Stryker MacGuire is a name that sounds like a comic book Marine. He’s a UK based US journalist. Mr MacGuire modestly claims that although he did not coin the term ‘Cool Britannia’, he identified the charming ambience associated with it, such as Tracey Emin’s soiled sheets or gormless pop stars traipsing through Tony and Cherie’s low grade Camelot.
Now MacGuire has seen the light – or perhaps dark – and tells Newsweek to ‘Forget the Great in Britain’. Its the usual Reyjavik on Thames line, with a few tacked on ruminations about our foreign policy. The gist of his piece originally appeared in the Observer in March before the G20 summit, but never mind that diversion.
Some of what MacGuire says is well-aimed. But he inevitably misses the monopolistic shroud the BBC is spreading over local and regional newspapers; the crass boosterism whereby everything is referred to as ‘award/prize winning’ (rubbish); and such intangibles as the pervasiveness of a low-grade sentimentalism.
He is also as credulous towards the rising powers of Brazil, India or China as he once was to Blair’s meretricious ‘KULTCHUR’. In Brazil, rich people fly over slums in helicopters to avoid the gunfire below. China is riven with the sort of ethnic tensions we saw in Xinjiang, while the disconsolate casualties of its manufacturing slow down head home to their rural hovels.
His piece has one illustration- a desolate tower block with a swing in front of it. Highlighting this would be like representing the land of Montana or Wyoming with the Beirut-like scenes the Wire shows from West Baltimore.