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Thursday, 10 June 2010

British Petroleum and American Impatience

The BBC 4 morning radio programme today featured a brief discussion of the cultural language differences between the US and UK which have tended to exacerbate the current Gulf of Mexico Spill Disaster's impact.  It seems perhaps a sign of BBC-media-navel-gazing to think that language is the main spur of the rage around the crisis, when perhaps massive environmental, social and economic degradation has more to do with it.  Yet, as we now know, Tony Hayward, BP's hardhat-wearing bumpkin, has infuriated an entire nation, and is now almost as hated as Osama bin Laden.  According to this BBC discussion, the idea was mooted that Hayward's accent and way of speaking itself was a red rag to the Yankee bull.  I would not be surprised.  Sometimes, it is is possible to misread (from a NA perspective) English sarcasm / wit as mere rudeness, especially when expressed in the sort of accent one associated with Nazi villains from the movies.  However, most of us are sophisticated enough to accept the crass likes of Ozzy and Russell Brand into our lunkheaded American hearts and minds, along with Alistair Cooke et al.  No, the main problem with BP is not the British, but the Petroleum.  But I am sure this will hurt reception of British poets in the short term.
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