Distortion or evolution of culture?

by Anna Dreveau

In our globalized world, information is transmitted, exchanged and shared throughout a big part of the planet. As information is shared, so is culture. Movies, TV shows, books and even commercials from different counties would be known across the world and deliver a certain reflection of its country of origin. However, this image of the culture do not get the same treatment as it is used to in its own country: should we be talking about “distortion” of culture and condemn it?

If the distortion of culture is considered as negative – as the choice of the word “distortion” clearly conveys – what about the evolution and mixing of cultures? Being exposed to other cultures has inspired local artists in a different way than if they would have been without globalization. Music is mixing genres with Da Arabian MC, as they took Black-American Hip Hop and Arabic poetry. They revitalize what Hip Hop has been – a music of protest – and while letting aside what it became – merchandised music –, mixing traditional Arabic poetry and Palestinian way to write songs to convey a message that is fully them, but similar to Hip Hop messages used to be.

This mix of cultures thus enrich every single cultures involved and create something new, part of a more globalized culture.

Nevertheless, the fear about distortion can be real. Steve Derné have written an article about culture globalization in India. He describes the attitude of middle-class Indian people towards Western views about gender roles. While being exposed to a culture promoting women liberation and love marriage, they refuse those same principles, as they would rather stick to the traditional gender roles and arranged marriage. However, they are more than accepting toward the image convoyed by action movies as they stress male domination and violence, which find echoes in Indian culture.

By only taking a part of what American culture proposed about gender role, India get to stick with its traditional values, reinforce them and does not change in any way while America values get impoverished in foreign soil.

Those thus are extreme reactions; one is understanding and adapt the culture and its own to create something new and even more striking while the other is closing its understanding of other cultures to only select what suit him best. The biggest difference between Da Arabian MC and those middle-class Indians is not only open-mindedness and also their feeling of closeness with the other culture. Da Arabian MC choose to work with Hip Hop music because they feel that Black-American back then suffer from the same fate they are currently coping with.

Yet, middle-class Indians do not have the means to stick to love marriage, as parents still play a very important role in young couples’ life and thus see those egalitarian ideas as completely foreign. However, as Steve Derné mentions in his article, give them the means (i.e. high income class Indians) and even Indians will be more than willing to accept those new ideas, as they convey something that can find echo in their economic and living situation.

Transforming a culture while it is sent overseas seem to be the fate of those undertaking globalization. Whether it is just a interpretation restriction, an evolution by mixing cultures, culture changed for the people who will receive them. When you think about it, it is not so different from interpretation of books. As books are written, the author was hinting a certain message but the readers can not see it. It can interpret it in a completely different way, but can you say that it is the wrong way to interpret it if it makes sense with the content of the book ? Umberto Eco stresses something though: do not ignore parts of the book to make it suit your own message. This criticism can transposed to middle-class Indians way of interpreting American culture, which is too restrictive to bring the positive effects of being opened to others cultures.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s