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Asian Popular Culture In Globalization Contexts

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 3293 words Published: 28th Apr 2017

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Globalization is a process of cultural, economic, politics and religious integration all over the world. Globalization has brought about great changes on the ideologies, communication, and transportation. The Asian popular culture has also undergone great changes under the background of globalization. During the globalization process, the Asian popular culture has played an important and critical role. The Asian popular culture has exerted great influence on the world culture. The Chinese Kung Fu and the Japanese animation are the typical examples which have brought about great impact on the world popular culture. The case of the Chinese Kung Fu in the film industry and the Japanese animation images will be further studied in the following passages.

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Case 1 Chinese Kung Fu in the film industry

In recent years, the Chinese Kung Fu films have been popular all over the world. Many Hollywood films contain the Chinese Kung Fu elements. The philosophy in the Kung Fu such as go with the nature has been wide spread (Royo, 2009). Learning Chinese Kung Fu has become a fashion among many foreigners. The images created by the Chinese Kung Fu actor Bruce Lee, Jacky Chan and Jet Lee have influenced people of several generations. The director Ang Lee’s film Chinese Kung Fu film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has won the 2000 Academy Award including the Best Foreign Language Film, Best Cinematography, Best Music, Original Score, and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration. The 2008 animation Kung Fu Panda of DreamWorks has again fired a Chinese Kung Fu fashion. In the film, besides the martial arts and the Panda which are of strong Chinese characteristics, other Chinese elements have also been included, such as the chopsticks, Chinese costumes and Shifu(master). In this film, the Chinese philosophies have also been involved. As a matter of fact, the Hollywood films which take Chinese historical stories as the main theme, or which involves Chinese elements are in a great number. The Chinese Kung Fu has already been rooted in the film audience’s minds. Most western film goers believes that if the protagonist in the film has been equipped with Chinese Kung Fu, he is sure to beat his opponent no matter what impediment or unfavorable condition the protagonist is in (Belton, 1996). Due to the influence of the film industry, the Chinese Kung Fu has been widely spread all over the world and become popular. Many foreigners including the westerners as well as those in the Asian countries as well come to china to study Chinese martial arts or Kung Fu. The Shaolin Monastery becomes an ideal destination for the fans who love the martial arts of Bruce Lee or Jacky Chan. The Shaolin Monastery in the Henan Province in china is on the Songshan Mountain which is one of the four renowned mountains in china. The Shaolin Monastery has a long tradition of martial arts and the monks in this monastery are all master hand in martial arts. The name of Shaolin Monastery has been spread by many films. Every year, the Shaolin Monastery receives thousands of foreign tourists who interested in the martial arts and the Kung Fu lovers who want to study martial arts. The monks of the Shaolin Monastery will put performance every year all over the world and their performance is enthusiastically welcomed by the foreign audience no matter they love Kung Fu or not. The Chinese Kung Fu gradually becomes a part of popular culture with the help of the film and the film itself has been popular enough. The Kung Fu has also becomes popular among the Chinese. Many elements in Chinese Kung Fu have been incorporated in people’s daily exercises to keep fit.

Case analysis Chinese popular culture as the bridge between the eastern and western culture under the background of globalization

From this case, the Chinese popular culture has played a role of bridging the western and eastern culture. Under the background of globalization, culture diversification is an inevitable trend under the background of globalization. The integration and infiltration of the alien culture and the local culture is an inevitable process for the development of the culture. No culture can develop and evolve through isolation and insulation with the outside world. Therefore, the Chinese popular has played the role of bridging the western and eastern culture through the popularization of the martial arts, a major part of the Chinese popular culture. This bridging process promotes the culture diversification as well as the development of various cultures. In the past, the western people have little knowledge about china and the Chinese has distorted knowledge about the western countries as well as some Asian countries. During the communication and exchanging with the foreign cultures, more foreigners become interested in knowing more about the unique culture of china which they had little knowledge. Due to more direct communication with the outside world, the Chinese know more about the foreign cultures. In the case of the Shaolin Monastery, on one hand, the foreigners come to china to seek the martial arts in their minds, on the other hand, the Shaolin Monastery organize monks to put performance in foreign countries to display the essence of the martial arts in their minds. The Shaolin martial arts therefore become an industry which will bring about profits to the Shaolin Monastery and can provide martial arts teaching service for the public particularly to the foreigners. There are many other labels in Asian popular cultures such as the Japanese animation and Judo, like the Chinese martial arts, they have all played the role of the bridging the different cultures.

Case 2 Hello Kitty and Japan

Hello Kitty is a world famous cartoon image which came out in 1974 in Japan. Hello Kitty can be regarded as the prime representation of the Japanese popular culture as well as the world popular culture. This simple cat image with bowknot on the head and with no mouth has become popular for almost 30 years all over the world. The image of Kitty can be seen on cup, notebook, cell-phone, toy, watch, computer and etc. Almost on most of the daily utensils, the image of Kitty can be seen. There are 22,000 products are labeled on the image of Kitty and sold to over 40 countries all over the world (Craig, 2000). In the year 2004, McDonald pushed a mini decorative pendent of Kitty. This pendent has become so popular that in Taiwan the lovers took this pendant as the symbol of their love. In Singapore, a commotion happened when people were queuing to buy the happy meal with the theme of Hello Kitty. Hello Kitty has brought about 50 million dollars profits to its copyright owners every year (Craig, 2000). Not only kids love Kitty, the adults even the old people loves Kitty. For a child, Kitty is a lovely toy; for an office lady, Kitty brings her back to her innocent childhood; for a father, Kitty gives him a chance to show his love and care for his children who loves Kitty very much. People of different age, taste, style, gender and wish are attracted by this lovely little cat. Unlike Garfield or Mickey Mouse which are backed by fascinating films and books, there are no stories, movies, TV series, books about Kitty but Kitty has become a cultural symbol for it successfully satisfied people’s desire for innocence. Not only Kitty is welcomed by the general public, Kitty and her family members, friends, boy friend are all welcomed by the people all over the world. Many people have a desire to collect a whole series of Kitty products. The scene that people wait in long queue just to buy the newly come out Kitty product can usually be seen. Kitty is not just a successful product; it becomes a lifestyle of some people. It reflects people’s inner motives, desires and emotion. It is a cultural product which arouses fierce discussion among scholars and politicians who are blamed to manipulating the image to realize the political purpose (Zoonen, 2004) .

Case analysis Hello Kitty, urban syndromes and animation diplomacy

The popular of Hello Kitty has two reasons. The first one is that with the acceleration of the industrialization and urbanization, people feel more alienated and lonely. The interpersonally relationship becomes more impersonal and cold. Under the urban culture of strong pressure, depression and competition, people tend to ease their pressure and gain care and love from lovely objects. Hello Kitty is a product which just fulfills the need of the vulnerable urban people with various urban syndromes. Hello Kitty can be regarded as the representation of the “lovely culture” which exists to ease people’s pressure and satisfy their longing for love under the background of globalization which makes the urban syndromes more severe. The second reason for the popular of Hello Kitty is that the Japanese government has made efforts to promote the Japan image and the soft power of Japan by promoting Hello Kitty and other renowned cartoon images. Thus the further and enduring popularity of Hello Kitty has close relation to the government’s efforts. The promotion of the Hello Kitty of the Japanese government is with the intention to promote Japanese culture and Japanese image all over the world. Some western media believe that Japan’s overseas image has close relation to the image of Hello Kitty. The fact attests to this saying for in May 2008, Hello Kitty becomes the tourism promotion ambassador of Japan (Desai, 2004). On March 19th, 2008, the Japanese Foreign Ministry held a special ambassador inauguration (Desai, 2004). The animation image Doraemon, a blue machine cat was appointed as the foreign ambassador of Japan which was an unprecedented event. Hello Kitty and Doraemon have both bore the responsibility of improving the image of Japan. This culture diplomacy taken by the Japanese government is regarded as animation diplomacy (Desai, 2004). The Japanese popular culture has been successfully used by the government to improve the country’s soft power under the background of globalization. Japan has taken advantage of its popular culture to improve its influence on the world.

The influence of the Asian popular culture on the flow of people

The flow of people and the Asian popular culture is an interaction process. On one hand the Asian popular culture influences the flow of people and on the other hand the flow of people makes the Asian popular culture more diversified and spread in a wider range. As to the influence of the Asian popular culture on the flow of people, before discussing this issue, first of all, the categories of flow of people will be discussed. The flow of people can be divided into the flow within the country and the flow among different countries. The flow of people can be permanent or temporary. The Asian popular culture has exerted influence on both the four kinds of flow of people. Most people migrant with the hope that they will reach a better destination to live or settle down and the image of better destination to some extent is build on the popular culture. For the popular culture is the easiest access to understand the culture of another nation. The Asian popular culture has great impact on the temporary flow of people. The major part of the temporary flow of people is tourists. For example, with the popular of the Chinese Kung Fu film all over the world, people from various countries come to china to find out whether the Kung Fu in the film is real. Thus they go to the Shaolin Monastery to see the monks so as to satisfy their curiosity. Some frantic Kung Fu lovers even stay in Shaolin Monastery to study the martial arts. From large number of tourists from all over the world received by the Shaolin Monastery, it is easy to infer that the popular culture has exerted great impact on the temporary flow of people. In Japan, the situation is quite similar. Large numbers of tourists come to Japan just want to visit the Hello Kitty Museum or to buy the Doraemon products which can only be purchased in Japan. Moreover, within the same country, flow of people can still be caused by the popular culture. Most young people are willing to live in the part of the country where the popular culture is thriving (McDonnell, 2000). Those young people may try to find a job or travel in those parts in the country, thus the flow of people becomes more frequently within the country.

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The influence of the Asian popular culture on the ideas

The Asian popular culture has great influence on the ideas of people all over the world. A country’s image has close relation to the country’s popular culture. Take the Chinese popular culture as an example, the Kung Fu in the films seem incredible and mysterious to the foreigners particularly the westerner. Thus image of china in the westerners minds are usually mysterious. Besides, with the spread of the Chinese popular culture, the traditional Chinese philosophy is also spread to all over the world. The unique traditional Chinese culture which put emphasis on the harmony between human and nature has greatly influenced the westerner’s ideas. More westerners begin to learn the profoundness of the Asian culture and begin to have further study on the eastern culture by the help of the popular culture. The Asian popular culture plays the role of the media in spread the ideology of the Asian (Huat, 2004). Another example is Japan. Japan has made great efforts to establish sound national image through promoting it popular culture. The cute Hello Kitty and other animation images make the image of Japan milder and friendly. The Japanese animation exerts great impact on the ideas of the teenagers all over the world particularly the teenagers in Asian countries. The teenagers will wear like the characters in the animation or wear the ornaments the characters in the animation wear (McDonnell, 2000). The success of the Japanese film Spirited Away has popularize the eastern philosophy all over the world. Its great impact on the ideas of people can be demonstrated by the recognition of this film from the international society. This film has won many prizes including Best Animated Feature in the 2001 Academy Award. The animator Hayao Miyazaki who directs this film is world-renowned and his other works are also welcomed by the people all over the world. Through his works, the Japanese and Asian culture and philosophy has been wide spread which makes the outside world knows more about Asian and Japan (Iwabuchi, 2002). Hayao Miyazaki’s work is the integration of the Asian ideology and ideologies from other parts of the world. This is a forceful demonstration that Asian popular culture has great impact on the ideas of people from all over the world.

The influence of Asian popular culture on the trends

In most Chinese Kung Fu films, the masters in the films usually wear the traditional Chinese garment (Tang suit) and the female characters usually wear cheongsam. With the spread of those Kung Fu film, the traditional Chinese garment and cheongsam become popular all over the world. The Chinese costume elements such as red embroidered peony can usually be seen in the Fashion Week in Milan. The fashion industry all over the world has integrated the traditional Chinese costume elements in the trends. The most wanted gifts of the foreign tourists in china are the traditional Chinese garment and cheongsam. The above example demonstrates that the popular culture has exerted even changed the trends and fashion. Moreover, the popularity of the Chinese Kung Fu films also promoted the trends of Chinese study. For a time, learning Chinese becomes a trend and fashion among the westerners. Another example is Japan animation. Not to mention the Hello Kitty that is a trend itself. The large sale and people’s frantic purchasing of the Kitty products demonstrate the charm of Kitty. Kitty has changed the fashion industry which usually means slim models, glorious ornaments, luxurious brands and dazzling shows. Kitty ignites a new concept that loveliness and simplicity can also be a trend. The trend is as a matter of fact, the reflection of the mind set and metal state of the people (Tay, 2009). The Asian popular culture to some extent changes the mindset and metal state of the people. Moreover, the Korean TV series has also fired a trend in Asian countries, especially in china. The Chinese youngsters, teenagers and even housewives and office ladies become interested in the Korean culture such as costume and food (Chua & Iwabuchi, 2008). Their ideas about the country Korean are mostly based on the TV series (Dator & Seo, 2004). In conclusion, the popular culture has changes and influenced people’s ideas to a large extent.

The influence of Asian popular culture on the cultural products

Before discussing the influence of Asian popular culture on the cultural products, the concept and scope of the cultural products should be identified. The cultural products are the products which come out from the culture or are closely related to the culture. The typical cultural products are books, softwares, magazines, computer games, films, TV shows. Asian popular culture’s influence on the films is obvious. The Judo, Kung Fu elements in the Hollywood films are welcomed by the foreigners. The computer games based on Kung Fu Panda and Japanese animation figures have been sold all over the world and welcomed by the teenager and computer game lovers. The Asian popular has brought about great profits to the cultural industry. The success of Kitty is another example which demonstrates the influence of the popular culture on the culture products. The Asian Kung Fu film and the Japanese animation are all examples that the popular culture has exerted great influence on the cultural products (Malik, 2009). The western media and newspapers cover large amount reports on Asian culture and tradition and the one of their motivations is to satisfy the westerner’s curiosity about the eastern culture elements in the popular cultural products such as films and animation. The cultural products are no longer monopolized by the American MTV, MacDonald’s and hip-hop. The cultural products have integrated more Asian elements due to the spread of the Asian popular culture which are welcomed under the diversified and internationalized world (Pieterse, 2009).


This essay has discussed the role of Asian popular culture under the background of globalization. The world under the background of globalization becomes more diversified. The Asian popular culture has adapted itself to the more diversified world and acts as the bridge between the western and eastern culture. In this essay, the cases of Chinese Kung Fu and Japanese Hello Kitty are discussed in detail. The above two can both be regarded as the typical representation of the Asian popular culture. During the process of globalization, the above two cultural labels have interacted with the world culture. They changes the world culture and at the same time be changed by the world culture. They are the promoter of the Asian popular culture and the world popular culture is no longer dominated by the American’s strong popular culture such as Starbuck and MTV. The migration of people, the change of people’s ideas, the various trends, and the cultural products are all greatly influenced by the popular culture. The popular culture is a major part of a nation’s culture whose impact can never be ignored.


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