In John Tomlinson’s article, “Cultural Imperialism”, the show Dallas was exploited as a marker of American cultural imperialism viewed all over the world but interpreted differently by multiple cultures. Dallas, an American soap-opera from the 1980s, became a symbol for excess and lavish lifestyles that many viewers around the world were guilty to admit they enjoyed because there is a sense of cultural-guilt surrounding popular culture that supports intellectualism instead. Americans love to indulge in soap-operas and more recently, reality shows. Reality shows divide into few categories including: candid camera, real-world-esque situations and competitions, among many sub-categories. Focusing in on MTV a channel devoted to young adults and teenagers, the glitzy era of MTV which spanned from 2004-2008 featured shows like Pimp my Ride, Cribs, My Super Sweet Sixteen, Laguna Beach and the Hills. The aforementioned shows steered away from the candid-camera type of shows and generally focused on the extravagant lives of both celebrities and “common-folks” exaggerating on what it means to live in Southern-California or to celebrate one’s sixteenth birthday. American teenagers tuned in to the over-the top portrayals of their peers for four or five solid years until the crash of the economy no longer made lavish lifestyles as popular. Make no mistake, there are still many successful shows in 2013 that portray lavish lifestyles, but the four year period in the early 2000’s is unrivaled for its sheer extravagance that captured the attention of many.
Laguna Beach, like Dallas, represents American cultural imperialism. The sub-genre of lavish “reality” shows has found its way across many cultures around the world including “Shahs of Sunset” to represent American-Desi culture and “The Only way is Essex” which is an English reality show featuring young, rich and beautiful Brits navigate their social scene much like “The Hills”. While all of these reality shows focus on different regional cultures there are many similarities between them which shows the homogeneity of lavish reality shows. The fascination with lavish lifestyles and beautiful people is not limited to American pop-culture; there are many adaptations as well as critiques around the world of this type of cultural homogeneity.
Can you spot the differences?