Americanization – For or Against?

The practice of promoting and injecting the culture or language onto another nation is also known as Cultural Imperialism. For centuries, countries had been imposing their cultural norms and values to others. Amid today’s society of political power and globalisation, the United States is held most responsible for cultural imperialism, through intruding and spreading their culture to other countries of the world, or rather a term coined as “Americanization”. It describes the influence of the United States on the popular culture, technology and language, which they have on other countries.

The first most significant symbol of the U.S influence would the Fast Food culture, where most people would call Macdonald’s, the founding father of fast food. Such other examples of fast food chains to emerge out of America would be KFC, Burger King and Pizza Hut. It is not uncommon to find out that many of these fast food outlets exist in numerous parts of the world today.

Technology has been also rapidly evolving in the United States, and it is no surprise to know that some of these Social Media sites have taken the internet worldwide by storm. Having said that, the media is also another important factor of culture imperialism that the U.S has stamped on other countries. With popular networking sites like Twitter and Facebook emerging over the recent years, social media users across the globe have also start adopting such social media sites to stay connected to the world.

Language is another consideration when speaking about cultural imperialism, and the most widely used language in the world now is English. The importance of learning English is not just for political or economic issues but not logically, it is the need for a universal language. English has become the language of business, education, internet and even in the entertainment industry. Take Japan for example, the English language has impacted them in such a way that certain Japanese words or phrases has been infused with the English language such that “Cuto” means cute, and “Gesto” means guest.

There are also other considerations in how the influence of the U.S have on the rest of the world. Through the media, they continue to spread their cultures and universal values across the globe. To some countries, they view the spread of the american culture as beneficial to them.

However, in spite of all these, there are also countries that sees the American cultural imperialism as a threat to their own culture. We should not forget that it is the culture that makes a country so diversely attracting and unique from each other and each have the right to express themselves. Some the spread of American culture as a message of the United States dominance in the world. Language is a factor that is often debated in culture imperialism. While some see the need for English to be learned worldwide, others view it as a threat to their own local language. In some countries, social media sites such as Facebook and even youtube are banned. With regards to the media as well, India has its own film industry in “Bollywood” where they are not affected by the cultural identity of the U.S hollywood.

I guess that is no correct answer to whether cultural imperialism should be supported. It is a question with no definitive conclusion. I will also find it difficult to take a stand if I have to. Let’s just put it that I always believe a country’s uniqueness is based on its culture and therefore, their extinction of culture might be at threat from cultural imperialism.

So what do you people think of the spread of the U.S culture or just cultural imperialism in general. Are you for or against it. Or maybe apart from the English language, should americans learn a second language as well? Discuss!

Darren.


Mass or “Mess” Media

Media is a dominating factor in our daily lives, and the primary method in mass communication. It is where information is disseminated to us and usually where we opt to get our information from before seeking other means such as asking friends or families. For people with a passion in a particular field of interest such as football, a pop group or a favourite celebrity. The media is usually where they will find updated information about them as one of the main functions of the media is to transmit entertainment.

There are various mediums of the media where people can choose to get their information from such as the Internet, Television, Radio or even mobile phones, where today’s modern technology and gadgetry are advancing. Social media is also another way for people to get information and stay connected to the world. With the emergence of online application

Facebook over the past few years, anyone can get connected to thousands of people online and furthermore via their network of friends. You find blurbs of people’s information and knowledge, now isn’t that great?

We live in a society where we depend very much on information to communicate and keep moving in the right direction of our lives. This is why we put so much trust on the media as an authority to provide us with our dosage of news, entertainment and educational information.

It is true to say that the present lives of people are controlled by the media itself. It has the power of educating, influencing and controlling people. Yet, very glaringly, we also do realised that some of the content that the media portrays such as violence, gore, stereotypes and racism are also watched by children at a young age which could in turn affect their growth and way they think as they are growing up. Children might get immense pleasure in emulating their favorite villain or superhero and adopt an aggressive nature, and follow them blindly without distinguishing what is right and wrong.

If you do think ponder, media does has the power to affect how you look, the way you judge others, the selection of words that you use and most importantly, you don’t even realize when you’re affected and influenced by it.

So do you think the media has shaped you as a person you are now? Have you ever seen a particular television character on a television series and wanted to be like him or her?  What about watching your favourite pop group and then harboring the same ambition. Or do you think sometimes the media broadcast information where people interprets them wrongly.

Food for thought this week. How do you think the media as influence you or shaped you as a person you are now? Shoot away people 🙂

Darren

 


“Mean Street” Culture

On my first trip to England, was also the first time I almost witnessed death while discovering a subculture that still continue to exist.

It was the first leg of the league cup semi-final tie between Birmingham City and Aston Villa. Being a devoted supporter of Manchester United football club, it was always a dream to be able to watch them play live at least once at some point of my life. Although it wasn’t at this particular moment, watching a premier league match for the first time among a mob of passionate locals, in a different atmosphere and foreign land was still an inexplicable sense of ardor that spurred within me. It was only after the match that I discovered the ugly side of football. It was the stench of violence and ferocity that still lingers in the streets even in the globalised and modern country, which is London. There was a breakout of hostilities where a brawl occurred between two gangs outside the stadium in which bats and knives were involved. I’ve come to learn this people as being brand as the term, “Football Hooligans”.

Much of my knowledge of violence and riots came from school or the media, but witnessing a real life situation has given me a taste and experience for the behaviors in these existing societies. I see the emotions and actions of people in a community being expressed in a different nature, and also an image that will stick in my mind for the rest of my life. It was discovering another culture within the English culture, or rather a subculture.

One would define culture by describing it as the shared beliefs, values and attitude which shape our influences of perception and form behavior. It is a particular way of life, based on beliefs. Cultures exist everywhere, even in an already existing culture such as the above mentioned “Football Hooligans”. These “Football Hooligans” even have their own anthems, customs and tradition. They are what I would call a “Collectivist” Culture, where their beliefs are shared with ingroup rather than to distinguish oneself from the ingroup. In this particular context, the main beliefs of a football hooligan will be to stand by his team together with people from his firm against the others.

Below is a few clips of football hooliganism that were portrayed in movies.

Football Factory

Green Street Hooligans

Amid a globalized city like London and their idiosyncratic cultural norms of the English people, it was still astonishing to discover another culture within the English culture that was really startling.

Food for thought this week : Have you ever witness something disturbing or rude-awakening in a different culture?

Darren.

 


Groups

If you’re expecting a post about a happy group of people, then navigate away. Yes my entry is about the subject “groups”, but it has nothing of the jovial, quirky and amusing atmosphere you witness in groups like Television series “Friends‘ or “That 70s Show“.

London – The final breakup of the Britpop band Oasis loomed large Saturday after Noel Gallagher announced he was quitting amid differences with his younger brother Liam. Noel Gallagher’s statement on the Oasis website late Friday meant the band’s second concert cancellation in the space of a week, with the group supposed to have performed Friday evening in Paris.

“It’s with some sadness and great relief to tell you that I quit Oasis tonight,” the 42-year-old lead guitarist and band founder said in a statement on Oasis’ website.

Earlier in August, Liam had told how badly his relationship with his older brother Noel had gotten, revealing that the two no longer speak with each other, travel separately while on tour and only see each other when they are on stage.

The bad vibes between the siblings continued a series of falling- outs between them, dating back to 1995 when Liam refused to go on tour in America with the band. In 2000, Noel walked out on the group’s world tour reported unhappy about Liam’s behaviour.

Those who want to read the full report can do so here.
http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/news/283324,oasis-breakup-looms-as-noel-gallagher-quits.html

Oasis has been one of my well-liked English bands since primary school, and its inside me that is filled with great regret and gloom to see a band of this calibre split up and ceased producing music that is well-loved by many across the globe. So what’s the basis for the breakup of the band? Well, simply put it, individual differences.

Groups come together to achieve common goals. Whether it is a task/academic oriented goal or in this aspect, social goals in the form of producing music as a band. Most importantly in groups, it is where the individual in the group can seek to influence each other and bring out the best of each qualities.

The formation of Oasis took place during 1991-1994. They were deemed as the new Beatles as they stormed into the britpop scene and eventually ironing their status as one of the greatest band in the UK. But of course, amid the years of them delivering their live performances and recording studio albums, there were situations when conflict arose but the band were able to resolve it and reflect it at a later part of their career. The bad vibes between two of the members somehow continued and it was only until recently when they called it quits as both found it impossible to work with each other again.

You can see the developmental stages of a group in the above paragraph. They are  forming ( band comes together ), storming ( compared to Beatles ), norming ( resolving their differences earlier ), performing ( live performances and studio albums )and adjourning ( reflecting on their disagreements ). It is also through these developments that you will see the different phases of the group such as the orientation and conflict phase and not mentioning the emergency phase.

I guess this is perhaps just due to the interpersonal communication between the particular two members of the groups. There were also several non-verbal cues observed if you have been following this band, such as the guitarist Noel Gallagher storming out halfway during a concert. There are also other factors to consider for a breakup or split of a group, different mindsets and goals, or perhaps the different maintenance roles in the group. Examples are that the group leader not open to listening to new suggestions or nobody having an equal say anymore.

If not, I’m sure many of you have your own clique or group that you hang around with. They are usually your closest friends and your partner in crimes. So tell a little about your group, and how you usually behave or the maintenance role you have. Are you the quiet one, the giggly one or maybe the silly one 🙂 Or perhaps, an occasion when discontentment arose and the steps taken to solve it. Shoot away.

Darren.



A matter of interpersonal issues

I caught this film last week with a couple of good friends. This chinese romance comedy is a remake of the year 2000 American film, What Women Want ( Exact Title ). The plot revolves around a male chauvinist, who is able to hear the thoughts of women after a freak accident. Other than two of the biggest names ( Andy Lau and Gong Li ) in the chinese entertainment industry starring in this, the movie itself was quite a laugh, and the interpersonal communication and relationship between the two main characters were also portrayed out as the plot progress and developed.

The relationship between these two character started from cold and hostile , to forming a good working relationship as colleagues and eventually to lovers. This is also what many would perceived as “From enemies to Lovers” , which is quite common in most relationships and not only in movies. In the midst of all these, there are also certain non-verbal cues to suggest that the two characters were forming an attraction to one another.

Interpersonal communication is the transmission of a message from one person to another. What makes it different from other forms of communication is that Interpersonal communication can also be defined as “Two person, face to face interaction“. Even any form of non-verbal cues will proved critical as response will be immediately made known to each party. Interpersonal communication helps one develop as a character, as a person as it is used in many stages of our lives. We gained, teach, and pass down knowledge through interpersonal communication.

Qualitative Approach would be one of the factors in contributing to the relationship of two people but what I feel that leaves a greater impact would be Physical Appearance. It might not be the most important aspect over a long run in the relationship but it is a very major factor at the start of every relationship. In the movie “What Women Want“, there were scenes that portrayed the physical attraction that the main characters have towards each other. Such examples are describing the good looks of the other party to his/her friends and getting aroused in the presence of one another. Physical Appearance was one of the factors that helped in the development of the relationship between this two characters keeping in mind that they were on bad terms at the start. How the relationship progressed next was due to the Competency level. Both characters were holding the creative art directors position in the company so it was natural that outshining one another was a definite idea in both perspectives.

As the movie progressed along the way, theories such as Self Disclosure and Exchange proved vital in the two characters forming a close bond with one another. Eventually, what would take place is the concept of Reciprocity and Liking where it involves both parties return the exact sentiments and feelings they have towards each other, which also serves as a form of validation for both. Now, who wouldn’t be happy if someone were to return the feelings you have for back back to you, in a pleasant manner of course. Eventually, how the film would end is the two main characters ending up with one another.

In today’s environment, it is important to note that Interpersonal communication does not solely exist between two person or a small group of people. It is happens everywhere from personal contact, to marketing, to management and public relations. Interpersonal communication helps us to understand one another better and interact more effectively.

So food for thought and discussion today, how would you expressed your feelings, or in any form of communication show it to someone you have an interest in? 🙂

Darren.


Action Speaks Louder

While verbal and written skills are fundamental and important principles, Non-Verbal signals and gestures also makes up a large portion in communication as well. Non-Verbal Communication can be delivered and expressed in several ways and is one important factor to become an effective communicator. Such examples are eye contact, body movements and postures. These actions are able to broadcast and convey information out that cannot be put into words, and sometimes hold a more apparent and effective meaing than what we actually said. Like the quote “Action Speaks Louder Than Words“.

Below is a short movie by WongFu Productions, an American-Asian film making group. There are a few scenes in the clips where Non-Verbal communication cues are portrayed.

The short film is about a couple spending a carefree day in Hong Kong while they recollect memories in the city with the knowledge that one of them is leaving.

The first thing you will observe is the music. Music is also a form of non-verbal communication. It could decide how we interpret the situation. It depicts the mood of the story and how the setting and tone of the plot moves on. In the clip, the music progresses from a quirky, cheerful and lighthearted tune to a relaxed and slow moving piano tune which would most probably illustrate the slow pace of life.

The first Non-Verbal cue in the clip would be from 43-47 seconds in the form of a facial expression shown by the female character. Expressions on the face are able to showcase a range of emotions where words do not have to come into context. The expression shown is a stare with a sarcastic and mocking feel to it. The male lead immediately recognizes the Non-Verbal cue without her saying a word but through eye contact. Hand signals are also part of Non-Verbal communication where it sometimes help in the sentence we want to emphasized. There is a slight example in 2.04-2.10 seconds.

Another example of a Non-Verbal cue represented is from 3.24-3.26 seconds. This is through the body posture of the female lead where she looks away from the male lead after he mentions something to her. This could be characterized by a shy or embarrassed emotion.

Apart from this, Non-Verbal communication also exist out of our own culture. Every country has their own body language/non-verbal sign that is respective to their own culture. For example, exchange of kisses between friends as greetings in France are common, while other cultures might find it too intimate or offensive. Another example would be that, it is sincere to maintain eye contact when speaking to someone in Turkey while it would be deemed as offensive and aggressive in places like Japan or China.

In spite of these differences, some gestures are consistent throughout the world and across cultures. That is why it explains Non-verbal communication is important if you do not speak the language or how to put it in words. Even in politics and speeches, hand signals and non-verbal cues are widely used as it helps the speaker emphasized and reiterate on his suggested point.

So before I conclude this post, here’s some food for thought. Have there ever been any occasions where you were misunderstood or interpreted wrongly through your body language or gestures? Do share 🙂

The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said” – Peter F.Drucker

Darren.


The Catcher In The Rye

The title of this post will be familiar to most, and read by majority. The content it brings and portrays out is loved by many, but also hated by equally.

It was only a couple of days back when I picked this book off the shelf and re-read it for the second time.

The Catcher In The Rye is a novel written by J.D Salinger where it depicts the life of the protagonist, Holden Caulfield and his perspective on the outside world. His character has since become an icon and symbol for angst and rebellious teenagers throughout the world, and it’s solely based on his perception of what he feels is reality and it is where many of these teenagers can relate themselves to. Holden selects how and what he wants to view and to make sense of the world. It is a place where he deems as evil, corrupted and without peace. It is only at the end of the story, where Holden begins to gradually accept the harsh reality of the world.

The Catcher in the Rye remains one of the best literary works pertaining to the English language, and also for the psychological context and identity diffusion throughout the story. It is also one of my favourite literature. However, it also brings out the topic which most of us fail to decipher and something which is existent and ongoing in our daily lives, Perception, Reality and Choice.

We often select what we want to see and hear in life, and choosing to ignore the most significant and apparent of details at times. We perceived the world by bringing in our own insight and understanding, and sometimes even the typical social constructionist perspectives to everywhere we go. Our perceptions are based on how we respond to events happening around us daily.

I believe there are no significant difference between perception and the harsh truth of reality. Rather, it’s our perception and perspectives in lives, that crafts our reality before our eyes. The medium, or factor that decides the gateway to the different routes and tunnels our journey embarks, is call “Choice“.

“Choice” is always something within our grasp and control, and ultimately how we decide to shape our reality into. We are all living in a storyline determined by a script filled with crossroads where choices has to be made, and more than often, we questioned where the plot of the script is headed and focused onto. Perhaps, it could be that this very moment, that we envisioned how we want the next chapter of our lives to be like, and how we choose to see things around us.

Change is only a certainty in life and with that, perception changes over time and when we aged. We determined our perception of reality by ultimately the way we respond to events happening everyday and it begins with our choices. So start making those decisions, and view the world from a different perspective, a different angle. Never let any other individuals be in charge of them, and allow them to shape out reality for you.

Before I end this entry, I leave you with one of my favourite quotes about life.

“The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty, has wasted thirty years of his life”Muhammed Ali

Darren.