Critics of the spread of U.S. mass culture abroad charge that it has led to the ""Americanization"" of Europe, debasing tastes, uprooting traditions and creating passive consumers. This is mostly a myth, declares Pells in a sweeping, eye-opening study rife with tales of transatlantic misunderstandings. Europeans, he argues, have always reinterpreted and adapted the messages of American pop culture to suit their own needs and circumstance; for example, Sartre and Truffaut used American novels and films to overthrow France's literary and cinematic old guard, while European teens embraced rock music as a symbolic alternative to repressive regimes. Furthermore, the U.S.-Europe dialogue has been an exchange of metaphors and projections more than a sharing of information, contends Pells, professor of history at the University of Texas, Austin. American mass culture, he notes, became a weapon to be deployed in an internal dispute among European authority figures at a time of class antagonism; Europeans remained convinced of their cultural superiority. Meanwhile, a symbolic Europe, wise and urbane, drew American writers and intellectuals, as well as tourists, diplomats and businesspeople who rarely came into sustained contact with the Europeans themselves. Pells has produced a major piece of cultural criticism that recasts the debate over the globalization of American culture. (May)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997 Release date: 10/01/1997 Genre: Nonfiction
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