Americans make for a lonely lot

Tuesday 13 June 2017, 8.00pm HKT


CULTURAL LITERACY

AMERICANS leave their parents’ house when they become adults. Even their divorce rates are relatively higher than anywhere else. Doesn’t that make Americans a lonely bunch?

(Smiles)

Well done for spotting this.

Everybody knows the average person in American society is the loneliest in the world because of the way their people as a whole treat their family, neighbours, etc — and the way they let other Americans treat them back.

When I say ‘everybody,’ I mean in a relative way (but not a loose way). A lot of people (including a lot of Americans) are okay with me about this — because everybody can see this around them enough times in real life.

Many of the works of the Beat Generation authors were exactly about this facet of the modern postwar American psyche — they were already talking about this in the late 1940s and early ’50s.

Look at the heroes in many American novels and movies — they’re singularly SINGLE toughies:—

private detectives like Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe and Mike Hammer, etc

superheroes like Superman, Batman, The Avengers bunch, and practically all characters in the DC and Marvel universes

rebels like Cool Hand Luke (1967), the various Americans like Steve “Cooler King” McQueen in “The Great Escape,” etc

kick-ass cops like Dirty Harry (1971–88), Frank Bullitt (1967), Frank Serpico (1973), etc, who don’t talk, walk or even listen like the rest of the government-issued cops do

lots of villains and common criminals like Walker (played by Lee Marvin) in “Point Blank” (1967)

They’re all loners or lonely people. They’re all loved by Americans in one way or another.

The real-life ones are exactly the same.

Look at the heroes and villains in European society. Look at the same in Chinese, Japanese or any other society around the world.

Michael Caine’s character Harry Palmer in “The Ipcress File” (1965) EVEN AS A LONER had family and friends and Harry was doing it for their common good.

Look at the heroes in “Scaramouche” (1952) and “The Prisoner of Zenda” (1937, 1952). Many French heroes did it for friends and family, not for some abstract notion of ‘justice’ or personal Dirty Harryesque tough-guyness.

Look at oddball London criminals like Dom Hemingway (2013), who did it for his estranged daughter and grandson. Or try Jack Carter (“Get Carter,” 1971) who rubbed out vicious English gangsters to avenge his murdered brother.

Even an obvious loner like the unnamed cocaine dealer played by Daniel Craig’s in “Layer Cake” (2004) wasn’t without real mates.

They’re completely different from the American lineup.

It couldn’t get any more obvious than one the factor of loneliness and being a loner.

When Judge Dredd the comic book first came out in the UK in 1977, it was a different sort of ‘hero’ for the British.

Judge Dredd was a loner and a LONELY loner.

The British comic-reading population sat up and took notice because Dredd wasn’t the kind of hero people were expecting, and that lonely psychological quality was important.

I am in some position to talk about this. I grew up in 13 different countries around the world (corporate urchin, not military brat), including the USA and the UK. This is a thing that my folks and I see all the time.

Take this post at face value and try not to read anything into it. Your conclusions ought to vary from mine.

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© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 13 Jun 2017. (B17062) Shortlink: http://wp.me/pj5CA-6YU

Images: Lonely Lot via The Weather Network • Serpico via Obscure One-Sheet • Together via Wikipedia • Judge Dredd via Wikipedia

2 Responses to “Americans make for a lonely lot”

  1. Ed Hurst said

    My understanding is that Americans derived it from some dark corner of Anglo-Saxon culture. It’s like a demon you can’t drive out that our society worships the rugged individual. A great deal of libertarian philosophy presumes it, and it shows up in law an awful lot as some kind of fundamental assumption about the root of all rights. I really don’t like it myself.

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