One More Reason to be Glad Bork Got Borked—and to Love Reason (Veiled Subscription Pitch)


"You almost began to want to put the wall back up."

That's former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, quoted in today's Washington Times. The story, titled "U.S. pop culture seen as plague," starts off thus:

Robert H. Bork remembers his ambivalence in 1989 as the Berlin Wall came down and dungarees and rock music poured into the former East Germany.

Near the end of the story, Bork relents a bit, displaying the solomonic judgment he no doubt would have brought the nation's highest court:

"[Muslim leaders around the world] have good reason to be very worried about" the spread of American movies, music and fashion, Mr. Bork allows. "I suppose it's better than what they have now, but I wouldn't celebrate too much if they began to adopt our popular culture."

Contrary to the title and Bork quotes, the article mostly details how American pop is actually not particularly dominant globally and that it typically functions as a means of dissent and individuation from authoritarian rule. And one of the best spokesmen for that is Reason's own Charles Paul Freund, who provides the main meat for the story:

"American dominance is just a myth," says Charles Paul Freund, senior editor of Reason magazine. "The biggest films in most major markets are really not American films."

Mr. Freund notes that Bollywood movies still rule the Indian market. Likewise in Western Europe, native films are more popular than American imports. Even the Chinese film industry may become a juggernaut within a generation….

No American artifact will 'Americanize' a foreign user any more than playing a Japanese-produced video game will make you Asian," Mr. Freund argues. "It's preposterous."

The whole story is here.

Read Chuck's "In Praise of Vulgarity: How commercial culture liberates Islam–and the West" here. And these two related pieces: "Bert and the Infidels: How a puppet joined the jihad" and "Really Creative Destruction: Economist Tyler Cowen argues for the cultural benefits of globalization." And, since there's about eight hours before the drinking for New Year's is likely to begin, check out this talk I gave in 2003, "The Perpetual Meaning Machine" (in .pdf), that outlines Reason's particular take on culture.

And subscribe to the print edition of Reason already; you'll get our lushly illustrated mag a month before any of its content shows up here on our Web site. And/or buy a copy of Choice: The Best of Reason, which includes "In Praise of Vulgarity" and a ton of other great stuff. Details for subs and Choice here.