When comparing media in England to that of the United States, there are surprisingly more similarities than there are differences. The first thing that comes to my mind is the political, financial and economic state in which England currently finds itself. What I am referring to more specifically is Brexit, which happened just about a year ago, and the elections that took place while we were visiting London. These two events have completely dominated the media much like President Trump’s election have done back home in America. However, there is a major difference, and this lies in the way in which left and right wing political parties are able to voice their opinions. To explain this further, we learned that English media reporters for major news networks are required to be unbiased when they talk about what is happening on a day to day basis. Contrary to this, in the U.S. we have numerous networks like CNN and Fox News which both differ when it comes to being far right and far left, and are entitled to express those varying political opinions. Furthermore, comparing Brexit to Donald Trump’s election, it’s very interesting to note that there is a similar pattern in the way that these both played out in the media. For example, no one expected England to exit the European Union much like no one expected that Donald Trump would win the presidential election. We can attribute this most likely to the “silent” England and the “silent” America. Both of these groups felt they had been forgotten by their governments, but in truth their votes spoke volumes when results showed their victories.
Regarding the presence of advertisement when comparing my experiences in the United States to those I had in England, there are many key differences that come to mind. Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit there has never been a strong public transportation system; rightfully so because we are the Motor City, and if we want our economy to succeed why would we invest in something that hurts the sale of automobiles? On the other hand, most people in London rely on the public transportation systems such as the bus and the tube to get them to and from wherever they need to go. With public transportation comes advertisement. You cannot walk down the street in London without seeing a big, red, double decker bus with huge ads artfully displayed on both of its sides. The tube is also a great example of the way in which advertisements can effectively be displayed. When you walk down into the massive underground subway system, the hallways are lined with advertisements for beauty, television, movies, clothing, alcoholic beverages, and the list goes on and on. I had never witnessed this kind of promotion of products like this before. I’m sure the subways in New York are quite similar, but my experiences in Detroit did not prepare me for the amount of advertising that I saws while visiting England, so consequently this is something new to me.
Although we didn’t have much time to watch T.V. between classes or at night, I managed to watch some European programs while I had some down time. One thing I quickly picked up on is that advertisement via television programs is much more vulgar in England than it is here in the U.S. They really do have a very forthright way of presenting their products, whereas American ads tend to be a little more dialed back. For example, I couldn’t get over the fact that there are advertisements for sex toys in England, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen anything like this in the United States on our major network channels. Additionally, Brits tend to have a darker side when it comes to comedy, as was told to us by our guest speaker, Martin Rowson. Like I had discussed in my blog post a couple weeks ago, I truly was not prepared for what Martin was going to show us. I’ve seen political cartoons in the U.S., so I thought I had a pretty good idea of what they were going to be like in England, and boy was I wrong. They do not give a s*** in England, literally. You see, Martin’s whole perspective behind his political cartoons is that if you can show someone in power “doing their business”, just like the rest of us do, it demonstrates to us that, even though they are in a position of power, they’re human beings just like you and me, and their job title doesn’t take away from the fact that they can make mistakes. Even though this is an obscene way to look at politics, I thought it was very interesting. It’s also a very different way of portraying meaning in their media compared to the U.S., but an effective one at that.
The final topic I would like to discuss is the difference in advertisements for tobacco products in both countries. In America, there are multiple, anti-smoking campaigns that have commercials airing on TV. These commercials can range from movements to stop teen smoking to showing the horrifying, long term effects of smoking. Some examples are people talking to the camera through a tube in their neck, while taking off their wig and pieces of their face to pay for cigarettes, all the while saying how they wish they’d quit smoking sooner. Another is the classic teen commercial with lots of cutaways, cartoons and techno music aimed at targeting a younger audience to quit smoking. The advertisements in England, however, are much different. While watching TV abroad, I didn’t see any commercials that emphasized a need to quit smoking, as it’s all on the cigarette packs themselves. Now, I hate to admit it and I know it’s a terrible habit, but I do smoke cigarettes myself. I was absolutely disgusted when I bought a cigarette pack and flipped it over to unwrap it only to find a graphic picture of a person with no teeth, a deceased baby, or an open heart surgery taking place on the back of the label itself. Like I mentioned earlier, Brits are very forthright when it comes to advertisement, and the ads on those packs of cigarettes did exactly this. They definitely scared me a little bit, hell, they should scare everyone. However, the ironic thing I noticed is that far more people smoke cigarettes in the UK than they do back at home, all the while having ads that are much more suggestive, which seemed odd to me.
All in all, London was an extremely amazing experience and I could not be more happy that I got to see it with my own eyes. It’s also really interesting to see how other countries have become very Americanized due to media tactics and advertising. I saw more McDonalds’ and more CocaCola ads then I have ever seen back home. Every McDonald’s cup has a “Great Tastes of America” logo on it! This ties in with my last point as it is extremely interesting to realize just exactly how much our economies have influenced each other through media, advertisement, and marketing strategies.