An Englishman on Hollywood, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

California Desert | Pew & This American Land

17 August 2012

The desert around California’s Death Valley is rich with Joshua trees, junipers and wildlife. But mining and other industrial development threaten this fragile environment, which is why many want to see Congress protect some special places as wilderness, national park and national monument, and set aside other areas for off-highway vehicle use.

Follow local guide Tom Budlong, a date farmer and a member of the Timbisha Shoshone Indian Tribe through the Mojave Desert in this episode of “This American Land,” produced in partnership with The Pew Charitable Trusts.

By Solomon Hughes in Britain today:

I RECENTLY spent a couple of weeks in California, and one of the striking things you see is that the fantastic creations of the Hollywood dream factory turn out to be near-realistic depictions of things that can be found a short drive (in US terms) from the studios.

So if you drive a few hours west, along one of those straight roads that disappears in a vanishing point along an equally straight horizon and you will find yourself in the “cowboy country” of deserts and wind-carved rocks and tumbleweed and cactuses. Of course, a real cowboy would be mad to be here. It is far too dry for cattle — they’d be up on some grassy plain. But it is cowboy country because it was an atmospheric landscape conveniently near Hollywood.

Or head to Sequoia or another national park and see bears and chipmunks and beavers — and of course park rangers.

The stable of characters in cartoons from Yogi Bear to the Hair Bear Bunch or any number of Disney films weren’t quite the mysterious, enchanting inventions I thought. The cartoonists just drove to their nearest national park with a sketchbook.

It also turns out “Scooby Snacks,” the impossible, piled-high sandwiches enjoyed by the cartoon dog — are only slightly exaggerated; huge sandwiches that must be held together with sticks are quite normal.

All US food comes either as giant-sized or extra-large. It is quite normal for stores to advertise drinks with words like “gulp” or “slathered in bar-b-q sauce.” But gulp and slather are not good words. They are associated with rabies, not dinner. Food is not really improved by being “slathered in buttermilk” — or was it “buttered in slather milk?”

Portions that are oversized and overstuffed with sugar, fat and salt are funny in the cartoons, but they are less funny when swallowed by a population. When you ride the buses and trams of San Francisco you get to see a lot of the public campaign against poor nutrition. Posters ask “big soda” to “stop targeting black and Latino kids” because “sugary drinks are making us sick.” Food has, in the hands of unscrupulous business, become an enemy.

They keep making the same science fiction film — from Soylent Green to the Hunger Games and Elysium — where the poor scavenge with broken shopping carts while the super-fit, super-rich people live separate lives. This looks less fictional when you watch super-fit middle class people jog past colonies of the homeless living under palm trees on Venice Beach.

I don’t want to give the wrong idea. I love both Hollywood and the US for their inventiveness and verve. The people are great, but there is something very wrong with the nation. This is worrying, because what happens in the US is usually remade here within a decade.

1 thought on “An Englishman on Hollywood, USA

  1. Pingback: COVID-19 news from the Americas | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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