Great Britain, The USA and History

When I first began writing “Rock And Roll Children,” I did so with the intention of writing about heavy metal music back in the 80s. While the book is fiction, there are many historical facts both relating to music and not and I went through great pains to insure the historical accuracy of the events mentioned in the book. However, as an American who has lived in the UK for nearly half of his life, I have discovered that the British and Americans view historical work such as books and films in a totally different light from one another.

First, let me address the belief by many British people that all Americans believe that films such as “Saving Private Ryan” is 100% historical fact. They don’t. I know the BBC likes to find one redneck who lives in Backwater USA and who believes that the film is actual history to draw the erroneous conclusion that all 280 million Americans think the same, but the truth is, the great majority of Americans don’t. Many Americans already know that Hollywood does tend to over romanticise things in films and adhere to the formula that the film or book is 10% fact and 90% fiction. Therefore, when most Americans go to view a “historical” film or read a fictional historical book, they do so with this in mind.

The British, on the other hand, are a totally different kettle of fish. It appears that many British people want the film or book to be in accordance with historical fact and get very upset when Hollywood doesn’t do this in films. Their beef with “Saving Private Ryan” was that it was full of historical inaccuarcies such as ignoring the mistakes that lead to the slaughter of so many American soldiers on Omaha Beach and it gave the impression that Britain wasn’t involved in the D-Day landings at all. Of course, in the minds of many Britons, the worse atrocity was the film “U571” which shows Americans conducting a raid that was actually carried out by the British. Which is why I won’t ever watch that film. In view of the above, most Americans think, “It’s only a film, so what’s all the fuss?”  and will apply the 10-90 formula.  Many can not see why so many British people got so het up about it and don’t realise Britain’s love for historical fact.

This brings me to “Rock And Roll Children.” Americans will immediately use the 10-90 formula when reading it and early feedback seems to indicate this. The blog who gave me the bad review last month balked when I referred to the book as “an accrate account of heavy metal in the 1980s.” He stated that it wasn’t a book about heavy metal but a fictional story with heavy metal in it. In many ways, he’s right, but what he fails to appreciate is that I went through great pains to ensure accuracy in items such as: when albums were released, concerts- when and how they happened and other events such as the PMRC Congressional Hearings in 1985 and the US bombing of Libya in 1986. Feedback from British readers seems to be more appreciative of my efforts. I remember the reaction of when British reader when I confirmed that my account of a lead singer accepting a canabis joint from someone in the crowd and taking a sly puff on it before handing it back actually happened, his face lit up and he thought that was really cool.

The point of my blog here is that the USA and Great Britain view history and fiction in totally different lights.  Americans accept that a peice of fiction based in a period of history is going to be more fiction than fact and will view or read with such mindset. British people on the other hand, want the producer or writer to “get their facts right” and will not like it if they don’t. When I wrote Rock And Roll Children, I was leaning more to the British side and maybe went too far that way in the eyes of many Americans.

So to all Americans who might read “Rock And Roll Children,” forget the 10-90 equation as there is much true historical fact in it. Appreciate that the concerts actually took place and all the metal albums are in existance. I hope that all metal heads, American and British will one day accept “Rock And Roll Children” as a testament of heavy metal history.

8 Responses to “Great Britain, The USA and History”

  1. Richard Calhoun Says:

    Bravo, what words…, a brilliant idea 😐


  2. Hello! ebcdbdd interesting ebcdbdd site!


  3. … April 08 2004 13 36 GMT…Simon that is a very ignorant thing to say. To say that Britain have and US do not have a similiar culture is stupid to say British people just emulate Americans is also stupid.


    • Both cultures seem to enjoy a mutual appreciation of one another, however, both have their own cultures.


    • Lisbuff Says:

      I speak as someone who has known both cultures and they are indeed different. Very different at times. I agree with the premise that the UK prefer accurate depictions in their Media. The US have always sugar coated things and their people, for the most part, know this is the case. You get the few “Flag Flying Yanks” who have their rose tinted specs on all the time but thankfully they aren’t the majority, although the recent assassination of Bin Laden seems to have been a time when the specs had been handed out ‘en masse”.
      I didn’t read anything to say that the author believed that the UK followed the US. Therefore the author is neither ignorant nor stupid. Just my opinion.


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