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How real is cultural imperalism?
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How real is cultural imperalism?:

Pretending to be human
For the purposes of this thread, let's define 'cultural imperialism' to mean that the most commonly exported media in the world come from the US, UK and Japan, and that through the values they spread in their media they end up undermining local cultures across the world and also make people disinterested in watching or looking at local works.

Now, personally, as a Chinese-Malaysian, my opinion on claims of cultural imperialism? It's total nonsense.

Personally, at least, I consciously seek out Western and occasionally Japanese media, without being forced to, because I simply find their works to be, on average, better than local media, or at least more interesting.

And I'm not just talking about Malaysian media either, but media from the Chinese-speaking world at large (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore). Let's break it down:

- In terms of TV shows, for example, many of them, even the well-made ones, seem to only appeal to people over the age of 50 or so. Usually cliche cop shows, dumb soap operas, samey historical dramas set in either the Warring States period, Qing dynasty, ROC period or the Cultural Revolution, or samey wuxia shows with terrible special effects and writing. (One of the worst lines of dialog I've ever heard is from the latter, some random Taiwanese show that I came across, was "the hearts of good people are red, and the hearts of bad people are black". Not joking!)

- In terms of music about 90% of the stuff are shallow love songs if my radio is to be believed (although fortunately there are exceptions from various talented artists).

- In terms of movies Hong Kong and China's movie industries, while still fairly enjoyable to me, are direly lacking in imagination - a lot of the output nowadays are recycled undercover cop films that rip off Infernal Affairs or the same old Wuxia stories over and over.

- In terms of video games, the only ones that China makes are a bunch of unoriginal MM Os. The other regions have no real game industries whatsoever.

Also, did I mention that throughout all of this, there is literally not a single Science Fiction story to be found? Any worth mentioning, at least.

Now I'm not saying there's no good or redeeming Chinese works, as there are many, usually movies, that I still enjoy, but with all the shortcomings and limitations that I've perceived from media coming from my own native culture, is it really that surprising that I gravitate towards Western and Japanese media and offer far more appealing stuff? And a wider range of genres and styles too?

And when it comes to the topic of media exports, many Chinese media creators generally have no interest in selling outside Asia anyway, with the exception of certain higher-grade movies like the aforementioned Infernal Affairs. I'm bringing this up because I've heard complaints about how media exports between the Sinosphere and the rest of the world are a one-way street, apparently because it's a conspiracy by the West or something.

I apologize for any aggressiveness in my post. But I recently got into a discussion in which I heard that Western/Japanese media are made to control our minds and submit to their cultures, or something like that, and I really did not like the implication that I'm some sort of cultural traitor.

edited 25th Feb '14 11:55:35 AM by Exploder

My Sonic fanfic series.
Pay attention, maybe you learn something
I would agree. It is not imperialism if it is done voluntarily. It's cultural appropriation.

that through the values they spread in their media they end up undermining local cultures across the world and also make people disinterested in watching or looking at local works.
If it is what the people want I don't see why it should be considered a bad thing. Should we force people to only consume stuff from their own culture? Now that would be closer to cultural imperialism (from a culture against it's own people).

I dunno. "Imperialism" isn't negated if people willingly conform. And even then, there's a fine line between "willing" and "forced to". For example, many African-Americans would consider themselves "willingly" Christian these days, but this doesn't change the fact that their ancestors were forced to convert, or were denied access to their previous beliefs.

Or, for a less hostile example, you have the Japanese, who appropriated Western culture en masse largely of their own initiative, but did so because they found themselves beset upon by far more advanced foreigners that had the power to invade them and wipe them out at any time. They absorbed Western culture, sure, but largely out of fear of being conquered.

Or for another example, immigrants are often forced to abandon as much of their original culture as possible in order to be accepted as "real" citizens of their new country.

edited 2nd Mar '14 9:36:02 AM by KingZeal

 4 tricksterson, Sun, 2nd Mar '14 9:46:42 AM from Behind you with an icepick Relationship Status: I made a point to burn all of the photographs
Never Trust
There is such a thing as cultural imperialism but what Exploder is describing above isn't it. Forced conversion, yes that counts but it also happened centuries ago and can't be undone. Likewisee forcible suppression of language and culture or stealing native children away from their parents to raise them in a "civilized manner". As for immigrants, a minority is always going to find itself in a position of having to conform to some degree but as long as force isn't used it's a matter of acculturation, not imperialism and usually takes place over generations.

Immigrants have their own influences as well on the greater culture. Pizza anyone? Maybe some huevos rancheros? We could listen to some reggae while we eat maybe? Catch a Scorcese movie later? Or a couple episodes of Ugly Betty on DVD?

edited 2nd Mar '14 9:49:34 AM by tricksterson

If it's an authority figure and it's breathing it's guilty
 5 Aw Sam Weston, Sun, 2nd Mar '14 9:58:12 AM from Minnesota Nice Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
In regard to the way you described Chinese-language media, it doesn't sound that different from today's Hollywood fare.

  • Movies are less about creativity and more about "safe investments." Which is why, I think, we're seeing so many remakes and reboots of old franchises.
  • A lot of the shows airing on cable are Reality Shows.
  • Top-40 music, at least in the US, tends toward the "party all night long" attitude, with a few love songs thrown in.
  • Lots of new MMORPG releases still fall under the High Fantasy genre.

Now to get to your main question, I'd say cultural imperialism is a thing. Even here in 'Murrica, there are some conservative groups who believe that everything from outside America is bad, and that every other country loves America. Which, of course, isn't true in the slightest.

 6 Radical Taoist, Sun, 2nd Mar '14 1:45:54 PM from the #GUniverse
 7 Qeise, Sun, 2nd Mar '14 2:04:09 PM from sqrt(-inf)/0 Relationship Status: Waiting for you *wink*
Professional Smartass
The fact that English is so widespread I'd say is the result of cultural imperialism, mainly back in the day when the British empire was a thing. But I consume more English fiction purely because there's more than 70 times as many native English speakers as there are Finnish speakers -> more fiction created in English -> more good fiction created in English.

A lot of the shows airing on cable are Reality Shows.
The only Reality Show I watch is Master Chef Australia. See, all English stuff doesn't come from the US and UK smile.

edited 2nd Mar '14 2:08:13 PM by Qeise

Laws are made to be broken. You're next, thermodynamics.
 8 Aw Sam Weston, Sun, 2nd Mar '14 2:16:24 PM from Minnesota Nice Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
The only Reality Show I watch is Master Chef Australia. See, all English stuff doesn't come from the US and UK smile.

Fair enough. I was just thinking about the stuff on American cable that comes from America. I didn't take imports into account.

Also: See? Cultural Imperialism at work, right under our noses!

edited 2nd Mar '14 2:16:53 PM by AwSamWeston

Pay attention, maybe you learn something
"Imperialism" isn't negated if people willingly conform. And even then, there's a fine line between "willing" and "forced to". For example, many African-Americans would consider themselves "willingly" Christian these days, but this doesn't change the fact that their ancestors were forced to convert, or were denied access to their previous beliefs.
But in this example the imperialism was forced too. It's just todays African-Americans who do it willingly but they are different people. I don't see that with exported media. No one is forced to consume anything. The only case where I could see imperialism is in advertising. Ads prop up everywhere uninvited.

And who gets to control what imported media gets officially translated, distributed, and marketed?

 11 Zendervai, Sun, 2nd Mar '14 3:01:20 PM from North Toronto Relationship Status: Waiting for Prince Charming
Eccentric Dreamer
Ads don't tend to be exported though.

[up] Most of the time? People from the country it's being exported to.

edited 2nd Mar '14 3:01:50 PM by Zendervai

Everyone is a little bit insane. It makes the world so much more interesting!
 12 De Marquis, Sun, 2nd Mar '14 3:04:44 PM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
It's a tricky question: Marketing helps determine demand and demand helps determine marketing.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
Most of the time? People from the country it's being exported to.

Which people? The consumers of the media, or the producers?

My point is that the consumers of certain forms of media do not always have a choice in what kinds of media is available to them. Especially media from other countries that they never would have heard of otherwise.

 14 drunkscriblerian, Mon, 3rd Mar '14 9:54:08 PM from Castle Geekhaven Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
My point is that the consumers of certain forms of media do not always have a choice in what kinds of media is available to them.

I can't believe I'm doing this but I'm going to agree with Zeal on this point. He's right; our choices are defined by what is available. If we can't see it, it might as well not exist.

In terms of media, I'm old enough to remember when you had to go to skeevy clubs and take the risk of getting mugged if you wanted to hear indie music...not everybody wanted to take that risk, so a lot of good indie music never got heard by enough people to enter into the wider public consciousness. My CD collection is full of one-off bands I wish had gone places.

If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed.

~Cora M. Strayer~
 15 Deviant Braeburn, Mon, 3rd Mar '14 10:06:01 PM from Dysfunctional California
Wandering Jew
Honestly, i've never really been able to really care about the effects of cultural imperialism. Mainly because every suggestion I've ever heard on how to deal with the problem has come off as ineffective, implausible, or draconian.

edited 3rd Mar '14 10:19:28 PM by DeviantBraeburn

Everything is Possible.

But some things are more Probable than others.
JEBAGEDDON 2016

 16 drunkscriblerian, Mon, 3rd Mar '14 10:11:18 PM from Castle Geekhaven Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
@Braeburn: there's no easy way to "deal" with it. The only real solution is to give space for competing voices...even ones you personally don't like or understand. Sound hard?

That's probably why cultural imperialism is still a thing. :D
If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed.

~Cora M. Strayer~
 17 tricksterson, Tue, 4th Mar '14 2:53:15 PM from Behind you with an icepick Relationship Status: I made a point to burn all of the photographs
Never Trust
[up][up]That's because you've been brainwashed by the space-lizards!
If it's an authority figure and it's breathing it's guilty
 18 joesolo, Tue, 4th Mar '14 3:16:27 PM Relationship Status: watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
Indiana Solo
[up][up] In most of the world that's already how it is. The issue is people more than society. People tend to go all follow the leader in trends.
I am going to shove the sunshine so far up where the sun don't shine that you will vomit nothing but warm summer days -Belkar
Groupthink is a real problem, and shouldn't be underestimated.

Even smart, rational, and progressive-thinking people tend to do dumb, irregular, or oppressive things when everyone else says it's in style.

 20 Greenmantle, Tue, 4th Mar '14 3:42:56 PM from Albion Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
@ Zeal: Or when it isn't — even the most perfect person in the world will do stupid things, regardless of political views and intelligence.
Well yeah, but groupthink is a particularly strong reason for it.

Pretending to be human
Alright, I guess I was being a bit hot-headed when I typed the OP. Now that I'm calmer and have read what others have said I've thought about it a bit more.

I don't deny that there is an imbalance in the world when it comes to direction of media exports, but I do object to is that this is somehow the result of a Western conspiracy to deny other 'lesser' cultures and countries to make their own media and art, and export them, like what former President of China Hu Jintao once claimed.

The onus is on average people in the rest of the world to be inspired to go into the arts and do great stuff, but in the case of China and many other Asian countries (other than Japan and South Korea), I feel that artists and potential artists are generally hampered by a) pervasive censorship by governments and b) intense focus on developing the country, which means attracting younger people towards the fields of engineering or IT and away from the arts, which are usually seen as a luxury only people in developed countries can indulge in, even in my country. At least that's my interpretation.

edited 5th Mar '14 8:43:24 AM by Exploder

My Sonic fanfic series.
 23 Krieger 22, Thu, 6th Mar '14 2:16:07 AM from Malaysia Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
[up]Nothing about the education systems in said countries? I thought they got blamed all the time for the lack of creativity in Asian countries.

Cultural imperialism in a "we must annihilate their culture or we will die" or "ours is superior to yours" doesn't exist anymore, except in North Korea. The Internet and its access to technology has indeed given us the power to freely choose which part of whose cultures we like, although that certainly has earned me a lot of nagging from my parents for not being "social enough" due to having different tastes in music and games compared to most of my peers.

 24 New Geek Philosopher, Thu, 6th Mar '14 3:02:12 AM from Sydney, Australia
Wizard Basement
Sometimes I think my more intelligent thoughts in the American accents of TGWTG contributors. MENTAL COLONISATION IS REAL!
Hell Hasn't Earned My Tears
 25 Radical Taoist, Thu, 6th Mar '14 2:47:06 PM from the #GUniverse
Total posts: 42
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