January 05, 2004

Messing with Texas

Channel 4 is doing a series of programmes on Texas.

To put together an unbiased balanced view of the state of Texas, who better to choose than Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens is the atheist socialist who is best known for writing a book slamming on Mother Teresa.

Hitchens interviewed every nut case conservative and every rational sounding liberal. He decried the "Republicanisation" of Texas, which is apparently all the fault of George Bush and cowboys.

Hitchens never could get away from cowboys. The word "cowboy" is only used in two contexts in this country. It is the term for builders and other self-employed contractors who do shoddy work and then disappear without a trace. It only otherwise used to describe the President. Hitchens even tried to get his some interviewees to understand how Europeans ridicule cowboy mentality.

To see Hitchens' programme is to believe that all Republicans live in beautiful suburban tracts (he drove through such a neighbourhood in Plano as he talked about this), and all Mexicans, who along with liberal Anglos naturally vote Democrat, live in colonias. The only reason any Mexican-Americans voted for Bush was beause they were swayed by his Hispanic advertising campaign when he spoke a few words in Spanish.

He made fun of Texans, using bumpers stickers as his tool. He used the famous "Don't Mess with Texas" litter campaign to talk about the death penalty. It's bad, of course. I think it was the only programme that I've seen that didn't actually say that George Bush personally put every condemned criminal to death. Most of them do. You'd think ol' George spent his entire governorship in Huntsville with his finger on the button to the lethal injection pump. At least for Hitchens all Texans bear collective responsibility for capital punishment.

He would intersperse scenes of ordinary Texans mentioning belief in God with his liberal friends talking about how it is impossible to be right thinking and believe in God. Texans, and especially Bush, are just a little unstable because they believe in God.

And besides all that, he didn't take the Alamo seriously.

Posted by david at January 5, 2004 11:46 PM | TrackBack

I have been reading your web logs with interest, having just discovered them. I am also an American (New Yorker) transplanted to the West Midlands. I have moved to Bewdley (nr. Kidderminster) and am undergoing all the little steps required to "settle" here - something I am sure you understand well.

I also saw the ITV show about Texas, watched in a spate of homesickness, hoping to get a little glimpse of American Life. I could only sigh - not surprised to see that it was just another attempt to exploit tired stereotypes for a cheap ratings bid. I am not Texan, nor am I a Republican - I didn't even vote for GW, but boy am I sick of the British attitude that it's "okay" to criticize America - fairly or not. I was reminded of a show (BBC I think) that aired last winter, when US-bashing became almost a compulsory British pastime. They took the angle that a fanatical US Military was taking over poor schools and exploiting economically disadvantaged kids by railroading them into doing America's dirty work in war. It took a lot of head-scratching before I realized that they were talking about ROTC!

I am, once again compelled to yell at the television, an inanimate object that can only hum back, unflinching. Can't these television producers find anything in their own damn country to "investigate"?! Surely there is at least some whiff of "Social Injustice" here in the UK that they could be dragging out in front of the cameras.! Why is it required that fly all the way to South Carolina or Texas to find something to "expose" - facts be damed?

I guess all this would simply be annoying and tiresome - maybe even sadly laughable except for the fact that this becomes an implicit endorsement that propaganda-based attacks are okay, as long as they target countries perceived to be "well off". And importantly, the boundary between this and what's being preached in the Madrases of the Middle East is a blurred one at best.

Posted by: Michael Mathews at January 6, 2004 12:05 PM

I'm glad to see that it wasn't just me. If someone who shares no geographic or political bias can see the same thing, I know that I wasn't just reading my expectations into the programme out of a perception of persecution.

I hope you find the opportunity to comment here in the future.

Posted by: David Holford at January 6, 2004 08:47 PM