We are apparently experiencing a British Invasion of the 21st century.
Those old enough to remember that Paul McCartney was in a band long before the one he has now, and before Wings, might remember the 1960’s British Invasion of the Beatles, the Bee Gees, the Rolling Stones, The Who, the Yardbirds, the Zombies, the Hollies, they Honeycombs, the Kinks, the Moody Blues, the Dave Clark Five, the Animals, Herman’s Hermits, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and so on and so on. They changed the musical landscape of the 1960s.
This century’s invasion, however, is in a slightly different media: the news. I haven’t decided yet if I think it’s a bad thing. I’ve commented to my boys for many months now that the Brits seem to be everywhere on television, at least. Most shows have British hosts and/or judges, British actors are everywhere affecting Southern and other US dialects (The Walking Dead, for instance, where a large British cast sounds like they grew up in rural Georgia), and Brits are all over Broadway.
But did you realize how many Brits are running US media? Piers Morgan is the new Larry King, the British newspaper vet Gerard Barker edits the WSJ, Mark Thompson of the BBS is the CEO of the NY Times, Anna Wintour is the Vogue editor, Joanna Coles is the editor for Cosmopolitan, Britain’s former editor of ITV News now runs NBC News, ABC’s entertainment group is now run by another BBC alum, and the New York Daily News is run by a Fleet Street alum.
What may be the biggest coup however is the fact that The Daily Show, my favorite All-American comedy show, was helmed over the summer by John Oliver, a BRIT! Oh, the humanity. I like John Oliver, but he’s no Jon Stewart. Just sayin’.
Maybe it isn’t a bad thing that the Brits are taking over what has passed for American journalism of late. We all know how unbiased journalism and reporting (no, I’m still not buying the “fair and balanced” tag line) seem to have gone the way of Edward R Murrow and Walter Cronkite, so maybe it’s good that the attitude of most British journalists conducting an interview is more one of “why is this jerk lying to me?” rather than taking the half-truths and made-up BS as fact and then perpetuating the lies ad nauseum just to further a political agenda.
I’m also betting that the Brits don’t give a rat’s ass about our current ridiculous little religious civil and political war since they’ve lived it centuries longer than we have, and I’m sure they find it rather droll. They don’t bow down to the Corporate Power structure that exists here because, frankly, they know they’ll probably outlast us. They are also more used to arguing particular points “to the point of impertinence” which will get you kicked out of the room or off the air here, especially if your views differ from the ones of those in charge.
The goal of all good journalists should be to push back, question everything, trust but verify at the very least. The American media doesn’t seem to be very good at that lately. (We KNOW politicians aren’t.) While we purport to strive for news that is “fair and balanced”, the Brits apparently strive to be frank and brutal.
I’ll take that. It beats the hell out of faux news.