I, Ponder. Anglophile and proud.

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Summary: I have been a fan of British television for two-thirds of my life, now. Watching, as the term goes, otaku continue to get a large marketshare and many, many things; I started to think: I can turn my anglophilia into the same sort of cohesive force.

Friday, 22 January 2010

(23:18:51 CST)

I, Ponder. Anglophile and proud.

I am not 100% sure of the age, but I could not have been more than about ten-years-old when I started watching Doctor Who. Then, later, Are You Being Served? and Mystery and Jeeves and Wooster and others. Eventually, I found out about the "Channel 4" selections such as Father Ted and Black Books and my continued with fascination with British television grew. In this same time, mid-80s or so until the present, I have watched Japanese animation and comics fanatics grow from a dedicated and small-knit group of self-translators and bootleg importers to one of the dominant youth-hobbies of the past two generations. Perhaps ironically, the British influx has been going about as long, maybe even longer, but never stronger (questionable how much fairly anglicized Godzilla and Ultraman imports count).

The marketability of anime and later manga had a lot to do with it, sure. Bigger breasts, flashier tricks, more destructive fire-power: anime was unneutered compared to the kiddy-fare Americans were calling cartoons. I think, though, that the ultimate cause of Japanimation (as it was called back in the 90s, annoyingly) becoming a household name was because it was something people could rally around. Distinct, compared to American, art styles blended with somewhat unusual stories and names made exotic by their native tongue. Someone walking around talking about Shinji Ikari was in the club. There was an entrance fee, of sorts, in that you had to overcome some of the basic learning curve but once you started accumulating knowledge, then you were done. You were in there. You could talk to other fans and hang out. People would get together on Saturday and treat anime as social event. People would swap manga. Angry discussions broke out online about who was meant for whom and which relationships were a sham. Cartoon Network helped fuel the fire by calling every new series "the best series ever". Fans rushed to brag about this while detractors rushed to use the word "fan boy". And, well, there was the added bonus that these weren't your parents' cartoons. People talked about scenes being cut. Think back to when you were fourteen...someone tells you the original had nipples showing. How amazing was that?

Anime has continued to become ubiquitious, to a point that a fair amount of American animation is at least quasi-anime in style. Manga are so big that many comic companies are playing around with the digest format, the effectiveness of black and white, and so forth. And all this while, British television ahs had a steady but never expansive influx into our American shores.

Arguably the most important promoter of British culture in the US has been PBS, with its various "Brit-com" blocks and the Sunday night British mini-series converted into Masterpiece Theatre. BBC America has a good range of shows, but often focuses on just a handful for a month or two at the time, making for sporadic and not more constant watching. Lately, Adult Swim has ported over shows like Dark Place and Mighty Boosh. Other shows, The IT Crowd and Spaced have been driven by word of mouth. Peep Show is picking up steam. These, like the more popular PBS titles, have tended to be sitcoms though. Sitcoms are important to a culture's television, but are not always the best guages. PBS did have Doctor Who at one point in time. SyFy/Sci-Fi Channel has had runs of shows like Primeval and the newer Who. I think Skins got some play over here, but I am not 100% sure.

What we have is a history of slow but steady drips of British television. Some British movies come over here (many seem to be picked almost mockingly to point out how quaint the British are). British radio sadly confuses us. And, British novels are easier and more readily imported but somehow their acceptance also feels hampered. There is a massive amount of interesting and delightful British culture to be explored. Which has the added benefit of not requring translation (though history has shown us translating it anyhow in cases such as Harry Potter and the Philosophers Sorcerer's Stone). It won't be explored though, except through the current sense of happenstance and remakes, until there is a group ready and willing to cut through the crap and to talk about it and help others to come to grips with it and a place and group to hang out with and to discuss Life on Mars and whether or not Blue Jam is worth anything.

Therefore, I propose the term "Ponder" (as in, those of us from across the pond) to represent Americans who are self-admitted anglophiles. Not necessarily full blown and unrepentant, either. People who like, maybe even prefer, British comedy and drama. People who like British novels, who like getting their news from BBC News Worldwide. People who stream content from BBC Radio. People willing to share tips and tricks to watch Region 2 and PAL DVDs. People willing to point out resources and brand new shows. People willing to import and get the word out. All at their own sense of hobby and their own level of interest. Not an organization per se but mostly just a label we can apply to ourselves and use in everyday language. Because the more we get the word out there, the more that will be brought to us. British TV imports will not be just a haphazard scattering but a more ready thing. Ditto for just about everything else.

And, if not, well...we can talk about Peep Show together.

Si Vales, Valeo


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