View Full Version : Chinese, cultural impact on the western world


Loppan Torkel
May 08, 2010, 03:15 PM
As it is now most things I see from China are copies of western products, but as they grow economically and in power they are likely to export more of their own culture.

Do they have anything worth experiencing besides a few good movies? Is their entertainment translatable to the western world or will it seem old fashioned or naive? Do you know anything about the Chinese culture that will make an impact or is it all effective obedience and censored expressions?

Cutlass
May 08, 2010, 04:00 PM
I think you need to separate what may be coming out of China currently and what their (very) ancient culture has given to the world over time. Food, an written language, arts and crafts, things too numerous to mention, have touched other cultures and spread the world over.

Loppan Torkel
May 08, 2010, 04:18 PM
Of course China has influenced the world in many ways, but you might not realize, as you live in the US, that the US has spread it's culture far more the last decades, at least to Europe.

Will there be a Chinese-ification in the future? How and with what in that case?

aronnax
May 08, 2010, 10:10 PM
I call the joke on Zheng He!

But in all seriousness...
Modern Chinese Music... Eh no. I don't think so. Its an awful mix of boy bands and bubblegum pop with the word "baby" or "love" repeated every 10 seconds. Its the ultimate pretension and douchebaggery that one can achieve when it comes to being the musical version of Eddie Murphy.

Traditional Chinese Music: I doubt it will ever catch on like European Classical music due to the fact that there is a whole new set of notes and note-reading structure to adopt. As well as instruments and techniques to be mastered. Its not easy (though not impossible) to convert Chinese Classical Pieces on European instruments.

Chinese Language: Well, having sent colonists to every large metropolis in the world and having entered the Business world, I think the learning of the Chinese as a second language would explode exponentially. This of course will lead to a better understanding of the Chinese Culture. But I don't think it will ever overtake English as an international language. Probably not even French or Spanish due to how hard it takes Indo-European Speakers to learn it.

Chinese Food: I think appreciation for Proper Chinese Cusine will be more prominent overseas in the next century. Perhaps people will start to realise that Chinese Cuisine is even more complicated than European Cuisine.

Cutlass
May 09, 2010, 09:17 AM
Of course China has influenced the world in many ways, but you might not realize, as you live in the US, that the US has spread it's culture far more the last decades, at least to Europe.

Will there be a Chinese-ification in the future? How and with what in that case?

Oh, I am extremely well aware that American culture is a force of nature in the modern world. :) It's inescapable, and one of the reasons so many other people have issues with us. What makes it from China to the West now, aside from the martial arts, is harder to place. I don't think it is as blatant. But it has also been going on for a very long time. And it would be difficult to separate all the things we take for granted that we have forgotten that had Chinese origins.

Kyriakos
May 09, 2010, 09:27 AM
In all probability a chinese cultural imperialism would be preferable to an american one. For starters China has a long history, it is not a former colony and a quasi-culture.
To quote Oscar Wilde, America went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between ;)

I do not see anything interesting comming out the the Usa. Coca-cola movies, books, culture. I am a bit negative, but i suspect that China will at some point export its high-culture, and hopefully it reaches Europe, where it amalgamates with the higher european elements.

It is not out of chance that the America of the east, Japan, is currently the major asian culture exporter. Another country with zero history before the medieval times, an insignificant island, that became a major power in the end of the 19th century, pretty much like the Usa. But such cultures do not have anything to offer in my opinnion.

The new rennaissance of the world cannot come from the big players of the last hunded years, who have nothing to offer. Just like the renaissance of Europe couldnt come out of an exportation of french or english culture, but came from Greek and Roman one.

TheAlamo
May 09, 2010, 10:13 AM
In all probability a chinese cultural imperialism would be preferable to an american one. For starters China has a long history, it is not a former colony and a quasi-culture.
To quote Oscar Wilde, America went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between ;)

I do not see anything interesting comming out the the Usa. Coca-cola movies, books, culture. I am a bit negative, but i suspect that China will at some point export its high-culture, and hopefully it reaches Europe, where it amalgamates with the higher european elements.

It is not out of chance that the America of the east, Japan, is currently the major asian culture exporter. Another country with zero history before the medieval times, an insignificant island, that became a major power in the end of the 19th century, pretty much like the Usa. But such cultures do not have anything to offer in my opinnion.

The new rennaissance of the world cannot come from the big players of the last hunded years, who have nothing to offer. Just like the renaissance of Europe couldnt come out of an exportation of french or english culture, but came from Greek and Roman one.

You're just jealous because your country is completely irrelevant.

Infracted for nation-bashing.

Loppan Torkel
May 09, 2010, 10:18 AM
You're just jealous because your country is completely irrelevant.They are almost single handedly bringing down the economy of the western world to it's knees.

I'm curious what sort of high-culture from China could be translated and exported.

warpus
May 09, 2010, 01:40 PM
As it is now most things I see from China are copies of western products, but as they grow economically and in power they are likely to export more of their own culture.

Do they have anything worth experiencing besides a few good movies? Is their entertainment translatable to the western world or will it seem old fashioned or naive? Do you know anything about the Chinese culture that will make an impact or is it all effective obedience and censored expressions?

Man.. have you never heard of Chinese cuisine before? ;) It is HUGE in the west.

Other aspects of Chinese culture have also had a ton of success here in the west. KUNG FU, for example, and hong-kong movie making techniques.

Then there's stuff like Feng Shui, dragon boat races, and so forth. Chinese culture has had way more impact on western culture than you might think.

NovaKart
May 09, 2010, 02:16 PM
I lived in China for a couple years. I'm not an expert but I did see a lot of things firsthand.

So much of Chinese culture was destroyed by the communists. It's now a shadow of what it used to be. Some of the cultural loss was probably good, for example people are not so superstitious anymore and women have more rights. A lot of it is gone or just not part of people's daily lives anymore.

There's a reason why Chinese food in the West is often different from in China. Some of the most popular food I saw in Northeastern China: pig's feet, tripe, boiled dog meat, duck's feet and heads. A lot of the stuff Westerners like are things you can find abroad like Kung Pao chicken (called gong bao ji ding in Chinese) and chow mein (chou mian in Mandarin Chinese). It's not always exactly the same as you would get in China, just lilke when you order a pizza at a Western restaurant in China it's usually kind of weird, like with corn on it or sweet tasting. There are some dishes that I think most Westerners would like that I haven't seen in America so I think there is some room for Chinese cuisine to expand more.

In my experience Feng Shui is more popular in America than in China. Maybe it's more popular in Taiwan and Hong Kong than in the PRC. I think the communists didn't like it. Now they're more relaxed but most people just aren't interested in it anymore.

I would say many things from Chinese traditional culture have spread around the world, like their philosophy, food, martial arts, medicine (traditional medicine is still really popular in China) and Chinese characters (used as artwork).

Is China going to create more new things to influence the world in the future, that's the question. Some things don't translate well into other cultures. If you look at the traditional Chinese novels like, the 3 kingdoms, journey to the west, dream of red mansions, they are incredibly long books with several volumes, they don't seem to follow a plot structure but have several small little stories that sometimes make part of a longer narrative but most often could be left out. They don't contain much symbolism and usually go right out and tell you the point instead of making you guess at it. I'm not saying they're bad novels but many westerners reading them expecting them to be some kind of literary masterpieces will probably be disappointed.

NovaKart
May 09, 2010, 02:20 PM
One thing I was really disappointed with was Chinese tea. It's usually either very bitter or just tastes like hot water. It's really popular in China but not to a Western taste. I like Turkish and Arabic tea a lot better.

Chinese opera is kind of interesting. The costumes are really neat and I like the music but the singing sounds like cats screeching.

NovaKart
May 09, 2010, 02:30 PM
In all probability a chinese cultural imperialism would be preferable to an american one. For starters China has a long history, it is not a former colony and a quasi-culture.
To quote Oscar Wilde, America went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between ;)

I do not see anything interesting comming out the the Usa. Coca-cola movies, books, culture. I am a bit negative, but i suspect that China will at some point export its high-culture, and hopefully it reaches Europe, where it amalgamates with the higher european elements.

It is not out of chance that the America of the east, Japan, is currently the major asian culture exporter. Another country with zero history before the medieval times, an insignificant island, that became a major power in the end of the 19th century, pretty much like the Usa. But such cultures do not have anything to offer in my opinnion.

The new rennaissance of the world cannot come from the big players of the last hunded years, who have nothing to offer. Just like the renaissance of Europe couldnt come out of an exportation of french or english culture, but came from Greek and Roman one.

I suppose you would be going to art galleries every night, drinking wine from thousand year old vineyards and enjoying the music of opera if it wasn't for America throwing its burgers and rock music in your lap. Thank God you have Eurovision to at least preserve an ounce of Europe's cultural integrity.

Japan didn't have any history until the Middle Ages? I suppose you could say the same about England, Russia, a lot of places really.

Cutlass
May 09, 2010, 06:49 PM
In all probability a chinese cultural imperialism would be preferable to an american one. For starters China has a long history, it is not a former colony and a quasi-culture.
To quote Oscar Wilde, America went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between ;)

I do not see anything interesting comming out the the Usa. Coca-cola movies, books, culture. I am a bit negative, but i suspect that China will at some point export its high-culture, and hopefully it reaches Europe, where it amalgamates with the higher european elements.

It is not out of chance that the America of the east, Japan, is currently the major asian culture exporter. Another country with zero history before the medieval times, an insignificant island, that became a major power in the end of the 19th century, pretty much like the Usa. But such cultures do not have anything to offer in my opinnion.

The new rennaissance of the world cannot come from the big players of the last hunded years, who have nothing to offer. Just like the renaissance of Europe couldnt come out of an exportation of french or english culture, but came from Greek and Roman one.


Just the opposite. American culture is better because it is so broad, diverse, and changeable that everyone can find something that they want, without being forced into someone else's version of what they should accept.

Shekwan
May 09, 2010, 07:30 PM
Chinese Food: I think appreciation for Proper Chinese Cusine will be more prominent overseas in the next century. Perhaps people will start to realise that Chinese Cuisine is even more complicated than European Cuisine.

European/American food already seems more simple to me than Asian food. Although that might be because its less familiar.

Traitorfish
May 09, 2010, 08:42 PM
The new rennaissance of the world cannot come from the big players of the last hunded years, who have nothing to offer. Just like the renaissance of Europe couldnt come out of an exportation of french or english culture, but came from Greek and Roman one.
I don't know, a lot of that is just myth. What we really see is cultural evolution colliding with Classical revivalism; the self-styled "Renaissance" merely appears so grand because it marks the end of a period of particular stagnation. There's a certain Classical influence, I'll grant you, but the Renaissances of England, France and Italy honestly owe more to the culture which directly preceded and to the Islamic world than to the relics of the Roman Empire. Art may be something of an exception, and is the most public face of the Renaissance, but even then a lot of what you see is natural, indigenous evolution, rather than direct imitation; painting, for example, was a largely contemporary innovation, the Romans having been, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit crap at it.

That said, I actually agree with you, although, in my case, it's because I see up-and-coming nations as more akin to the European states of the Late Middle Ages than those of the modern first world. We fill the role of the Byzantine and Turkish Empires; great, rotting leviathans, well past our prime.

European/American food already seems more simple to me than Asian food. Although that might be because its less familiar.
It may also be because most Hiberno-British cuisine is pretty crude even by European standards. Most elaborate we get is putting unspeakable bits of an animal inside other unspeakable bits of an animal and then boiling it. :p

Valka D'Ur
May 10, 2010, 12:21 AM
In all probability a chinese cultural imperialism would be preferable to an american one. For starters China has a long history, it is not a former colony and a quasi-culture.
To quote Oscar Wilde, America went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between ;)

I do not see anything interesting comming out the the Usa. Coca-cola movies, books, culture. I am a bit negative, but i suspect that China will at some point export its high-culture, and hopefully it reaches Europe, where it amalgamates with the higher european elements.

It is not out of chance that the America of the east, Japan, is currently the major asian culture exporter. Another country with zero history before the medieval times, an insignificant island, that became a major power in the end of the 19th century, pretty much like the Usa. But such cultures do not have anything to offer in my opinnion.

The new rennaissance of the world cannot come from the big players of the last hunded years, who have nothing to offer. Just like the renaissance of Europe couldnt come out of an exportation of french or english culture, but came from Greek and Roman one.
I enjoy Chinese food (what is considered to be so in Canada; I would never condone eating dog or cat). I enjoy some Chinese movies, although they need to be subtitled because I don't understand a word of the language(s). My favorite is Raise the Red Lantern.

And I must correct those who have compared Chinese opera to screeching cats. To me it sounds like a herd of cats screeching underwater. :ack:

Some of the instrumental music is nice, though.

But folks: just as China has been opening up its positive attributes to the world, it's also been opening up its negative ones. For example, all the poisons and other contaminants in food, paint, toys, jewelry... I am extremely picky now when choosing things such as pet food, even going to the extent of contacting the pet food company to find out if ANY portion of their product is imported from China. If it is, I don't buy it.

And the blatant cheating at the Beijing Olympics in women's gymnastics... :shake:

Plotinus
May 10, 2010, 04:04 AM
To say that there is nothing of cultural value from the US is just ridiculous; twentieth-century music would be pretty much valueless without American jazz, blues, rock and roll, etc.

To say that there is nothing of value in Japanese culture is so absurd it's not worth discussing.

As for Chinese culture, I have to say I don't see much influence from it in the west. Things like feng shui or Chinese food (and what passes for Chinese food in the west is about as convincing as what passes for western food in Asia) are not exactly profound cultural imports underpinning our western way of life. But then I'm not sure how much western influence there is in China itself either. The way I see it, America and Europe are one cultural centre, China is another, and neither influences the other all that much. It's the places in between that are swamped by these two to varying degrees.

Traitorfish
May 10, 2010, 08:01 AM
As for Chinese culture, I have to say I don't see much influence from it in the west. Things like feng shui or Chinese food (and what passes for Chinese food in the west is about as convincing as what passes for western food in Asia) are not exactly profound cultural imports underpinning our western way of life.
Got to agree with this. There's plenty of Chinese stuff around, but it's largely segregated off as such, sometimes even more than is actually necessary- most Chinese cinema that actually makes its away across here, for example, is Wuxia, and even that which really isn't- say, Battle of Red Cliffs or Curse of the Golden Flower- gets lumped in with that anyway, because that's the accept categorisation of "Chinese films". You'll see few films which aren't billed as "martial arts", and only slightly more which really aren't. It'll change no doubt, but China's got a way to go to catch up with Japan-Korea's influence, which, while not greatest itself, has slightly more subtle modes of influence.

GoodSarmatian
May 10, 2010, 10:01 AM
The mention of Feng Shui really makes me :lol:.
I remember a lecture on religion in China where the professor told us feng shui is originally used to determine where to build graves or temples, and our western notion of it is basically new age BS, only slightly inspired by chinese culture. That westerners don't see it in china has nothing to do with the communists not liking it, and everything with hippies completely misinterpreting a foreign tradition and turnig it into something most chinese would find utterly laughable, but this happens with many foreign concepts, especially when they are philosophical or spiritual in nature.
I do believe chinese culture will have a larger impact on the world, but in most cases it will like Japanese culture be misunderstood and/or regared as a novelty with a few disturbingly dedicated adherents.
Having said that I usually like chinese movies, but find them a bit depressing at times. Seems they're not much into happy endings.
And there are some really cool rock and metal bands in China, mainly in Beijing.
uzW0tCItzJU

NovaKart
May 10, 2010, 11:59 AM
Feng Shui wasn't allowed during the Cultural Revolution. I doubt Chinese people stopped practising it just because new age people in America were interested in it. Traditional houses and temples have spirit walls so I don't think it's solely related to how people place buildings and tombs but I wouldn't doubt that some ways that people practice it in Western countries are different. Actually I wouldn't say it's been totally abandoned in China, I have seen people selling the feng shui compasses but it just doesn't seem that popular.

GoodSarmatian
May 10, 2010, 12:16 PM
The Cultural Revolution was a very special case. It was civil-war like situation where red guards tried to out-left each other, so I wouldn't say that things were outlawed in this time because the communist didn't like them ."The communists" were pretty much divided into belligerent splinter groups and there were no laws that applied in the whole country.
What I meant is that chinese never really practiced feng shui in their living space the way some westerners think they do, as I understand they have a more pragmatic attitude towards religious practices than most other cultures.
But all my knowledge about China is acquired from books and lectures as I haven't been there yet (I am planning to live there from late 2011-2012 though), so it would be good if a chinese person could enlighten us about that matter.

Traitorfish
May 10, 2010, 12:55 PM
All I know about "original" feng shui is that your doorway can't be too high, or it will provide access to hopping soul-drinking vampire zombies. That kind of suggested to me that there was some dissonance between the two forms.

GoodSarmatian
May 10, 2010, 01:09 PM
All I know about "original" feng shui is that your doorway can't be too high, or it will provide access to hopping soul-drinking vampire zombies. That kind of suggested to me that there was some dissonance between the two forms.

That's the mythological reason. The practical reason is probably rodents.

Theige
May 11, 2010, 01:00 AM
In all probability a chinese cultural imperialism would be preferable to an american one. For starters China has a long history, it is not a former colony and a quasi-culture.
To quote Oscar Wilde, America went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between ;)

I do not see anything interesting comming out the the Usa. Coca-cola movies, books, culture. I am a bit negative, but i suspect that China will at some point export its high-culture, and hopefully it reaches Europe, where it amalgamates with the higher european elements.

It is not out of chance that the America of the east, Japan, is currently the major asian culture exporter. Another country with zero history before the medieval times, an insignificant island, that became a major power in the end of the 19th century, pretty much like the Usa. But such cultures do not have anything to offer in my opinnion.

The new rennaissance of the world cannot come from the big players of the last hunded years, who have nothing to offer. Just like the renaissance of Europe couldnt come out of an exportation of french or english culture, but came from Greek and Roman one.

The US is a quasi culture? What do you even mean by that?

holy king
May 11, 2010, 02:35 AM
that, with an age well below 2000 years, it is way too young to be considered a fully developed culture.

metal music for instance, especially "therapy?", is pretty uncultured crap too.

ParkCungHee
May 11, 2010, 03:01 AM
being the musical version of Eddie Murphy.
Eddie Murphy's album wasn't that bad...

Cutlass
May 11, 2010, 07:42 AM
that, with an age well below 2000 years, it is way too young to be considered a fully developed culture.

metal music for instance, especially "therapy?", is pretty uncultured crap too.

But it has a right to be "uncultured". Culture is not just what appeals to the elite or the intellectual, it is what appeals to the masses.

Traitorfish
May 11, 2010, 07:46 AM
metal music for instance, especially "therapy?", is pretty uncultured crap too.
What does the pejorative misuse of terminology in reference to a Northern Irish band have to do the question of whether or not American culture can be considered "fully developed"? (Whatever that's even supposed to mean.)

Shekwan
May 11, 2010, 08:12 AM
It may also be because most Hiberno-British cuisine is pretty crude even by European standards. Most elaborate we get is putting unspeakable bits of an animal inside other unspeakable bits of an animal and then boiling it. :p

I don't even know what Irish cuisine is. I went to the wiki page and theres a picture of a pint with some brown bread and butter. Pretty much sums it up.

dannyshenanigan
May 12, 2010, 12:27 AM
I don't even know what Irish cuisine is. I went to the wiki page and theres a picture of a pint with some brown bread and butter. Pretty much sums it up.

Even 1-3 generations removed from Ireland, none of the women (or men) on the Irish side of my family can cook. I'm beginning to think Ireland's poor culinary tradition may be genetic.

Do not attempt to evade the autocensor.

Cutlass
May 12, 2010, 07:45 AM
My mother is Irish. And she can cook pretty much anything she sets he mind to. Though most of the time it is simple stuff.

Theige
May 13, 2010, 08:55 AM
that, with an age well below 2000 years, it is way too young to be considered a fully developed culture.

metal music for instance, especially "therapy?", is pretty uncultured crap too.

Right, because its not like American culture is derived directly from the European culture of the peoples that make up the majority of our population :crazyeye:

Glad you can admit Europe has had 0 impact whatsoever on the greatest nation on the planet :D