American Popular Culture and Emerging Nationalism in New Zealand
Lealand, Geoff, National Forum
In an increasingly homogenous world, little seems to remain unique to a country except climate, topography, and remnants of museum culture. The television programs and films we watch, the things we buy, the food we eat, and the beverages we drink, even the sports we enjoy, are commonplace and universal. Wherever we step off a plane, there is always McDonald's, Pepsi, and Roseanne. The lingua franca of the late twentieth century is American; our public and private narratives are American; and our obsessions are American. Or so it seems.
Many celebrate the expansion of things American across the globe; MTV, Macintosh, and McDonald's are the full realization of the triumph of advanced capitalism satisfying international demand. Popular culture, after all, must be popular; if you are not popular, you are irrelevant. But in many countries, the heady presence of American popular culture is also a matter of concern, a source of agitation and agonizing for cultural policy makers and the intelligentsia. The talk is still of cultural imperialism, disappearance of the "local" or the "authentic" under a tide of "imported culture." Solutions lie in strategies of protectionism (quotas or exclusion zones), most recently manifested in the French response to the GATT Agreement.
Globalization, Americanization, and Envy
In this scenario, "globalization" (the convergence of cultures and the spread of monopolistic multinationals) is synonymous with "Americanization" (the domination of consumption and demand by American cultural products). But this scenario assumes universal adoption and universal domination, ignoring the fact that ownership and distribution are now often without a clear geography; a product may signify "American," but it could be made in Korea, distributed from Taiwan, with profits returning to Germany.
The Nation-against-the-Other stance of contemporary anti-cultural imperialists raises a large question: in whose name are national and local cultures being defended against globalization or Americanization? National cultures are neither uniform nor necessarily coherent; they are structured and segmented along class, generational, and gender lines. Levels of …
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Publication information: Article title: American Popular Culture and Emerging Nationalism in New Zealand. Contributors: Lealand, Geoff - Author. Magazine title: National Forum. Volume: 74. Issue: 4 Publication date: Fall 1994. Page number: 34+. © 1999 Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. COPYRIGHT 1994 Gale Group.
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