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Old 03-14-2010, 05:54 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by tore View Post
Brilliant post, Boo.

Neapolitan, you seem to know what this thread is about. I live in Norway which seems to be losing some of it's cultural uniqueness. Some of what we have is getting replaced by what you have. Almost nothing of what we have is getting replaced with what you have. Did you ever eat a norwegian meal? Heard any norwegian music that wasn't commercial pop? This is an influence from the media, we're influenced by what is shown to us - regardless of how much culture you really do have, this is something which is happening.

The question I posted whether you think an american italian or pakistani are more culturally diverse in america than if they lived in Italy and Pakistan respectively. Would they have more or less in common? Some of the arguments here make it seem like if you take an italian and put him in America, the US now contains pure italian culture. Even though almost all americans were originally immigrants, I don't think all have perfectly preserved their cultural identity from the country they hail from. With each generation, it waters out. I know my own family in the US haven't perfectly retained their cultural identity. They enjoy and are proud of their norwegian heritage, but they're very much americans.

I think being american, it's harder for you to understand what I'm actually writing about. I'm in Norway saying we're becoming more like you guys (people from the anglosphere in a general sense). You're in America saying what .. that we don't?
Wuh?
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Old 03-14-2010, 06:23 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I guess I'm confused and just wondered out lout what Neapolitan is trying to debate.

I didn't mean the thread to be about whether or not this is happening, because it is - at least from our point of view across the pond. My country's culture is changing and the majority of our new cultural input comes from the anglosphere, for example hip hop and fast food chains. The reason I addressed people from other countries in my first post was not really to exclude you anglospherilians, but rather to get some input on how things are changing elsewhere - if this goes on in other nations and if so, how.
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:45 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I forgot to mention it before, but freedom of expression is also important. Notice that about a 35% of world population lives under any kind of dictatorial regime. And that's one of the reasons for the lack of alternatives. If a country or a cultural community wants to offer succesful alternatives in nowadays' global media culture, needs to develop both its economy and democracy. A strong and dynamic middle class (which is the base for a solid cultural industry) that enjoys freedom of expression is the best guarantee to success.

Cuba is a small country, but has a huge cultural potential (specially musical and literary), unfortunately castrated (never better said) by a dictatorship. Cuban musicians and writers, with their particular Caribbean styles and views, have very interesting things to show us, not only for the rest of Spanish-speaking countries, but for the whole world. Pop and rock music too. Imagine what could make these young Cubans in a free country, and, in addition, with more means.

The same can be said, for example, of Iranian film directors. Some of them have had international success recently. Imagine what good films could they make in a free country. In addition, with the support of a strong film industry, the results could be magnificent. But the theocratic regime they suffer, blocks both freedom and the rise of a new middle class. Quoting TheBig3KilledMyRainDog's signature, which in turn quotes Ayatollah Khomeini:
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"Music is a like a drug. Whoever acquires the habit can no longer devote himself to important activities... We must eliminate it."
After reading that words, a young punk-rock Spanish band happily influenced by Sex Pistols, and also happily using the freedom of expression achieved only four years before, dedicated a song to Khomeini in 1982: Ayatollah, don't touch my balls. I hope someday an Iranian band could do the same.



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Old 03-15-2010, 01:15 AM   #24 (permalink)
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I guess I'm confused and just wondered out lout what Neapolitan is trying to debate.

I didn't mean the thread to be about whether or not this is happening, because it is - at least from our point of view across the pond. My country's culture is changing and the majority of our new cultural input comes from the anglosphere, for example hip hop and fast food chains. The reason I addressed people from other countries in my first post was not really to exclude you anglospherilians, but rather to get some input on how things are changing elsewhere - if this goes on in other nations and if so, how.
I could care less about either, and see America more then fast food and hip hop. All the issues you brought up, the mass media, hip hop and fast food chains, that change in culture is happening in America too, basically before it happened to Norway it happen to US first. Maybe there are tons of Americans who eat fast foods everyday, and maybe that's considered American culture by non-Americans, but that doesn't mean every American does it. I'm guessing what you see coming from America you take at face value, but there is another side too. Not every American is into hip hop culture and not every American is into fast food. I don't see it so much as cultural imperialism from average Americans but from big corporations, it's more about Globalization and flat world economics.
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Old 03-15-2010, 03:00 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Neapolitan .. You are completely missing the point of this thread. Noone's saying you're all hip-hop diggin' junkmongers. Noone's trying to offend you. But like it or not, those are cultural exports from you guys. Those are some of the aspects of your nation that are influencing Norway and likely other countries.
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Old 03-15-2010, 06:10 AM   #26 (permalink)
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I didn't do economics/history/geography in high school so I'm not going to pretend to know a lot about this, but I see it this way. To explain my points, I'll use 2 simplified hypothetical worlds.

World 1 (segregated):
Imagine a hypothetical world with 10 countries. Each country has a different culture which is, for the most part, distinct from the other cultures as a result of low immigration/globalisation.

World 2 (globalised, World 1 at some later time):
Imagine if immigration/globalisation occurred in World 1 to the extent that all 10 countries have a universally global culture which is based on the original 10 cultures in proportions according to the media output and population of the countries' cultures.

I would argue that World 1 is more culturally diverse than World 2. Of course this depends on how you define diversity, but it's a case of 10 distinct cultures vs one eclectic superculture based on 10 original cultures which no longer exist. One could argue that the superculture is diverse due to its eclectic nature, but the fact of the matter is that you end up with one culture and wherever you travel around the world, the culture would be the same. Sure you could dissect the superculture and say "This part of the superculture was derived from this culture in this country, and this other part from there" but that becomes more difficult over time as the superculture evolves and its components are melded together, origins forgotten. The superculture essentially is a watered-down amalgamation of its components.


People are misinterpreting this thread - no-one is saying that America lacks diversity. The American culture is, like any other culture, a product of its existing culture plus immigrant culture plus the incoming culture presented by media... and since America is racially diverse, its culture reflects that. At the same time, remember that the exposure of many other countries to America is based on the media which presents an abstracted view revolving around a few key characteristics (some positive, some negative). What that means is that regardless of how diverse America actually is, the rest of the world perceive a simplified and somewhat skewed version of American culture.

The point is that World 2 will never be as 'diverse' as World 1. Therefore, even if America was a microcosm of World 2 such that its culture was composed perfectly equally of its cultural inputs, there will still generally be more 'cultural distance/difference' between an Italian in Italy and a Pakistani in Pakistan than an Italian American and a Pakistani American. However, this statement requires clarification. If by "Italian American" I was referring to an Italian who lives in America, this statement holds. If by "Italian American" I was referring to someone who lives in Italy but because Italy might be subscribed to America's media and therefore would have assimilated American culture into their own, has a mixture of Italian/American values, this statement still holds. Both people in both cases share American values and therefore have a smaller cultural distance between them.


Ultimately, if a number of small countries transmit little culture but receive a lot of American culture, they assimilate elements of that culture and become less distinct from each other... they lose their identity. As an example, think of how many Indians there are who no longer identify with their culture and instead have assimilated Western values. India isn't a (culturally) small country, and so it works both ways and they transmit culture (e.g. the British have adopted Indian cuisine). The smaller countries aren't so lucky as assimilation of another culture without propagation of their own means that their culture is eroded away.

So the balance between World 1 and 2 is dictated by many factors including segregation and globalisation. While segregation is considered to be bad, I suppose it arguably does a better job of preserving cultural identity (cf globalisation). It would be nice to find a middle ground which could reap the benefits of globalisation but at the same time, preserve cultural identity. But I must emphasize that there are many other factors which play a part in loss of or decline in cultural identity - globalisation is only one of them. Another big one is the rise of ideological culture (as opposed to traditional culture defined by national boundaries/history/language/people/media/food)... I think that many people today consider ideological culture to be more relevant than traditional culture.


NZ used to be far more British but nowadays is basically sitting on the receiving end of America's news/media antenna. As an example, a portion of Maori youth have picked up on elements of American culture such as hip-hop, gang culture, clothing etc. But I wouldn't say this has been responsible for any real loss in Maori culture... the biggest decline occurred up until the 1970s/1980s for other reasons (before Maori language revival groups were formed).
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Old 03-15-2010, 06:18 AM   #27 (permalink)
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^Seltzer, thanks for a brilliant post. You illustrate with ease some arguments I've tried to make less efficiently across several posts now and add some really good points on top of that.
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Old 03-15-2010, 08:32 AM   #28 (permalink)
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People are misinterpreting this thread - no-one is saying that America lacks diversity. At the same time, remember that the exposure of many other countries to America is based on the media which presents an abstracted view revolving around a few key characteristics (some positive, some negative). What that means is that regardless of how diverse America actually is, the rest of the world see an 'American culture'. This American culture is, like any other culture, a product of its existing culture plus immigrant culture plus the incoming culture presented by media... and since America is racially diverse, its culture reflects that.
Then I would ask, given that our culture is serperate from the culture thats brought here, what American Culture is?
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Old 03-15-2010, 09:14 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Then I would ask, given that our culture is serperate from the culture thats brought here, what American Culture is?
I just realised I made a mistake in that paragraph when I was moving text around... that "American culture is, like" sentence should be describing the actual culture, not the perceived culture. I've edited it so it should make more sense now.
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Old 03-15-2010, 09:16 AM   #30 (permalink)
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I just realised I made a mistake in that paragraph when I was moving text around... that "American culture is, like" sentence should be describing the actual culture, not the perceived culture. I've edited it so it should make more sense now.
You're going to make me read the whole thing again? =P
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