Cultural Imperialism on Youth

Maham Tayyeb


Pakistan is one of those developing nations that suffer from cultural imperialism. Cultural imperialism takes place when one culture dominates the culture of another nation. Media has a strong influence on cultures in today’s world by fascinating audiences with cultural entertainment items, music, popularizing distinct fashions, literature, visual arts, architecture, language, lifestyles and cultures. It is believed that media outlets remove distinctions between human societies and create a common culture in which unique aspects of national and local cultures are no longer relevant. The media is seen as a modern form of imperialism and the degradation of individual cultures and diversity.

Since we have a history with India, the effects of Indian culture are fairly visible in our lifestyle. We celebrate Indian events like Basant, perform Indian traditions and customs in our ceremonies, follow the dowry system in marriages, listen to their music and watch Indian movies and series that affect our social values and blur the lines between Urdu and Hindi language, we intermix and blend them in our routine without even recognizing. We got rid of the British rule but before going they sowed their culture in our soil. The British ousting from the subcontinent in no way meant that the customs they introduced would fade away. During their reign, they not only influenced the people politically and economically but they influenced their minds and culture to such an extent that even succeeding generations have absorbed and adapted the influence of western culture. Western cultures are still valued over native customs due to acculturation, westernization and modernization leading to a kind of colonization of the mind. This colonization of mind is the root cause of the identity crisis faced by our youth. Our youth watches western movies, listen to English music and carry western outfits. All these are a common part of our daily life and we do not even realize. Not to forget the “English” language, that is our official, but not the national language. Foreign channels are increasing English obsession among youth. If you’re a part of today’s youth and you do not speak English you’re considered as backward and illiterate. According to surveys, our youth feels proud of speaking English. That’s how much we are under the influence of cultural imperialism.

Electronic & social media has changed the way we socialize and organize, from our living, our homes to our outfits and our language, it’s all westernized.  Pakistani viewer’s whole lifestyle is eclipsed by foreign media. Remember watching TV with your family? It switched to individual Netflix surfing. Youngsters prefer watching foreign channels over Pakistani channels. The youth has become vulnerable to the obscene and uncensored scenes. Unsupervised freedom has been considered a major source of trouble and threat to youngster’s moral development. Youth is the most affected generation to adopt cultural changes; they adopt the way of life portrayed in foreign TV shows and media resulting in the change of lifestyle, dressing, behaviours and cultures. Now, even the Pakistani independent channels have a due share in the imitation and promotion of change in costume, dresses and lifestyle. The use of drugs is increased and the culture of partying is customary due to the influence of western culture on our youth. Youngsters prefer listening to Western music rather than promoting Pakistani music like coke studio, in fact, our Pakistani music channels are copying foreign music. Another key danger of cultural imperialism is that foreign tastes have crowded out local food, eating habits and dining culture, and our youth prefers foreign food like Chinese, Italian, McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut etc. over Pakistani food. It is also a form of cultural imperialism and we are adapting to it, building our taste buds. Wearing western clothes is preferred over wearing traditional Pakistani dresses, which are a part of our identity and unique culture. Identity crisis is clearly visible in the actions of Pakistani youth.  A community is recognized by the way they dress, their beliefs and customs and the way they talk and interact, our young generation has completely changed/evolved, due to cultural imperialism it’s hard to distinguish between foreigners and locals.

Globalization has taken the form of media/cultural imperialism with the emergence of media empires. International Media manipulate the global networks of communication to serve their ends by promoting foreign ideologies, traditions and values while replacing Pakistani culture and changing lifestyle, language and other aspects of Pakistani people. Local cultures have made their own hybrid cultures. Our culture is not pure Pakistani and not even purely westernized, its somewhere in between. If we work on empowering and promoting our local culture, we can emerge as an independent state with its own rich culture and identity.

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