Monday, May 28, 2012

Coming Around

Do people in other countries have online petitions to retailers in the United States, asking them to refrain from enabling us to engage in activities they consider immoral or self-harmful? Are there petitions in the Islamic world asking American retailers to put an end to sales of revealing women's clothing? Do vegetarians in India petition to ask that we stop farming animals for food?

Of course, large foreign-owned retailers, brick-and-mortar or online, don't really have much of a presence in the United States. Although, in that vein, it's interesting that one of the stated concerns that the unwashed Internet masses of America have is that China will start dictating the movies we can see, if the Dalian Wanda Group buyout of AMC Entertainment Holdings goes through.

Richard Naught (StormBringer) wrote:
Great! Now we can be subject to Chinese censorship.

happy sassy (sassyhappy) wrote:
so now we will have censorship of our films . . China censors everything including internet access . . AMC probably needs the money but if you lie down with dogs you get fleas . . I for one am done with AMC . . Regal Cinemas your stock just went UP . .
But why shouldn't foreign firms be busybodies in the way that we often expect American companies to be? If Congress feels that it's legitimate to call companies on the carpet for not doing enough to push American values and legal ideas on overseas markets, why shouldn't overseas companies push their values and legal systems here?

Of course, this isn't to imply that Americans are necessarily hypocritical about this - after all, in a nation of more than 300 million people, there is going to be quite a bit of diversity of opinion about such things - from those who have found it worthwhile to have an opinion, anyway. And there are few things less productive than calling an entire nation of people hypocritical because any two of them have differing opinions about the same topic.

The idea that the United States should use the influence of its corporations as a lever to effect social change in other countries (a process pejoratively termed "cultural imperialism" by many, including a number of Americans) spread as American innovation lead to American companies having major global footprints, while at the same time keeping foreign competitors mostly bottled up in their own markets. While there's pretty much a Google, Yahoo or Microsoft presence in all parts of the world, how many Americans have ever even investigated Baidu? Can many Americans even name a prominent software maker is Russia, for instance?

As globalization becomes a truly globally-driven phenomenon, rather than one that propagates mainly from the United States and western/northern Europe, we are going to see more pressure on the First World, rather than the pressure coming exclusively from the First World. How we will react to that will provide interesting cultural insights, and perhaps even a glimpse of national character.

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