Jan 12 2005

All Things Asian Are Becoming Us

Published by at January 12, 2005 9:00 pm under Global Culture,Globalization

Rudyard Kipling’s famous line “East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet” no longer applies. Today, East and West are commingled, and in this country, the East is on the rise.

Take movies. American audiences are growing more familiar with movies from China, Japan and South Korea. Quentin Tarantino is planning a kung fu movie entirely in Mandarin, and Zhang Yimou’s stylized martial arts films like “Hero” and “House of Flying Daggers” are popular across the country. Hollywood is remaking Japanese blockbusters like “The Ring” and “Shall We Dance?”

What many Asian Americans once considered proprietary culture — kung fu, acupuncture, ginseng, incense, Confucian dramas, beef noodle soup and so on — has spilled irrevocably into the mainstream.

Three decades ago, who would have thought that sushi would become an indelible part of American cuisine? Or that Vietnamese fish sauce would be found on Aisle 3 of Safeway? Or that acupuncture would be accepted by some HMOs? That feng shui would become a household word? Or that Asian writers, especially Indian, would play a large and important role in the pantheon of American letters?

American pundits tend to look at the world through a very old prism — they associate globalization as synonymous with Americanization: i.e., how the United States influences the world. What many tend to overlook, in the age of porous borders, is how much the world has changed the United States.

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