September 28, 2009

Back to Basics IV – Culture

Read the Other Posts in this Series as well: Back To Basics I: American Exceptionalism; Back to Basics II: Science, Back To Basics III: The Economy, Back to Basics IV: Culture; Back to Basics V: Recap; and the drivel that inspired me to action: The Story of Stuff

Mmmm Apple PieFor good or ill this Nation’s culture is the ONE culture that will be remembered in the 20th century.  It would be really nice if it could be the ONE culture remembered in the 21st as well.  I am not really saying that our Culture is better than any other necessarily.  It is just that it is MY culture and I was raised in an era when competition was *gasp*  encouraged. I want to stress that I am not saying that these things are good or bad for the world at large, just that our culture is all pervasive, and that  it is Exceptional.  Not even at the height of the British Empire did they have so much influence on the culture of the world.  Not since the Romans has one Country’s culture influenced so many, and we did not get that way at the point of a sword as the Romans did.  So what are some good cultural indicators? Food, Language, Trade, Fashion,  Entertainment, and Sports would seem to be good measures of a Culture’s pervasiveness.
The language of all Air Travel, Medicine and Computing is English; and as a consequence over a billion people speak English to at least a basic level, making it the de facto lingua franca of the Globe.  This is not solely an indicator of the United States Cultural dominance as English is not only our Language, but it is worth noting.  Modern English, spread beyond the British Isles beginning with the growth of the British Empire, and by the late nineteenth century its reach was truly global. Following the colonization of  North America, it became the dominant language in the United States, whose growing economic and cultural influence and status as a global superpower since World War II have significantly accelerated the language's adoption across the planet. Had the US not risen to the status it is now, it is likely that a large part of the world would have been speaking Russian or German including England.Ronald McDonald, Ronald loves everyone
McDonald's restaurants are found in 119 countries and territories around the world and serve nearly 47 million customers each day. McDonald's operates over 31,000 restaurants worldwide, employing more than 1.5 million people. The present corporation dates its founding to the opening of a franchised restaurant by Ray Kroc, in Des Plaines, Illinois on April 15, 1955. But even McDonald’s as ubiquitous as it has become is the largest food corporation; as that distinction is held by another US company. Yum! Brands operates or licenses Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Long John Silver's restaurants worldwide. Based in Louisville, Kentucky, it is the world's largest fast food restaurant company in terms of system units—over 36,000 restaurants around the world in more than 110 countries and territories.  Those two examples alone are enough to say that American Food or Americanized food dominates the globe.
The WalMart LogoAs far as trade goes there is but one answer: Wal-Mart is the Have a Nice Day!world's largest public corporation by revenue, according to the 2008 Fortune Global 500. The company was founded by Sam Walton in 1962 in Bentonville Arkansas,  Wal-Mart is the largest private employer and the largest grocery retailer in the United States, has over 2 MILLION employees worldwide and runs stores in about 45 countries worldwide.
SwooshFashion: Nike Inc. is the world’s leading supplier of athletic shoes and apparel, everyone knows what the swoosh means. Who doesn’t know what Levi’s are? Levi's was founded in 1873 in San Francisco, specializing in riveted denim jeans and different lines of casual and street fashion. From a company with fifteen salespeople, two plants, and almost no See full size imagebusiness east of the Mississippi in 1946, the organization grew in thirty years to include a sales force of more than 22,000, with 50 plants and offices in 35 countries. Blue Jeans were invented in the United States are are seen as a status symbol in many other countries.
Entertainment, besides basically inventing the internet, facebook, myspace, and Twitter, the US dominates Entertainment.  Look at the table below and find the Chinese, Japanese, Italian, or French films.  EH, there aren’t any.  Most countries could not even afford to make the movies that Hollywood makes.  The budget for the LOTR trilogy was about half a billion dollars.  That is a huge portion of most of the countries of the world GDP.
HollyWood Sign.  I have ridden horses behind it.Worldwide All Time Box Office Movies adjusted for 2009 Dollars. Notice there are movies from the every decade starting with the 30’s through the 90’s.  This list is a few years old, likely there are some even newer movies in this list now.
image Fonzie...cause he is cool.
Michael Jackson Thriller13 of the top 25 selling Music albums of all time are from US Artists (Michael Jackson-3, Meat Loaf,  Eagles, Whitney Houston, Backstreet Boys-2, Bee Gees-2, Fleetwood Mac , Mariah Carey, & Bruce Springsteen).  And again, most all of the remaining albums are ENGLISH albums. 
It is next to impossible to calculate worldwide television One Small step for an American one giant leap for Mankindviewing audiences but these two items are Elvis Presleywidely cited as being among the most watched ever: over 600 million people watched the Apollo 11 landing of the first ever humans to walk on the surface of the moon (a U.S. feat) and a satellite broadcast for an Elvis Presley show live from Hawaii, titled "Aloha from Hawaii" is reported to have reached over 1 billion viewers globally. 

New York Yankees - most recognized sports logo in the world.
Sports:  Four of the top ten team sports in the world were invented in the United States, Basketball, Baseball, Volleyball, and American Football.  Incidentally 5 more are from Europe, mainly the UK, and one originated in China, but was made famous by the British.  Note that the British originated sports were carried to their colonies, as Britain was an empire, something the United States is not(as previously discussed). Marilyn Monroe, timeless hottieAli: The Greatest of All Time, It is Hard to Be Humble when you are as great as I am. _ Amen

In an Internet list of most Famous People Ever, 11 out of the top 25 are from the U.S. They are George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Walt Disney, Elvis, Michael Jackson, Martin L King Jr, JFK, Mohammed Ali, Marilyn Monroe, Bill Gates,  and Thomas Edison.

Even Arabs like a CokeI think the information above is enough to say that, be it for better or worse, our culture dominates the globe.   American Movies dominate screens across the world, American Sports are everywhere, American Fashion is seen everywhere from Tokyo to Mogadishu,  Wal-Mart is everywhere, you can get a Big Mac in China. I have personally seen Diet Coke, or “Coke Light” written in Arabic.  This nation did all that, we did it in less than 100 years, without conquering anyone.  That is a feat the Romans could not do.  No One has ever done it, and I do not know if it is a good or a bad thing, but I can tell you…
it is Exceptional.

Read the Other Posts in this Series as well: Back To Basics I: American Exceptionalism; Back to Basics II: Science, Back To Basics III: The Economy, Back to Basics IV: Culture; Back to Basics V: Recap; and the drivel that inspired me to action: The Story of Stuff

p.s. to all the people who already knew this:
Reagan Salutes you
and to those who don’t like it:
Bush Flip Off
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