Like Wasabi and Apple Pie
Sunday, November 23, 2008

NiHowdy, y’all. Yes, that greeting is intentional and applies well to this entry. Yes, I am aware that one pronunciation means ‘Hello ground’ in Chinese. In English it makes no sense either. But in Browncoat, it is a blended form of 'Hello firefly fans!”

On with the show:

Recently, I was reading a blog discussing the American obsession with the “exotic”, whether from primitive or advanced societies, and finding that 'exoticness fix' in other cultures such as those of the continents Asia and Africa. Okay, I buy that, I think it is a trend. Their next statement, however, made me angry in its lack of what I call 'broadsight' (aka seeing the big picture).

That statement said that we--I am American, and therefore easily offended -- were essentially ‘raping’ those cultures (lots of sexually related language in that blog, gotta wonder what the blogger usually thinks about) because we Americans like to stick our noses into other people’s cultures, and get all enthusiastic about something we know less about than those of the culture that it came from or was inspired by. I will admit that this is frequently the case, and it annoys even me, since I consider myself more'culturally aware' than a lot of my countryfolk.
But I have another possibly offensive opinion on the flipside of the coin. It coalesced when I began doing some thinking:

I think I have every right to “fetishize”(in the blogger's terms) whatever culture I want—here’s why: in this context, ‘fetishize’ means to take selected parts of the culture and make them ‘cool’ or ‘in’, to talk about them, influence them or ape them with less right and less understanding than citizens of that country/culture. To say "Hey, we're not in Rome, or even geographically close to Rome, but look at what the Romans are doing--that's über-cool!" (yes, again intentional.)

Isn’t that exactly what much of the ‘rest’ of the world has been doing(or moving towards)for at least the last 50 years with respect to the United States?

But in that context it's just called the American Dream, not whoring out a streotype. We may not live in huge houses with TVs and white picket fences and 2.5 kids anymore. But then I don't sit down to an "American Meal" of a Big Mac every night at home either.

I leave it up to the space monkeys out there to come up with the many easily available examples. They are too cliché to list here.

Any thoughts on this? Flames, mindless support and actual thoughtful replies are equally requested.



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