Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Americans…

What do all these texts have in common, aside from the obvious?

  • American Psycho (1991)
  • American History X (1998)
  • American Beauty (1999)
  • American Pie (1999)
  • American Idiot (2004)
  • American Horror Story (2011)
  • American Sniper (2014)

This specification of the nationality, or national-ness, of all these nouns is not replicated by/in British titles, as far as I can gather (although I am ready to be corrected). What are the possible explanations for this proliferation, which, I might add (rather needlessly, as you will have already begun immediately to think of other examples) is indicative rather than exhaustive…?

Questions to consider:

  • Is such titling about audience? It will not be ‘relevant’ unless specified from the outset, perhaps?
  • Is it a reference to the infamous American Dream, or revealing in some way that all these texts are rewriting this ‘dream’, often as nightmare?
  • Is it a symptom of the relative ‘newness’ of American-ness? That this nationality requires constant bolstering and support, otherwise the narrative wobbles, or is it a sense of wobble, or threat, that in fact produces this need for national overstatement?

Dubin’s Lives (1977) Bernard Malamud

‘[Dubin] read [his wife] a note about Thomas Carlyle from a biography he was reading. [Carlyle’s] wife, Jane Welsh Carlyle, wrote to a friend: “All he asked, was, simply, that his wishes come first, his comfort be put before all else, the household so arranged that his sleeping, walks, hours of work or reverie should be when and how he wanted them.” Think of that when you criticize me’ (p. 106).