Is American culture changing the youth?

The Lost Boy posted a story today about how he thought that Thailand’s youth are embracing the American “way of life”, and it got me thinking about the whole situation as I was having lunch in Paragon and enjoying my Grande Triple Shot Non-Fat Low Sugar Caramel Macchiato in Starbucks, listening to a bunch of teenagers speaking in some weak attempt at a US accent (mid-west accent at that).

starbucks.jpg© DC 2006

Let’s face it, its damn fashionable to be seen at Starbucks, and with the likes of “celebrities” being photographed holding the cup, who’s to blame a 19 year old Thai in thinking it’s wrong?

I blame the media to be honest, especially the obsession of using American english and portraying the US of A to be the greatest at pretty much anything. Modern pop culture and it’s sub-culture is constantly being subjected to the grand marketing machine, and the end effect is Thai kids walking around thinking they are on the O.C or worse, part of a East Coast Gangsta Krew. The same has happened in the UK, with the media constantly pushing American values and lifestyle as the preferred choice over the drab and boring UK lifestyle. What makes me worried is that most of these followers haven’t actually been to the US and seen the real side of being American (and hey, Starbucks and Subway discount cards DON’T count kids!)

Having lived in the US (Ok, it was Manhattan, but i’ve spent enough time flying around the US to know what’s what), you start to realise that the cool places are pretty much only NYC and LA. Anywhere else is like any other small city in the world.

So is there hope? Can the Thai youth break free of the power of AmeriKKKa’s marketing pull and realise that being Thai is actually pretty much cooler than pretending to be black and a hip-hop master?. I think there is, this whole glamourisation of one countries wantless desire to be bling and the best will eventually shnizzle-fizzle out, to quote a hero of mine.

In the meantime, I expect to see rather skinny Thai guys wear US football shirts and walk with a limp, because when your growing up, identity is all the rage.

14 Comments so far

  1. gnarlykitty (unregistered) on November 12th, 2006 @ 9:29 pm

    Who said something about the O.C.???

  2. Daniel (unregistered) on November 12th, 2006 @ 10:26 pm

    I won’t comment on the O.C, it does it’s own commenting on how bad the whole concept it :0)

  3. Korbua (unregistered) on November 13th, 2006 @ 1:59 pm

    Buckie!!!! They’re everywhere. :P

  4. Vince (unregistered) on November 13th, 2006 @ 6:30 pm

    Thailand and Thai peole has been in touch with the american way of life since 40 years and vietnam War

    Something in the 2 cultures allowed to this mashup : a thai consumersit society.

    It’s fun, it’s young but the lacks of roots will be a problem for next generation if they don’t think by theirself and understand how Thailand is rich in history, values…

    No political view or big project just to find a way to have clothes, cars and money and the fear to have nothing to do.

    The problem is that young people stay with this way of thinking after 25-30 years old.

  5. him (unregistered) on November 14th, 2006 @ 6:46 pm

    Kinda funny when you see how insular and xenophobic the actual country is becoming, from ultra-strict visa regulations (that only really allow criminals and paedophiles to remain here, as they know who to pay off) to the dumping of VH1 and MTV from the major tv carrier.

  6. oakmonster (unregistered) on November 15th, 2006 @ 7:13 am

    Screw the OC. I lived it. :)

    Posted my opinion on this subject on Lost Boy’s. But I’ll re-post it here too.

    I see it differently. It’s not as big of a cultural takeover but posing to be cool.

    Here’s how I believe it works.

    Thai people value rich people. You flash your riches and you’re cool as hell. That is quite obvious, yes?

    Anything imported is expensive. Louis Vuitton. Coach. Whatever brandname else you can throw a Manolo at. International school and studying abroad cost arms and legs and your first born, so you’ll have to be rich to attend/go abroad.

    In that sense, American culture is cool because it’s imported. International school kids and “Dek Nok” (Studying abroad kids) are cool because despise everything, underneath it all, they’re rich. You get the picture?

    American culture = imported = rich = cool.

    Speaking from the point of view of a “Dek Nok” girl with 2 “Dek Nok” brothers. One of them very much flaunt his “Dek Nok”-ness and be cool that way. Me and the other one didn’t care too much.

    As for Starbucks…we just couldn’t help ourselves after years of having that crap feed through our veins in college. LOL.

    I’m sure folks will dispute but that’s what *I* think. Hope that gives you another perspective to the subject!

  7. Daniel (unregistered) on November 15th, 2006 @ 7:34 am

    Amen to the O.C (Kitty is really gonna kick my ass when i’m next in the office, i swear haha)

    I’ll never understand why people, especially the teenage generation, see the US as a source of cool. Fashion wise it has always been second best to Europe, except NYC which is known to not be a part of America and it’s own seperate country, just like London is to the UK.

    So what your saying is that the underlying quest to appear wealthy is driving kids to adopt fashion to portray wealth?

  8. Vince (unregistered) on November 15th, 2006 @ 4:34 pm

    To be is to have and to have is to be…

    Would be Cool to be in the monaster near Phayao far away from this infernal cyvle :-))

    Thank’s to the RAP and their video ;-)

  9. d (unregistered) on November 15th, 2006 @ 4:57 pm

    I’ve been a loyal reader of your blog and consider myself as a Thai ‘conneseur’ and during my last trips this subject was something the frightenend me also.
    Youngsters are so eager to be American (you’ve got the Limp Bizkit rockers and the 50cents gangstas) that they act like undisciplined consumption junkies. Meannwhile US branches like keep popping up in malls only making it worse. Indeed, they need to start realising being Thai ( and listening to Looktung ?) is way much cooler !

    great post

  10. Matt (unregistered) on November 17th, 2006 @ 12:50 pm

    I refuse to believe that anybody drinks coffee because they like the taste. The whole ‘going for coffee’ thing is so strange.

  11. Vince (unregistered) on November 17th, 2006 @ 5:02 pm

    Let me say that American coffee is like “pisse d’âne”, it has the color, it looks like but it’s not!

    If you want to drink coffee go to french or italian coffee ;-)

  12. Daniel (unregistered) on November 17th, 2006 @ 5:10 pm

    Matt it’s the only substance capable of keeping me alive. Granted not everyone likes the taste of starbucks, but my macchiato does the job.

    Vince: if you can tell me where I can find good Italian coffee here in bkk, i’ll take you out for one as well!!

  13. kt (unregistered) on November 19th, 2006 @ 6:02 pm

    Get real man,of course the Thais embrace American culture they cant think of anything original on thier own.This is a copy cat culture.Do you really like Thai culture???The obsession with money,white skin,greed,corruption and a general hatred of foreigners.
    Get real Daniel and stop being a ‘1 year’ know it all poser.Go back to America and go to Starbucks everyday and hang out with all your cool friends.
    Horrible Midwesterner,

  14. Jet So (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 10:58 am

    Interesting article about Pax Americana (or “Pox Americana” for some people) in Asia. Some view it as the cultural genocide & plague; some say it’s a catalyst for change & progress.

    I view the sudden adoption of a trendy foreign culture & its societial norms much like a highly contagious infection on children. First, the “disease” enters through the oral cavities of the body (i.e. major metropolitan centres & ports) and spreads rapidly through the blood system (i.e. advertisement, migration & trade via telecommunications & media). Second, the body adopts to the avalanche of change (i.e. wide & popular use of western technologies, practices & norms) and in time develop an immunity (i.e. adoptation of western practices & norms to enhance traditional beliefs). Finally and quite possibly, a new-found resurgence in the body’s immune system to oust the original “disease” through re-envigorated traditions and newly-adapted societal norms (e.g. Breakout of Canto-pop & Mando-pop in Chinese societies, Popularity of Japanese Manga, etc.). All is cyclical you know …

    As for Starbucks, I prefer Tim Horton’s on normal days or Turkish/Greek straight up and even a Vietnamese (close to a rich French roast) with a swab of evapourated milk if I’m feelin’ “cosmopolitan” that day.

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