Flat Earth: US? Not us

HAVING an all-American image has suddenly become a liability in the wake of the Planet Hollywood bombing in Cape Town last week. Six bomb threats were made to other restaurants in the city, including four belonging to the Spur steakhouse chain, which had to issue a denial that it was connected to the US in any way, despite its Wild West theme.

Does this mean that sports bars around the world are going to hide away the baseball memorabilia and bring out the cricket bats (although Britain, of course, is also in the firing line, having given the US such quick and uncritical support for its missile attacks)? Will Hard Rock Cafes play down Hendrix and Clapton and find safer heroes? Bryan Adams, maybe: he's Canadian. Or INXS - did the Australian government take a position on the Sudan and Afghanistan strikes?

It is more than a little ironic. As PJ O'Rourke, among others, has observed, the countries which are most vituperative against America seem to have more of their citizens trying to get into the US than any other. There is only one reason why establishments such as those in the Spur chain cultivate an association with movie stars, cowboys and rock 'n' roll: it sells, because we all want to feel American.

Porn, Bjorn?

THE other thing that sells is sex. About 120,000 Swedes aged between 18 and 20 recently received a videotape in the post which began with a young couple kissing and fondling each other before sinking beneath a billowing drape. It then cut to more young people talking about their "first time".

Was somebody trying to emulate the teenage boy and girl who were allegedly going to shed their virginity live on the Internet? That turned out to be a hoax, and so, in a manner of speaking, was this. It gradually dawned on eager viewers of the videotape - about the time that the former deputy premier, Mona Sahlin, appeared - that it was about nothing more exciting than exercising one's right to vote for the first time. (Sweden has a general election next month.)

This revelation came too late for some viewers, who had already switched off the video and called the police. The leader of the Socialists' youth wing, who also appears on the tape, was unrepentant, saying those who considered it pornographic "must have a sad life".

Bubble blues

LAST week we brought you key evidence that the Asian economic crisis is biting: good-time girls in Bangkok are asking to be retrained for other work. Now a disturbing trend has been identified in Japanese pop lyrics, which are striking a new note of resignation.

Like their Western counterparts, Japanese kids used to have a taste for nihilism, but that faded around 1987, when they started to become anxious about the "bubble economy". The worse things got, the greater the demand for upbeat, positive songs.

But now, it seems, things are so bad that people are fed up with fantasy and want a dose of reality. The most common message in Japanese pop music today is that "things may be tough, but we've got each other". The three key words in current songs, it has been determined, are "OK", "happy" and "persevere". We will know an upturn is on the way when "despair", "oblivion" and "suicide" make a comeback.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

    Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

    Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

    £15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

    Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us