Cultural Revolutions

Buying Up American Symbols

The Japanese have been zealous in buying up American symbols: golf courses, movie studios. Rockefeller Center, the Mariners. Recently, however, they are beginning to learn that cosmopolitanism can be a two-way street. In January, American sumo wrestler Chad Rowan became the first foreigner to be awarded the rank of "Exalted Grand Champion." Six feet five inches and 45S pounds. Rowan is able to dominate the smaller Japanese wrestlers, and a century-old cultural tradition, deeply embedded in Shintoism, may soon be as American as Coca Cola, jeans, and Cheap Trick.

The internationalist press in the United States is absolutely thrilled, not only because this proves the sincerity of the Japanese promise to open their markets to foreign competition, but, more importantly, because American sumo wrestlers strike a blow for bland uniformity in the New World of women clergymen, homosexual marines, girl boyscouts, white bluesmen, and Korean cellists. If the pygmies had wrestling events, they would probably have to open them up to the bloated behemoths of the WFL.

The entire United States sometimes seems like a million-mile-long strip mall studded with Chi Chi's, Olive Gardens, Pizza Huts, and TGI Friday's serving the same microwaved compost with a light ethnic accent. Processed white cheese and tomato paste make it Italian, chili powder makes it Mexican. The great American melting pot turns out to contain Hamburger...

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