Um, yeah, there’s a reason for that, it’s called THE LEGACY OF BRITISH COLONIALISM. The fact that the UK is disproportionately high achieving in a field that requires a long history of wealth and advanced education is true for a very specific reason.
This isn’t just a random small country that happens to have been very successful in this nifty area. It got there in large part because of its colonial legacy: by amassing wealth via imperialism and violence; and by enacting policies that specifically restricted and/or co-opted (read: stole) technological achievements from other countries.
One example: in the 16- and 1700s, India was the world leader in exporting printed calico, which was hugely popular in England and other parts of Europe. The British textile industry lacked the technology and scientific knowledge to make the same kind of fabricand was suffering economically because British people were buying Indian fabric instead. So the British government and companies systematically worked together to destroy the Indian textile industry. Through a combination of legislation and military force, they enacted very high import taxes on Indian fabric, outlawed printed calico, forced India to remove any import taxes on British goods (which helped British companies and hurt Indian ones), forced Indian producers to sell raw materials (with very low profit margins) to Britain, meaning British companies got the high profits from finishing them—and eventually, via direct observation of what was being done in India, learned the kind of chemistry (hi, science!) necessary to make printed calico themselves.
In doing so they destroyed not only the Indian textile industry but forced the entire nation to become an economy that exported cheap raw materials and imported expensive finished goods — a recipe for economic disaster and incidentally exactly the kind of system that exists globally through TODAY between poor and rich countries worldwide. In other words, Britain became wealthy and successful in this industry (which, again, was based on scientific knowhow) by taking that knowledge from another country through violence.
The effects of that kind of history are still extremely visible today in developing countries. For starters, there’s the fact that once a country becomes poor, it is very very likely to stay poor, because it lacks the resources to deal with its problems.
But more importantly in this case, once you disrupt what’s known as a knowledge economy — the shared and expanding knowledge and skills that drive industry and scientific research — it collapses. Knowledge is like a symbiotic organism; it needs living people to survive and if it’s not shared, it vanishes in a single generation. If your grandparents didn’t teach your parents to read, your parents are never going to be able to teach you. (Enter: all the scifi books about dystopias!)
(There’s also the fact that a lot of Britain’s academic and scientific success developed within a university system that was historically accessible only to people of one specific gender, race, class and religion.)
I’m talking about Britain here because that’s what the post is about (and because it’s a particularly egregious example — I was so shocked to realize this GIFset was for real). But the same is true throughout the history of the relationship between developed countries and developing ones (or indigenous populations) and the past 500 years of globalization. In this case, the 21st century British scientific establishment has benefited from advantages that research industries in other countries don’t have.
The point is: It’s great that the UK is so successful scientifically. It’s wonderful and they should keep investing in science and education and research. But don’t set yourself up against “the world’s population” and then pat yourself on the back for standing out. Historical privilege is not something to applaud yourself for. History matters. Economics matters. Check your privilege.
Sandra Bullock’s box office take over the last five years is as good or better than most male leads. The same can be said of Melissa McCarthy, who also has the attention of about 10 million viewers a week on Mike and Molly when she’s not on the big screen. Both of them have been integral to the marketing and promotion of their films, so it’s clearly not that moviegoers won’t watch a blockbuster with a woman in the lead.
But in very specific terms, Gravity was marketed as a co-headlining movie from Bullock and George Clooney, but anyone who saw it knows that it was Bullock’s film. Clooney was perceived as being necessary to market the movie in spite of the fact that since 2008, his movies have generated about $634 million total at the domestic box office, compared to Bullock’s $891 million. During that time, Clooney made nine films to Bullock’s six, meaning that the per-film average is even more heavily skewed in Bullock’s favor.
During that time, the total budget for Clooney’s films came to a minimum of $307 million and the budget for Bullocks clocked in at $214 million. That means that for every dollar spent producing a George Clooney film, the studio saw $2.07 back. That isn’t half bad, really. You know what it is half of? The $4.15 they saw on every Sandra Bullock dollar they spent during the same five-year period. Each of them had a couple of low-budget indie films and a couple of failures during the five-year period, but Clooney–the name Warner Bros. was convinced was necessary to promote the film–averaged just over $70 million per film during that period while Bullock averaged upwards of $148 million.
Wanna play football?