Buffalo Bill in Bologna: The Americanization of the World, 1869-1922

Article excerpt

Buffalo Bill in Bologna: The Americanization of the World, 1869-1922 Robert W. Rydell and Rob Kroes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.

This compact volume on the impact of certain aspects of American culture by two scholars who have devoted academic careers to their study outlines very critically and thoroughly how what they call mass culture has impacted Europe.

They try to exclude popular culture, which they define in the words of historian Susan Davis: "popular culture does not mean the industrially produced, standardized cultural forms produced for cheap sale to 'mass' audiences." "Mass culture," as the authors use it, "means the mobilization of cultural and ideological resources on a scale unimaginable m a premdustrial society lacking mass transportation and communication facilities." Here, some of us think the authors are cutting too close to the bone. Popular culture could never exist without mass communication and mass transportation. In fact the authors are quick to utilize such aspects of popular culture as movies, radio, TV and other aspects of culture distributed by the mass media to the public at large. The authors are interested in what has come to be called the hegemonic force (read political) that the thrust of some aspects of American popular culture has exerted on other cultures. As the editors posit:

It is clear that by the end of the First World War, the United States boasted a network of culture industries that produced increasingly standardized entertainment forms for consumption within accelerating mass markets at home and abroad. …