Tuesday 1 February 2011

In Defense of the American Superhero

A while ago, I made a list of things that annoy me about British people and now, at the risk of being a bit offensive, I'd like to add to that list.

6. They personally piggyback on any British person's international success

Case in point... I am sure you have heard by now that Superman is the latest American superhero to be played by a British actor in a major motion picture. ....Wait, what's that, my non UK readers?  You havent heard about this?  Have you been living under a rock??...  No, you simply have been living anywhere other than in the UK where this has been a major headline on every radio programme, TV station, newspaper and news website I have heard or seen today. 

And why?  Who cares?  

The Brits (or atleast the British media) care.  They care anytime something like this happens, and they act as if it's a victory for the whole country.  Colin Firth (continually refered to as British actor, Colin Firth) winning the Best Actor Golden Globe was top news, delivered with undertones of patriotism and national triumph, but did anyone care which film won Best Picture?  Of course not, because it wasn't British (even though there was one Britsh actor in it).   I dont blame British people for not caring about meaningless American entertainment award shows, but either care or dont care. Why the cherry picking?  Do they actually think it reflects positively on Britian for a British actor who has left traditional "British" arts such as the theatre for the bright lights of Hollywood to win a silly award?

When Natalie Portman won her award, did the American media continually refer to her as "American Natalie" and wave the stars and stripes behind her?  

And back to Superman  - Telegraph journalist Andrew Lowry took this "big news" even futher saying that Henry Cavill (the next Superman) and Andrew Garfield (the next Spiderman), both born in 1983 are young but somehow don't "feel" young - whatever that means - and goes so far to say that Jesse Eisenberg (who he seems to think is the only young American actor around) is "a fine actor, but not a man you’d expect to hit the gym to get some bullet-repelling abs, or swing around on the elaborate rigs needed to simulate Spiderman’s powers, or to wield the authority needed to take all Gotham’s troubles on his shoulders," and continued to ask "what does it say about young American men that the avatars of their iconic heroes need be imported in from the UK?"

And he's not done yet... His article concludes: "Nerd culture has taken root across the Atlantic far deeper than over here, and while fumbling, awkward boy-men are ideal for The Social Network and Scott Pilgrim, when it comes to men of steel, casting agents seem to be forced to cast their net wider, to somewhere where dorkery is not seen as an aspiration for a young man."

So, let me get the straight (and try to act surprised by this predictable response)... a member of the British media has taken the casting of a British born actor in the role of an American superhero to imply that all young American men are "dorks"?  

Nice one, mate, but the truth is that superheros are supposed to be "the boy next door". That's part of their appeal. Lois Lane didnt know that  Clark Kent was superman becuase all she saw was that "dork" in glasses and that whatever-her-name-Kirstin-Dunst-character didnt know Peter Parker was Spiderman cause he was that "dork" that lived with his Grandma.  So, if a well-known American actor like Zac Effron or (my personal mini-crush) Chase Crawford was cast as a superhero, this image of a relatable, everyday, normal young man would be harder to get across.  Very few people will look at Henry Cavill and say "oh yeah, that was that guy from the Tudors".  No one will recognize him without his period costume and, so with a good American accent, he can easily be your (very!) handsome boy next door turned flying superhero.  His British-ness will not even feature and is a non-issue.

You got me? 

Oh, and by the way, there will always only be one real Superman.
American Actor, Christopher Reeve


  1. I was watching something, probably Celebrity 24/7 on Living, and they were talking about how 'The King's Speech' swept the Golden Globes with 12 nominations. Then in the next sentence they mention, as an afterthought, that Natalie Portman won for 'Black Swan' which also had 12 nominations. So, 'The King's Speech' SWEPT things with it's 12 nominations, but 'Black Swan' BLAH, BLah, blah....

    Watching the Olympics (particularly the winter ones) while in the UK is the best way to observe this. Team GeeBee always loses, but you would never know it by the way the BBC reports on things!

    I agree this is totally annoying and I always point it out to my husband! Fortunately, the Irish are a bit more self-deprecating!

  2. I think what it boils down to is that the movie makers are looking for actors with faces no one recognizes to play these roles. The fact that they're British is most likely a coincidence. Anwyay, American actor Kellan Lutz is the hunkiest guy around, duh.

  3. We should really be referring to people as member of the human race Zac Effron...etc etc. :) Good stuff!

  4. "when it comes to men of steel, casting agents seem to be forced to cast their net wider, to somewhere where dorkery is not seen as an aspiration for a young man"

    what an idiot. Trust me dude, there are way more guys in the US who are aspiring to be men of steel than dorks. Especially if we are comparing them to the british, sorry but I can't even think of a single time I've seen a ripped british guy who wasn't a professional athlete and in the US I just need to walk down to the local bar!