America The Most Powerful Nation Media Essay
|✅ Paper Type: Free Essay||✅ Subject: Media|
|✅ Wordcount: 2967 words||✅ Published: 1st Jan 2015|
America is arguably, the most powerful nation on Earth, having one of the largest military forces and in addition to this, American culture saturates the market, almost drowning out cultural exports from other countries, both developed and developing, this cultural overshadowing of the rest of the globe allows America to, in effect be the power house of the entire World. There is not a major urban metropolis on the planet without a McDonalds or a Starbucks. This Globalisation has also helped to cement America’s position as the most powerful nation on Earth. Many authors have attempted to identify precisely why and how America achieved this fantastical global domination, including Ziauddin Sardar who lists The Ten Laws of American Mythology in his text, American Dream/Global Nightmare.
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Rather than examine every one of Sardar’s laws of American Mythology, I have instead decided to merely look at five examples and see if they support Sardar claims that every citizen in the world is a citizen of America. Sardar’s first law of American Mythology is that; ‘Fear is Essential’ (Sardar, 2004, pp.21) and living in this modern age of terror, it is hard not to see that law applied across the Globe. Terrorists, so we are told, can strike anywhere, at anytime and can be absolutely anyone. This atmosphere of fear and distrust, very similar to that which was created under McCarthy in America in the Nineteen Fifties, or even ironically under Stalin in Communist Russia. Sardar states that; ‘To live in America is to be beset by fear, anxiety and insecurity, to be surrounded by potential harm, enemies and evil intent.’ (Sardar, 2004, pp.21) This fear of terrorism and general atmosphere of fear is supported by the news media, who spend the entirety of their time either reporting on stupid nonsense, of absolutely zero interest or significance on anyone’s life, which is also an American influence, worship of the cult of celebrity, or alternatively forming a state of fear, creating folk devils and moral panics, much as they did with ‘hoodies’ in the early years of the Twenty-First Century, or punks before that in the Nineteen Seventies.
Sardar’s second law of Americana also supports the theory that everyone is a citizen of America; ‘Escape is the reason for being’ (Sardar, 2004, pp.21) Sardar states that America was created for people; ‘â€¦in search of room to breathe, in search of a place to recreate themselves and shape a new lifestyle free from constraints.’ (Sardar, 2004, pp.21) This especially applies in the modern world where escapism seems to be virtually everyone’s ultimate goal, people can even have entire virtual lives on the internet, generally playing American made games. Even if someone decides to experience some escapism at a lower level, maybe some light reading or watching a film, chances are they are American made as well, and will almost undoubtedly portray an American bias, either in the spellings, or the pronunciations or possibly even just the cultural standards that everyone needs to reference in order to fully appreciate and enjoy a work of art.
‘War is a necessity’ (Sardar, 2004, pp.25) America is probably the most pro war nation on the planet, having, in the last twenty years, sent troops into: Iraq , Somalia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, The Philippines, Iraq again and most recently Libya. As Sardar states; ‘Even before 9/11, [America] had waged war on over half the nations of the globe. [America’s] economy is a war economy. It’s science and technology is deeply entrenched in the military machine.’ (Sardar, 2004, pp.25) Arguably most of the wars in America’s recent history, haven’t even been waged for ideological reasons, or for any necessary reason, but instead for money, and to further advance or merely enable the atmosphere of terror that Sardar identified in his first law.
Sardar’s seventh and eighth laws, namely that; ‘Cinema is the engine of empire’ and that; ‘Celebrity is the common currency of empire’ (Sardar, 2004, pp.24) both support his theory; ‘The [â€¦] notion that America is the idea of nation, was formalised and made manifest in cinema. And this standardised, industrialised, manufactured product became America’s greatest export, the idea of Self it represented to the world, and through which it demonised, appropriated and brought other cultures within its own purview.’ (Sardar, 2004, pp.24) The dominance of America in the world of Cinema is staggering, as well as owning one of the worlds greatest movie-making and movie exporting locations, Hollywood. In the very early days of cinema almost all films were American made, and this legacy has not gone away, the film world is incredibly America-centric, and so of course the country itself profits greatly from this exportation of film. In addition to being the location of the movie capital of the world, American films are translated and shipped all over the world. As well as this, many big American films are simply remade by large foreign studios, such as Bollywood. However, this trend has begun to reverse in recent years, with the apparent lack of original thinking in Hollywood leading to an exceptional number of remakes of foreign films.
It is impossible to speak about American films, without mentioning celebrities, the passengers for whom these vehicles are crafted. American celebrities, and celebrities in general all over the world, perform little basic function in the real world but are universally praised regardless of their talent or charisma, and there is no shortage of opportunities to applaud them, such as the Oscars, as Sardar states; ‘They are collective ritual where obeisance is made to the engine of empire. The ritual performance of the Oscar ceremony is a demonstration of global power and domination that will provide headlines, column inches and immense economic rewards around the globe for the year to come.’ (Sardar, 2004, pp.24-25)
There is little doubt that America has a massive effect on the rest of the world and on citizens of all nationalities, but especially upon Great Britain. America has dragged Britain into many ill-ventured Wars in the last two decades, including; Iraq, Afghanistan, and most recently Libya. How many of these military ventures would Great Britain have been involved in if not for America and the “special relationship” that exists between the two countries. There are many possible reasons for this to have occurred, not least of which, in my opinion, is due to fear on the part of British politicians and leaders, fear of America and the power that America can wield, after all fear is essential according to Sardar.
However the War on Terror was not something that purely affected America, while the destruction of the World Trade Centre was undoubtedly a tragedy and spurred America into taking action against virtually the entire of the Middle East and a large portion on the rest of the world, there were also other terrorist attacks on major European capital cities, there was the bombing of the London Underground and the number 30 Bus on the Seventh of July 2005, and the bombing of the Cercanias in Madrid on the Eleventh of March 2004, but it was definitely America that led the charge against the perceived threat of terrorism. However America did nothing when there were terrorist attacks that did not affect or threaten them, such as the campaign by the Real Irish Republican Army; including the Banbridge bombing on the First of August 1998, and the Omagh bombing of the Fifteenth of the same month, even continuing their hands-off attitude towards world security when the Real IRA began their campaign against London in the year 2000. But maybe this carelessness on the part of America was for the best as their response to terrorism has been heavy handed at best, ‘”War on Terror” has already become deeply embedded in laws, policies, and the practices of government agencies,’ But nearly eight years since the 9/11 attacks, US charities are still treated as a threat to security. Although, the change in administration in Washington gave hope that the US government would adopt more measured responses to the threat of terrorism, (Howell, 2009. Pp53)
Another way in which America is slowly but surely wearing away any sense of individuality in any other country is Globalisation and the impact that America has on the rest of the world economically. The recent economic crisis that has plagued the entirety of the world, has its roots in America, on Wall Street, and the greed of American bankers sending the world economy into a meltdown. Much like the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed it, the economy of the entire world looks to Wall Street for it’s cues, economically, and when that collapses the entire world follows suit, not just in the United Kingdom, across the entirety of Europe national economies have collapsed completely and require bailing out. This is in contrast to the way in which America affected so many countries before the breakdown, with it’s material security; “â€¦the availability and expansion of material security and comfort enabled early American social patterns and culture to expand and solidify, to both delineate and spread an American national character. With growth, more people could participate in that distinctive culture more fully and could become “more American” (Fischer, 2010)
This greed of America has other less deep effects, rather than the drastic nature of an economic meltdown, the desire for greater profits means that many American companies subcontract work abroad, where they have to pay workers less money for doing the same work; ‘Most American computer firms now subcontract basic work to Bangalore,’ (Wes, 1996, pp.49) The ultimate result of this is that foreign workers have a loyalty to America for providing them work and allowing them to feed their families, and as they have to speak the language and think about America for the majority of their day. Inevitably American culture and sensibilities work their way into the daily life of these foreign workers.
America’s globalisation is not only confined to high street outlets, as was mentioned in my introduction, but in actual fact goes much deeper than that. The majority of household brands consumed in England are American in origin, such as Mars, and every subsidy of that which comprises most of the chocolate eaten in the country and Coke and Pepsi which together produce the majority of all soft drinks. Even brands which ostensibly appear to be British are in fact American, such as the fact that ASDA is actually owned by Wal-Mart.
‘Globalization as an economic phenomenon has been the dominant force for economic integration and the main driver of growth worldwide for many decades, although the speed of globalization- taken to include trade, finance, flows of information and technology, and offshoring- is unprecedented in modern economic history. The increased economic interconnections between countries are widely credited as one of the driving forces that significantly reduced poverty in China and Vietnam, enabled the poorer nations of Europe to ride the European Union train to higher incomes, and gave hope to some African countries.’ (Spence, M. 2010. Pp 4)
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However, as Spence states, Globalisation is not merely a one way system with America pushing it’s culture onto the rest of the world, there are many other cultures with a huge influence over the worldwide ethos, such as Japan and the huge influence Manga and Anime have over the fields of western animation and comic books, or the influence of J-Pop and J-Rock on music or the fashion sensibilities of Japan’s youth subcultures.
It certainly appears that America has a far greater influence on other cultures than any other country, but I believe that this is simply because America is, comparatively, a newer country, having only existed independently for two-hundred and thirty-five years, and rather than gradually coming into being like most other countries, America came into being with a bang with the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th 1776. Therefore, rather than gradually affecting neighbouring countries through occupation or the spread of changing languages, the use of foreign words in the English language is not seen as dominance of other cultures, American culture has had a much more sudden influence on the rest of the world.
In regards to language, American words; sidewalk instead of pavement and American spellings of English words; color instead of colour for example have for the most part completely failed to influence the English language in any way. However there are many words in the English language which are actually foreign words in origin, for example French, abandon, abattoir and abbreviation, and German words such as, zeitgeist. However this may be due to historical concerns, the American language is essentially a slight variation on the English language which would explain why there has been little influence, and the fact that approximately thirty percent of the words in a standard English dictionary have a French origin is due to the Norman conquest in the 11th Century.
Another reason for the dominance of American culture is the fact that, as a nation, America has entered the Empire building stage of their development during a time in which Empire building is strongly discouraged by the international community, all other countries that have had extensive Empires; Rome, Great Britain and Mongolia, greatly spread their culture around the Globe through sheer force and domination of the natives. Whereas America has to be more subtle in the ways in which American culture is spread, it is no longer acceptable to conquer a country and force the local populace to speak your language and follow your customs, so America has to make itself seem like the ideal, Sardar in fact refers to this with the title of his essay; American Dream/ Global Nightmare “The American Dream” in many ways, is the ultimate goal of every person on the globe, regardless of nationality or creed, to be allowed to support yourself and live how you want to live, but by naming it “The American Dream” gives the impression that to be American is in itself the ultimate goal, this dream can only be achieved in America, ‘The Land of the Free’ supposedly.
However I do not believe that this submission to American cultural dominance is a necessity as Sardar claims it is, while it would undoubtedly be difficult to remove all American influences from your life, it would not be impossible. American culture is not as essential to life as oxygen or food or water, but the influence it has, both directly; such as the import of American brands and culture, like books and films, and also indirectly; such as the influences that American culture has had on books and films created in other countries, for example, as was mentioned earlier in this essay, the news media now reports either stupid nonsense of terrifying stories of horrific violence. This has come from an American influence, the cult of the celebrity is definitely American in origin, and possibly serves to fill the void left by the lack of a monarchy.
In conclusion I believe that while America undoubtedly has a massive influence on the rest of the world and that the difference between American and non-American citizens is rapidly decreasing, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is becoming an American citizen, it merely means that everyone is a citizen of the World. The increasing availability and dominance of technology means that communication across the world is now incredibly simple and the dominance of the internet means that practically anyone can interact with anyone else on the globe without actually having to meet them.
In addition to this, Nietzsche’s Death of God, and the increasing redundancy of National Identity means that there is very little loyalty to either country or religion, only loyalty to ones self and ones family, this in itself is America’s greatest influence over the rest of the world. This combination of atheism and almost a self loathing of your country of origin, is what is causing many people to seem like American citizens, even when they are not.
America’s worldwide domination is undoubtedly on the decline, the rising powers of India and China are threatening America’s hold over the culture of the world, in addition to this, America’s military imperialism is causing many people, both in America and throughout the World, to question the way in which the country is run, the torture committed at Guantanamo Bay and the suspension of civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism is causing America to be painted as the real villain of the World building on the image sketched out by the war in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. The blind, heartfelt patriotism of American’s who willingly went to die on foreign soil in the Second World War for ‘Uncle Sam and Mom’s Apple Pie’ is well and truly dead, modern American’s are much more likely to question their country and their place in the world as is exemplified by the work of modern artists; such as film directors and rappers.
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