Posted on behalf of Alysse Rossner:
Last week President Obama attended the international G-20 summit. Not only was he a representative of the United States, but he also became a representative of the Western world and even Americanization. On Friday, April 3 TIME Magazine online published an article titled, “Barack Obama’s New World Order” (http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1889512,00.html). In this article, writer Michael Scherer reflects on the positive impact that Obama’s presidency has made on the international stage.
Upon reading this article, two things struck me: 1) Obama is “branding” the U.S. and 2) he truly is impressing leaders and foreign press around the world. Scherer feels that the United States’ “international branding campaign” led by Obama is effective. According to Baron and Davis, political economists may even say it is important that he is actively working for social change (213). Why is this so important?
As the most powerful country in the world and the most economically influential, America’s “cultural imperialism” was being addressed by Obama at the summit. According to Tomlinson, cultural imperialism ranges from “a pattern of inherited colonial attitudes and practices” to “the practices and effects of an ongoing system of economic relations within global capitalism” (Tomlinson, 223). In order to address this cultural imperialism during these economic times, “Obama has made clear that the U.S. is but one actor in a global community” and he has replaced “American economic supremacy” with a call for an increase in the growth of developing countries (Scherer). Is Obama imposing another form of cultural imperialism or is he truly asking to be a part of a team effort?
Obama’s perspective is taking on a ritual perspective role. The ritual perspective requires grand-scale interaction and the realization of “mass communication as the representation of shared belief where reality is produced, maintained, repaired and transformed” (Baron, 216). In other words, Obama’s words on behalf of the U.S. imply more than a “new frontier,” but a global change in the perspective of America. Scherer recounts when the foreign press applauded as he left the stage after Obama took questions from the British, Indian, and Chinese reporters. An event and reaction like this reminds us that due to the media, we “get a somewhat distorted picture” about what life is like in other parts of the world and even in our own” (Rosengren, 232).
On the other hand there are parts of the world without access or a lack of access to the media that cannot contribute to the “global village” or the social organization as electronic media that ties the entire world into one a great social, political, and cultural system (Baron, 220). The cultural elites still prevail making it even more important for Obama to spread his message.
Is Obama succeeding at changing how the world perceives America? Baron and Davis feel that the “ideal form of media will evolve naturally, no matter what we try to do” (Baron, 221). Do you think Obama and his administration have more control than the media when shaping these new perceptions? It is the foreign press that is impressed by him, or the countries they represent? Whatever the reasons, he has made it clear that he is looking for collaboration to build a collective vision and that is even impressive for Americans.