Tag Archives: Movie Clichés

America, Please Enlighten Me

26 Feb

This is something that has puzzled me for years: are there no electric kettles in the USA?

Watch American movies and tv carefully: whenever a cup of tea or coffee is made, the character fills a kettle and puts it on the stove. No-one ever plugs a kettle into the wall. Why is this? I mention it because I was reading WendyUsuallyWanders this morning and she had an interesting virtual tour of her kitchen, and I noticed there was no kettle. I asked her the same question and she was a little helpful: she doesn’t drink tea or coffee herself but she has seen electric kettles in other homes. But that doesn’t tell me why they never appear on tv. Is there a ban on their use in the media, like there is for cigarettes? Does the American Government know and is not telling us that electric kettles cause lung cancer?

There is also the question of tea: why do Americans drink tea with the bag still in the cup? I know this is so because the string and label always hang over the side. The tea must be stewed by the time they get to the bottom of it. No wonder there are so many hairy people in the States. And don’t get me started on how they drink it the minute the boiling water is poured in – do they all have asbestos lips? My own theory is that America has traditionally been a nation of coffee drinkers and directors want to show their characters’ individuality by making it obvious that they are tea drinkers: maverick detective with hirsute trout pout clears name by killing seventy-three queuing assailants with six bullets, and rounds off the day with a nice cup of Earl Grey. Or it could just be a matter of product placement. But that still doesn’t explain the weird absence of electric kettles.

‘Queuing’ came from last night’s writing class, where we discussed the fact that there are no new stories, then segued into movie clichés: the baddies always take turns fighting the hero instead of rushing him en masse. It’s usually a him. He might have – in fact, he will have – a gorgeous female sidekick and she will have a fabulous name and these days can kick butt as well as him, but she will inevitably be captured and be reduced to ‘the girl’: ‘Let the girl go/just give me the girl/blow up the Isle of Man or the girl gets it.’ If I am ever captured and the Hub rescues me and I hear him say, ‘Let the girl go,’ the first thing I will do after my grateful smooch will be to kick his butt and leave him for a dentist. It annoys me.

Then there is the matter of coffee drinkers: we see them in their homes, loading their stove-top kettles or their coffee machines. Next scene: a cardboard cup of coffee in their hands, bought from Starbucks on the way to fight crime. What’s that about? Are the stove-top kettles decoys? Or a subliminal message…if it ain’t from a street vendor you’re killing the planet?

One final question: do I spend too much time watching tv and worrying about inanities?

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