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Americanization Americanization Document Transcript

  • by Frederick C. MillettIn the early 1900s, "Americanization" referred to the movement whereimmigrants were developed into Americans. Now, in todays world, the termhas a different, but similar meaning - the globalization by the U.S. of the world.The American economy is an ever-present force in the world today. Pepsi adsnow clutter the streets of every big city in China, Big Macs are being orderedthroughout the entire world, and the term "Always Coca-Cola" is beingmuttered by all of Europe, although they have no idea what the phrasemeans. Have we gone too far in our economic Americanization of the world?Some will argue that we have - using our advantage of being the worlds onlysuperpower in a dangerous way - by interfering and forcing our culture oncountries that do not want to be "Americanized." It is my belief thatAmericanization gives other countries a false sense of the American way oflife and, in the end, causes hatred for the U.S. and threats on our power andfreedom.Over the past few decades, American capitalism has rapidly taken over theentire world. Not even the most communist nations of China and Russia areimmune to this rapid invasion of American culture. Chinas youth today cannot only watch The X-Files, Baywatch, and the newest films from Tom Cruisefor entertainment, but also go to the American Dream Park, an amusementpark in Shanghai which duplicates typical American attractions. When they gethungry, the Chinese can eat at any of 130 McDonalds restaurants or gettakeout from Boston Chicken and Dominos Pizza (2). Russia, too, has beenhaving its share of American culture. In 1996, a new McDonalds openedacross the street from a government building in Minsk. As it happened, theopening coincided with a protest being held to call for a referendum on thepresidents use of power. Tim Snyder writes, "On my side of the street,militiamen videotaped those brave enough to speak. Across the way, theircolleagues kept the hamburger line in order. Here, someone spoke of theeternity of the Belarussian nation. There, someone ordered Always Coca-Cola. I left ill at ease" (4). Canada is also having problems withAmericanization. American companies now control most of Canadian industry,causing many people to wonder how long it will take before Canada becomespart of the United States (5). It goes without question that Americanglobalization is very evident in todays world.
  • Americanization is not only changing the world, but also causing wrongjudgments to be made about American life. In a recent French poll of imagesthat come to mind when thinking of America, 67% of those polled said"violence" and 49% "inequality" as opposed to only 20% who said "freedom"and 4% "generosity" (3). In Europe, Americans are stereotyped byglobalization as being shallow, spoiled, and shortsighted. Tim Synder writesthat only a little more than ten years ago, America was a great model ofdemocracy. "As an American I was asked about Paul Revere, ThomasJefferson, and the Constitution. In 1998, Im asked about Paula Jones, WilliamJefferson Clinton, and the Fifth Amendment" (4). What happened betweenthose ten years that would drastically change the way Europe and the worldview American life? Even President Bush isnt exempt from this kind ofstereotyping. When asked to describe President Bush in France, the mostpopular answers are "a ventriloquists dummy" and "the Forrest Gump ofAmerican politics" (3). In Singapore, words like violence, workaholism, anddisrespect for authority are all synonyms for the "American Way." "In yourmovies and your materialism, we dont see the real America," writes SimonTay, a Harvard grad and lawyer from Singapore trying to explain thismisperception (6). When looked at around the world, Americanization seemsto have the opposite effect than what was imagined, causing many nations toincorrectly stereotype America.American globalization not only wrongly stereotypes us, but also causes manynations to hate the "American Way." It may have even caused the terroristattacks on September 11. Thomas Friedman, in an article published in 1998,warns that Americanization not only creates hatred for the United States, butalso allows the people who foster this hatred to do something with it - throughtechnology. Ramzi Yousef, the man behind the first World Trade Centerbombing, kept track of all his plans on a Toshiba laptop. Osama bin Laden fora time was running a multinational JOL, Jihad Online (1). Many people blamebin Laden solely for the recent terrorist attacks on the U.S. But is he the onlyone responsible? Whos really to blame for September 11? Look no furtherthan the clothes you wear, the food you drink. Blame Nike, blame McDonalds,and blame Coca-Cola. These companies are the icons of Americanization -the renewed movement which is taking over the world, destroying traditions,and creating new Osama bin Ladens. Thomas Friedman writes:The American message particularly tells young people around the world that we have a better way thantheir fathers. This is why the Osama bin Ladens constantly speak of "American arrogance" and howAmerica is "emasculating" the Muslims. Thats why they just want to kill America. And globalization,through its rapid spread of technologies, also super-empowers them to do just that. It makes it mucheasier to travel, move money or communicate by satellite phones or Internet. (1)
  • Americans think of their culture as relatively conservative. However,compared to the rest of the world, we are the revolutionary society. Thiscauses a threat to many nations around the world. "For the rest of the world,we are wild, crazy revolutionaries, with rings in our noses and paint on ourtoes, overturning cultures and traditions wherever we go" (1). Is this the imagewe want to globalize for the whole world to see? Americanization gives theworld the wrong view of America; will it take another September 11 to figurethis out? Americanization must be stopped, or else drastically lowered, so notto threaten other nations traditions and beliefs.Despite this recent surge in American culture over the world, a few countrieslike France and Germany are making plans to slow Americanization. Byraising taxes and tariffs on foreign companies and investors, these countriesare making it harder for American companies to profit overseas. Also, inIsrael, a cultural rebellion is taking place. The Israeli government, in anattempt to slow down Americanization, now requires their radio stations todevote half their airtime to Hebrew songs (6). These are only the exceptionsto the rule of American globalization, though. Americanization is now in fullswing and sees no end in sight, particularly because many Americansperceive it as a great achievement. Charles Krauthammer writesin Timemagazine that, "America is no mere international citizen. It is thedominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome.Accordingly, America is in a position to re-shape norms, alter expectationsand create new realities" (3). Lewis Lapham expresses the same opinion inhis "American Rome" essay. He says that it is Americas job to help out theworld and "cleanse the world of its impurities" (3). Americanization, thesepeople believe, is the answer - the change that the world is looking for. Ofcourse, if the world really does want change, whos to say that America hasthe answer? What gives us the right to assume that American culture is theway of the future? These questions should have been answered first, beforeAmerican culture took over the planet. As G. Pascal Zachary writes, "We areall Americans now, like it or not" (6). If he is saying this statement now, whatwill the world be like if America continues this trend in ten years? How abouteven twenty years? How far will American globalization go, or moreimportantly, will it ever end?
  • americanization orglobalization?From the ArchivesPosted on October 2, 2006Previously filed under: North America, Culture and SocietyPLEASE NOTE THAT THIS ARTICLE IS FROM 2006. VISIT OUR HOMEPAGE FORNEW CONTENT.A Ugandan writer explores the meaning of globalization and the growing influence ofAmerican culture around the world.Global socio-political issues never cease to fascinate any interested soul. From thetimes of civilization came the era of colonialism then independence. This was followedby the cold war era where The Soviets were slowly but surely out-smarted by the moreversatile capitalists of the day.The post cold war era led to the increasinginfluence of what some people these dayscall quasi-governments (such as theInternational Monetary Fund and the WorldBank).The IMF and World Bank consequently tookon the role of the worlds economic ‘policetelling particularly poorer nations how tospend their money. In order to receive moreaid, these Bretton Woods institutionsdemanded that countries open up theireconomies to liberalization under StructuralAdjustment Programmes that encouragedgovernments to fund privatizationprogrammes, ahead of welfare and publicservices. Concurrently we had the influence of multinational organisations like theUnited Nations Organisation also greatly formatting global issues.Fast-forward to the new millennium things took a different path. All of a sudden we werebeing pumped with rhetoric titled globalization. Globalization is an umbrella term for acomplex series of economic, social, technological, and political changes seen asincreasing interdependence and interaction between people and companies in disparatelocations. In general use within the field of economics and political economy, it refers tothe increasing integration of economies around the world, particularly through trade andfinancial flows. The term sometimes also refers to the movement of people (labour) andknowledge (technology) across international borders. There are also broader cultural,
  • political and environmental dimensions of globalization. For the common man it wasalways argued that the world had become like a global village of sorts.At its most basic, there is nothing mysterious about globalization. But not so fast, somepeople are now arguing that globalization has mainly benefited the already strongeconomies of the world and it has given them leverage to not only trade with the rest ofthe world but to also influence their general lifestyles and politics. Proponents of theschool of thought contend that countries like U.S.A are using the globalization as anengine of "corporate imperialism"; one which tramples overthe human rights of developing societies, claims to bring Globalization is anprosperity, yet often simply amounts to plundering and umbrella term for aprofiteering. complex series of economic, social,Another negative effect of globalization has been cultural technological and politicalassimilation via cultural imperialism. This can be further changes seen as increasingexplained as a situation of exporting of artificial wants, and interdependence andthe destruction or inhibition of authentic local cultures. This interaction between peoplebrings me to the gist of my submission. At a closer look, and companies inglobalization is slowly shifting towards Americanization. Have disparate locations.you heard the word "Americanization"? Well in the early1900s Americanization meant taking new immigrants andturning them into Americans...whether they wanted to give up their traditional ways ornot. This process often involved learning English and adjusting to American culture,customs, and dress.Critics now say globalization is nothing more than the imposition of American culture onthe entire world. In fact, the most visible sign of globalization seems to be the spread ofAmerican hamburgers and cola (Pepsi and Coca Cola products) to nearly every countryon earth. The song Amerika by the German rock band Rammstein is often seen as asatire of Americanization. It has received mixed reviews: some perceive it as anti-American, others as being opposed to globalization. The band views it as a satiricalcommentary on "cocacolonization".According to information from Globalisation.about.com even The most visible sign ofglobalization champions like Thomas Friedman see it. In a globalization seems to berecent column describing why terrorists hate the United the spread of AmericanStates, Friedman wrote: "...globalization is in so many ways hamburgers and cola toAmericanization: globalization wears Mickey Mouse ears, it nearly every country ondrinks Pepsi and Coke, eats Big Macs, does its computing on earth.an IBM laptop with Windows 98. Many societies around theworld cant get enough of it, but others see it as a fundamentalthreat."
  • The rest of the world seems to be following Uncle Sam (U.S.A) and leaving behind itsauthentic ways of life. This has not spared even the ‘air tight Chinese society.Americanization is the contemporary term used for the influence the United States ofAmerica has on the culture of other countries, substituting their culture with Americanculture. When encountered unwillingly, it has a negative connotation; when soughtvoluntarily, it has a positive connotation.How Are We Being Americanized?U.S.A, which has the worlds biggest economy and strongest known army, has takengigantic steps in persuading the rest of the world to think and act like them. Manypeople especially the Europeans have often despised Americans saying they have noculture. But as any sociologist will tell you, even having no culture is a culture in itself.So for many years, the land of immigrants has been on a process of creating an identityand hence a culture. Now they seem to be selling their culture to the rest of the world asanew and improved product of what we all have as culture.As far as fashion is concerned, the casual ‘American style of wearing Jeans, T-Shirtsand sports shoes is now common and acceptable in many places. For the office it is notrare to see someone wearing tight jeans with a long sleeved shirt plus a tie. His defenceis of course that it is the American style (read modern). Cowboy hats, boots and largesilver belt buckles are also a common imitation of the dress style of American especiallythose from Texas and Arizona. The American music industry has also gone a long wayin influencing the dress culture of other people around the world. What about theexample youths have picked up from famous American rap artists like 50-cent, Eminem,Tupac Shakur (R.I.P) and Snoop Dogg with their flashy fashions characterized by whatis commonly known as "bling bling" (expensive shiny jewellery and watches). Look atthe music played in the Nyamirambo bound taxis and you will be amazed at how itmatches with the dress style of the passengers!Around the world the United States is perhaps best known for its numerous andsuccessful fast food franchises. Such chains, includingMcDonalds, Burger King, and Kentucky Fried Chicken are The casual ‘Americanknown for selling simply, pre-prepared meals of foods such as style of wearing Jeans, T-hamburgers, French fries (chips), soft drinks, fried chicken, Shirts and sports shoes isand ice cream. Though undeniably popular, such food, with its now common andemphasis on deep-frying, has been criticized by dietitians in acceptable in manyrecent decades for being unhealthy and a cause of obesity. It places.has thus become somewhat of a stereotype to associateAmerican cuisine with obesity and junk food. The whole worldnow is full of similar eating joints. In Africa many are referredto as take-aways.Popular Culture
  • This transmission of American culture has been mainly through several conduits withthe number one medium being the electronic media. Television in particular has done alot in Americanizing those who view images especially from Hollywood. The guys inHollywood have made us to adore the tough cigar-smoking guys in the Casinos, the thinshapely long legged women, and to dream about rags-to-riches stories that are acommon tag line of the movies. We now adore jazz, hip-hop, rap music, country musicas well as gospel music all of which were pioneered by the United States.And trust us in following the Uncle Sam; many countries now have equivalents of theAmerican awards of Oscars for the movies and Grammys for the music. Just check outthe PAM awards in Uganda or the Kisima awards in Kenya, not forgetting thecontinental Kora awards held annually in South Africa. Many countries have also gone ahead to construct theme parks basing on the American Disney World model.Americanization has also led to the popularity and acceptability of what is known asAmerican English. I have seen many posters here in Rwanda of schools claiming toteach American English. Many youths are now using this type of English considering it‘modern.We ought not to ignore the heavy influence that the United States has demonstrated inthe development of the Internet and its subsequent control. Remember the conferencethat was held at the beginning of this year in Tunisia where nations were complainingabout the control the US has over the Internet. They were proposing that instead aninternational body should take over but the conference ended in defeat of this line ofargument. The iPod, the most popular gadget for portable digital music, is alsoAmerican invention.American sports especially basketball have now become famous worldwide especiallyamong college students. However other games like baseball and American footballhave not been easily adopted by other people in the world, as has been the case withbasketball. Soccer, which is known to be the worlds mostpopular sport, is not so popular in the US. However the US The number one mediumwomens soccer team is one the of the worlds premier for the transmission ofwomens sides. American culture has been through electronicWar on Terrorism media, television in particular.Americans have also been known to spear heard the spreadof the Pentecostal, Charismatic, Evangelical or born again religious movementsworldwide. American preachers are always globetrotting all in the name of spreadingthe word of ‘Gad. We should not ignore the fact that the United States Constitutionenshrined individual freedom of religious practice, which courts have since interpretedto mean that the government is a secular institution, an idea called "separation of
  • church and state". This notion of separating religion from the state is one of thecontroversial aspects of exporting American culture. This is embedded in the Bushadministrations "War on terror" which some have gone ahead to read as a war onIslam. This controversial American policy is what inspired Prof. Mamdani to write a booktitled, " Bad Muslim good Muslim".America, which has thousands of military servicemen around the world, has of late beenpreoccupied with fighting terror in Afghanistan, Iraq and it is getting ready to deal withthe Iran problem soon. Actually some people are already speculating that the currentcrisis between Israel and Hezbollah is a precursor to Americas war with Iran. That US issupporting the Olmert government to keep bombing Lebanon until Iran which is said tobe the Godfather of Hezbollah gets angry enough to join the war. At this point it isargued that the US will join hands with Israel and fight the Iran government because"they have weapons of mass destruction". At the end of the war as usual US will beexpected by many viewers to have conquered another oil producing country.Many see the War on terror as a veil for acquiring cheap oil to run the US economy.Returning to the Israeli conflict with Hezbollah, one can not fail to see an American tonein the whole conflict. Do you remember the first people to use the word "collateraldamage"? This was what Americans first used to describe the death of innocentcivilians and destruction of infrastructure by ‘precision missiles during the Afghan warafter the 9/11. This was an excuse used for having bombed the Chinese Embassy anda Red Cross facility during the war. Now compare it with the death of thousand ofLebanese civilians and the destruction of hundreds of buildings. The death of UNofficers and the recent Qana massacre can be accurately referred to as collateraldamage by the Israeli government. This notion of separating religion from the state is one of the controversial aspects ofexporting American culture. This is embedded in the Bush administrations "War onterror" which some have gone ahead to read as a war on Islam.The apparent determination by the US to appoint itself "Mr. Fix The notion of separatingit all" is a somewhat naive but optimistic belief among religion from the state isAmericans that all problems can be fixed with enough one of the controversialcommitment and effort. This sometimes leads America into aspects of exportingproblematic situations such as Vietnam and Iraq. In some American culture and iscases though, American fix it all attitude has positively led to embedded in the Bushlarge outpouring of humanitarianism. This is clearly evidenced administrations "war onby the enormous aid that Americans especially at the individual terror" which some havelevel, are sending to poor nations. Americans like Bill Gates gone ahead to read as aand CNNs Ted turner are some of the worlds biggest donors. war on Islam.In conclusion, therefore, the global stage is at a period ofAmerican conquest in many different ways than you can imagine. Globalization seemsto be hijacked by the Americans. The world also seems to be clamouring for more of theYankee lifestyle. However simply dismissing -- or demonizing -- globalization as mereAmericanization is misleading. Globalization has the ability to alter much more than just
  • the movies or food consumed by a society. And the results can be powerfully positive,devastatingly negative, or (more often) something in between