Americanization from a European Perspective

A change of pace to celebrate the successful conclusion of the Canadian academic year, what follows are two European pop radio hits which deal with the Americanization of European culture. 

Americanization as a concept has been popular since the 1960s and refers to claims that European media forms are exhibiting direct influence by and a strong resemblance to American media. Like other social issues, these songs anticipate, and in some sense surpass, academic critiques of the phenomenon of Americanization and the associated cultural commodification and commercialization sometimes called “Disneyization” and “McDonaldization”. We get to see an example of the lived experience of cultural Americanization at two distinct points. Renato Carosone’s piece is whimsical, almost bemused, as he sings about Italians who mimic American dress, reflecting the relative secure bulwark against complete Americanization after World War II. Fast forward to 2004, and the mantle of anti-Americanization is appropriately taken up by Rammstein, who present a dark and almost dystopian image of globalized Americanization, the world saturated by fast food and US television. 

These songs were originally posted for discussion by Concordia University Professor Maximillian Forte for his course Globalization and Transnationality (ANTH 385).

Renato Carosone: “Tu Vuò Fa’ L’Americano” (Naples, Italy, 1956)

Renato Carusone, was among the greatest figures of the Italian music scene in the second half of the 20th century. He was also a modern performer of the so-called canzone napoletana, Naples’ song tradition.

Rammstein: “Amerika” (Germany, 2004)

Rammstein is a German Neue Deutsche Härte band, formed in 1994 in Berlin. Throughout its existence, Rammstein’s six-man lineup has remained unchanged—singer Till Lindemann, guitarists Richard Z. Kruspe and Paul H. Landers, bassist Oliver “Ollie” Riedel, drummer Christoph “Doom” Schneider and keyboardist Christian “Flake” Lorenz.

 

 

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