Today, with the advancement of technology, the world has become increasingly interconnected. With this increase in connection and communication, countries’ borders are also increasingly blurry as cultures cross borders and new people adopt new ways of life and new manners of thinking. Generally, the world powers have crossed cultural boundaries all over the world; and among these world powers, the United States has had a tremendous international influence. The United States’ cultural imperialism is apparent through the media, but Americans have grown increasingly ethnocentric despite the increased cultural diversity in the U.S.
First of all, cultural imperialism occurs when one ‘dominant’ culture infuses itself into another culture, sometimes this destroys the native culture. Over the years, the media have facilitated America’s cultural spread. It’s as if the whole world knows the United States, and most people have a sense, even if misguided, of what it’s like to be an American. The United State’s cultural dominance is apparent predominantly through fashion, music, and movies. For instance, some people strive to wear merchandise from American designers such as Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren’s Polo, and Dona Karan’s DK. Stores like American Apparel have locations all the way in Japan, South Korea, France, Germany, and Brazil.
In addition to style, American Pop music reaches every corner of the world. In places like Nigeria and Ghana, not only are people listening to American artists, but they also have their local star who are basically African versions of American celebrities. For instance, Ghana’s Itz Tiffany made a name for herself as Ghana’s own version of Nicki Minaj.
*Itz Tiffany is a young female rapper*
Not only that, but the United States also has the largest film industry in the world, so American movies play in over 100 countries every day. These movies are often remade with local flavor, but the more people watch American films, the more they try to emulate the norms they observe.
With that said, many Americans have a growing sense of ethnocentrism due to cultural imperialism. Ethnocentrism is the tendency to view other people’s culture’s from one’s own cultural perspectives. This basically means, that the person judges other cultures based on the norms of his or her own society. The problem with that is that many Americans don’t try to understand other cultures before labeling their norms as strange, bizarre, or even barbaric. The idea is that Americans have grown used to being emulated, to the point that there is sense of cultural superiority rather than respect and intrigue for others. This leads to a general misunderstanding of others and stereotypes that place a whole people into one square. Now, don’t get me wrong, Americans are not the only ones who display ethnocentrism. The ethnocentric attitude is present in every society, and people have to educate themselves in order to understand others with cultural differences.
*Accepting cultural difference*
One of the main issues with cultural imperialism is whether individuals from the dominant culture actually accept other people’s cultures or do they become culturally exclusive. The book pointed out that only 2% of the movies that come out in American theaters these days are foreign. This means that people are less likely to watch foreign films. What does this say about Americans? Are people actually rejecting other cultures in favor of theirs or is it just a preference because they understand these norms better. In the 1920′s and 30′s, people were more likely to watch foreign films. As the U.S’s cultural imperialism expanded, people simply became less interested in foreign media.
In conclusion, cultural imperialism has had many effects on American culture and the world. As American influence expands, it seems like more Americans are losing interest in other cultures. In a way, even though cultural imperialism is creating a connection among all the nations, it is also creating a disconnect among different people. Despite the cultural diversity in the U.S there are many people who don’t strive to understand other who are culturally dissimilar. Hopefully, this generation, which is considerably more open minded than previous one will be more inclined to travel and learn about the different ways people live today.