[The 90’s raw: Laura Flanders]

Raw footage for the award-winning series The 90's. Interview with Laura Flanders (1961-), prominent feminist journalist who was born in Great Britain, about what the rest of the world thinks of America. "The British, being the falling empire that they are, revel in a sort of patronizing attitude towards the rest of the world and in particular, the United States." She also talks about common American attitudes towards the British, claiming that a British accent is practically synonymous with intelligence in America, but says that "the British deserve more suspicion than that."

00:00Copy video clip URL The tape opens on a journalism poster on a door which says, “Undercurrents,” while the videomaker is explaining to Flanders that this will be for a show centered on the question, “What the rest of the world thinks of the U.S.” Flanders has grown up in Britain. The camera cuts to Flanders’ face briefly.

00:58Copy video clip URL The tape cuts to Flanders again, and the interview begins. Flanders introduces herself and says she grew up in England but her mother was from the U.S. Someone interrupts the interview. She grew up in London (Kensington), but she traveled around the world with her father. She came to the U.S. when she was 19.

02:12Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks about her view growing up on the U.S., and Flanders says she visited her family and vacationed, and therefore never had an open perspective. She calls Britain a “collapsing empire” that is “condescending.” She says her impression of U.S. was that it was an infant country. She compares British and American media.

04:10Copy video clip URL What struck her the strongest, Flanders says, was the level of education that her peers at Barnard had received. Though she was “supposed” to go to a British university, she felt that college is “far more open to a broader spectrum of areas of interest” in America, which allowed her to have a liberal arts education. “Britain is very submerged and embedded in its own history, for better or for worse,” which makes it hard to do anything new.

06:13Copy video clip URL Flanders is reluctant to say that anything is possible in America, but contrasts the freedom to be able to what you want in America with the restriction of Britain.

07:14Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks about her experience as a woman. Flanders says she went to a “snooty” private girls school, but they were not trained as women, but as professionals. There was no explicit feminism, and Flanders sees a consciousness of feminism in America that is not present in Britain.

09:59Copy video clip URL They talk about history, and the loss of history in the midst of mass culture. She talks about some of the journalism pieces that she has worked on, and found that many places have a strong local culture and sense of history.

11:40Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks about the British media’s representation of America. Flanders jokes that there is much more criticism of Bush, but that it becomes ridicule and satire. “A lot of the British impression of the U.S. is through satire.” She also says there is a lot of coverage of government, but close to nothing about social issues. There is no consciousness about how people live in America. A phone rings.

13:44Copy video clip URL The tape cuts, and Flanders says that she feels a bit of “sheepishness” when she returns to Britain because of following America so closely, and they talk about Britain’s failed endeavors.

14:58Copy video clip URL The interviewer returns to Flanders’ specific experience, and she wonders about Hollywood fantasies of America. “For me, it wasn’t so very glamorous,” to be traveling between the two countries and Flanders says that she was always trying to fit in.

17:19Copy video clip URL Flanders does not think that it was very hard to fit into New York because people here are “anglo-philes.” “I had an inflated sense of the opportunities open to me because I was always treated with such a novelty interest.” She had to defend her choice to attend an American university.

19:34Copy video clip URL The tape cuts and the interviewer asks one last question about the political climate, and the decade of change from Reagan to Bush. Flanders did not become conscious of the US political scene until 1984 or ’85. She says she was surprised that Carter was so overwhelmingly abandoned, and the massive turn to Reagan. She, and the British, saw Reagan as a Hollywood character. She talks about the political development over the decade in the US compared to Britain, where they imposed order and ignored “pockets of discontent.” She talks at length about political issues for the remainder of the tape.

26:12Copy video clip URL End of tape.

 

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