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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Culture Exportation.

Culture exportation.

One US export that goes unmentioned is that of its culture. Its impact in promoting other exports is huge.

Halloween parties for example in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Amman are more common now where they were non existent until.... Hollywood (mainly) among other factors.

Hollywood film and Hollywood television as well as the music industry spread the (US) American culture and while doing so promote American products. How us that?
Man see, man do.. Humans, not just monkeys tend to imitate others in what they say, what they eat, what they wear and even how they behave in different scenarios. We imitate what we see and we see people, on both the small and the big screen, smoking and we smoke because that character was smoking and seemed to enjoy inhaling the smoke. It must be "cool" and looks like a pleasurable activity. So, at a given chance we take up smoking, cough a little the first few times and then feel proud that the cough is conquered. Philip Morris just gained another customer or in the case of tobacco, an addict.. a victim!

And then we take up drinking... Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola, 7Up and others. Eating is no different either. Look at all the (US) American fast and not so fast food franchises littering the landscape, worldwide.

A whole slew of US products has entered and became part of a lifestyle that is foreign to people outside the US. From sugary cereals for breakfast to current "pop culture" and gangster lingo and expressions, from "wassup" to "WTF" are not indigenous to the cities and countries mentioned earlier or for that matter any country other than the US. Add to that even a certain mannerism and attitudes acquired from what is seen in Hollywood films and made for TV series and music videos.

So, what gives? Hollywood has become, without directly telling us what to do, what to eat and how to behave, a model people follow pretty much wherever Hollywood is allowed to play.
In his recent spat with V. Putin, B. Obama teased Putin about the number of Russian food franchises in the US. Probably and almost certainly none. That is also true for most other countries. One does not see foreign franchises in the US. On the other hand US food and clothing franchises are all over the world. Need I say McDonalds, KFC... People in the ravaged and blockaded Gaza (Palestine) were reported to have been smuggling KFC chicken buckets to Gaza from Egypt through tunnels. Need I say more. Oh, yes. In a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon some kids were drinking Pepsi Cola. This was in a small video games room where American products, games were used. Guess what these games indirectly promote.. a culture to inspire and imitate. This is what people do, they imitate what they perceive as good and marketers are good at presenting products in a good light. Movies and TV programs have even a better efficient, intended or not, in promoting culture (naturally), products and industries because they do it at a subconscious level. The culture part is natural because American life is played out. Even Americans take their certain behavioral queues from film and TV.
Some aspects of this cultural adaptation are positive, others are negative and in conflict with established ancient cultures; be it in Europe, Asia, Africa or Australia. The only places that remain unaffected are those that have not been touched by TV.

It's a cultural assimilation facilitated by a common language: English, American English unless you are down under, in India or the UK.

Bollywood, worth noting, does not have that cultural exportation effect because their films are in Hindi.

Happy Halloween y'all.