Saturday, October 30, 2010

Globalisation is...

...Three Japanese pop stars singing a Swedish song in English to promote an American product. That's the Japanese electropop band Perfume performing Lovefool by Sweden's The Cardigans, a song popularised originally by its use in the American version of England's great play Romeo and Juilet (the original of which is set in Italy), which was directed by Australian Baz Luhrmann. This time, Lovefool is used to sell a version of the all-American drink Pepsi.

The jumble of linked nationalities is indicative of modern globalising cultural trends. Perfume accompany their performance with a typically Japanese bow and a musical and fashion style distinct to Japan. The song itself is Swedish, but The Cardigans took advantage of the Anglo-American domination of pop music by singing in English, and Perfume's music videos, distinctly Japanese, are still heavily influenced by those of American artists.

Globalisation allow us in Europe to access the distant cultures of Japan, and the rise of manga, martial arts and anime has shifted lots of Japanese culture westwards. But still the overwhelming shift of culture has been mostly in one direction, sprawling out from Hollywood to the rest of the world, often at the expense of indigenous cultures. In that context it seems easy to understand why some nationalists and conservatives reject American or Western cultures with such anger.

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