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(Don't want to live in a) hub and spoke world - click opera — LiveJournal
February 2010
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 01:16 am
(Don't want to live in a) hub and spoke world


Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 09:17 am (UTC)

"I know how their plots work, and I know the look of sunshine in California. It's time to find out about something different."

Except California sunshine looks nothing like it does in American movies.

In real life, Hollywood pretty much looks like Clapham Junction in the desert.

And that enormous canon of Beach Boys records: just a branch of the Californian tourist industry.

Those discs really were just a base-line American version of "Eat a Rat for Mao" cultural propaganda, as were everything in "American Culture" that's followed, and I mean Everything.

Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 09:26 am (UTC)

I think it's fine for them to be patriotic and blow their own trumpet. But the fact that this flow of stuff crushes other people's patriotism, and makes other trumpets totally inaudible, is, shall we say, highly problematical. And then we get people arguing, as some did up at the start of this thread, that to resist one massively dominant flow of narrow patriotism is, itself, to succumb to narrow patriotism (even when we're actually advocating a point to point model of diversity, not the substitution of one dominant flow for another), well...

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Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 09:29 am (UTC)

Another way of putting that: I totally understand that Brian Wilson wishes they all could be California girls. But if the Magic Fairy waves her magic wand and Brian Wilson really can make every female in the world into a Californian, and does -- problemo, signor!

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Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 11:27 am (UTC)

Isn't America less one culture, more pluralism at work? Language and facial features aside, isn't Martin Scorsese Seijun Suzuki with better dialogue? Hasn't American culture been about perfecting shades of the common ground and isn't it natural that dominant culture is common ground? Another way of looking: does a Californian, with two Japanese parents, wandering a mall and talking like a Valley Girl, do that with any kind of Japaneseness? Is it in the DNA, in your parents and friends, or in some broader notion of Faith-State-Home? Ultimately, within a few generations, it proves to be the latter, no? It melds. If you approve of change or nomadism at all, a common culture in the social sphere is inevitable (even if it splits from 'home culture') Some culture will describe 'home' attitudes, but the bulk will describe 'everywhere between'. But really, when culture becomes a deliberate postcard from Here to There, it tends to be written with paranoia (either soft and friendly or hard and unfriendly), and There learning very little about Here. We could always stop filming and just visit instead.

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Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 12:02 pm (UTC)

I think there's a tendency for Americans to think this way about America -- it's the "I don't have an accent, but everyone else does" syndrome. We don't have a culture in America, just "freedom" etc etc.

Now, it's true that when I lived in the US I tried to live in a mukokuseki (or stateless, or international) way. And in New York or California that's almost possible. In fact, I wrote one blog entry called "New York is almost a city in Asia". But that "almost" is a huge reservation. Actually, America is a very specific culture with a very specific habitus and flavour. It has attracted immigrants from everywhere, but they've been a particular sort of exile, and they've been heavily socialized upon arrival. In no way is America the whole world in microcosm, and in no way can this be advanced as a justification for a one-way cultural imperialism.

A better justification might be the little moments when it looked as if Japanese firms like Sony could take over Hollywood. But that financial input didn't lead to a spate of films with "Japanese values", did it?

I tend to talk about a "third culture" emerging in Japan, which is the product of miscegynating couples (foreigner/Japan combinations) and cultural collaboration between Japanese and Westerners. But it's crucial for both parties to listen and learn from each other. If we ask whether America is listening to, and learning from, say, its emigrant Poles, I think the answer has to be "Well, once it did. But then the Poles stopped arriving in such big numbers, and the American ones became Polish-American, and then just American."

(And by the way I have reservations about the "emerging third culture" idea even when it's couples like my own relationship. Just as emigrants to America were a particular subgroup of the indigenous population, I think the kind of people who self-select for a foreign partner are a particular subset of their own culture. Quirky, atypical Westerners are meeting and mating with quirk, atypical Japanese, in most cases! So it's important to keep listening to the majorities of, say, Scots or Japanese who don't do this when talking about Scottishness or Japaneseness.)

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Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 11:03 pm (UTC)

The US has a flavour and an accent but it tends to absorb the world's selling points as soon as they emerge, leaving other places looking at their roots, and wondering why being 'true to their style' is so joyless. Surely it is just a flipside of the imperialist coin to expect 'Japanese values' to be 'arthouse', or accuse anything commercial of 'bowing to US values'. You're putting the world in a lose-lose position.

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Tue, Mar. 27th, 2007 03:28 am (UTC)

<< can make every female in the world into a Californian, and does -- problemo, signor! >>

I've been a California girl for twenty years now, and everyone tells me I'm much more a New Yorker. I think if you spent any time in California, specifically, even, Oakland, you'd see a level of diversity I'd challenge anyone to match anywhere else, globally

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