It’s election day in America…

…and, on behalf of the rest of the world, we can’t wait until it’s over!  Even here in Australia, every bulletin update is on Romney this or Obama that.  We have news specials on it.  60-minutes style reports on it with Australian reporters traipsing across the wilds of backhills Florida trying to get the pulse of the people.

It’s not just been in the last couple of months as you build up to the election.  No, no, we Australians have been right there with you from the caucuses (caucusii?), to the Republican party Presidential nominee announcement and to binder-gate (since I’m a nerd, my favourite binder meme was this one):

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It cracks me up every time.  Sean Bean is brilliant.  But I digress…

It’s not just us Aussies – I’ve been in the UK for over 4 years and the election has been heavily covered there too.

The world is watching every minute detail of this election and, frankly, I think we’re all sick to death of it. I can’t imagine what it’s been like for Americans.

I guess the reason why a national election is international news is due to America’s huge influence on the world.  And George W. Bush was so colossally bad that, since then, everyone has been extra-invested in having a relatively normal human being with his finger on the trigger, so to speak (by contrast, in Australia the only criteria we have is that our prime ministers try not to bore everyone to death).

As an Australian, I can also see the immense cultural influence America has had on Australia.  Our TV dramas and comedies are about 60% US-origin, 20% Australian and 20% British.  On the music charts, I’d say songs by American artists make up at least 40-50%, with Australian artists making up another 40% and the rest British.  Australian slang has not been unaffected either, although this is an area where American cultural influence has not been as strong.  I’ll say truck, not lorry (America 1, England 0) but then I’ll also say lift not elevator (England 1).  I’m also proud to say that slang unique to Australia is doing very well (dag, togs, refedex…).

What makes this more interesting to me is seeing how different the influence has been on British culture (which then leads me to ponder why).  If you get free-to-air TV in the UK, you’ll see very little in the way of US programs (exception being 5 USA, which specialises in it).  American slang has had very little impact on British slang – in fact, it’s a point of principle amongst Britons to avoid any vulgar “Americanisms” and, culturally, Jordan/Katie Price and WAGs have more impact on young British youth today than anything America has to offer.  In fact, the only piece of American culture British youths seem to have latched on to is gang culture, a deeply unfortunate turn of events.

I’m not sure why modern Australia seems to have been more influenced, culturally, by America rather than England.  We’re an ex-British colony, we still have the Queen as a head of state, the majority of Australians have British ancestry (although that’s quickly changing).  Until about the 1980s it was true that Australia was very much a ‘little Britain’ (excuse the pun).  Then, suddenly, it changed over night.  Maybe MTV had something to do with it.

So now we’re an odd mix here in Australia.  US customs and culture (Halloween is getting more popular every year, although we carve watermelons here rather than pumpkins given the season) sit with remnants of British culture (I still think it’s a majority of Australians who have a hot roast meal at Christmas, even though it’s 35 degrees outside… we just supplement it with cold glazed ham and prawns) and that rests in a melting pot with the ever-growing contributions of migrant communities.  In fact, as time goes on, I can see Australia is slowly turning more to Asia: economically, they’re a major purchaser of Australian goods, culturally they’ve transformed Australian cuisine (Asian fusion is something Australians specialise in) and demographically, Asian Australians form a significant part of the population.  Maybe it will be a Firefly future after all?

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6 thoughts on “It’s election day in America…

  1. Such an interesting post. I lived in Switzerland years ago and know firsthand the influence America has on the rest of the world. I’m still amazed that other countries have had to suffer through our horrible election season as well. It has truly been a beating. I hope we can all move ahead after tonight and get our country back on track, regardless of who wins. On another note, I love that you carve watermelons on Halloween!

    • How did you find Switzerland? In the UK, a lot of English people end up working/living there and reports are mixed – either fantastic or stultifying. Well, with the election now over hopefully we can all give elections a rest for a little while. The Australian prime ministerial elections are next year I think but we have a much simpler election process so I think there’ll be a bit of peace for a couple of months yet 🙂

      The watermelon carving is an excuse to get at the delicious insides! I might try rockmelon (cantaloupe) next year for the same reason. So many melons, so many (delicious) possibilities…

      • Switzerland is a tough to place to live. I’m from Texas, and people are generally very friendly and outgoing, and will practically adopt new people into their families when they meet them. Switzerland: not so much. They are very reserved and it takes a long time before they let you in. It took me years to feel comfortable there. Having said that, it’s a beautiful country, and once I started learning the dialect people started opening up more.

      • That’s interesting. There’s a lot of Germans living and working in the UK and, although they’re not Swiss, they have the same reserve. In fact, English people can be like that but that’s more because they’re socially awkward rather than a naturally-reserved people. I like the sound of Texas though – things are so much nicer when people are outgoing and friendly! 🙂

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