Sunday, November 29, 2009

When did we all get so American?

Now don't get me wrong. This is not an anti-American diatribe or anything. I have nothing against America. I have three first cousins who are American.

But last night I attended an event called Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park which is an annual free event, all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza. It seemed like nearly every teenager in the city was there and they were all doing these hip greetings with the clasped hands and shoulder-bumping jive which I'm sure has been copied from MTV clips and other like sources of rap/hip-hop culture.

It made me think of the "Roman Empire" of the 20th and 21st centuries: America. How dominant has been its influence on global popular culture.

Admittedly, I am an old fart, but when I grew up in this small country in the 1960s, there was no high-fiving and all those other American affectations. A lot of it has sprung from the black urban culture of the USA. I'm a big fan, don't get me wrong. I love the fact that black America gave the world the blues, jazz, r'n'b, hip-hop, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, hell, even Eddie Murphy before he went all Disneyland and innocuous.

But Pax Americana has also swamped many cultures around the world. I would like to see the youth of Aotearoa/New Zealand embrace their own culture and give a Kiwi embrace when they meet.

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