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Opinion: US Global Media Control -
Cultural Hegemony and World Domination

This article was written in 1998 and has not been edited or revised since then. In light of events in recent years, I think it makes an interesting read. It's easy to assume that the world has changed completely, and yet so much is still the same...

The good ole' U.S. of A and her attempts at world cultural domination. Everyone seems to be accusing them of it - the French most notably out of the Europeans, but also a lot of other people, especially the Middle Eastern Islamic Nations and such like.

Actually, most people's objection to the U.S.A. is not simply a cultural one. Their belief in their unchallengeable authority, in their role as the world's 'Gendarme', the world's arbitrator, raises more eyebrows, because not only are they often blatantly partisan and politically motivated (c.f. Israel, Northern Ireland),but they are also, history seems to tell us, not terribly good at it. But that's a whole separate argument...

It does, however, represent Britain's only real objection to the way the US carries on. We don't tend to object to cultural imports - film, TV, literature, unless they're not very good (which, unfortunately, tends to be most of the time...)

The radio, playing in the background as I write this, unfortunately reminds me that Britain has plenty of her own 'cultural' products of highly dubious quality (Billie, The Spice Girls...). At least we haven't exported Billie yet.
So far as I know.
Please tell me if we have - my condolences...
We have forced 'Cardiac Arrest' on the poor, unsuspecting, Australians. Again, sorry.

At least we've never created anything quite so appalling as 'Baywatch'. Well, maybe 'Eldorado'. But to our credit, at least we didn't export it.

David Hasselhoff's ego trip is probably seen in most countries as the epitome of US cultural contamination. And quite frankly, I can see why. It also seems fairly obvious that certain 'conservative' Islamic nations would find it objectionable. Interestingly, it is the single most shown TV series in the world, playing more often in more countries than any other show. All of which raises a number of other interesting questions...

And then films. France subsidises her film industry, which leads mainly to large numbers of impenetrable Arthouse films being made by Eastern European Emigre directors. These films are distinguished by their noticeable lack of impact anywhere beyond Cannes. . . But then the French brand of old European Socialism will subsidise anything as long as it shows no sign of EVER, even POSSIBLY, being slightly successful.

Many claim the US has an 'Agenda' behind it's export programme. Some Americans believe the UN has an 'Agenda' against them, all of which makes me want to write it off as paranoia. The only agenda I can think of comes in green ink on cotton-fibre paper.

But for argument's sake:
America would want to export its culture (such as it is...) in order to make the rest of the world more like them. They call this 'Globalisation'.
The rest of us just wish we had their gift for euphemism.

Their aim would be to make the rest of the world more US-friendly. For their businessmen and their financial security. For their shell-suited tourists who disembark daily across the globe expecting everyone to speak English, and to be able to find Eat-All-U-Like restaurants on the Champs Elysees.

I could get mildly paranoid here and also suggest that the sub-text is really to scrub out any residual stain of national and cultural individuality which may, conceivably, at some point in the future, pose a threat to the US. And besides, the success of the US clearly shows that no cultural or social model could possibly be any more successful or in any way preferable, so the bottom line is, they're doing us poor, backward folks a favour.
Incidentally, if you are an American, that last statement was IRONIC.
Look it up...

Britain is often quoted as being 'Ten Years Behind The US', usually in terms of violent crime statistics and such like. The implication somehow is that the level of development of a society can be measured by how many kids take to shooting their school friends. . .

The British tend to be less demonstrative about our objections to US behaviour than our fellow nations. This could at lest in part be down to our carricatural reticence when it comes to complaining. Anyone who has ever lived here, however, will tell you that's rubbish. We spend most of our lives winging.

We probably don't want to be too critical because we feel just a little guilty about the whole thing. Besides which, they speak our language, so we can't complain about it being bastardised beyond recognition. Although arguably - But back to my point. They are, after all, whether they like it or not, an outgrowth of our Empire, a development of a cultural heritage with roots in our own. I wonder if we would be so understanding if the French had had their way in North America. The French, of course, would forgive. But then, they'd have no need to. The US would still be a DOM or a TOM, and the Ministry of Culture would be talking about cultural cross-fertilisation rather than the malicious and intentional destruction of their Great Nation's Culture.

Probably the greatest motivation (except $s, see above) and the greatest irritation to others, of America's 'Cultural Contribution' is that it attempts to share her narrow, blinkered, insular, superior, world-view. To convince the world that xenophobia is OK as long as the perpetrator is attacking some real flaw in the other culture - racism, oppression of women. Which of course puts them in something of a bind because they have no apparent compunction about trading with any of these countries (e.g. Burma). It is, after all, just part of their 'Individual Cultural Identity'.


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