SCOTLAND AND ITS IMAGE - THE BRIGADOON SYNDROME
One of the more complex problems facing Scotland is its image. The idea that Scotland is bagpipes, kilts and Harry Lauder, is enough to make the average Scots blood run cold or hot depending on how one looks at it! . Unfortunately, it is exactly the image that brings tourists. Despite some lip service from hyphenated Scots (that is those with other countries attached on after Scottish - ) , it is this image which is celebrated, not the reality.
Americans are certainly fond of the stereotypic image and use it regularly. It is frequently joked in Scotland that if you see a person in a kilt, it is probably an American. That doesn't mean that Scots don't wear kilts, but many rent them rather than own them and wear them on relatively few occasions. It is as though one tried to have an American image by saying all Americans have chaps and ten gallon hats which they wear going to baseball games. Of course some Americans have chaps and ten gallon hats. It is even true that some Americans go to ball games, but Americans would be shocked if they discovered that expatriate Americans were arriving in the US and asserting an American identity by dressing in cowboy clothes and demanding to go to baseball games every day to prove they were Americans!
Unfortunately Americans of Scottish decent (and quite possibly the descendants of Scots in other cultures) interpret the kilt in accordance with Brigadoon rather than anything historical. So pervasive is this that at least one Scottish bank is reported to have pulled out funding from Tartan day because of this problem of image. Who can blame them? America is not really like John Wayne movies all the time.
At the same time, this is a problem that few want to talk about, because to do so is to undermine a great deal of the tourism by people of Scottish descent who want to find Brigadoon. Scotland the Brave has more the feeling of Scotland the Mystical or Scotland the Romantic in the minds of many people.
In his book Screening Scotland (reviewed in the Scotia News Vol. 2 # 1 Winter 2003), Duncan Petrie discusses in detail the ways in which Scotland has been linked to a mystical romantic idea generated in the Victorian era. This highly romanticized picture of Scotland produces a large number of works of art (usually by non-Scots) such as Brigadoon, which Scottish expatriate flock to see, and rush to support! Aside from Shakespeares Macbeth, which debases historical fact, most of the mystical nonsense simply hinders Scottish development by proclaiming to the world that Scotland is a mystical, superstitious country which is, like Brigadoon, locked in the past and delighted by the fact.. This can and does do damage in that the image tends to keep Scotland in peoples minds as a slightly backwards area of the world in which people roam the Highlands in kilts chasing deer, dancing on (or perhaps slight above) the heather. The major cities, and Scotland in general have often had to wage an uphill battle to be taken seriously.
More than 20 years ago this problem was already rampant, and an organization of mostly Scots, decided to try to remedy it. They proceeded to show the BBC film The Battle of Culloden in New York City to interested groups. The result was a major disaster. Scottish Americans who saw the film complained about the film. With all those wonderful films on Highland and Country dancing, why did they have to show this horrible film? was a common complaint.
Similarly, Americans are much more in favor of Scottish independence than the Scots are. There are a number of complicated political issues which occur in Scotland and which the Scots themselves are quite divided about, but many Scottish-Americans seem to have a far better grasp of what Scots really want (and what is best for them) than the Scots themselves do.
Likewise British Royalty which runs a gamut of acceptance in Scotland is generally positively viewed in the U.S. Few Americans remember the battles which raged 50 years ago over EIIR on mailboxes when nationalist Scots became furious with the designation of Queen Elizabeth as Elizabeth II. It appears that if royalty is from a Scottish line, then they have to be designated with double numbers (for example James the I and VI is James the I of Britain, but James the VI of Scotland). Elizabeth, is English so seems not subjected to the rule, or else she would be Elizabeth the I and II (i.e. Elizabeth the I or Britain, and Elizabeth the II of England). This was a particularly grievous insult to many Scots since it is Elizabeth I who is responsible for the death of Mary Queen of Scots. Such piddling details should not be allowed to get in the way, however, especially if your interest is proving that you are related to nobility - a major pastime of many Scottish Americans and to a few Scots.
CALEDONIAN CLUB TO PRESENT THE TEATRO GRATTACIELO OPERA COMPANY PERFORMING MASCAGNIS OPERA GUIGLIEMO RATCLIFF
The Caledonian Club is sponsoring a performance of Pietro Mascagnis opera Gugliemo Ratcliff on Tuesday Nov. 25th 2003 at Alice Tully Hall. The cast will include Philip Cokorinos as MacGregor; Carol Ann Manzi as Maria; Brian Davis as Douglas; Eugenie Grunewald as Margherita ; Lawrence Long as Tom and Anna Tonna as Willie.
The Teatro Grattacielo, is a New York based company responsible for the production of a number of lesser known Italian operas. They have in the past performed such works as L'amore de tre re (Montemezzi) , Iris (Mascagni), L'Arlesiana (Cilea), I Cavalieri di Ekebu (Zandonai), Risurrezione (Alfano) and La Wally (Catalani)
Tickets are available at ATH Box office 212-875-5050 or Telecharge (800) 545-2559
The opera company maintains a web site at http://www.georgevoorhis.com/grattacielo/home.htmlThe Caledonian Clubs website is http://www.nycaledonian.org