Cultural Imperialism

8 August 2016

With the vast advancement of technology today, the world has become progressively interconnected. Together with the rise in connection and communication, countries’ borders are also increasingly unclear as cultures cross borders and people adopt new ways of life styles and new manners of thinking. Most Asian societies for example, view the world from the eyes of the Americans or western culture and hence, they tend to adopt a foreign lifestyle in their apparel choices, the way they converse, even the type of food and eating etiquettes.

Cultural Imperialism Over the past few decades, the vast improvements in technology have enabled efficient communication of information across the globe. Businesses in the best of nations have risen increasingly in scale and value. This, in turn, helps a handful of powerful nations exert influence over the world. Not only these few nations dominate the majority’s media consumption, they also consequently transmit their values and ideologies through these media channels.

Cultural Imperialism Essay Example

This process of dominating and influencing the mass through the media texts is known as cultural imperialism, which is the main component of capitalism and hence promoted by developed nations across the continents. Cultural Imperialism through Television A high percentage of Americans are couch potatoes and are typically glued to their television sets. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, in 2012, Americans watch two hours and 50 minutes of television a day. AC Nielsen Co.

household survey in 2013, found that an average American household had 2. 24 TV sets and more than 65% of households had three TV sets or more. Singapore’s households have very similar statistics to the Americans and with the low cost of TV sets; they too have multiple sets in their homes. Having multiple TV sets is the norm in a modern affluent society like Singapore and America and TV networks have been feeding the viewer’s appetite for TV series. One such TV series was Sex and The City which was produced by HBO from 1998 until 2004.

The series was so popular that it spawned two feature movies, Sex and the City (2008) and its sequel, Sex and The City 2 (2010). The series was filmed in New York City and follows the life style of four women who were close friends, with three of the women in their mid-thirties and one in her forties. It starred Sarah Jessica Parker (as Carrie Bradshaw), Kim Cattrall (as Samantha Jones), Kristin Davis (as Charlotte York), and Cynthia Nixon (as Miranda Hobbes). Television Series – Sex and the City

This funny and quirky series explored relevant and modern American social issues such as safe sex, promiscuity, female sexuality and femininity. In Singapore, these issues that are still taboo subjects in modern Asian cultures particularly, in Singapore where pornography is illegal. In the series, the fashionably dressed Sarah Jessica Parker playing her character, Carrie, set the trendy scene for the fashion conscious. Brand named labels were clamoring to have Carrie wear their clothing in the show. The series gave the impression that New Yorkers were trendy people and are always well dressed.

In almost every episode, the subject of sex and the performance of their partners came up and this certainly pulled in the attention of the audience but promoted promiscuity. Kim Cattrall as Samantha played the female version of the Casanova with her flitting from one man to another in search of sexual gratification. Having multiple sexual partners was their norm for Samantha and her partners were treated as her personal sexual device to be used and thrown away. Kristin Davis as Charlotte was the conservative character on the screen and the character even showed her exploration of lesbianism albeit a short one.

Gay relationships are still an unthinkable option in the Asian Singaporean society and stories such as this may encourage more young people to explore homo-sexual relationships. In one of the episodes, Charlotte meets another woman who has a completely opposite personality and together, they explore cross dressing. Women become men and they both explore a lesbian relationship. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly The series glamorizes sex without emphasizing on its downsides such as pregnancy, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.

Teenagers, who watched series such as Sex and The City, are easily swayed by the negative values that go against the ‘Confucian’ values that are encouraged by the Singapore government. The sexual content will easily turn on the teenager’s hot blooded sexual needs to explore various avenues for sexual exploration without understanding the consequences of their actions. What kind of values are popular TV series such Sex and The City teaching young and naive women around the world that, even a whoring bimbo, if they are patient and wait it out, they’ll eventually get that big house with the garden and the luxury car out on the porch.

On the positive note, American series do give the conservative Asian audience a taste of America’s freedom of speech as well as the directness of their conversation when dealing with difficult issues both personal and at work. The women’s rights are extensively explored and emphasized. Cultural Imperialism through Movies This is no mystery as United States has a tremendous international influence to the world. The American lifestyle is well presented in the works of arts which attracts the admiration of many other societies.

In addition, what people like becomes the drive to the values and ideologies of the Americans. Similar to the field in TV programmes, other fields such as music and movies imitate the way and as a result, there is a cultural domination followed by an unequal exchange of cultures. The United States’ cultural imperialism is apparent through the media and over the years, the media have facilitated America’s cultural spread. Their cultural dominance is apparent predominantly through fashion, music, television programs and especially movies.

Known to be the largest film industry in the world, American movies were played in over 100 countries every day. These movies are often remade with local flavor, but the more people watch American films, the more they try to emulate the norms they observed. The Birth of Ethnocentrism Having said that, most Americans have a growing sense of ethnocentrism due to cultural imperialism as they judge other cultures based on the norms of his or her own society. The problem with that is that many Americans don’t try to understand other cultures before labeling their norms as strange, bizarre, or even barbaric.

The idea is that Americans have grown used to being emulated, that there is sense of cultural superiority rather than respect and intrigue for others. This leads to a general misunderstanding of others and stereotypes that place a whole people into one square. One of the main issues with cultural imperialism is whether individuals from the dominant culture actually accept other people’s cultures or do they become culturally exclusive. About 2% of the movies that come out in American theaters these days are foreign which proves that people are less likely to watch foreign films.

In the 1920? s and 30? s, people were more likely to watch foreign films. As the U. S’s cultural imperialism expanded, people simply became less interested in foreign media. The Cause Effect of Imperialism in Movies Indubitably, language, lifestyle, value and ideology would be affected from over exposed of Hollywood movies. The most possible effect would generally be language. When movies are made in English and watched worldwide, they gained popularity and this attracts the audience to imitate the English speaking behavior, the American slang.

The best way to learn about another culture would be through their language which would create mutual understanding between the two. However, the more people are exposed to western movies; it is most likely for them to lose their own identity and culture. They would begin to adopt American lifestyles from the way they behave, dressed and even how they express their feelings according to the movies they have been exposed to. Value and ideology would be affected as well. This could be seen from most western movies that freedom seemed to be the main ideology of America.

Freedom must be granted and to fight was to gain freedom. This however has made many of their audiences believed that freedom could bring peace and they require more freedom in their life. Disney – Imperialism through Mass Media Perhaps this connection to cultural imperialism is remotely broad predicated, however the argument one can debate on is that these commodities bring with them Western imperialistic thought and perception, by subliminal brainwashing of children from a very adolescent age to be hooked on to Disney cartoons and cartoon characters.

The political-economy perspective argues that the homogenisation of culture and communication through cultural imperialism leads to shared values and ideologies. In addition to which reflects a particular ideology on being a social phenomenon of American media, fashion, and food dominating the global market and shaping the cultures and identities of other nations. The Hollywood star system was created as a business strategy designed to generate large audiences and differentiate entertainment programs and products, and has been used for many years to provide increasing revenue on production investments. The Walt Disney Company

Disney is the quintessence of cultural imperialism. Ever since the first appearance of Mickey Mouse in 1928, Disney films have taken a lion’s share in family entertainment in America, its characters have been eventually known and well-liked worldwide. Inevitably, Disney animated films, movies and characters have become an integral part of children culture. Besides generating profits from the sales of Disney films, Disney products have become a cultural commodity. The term cultural commodity refers to products of the print and audio-visual industries including movies, television, publishing, radio and music.

These products are conveyances for the transmission of values, lifestyles and ideologies that many optically discern as corrosive to the recipient culture. An example is Disney princess line and its impact on girl’s self-concepts and body image. With the popularization of American culture through media conglomerates such as Disney, questions have been raised as to what effects these cultural commodities, or America by and large, are having on the values of societies and, in turn, on the realm of politics. The Effects of Disney Propaganda During World War II, Disney generated what could arguably be the most effective war time propaganda.

In an effort to get support from the Americans, who had been growing up with Disney, for the government bond purchases, Disney was asked to create a cartoon series to put the US Army in the limelight. Disney’s On the Front Line was then produced to portray popular Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, joining the armed forces in a manner that was appealing to the viewers. The highlights of this series were two episodes that proved to be essential to the American war efforts. Walt Disney also went further to expose Adolf Hitler’s actions to the world with a short cartoon episode titled Der Fuehrer’s Face.

The cartoon was a sequence of the average German’s life routines experienced from Donald Duck’s point of view. Donald was shown facing daily challenges working in a munitions factory under Nazi regime, some of which include being forced to salute Hitler numerous times in a day, and having to work overtime to “please the Furor”. Essentially, the cartoon aimed to satirize the constrained political freedom under Hitler’s regime. The cartoon ends with Donald waking from his dream and remembering how fortunate he was to have such a wealth of privileges living in America.

Disney as a Megacorporation Under the tutelage of Disney and other mega corporations, children have become an audience captive not only to traditional forms of media such as film, television and print, but even more so to the incipient digital media made easily accessible through mobile phones, tablets, laptop computers and the Internet. As the Disney Empire has a strong business foresight for providing “dreams” and manufacturing products through the form of popular culture in which children are willing to materially and emotionally invest.

Being an indispensable part of children’s culture places Disney at the forefront of the multimedia conglomerates. Besides aggressively marketing its own products, Disney is also believed to be an active medium of advocacy for Apple technological products. Often seen in popular Disney TV franchises such as High School Musical (2006), Hannah Montana (2006) and the Jonas Brothers (2005) are technological gadgets bearing the familiar Apple logo. Not surprisingly, the late Apple’s Chief Executive Officer and founder Steve Jobs has been said to be one of the major shareholders in Disney Co.

and Pixar Studios, thus explaining the frequent appearance of Apple products in Disney movies. By targeting children whose minds are more impressionable than adults, Apple has been successful in exerting its dominance in the technological world through Disney, illustrating another aspect of cultural imperialism in the 21st century. Conclusion It is clear that the American culture plays a significant role in the imperialistic transfer of their culture to the world. At a subconscious level, the western lifestyle has affected the Asian traditional social structure and social consumption.

As a result, our culture is superseded by the American way of life and their reach, have proved to be beneficial to the American multinational companies. In a way, even though cultural imperialism is creating a connection among all the nations, it is also causing tension among different people. Despite the cultural diversity in the U. S. A. , there are many people who don’t strive to understand other who are culturally dissimilar. Hopefully in this current generation, which is considerably to be more open minded, they will be more inclined to travel and learn about the different ways people live today.

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