influences are impossible to avoid.  However, those are the cheap, chain-restaurants that you are misinterpreting as America.  Unfortunately, you get the worst of us, because the rest of the world seemingly loves fast food too. I don’t know.  I can tell you I am a proud American, not idiotically so, and I eat fast food maybe once a year, if that, only in dire situations.  Don’t let the stereotypes sculpt your judgements, albeit seemingly impossible due to the pervasiveness of media’s death grip. 

      P.S. I don’t think British people have bad teeth.

      • AG

        I must disagree on Philadelphia’s crime beeing only in far  north. The city is surrounded by it, and you don’t have to walk far from city center to suddenly end up in the ghetto. Plus, the ghetto likes to come to the streets of city center and try to rob the tourists during the day! I have experienced it and decided not to move to Philadelphia! It’s a shame though… it is a beutiful city overtaken by filthy criminals.

      • Acegodfather10

        Mate just accept that britain will always be better than america!!

        • declan casey

          Um, no. As an American, I lived in Britain for 12 years. When I compare to the time I spent living and travelling in america, it’s clear which one wins: the USA. The UK was a remarkably boring and plain country, full of ignorant citizens who think they have the best of everything compared to the US. This though mainly comes from their lack of knowledge of life across the pond. When I arrived back on US soil, I couldn’t believe the quality of everything that I had previously taken for granted. The scenery, the houses, school life, the standard of living, the cities, the music and entertainment industry, the geographical wonders…the UK really seems like an insignificant

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            I feel a tiny bit bad pointing out the incredibly obvious fact that the U.S.A. wins in almost every category imaginable when compared to almost every other country, but especially with the British because they’re in one of a handful of countries (who else, Japan? Canada?) that actually might qualify as true allies, even if most of their citizens are boringly, snobbishly, ignorantly anti-American. Sort of like a rich guy feels bad pulling out a wad of $100 bills and waving it around. Well, yeah, we’re the U.S., I mean, come on.

            Some British are quite nice people and their country did manage to do a whole lot, mostly before we came on the scene, but still, I’ll give them their props and their nod. Not going to take an unlimited amount of cheek about the U.S. from them, though.

      • declan casey

        Stephen king isn’t british

      • MrRight

        The Brits invented the
        internet see Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee! And it
        was the French who invented the car. Also the French
        and Brits invented the airplane. Ice cream was invented by
        the Persians. Baseball and american football
        are games evolved from the English games
        of rounders and rugby.

      • Johnno 177

        Wow wow wow we Brits invented the internet

        • Johnno 177

          Italians invented ice cream

          • Johnno 177

            The Germans invented the car

          • Johnno 177

            Postal service was Britain’s too

          • Johnno 177

            And paperclip – serioisly

  • Acegodfather10

    Hahahaha Fuck America!!! Great Britain FTFW!!!!!

  • Michael Andrew

    Language – Well, the English created the language and gave the world examples of the power held by English semantics.

    UK 1 – 0 US

    Economy – US economy despite being 16 trillion in debt is far bigger and more diverse than the UK, though it seems at the hands of soulless rampant capitalism.

    UK 1 – 1 US

    Sport – The UK gave the world association football; which is by fat the most played and beloved sport on the planet, enjoyed virtually everywhere – including the U.S these days. Cricket, Golf, Rugby, Tennis – were all invented and pioneered on UK soil, and the impact of those sports ‘worldwide’ speaks for itself.

    The Americans have their sports, but what American’s should realize is that their sports do not matter to the majority of the world, including the strangely titled MLB ‘World Series’. British sports have impacted the world far grater than their American counterparts – and for that reason the UK wins.

    UK 2- 1 US

    Military – The US needed the French Empire to defeat the British during the Revolutionary War, therefore the previous posters simplistic assessment of that conflict is somewhat dishonest. The British created the biggest Empire known to mankind, and Britain haven’t lost a significant war or suffered at the hands of invasion for many, many years. The UK military is respected massively worldwide, and it’s worth mentioning not even the American’s will fight a war without UK assistance. British military capability forever punches above its weight and more often than not ends as the victor.

    UK 3 – 1 US

    History – The UK, (albeit as separate kingdoms as well as a Union), and despite its small stature, created a culture that has easily permeated its way through the entire world. UK philosophy, war, culture, arts, politics, democratic advancement speaks for itself – and may I remind you – so much from such a tiny island.

    UK 4 – 1 US

    Icons – This argument can be won easily by listing only Churchill and Darwin.
    Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln – feature no where near in the hirerachy of historical impact compared to the UK’s many, many exports, including little known’s such as Thomas Paine; a man adored by the American founding fathers. Britain fathered the modern world through science, the industrial revolution, politics, military and much more. Easy win for the UK. P.s the previous American’s list of inventions are mostly incorrect.

    UK 5 – 1 US

    Entertainment – No denying US influence here, though attributing relevance through American acceptance can easily be reversed; where did Hendrix have to come to be noticed? UK. However the US has Hollywood, which is mostly awful these days and corporate rock, but historically America has contributed massively to the arts. Still, the UK’s reputation for music is pretty much equally respected through multiple genres, rock, song writing, pop, etc. Draw.

    UK 6 – 2 US

    Food – Both countries are enriched by foreign imports. And both nations contain historical traditional dishes. UK influenced and is responsible for the early direction the US took in respect to culture, and food is no different. But to put things plainly – US burgers, UK fish n chips. Draw.

    UK 7 – US 3

    Drink – A silly point but oh well. The UK has enjoyed a massive internal alcohol industry for many years, especially in respect of beers, ale, cider etc. Our ciders btw are magnificent.

    American beers are awful, but coco cola is addictive. Point each.

    UK 8 – 4 US

    Influence – Interesting point and one the American fails to consider openly.

    The US is influential of course, though mostly for negative reasons weather it be the spread of globalization or the meandering in foreign affairs, however the British Empire’s influence still permeates its way through many countries today in respect of laws, language (English, dur!), and a big culture. Britain’s involvement in Libya, Sierra Leonne, Liberia, Kosovo, and much more, proves whole heartedly that Britain is still very influential. Point each.

    UK 9 – 5 US

    Education – I’m giving this to the US. British education simply needs reforming and refinancing. Though remember, we are a much smaller country than the US (pop: 350M), (UK pop: 65), and there is no need for masses upon masses of empty universities. American’s are now realizing that top education will not gurantee a good job, but with that said for my first reason only, I’m giving this to the US.

    UK 9 – 6 US

    Crime – Britain suffers from petty theft with the odd bouts of violent homicides. But America’s homicide problem, particularly involving guns, is outrageous and an embarrassment for the nation’s image. Philladelphia, St Louis, Detroit, Compton – just to name a few are turning into no go towns, this, without mentioning the many massacres the country seems accustomed to. And the fact America gave the world a face chewing zombie from Miami is enough for me to give this to the UK.

    UK 10 – 6 US

    If you’re knowledgeable and unbiased it’s still pretty difficult to come to a conclusion that doesn’t see the UK as victor. But to some degree morality and cultural play a part too. American’s love capitalism, the unmitigated process by in which anything can be sold providing there’s a buyer. Where I tend to value you quality over quantity.

    With all that said, even if I draw the UK military with US – the score still comes to 10-7, UK. And that would be my only discrepancy.