The Influence of English Mass Culture on Estonia — страница 4

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dominance creates a negative effect on the young generation and can increase crime. In this situation, we should recognize that the spread of culture to another country can also spread the problems inherent therein. Television and other mass media broadcast a portrayal of a privileged American lifestyle that many Estonians hope to imitate. People all over the world view American television programs. American television has become such an international fixture that American news broadcasts help define what people in other countries know about current events and politics. The debate about the power of TV to influence people's behavior and beliefs has been going on ever since the medium became widely popular in the West in the 1950s. Many people in our country are worried about the

impact of the ‘Western-style’ TV on social behavior, particularly crimes of violence; its effects on the political process; and whether it causes a deterioration in cultural standards. A lot of Estonians say that the growing size of the American media conglomerates threatens the global cultural endowment. American culture has been pervasive in Estonia in the last 15 years. Today, American culture often sets the pace in modern style. While mass media made entertainment available to more people, it also began to homogenize tastes, styles, and points of view among different groups. Like it or not, America has become the dominant cultural source for entertainment and popular fashion, from the jeans and T-shirts young people wear to the music groups and rock stars they

listen to and the movies they see. American entertainment is probably one of the strongest means by which American culture influences Estonia, although some people resist this influence because they see it as a threat to their unique national culture. Mass media in Estonia are becoming increasingly Americanized. More channels are devoted to talk shows and pop music, games and quizzes. As the influence of American culture grows around the world, members of local cultures consistently express concern about the integrity and survival of their ways of life. Many Estonians particularly fear the influence of Hollywood films, television, and popular music, which infiltrate their homes through cable, satellite, and the Internet. They see these technologies as powerful carriers of

American cultural values, which they fear will erode their own culture, especially amongst the young. When considering Hollywood’s effect, our youth take their cues from the way the Americans – good and bad – are portrayed in the movies. For instance, many Estonian youth begin to dress, talk, and even behave like his or her actor from a particular American television series. Who, fifteen years ago, would have imagined that the American films, television programming, and recorded music which dominate our market could lead to Estonians aping the hip-hop culture with baggy jeans and baseball caps turned backwards? In 2005, young Estonians have high expectations about technology: text messaging, cell phones, and doing research on the Internet are our everyday

activities, and connectivity is continually increasing. We get news "alerts" as text messages on the same mobile phones that we use to pay for our car parking fees. We shop online, pay online, greet our buddies online, all the while remembering that time is a currency for us. In fact, we, young Estonians, respect and understand time. We know how to use it, and we know what it has done for us. We are busier than ever before. Writing from my hometown in northeast Estonia, this strikes me as one of English mass culture’s most profound influences. The challenges we face are also profound: How do we preserve our unique culture while embracing the things we need and love? Must I choose between Estonian music and Eminem? Will I even have time to consider this choice, or will it be

made for me? We will never lose the need to co-operate with the United States and the EU on the ways they export their culture to us. My question? When, if ever, will “they” see that they need “us” too? No Estonian can be ignorant of what time and the effects of mass cultures have done to us. Centuries of our history reinforce this often-painful memory. Yet, we Estonians have survived and regained (some would say maintained) our independence. We will maintain our independence also in the European Union, NATO, wherever. We must not lose our independence, which is in fact the main foundation for our culture and its network of social and psychological rituals. At the same time, we want and need to make Estonia culturally and economically attractive abroad,