Friday, May 14, 2010

Johnny Foreigner on Little Englander

What would a foreigner make of UK society if he/she had to make a judgement on it, as viewed through the prism of UK media?

Quite apart from all the recent routine election-related vitriol, there’s the weekly Westminster Punch & Judy show that is known as PMQs. This, supposedly, represents the pinnacle of political discourse in the UK parliament.

The BBC’s (the public service broadcaster!) “mock or shaft” Dragon’s Den and the hyper-abrasive personnel skills of Alan Sugar on The Apprentice might well be taken to represent the recommended approach to achieving business/economic success in the UK.

The foreign viewer would also have the daily diet of dysfunctional families and communities, as represented by top-ratings programmes such as Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Eastenders.

One wonders what the ordinary UK resident makes of it all, fed on this daily tv diet of abrasion and confrontation from all levels of society? And then there are the “red tops”, the biggest selling “newspapers” in UK, which routinely go for “shock & awe” OTT banner headlines.

Fed on such a sustained and noxious diet, is it any wonder that many UK citizens appear to believe it is acceptable to behave aggressively and/or to hold xenophobic views? This might also explain the UK attitude to the EU – they can’t be a member of any club unless they actually run it!

Hopefully, the recent formation of a coalition government may remove some of the perceived stigma associated with the idea of having to moderate ones language and behaviour and live with compromise.

The reality is that we all do it in our daily lives - in our family, our workplace, our social circle etc..

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