American Popular Culture and Its Impact in a Globalized World

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Americans, after all, did not invent fast food, amusement parks, or the movies. Before the Big Mac, there were British fish and chips. Before Disneyland, there was Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens (which Walt Disney used as a prototype for his first theme park, in Anaheim, a model later re-exported to Tokyo and Paris). – Richard Pells

1. Introduction

No matter what corner of the world, it is more than unlikely to walk up to an adoles-cent, mention the names Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Eminem or Bruce Willis and be confronted with a questioning face of ignorance. Performers and actors such as these have become increasingly omnipresent in people's lives all around the globe. American popular culture with its above-mentioned
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This definition will work for the purposes of this paper. American popular culture has never been more dominant internationally than in the middle of the 90s – nor more controversial. Serious money is involved as pop culture is America's second-biggest export after aircraft (Rockwell 1994). There is a common perception that in the process of globalization American products dominate everywhere on the world's markets. The fact that you can quench your thirst with Coca-Cola in about 185 countries is but one example of U.S. economic ambition (Stephens 1993, online). Likewise, European anti-globalization activists have long criticized Hollywood and its big-budget studios for monopolizing the world movie in-dustry and, consequently, flooding other cultures with American iconolatry. The popu-larity of a movie like Jurassic Park (1993), for instance, was identified as threatening to the national identity of other cultures. It has also been lamented that due to the widespread distribution of "industrialized" music and the loss of music that is charac-teristic of a certain culture, civilizations are increasingly losing a sense of national identity and pride (cited in Lanza 2001, online).
The high-culture canon has been remarkably transnational for at least the past century, but as soon as popular culture with its Western-made goods and the ideo-logical values they are oftentimes said to carry
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