Section 10: Popular Culture & Local Standards

Section 10: Popular Culture & Local Standards

“Globalization and the “Soft Power” of Culture … “American Cultural Imperialism” and the Film Industry … The Global Marketing of Human Sexuality … The Global Triumph of the Electric Guitar … Making Connections”
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  • 10. Popular Culture & Local Standards > Globalization and the
  • 10. Popular Culture & Local Standards >
  • 10. Popular Culture & Local Standards > The Global Marketing of Human Sexuality > Lecture
  • 10. Popular Culture & Local Standards > The Global Triumph of the Electric Guitar > Lecture
  • 10. Popular Culture & Local Standards > Making Connections > Interview Video

10. Popular Culture & Local Standards > Globalization and the “Soft Power” of Culture > Lecture

  • How could automated production destabilize the global market? If you have a situation where machines are doing a lot of the production that large numbers of workers have done, then those workers are going to be thrown out of work.
  • The question is whether they are going to be unemployed for the foreseeable future or whether they can be retrained to fill other jobs, possibly higher level jobs, better paid jobs, that are going to replace the ones that have been displaced by technological inventions that allow for very few people to supervise the production of lots and lots of product by machines.
  • Why did the leaders of Britain, France, and Germany all announce the failure of multiculturalism in 2010? The leaders of Germany, France, and Britain announced the failure of multiculturalism in 2010.
  • How does the perceived failure of multiculturalism affect global labor markets? 50 years ago, Germany invited many foreign workers from the Mediterranean area to come to Germany to help build the so-called economic miracle of the 1960s.
  • They assumed that these people were going to work and then go back where they came from.
  • 1970s, they decide to turn off the tap, and they are not going to be taking any more immigrant workers.
  • So the sense that the integration process is going well or that it is going badly is going to affect the views of politicians and policymakers regarding whether or not to allow additional foreign labor to come into your society.
  • You can give it to a machine that has the software to handle it, or you could give it to lower-paid people on the other side of the world who have the skill set and maybe a quarter or a fifth of the salary for doing the same kind of work the junior lawyers would be doing in the United States.
  • So legal and practical protections for vulnerable, often low-paid workers, is a social justice issue that is tightly bound to the whole question of the global labor markets.

10. Popular Culture & Local Standards > “American Cultural Imperialism” and the Film Industry > Lecture

  • What sort of American content does an American-made film bring to a foreign country in which it is shown? How can we define American content in the first place? Do different-media carrying American content do equally well? And is it perhaps necessary for the producers of films made in the United States to shape their products to appeal to the global cinema market? Concerns about American cultural dominance assume that an American cultural product contains a recognizable American quality that suppresses or displaces the cultural products of other national cultures.
  • If American content is as potent as it is often assumed to be, then it ought to be equally potent when conveyed in similar media.
  • American television programs are much less influential than American films around the world.
  • An American film headed to the global market could be defined in several ways.
  • It might refer to any film that is produced in the United States or to any film that is made by an American director or to any film that features so-called American values, such as individualism, entrepreneurialism, optimism, heroism, or the violence and aggression that are an American media staple.
  • Neither production in the US nor an American director guarantees an American message.
  • Hollywood, built largely by Eastern European Jewish immigrants, has never been an ethnically American culture factory.
  • Americans do not have a monopoly on American values, such as individualism or heroism.
  • We might also ask how American are styles and behaviors that originated in the United States and then go on to flourish around the world.
  • Current trends in global cinema show that the American film hegemony that is one driver of cultural imperialism is in decline in a globalizing world.
  • At the same time, some concessions to local tastes are just superficial adjustments of American formulas for making movies or television shows.
  • This strategy of targeting local audiences is compatible with and accompanied by a search for universality that has become a financial necessity for American producers.
  • Many American films could not be made without sales to the global market.
  • This process changes American filmmaking by promoting projects that are expected to be internationally popular and by eliminating proposed films that are thought to be of little or no interest to non-American audiences.
  • These include simplified dialogue, visceral emotions, special effects, and what one commentator has called the glitz and gloss, the sex, speed, and violence of American popular culture.
  • The American sociologist Todd Gitlin has elaborated on the nature of global appeal.
  • If Americans are so good at producing cultural material that appeals to a global sensibility, then how different can the cultural sensibilities of Americans and their global audience actually be? And does a convergence of sensibilities really impose a monoculture on all of us? The economist Tyler Cowen has pointed out that multiplicity can be part of what we think of as a single culture.
  • ” Is cultural imperialism at work if non-Americans choose to watch American films, not because they’ve been brainwashed, but because they freely choose this kind of entertainment? Or is free choice in an age of Americanization simply an illusion? The two highest grossing films in history are James Cameron’s Titanic and Avatar.
  • In other words, the most commercially successful film of all time is an American film promoting an anti-American message that has demonstrated unparalleled global appeal at the box office.

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