Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Internationalization of US Audiences in the Face of Parochialism

 Online media has been one of the few sources of content available during the virus situation in 2020 and 2021.  We have experienced great amounts of anxiety and content deprivation in times of isolation and lack of social interaction.

Netflix and Amazon Prime have been some of the few sources of content to alleviate loneliness and anomie.  These important content venues have contracted with international producers to deliver programming from most continents to the public of the US and many other countries.  This variety of international content must have some impact on the awareness and disposition of audiences everywhere.  The US being largely parroquial now has a large diet of content from different parts of the world.

Paradoxically, the previous US government had been keen on looking inwards and vilifying the rest of the world. The contrast has been interestingly challenging.  While some prefer to be isolated from the rest of the world, they currently have few choices but to be immersed in international content even without their awareness.  I say without their awareness because dubbing has gotten very sophisticated and many times undetectable. Still the culture and values reflected in international content permeates screens almost everyone is glued to.

Disruptive as it may sound, the war of the minds seems to be in favor of internationalism.  Think about the fashion, physique, language, and themes of global programming contrasted with the locally produced US content.  Sheer volume is in favor of internationalism, but also fashion and looks.  Language diversity is becoming mainstream in the living room.

Think about popular shows like "Money Heist" (not a good translation of "La casa de papel")with its mostly Spanish (from Spain) and also international cast.  The way of behaving and being in that series is appealing to audiences in the US but it is so different.  The philosophy of life in it is almost nihilist: Enjoy what you can because when the party is over it's over.  That is in contrast with deterministic and religious undertones in US domestic content.  Even English and Danish content reflects values and ways of being different from those prevalent in the United States.

Younger generations turning into adults in the US, having been influenced by the protracted "stay at home" way of life, will come out of their shells with a mindset that is in sharp contrast with that of their predecessors.  These will be the democratic leaders of tomorrow who instead of looking to close borders will aim at internationalism because they will better understand others who are different.  

When a physical virus spreads across countries and cultures with unprecedented speed, so does an international mindset despite the bitter wishes of some.  Culture is also a virus, but in my opinion, a more constructive virus that allows those of us meandering on the surface of the earth to better understand each other.