The Influence of English Mass Culture on Estonia

    Дисциплина: Иностранные языки
    Тип работы: Монография
    Тема: The Influence of English Mass Culture on Estonia

    The Growing Influence of English Mass Culture
    This article considers the influence of English mass culture on Estonia. How these issues affect Estonia, a small Baltic country, leads to a discourse on our cultural identity, and
    to a specific look at the effects of American mass culture.
    In any discussion of English (or “Western”) ideas of culture and consumerism in young peoples’ eyes, we need to focus on several issues: computer software as a carrier of Western
    culture and the connection between – and universal language of – Hollywood and American mass culture. It is my contention that computer software design is deeply influenced by American
    and Western culture, and therefore reflects its values and priorities. These very same values are “downloaded” into cultures all around the world, embodied in the Microsoft Office
    suite.
    I believe that a language is an integral part of culture, and vice versa, so one cannot separate them without some clear effects. Language expresses, embodies, and symbolizes
    cultural reality: people view their language as a symbol of their social identity, and this is an especially poignant point for a country like Estonia, force-fed a diet of Russian
    language and culture for so many years. It is interesting how Estonians identify with their language and its uniqueness, and why we often fret about the loss of our cultural identity We
    crave and loathe the same things at the same time: Wanting to be more “Western” in our lifestyles, while retaining our “Estonian” character in our languages and attitudes. Estonia is
    greatly influenced by English mass culture and it is definitely the youth of today who are being exploited by it. We drink Coca Cola, wear blue jeans, watch Hollywood movies, listen to
    American music, use Microsoft software, and eat fast food. We do all these things daily. When you visit schools in Estonia, you will find students listening to music on their CD
    players: it is mostly American pop music from singers like Britney Spears, Christina Aquilera, Ricky Martin, Ciara and Eminem. Everywhere you go in this small country, which used to be
    behind the Iron Curtain, everyone knows about Madonna, Michael Jackson, Louis Armstrong and other icons of American music.
    Another field where the influence of English mass culture has been felt is fashion. Young people especially like American fashions. If you visit Tallinn, you can see many young
    students wearing the same brands – 96 New York jeans, Guess, Prada – that you might see in Texas or Tennessee. Is it in Kohtla-J\"arve or Kansas that you might hear a teenaged boy saying,
    “Look, I\'m wearing a Tommy shirt and Polo pants?” ‘Viru Keskus’, the \"American style\" shopping mall in Estonia, has become very popular among young people as they may buy there any
    global brand. I assume that this is a ‘Western’ idea: to make young people believe that brands stand for something special, and convince them that they also will become special if they
    buy and wear a product that carries a certain name. Many young people define themselves less by their social class or ethnic origin than by their personal brand set: the jeans they wear
    and the labels on their clothes. They try to imitate the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Young people feel that they are on the way to pursue an American Dream if they have
    prestigious and costly products, and hope to establish their social position through them. Yet, others think that the brands are the evil of a consumer society, enriching their
    corporate owners by exploiting people’s insecurities and desires; the brands represent a triumph of consumerism over human values. The older generation assumes that our nation of
    workaholics has become a nation of ‘shopaholics.’ Nowadays, more and more Estonian families, like many American ones, find themselves struggling to pay off their credit card debt, a
    modern convenience which helps people buy anything, even the things they cannot really afford.
    Our food and restaurant activity is one area that has been influenced a lot by American-style fast food restaurants. Years ago, America’s foods began to affect the rest of the world
    – not only raw staples such as wheat and corn, but with a new American cuisine that spread worldwide. American emphasis on convenience and rapid consumption is best represented in fast
    foods such as hamburgers, french fries, and soft drinks, which virtually every American has eaten. By the 1960s and 1970s, fast foods became one of America\'s strongest exports as
    franchises for McDonald’s and Burger King spread throughout Europe and other parts of the world, including Estonia. Traditional meals cooked at home and consumed at a leisurely pace –
    common in the rest of the world, and once common in the United States – gave way to quick lunches and dinners eaten on the run as other countries mimicked American cultural
    patterns.
    This is strange in my country with traditional food, but it is necessary in a modern society characterized by time binds. Many of us believe, however, that our traditional food has
    to be saved from such influences. Now there is a tendency to open fast food places, but with local and regional products so that our traditions are not lost. After the initial
    excitement of trying other kinds of foods, we now think that Estonian products are healthier and should be served even in a frugal lunch. Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that
    McDonald\'s is less successful in Estonia than it is in other countries; the culture of the Estonian people is oriented to eating at home with the exception of the four or five big
    cities in the country.
    Another aspect of strong impact of English mass culture on Estonia is the omnipresent computer. I cannot imagine my life without a computer and the Internet. The personal computer
    has already become one of the most ubiquitous appliances in today’s modern world. The Internet has led directly to the creation of many Estonian companies. In Estonia, as in all
    countries, English mass culture guides the way we create documents, surf the Web, send e-mail, and exchange information in a multitude of different ways. Most PCs are usually loaded
    with the same basic kinds of American software: an Internet browser, an e-mail client, and at least some sort of productivity software, most likely a word processor. This means that
    thousands of Estonians, like millions of people all over the world, whether at home, the office, Internet cafes, or other venues, are constantly working, communicating, or entertaining
    themselves through software, while at the same time they slowly internalize the thought processes, priorities, and values embedded in the applications they use. As computer and software
    usage grows among cultures worldwide, it will become increasingly important to understand how software can act as a carrier of culture, and what effect, if any, this can have on other
    cultures. Software design is deeply influenced by American culture. Since...

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