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The Americanization of Brazilian Culture

Yara Berg
Photo: Eivind Berg
I wonder how my father would feel seeing his daughter politically centered, a diet coke addict, sometimes chewing Wrigley's juicy fruit gum, and living in the United States.


 

Yara Berg from Brazil

Almost all aspects of American pop culture such as McDonald's, American films, and blue jeans can be seen in Brazil. My father, who had leftist orientated ideas, used to say that all kinds of American cultural icons were distasteful. When I was a child, it was forbidden to drink coke and to chew chewing gum in my house. Both actions were representative of the American dominance to my father, Incongruently, he had an American Ford car.

My father died 32 years ago, and I wonder how he would feel seeing his daughter politically centered, a diet coke addict, sometimes chewing Wrigley's juicy fruit gum, and living in the United States. He didn't live long enough to see this and the spread of American culture in the last decades. He would probably be convinced that American pop culture was swamping Brazil.

I think it is difficult to curb American cultural hegemony. Many years ago, there was an attempt to reduce the number of American films in Brazil. The government imposed a law that all cinemas should show a higher percentage of Brazilian movies. However, we didn't have enough good films, or even enough films, to show. So, in spite of government subsidies, this measure failed soon after.

American music is, of course, present in Brazil. Everybody knows about Madonna, Michael Jackson, and other icons of American music; but Brazilian music has never lost its first place in the Brazilians' preferences. I read once that my country and some Asian countries are among the few which listen mostly mostly to their own music.

I think we don't need to be afraid of cultural free trade. People tend to be selective, and not everything that is imported is necessarily bad. Our native Brazilians also protest against the dominance of imported culture in their lives while they wear watches and shorts and use tape recorders. We can't avoid the process, but we could learn to be more critical and as selective as possible.

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