Cultural Reflection

Written 5/15/15

All the kids here wear logos like “Barbie” and “Angry Birds” that are totally American. None of it is even translated and it all is identical to what I see at home. At first I found it comforting, but the more I think about it, the more I find it distubring that my culture is so invasice that it reaches even a small city in Peru. I never considered “Angry Birds” to be of such importance.

In some ways this is like Americans tattooing Chinese characters on themselves when they don’t speak mandarin. But here is seems much more prevalent than all other foreign languages invading American culture combined.

Today I also saw a shirt on a boy on the street that had two thumbs up pointing at his face and under that it said “Dope Sh!t” I really doubt he knew English.

Everything here seems to idolize Americans and, more generally, white people. The manakins, the ads, even the bride and groom figures on top of a wedding cake all feature white people. Every culture has a defined idea of beauty, but I didn’t expect the idea of American beauty to travel with me to Peru.

 

Comments

  1. alexanderwilliams says:

    Very interesting – I noticed this same odd phenomenon when I visited France years ago. There was this weird interest in American culture. For example, the French teenagers I connected with on Facebook would almost always have a picture of some American celebrity as a cover photo or even profile picture. It seemed like they were going for a “cool” factor with things like this and it did not make much sense to me. I was impressed to see how influential our culture really is.

  2. Aaron Bayles says:

    As you travel, you’ll find that American culture is far more pervasive than you might initially think. While I studied abroad in Europe, I was shocked by the number of people, in nearly every country I visited, who were wearing American clothes, with English slogans and sayings. In my opinion, American culture is the most dominant in the world, and I don’t think that’s a good thing. Sure, it means that Americans are generally more comfortable traveling abroad, and it unconsciously comforts us to see familiar things. However, it’s unfortunate to see native culture smothered by American mannerisms and words. It results in a lack of cultural depth and variety, and this overall homogenization is just sad.
    In Spain I was always frustrated to see movie titles or text on shirts that no one had bothered to translate to Spanish. I didn’t go abroad to be surrounded by this “Americanism”! But it’s almost unavoidable in the more developed parts of the world, and even in the less less developed areas. It’s just something that we need to deal with I suppose, though I wish there was some way to stop it.

  3. Thanks for sharing. You got me thinking a lot about what we mean when we talk about cultural appropriation / invasion. I’m only guessing, but just like that kid didn’t know what “Dope Sh!t” meant, I’m not sure the kids with the Angry Birds jacket have ever played the game. Does it count as cultural invasion if people are choosing to wear these things just because they’re associated with the States and they have no idea what the thing actually is? In my mind, in order for a cultural invasion to be successful, you’d have to actually get those kids playing Angry Birds and saying “Dope Sh!t” to one another, not just wearing the jacket as a status video.