Thursday, January 11, 2007

Paul Revere is at home, resting comfortably

The Beckhams are coming! The Beckhams are coming!

But before you don your Indian headdress and stow off to the nearest harbor, it's important to remember that David Beckham won't really turn into the transcendent Tiger Woods/Brad Pitt-red-carpet-hogging Frankenstein some prominent columnists are declaring he could be.

America has been almost impenetrable to English celebrity ever since the Beatles and their British invasion cohorts started their decade-long run of sweet musical terror over 40 years ago.

Sure we will still allow the occasional Scot, like Sean Connery, or the odd Irish band, like U2, through. But the pure-blooded English celebrity doesn't stand much of a chance of achieving modern day glory on our side of the Atlantic.

Look no further than the music industry. The quality of popular British music and the indulgent rock star behavior of British musicians does and always has blown popular American music and musicians away. Yet when British sensations like Oasis announce their grand plans to "take" America they are inevitably rebuffed like Pakenham at New Orleans.

It's been almost a year now, and very few Americans know "who the fuck" the Arctic Monkeys are.

But it's better to be ignored then mocked at the Academy Awards. Which is what happened when English actor Jude Law foolishly tried to endear himself to us Yanks with the sheer volume of his exposure.

It's not that we don't like English people. Quite the contrary, America is perpetually enthralled with the English accent and is always ready to embrace an original English speaker -- like Anthony Hopkins or Simon Cowell -- who achieves his fame after coming to America.

But Americans are loathe to worship someone just because the Limeys did first.

David Beckham seems like a fine fellow, with a terrific attitude towards the vacuity of his fabulously commercialized existence.

And, ever since he named his first born son "Brooklyn," he has earnestly and respectfully tipped his eagerness to be as big in America as he is in Britain and the rest of the world.

So maybe the soccer star will be the guy to break the trend and claim a spot on our long, national red carpet.

But it will be somewhere in the back corner, well-behind a slew of other B-Listers who, unlike Becks, couldn't turn a head in Milan or sell a shoe in Shanghai.

* It could be argued, English quasi boy-banders Duran Duran and Wham! (and Culture Club) did break America in the mid-eighties. But that was still a long time ago.


Anonymous said...

What about the crossover appeal of Lennox Lewis?

JT said...

Much of that appeal had to do with Lewis being a Canadian for the first part of his career.

Gone to the blogs said...

I respectfully submit Sir Elton John as a glaring omission from your assessment. He basically owned the Top 40/adult contemporary airwaves for many, many years. To a somewhat lesser extent, Phil Collins also made some serious headway here.

Among actors, I recall a brief U.S. infatuation with Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley.

JT said...

Good point about Hugh Grant -- although it took an unfortuane and a laughable incident in a bad part of LA for him to get his due.

As for Elton John... I did consider about him, but he came into prominance in about 1970 -- the tail end of the British invasion, and has maintained his popularity ever since.

As for Collins, the more I think about it (and I had a footnote getting to this) it was really the mid 80's when America closed to new British singers. Sting (with the 1/3 American Police) was another example of Brit who broke through in the 80s.

JT said...

I meant "an unfortunate and laughable incident"