Archive for December, 2010

American Culture; A charming parasite

Posted in Uncategorized on December 22, 2010 by niky4

Pre-packaged, shiny, and gleaming with promise. The exported American culture that the world has been receiving since the United States started to branch out its Hegemony desiring tentacles after the Second World War has festooned itself over every single continent on the planet. Culture hybrids have been created from New Zealand to Nepal to Nigeria to Nicaragua. This is not to say that this exported culture represents America, I believe that there are two Americas, however the America that gets exported is lucrative and malleable and can latch itself onto whatever it sets its eyes upon.

There was a time when I used to be hooked on this very addictive drug. American culture was what I lived and breathed I wanted to be adopted by my rich uncle in Bel Air, I wanted to drink coffee in central Perk, I wanted play baseball and go to school on a yellow bus.  This was when I was living in New Zealand, between 1994 and 2000, a time that was a very promising for the exportation of American culture, both morally and monetarily. Apartheid had fallen in South Africa and the darling of the liberal west, Nelson Mandela, had opened up South Africa for business.  McDonalds could set up shop on land recently taken from Blacks in townships across the country. Coke could plaster their “enjoy” advertisements on the side of corrugated iron shacks laced in tetanus. They could all do this with a happy conscious as blacks were enfranchised and could now enjoy the hollowing out of their unique culture by exported American consumerism and materialism, unabated and un checked.

These years were also the years of economic liberalisation in the new Russian Republic. Gorbachev had removed the cultural dam that was the Iron Curtain and Yeltsin did little to stem the tidal wave of American culture that was mediated through and already Americanised Europe. The availability of cars throughout these six years enabled an “automobilization” of Russia states Ivan Tsetkov (http://spbu.academia.edu/IvanTsvetkov/Papers/110364/Americanization_and_anti-Americanism_in_contemporary_Russia), the ability  to pick the kids up from school, short haul grocery shopping, etc. The individualism that characterizes American society has transplanted itself onto Russian. One of the few positives of Soviet era Russia, a communal spirit, has been replaced by a crude atomization of society. The Americanisation of Russian pancakes stalls, and there distribution and taste, the influx of consumer goods has also latched itself onto Russian society. However the onslaught of Coke and Nike only forms one part of a symbolic cultural diffusion. Implicit cultural diffusion has seeped into Russian life, unperceived yet rampant. The acknowledgement of a stratification of society between Oligarch and lower class, a terminology only becoming popular in the last twenty or so years. The commercialisation of national symbols like vodka, the bear, , balalaika, ballet draws direct parallels to the American commercialisation of Jack Daniels, the eagle, the Guitar and modern street dancing (see “step up” “save the last dance”). The one time only strong and seemingly impervious bulwark to American cultural dissemination is now its greatest fiend.

Vietnam withstood thirty years of international assault. From the French, the Americans, the Khmer Rouge and China. This was all at huge cost to its own population and its capacity to stand on its own two feet. Children mutilated by cluster bombs, deformed by Agent Orange and malnourished by international sanctions. It is beyond belief that they managed to establish a free healthcare and educational system. However even this is now being ravaged by the exported commodity culture of the United States.  Vietnam was once the testing ground for US B52 bombers; however it is now the workshop for American garments and domestic products being made on the cheap. Gucci emporiums lace the newly fangled high streets in Ho Chi Minh City.

It seems American culture has weaselled its way and bred with cultures on almost every single corner of the planet, Arabised Sky scrapers dot the vista of Beirut as petrol guzzling 4×4’s dodge between the feet of these monstrosities en route to another shopping mall. In Accra market you can buy a substantial portion of Jolloff rice, two legs of chicken, red red and plantain for 2.50 cedis. It will cost you five times that amount to buy a pizza in Accra mall just twenty minutes away. In the midst of my “Yankee bashing” what must be mentioned is that there are two Americas. The one that is packaged and covered in sprinkles, and the one that is raw and true. The civil rights movement, that has come to characterize a metamorphosis in American cultural life is embodied and exported in the image of Martin Luther King. However the Black Panthers did as much as King did to raise the Dignity of Blacks in America distributing meals to poor black Children and developing an original and intricate Maoist based ideology. What about Arthur Miller? Cultural critic and ground breaking playwright, his scathing depiction of capitalist America and its pitfalls deserve as much attention as “Spy Kids 3D”. Gore Vidals depiction of Homosexuality in his 1948 novel “The City and The Pillar” enforces this history of enlightening and forthright literature. “Democracy Now” is the complete antithesis to “Fox News” where leftist views are un hounded by corporate contaminated “Journalists”. The United States is a plethora of ideas, views and histories; however we are always presented, via the exportation of a certain brand of culture, with a single narrative.

What needs to happen for all cultures of the world to flourish and evolve independently is for the United States to stop ramming its culture down the throats of other nations, but also for these other nations not to dutifully sit there, mouths open. The world needs to wake up to its own individualistic cultural idiosyncrasies, not to manufacture them and export them (in this process watering down their innocence and purity) but to embrace them. In tern the United States needs to delve deeper into its multiflorous culture and embrace all facets, even those that can’t be wrapped up in a bow and exported.

Advertisements

Female Violence; An Unhealthy Social Obsession

Posted in Uncategorized on December 13, 2010 by niky4

In western society today there seems to be an inexplicable and unmentionable obsession with violence perpetrated by women. This fetishism manifests itself through a variety of mediums and its effect on society in my opinion, are detrimental.

Personally for me, my first encounter with violent females (outside my dearest mother taking a her loving hand across various parts of my body in expression of exasperation/anger/discipline) was when I was an 11 year old high school goer. Beside the science lab I came across two girls, interlocked in combat were pulling and yanking each other’s hair and slapping each other’s faces in raw anger. As I stood there watching perplexed, I noticed older boys from my school glazed over in what can only be described in retrospect as eroticism. “Take her shirt off!”, “catfight!” The way these “catfights” were dealt with both by the students and the teachers illustrates to me how female violence is dealt with by society at large. The reasons these girls were fighting was trivial, stupid and churlish. Teachers passed them off as petty squabbles and approached these girls as whining little brats that just needed to be calmed down and relaxed. When boys equally got into fights in my school a veritable inquiry was put into full swing. Why did these boys want to beat each other up? Was it race based? Was there bullying? The reasons were very serious and punishment was also severe. Buy why this difference? Why is it treated differently?

The eroticism that was attached to these girls battling away in their school uniform seems to echo in the film world. Sexy, sultry vixens wielding samurai blades and shotguns seems to be the norm, in regards to the content that pours out from Hollywood. Everything that is violent and female in mainstream cinema has sex latched onto it. In cinema it seems, if you want to be an all-action heroine with agency you need to have your breasts out and lips pouted. If this isn’t possible you had better wait for a knight in shining armour to come.

The media world has also followed this trend of bizarre obsession and misrepresentation. Female serial killers are an oddity, an inexplicable phenomenon that does not follow the masculine tagline that serial killers should normally have. Even though women have been killing as long as men have. It’s nothing new. The media circus that followed the trial and execution of Aileen Wuornos is a prime example of the Medias manic fixation with Women who kill. Ailleen provided the inspiration for the Academy Award winning Film “Monster”. The film does go a long way to illuminate to the viewer that Aileen was a very troubled women with an obviously traumatic past. What the film fails to divulge however, is how Aileen was represented to the world at large. Nick Broomfield’s documentary “Selling of a serial Killer and his follow up “the life and death of a serial Killer” goes a long way to contextualize the nature of the media in the United States at the time. Aileen is depicted in the by the American Press as “The world’s first serial killer” and her long history of being sexually abused and manipulated is not touched upon.  Instead sensationalised books and operas were created and convoluted the true tragic story of Aileen Wuoronos.  Aileen Wurnos was described by one prosecutor  in her 1992 trial as a “homicidal predator,” saying “She was like a spider on the side of the road, waiting for prey—men.” This gross misrepresentation of a sex worker as a predator is a grotesquely false analysis of the sex trade. Prostitutes are victims and are prey to pimps and drug dealers. To our failing social empathy and our sensationalist press. If they are violent or commit murders this must be documented, but the root causes of this must also be articulated in these accounts.

Nick Broomfields documentary was a refreshing portrayal of a women so commonly misrepresented by the media in the United States

The US media is not alone in its inability to explore the reasons for the abhorrent violence employed by women. The case of Baby P was a dream come true for the media however he was not a victim of his mother’s violence, and it is simplistic to posit this as the key cause for the tragic death of this toddler.  Baby Ps mother Tracey Connelly was a woman whose entire life was defined by neglect and abuse.  However this is how the Mail chose to depict her

“Pale blue, lifeless eyes, devoid of any recognisable human emotion, stare from a pasty face bloated from years of junk food and vodka.”

Who got her to this state?

“Society’s amoral and brutalised underclass breeds such monsters”

These sex laden depictions of female violence in film, and the embellished representations in the media are extremely corrosive both to female empowerment and understanding the root causes of certain case studies of female violence. This issue needs to be addressed and this bizarrely obsessive taboo needs to be explored in more detail.

Language Betrays- Israels Pretence

Posted in Uncategorized on December 3, 2010 by niky4

Today after reading a rather dense set of readings on international politics my musings turned to the incredible connotations drawn up by the language and prose of statesmen, governments and media alike

Language is a beautiful and diverse construction that has been utilised by the human race to construct societies, ways of living, ideas, some even say religion. Its malleability and force is awe inspiring and the imagery single words elucidate has lasting impacts. The way statesmen and women, religious leaders etc have used imagery to explain or predict events speaks volumes of their actions and their views of the world around them.  During the Korean war the US state and its engines of propaganda in the state department envisaged “hordes of Chinese pouring over the boarder” as the marines approached the Manchurian boundary. Connotations of an unending supply of Maoist fanatics baying for GI blood comes to mind, falsely of course.

Other instances of this can be shown through the views by George Bush Jnr’s explanation to why two planes were flown into the world trade towers was done in the most maddeningly simple way

” They hate our freedoms – our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”

The emphasis on freedom here is painfully hysterical. This agency of freedom that George Bush believed was so attainable was clearly not available to those who did not fall into the ever increasing unemployed sector of US society which was, at the time of Bushs slobbering speech,  at a 4.9 per cent high. How can these Americans don a clown suit and join in the liberal democratic political circus in the United States when they don’t have the freedom to put food on their table?

I wish to now to turn to more contemporary usages of language and my own personal interpretation of one particular incident. Last year Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu imposed ten month settlements freeze in the west bank. Freeze, draws up imagery of an icy standoff between Arabs and Jews. No violence no peace, just a chilling respite. In my experience when something is frozen, it can melt, and this happens with heat. In the last ten months the heat on this particular freeze which is now a watery puddle came from the malignant Zionist project.

As the freeze was lifted by the Israeli government the rabid dogs that are the west bank settlers scurried into Palestinian areas in the West bank and began works on the building of 1,888 housing units. Netanyahu’s belief that he was taking the initiative is illustrated in his statement at the start of the settlement

“We have been told by many of our friends that once Israel takes the first meaningful steps toward peace, the Palestinians and Arab states would respond.”

1,888 planned housing units require a lot of planning and logistics. Over ten months’ worth. Netanyahu truly is a wonderful architect of the political masquerade and as a reward for this charade has been   presented a 3 billion dollar treat in the form of fighter jets from its economically ailing imperial patron. The patron as Chomsky aptly puts it

“might object formally, but with a wink, and would continue to provide the decisive military, economic and diplomatic support for the criminal endeavours.”

These criminal endeavours include the annexation of arable land and water supplies which is quite literally starving these shrivelled little Bantustans. The more sinister acts include the endless beatings and assaults upon Arab women and children in the west Bank and the ransacking of mosques.

It is quite ludicrous why many of us who sympathise with the Palestinian cause and fell for Obamas rhetoric and Netanyahus apparent benevolence. We were tired and weary of eight years of “war on terror” and the caterwauling from Washington that their poodle on the Mediterranean basin was the last bastion of liberal freedom in the face of Islamic based despotism. I don’t blame you, I wanted to believe Clinton and Bidens apparent anger as well.

However, blood had been spilt between Camp David and Oslo and between Oslo and the road map. The US as an intermediary does not have a molecule of impartiality and has always opposed, along with Israel, a settlement that resounds with universality.

If we detect the caveats that are laid down in the language used by politicians we will discover that as mark twain said “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme”.