The British Empire held Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, India, Fiji, Scotland, Hong Kong, Burma, Oman, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, the Maldives, South Africa, Swaziland, Nigeria and parts of America and China to name a few. (wiki-map). In simple words there are only 22 countries currently independent that were never invaded by British. The current area of ‘Great Britain’ is almost equal to that of our Punjab. There hold however on the world’s culture still remains. Like the worldwide consent of fair skin being more beautiful than any other skin tone. But does it really? I know the concept of beauty is relative and changes with location and time but even 1400 years ago before all these Europeans had such a cultural impact on the world culture, Islam describes ‘hoors’ to be the color of milk. Milk as we all know is white (duh) and hoors are supposed to be the most beautiful humanoids a person can imagine. Every religion in the world associates white color with beauty and purity. This makes me question if beauty really is relative? Are humans designed to hold the descendants of an ancient family, now called Europeans, as the standard of beauty with their fair skin, and eyes and hair of all colors and shades? and then there are the accents.
World have this crazy obsession with European accents as being more pleasing to the ears. Thus the reason of British singers dominating worldwide. I say British rather than Europeans because even among all Europe Britain has many advantages. Accents are more dense and diverse in Britain than in any other part of Europe. In its own small area and surroundings there are accents like Glasgow’s Scottish to Irish to Liverpool accent there are huge differences. This is one of the reasons I think Brits are mostly good at doing impressions. If you haven’t noticed, British actors, YouTubers and people alike love doing impressions, be it other people or animals or characters or anything. It’s like they have impression academy compulsory as a child. And it kind of is true. Living in such an accent-rich location where Glasgowian and Irish are basically not English but different languages entirely, the kids pick up all these tones and since they also have American television so they pick some of that too. Their kids have very rich tones of their mother accent in the beginning but as they grow up they fade in. It’s like singing a song at different notes. This brings me to Broadway musicals. Theater is big in Britain. It always been since Shakespeare. But British actors also dominate American stages. Their rule over musicals is fairly obvious due to their sing-songy ways but they also have a fair share in American television and film.
It is said that, “all good TV is British TV” which may seems like an exaggeration that it is but is based on some fact how minor it may be. Every successful American show currently on or was in the last decade has at-least one British actor in the main cast, mostly playing an American’s role. On the other hand you won’t often see a non-British actor cast in a British movie or TV show. They may even replace the whole cast with British actors which many American directors have done in the past. Be it Game of Thrones or Star Wars e7 or even Lord of the Rings – Hobbit which are Australian-New Zealand productions. The answer is again, the British theater. They love their tea and they love theater. Most British actors have art and acting degrees. They study drama, history and everything they can about acting and then start from stage. All famous British actors have come from stage. Acting on stage means memorizing whole script, practice-practice-practice and then perform that in front of a live audience for hours every night. Messing up is not an option because there are others standing in line to replace you. On the other hand American actors are mostly passion driven and when it meets talent and finds luck, they land a role in a successful tv show and then try for the movies. This is the path to success, to land a successful tv role or die as a small actor. And it’s not their fault, this is how US is. It has a big tv and movie audience so the main focus goes there but in this they miss the foundation of acting, the theater.
American TV also loves remaking British shows. Like Stephen Fry says, ‘we come up with a successful show, it has its run and then Americans make a remake of it with ten times the budget and make a hundred times more from it then we do’. While it is true sometimes, like the Office or House of Cards, most remakes are rarely successful but still America has a big tv audience so no show really go for a loss.
One thing we know, American tv and Hollywood loves doing time piece drama. Be it World War 2, it’s after myth or early America and its historic moments, British actors are more in demand for their accents. This is ridiculous because the American accent now is more close to the one British brought to America and then back in England the posh classes popularized removing ‘r’ and over-pronouncing vowels. This lead to the current British accent. But time piece dramas set in early American always sound more modern British than their true form.
Hollywood movies nowadays have insane budgets. Even the TV budgets recently have been exceptional. Currently the most expensive Pakistani movie, Waar cost $3 million to make while an average budget of a Game of Thrones episode is $6 million while some episodes costing as much as $13 million. Friends cost $10 million/episode and it was a sitcom in a studio apartment. Average cost of a Hollywood blockbuster nowadays is somewhere around $250 million. (All facts according to Wikipedia). Putting all this out there, directors prefer to chose stage actors that do not mess up 10 times a scene and have more work put in months preparing for the character. The money on the line is too much to limit yourself searching required talent from the US only.
Art is big in Britain. Every country produces some manpower internationally, like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan provide cheap labor for other countries. Britain’s manpower just happen to be artists. And their artists have to work on their American accents and move overseas to get better paying jobs in Hollywood. American actors on the other hand have no reason to learn British accent or try to make a name in Britain. First because British think low of foreign actors in their shows and secondly because even if you make big in Britain, what good will come of it. No matter how big this “British Invasion” may seem, they are still a small part of the world wide fame group. Americans still have a lot more internationally popular A-list actors than Britain. The reason we keep hearing the word British Invasion again and again is a cry from American media to stop going their jobs to foreigners. Same is happening in all fields across America where people protest against foreigners getting ‘their jobs’. World now is smaller than it ever was. Companies don’t care if the person they hire is local or foreign as long as he is better suited for the job.
This post is getting out of hand. I think this is a good enough time to wrap this up. Later 🙂