Sunday 1st November
Over the millennia there have been empires a-plenty; the Persians, the Romans, Ghengis Kahn and latterly the Spanish, the French and us too, the British. But possibly the most insidious has been the American. And strangely, apart from a few islands in the Pacific and the purchase of Alaska, this has not been a physical Empire but a Cultural and Financial conquest. The dollar is all-mighty; even the Chinese cannot really compete and the Euro is perpetually struggling. American companies dominate, especially in the new Internet age. Google, Facebook and Amazon were unheard of twenty years ago. Coca-Cola is still the most recognized word the whole world over.
But it is culturally that America has succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations. Hollywood was possibly the start of it, and while many countries make a few films it is Hollywood which rules supreme. American TV shows now flood the satellite waves, and as much money is poured into them as into Cinema. A never-ending flood of sex and violence, wrapped up and packaged as Entertainment. Musically we are still living in the aftermath of American Rock’n’Roll, even if The Beatles did re-invent it they were always desperate to make it big in America. And even here in rural SouthWest France Halloween is a big thing. This was unheard of in my youth; Bonfire night was the big Autumn festival. Now, apart from a few organized displays it has almost died out.
I can almost understand how in Britain with the same (though you might struggle sometimes) language this Americanising has happened. But in Europe it is advancing pretty quickly too. Now with the Internet and twenty-four hour TV physical barriers such as Oceans and Mountains mean very little. Culturally America seems to sweep all before it. And it has a clever way too of taking foreign cultures and twisting them into little American versions. Maybe it is unstoppable, the World is shrinking and becoming one big American theme-park. And it could be worse; the Russians and the Chinese might have been even more detestable.