Sociologist Michael Kimmel and a reader named L.A. sent along a link to a fashion spread on a Bulgarian magazine’s website. It’s another example of the glamorization and sexualization of violence against women. Titled, “Victim of Beauty,” the featured photographs have absolutely nothing to offer, short of showing beautiful women who appear to have been beaten, cut, strangled, and burned. As I’ve written elsewhere:
As much as I’m bored of seeing women appear to be beaten, sick, or dead in fashion spreads, it also really feels like we must hate them. Why else? Why else this constant glorification of their abuse?
I’m going to show one image and throw the rest behind the jump. They’re very disturbing (e.g., women with slit throats and more)…
The term glocalization — a combination of globalization and local — refers to the tendency of globalizing processes to have to adapt to local peculiarities. McDonalds is a great example. It’s a brand recognized around the world, but it responds to local tastes in developing its menu. So, you can buy a McItaly burger, a Maharaja Mac in India, a McLobster in Canada, and an Ebi Filit-O with Seaweed Shaker fries in Japan (source).
I thought of the concept of glocalization when I came across a set of publicity photos for TV programs in 13 different countries, all modeled after America’s Married with Children. Each has its own flavor (e.g., the parrot replacing the dog in Chile) and I imagine if we were able to watch them all we’d see great examples of the phenomenon.
There is big trouble brewing in Europe. John Ross, in his blog Key Trends in the World Economy, highlights this brewing crisis in a series of charts, some of which I repost below.
This first chart shows the extent of the recovery from the recent economic crisis in the U.S., the EU, and Japan. While the U.S. GDP has finally regained its past business cycle peak, the same cannot be said for Europe (or Japan). As of the 3rd quarter 2011, EU GDP was still 1.7% below its previous business cycle peak. The Eurozone was 1.9% below.
Recent GDP estimates for the 4th quarter show European GDP once again contracting, which strongly suggests that the region is headed back into recession without having regained its previous business cycle peak. This development implies that Europe faces serious stagnationist pressures.
This chart looks at the growth record for the 5 largest European economies. Germany has regained its previous GDP peak. France is making progress toward that end. These two countries account for 36.2% of European GDP. However, things are quite different for the UK, Italy, and Spain. These three countries account for 34.7% of European GDP and not only do they each remain far below their respective previous GDP peaks, their economies are once again heading downward.
The third chart highlights the economic performance of the three countries which have received the most media attention because of fears that their governments will be unable to repay their respective debts. They are clearly in trouble, adding to the downward pressure on European GDP. However, despite all the attention paid to them, their combined economies are only one-eighth the size of the combined economies of the UK, Italy and Spain.
The next two charts highlight the fact that economic trends are also dire throughout much of Eastern Europe.
The take-away is that European economic problems are not limited to a few smaller countries. Some of the largest are also performing poorly and apparently headed back into recession without ever having regained their past business cycle peaks. It is hard to see Europe escaping recession. And it is hard to see the U.S., Asia, and Africa escaping the consequences.
I am trying to re-enter society after several days being sick, so I’m going with something short and simple today. Eden H. sent in this chart, found at Business Insider, that compares hourly minimum wages in a number of European countries to the U.S.:
The European data are available from Eurostat (though note they report minimum wages in terms of Euros per month, not hour, so the data was converted for the chart).
Different countries formalize different racial categories. Below are examples of the “race” questions on the Censuses of 9 different countries. They illustrate just how diverse ideas about race are and challenge the notion that there is one “correct” question or set of questions.
The categories in the drop down menu include:
The categories in the drop down menu include:
Black, African Am., or Negro
American Indian or Alaska Native
Guamanian or Chamorro
Other Pacific Islander
Some other race
Natasha L. sent in another example of stereotypes tied to nationality/region in the form of a set of comical visual distinctions between “Westerners” and “Asians,” found here, by an artist named Yang Liu. [Note: Natasha and I both assume they're supposed to be comical or even satirical, particularly of the way that non-Western countries are generally stereotyped as being less professional, less punctual, less rational, and so on, though we might be wrong.] Some examples:
“In the Restaurant”
“Queue when Waiting”
Regardless of the artist’s intent (whether they’re supposed to be satires of this type of thinking, etc.), I’m sure many people will laugh and see some elements of truth to some of the images. But I’m betting you could tell people they represent almost any set of nationalities and people would also laugh and say “OMG, it’s totally true!” It’s Germany and Spain! It’s the U.S. and Mexico! It’s Venezuela and Greece! You could also probably change this to “men” and “women” and get the same reaction. It’s the stereotypical categorization we think is funny–the idea that groups of people are systematically different, whether it’s based on gender, class, race, nationality, region within a country, and so on (particularly if these differences might lead to sitcom-like hijinx and misunderstandings!).
For a fun little activity to get across the way in which stereotypes are inconsistent and meaningless, you might present these images, not tell your students what they’re supposed to represent, and ask them what groups they think are being portrayed (either out loud or in writing), then use their guesses, which will probably vary widely and draw on lots of different human categories such as class, gender, race, and so on, to talk about stereotyping (which may or may not be negative, of course) and how little we pay attention to what the actual contents of our stereotypes are. Another good example of this would be the way that ethnic groups are often defined as having uniquely loud and boisterous families–I think of it as the “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” syndrome. Well, if Italians, Irish, Greeks, Jews, Russians, Mexicans, Spaniards, Chinese, people from the Southern U.S., New Yorkers, etc. etc. etc., all have big loud families…doesn’t that kind of indicate that lots of families are just big and loud, regardless of background?
Thanks, Ashley and Natasha!
NEW! Robin sent in a link to an article in the Guardian about a Czech artist who pulled off a hoax by creating a set of sculpture that represent stereotypes of various European countries, which he said were created by 27 different artists.
Luxembourg is made of gold…and is for sale:
Poland has priests raising a rainbow flag. I didn’t know if the rainbow flag has the same association with gay rights in Poland as it does here, but Spiegel Online says it’s a gay pride flag:
Bulgaria is apparently supposed to be the floor of a urinal, though Spiegel Online says it’s a Turkish toilet, apparently also called a squat toilet:
Bulgaria’s not happy about it and has demanded the sculpture be taken down.
Holland has been flooded, but minarets stick out of the water to remind us about increasing concerns expressed by many Dutch about the Muslim community in the Netherlands since tension increased after the Mohammad cartoon incident:
There is ongoing debate about whether this image of Germany, showing the country’s many autobahns, is supposed to look like a swastika:
And of course France has a large banner that says “Strike!”
Apparently Great Britain was represented simply as a blank space.
Culture-sharing, of course, is nothing new. But with new forms of media, they are intensified and, increasingly, we get to see what “they” do with “our” art forms. Jenelle N. sent in this fascinating music video of artists in Bulgaria appropriating American hip hop and, correspondingly, elements of “Black” culture (highly produced and largely invented by music executives) and blending it with more “indigenous” art forms (please do note all of my scarequotes).
This duet is, as Jenelle explains, “between two of Bulgaria’s hottest chalga performers, Azis and Malina called Iskam, Iskam (I Want, I Want).”