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Culture, Art, Entertainment and Imperialism

Repeat 100 times with me:

Entertainment is not culture. It is empire.
Entertainment is not culture. It is empire.
Entertainment is not culture. It is empire.

Now we begin.

In a previous post we saw that culture is our DNA when it comes to our behaviour.

Then, there is art.

Art relies on techniques that are used to turn cultural elements of our daily lives into beautiful and memorable pieces. Today we know how Henry the VIII dressed, what the Greeks looked like, or how Jesus did at his last supper, from paintings, sculptures and so on. Art is a cultural amplifier that also makes it enduring.

Then, there is entertainment.

Entertainment is a form of art and, basically, it acts as an amplifier of art itself and therefore, it’s a culture loudspeaker.

And then; there is imperialism.

The human being has always been aware that what you do (your culture) is good, but what I do (my culture) is better. And I need to convince you, to invade you, to conquer you. This is one of the foundations that drives us to imperialism. The other is to get cheap labour (slaves) because in the past, we did everything by hand, and everything cost a lot of sweat. Muscle and physical strength was an asset that was in infinite demand and value.

It started get easy with animals in the agricultural revolution, but it was quite after in the first industrial revolution when machines were put to work, and slaves became less and less indispensable. Furthermore, we realize that war is expensive, and stains quite a bit. This means that conquests with swords and machine guns are quite relaxed right now. Since the appearance and first use of the atomic bomb, empires have realized that they can be wiped off the map in minutes at the push of a button. This makes the military wars practically fall into disuse and the powers ask themselves; how do I imperialise now?

The answer: through influence, desire and debt. Economic imperialism is born.

Economic imperialism is the domination of one nation over another less developed one. This, without having to resort to political or military means, but only the influence of trade relations.

And what is the sword of this new empire? You know it, Culture. In particular culture, amplified with art, elevated to a nuclear level by the mass media, marketing and the entertainment industry.

This is not new, the Romans when they conquered a people, the first thing they did to gain the governability and the “favour” of the newly conquered, was to build a circus to start inoculating them with their culture and turn them into good and docile Romans. It worked quite well for them and we have been evolving the concept since then.

Nowadays, the circus is called “the entertainment industry” and is broadcast massively on TV screens and mobile phones. The governments most prone to imperialism try to promote this industry through subsidies in order to amplify and sell their culture through their artists.

In Spain for example, these subsidies have always been quite controversial because here we always reduce everything to a schoolyard fight of reds against blues, but they are tiny if we compare them with those of France, UK, Germany and not to mention the USA, states which know something of imperialism, are the last empires and use culture as a weapon of mass subjugation. They are not fools and they do not do it out of altruism or love to art, they know that these incentives are an investment with a TEMPORARY return, although by the way, quite difficult to measure and maybe that is why it does not look good.

While in the early days muscles and physical strength were the engine of the world, today it is the influence, and it has transformed the armies of Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great into instruments of economic imperialism such as Paramount Pictures, CNN news, Netflix, Twitter or MTV.

Special mention should be made of the incipient Chinese empire which imposed itself through physical labour but which is promoting its cultural, entertainment and influence industries with phenomena such as TikTok or the Tencent conglomerate.

Anyway, I’m leaving now as I have to prepare the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, and the wallet for tomorrow which is Black Friday!

This article was originally published in Spanish on 26/11/2020 in the newspaper Cordópolis.

Optimist. Futurist. Entrepreneur. Cloud & Cybersecurity Expert at grayhats.com

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Optimist. Futurist. Entrepreneur. Cloud & Cybersecurity Expert at grayhats.com

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