The serious business of selling all-American fun
February 15, 2002 7:05 PM   Subscribe

The serious business of selling all-American fun "There could hardly be a better summation of the opportunity that American pop culture companies like Disney are enjoying overseas. With the end of the Cold War, the opening of China, and the worldwide triumph of American-style capitalism, the brand-name purveyors of American food, fashion, and entertainment have never had it so good."
posted by owillis (10 comments total)
I found the cover of this issue hilarious...
posted by owillis at 7:08 PM on February 15, 2002

someone should submit this to boing boing :)
posted by kliuless at 8:29 PM on February 15, 2002

? Is that where you found it? I have the issue and just found it online. I always give attribution for my links.
posted by owillis at 9:44 PM on February 15, 2002

Nice article.

I have been a serious consumer of US cultural products both while in India and here. But in retrospect, If I had not come to USA, I would probably never have gotten the perspective that made me a lot more discerning and objective. I still watch a lot of Hollywood movies. But I also have an increased level of respect and appreciation for a lot of Indianness. Distance, I guess, gives you a better perspective.

At a deeper level, one of the biggest vehicles for americanization of Asia has been Television. The quality of production available through StarTV et al has been far superior and it has broadcast either US programming or a Westernized lifestyle influencing a generation of youth. Keep in mind, TV is the primary mode for entertainment in many families today. There is a whole generation of kids who grew up on MTV and who have now started working for a living.

There are two other factors that fed into it. The way English language and an Anglicized lifestyle is used as a social differentiator by the elite in many Asian countries (fuled partly by a colonial hang up). It has had two effects. It has spawned a grass roots rightist movement that often found an ally in religious leaders that looked inward for an alternative to a Western lifestyle. It also encouraged an upwardly mobile middle class to embrace all things Western (Its actually a love-hate relationship).

I also have a theory that the daily grind for everyday survival is so difficult in many parts, that many people need to find something to aspire to, something to believe in. Religion of course is the first recourse. 'America' becomes another icon for the 'educated' middle class.

Overall, I dont think its such a bad thing that society per se is getting more Americanized. In a West-centric world, it makes Asian countries better equipped to compete in the corporate world. Bread on the table is more important. It is also helping wash out many residual social structural barriers between class, creed, religion, caste etc.

On the other hand, I feel sad that many good things are getting washed out too. Not just stuff like folk music and ethnic art. Everyday habits that anchor life....subservient role of career to family and cultural persuits in many parts. It is also creating a HUGE cultural disparity between the Americanised middle classes and the poor who are getting increasingly fragmented along different groups. I look towards countries like Argentina and Brazil in South America and worry that many Asian countries will end up with that level of disparity ...
posted by justlooking at 9:56 PM on February 15, 2002

The funny thing is, the original title is so alarmist but when you read the story it basically says Disney can't exactly march in to the new territory but has to at least adapt some to local customs.
posted by owillis at 10:33 PM on February 15, 2002

Is that where you found it?

no, it's just if you read boing boing fairly regularly you get the feeling they really like disneyland, a lot! like i think cory doctorow just wrote a book about it or something, so i just figured someone might want to send them the link. that's all :)

btw, i remember these jon katz articles on slashdot about disneyland were pretty good. it's like where he secretly meets with an imagineer.

  • The Imagineer Who Came In From The Cold

  • Report from Orlando: The Lost City of Epcot

  • posted by kliuless at 11:08 PM on February 15, 2002

    Owillis: Didnt want my comments to give the impression that I find the article alarmist or that I find Disney in Asia something alarming. I am totally cool with Disney's entertainment!

    The article just made me introspect at a deeper level about how Western culture is becoming mainstream culture and indigenous/ethnic culture is becoming alt-culture among certain sections of society in Asia.
    posted by justlooking at 11:23 PM on February 15, 2002

    Yeah, Cory seems to be a huge theme-park fan. His novel is called "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" and takes place in a future Disneyland.
    posted by kindall at 1:02 AM on February 16, 2002

    It's a small thing, but since when was Who Wants to Be a Millionnaire American?
    posted by Summer at 10:18 AM on February 17, 2002

    "Millionaire has opened many doors for British TV producers. With this show now signed up to over 100 countries, there's no doubt that the world will be watching the television emanating from this fair land more closely in future."

    However, Americans will, as usual, believe we invented the wheel!
    posted by Carol Anne at 3:00 PM on February 17, 2002

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