Monday, September 29, 2008

The American Cultural Empire

Globalization is a growing reality in this world and, as the other presenters and I noted last week, holds both promise and danger for society. As someone who has traveled abroad and seen the enormous amount of American culture present in other societies, I can say that I found it fairly fascinating, but also scary. I feel as though we don't always realize just how much influence we exert in the world at times, and just how much exposure other nations and peoples get to our lives here. Cultural imperialism exists, and it is up to us to be responsible about how our culture gets represented to others.
I spoke about the dangers of our cultural empire on Wednesday, especially in regards to television. So much of what's on TV here in the U.S. portrays Americans so poorly (take any show done by Paris Hilton, for example), and to a certain extent, as Celeste noted, we are responsible for this- we are the consumers, demanding this type of content. The United States is the largest, wealthiest, and most influential country in the world at this point, and with the rise of globalization, cultural imperialism is bound to happen. What we must do, however, is accept John Louis Stevenson's challenge, pick up the 'white man's burden,' and be more responsible consumers. Only then can we make sure that, as long as we are exporting so much culture, that it is wielding a positive influence.
On the other hand, listening to Calli's presentation on Wednesday, I realized that I had been looking at globalization from a very one-sided position. Globalization is a truly remarkable thing, and the sharing of cultures and ideas so easily is an amazing facet of our society. We do live in a very small bubble, and I believe America must open itself to other cultural influences. In order to be good members of a globalized world, we must all be more willing to listen to foreign music, watch shows from abroad, and experiment with film and other media from countries that may be completely different from us. We are a nation of immigrants, and should embrace that legacy of diversity.

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