I found Chapter 20 particularly captivating in Wednesday’s reading, “Wednesday/Cultural Diversity.” Emi’s disbelief of cultural diversity seems unrealistic, absurd even, but perhaps such a thing doesn’t exist. Maybe it’s bullshit after all (128). At times Theory Toolbox reflects a similar idea, suggesting that culture is becoming an “old-fashioned notion” for a “new world order” (53). The concern of local culture being erased by a rapidly growing globalized dominant culture is certainly a conversation happening today. The discussion between Emi and Gabriel on page 126 reveals to us that Emi believes the driving force behind the world is money. In her eyes, selling things/labels (Reebok, Pepsi, Chevrolet, AllState, etc.) is all that matters because “hey, we’re all on board to buy.” Emi certainly thinks that multiculturalism is nothing but an attempt to bring people together under a big homogeneous culture, what she describes as consumerism.
With a movement towards globalization we have increased the expansion of cultural flows. Although Emi seems to think we are constructing a culture that diminishes diversity, I think we are doing what Theory Toolbox might describe as reconstructing a new cultural meaning within new contexts. Sociologist Manfred Steger calls this “globalization”- the complex interaction of the global and local, characterized by cultural borrowing. Rather than one culture dominating all others, this idea captures how local cultures are creating new forms of cultural expression.
Emi doesn’t believe there is anything special or culturally significant about sushi and Hiro-San. “It’s just tea, ginger, raw fish, and a credit card.” she says (128). Over winter break I tired this restaurant that recently opened in downtown Charlotte, NC called Cowfish. Their menu has separate sushi and burger selections, but they’re famous for their sushi burger fusions (known as Burgushi). If Emi were here today she would probably roll her eyes, much like she did to Gabriel’s idea of sport sushi footballs. Burgushi is an example of a cultural reconstruction of meaning, combining American and Asian cuisines.
However, I do think it’s possible for globalization to create a dominant culture, by situating itself neatly into local contexts. Let me explain. Almost everyone knows of the song “Let it Go” from the Disney movie Frozen, released in 2013. How, you might ask, was this song able to sweep across so many nations? Well, it was written first in the English language, using words that would be easily translatable to other languages. It was then sung in 41 different languages. Here is a perfect example of how a company used globalization to implement a dominant, widespread culture through local interpretations of the film. I think this modern example aligns more with how Emi views the role of media.