a place seemingly transported from many decades ago. It is Sunday afternoon, time for the
weekly public market as peasants sell snacks, crafts and spices on the ground. Wagons full of
produces and fruits are pulled around by store owners. But in this very traditional rural farming
community, something is a little out of place. In the middle of the market, stands a group of fresh
swagged out Chinese kids, decked in their American street-wear, flat brim hats, tight jeans, high
top shoes listening to the newest track of American rapper Kanye West on their MP3 players.
Xiao-Bao, my friend the host of my recent exchange trip to China is one of these youth. He turns
to me and says “ohhh Aaron ni zenme yang wo de xiong di” which basically means, “what’s up
Bro?” in Chinese.
After a day at the market, we go back to his home. Xiao-Bao kicks up his feet and turned
on the television, as MTV fill the room with latest beats. In between music videos, he hums
the McDonald’s jingles and stares intently at the Chevrolet commercial while we talk. In his
voice, I could hear the conflict. His deep ambition is to move to Hong Kong and pursue the
Western lifestyle he sees on TV. Yet, his roots belong to this little town built by the generations
of subsidence farmers. If he and a whole generation of young people leave, this town, which
have survived over one thousand years, would slowly but surely die... Along with it, their ways
of life, culture, art and music would also become extinct, killed not by “progress” but by the
powerful façade created by American popular culture.
American pop culture is a powerful force. It has the propensity to penetrate any market
and dominate without consideration of consequences to native culture. This tendency has
prompted Harvard Professor James Walton to state, “We don’t use Marine Corps or Delta
Force; we use McDonald to dominate.” Such domination allows American corporations to push
products into Mexico, Sri Lanka, and Uganda, anywhere within the reach of the American
Xiao Bao and his generation, the irresistible nature of American export can overwhelm the local
cultures. May be you are thinking, “Good for the U.S. of A” (Yeah!); but is it good for people
like Xiao Bao, his parents, or this little town? Perhaps the questions that we need to pose today
are: What makes American pop cultures so irresistible? How does the American pop
culture detrimentally affect the youth around the world and the culture they live in?
And finally, what are some necessary solutions to address this problem?
fast cars and gorgeous women! Take the latest stereotypical Hollywood film, for example. Agent
007 goes on a mission, shoots the bad guys, seduces a beautiful woman, blows up the lair, and
drives off in a fast car.
younger generation. To the average teenager in Peru, China or Pakistan, these are pretty much
the most awesome things ever. In fact, the most popular American films in each of the last four
years grossed more box office-earning outside of the United States than they did here. Miley
Cyrus and Justin Bieber are teen idols in…India. Meanwhile, a recent Reuters report shows
that 80% of American TV watchers in China are youth… It follows that the clash of culture is
other societies, the American pop culture is subversive to the local cultures. Last year, French
President Jacques Chirac accused the United States of spreading a “generalized underculture in
the world.” He went as far as saying that “all other countries would be stifled to the benefit of...