Technology able to look into different cultures

Technology is currently reaching new unprecedented heights, acting as a
major contributor to the disintegration of international borders (Smith, 2000) (1) and the creation of a
‘global village’ where metaphorical distances between countries and cultures can
be minimised through the use of technology (McLuhan 1962). We are now able to look into
different cultures and share our ideas about anything and everything without
having to leave the comfort of our own homes, and this freedom of information
can have different outcomes. Theorist Frederic James (1998) (2) notes that the advent
of a so-called ‘global village’ can have two consequences; we can either enter
a harmonious and pluralist society where differences are celebrated and
enjoyed, or create a society where a single culture dominates and dictates a
global identity. A society where nations are deprived of individualism and
character. As much as we would all prefer the former society, data from the U.S
Department of Commerce (3)
suggests the latter is more likely to take place. In 2016, the U.S had the
largest export of media and entertainment, with a market worth $712 billion.
$712 billion worth of media consumed by individuals from countries all over the
world, each of them consuming Western thoughts, ideologies and beliefs. Each of
them learning and incorporating those beliefs into their daily lives, each of
them slowly shedding their cultural identities and adopting a belief that is
not truly reflective of their own nations. It can be argued that we are
beginning to lose our individuality and our differences, creating a world where
culture is homogenised and traditional values and indigenous cultures are being
eroded. The view from the lens of the West is becoming the social norm, leaving
me with the question; to what extent can we argue that globalisation is merely
Americanisation in disguise? 
Americanisation can have multiple different impacts on society, each
varying in terms of severity.

The youth currently appear to be the most malleable in terms
of identity, after all they are constantly following the next big trend and
“changing themselves as easily as they change their clothes.” (4) This level of
adaptivity combined with the eagerness to consume any good that has the
potential to make them ‘cool’ may create a combination which makes the young
individual more susceptible to losing their cultural identity and instead
partaking in the global village where they are no different to another teen
living in the opposite side of the world. One such media product that may
influence them in this way may be a series of posters created by Diesel, titled
“Be Stupid”. (5)
The posters feature young individuals participating in dangerous activities,
accompanied by different slogans and bold text in the corner stating “Be
Stupid”. Some of the activities portrayed in the posters include a young man
burning a pile of items whilst dancing around in his underwear which reads
“burn burn”, a young woman taking a photo of her genitals in what appears to be
a forest wearing only her underwear with a lion behind her, and finally a young
man who is holding a costume head, laughing as three police officers chase him.
Each slogan is written with vivid colours and a bold font, making them more
visible to the individual viewing the advert and putting forward the idea of
being daring. The Western notion of the youth being carefree and adventurous is
clearly communicated in these adverts, and the overall message appears to be
that the youth should enjoy themselves without being too worried about the
consequences, as illustrated by the text which directs the audience to “Be
Stupid” rather than just suggesting that they should consider it. This campaign
has clearly been created in order to cater to young audiences and attract them
to the Diesel brand, ultimately putting across the idea that by consuming
Diesel products, the viewer can become trendy and adventurous, much like the
attractive models portrayed in the adverts. It is important to note that the
notion of being trendy and adventurous is defined by the West, and the fact
that these traits have become desirable speaks volumes about the impact Western
ideologies can have on the rest of the world. We can now see that this encouragement
of consumption also acts as an agent for spreading Western ideologies about the
youth being unconcerned about their responsibilities, instead choosing to spend
their time having as much fun as they possibly can and utilising their youth. Needless
to say, this idea can be damaging for a vast number of reasons. First and
foremost, it can be argued that this advert portrays a fake reality. Most
teenagers do not take part in such activities, and representation of youth is
often seen as ’empty categories’ as the representations are constructed by
adults (Giroux). The
fact that young audiences may believe this representation more than reality
itself may create a hyper-reality (Baudrillard, 1983) that may cause damage to their already fragile
self-esteems. They may feel like they are the only teenager in the world that’s
not outside having the time of their lives in what’s deemed to be their ‘best
years’. Feeling regret about wasting their youthfulness, the young viewers may
then decide to emulate the activities presented in the advert, which can lead
to conflict within the family and the creation of cultural barriers that
prevent the teenager from pursuing such activities. A shift in ideologies may
only occur in the young individuals who have access to the plethora of media
texts and adverts online, whereas their families may not consume as much
foreign media as they do, leading to complications where the teenager has
different ideologies to those in the rest of their family. Over time, however,
the ideologies the parents have been taught will most likely cease to exist as
the young individual will grow up and pass on whatever they have learned from
the media. This is just one of the many instances where a loss of cultural
identity occurs. The clash in ideologies and the unrest caused by it suggests
that the fake realities portrayed in Western media can have a significant
impact on an individual’s life, which then begs the question, why does one
consume media products that do not represent the same ideologies they have?

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In the case of Diesel, consumerism seems to be the simple
answer. Many non-western countries (especially those located in Asia) view
Western designer brands, such as Diesel, as a power symbol, a means of
advancing on the social hierarchy and spending their way to the top (Chadha & Husband). (6)  What is interesting, however, is that
the nations with the most consumption of luxury goods (such as China) are
typically viewed to be in poverty. With an average disposable income of $8.22 a
day in 2014, (7)
one would believe that Chinese consumers would avoid paying $5,750 for a
microscopic Louis Vuitton bag. (8) Yet within the same year, Chinese consumers accounted for
46% of global luxury goods sales. (9) This goes to show the intense influence Western brands can
have on foreign societies. Whilst purchasing the extortionately priced bags,
trousers and jackets, Chinese consumers are not only acquiring a physical good,
but they are also purchasing what they believe to be a symbol. A symbol that
shows off their supremacy, their riches and most importantly, their social
status. The fact that this connotation has been pinned onto a Western product
once again proves the superiority of the West in the eyes of foreign countries,
further highlighting the influence Western culture can have on non-western
countries.  The ideologies of the West
may then be trusted as it may be believed that a being so superior cannot be
incorrect, leading to a loss of local identities and an adoption of Western
beliefs. It can be argued that adverts (such as the Diesel campaign) and media
texts in general are an important export industry in America as they promote
U.S values alongside U.S goods (Putnam,
1997) allowing Americans to achieve cultural imperialism whilst making
themselves richer through the sales of luxury goods.

It can be stated with confidence that we mainly consume
media texts for our own uses & gratifications (Blumler & Katz, 1974). By following the lives
of celebrities, we may seek a form of escapism