Today’s Editorial for February 2: Caymantown, USA

We should have seen this coming.

American actors and producers are now looking at Grand Cayman as a place to film motion pictures set in a generic ‘Anytown, USA’.

Although the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau and the Ministry of Tourism seem smitten by the idea of having films produced here – for they would certainly generate revenues for the country – some people might just find the idea that Grand Cayman could pass for Anytown, USA a bit disheartening, or maybe even a bit insulting.

But here’s the truth: Except for the odd feral chicken or rooster roaming around the George Town streets, large sections of Grand Cayman have, for the most part, become Anytown, USA.

The island’s transformation from a quaint and sleepy little Caribbean island to a bustling American-like Southern town did not occur overnight; it’s been a steady progression over the past 30 years or so.

We might not have been able to appreciate the extent of Grand Cayman’s transformation, but certainly our visitors did. With every return trip, they found a place more and more like Anytown, USA, or at least, Anytown, Florida.

It’s not just the KFCs, the Burger Kings, the Pizza Huts, the Wendy’s, the Subways, the Dairy Queens, or the other American chain restaurants that are here or have come and gone. It’s the strip malls, the gas stations, the supermarkets, the hotels, the churches, our homes and the architecture here in general.

But the Americanisation goes beyond buildings. It’s also the way we dress, the cars we drive, and the way we drive them.

Even the lilts of the Caymanian accent are being chiselled away to leave an American-sounding voice that could read the news for Any Radio Station, USA.

We should have seen this coming, but we’re probably surprised to learn filmmakers think Cayman looks like just about any modern town in America.

What can be done about it? Not much, when it comes to George Town. But there are still areas on Grand Cayman that look a lot like they did years ago. And there’s the Sister Islands, too. We must urge this government and successive governments to do what it can to restrict development of those places to buildings that fit into the surrounding environment; that fit into a more historical Caymanian culture.

Most people enjoy the convenience and prosperity Grand Cayman’s development has brought to the island. Even if they don’t, we can’t turn back the clock. But we can take actions to ensure that if, in the future, some Caymanian filmmaker wants to make a motion picture set in old Cayman, that he or she doesn’t have to go to a Hollywood set to do it.