What’s our culture?

Apparently, the United States is not a fallen superpower yet.

Listening and watching Americans at work, one would think we’re all stockpiling apples to sell on the streetcorner.

Then there’s the rest of the world.

The BBC’s World Have Your Say had a fascinating topic today: Us. Our economy and our culture (which is pretty much the same thing these days):

No-one forces anyone to choose Gap jeans over another brand, a Starbucks coffee over someone else’s, MTV over another music station – they’re just good products and people want them – so what’s the problem ?

Well, some say the all-powerful U.S brands undermine their national culture and make the world look the same. Phrases like “cultural imperialism” are murmured. Much fuss about nothing ? After all, the consumer is king…

Unfortunately, the conversation was dominated by, umm, Americans, like this former Minneapolitan:

Well, being American I can’t quite answer this question. One thing I can say is that our American culture is largely the result of influences from so many other cultures. In my hometown of Madison, WI, you can easily walk to a Chinese, Indian, Greek, or Mexican restaurant. It may not be a large chain or corporation, but it’s an international influence none the less.

There was — at least on the blog — a little insight into how some other see us.

Africa, for example:

I Think us-the African’s do have ‘the natural beleive” that the Americans are more superior Human beings than we are!Hence we start copying what ever they do!Be it the way they dress,what type of music they listen to,or what the way they walk! I think it’s very wrong to copy someones way of life and to allow them to decide what type life one should live!………

And Mexico..

What about jazz and baseball? Great aspects of American culture.

One fascinating element of the discussion is how the U.S. “culture” seems to be defined as the U.S. “pop culture.” But, as blogmate DaveG notes in a thread yesterday, isn’t the U.S. willingness to take the lead in fighting AIDS in Africa, part of our culture, too?

Many Americans were worried that the blog would become an international America-bashing festival. As it turns out, nobody can bash America, like an American.

  • c

    /nobody can bash America, like an American./

    an artist worth any salt will see their own flaws inorder to improve

  • Tyler Suter

    Interesting story. But they could have used a more dramatic, and certaintly more up to date, example than GAP. For one, the GAP is cheap compared to many of the popular mall stores or name brand apparel available today, and last time I checked GAP wasn’t doing so hot (nobody’s shopping there).

  • b2

    Odd that other countries see us as “jazz and baseball”, “The Gap and Starbucks”, “the way (we) dress and music…” – what about our fabulous art, our great philosophers, our intelligent and humane legal system our…Oh.