In America: the Alien Asian and cosmopolitan Chic
Tay, Eddie, (2005) In America: the Alien Asian and cosmopolitan Chic. SARE (Southeast Asian Review of English) (46 (Special Issue: Asian American Literature)). pp. 123-142. ISSN 0127-046x
University of Hong Kong
I was born American. Not in the country itself, but in its shadow. Coca- cola and jeans were always in, no matter how the governments of Singapore and of Asia railed against "yellow" culture in the 1960s and 1970s, or "decadent" Western values. By my late teens, McDonald's and other fast- food joints were the hangouts; others younger than I were born into that urban landscape and cannot imagine life without them. In our mindscapes, TV and movies made us visualise new places and situations. They taught us new words, ways of speaking and dressing, new lifestyles. Sex, drugs and rock-n-roll were part of it; the most censurable part. Harder to keep out (if anyone wanted to) were money, big business and cities with skyscrapers, cars and shopping malls, TV, movies and stars, consumer culture. The whole American cult.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, however, the rhetoric against Western (read American) decadence was prevalent in the form of notices in post offices informing everyone that males with long hair would be attended to last, while at the Singapore customs, male foreigners with long hair were not allowed into the country until they had their hair trimmed. This Was the era belonging to the Woodstock generation of America, the time when the guitar riffs of Jimi Hendrix and songs of rock bands such as Grateful Dead were regarded with disdain by the political authorities. The newly- assembled Singaporean government, with the memory of its having been ejected in 1965 from the Federation of Malaysia still fresh, then embarked on a national campaign of modernisation and frenetic industrialisation. Discipline and thrift were the order of the day, while decadence in the form of drug culture and free love espoused by the Woodstock generation of America were viewed with suspicion.
|Keywords:||Alien Asian, Singapore, American culture in Singapore, Globalisation|
|Subjects:||P Language and Literature|
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