|Norwegian Culture = American Culture?
Norway and America have had their own separate cultures through centuries, but during the last decades, the situation has changed. Norway as well as several other countries have been affected by the American way of living, and this development has increased on a large scale the last years. A normal day, we receive lots of impressions, many of them from American culture, often without noticing them - because we have been getting so used to them. If the development continues as it does today, Norway will be totally Americanized within a generation or two. So, when and where is this development goint to stop, if it ever does?
There are many ways my daily life is influenced by American culture. What is relevant to start with, is American food chains. Outside Sarpsborg, the McDonald's chain has just opened a new hamburger bar. In the world, a new McDonald's restaurant is opened every fourth hour. This gives a little picture of how countries are affected by American culture. Personally I have nothing against McDonald's, but I find it odd that this chain is so popular. When the McDonald's restaurant opened two weeks ago, there were few free seats the first days. Why? Because McDonald's is famous. Not for its good hamburgers or style. What makes McDonald's famous then? The answer is: It is American. Are we stupid?
Very relevant to include in this discussion are American TV-series and films. There are few students in upper secondary school who do not watch an American TV-series. Norwegian teenagers receive many impressions from these series which influence what kind of attitudes they have, what kind of clothes they are wearing and so on. But this development has not been going on forever. I think it started in earnest when we got these satelite antennas into Norway. Then we were able to watch American TV-channels, and the result was that Norwegian TV-channels bought the most famous series and
started to send them, with luck.
Another result of American TV-series and films, is the influence on the Norwegian language. Many words and expressions being used today, especially by youth, have obviously been "imported" from the USA through films and series. Examples are words like disco, tape, DJ, hip-hop, rave and junk food. The actors are great idols for many teenagers, and many of them want to behave just like their idols. And this causes alterations to the language. The last years I have become more and more interested in stereos and especially computers. To make a conversation about what is inside a computer or a stereo, you are not able to use anything but English/American words. So my daily life is very affected of American culture.
But it is not only films and series which influence Norwegian language and attitudes, there are also several other reasons for this development. Examples are magazines, music, advertising and technology. Today one can buy all kinds of magazines in stores like Narvesen, and American magazines are not unusual to find in the shelves there. When it comes to music, many American musicians have been idolized through their music - we want to look like them, behave like them, and it affects our attitudes. It has in addition to this the same influence on the Norwegian culture as films and TV-series have - through language. Also advertising is important. Not only is there much American advertising on TV, but now Norwegian companies have begun to advertise the same way, but this does not apply to everyone.
Some American sports have become very popular in Norway the last years. I am especially thinking of the interest in basketball, which has grown enormously the last couple of years. In the middle of the 80s, basketball was a small sport in Norway, but today, it is one of the most popular sports among teenagers. Icehockey has also been growing after Norwegians became interested in the American "National Hockey League." And who has not seen those younger boys buying, collecting and exchanging hockey cards, without actually being interested in icehockey at all? Personally I am not very interested in sports, and American sports does not influence me especially much, but it influences the Norwegian culture, especially youth.
The question is if this influence on Norwegian culture is any danger. I think it is a danger for the tourist business in Norway. Tourists are coming to Norway to see Norway's features, and today they may see Norway's features. But within a few years, I am sure tourist business will decrease. That is because I do not think American, German, English or any tourists are coming to Norway to see a country which is pretty like their own - with the same petrol stations and the same restaurant chains. And I do not think they are expecting for example a McDonald's drive-in among the snug, small villages with small, narrow roads on the west coast. Actually, the development are moving to that direction.
On the other hand, I think "Ola Nordmann" is able to preserve his own culture. We proved that in the Olympic Games at Lillehammer in 1994. The arrangement was a nationalistic arrangement, fully Norwegian, and we showed the world how Norway really is. But that was a planned arrangement which we were able to make as Norwegian as possible. In everyday life, it is more difficult to limit the influence from the American culture.
As the development has been the last years, it seems like Norway in the future will be Americanized. Hopefully it will not, but before the development stops, American culture will have affected Norway on such a large scale, that Norway has lost much of its features. If the development continues as it has done the last years, it is undisguised that American culture may replace several Norwegian customs and traditions. Probably, the same will happen in a numbers of other countries too. So where is this development going to stop?
Will we end up with an American world?