Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Melting Pot (Western Europe)

I am constantly surprised at how Europe is now the melting pot that American no longer is. There are tons of interracial couples and interracial kids. There is a rainbow audience at nearly every show. It's so amazing to see people from all continents grooving to Brazilian or Senegalese or European music. They seem so much more open to different cultures and experiences than people in the US or even Japan.

I've decided that society is more "mature" here. Maybe that maturity comes from its long history. The very cool thing is that mature societies can be stuffy and conservative, but the influx of people from all over the world has helped energize Western Europe. In the US, the different cultures do not "melt" together. Minorities build their own communities, so instead of one interesting flavor, the US is a patchwork. And it should be a harmonious patchwork, but in recent years, there's a racial/ethnic tension running underneath, like a dark current, an undertow. Here, perhaps because the minorities are still that -- minorities -- there is less tension and the minorities seem to blend into the host society pretty well.

But the "maturity" I'm talking about goes beyond demographics. Even the kids are more "mature"!

"Well, in the US, lawyers and frivolous lawsuits have just about done in the concept of personal responsibility," notes Big Dog. Really! And how can you behave like an adult when you don't believe in personal responsibility? When it's never your fault and you can always blame someone else? You really start having a society of children, don't you.

Japan, on the other hand, could be a "mature" society, but it's been through so many 180 degree changes over the last couple hundred years that its sense of "history" has changed. New is revered. Old is discarded. Despite the fact that the biggest bulge in its demographics is still the baby boomer generation, marketing is geared towards the youth market. That means most of popular culture is, too. It, too, is a society of children. And its contributions to the world are all youth-oriented. Anime, Hello Kitty, Game Boys.

I think you can blame the Americans. Without Commodore Perry's Black Ships, Japan might have happily remained in Utamaro's Floating World for a while longer.

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