Sunday, 11 March 2012

Our Plastic Brits

Tiffany Porter. Photo: Anorak
As someone who would rather sit on a barb wire chair in a locked room filled with the undeniably terrible sounds of Simply Red than do anything sports related the Olympics is a hard subject for me to tackle.

It’s boring, I don’t understand it and seeing all those toned, muscley thighs just make me feel insecure about my podgy, wobbly thighs. It isn’t my thing basically but I’m writing about it today because of a particularly vile brand of ‘othering’ that is being committed at the moment.

The Daily Mail has decided to unleash an aggressive campaign against athletes who will be competing in this summer’s Olympics who they have called, the new xenophobic phrase of the year, ‘Plastic Brits’.

The Mail have been going at the whole “they’re not from round these parts” bit for a while and their previous headlines on the subject include “Why we need plastic surgery”, “Team GB have ended up with a bunch of foreign wrestlers, I wish they would all shove off” and “London 2012 will be ruined by the call for plastic Brits”.

They take particular issue with Tiffany Porter, an American athlete who has dual nationality, and her appointment as the captain of Team GB at the World Indoor Championships in Turkey.

Jonathan McEvoy, Daily Mail reporter, complained: “British athletics played fast and loose with our national identity on Thursday by appointing as captain a ‘Plastic Brit’ who would not — or cannot — recite the words of God Save The Queen.”

Despite the fact that Porter has held a British passport since birth, her mother is British and her father Nigerian, the reporter still believes that she is not British enough, not worthy enough and certainly not one of us.

The use of meaningless, emotive notions of Britishness to show that she is not “one of us” is a cheap shot that I would hope that most people would see through but I fear they actually will not. The whole God Save The Queen line was thrown in so the average man / woman on the street would read it and cry “She CAN’T sing our national anthem. She WON’T sing our national anthem. Well then she’s not British enough, she’s not worthy enough, she’s certainly not one of us.

The term itself is so blatantly xenophobic and anti-foreign that I’m truly shocked that it has been repeated so widely in the media. We cannot accept this blatant attempt to set up an “other” for us to ridicule, mock and blame all our ills on. If Britain perform badly I’d bet a million quid that Porter and the other ‘plastics’ get to enjoy the blame for the British loss all by themselves. How lucky for them. Of course, being a hypocritical nation at our core, if we do well you know who will be the first to get a knighthood. “Our” Plastic Brits of course.

1 comment:

  1. "...a ‘Plastic Brit’ who would not — or cannot — recite the words of God Save The Queen.” "

    Erm, they've forgotten in 1984 Daley Thompson didn't sing the anthem either. He whistled it, and the country loved him for it:

    The Daily #Fail seemed to not mind too much about it when interviewing him a few months ago:

    Turning to the anthem itself - Royal Anthem (as it should be called) hasn't ever been formally declared as the National Anthem of England or the UK:

    (the same point was made in a programme on Radio 4 about anthems a few years ago, though I can't recall the name or find trace of it).

    An American (with or without dual nationality) will know the tune:

    and Aretha Franklin sung it at Obama's inauguration:

    If Tiffany Porter succeeds and gets to watch the Union Flag be hoisted to the music of the Royal Anthem, she can sing God Save the Queen or My Country 'tis of Thee, or whistle it, and I bet the Daily #Fail will gleefully add her gold medal to the table they'll no doubt print in the paper.