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Essay question time! Get out your pencils... - Karen's Musings
Random Rambling
Essay question time! Get out your pencils...
I saw this statement (now being taken completely out of context, fwiw) in a community today:

australia is an americanised country

Seems like a harmless statement. But since when? In what way? Does this mean there's no "Australian culture"? I find that extremely difficult to believe.

Does it mean that American culture and media has taken over for any semblance of Australian identity? Is there no authentic Australian culture or lifestyle? I find this extremely difficult to believe.

If this chick had been American, I would have been offended at how Americentric she is... but she's from Australia, so it makes me even more curious.

So, whether you're in Australia or not, I'm curious whether you think Australia is Americanized. And why do you think that it is or isn't? What other countries would you characterize as Americanized? What essential elements of American culture do you think another country has to have absorbed to be classified as Americanized?

Current Mood: curious curious

27 comments or Leave a comment
cleobatya From: cleobatya Date: May 11th, 2005 03:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
americanized = westernized i think. i though that was weird too.
cleobatya From: cleobatya Date: May 11th, 2005 03:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
im thinking of going tzniut again. i hate pants..
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: May 11th, 2005 03:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
that was random!

Far be it from me to discourage you from observing tznius! (besides, you're super-cute in skirts!)
cleobatya From: cleobatya Date: May 11th, 2005 04:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
i miss jerusalem. :( its amazing how distant i became from all the jewish stuff after i returned here. its too hard for me to incorporate it into my life, so i discarded it all (except my "red string" and asher yatzar and modeh ani)...but i realized that i even stopped doing that b/c it pops into my mind and i push it aside. i think that ny will be good for me. i just dont want to "commit" to one world or the other...but being there will be good b/c i wont be so eager to discard all of it.

you are my only normal frum friend here...so it makes it really hard to even creep back into observance without feeling like im lying to myself. i dont know if i really wnat it but when i do it it feels right.
stone_ From: stone_ Date: May 11th, 2005 03:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well this is timely as Yom Ha'atzmaut is tonight, which is ironically the most American holiday in Israel. It's awful.

The day to celebrate the founding of the Israeli Nation is marked by listening to American music, drinking American beer, and wearing American clothes.

I hate Yom Ha'azamot.
cleobatya From: cleobatya Date: May 11th, 2005 03:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
oh wow, i had no idea that it was americanized there for Y.H'A. evne in jerusalem?
stone_ From: stone_ Date: May 11th, 2005 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Especially in J'Lem.

Yom Yerushalayim is a much more holy celebration.
kressel From: kressel Date: May 11th, 2005 06:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Are you in Israel right now?
stone_ From: stone_ Date: May 11th, 2005 07:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
No, but I was there for a few Yom Ha'aztzmauts.
From: bodnej Date: May 11th, 2005 03:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
My question is: was this said as a disparaging remark about Australia, as a disparaging remark about American culture, or just as an observation?
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: May 11th, 2005 03:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
it was just an observation.
(no subject) - yermie - Expand
mortuus From: mortuus Date: May 11th, 2005 04:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
When I was in Australia a couple years ago, aside from the kangaroos and the driving on he left side of the road thing and the accents, it really was indistinguishable from the U.S. However, I thought of it as Westernized rather than Americanised. But since the U.S. is currently the most influential Western culture, I guess Westernized and Americanized are much the same thing.
cleobatya From: cleobatya Date: May 11th, 2005 04:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
ive always wanted to go to AUS i hear is breathtaking.
From: have_inner_lady Date: May 11th, 2005 04:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've heard this before somewhere. I think the context was someone predicting that, in the next 10-20 years, Australia would convert to the US Dollar as currency and have a more "51st-state-esque" relationship with the US in order to stabilize itself better.

Culturally, I have no idea. But I think our biggest export is entertainment, and all those movies must have some degree of influence wherever they go.
glenbarnett From: glenbarnett Date: May 12th, 2005 02:04 am (UTC) (Link)

I think the context was someone predicting that, in the next 10-20 years, Australia would convert to the US Dollar as currency and have a more "51st-state-esque" relationship with the US in order to stabilize itself better.

I have several times heard Americans say something like this. I don't hear Australians say it.

From: have_inner_lady Date: May 12th, 2005 02:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh good. It's an awful thought, and I'm much happier to mentally write it off as egotism.
malkin From: malkin Date: May 12th, 2005 04:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Australia is extremely American-compatible, but it is definitely its own country, and differs far more dramatically from anyplace in the US than any given US state (and Canada, for that matter) does. If you heard an Australian suggesting such a thing, it would be presented as the doom-and-gloom worst case result of the trade agreement.
glenbarnett From: glenbarnett Date: May 13th, 2005 02:09 am (UTC) (Link)

Australia has, politically, a very close relationship with the US, much closer perhaps than most Americans are aware. It doesn't matter what party is in office here, the relationship is very stable.

Economically, the relationship is also very close, and getting closer.

These things are good - both our nations benefit from this.

But we have no need to "stabilize" anything. Economically we're just fine, thanks. Our dollar and our stock market have fared better than the US in recent years. Politically we're very stable. Geologically, too.

So what's to stabilize?

It won't ever happen, but let's imagine that Australia was somehow to join with the US. Since Australia is a federation of states (just like the US), it wouldn't be possible for such a joining to be as a single state - the states exist as entities of their own that predate the country. Australia would have to be dissolved and the individual states could then become part of the US. Presumably by then NT would be a state - so it would be 7 extra states, not one.

For it to work that way would require social, political, or economic upheaval on a gigantic scale. For it to happen any other way would require upheavals on a much greater scale.

hopeness From: hopeness Date: May 11th, 2005 04:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ooh, essay time!!!

I don't know enough about Australia to judge whether or not it's Americanized. Now, Canada, for sure, we're totally Americanized, and getting more so. Now, everyone's going to laugh and say that Canada is practically American anway, but hear me out. Btw, there is a great song by the Arrogant Worms about the fact that we're American because we live in North America, but we're not American because we're Canadian. But I digress.

Canada's cultural identity is getting totally wrapped up in American things. When I was growing up there were many more stores/brands that exisited only in Canada. Now many of these are gone, making way for the American "big box" stores and brands. Fifteen years ago I didn't know what a Walmart was, because we had Woolco and BiWay and Zellers. Now every small town has a Walmart. Even our beloved Tim Hortons (donuts and coffee) are now owned by Wendy's.

Also, a lot of our music and entertainment is American. Although there are some really awesome Canadian artists out there, they don't aways get a lot of air play. In fact, there are regulations regarding Canadian content, enforcing that a certain percentage of music played on the radio is Canadian. Personally, I find it kind of sad that it's even an issue.

There has also been a problem with TV watching. We get both Canadian tv channels and American ones (we used to get OH and PA in London, now I get NY stations). When a show was on both the Canadian and US station, more people were watching it on the US stations; therefore Canadian companies were losing advertising revenue. So they started "simalcasting" the Canadian station on the American one so that you are forced to watch the Canadian advertising. Annoying, more than anything, but disturbing that it was so bad they had to deny us freedom of choice.

You'll find that most Canadians will fiercely defend their citizenship, but will have to think for awhile before they can tell you what makes us Canadian.
kressel From: kressel Date: May 11th, 2005 06:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Austrailian = polite

The owner of my grocery store in Brooklyn was a New Zealander, and from what I gather from her, New Zealand and Austrailia are culturally alike. She was SOOOOO polite and friendly to all her customers, which is one of the reasons I shopped at her store. Politeness seems to distinguish America from Austrailia, at least in my experience.
glenbarnett From: glenbarnett Date: May 13th, 2005 01:50 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Austrailian = polite

New Zealand and Australia have some strong cultural similarities ... and quite a few divergences, too. This is a good thing.

To be honest, I think you're average Kiwi is probably a little politer than your average Australian.

It depends partly on what you mean by politeness. If you mean people saying polite things like "Have a nice day, sir" and "excuse me", then you'll find more of that in the US, to be frank. But there are other kinds of politeness.

kressel From: kressel Date: May 16th, 2005 04:41 pm (UTC) (Link)


Funny thing, the grocery lady told me that in New Zealand, they call kiwi fruits "Chinese gooseberries."

It's just like what Americans call "French braids." The French call them "African" braids. Go figure.
curious_au From: curious_au Date: May 12th, 2005 12:31 am (UTC) (Link)
I am an Australian. When Australians talk about the country being 'Americanised', they usually are speaking of mass media, mass commerce and particularly the entertainment center. Australia, like most western nations, is a large importer of American music, cinema ( according to the AFC, 'The US dominance is even greater when it comes to box office. US films have earned 85 per cent of the gross Australian box office since 1990 (89 per cent in 2003).' [ 1 ] ) and television. The remark may, or may not be disparaging depending on the speaker and the context in which it is made.

Foreign to domestic content ratios in Australian television were legislated post 1961 'to promote the role of commercial television in reflecting a sense of Australian identity, character and cultural diversity.' The minimum level of Australian content was reset in 1998 to be 55 percent of all content between 6am and Midnight. The lions share of this occurs in the daytime television market. You can read more about this content regulation at [ 2 ]. It is my opinion that these content regulations will be struck down inside the next two years by the Committee on Trade in Goods formed as part of the passage of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement which entered into effect on January 1, 2005.

I have given up on television, and spend most of my listening time on compact disks ( mostly American artists, with some exceptions ), and view the occasional film at the cinema. The Americanisation of the entertainment industry touches me, but only in small and inconsequential fashions. There really is no insurmountable barrier to Australian competition in these sectors.

Is there no authentic Australian culture or lifestyle?

I would be surprised if you could describe one to me that didn't read as a stereotype designed to sell holidays. Australians of my age are, as far as I can tell, just like the mid-twenty set anywhere else in the world. They listen to Snoop Dogg [ 3 ], they eat at McDonalds, they go to the cinema and see an American movie produced by Fox [ 4 ]. They talk on their cellphones, argue with their partners, go to parties or concerts [ 5 ], try and pay their bills. Even the much vaunted cultural divisions between the great Australian centers such as Sydney and Melbourne are, in my experience, a pile of marketing hot air. I don't really feel a strong bond of cultural identity with these people.

Some will go mad for sport. Some will be out surfing at the break of day. Some will be lazing around in a cafe until 11am. You can find these people in Bristol, Kuta and Venice as well. None of this really typifies a 'cohesive culture'.

Does this help? I'm happy to answer questions.

[1] http://www.afc.gov.au/gtp/wcfilmxcountry.html
[2] http://www.aba.gov.au/contentreg/codes/television.shtml
[3] http://www.aria.com.au/pages/aria-charts-display.asp?chart=1S50
[4] http://www.moviemarshal.com/boxoffice.html
[5] Alice Cooper, Henry Rollins, Tori Amos, The Queens of the Stone Age, Mudvayne, Moby, Anthrax and Killswitch Engage are all in town at the moment and performing for the major promoter, 'Ticketek'. In fairness, some Australian acts are playing big venues as well.
glenbarnett From: glenbarnett Date: May 12th, 2005 02:21 am (UTC) (Link)

Of course Australian culture is very heavily influenced by American culture. How could it be otherwise? You turn on the TV, and bam - mostly American TV programs. You turn on the radio and - a large proportion of the time - listen to American music. You go to the cinema and ... see mostly American films. Then you ... but you get the idea.

The recent free trade deal will speed up the Americanisation of Australia, because it explicitly makes it more difficult for us to keep in place a few things that tend to promote our own distinctive culture.

Nevertheless there's a lot that makes us different from America. I happen to like a lot of those things. As long as other people continue to value them, there's no big deal.

Karen, you've seen some other western countries besides the US. Doubtless you've noticed that any english speaking country is going to be heavily influenced by America. Australia is perhaps influenced more than most. But we have other cultural influences - both European and Asian - and some that seem our own.

I had much less trouble being understood (not just in terms of accent and expressions, but even in basic cultural terms) in the UK than in much of the US. In some parts of the US I feel like I'm on a totally different planet. In other parts, things seem quite familiar and normal.

malkin From: malkin Date: May 12th, 2005 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)
I think it's pretty silly suggesting that any nation less than 500 years old is anything-ized. Saying that "Japan has been westernized" makes sense, because Japan had an ancient culture to contrast against. The US, Canada, and Australia were colonized during such a late period, and have had such a high level of commerce, communication, transportation, and migration with the rest of the world, that they lack the same sort of cultural identity that most older nations have. They are culture salads, and are shaped by the dominant global forces of their time.

The US is certainly a dominant sister, but they have utterly failed to even come close to supplanting the English influences on Australia, to be honest.
glenbarnett From: glenbarnett Date: May 13th, 2005 02:34 am (UTC) (Link)

There is a point at which Australia will have a completely American culture.

That will be when cricket, AFL and rugby are shown on American prime-time TV.

When I can buy vegemite at any old supermarket in the US, and meat pies are standard fare. When I can get a pumpkin scone at a school fete or a street stall.

When cafes with actual tables and chairs, cups and saucers, a barista and coffee without wacky flavourings in it replaces 90% of the Starbucks in the US. Don't even get me started on tea!

And a whole lot of other things besides.

Once, in essence, America is far more Australianised, Australia will finally be Americanised.

(That's not to denigrate the US; just pointing out some of the cultural differences that I doubt we will change anytime soon. So all you gotta do is adopt most of those differences we still retain, and we'll be culturally identical.)

27 comments or Leave a comment