March 3, 2011

THERE'S NOTHING HARDER THAN SOFT POWER:

Stars and stripes in our eyes: what's so special about the American way?: America's cultural influence is stronger than ever – as British excitement at the Oscar success of The King's Speech shows (Jonathan Jones, 3/03/11, The Guardian)

In Britain, we are past masters at the hypocritical game of lauding our own parochial culture, while expecting Americans to embrace us with a cosmopolitan generosity we never even acknowledge. Take the Booker prize. We feel no shame about excluding US writers by limiting it anachronistically to the Commonwealth – knowing full well that if the likes of Roth were included, they would win almost every year. By that logic, Hollywood could say the Oscars were for the Americas only.

It has no need to, however, because even when a British film like The King's Speech wins, the joy we feel only confirms our investment in the prestige of all things American, even as we pretend otherwise.

Hard American power may or may not be in decline. But American cultural influence is prevailing. It has infected us deep inside. We may indeed be about to see an epochal moment in global perceptions of the United States, as the unexpected, profoundly Earth-shaking revolutions of young Arab democrats continue. People across the Middle East are saying they care about freedom more than anything; this is about as American a politics as you can get. It is an Arab 1776. No wonder America is confused: everyone wants the American way – so long as it is not imposed by America or called American. A paradoxical victory may be coming for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 3, 2011 4:15 PM
blog comments powered by Disqus
« WHILE THE LEFT WAS WATCHING WI: | Main | WE ARE ALL PRO-FASCIST NOW: »