Home Forums Ganymede & Titan Forum How much of Red Dwarf consciously targets Americans?

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  • #244916
    Warbodog
    Member

    With a new eye to 52-episode syndication and a movie, Tikka to Ride feels similar to Doctor Who’s Impossible Astronaut two-parter when that series broke America. Both have a US setting, US historical figures/references and express the popular reverence/criticism thereof (“He was a fine man” standing out as an oddly straight and sincere line to bother including). There’s also miscellany like Spare Head 2’s American-friendly ass-based slang.

    Remastered and the Omnibus reprint replaced obscure UK-specific references with broad American/international ones, but did any other Red Dwarf specifically have the US audience in mind during composition?

    Was VI doing that after the USA debacle, with its Cheers-inspired gags and Rimmerworld aping stateside favourite Terrorform? Or even the previous series with their striving for better production values and Hollywood references overtaking dated contemporary references, even though there was always a retro Americana fixation anyway so maybe this is all imagined?

    #257878
    Veni
    Member

    VII and VIII are mostly veiled in the attempt to sway international viewers (mainly American audiences) toward Red Dwarf. Tikka to Ride is definitely the most blatant in that, with its American-centric scenario, Kryten’s slang, alternate history presented which would fly over the heads of most Britons who would be mostly clueless as to who J. Edgar Hoover is, I’m sure.

    Though its always had the eye for American pop culture, such as many of its film references pertaining to those from the States (namedropping Norman Bates from Psycho, “I’m off to see the wizard,” from The Wizard of Oz, Camille parodying Casablanca, showing Gone with the Wind on the lifts, Ace Rimmer’s entrance music referencing Top Gun, etc.), most captains in the show being Americans (Captain Hollister, Captain Platini, Ziggy Briceman), the waxdroids from Meltdown being ones most Americans would be familiar with (Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, Al Capone, a Ku Klux Klan and a Hells Angels member). I’ll relent most wouldn’t recognize Laurel, but most are very aware who Laurel & Hardy are, it’s only having just him throws people off; Noël Coward is the only one they’d definitely wouldn’t know but Britons would.

    The election in Mechocracy is absolutely modeled after an American one, with there being a President and Vice President. The language of Esperanto is more widespread in America than the UK, though that may be cheating as we’re a larger country and would be more likely to. Lister’s spacebike from series I flies both an American and British flag, not to mention his jacket bearing that of Wilma Flintstone in later series. Least we forget the mention of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals in Justice. The Skutters are members of the John Wayne fan club, the most famous American western actor of all time.

    The Cat speaks in an American accent, specifically a James Brown-esque variant. Kryten, though Robert Llewellyn will often switch between calling it a Canadian one (even then, describing Canadian a mix between Scottish and American) and a Bostonian one, has been described as possessing an upper-crust transatlantic accent, even once joking maybe he was the only one invited to Red Dwarf USA cause they didn’t know he wasn’t an American.

    We also get miscellaneous side-characters who speak in American dialects, Confidence is modeled after a New Yorker and a game show host; Epideme is played very similarly to Confidence in this regard but without the New York-flair; Blaize Falconburger is an American; etc.

    In terms of VIII a massive push for global recognition was done, with several idents made for international audiences, with the most done for American audiences. Still do occasionally:

    #257889
    clem
    Participant

    > I’ll relent most wouldn’t recognize Laurel, but most are very aware who Laurel & Hardy are, it’s only having just him throws people off

    Is this really true, that most Americans would watch Meltdown and not realise it’s Stan Laurel? Or do you just mean they wouldn’t recognise him straight away? I mean, he does the crying bit and everything.

    #257890
    Veni
    Member

    I’d be willing to bet most wouldn’t know that is was Laurel. They can have a thin guy and a big dude and they’d be able to put two and two together, but just him and most of them are going to be left clueless.

    #257892
    Dax101
    Participant

    Around 3 onwards is when Red Dwarf tried to stay America friendly. i believe Lister says “Dollar pounds” a couple of times, rather then just pounds. which sounds like an attempt to work for an american audience too.

    #257893
    Veni
    Member

    Yes you’re right, I believe it was The Last Day when dollarpounds was first said. In Marooned Lister finds Rimmer’s stack of money but he doesn’t refer to it as anything other than “20 grand.”

    #257895
    Dave
    Participant

    I think there’s a debate to be had though about how much this is really consciously targeting American audiences and how much it’s just the show trying to suggest a future in which all of these global cultural ideas have merged together.

    Would Red Dwarf have had much of a route to US audiences back in the late 80s and early 90s? Would it have made sense for them to be playing to an American audience?

    #257915
    Katydid
    Participant

    (namedropping Norman Bates from Psycho, “I’m off to see the wizard,” from The Wizard of Oz, Camille parodying Casablanca, showing Gone with the Wind on the lifts, Ace Rimmer’s entrance music referencing Top Gun, etc.),

    To be fair, would Britons _not_ be familiar with those films? America’s biggest cultural export is arguably its movies, and it’s not like there’s a language barrier in this case. And Psycho, Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, these are some of the all-time famous films ever. I can’t imagine anyone in the English-speaking world who’s remotely familiar with pop culture having not at least heard of them in some capacity.

    #257916
    Katydid
    Participant

    The language of Esperanto is more widespread in America than the UK, though that may be cheating as we’re a larger country and would be more likely to

    The language of Esperanto isn’t widespread anywhere, let’s be honest.

    #257917
    Veni
    Member

    The point is they reference American films over British ones nearly everytime.

    #257918
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    How many British films even are there? Notting Hill? Carry On Camping?

    #257921
    Veni
    Member
    #257922
    RealBigOleDummy
    Participant

    Not as sure as some about some of the “specific targeting” of the U.S. I mean…… firstly how could anyone NOT know who Stan Laurel is? Esperanto is definitely NOT an “American thing” either. I know of nobody who even has heard of it tbh. Agree with Katydid about the movies fully. Those are all Classic cinema and anyone the world over who has access to movies in general will have at least heard of them and some of the plot/catchphrases.

    At least one of the “American” leaning episodes fell totally flat too imo. Tikka to Ride especially at least in my case. I’m old enough to remember when JFK was killed and many here (I’m a U.S. citizen) can still remember the pain our country suffered through because of this. It remains a very divisive subject to this day. Tikka is consequently among my least favorite episodes and while I can count the viewings of most episodes in the hundreds if not higher I probably haven’t watched Tikka more than twice. Maybe 3 times. it just seemed in poor taste to me AND to everyone I’ve tried to turn on to the Dwarf.

    #257924
    Veni
    Member

    I never called it an “American thing”, I even say it’s cheating cause it’s more spoken than the UK cause of a larger population. This is why I have to really watch what I say on forums or I get fifty messages misconstruing it.

    I can see you’re of an older demographic, so you should understand as to how some aren’t going to recognize an entertainer who hasn’t been around since the 50s, like how Dean Martin isn’t well known and he’s a native to the US.

    #257925
    Veni
    Member

    Honestly I didn’t want a debate, was just throwing American centric references out there. Sorry to whoever took offense I guess.

    #257937
    Flap Jack
    Participant

    I guess American pop culture is so ubiquitous that we can’t count the inclusion of it as deliberate attempt to appeal to Americans necessarily. Perhaps if there was a reference to something that was big in the US but didn’t get big in the UK at all, like, I don’t know, A Christmas Story or something.

    Though maybe the changing of the moon shaped like Felicity Kendal’s bottom to a moon shaped like Marilyn Monroe’s bottom in Remastered counts? Making a reference less British and more universal is implicitly targeting Americans more.

    #257943

    The films thing is definitely ‘pop culture’ in general. Not to say that there haven’t been any successful British films, but there certainly weren’t many as namedroppeable as the ones listed in the late ’80s. Not sure about Hells Angels, but we certainly have those in the UK.

    It’s true that Rob and Doug obviously had a certain respect and love of American pop culture and used it a lot in Red Dwarf, and I’m sure, at least sometimes, that was partially done to suggest a more general multi-national/planet culture in the future.

    At the same time, there are a lot of very specifically British. references in there which I can imagine would be utterly baffling to Americans.

    #257956
    Veni
    Member

    Ok me bringing up referencing American films, which clearly was a bad idea, aside. Red Dwarf really did make an appeal to international audiences during VII and VIII, it’s cut-and-dry. The whole reason for Remastered was due to Japanese markets, similar to the Blu-ray restoration.

    Sorry if I seemed to take this personal, I just had a bad day and let things effect me easily.

    #257957
    Flap Jack
    Participant

    I don’t think anyone was affronted by your list of Hollywood film references, Veni! It was a perfectly natural part of the discussion, and of course it wasn’t unreasonable to suggest that references to American stuff might be intended to appeal to America.

    #257962
    By Jove its holmes
    Participant

    JNT on Doctor Who tried to appeal to the Australian market with Tegan, and the United States* market with Peri.

    (* – according to progressive activists, we should use USian as not everyone who lives on the American continent lives in the United States)

    #257970
    Katydid
    Participant

    (* – according to progressive activists, we should use USian as not everyone who lives on the American continent lives in the United States

    Well, if you want to be deliberately obtuse to solve confusion that doesn’t exist, sure. Why not?

    #257971
    Dave
    Participant

    Apparently people from the US called Ian are really upset about the whole thing.

    #257972
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    I mingle with a lot of progressive activists and I have never seen anybody suggest we should use the term “USian”. I’ve maybe seen the argument that we shouldn’t call the US “America” twice in five years.

    #257973
    Katydid
    Participant

    It’s not like any of the other countries on this continent are fighting for the title.

    #257976
    Hamish
    Participant

    > It’s not like any of the other countries on this continent are fighting for the title.

    North America no. Central and South America yes. Latin Americans consider themselves exactly that. Americans.

    Though we could just as easily have ended up referring to everyone in the United States as Columbians so there you go. History is weird.

    #257977
    Hamish
    Participant

    In the case of Canada and Mexico we are just happy for any excuse not get lumped in with you lot.

    #257978
    Hamish
    Participant

    Mexicans would still call Katydid and RealBigOleDummy Estadounidense rather than American though, while Brazilians would use Americano/a. French Canadians might use Etats-Uniens rather than American as well. So it is more about language than politics.

    #257979
    Veni
    Member

    Resurrecting this thread was such a mistake, just depresses me looking at it now. I should really keep off the normal forums, just takes up my time and usually results in me making an ass of myself.

    #257981
    Seb Patrick
    Keymaster

    1. I’ve seen “USian” before, I definitely remember movement in online circles from a particular kind of, as you put it, “progressive activist” to try and steer towards it (because yes, “American” should technically mean “anyone from the Americas”); however, I’ve not seen it for a while, and while I do take the pedantic point I also think “American” is perfectly reasonable as a term given that (a) “America” is in the country’s name and (b) there aren’t many situations where people have cause to refer to someone from all of the Americas, compared with how often we might say “North American” or “South American”. It’s not, after all, like the same people are pushing for “UKian” instead of “British”, despite the fact that you can be that nationality but not from the island of Britain.

    2. As regards the Hollywood movies thing, I think it’s simply that Rob and Doug are clearly both enormous film buffs, and fans of classic cinema in particular; and naturally, with a few notable exceptions (your Ealings, your Powell/Pressburgers, etc) that’s naturally going to mean that your frames of reference are American. I don’t think it’s a conscious effort to appeal to American audiences by referencing those films, it’s just “these are the films that we like”.

    #257990
    Taiwan Tony
    Participant

    Anyone else got a hankering to see Death in the Meaning of Life say “You Americans… You talk and you talk, and you say ‘I just wanna say this.'”?

    I mean, I’m not a jingoist. I just like the bit.

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