Imagine walking through the Valencia Town Center. It’s a fairly busy afternoon and kids are out of school and meandering about. You spot one young teen sporting a cropped T-shirt with a faded Union Jack emblazoned across their chest.
Next, you pass several cellphone stands, each with varying artistic interpretations of the same flag. Just when you thought it was a coincidence you proceed to find several more Union Jacks scattered among the retail stores, in the form of shirts, necklaces, earrings and buttons.
Where did all of this sudden “Britishness” come from? Is it some sort of disease that will be cured with time, like any number of trends in the past, or is this a serious shift in cultural influence?
The British have played some part in American culture – we were originally British after all – but recently, that influence is beginning to make a much larger impact on society. Technological advancements allow people of all ages to stream news, television and movies straight from the U.K. The media makes it possible to for an average person to know all of England’s latest news right at the touch of a button.
America is responding to the ease with which British culture can now be seen. Recent BBC productions like “Downton Abbey” became so popular that they plotted an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” around it, poking fun at all the Americans who sit in front of their TV screens every week waiting for a new episode.
Santa Clarita native Michelle Mifflin, a graphic design student and a self-proclaimed anglophile, has watched as the cultural influence of England affected her peers. Mifflin linked the recent rise in British culture to the media attention that it’s received. Musical acts like One Direction and Mumford and Sons are played endlessly in the Valencia Town Center, as well as inside any number of Starbucks. The British science fiction show “Doctor Who” now has a stand alone section inside Hot Topic and a larger shelf at Barnes and Noble, to accommodate its 50 years of television history.
“The British are providing a quality that Americans are craving right now. People here are seeing that the Brits actually have a lot to offer in terms of entertainment. They are providing something slightly different yet appealing,” Mifflin said.
Justice, a tween girls store, built a section for One Direction and the English boy band has been extremely popular with girls of all ages. An employee at the store said the One Direction merchandise they promote is helping their sales, bringing in more than just small girls to buy jewelry, pillows, and T-shirts with English telephone boxes and flags on them.
BBC America now has an entire website for Americans to feed their English desires.
Is this merely a trend, or will our children be watching British television on Netflix while drinking imported tea?
“I feel like the excitement over the British will only increase as they keep producing quality entertainment and promoting it over here,” Mifflin said.
With stories like Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes, the future of Anglophilia looks bright.
Let’s just hope they don’t take over In-N-Out.