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How American Culture “Plays” Overseas

The United States’ greatest export is probably its culture. American products, fashion, and cultural icons are used all over the world, even in countries that don’t really like us very much.

Much of these are really part of America’s immigrant subculture. For example, second and third generation Mexican-Americans have created distinctive subculture known as “cholo”. These younger Mexican-Americans speak to a hybrid langue that melds Spanish and English into a form of speech called “Spanglish”. Spanglish music has strong hip-hop influences and the Cholos” tend to sport tattoos, baggy clothing, and drive “low-rider” automobiles and favor “gangster rap” music. Cholo music has strong criminal influence to it, often glorifying gangs and drug dealing.

It’s not the sort of “culture” our embassies, ambassadors and politicians care to promote or export; never the less, it has been “exported” and become a youth “subculture” in, of all places, Japan. Younger Japanese have adopted “cholo” for themselves; not only just the music, but the “style” as well. The Japanese version of cholo music mixes English, Spanish and Japanese lyrics as well as the Chicano fashion well.

But cholo is not the only American subculture that has been unofficially exported an quite often equally condemned by other nations.

Sweden’s international image is that of peaceful; politically correct country where general displays of rowdiness are frowned upon. But “Raggare” is a Swedish subculture obsessed with classic American cars. Swedes gather for huge tailgate parties where Country, Rock-and-Roll, and Rockabilly music is blasted, accompanied by large quantities of beer while waving Confederate flags.

American Heavy Metal became popular not only in Europe and Scandinavia but also in Islamic Syria, forcing both the Syrian Muslim Government, and the Islamist Syrian rebels to place official bans on all “non-Islamic” music. .