In Your Face: Spamerican Exceptionalism

( – promoted by buhdydharma )



A quote for discussion:

Most people can probably remember the moment when they first realised the seductive power and global pervasiveness of American culture.

I had bought a bootleg CD of The Beach Boys’ surfing songs in the remote north-eastern Russian republic of Sakha and had my photograph taken with a goat herder in Djibouti who was wearing a Six Million Dollar Man T-shirt.

It is an extraordinary form of soft power which will endure even if the looming powerhouses of China, India and Brazil come to overshadow America’s global economic dominance.

After all, even when you’re watching a Chinese flat-screen TV and driving an Indian car powered with Brazilian biofuels you almost certainly won’t be wearing Indian-style clothing or humming Chinese pop songs as you go. Or watching Brazilian movies either.

Next time you see television pictures of an anti-American demonstration anywhere on earth look closely at the crowd. Among the flag-burners you’ll almost certainly see someone wearing an LA Lakers shirt or a Yankees baseball cap.

My first exposure to American culture came back in the Doris Days of the early 1960s, growing up in a Britain that was still shaking off the lingering effects of rationing and the costs of post-war reconstruction.

We had Elvis, of course, and Hollywood but the world was a lot less global then. It was still possible, for example, for British recording artists to have hit records by simply recording their own versions of songs that were already hits for American stars on the far side of the Atlantic.

Spam Central

But the flagship of American influence in my own life was Spam, the bright-pink pork luncheon meat that was a staple of the British working-class diet for several decades.

It is not much use as a nation-building tool in America’s modern wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for example (pork, remember) but these are tough times in America and domestic sales are going rather well.

How the US cemented its worldwide influence with Spam

By Kevin Connolly, BBC News, December 26, 2010

3 comments

    • Edger on December 26, 2010 at 8:55 pm
      Author

    People tell me there ain’t no use in tryin…” — Eric Burdon

    Maybe they’re right?

    • RUKind on December 27, 2010 at 5:20 am

    A lot of those Laker shirts and Yankee caps have “World Champion” on them from years when they lost their expected trophies.

    Millions of t-shirts and hats are pre-made in China to cover either outcome. The loser versions are distributed immediately throughtout the third world.

    On the other hand, those Beach Boys albums are songs of a type of freedom that you can only know when you catch a wave. A lot of us did it physically and the rest in spirit. Surfing is a culture that has spread the planet and each of us understands the other. The most beautiful example I’ve seen is the effort by Israeli surfers to help their fellow Palestinian surfers to get better boards.

    We thank the Hawaiians for surfing; they thank us for Spam. 😉 I’m not kidding about that last part.

  1. …. guess again.  The largest settlement of Sikhs outside of India and in the United States is in Northern CA.   Which means that all the chain retailers here sell nice, lightweight colorful summer clothing made in that part of the world,  for the nice, balmy 110ºF summer valley days.  And the jewelry, accessories, etc.  It is not unusual to see people out and about, dressed in saris / tunics and pants in some areas (CA has all styles all the time) but there were more men wearing turbans before 911-  I think a lot of them may have cut their hair because of the horrible stereotyping and strangers can’t tell not all people in turbans = Muslims or terrorists.

    Now the funny thing is, that when is is slightly cooler the women and even sometimes the men wear knit sweaters over the other stuff as a transition garment before you have to go to the raincoat or winter jacket.  This is a British influence and Americans didn’t do that as much, except for those maybe in my age group or older-  the younger kids wear different outer garments, like sweatshirts, hoodies, or denim jackets, fleeces.

    But no spam.  Indian food. Lots of rice, lentils, coconut, vegetarian, everywhere.  I also see somewhat of a popular resurgence of vegetarian style cooking because of thriftiness.

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