Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Scottish independence, Braveheart, and Outlander.

I avoid politics on this blog because I get WAY too passionate about things, particularly readers' comments (I know, I know... don't feed the trolls) and then stay up all night fretting. I may seriously regret this post, but I suspect most of my readers are far enough removed from the Scotland Question that this is a safe place. I mean, most Americans already think Scotland is its own country. Which it is in some sense. But not in the same sense that one US Post Office worker meant when she told me recently that I had to write "Scotland" instead of "United Kingdom" on my envelope because the letter was "going to Scotland, not the United Kingdom" kind-of-way. (I tried correcting her, I swear. And no, she wasn't a Jacobite. She was just American.)

For those of you who don't know, there will be a vote in September -- a referendum among the people of Scotland to decide whether to declare independence from the rest of the United Kingdom. It probably seems very 1776 to you. Let's think back to history class and all those countries that England colonized and once ruled: India, the United States, even Ireland. The US, as we know, declared independence on July 4, 1776. Ireland and India only got their independence from Great Britain in the 1940s. Some people in Scotland -- definitely not all -- still feel colonized in a sense and want their own independence. It's a source of contention and debate.

And so the people will vote. Our Scottish friends are polarized on the issue.

One of our favorites said that he thought the Vote would come down to whether the television networks showed Braveheart that week.

He was joking -- sort of.

The people of Scotland aren't dumb, by any means, and I'm not seriously suggesting that a bad Mel Gibson accent would inform a huge historical choice. BUT I can absolutely see how watching that movie can bring about deep resentment and national pride. I watched it a few nights ago (again), and now I dislike my English friends. (Kidding, kidding, people. Sort of. I mean, KIDDING!!!) You have to admit, though, it's hard to be reminded of going on a thousand years of oppression (I should probably choose a better word here) and not get a little bitter.

I've been thinking for a few months, however, about this new miniseries that airs this fall, Outlander. I think maybe this is the pop culture phenomonon that will tip the vote to YES. It's set during the Jacobite Rising and is about a 20th Century time traveler trying to prevent the Battle of Culloden.

The books that inspired the miniseries are tomes, but somehow, most of my close friends have read them. Yes, even my MBA husband (he's actually read more of them than I have). The novels are historical fiction with a touch of romance (but they don't have a Highlander holding a swooning maiden on the cover). I love them, though by book four or five, I started to zone out a little bit. Anyway, the story itself has the making of being the next addictive television drama, with spoilers on your Facebook feed, and suddenly lots of people all over the world talking about Scottish independence. And with the star of the show, Sam Heughan, who plays the dreamy Jamie Fraser, coming out recently as a YES-supporter, well ... who knows.

I'm abstaining from taking sides right now, primarily because, um, it's none of my business. I admit that I pretend to be pro-independence, but again, I'm too far removed these days to have a researched opinion on it (ask me 18 months ago, and I'd spout facts at you).

Selfishly, independence might make emigration to Scotland a little easier -- the Wee Boy was born there, after all. Maybe Texas will vote for independence too, and then our whole family can have all kinds of passports.

Anyway, I don't see an airdate for Outlander on UK television. If I were a conspiracy theorist, however, I would suspect the British government of not allowing that show to air in the UK until after September 18. Same goes for Braveheart. Maybe we Americans can offer sneaky links to Outlander episodes, kind of like we can get sneaky links to Downton Abbey.

There's my lighthearted political post of the year.

Anyone read the Outlander books? How many did you get through?


  1. Loved the Outlander books. I got through 3 or 4.

    But after the first couple of trips under Jamie's kilt, it started getting boring. I mean, you can only toss a Caber so many ways.

    1. Agree! I'm a sucker for time travel though. But once they went to the New World, I started to lose interest. I think I just prefer European history to American history (gasp!!).

  2. I'm a Canadian expat, lived in Malta now in Scotland and I try not to get all wrapped up in politics either over here. I really don't care to be honest- maybe that's not a good thing I don't know but it gives me a headache lol. We have friends on either side of the independence thing- some that are a No vote and some that are irritating with a big Yes in your face ugh. Anyhow I'm blabbing here so i'll shut it with one last thing- we live 5 minutes from where they have been filming Outlander...a friend and I took the dogs for a walk over in Culross one night, right through the set before they started filming the next day- took some photos pretty neat!