Why your decision between a hamburger and chili crab matters

Singapore is a unique place and a special meeting point between Indian and Chinese cultures and ethnic groups, but that uniqueness has started to fade, giving way to a more American culture.

A blog on WordPress.com called “Remember Singapore” describes this change in pictures. And in this blog, you can easily see that Singapore has changed drastically from its Southeast and East Asian roots. Some buildings have morphed over decades into what they are now, but most have cropped up since the mid-1900s.

Author Robert Stone said, “The term [Americanization] invokes the transformation of the landscape into unnatural mechanical shapes, of night into day, of speed for its own sake, an irrational passion for novelty at the expense of quality, a worship of gimmickry.” This describes Singapore today.

And yet, Singapore isn’t the only place to undergo this kind of “Americanization.”

Overlooking Jerusalem, by Neta Bartal.

Jerusalem, Israel, used to be a city with unique sandstone homes and a wall that withstood thousands of invaders vying for its wonder, but today it’s grown and modernized, becoming a mini-Manhattan. Its old structures still stand, but they are dwarfed by new American structures that redefine the city in its downtown area.

The two largest structures of the downtown area, The City Gate and Azrieli Center, are both decked from head-to-toe with American stores, businesses, and merchandise. The Azrieli Center houses some of the most prominent American retailers, such as Forever 21, McDonalds, Crowne Plaza, and even Crocs. From “Holy Land” to little America.

It was a land and city that had been fought over for centuries because of its magnificence and glory, withstanding some of the most brutal crusades thrown out by the Papacy in Rome, but now it’s just another city with the same boring skyscrapers and the same boring stores.

The reason for this? Trade and money.

If Jerusalem, or all of Israel for that matter, from Haifa to Tel-Aviv, were to stay a cultural paradise for the religious population of the world, or even an antique city for historians, it would not be able to expand and thrive as a nation. Pilgrimages alone can’t make a nation prosperous.

So Jerusalem had to plunge themselves into American trade, like most others, in order to sustain themselves and make a living. And thus, just like that, Jerusalem became another American overseas city.

Jerusalem isn’t the only one to become another rendition of New York City. South Korea goes an extra step beyond Jerusalem by embracing an American-like pop culture: K-Pop.

Gangnam, South Korea. Photo taken by Flickr user, Joop.
Gangnam, South Korea. Photo taken by Flickr user, Joop.

An article on Adweek.com tells us that, according to Euny Hong, author of “The Birth of Korean Cool: How one nation is conquering the world through pop culture,” this embracement was a result of a government plan by South Korean president, Kim Dae-Jung.

Supposedly Kim Dae-Jung wanted to expand and improve the South Korean market and to rival that of the American one. So one day he came up with the grand idea to conquer the entertainment and culture business.

And through multiple private businesses and corporations, Euny Hong writes, he did just that.

In 2012, South Korean music artist, Park Jae-sang, more commonly known as “Psy,” released a hit song on YouTube that has amassed over 2,000,000,000 views. That’s close to a third of the global population, and it is now the most-viewed video on YouTube.

Currently, K-pop is booming throughout the world and is a definite rival to American pop culture.

From Jerusalem to South Korea, Americanization has become a reality, and now we’re left to ask ourselves, “Is this what we want?”

When it comes down to it, you have the ability to stop this. It’s a simple decision really: money talks. Do you want some local chili crab for dinner or some overseas corporate hamburger?

Author: klauer46100

Matt Klauer is a sophomore Global Section editor for The Eye. He’s originally from Jacksonville, Florida, and is an out-of-the-box thinker, an enjoyer of precious sleep, and wants to colonize Mars sometime in his life. He can be contacted at klauer46100@sas.edu.sg.

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