Most people can probably remember the moment when they first realised the seductive power and global pervasiveness of American culture.
I had bought a bootleg CD of The Beach Boys’ surfing songs in the remote north-eastern Russian republic of Sakha and had my photograph taken with a goat herder in Djibouti who was wearing a Six Million Dollar Man T-shirt…
After all, even when you’re watching a Chinese flat-screen TV and driving an Indian car powered with Brazilian biofuels you almost certainly won’t be wearing Indian-style clothing or humming Chinese pop songs as you go. Or watching Brazilian movies either.
Next time you see television pictures of an anti-American demonstration anywhere on earth look closely at the crowd. Among the flag-burners you’ll almost certainly see someone wearing an LA Lakers shirt or a Yankees baseball cap.
My first exposure to American culture came back in the Doris Days of the early 1960s, growing up in a Britain that was still shaking off the lingering effects of rationing and the costs of post-war reconstruction.
We had Elvis, of course, and Hollywood but the world was a lot less global then. It was still possible, for example, for British recording artists to have hit records by simply recording their own versions of songs that were already hits for American stars on the far side of the Atlantic.
But the flagship of American influence in my own life was Spam, the bright-pink pork luncheon meat that was a staple of the British working-class diet for several decades.
It’s still going strong in many markets around the world – including the United States – and although the odd concession has been made to changing times (it’s less fatty and salty than it used to be) it’s still essentially the same as it always was.
I came to know it in the early 1960s, in the days before the invention of obesity. In common with millions of other British families we used to slice it, coat it in batter and then deep-fry it, thus producing that miracle of British culinary ingenuity known as the spam fritter.
RTFA. At least as funny as Monty Python. And I should be the last to complain having spent a certain portion of my misspent youth lunching on sandwiches of fried Spam with melted Velveeta “cheese” on top. 🙂