Reactor

American Pop Culture Meets… Everyone Else

by An Xiao on February 9, 2012

Banksy's iconic, disturbing Napalm makes an appearance on the blog.

Banksy's Napalm makes an appearance in the new and popular tumblelog, Pop Culture and the Third World.

LOS ANGELES — I’m not a fan of the word “Third World” (third world to what?) but I am a fan of pop culture, and I’m fascinated by how American pop culture has intersected with all sorts of countries, rich and poor alike.

So when I stumbled across a new tumblelog called Pop Culture and the Third World, I had to click on it. The site features links and images related to American pop culture and, well, everyone else. (The definition of “Third World” seems to be “anything but America and Western Europe,” as rich countries like South Korea, with a purchasing power parity ranked 12th in the world, pop up on the blog.)

Lisa Simpson angrily denounces the whole system. (via popthirdworld.tumblr.com)

They tumble pop images like Alex Bogusky’s meta image of Obama wearing Che wearing Obama, and a link toa terrific discussion between Bangladeshi Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus and Lisa Simpson. Then there’s Lisa Simpson declaring that “The whole damn system is wrong!

But everything isn’t a gag or link. There are longer explorations discuss the orientalism in music videos by Nicki Minaj and Gwen Stefani and the “exotic” career of actress Rita Moreno, who played a type of Everywoman to Hollywood’s minority stereotypes.

And then there’s my new favorite, the quirky, high-energy YouTube show What’s Up Africa, hosted by British-Nigerian Ikenna Azuike. A recent episode features an interview with Josh “African Zoolander” Kaveke, who recently showed at London Fashion Week.

Why does this blog matter? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been traveling to remote rural regions of Asia only to stumble across a reminder of just how pervasive American pop really is. It’s nice to have a quirky new blog that looks at the visual culture that’s emerged from all this.

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