In García Canclini’s Consumers and Citizens he explores the appropriation of consumption. As Anthony cited in his post below, García Canclini uses the example of a song to illustrate how music and culture can also be appropriated, not just material goods. García Canclini explains that while a song may be produced exclusively for aesthetic reasons, once it is recorded it can take on a range of meanings and can be used for mass consumption and appeal (47). Furthermore, a song can be appropriated by a political movement and become a “resource of identification and collective mobilization,” (47).  The appropriation (and misinterpretation) of songs was never so explicit than in 1984 with Bruce Springsteen’s hit “Born in the U.S.A.” Springsteen wrote the song as a tribute to his friends who had fought in the Vietnam War, some of which who did not return. While the title of the song might elicit a patriotic spirit among listeners, the song in in fact is a lament about the loss of a true sense of national pride. In a critical essay that analyzes the hit song, it is suggested that Springsteen’s song is a reflection of blue-collar America “sheltered only by an empty shell of a failed social patriotism.”

The intended meaning of the song is all too ironic, since later that year the conservative Ronal Reagan began to quote Springsteen in his campaign for presidency. Just as García Canclini suggested in his text, Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A,” was appropriated as a source of pride for Americans. The song is actively consumed during patriotic occasions as  a way to celebrate being born in the great country that is America. Since the birth of the song, it has been wildly misunderstood and to this day is still appropriated as an American anthem and source of national pride.

While the meaning of Springsteen’s song had been misinterpreted due to the misleading lyrics, there are also several instances in which a song, film, or object loses or changes meaning due to its cultural roots, which García Canclini also discusses in Consumers and Citizens. When discussing globalization and the intersection of cultural systems, Canclini ponders the coexistence of symbolic codes, as does Angeeijlee in the post below. Angeeijlee questions whether or not commodified goods can retain its cultural discourse when crossing national borders. This question got me thinking about the controversial (yet critically acclaimed) film Borat. Not only does the mockumentary directly address the issue of deterritorialization and reterritorialization within the film (for instance, Borat appropriates ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ by singing fictional Kazakhstani lyrics to the same tune), but the movie itself is an excellent example of how cultural goods do not necessarily translate across borders. In the United States, Borat was nominated for Best Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy at the 2007 Golden Globe Awards, and received a positive 91% on the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes. However in the Arab world, Borat was banned in every single country except for Lebanon. A censor at Dubai’s Ministry of Information called Borat “vile, gross, and extremely ridiculous.” Needless to say, although the controversial humor of Sacha Baron-Cohen was celebrated in the States, it was by no means well received within the global community. It is for these reasons that I think that symbolic homogenization on a global scale is nearly impossible to achieve, specifically because several meanings are gained, lost, and rejected within the process of deterritorialization.

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