Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Land of the Free and Home of the Unoriginal

That's right. Not only do we steal numerous British TV show ideas, some of our most coveted patriotic trademarks are directly "borrowed" from Britain as well.

Lord Kitchener vs. Uncle Sam
The 1914 British poster featuring the Secretary of State for War, (a very threatening) Lord Kitchener, was used for the recruitment campaign of World War I. Three years later, the United States produced their own version to recruit for World War I and II featuring (a very threatening) Uncle Sam.

Lord Kitchener was in charge of assembling a massive British army to fight the Germans. The print to help him attract soldiers first appeared on the cover of a magazine and after its rise in popularity it was issued in poster form. The September 1914 issue of London Opinion sparked an increase in the number of recruits.

The Uncle Sam poster was created by James Flagg, who gave Uncle Sam modified characteristics of himself. The United States adaptation of the Kitchener poster was used throughout World War II and it is considered as the first representation of what Uncle Sam looks like (elderly, his amazing hat...etc). Uncle Sam was not always the sole personification of the United States. Once accompanied by 'Brother Jonathan' and 'Columbia,' I can only assume they disappeared because Jonathan represented transcendent aspirations and Columbia was a woman.

And then there are these:

God Save the Queen vs. My Country, 'Tis of Thee'
This British anthem's author is unknown, but its origins go as far back as 1619. "Borrowing" a tune was popular in folk music of the 1800's so we slapped 'My Country 'Tis of Thee'' to the tune of 'God Save the Queen.' This unofficial national anthem of the United States was written in 1831 and would remain for the next hundred years.

To Anacreon in Heaven vs. The Star-Spangled Banner
We got sick of the old rip-off national anthem, so we thought we would get a whole new rip-off to replace it. The Star-Spangled Banner's lyrics were written in 1814 and later set to the tune of a 18th century gentlemen's club song from London, To Anacreon in Heaven.

It's like that old American saying, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."

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