Essay About Effect Of American Pop Culture On Japan


In the modern world the influence of American pop culture is still seen everywhere.  Whether it is direct or indirect we can see it in some of the places that we least expect it.  It has influenced many governments, societies, and even less conspicuous things such as movies, sports, and other forms of entertainment.  How did this influence in other countries come to be?  Why has it had such an adverse effect on their societies?  Have they influenced American pop culture in any way?  Has this influence been beneficial to them?  In this paper I will explain why   I believe the influence of the American pop culture has been beneficial to most of these countries, if not then they have been widely unaffected.

The affects of American culture are especially prevalent in Asia, particularly East Asia.  “Since the 1950s, the US has crafted its regional strategic influence partly through the promotion of cultural understanding of America, including wide dissemination of American academic and pop culture throughout the region. Under the supervision of the American military administration and financial support, governments in Japan, Korea and Taiwan installed broadcasting and entertainment systems that embraced American formats, programs and operating rationales.”(Chua & Cho 2012: pg. 485)  Every small thing the United States has done from simply providing them with money to helping them build a base to becoming a “modern society.” All these purposeful actions have created a catalyst which has led them to where they are today.  Some of these societies have become more advanced than the United States and having an ally ship with them is very valuable to some countries.  This change is incredibly prevalent in Japan as Chua and Cho note in their journal “Japan's position as the most modernized nation in Asia has compelled many Japanese scholars to examine the nation's relation with America. Focusing on the positions of Japanese intellectuals toward America, Furuya ([ 7]: 192) shows that since 1854, the United States has been the 'indispensable measuring rod for reaffirming Japan's international status and its place in world history.' He argues, as a polity the United States influenced how the 'founding fathers' of the Meiji period (1868–1912) understood the goals of the modern Japanese state. After the Second World War, new features of American pop culture, such as jazz music and ballroom dancing also began to reshape Japanese urban customs and sensibilities. American pop culture, coupled with the mass production system, spurred Japan's rapid development of industry and mass consumption. Furuya ([ 7]: 192–193) suggests that Japan's path to modernity since 1853 be defined as a process by which Japan's 'politics, economics, and society and culture have been "Americanized." I’ve always believed the United States has some sort of influence in what the rest of the world does, and often it is to benefit themselves.  We understand their direct effect but besides the direct effects the United States government has had in them, what effects have the “culture” had on them?

It seems as of recent years “Western culture” has become very popular in large portion of Asia. But the presence of it has been there since early on, in many forms especially in the mass entertainment and media. “They pointed to American-influenced Asian pop culture as proof of the decay of society's moral and ethical standards, which in turn threatened social stability and governance. However, the patronizing attitudes of the governments, which belittles the intellectual capabilities of their own citizens, collided with the latter's enthusiastic embrace of American pop culture. Consequently, in spite of the hostility of the governments toward American pop cultural influences, the mass appeal of American pop culture was unmistakable; from Hollywood's influence on Asian moviemaking to American rock music's influence on Asian pop music and Asian fandom to American sports. Indeed, penetration of the East Asian region was part of the growing global dominance of American pop culture as mass entertainment, crossing all national and cultural boundaries worldwide.”  Often, we don’t think about how we effect the rest of the world and likewise how it affects us.  We can see how pop culture has started to sort of merge in recent years.  But based on what Chua and Cho expressed it seems that it hasn’t always been easy, in part because American values are different than those of other countries. Although there have been some bumps along the way it seems that the rest of the world has become more accepting of American values and morals.

We can see it now through simply just scrolling through YouTube or our Netflix feed, it often has suggestions to watch foreign shows or listen to foreign music.  We can especially see the popularity of K-Pop, K-dramas, as well as Japanese anime.  These have become a very important part of the lives many people who consider themselves to be “Millennials” or “Gen-Z.”  In this generation it is often considered more acceptable to express a love for a culture that is different than our own.  It’s amazing how the melting pot of cultures in the United States has created a culture like no other. We all enjoy the different things the immigrants from each country being with them.  From the diverse food, to the music, to their beautiful languages.  We’ve seen this through the icons throughout our history, like Frida Kahlo, Selena Quintanilla, and the Korean boy band BTS.  The love people have for these icons is indescribable.  And we see this love and appreciation reciprocated by the rest of the world for artists like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Elvis Presley.

Another clear demonstration of the pop culture norm across the world is Social Media, especially apps like Instagram and Tiktok.  These platforms have showed us how easy it is to gain popularity by just sharing the same interests as other people.  In the Modern Era social media plays an integral roll in the lives of many people.  The people such as influencers and celebrities on these apps set the norm for the most popular trends in fashion, beauty, and music.  I’ve noticed that while scrolling through these apps most of the content seems to be relatively the same. As a first-generation American who is bilingual, I have the privilege of experiencing two cultures at once, and I think it’s impressive how much both intertwine.

I believe the countries the United States has brought their presence to have had a benefit from this presence, and that the United States also benefits from it.  

“The wide circulation of different regional pop cultural products is indicative of changing trends in tastes and sensibilities, revealing emerging shared structures of feeling among the regional audiences. It has generated a new 'contact zone' for the audiences 'to find an interest in my/our neighbors and to reflect upon both them and myself who have been "othered" for so long in modern history' (Cho [ 3]: 179). People who were once separated by geography and/or history of colonization and violence, who were unknown and therefore indifferent to each other or bear animosity towards each other on account of past contacts, now enjoy the same pop cultures, enabling them to imagine each other's communities, to share conversations and to know each other better, recognizing differences and sameness among themselves, reflected in the intermittent processes of identification and distancing from what is on screen in the process of viewing.”  The way these countries have grown in these past few years is incredible.  They produce many objects that are incredibly useful to our modern lives, like smart phones and computers, as well as helping to advance us in the world of film making in the form of animated films.

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