British Fetish

                                                                                                                                        3:43 a.m.    1/7/8/05

ScotlandI’m in dire need of an intervention before I fall deeper into my current obsession. It shames me to say it, but I, a staunch supporter of equality and diversity and all that shit, am actually fetishizing a whole race of people. I feel like Huey Freeman felt in The Boondocks when he forgot Kwanzaa. What kind of revolutionary am I that I’m stereotyping an entire nation of people? To make matters worse, they’re not even Asian or any other people of color. No, as Kiki said to me just tonight, I’m fetishizing white boys. Not just boys, but mostly boys. Not just white boys, but colonizing, oppressing boys from across the bay. I, Minna Hong, am fetishizing Brit boys, and I feel horrible about it. Obviously, however, not too horrible as I continue to do it. Oh, and to be more specific, I’m obsessing about boys from Ireland and Scotland, too, so it’s pretty much the whole UK. Throw in Aussies, and well, I’m just mortified.

I know, I know, I should look beyond race, right? But I can’t, especially not when I hate the country. Oh, that’s not fair. I don’t hate it, exactly, but I still hold a grudge because the British border patrol tried their damnedest to keep me out of their country eleven years ago. This was the days before 9/11, so it’s not like the nation was on high terrorist alert or anything. This was also before my tattoos, so it’s not that. It’s just that I’m an Asian woman who dresses slightly funky. Now, I dress in nice slacks and a nice shirt whenever I travel, but it matters not. I still get stopped, so I just build it into my traveling. The trip to England, however, was the worst experience in my life. I have no desire to go back there because of how shabbily they treated me, so it’s more than a bit disconcerting to have a pash for the boys and girls of that fair country.

For starters, I love British words such as flat for apartment, torch for flashlight, loo for bathroom, lorry for truck, shag for fuck, etc. Oh, and I mustn’t forget snarky which is my absolute favorite British word. It’s much better than snide, in my opinion. The funny thing is that I was joking with a friend about snarky being the word for the day when a few days later, what do I hear on Letterman? His New Year’s resolution is to use the word snarky more on the show. I was so stunned that he’d taken my favorite British word and made it his own. I was also a bit freaked out by the coincidence, not to mention disgruntled. It’s my word, not his, but there’s not much I can do about it.

Secondly, I love the accent. I know, I know, that’s definitely fetishizing, but everything sounds so much better when said in a British accent. Or an Irish one. Or a Scottish one. I like any accent other than Midwest boring, but I especially like the Brit one. My best friend tried to soften the blow by saying perhaps it’s the British look I like. The lanky but still muscular look with the punk hair. That would be a fine explanation if it were true. I do like that look, but that’s not why I’m attracted to Brits in general. It’s the accent for the most part. I just can’t get over how good it sounds and I know that’s so wrong, and yet, I don’t want to be right.

It’s no coincidence that the Brits I love are in the movie business. One reason I like them so much is that they’re so damn good at what they do. Also, they are good-looking but not in a forbidding kind of way. I’ve mentioned this before, but they are guys you could see at a club and conceivably pick up. They aren’t pretty by any stretch of the definition-though Jason Isaacs comes the closest. Wait, Kate Winslet is definitely pretty, but she’s an aberration on my list-they are good-looking in more interesting ways. I like strong features, including noticeable noses. I’m more likely to be attracted to someone with scars-such as David Thewlis as Lupin-than someone with no visible blemishes. I think I don’t trust physical perfection. It’s a reverse prejudice that I think all that outer beauty has to be covering some pretty nasty shit on the inside.

I’ve put a fair amount of thought into my Brit obsession and why I’m so obsessed. The top ten or so spots on my Netflix Queue are filled with Brit boys, though I put in Garden State and Open Water up there at the behest of my best friend. She wants to talk about the movies with me, and she thinks it might be the first step to breaking my Brit boy obsession. I don’t think so, however, as I have a few Alan Rickman movies in my house at the moment, including one in which supposedly there is nudity. Yes! I want to see him naked. Oh, I know that’s bad of me as well, but I don’t care. I told my last partner if I were king for a day, I’d have all my favorite actors-male and female-do a movie together-nude. He laughed as if it were the funniest thing he’d ever heard, and he thought I was weird for thinking of it. Another friend of mine said that only I would think of something like that. I don’t think it’s that weird, but what do I know?

I think, though, what it comes down to is talent. The few Americans on my list-most notably Susan Sarandon and Jon Stewart-ooze talent out of every pore. Susan is a classy older woman who is not only a terrific actor, but she seems comfortable in her own body. She has a great sense of humor and doesn’t seem to take the whole acting thing too seriously. Jon Stewart is funny as hell and self-deprecating. He also has those large brown eyes which look as if they can see through you. Think of the ‘hot’ talent right now. Brad Pitt? Please. Julia Roberts? I don’t even think so. There is a dearth of really good American actors who are more than pretty faces. In addition, American actors tend to get pigeonholed into playing certain characters, and they rarely succeed out of their niches. I’ve watched the Brits play anything from cold psychopaths to warmhearted lovers with equal passion and aplomb. There is a willingness to stretch beyond the pre-packaged image they present to the world at large. I appreciate actors who take a risk, even if they fall flat on their faces. Maybe it’s because Brits aren’t paid the huge salaries that American actors are that they’re more willing to try something new. I’m just speculating here, but it sounds good to me.

I jest, but I do feel slightly uncomfortable with my Brit fascination, especially since I wrote a performance poem a few years ago castigating white boys for fetishizing me. It’s happened all my life, and I know how bad I feel when a white guy wants to date me simply for the exotic experience. I know how much I hate it when I’m seen as something other than what I am-an Asian American bisexual woman who’s really, really dark and twisted. I’m not a geisha girl; I’m not some submissive, giggly chit who’ll walk five steps behind her man. I don’t know seventy-six ways to please a man, though I’m sure I could make up that many. I’m not even that feminine because I like sports and I really like sex. Therefore, it’s unfathomable to me that I’m sweeping an entire nation into one category, but I don’t know what to do about it.

Do I try to quit cold turkey? Give away all my Brit paraphernalia? Do I not watch any more movies with my Brit faves in them? On the other hand, perhaps I indulge my little obsession, hoping it’ll play itself out. I’ve been known to surfeit myself until I’m sick of a certain thing, so that might be the right way to go. However, I’m not sure I want to purge myself of this particular obsession. I mean, really, it’s not so bad, is it? The chance of me running into a Brit in the cold, snowy lands of Minnesota is pretty minimal, so what’s wrong with a harmless crush or ten? At least, that’s what I try to tell myself as I find myself buying fucking Die Hard because Alan Rickman is in it. Hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

                                                                                                                                        1:51 a.m.    1/9/10/05

Addendum: Another thing I realized about British actors. No matter how much a movie sucks, they give it their all. I hate watching a big-time American actor mail in a performance because s/he knows the movie sucks but wants that big paycheck, anyway. It’s like sports stars with huge contracts. There’s no incentive to give one’s best all the time, and many fall short of a hundred percent, let alone a hundred and ten. Incidentally, I know it’s impossible to give a hundred and ten percent, but that doesn’t stop athletes to use that ridiculous phrase ad nauseam. Anyway, back to Brit actors. Since they are not paid the huge sums that American actors are, they give more effort. They know that each movie can make or break them, unlike, say, Ben Affleck who seems to have made nothing but horrid movies for the last five years and still commands a huge paycheck.

I’ve also thought of a stellar way to get me over my British fixation. See, a friend of mine jokingly suggested making me watch Benny Hill episodes which would effectively quench my desire for British men. However, I’m not that strong-stomached, so I came up with an alternative. Why, I would just watch movies with Brit actors I couldn’t stand, thus slaking my desire for the boys of UK. The problem was that I couldn’t think of any Brit actor, male or female whom I simply loathed. Then, it hit me. There is one male Brit who is ok in Brit movies, but otherwise loathsome. I know I’m going to get a lot of flak for this, but I’m talking about the supposedly charming Hugh Grant. I cannot stand him and his goofy grin, and I know if I submit myself to a marathon of his sappy comedies with costars such as Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts and Renee Zellweger-all of whom I cannot stand, though I cut Sandra Bullock some slack because she donated a million dollars in relief to the tsunami victims-I should effectively cure myself of my Brit fetish, right? It sounds good in theory but in reality, probably all it would do is make me detest Hugh Grant even more than I already do while simultaneously ratcheting up my respect and admiration for the Brits I do like. I guess it’s back to the drawing board for me.

2 Responses to British Fetish

  1. Hugh Grant is like Marmite – you either love him or hate him. That’s what I believe anyway. I used to despise him as much as you do but five or six years ago, I began to watch his more obscure movies like Maurice and Bitter Moon and now I appreciate the man a lot more than I used to. Plus he is so funny in his interviews, I always laugh out loud at least once when I watch/read them. The guy should write his own script and then act in his own film, imo.

  2. Hi, Emma. Welcome to my blog and thanks for commenting. Yeah, the swipe at Hugh was more tongue-in-cheek than anything. I’ve seen him in three British movies, and he’s been fantastic in all three. I just don’t like him in Hollywood blockbusters, but I don’t like blockbusters or romantic comedies in general.