A listing of news media coverage of American Cultural Insularity


Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons Graphic.

American Cultural Insularity in the Center (ACIC) does generate news media coverage, and has for awhile. In fact, the specific idea of ACIC seems to garner more attention in the news media than it does within academic research and scholarship where it is, within global media and international communication studies at least, largely overlooked as a phenomenon. Most of the attention by scholars is instead devoted to the impact of American culture outside of the United States rather than to some of the very clear, and also interesting, and, from a critical perspective, troubling dimensions of the comparative domination of American culture globally on its own domestic cultural production, consumption and distribution context.

Below is an obviously incomplete and somewhat eclectic but also interesting and revealing of list of news media coverage that touches upon, and often focuses upon, some dimension of or aspect of ACIC.  For now, I have organized the list chronologically, according to date of publication, from most recent to oldest.  I may change this organization as I search for, and come across, more news media coverage that either focuses on ACIC or touches on some significant aspect of it.

2020, Oct. 21. Field of Lies: Finally, baseball’s World Series Naming Myth is Exposed As a Generational Untruth. The Daily Telegraph. James Corrigan.  British Sports Writer James Corrigan deconstructs the myth that The World Series was named The World Series allegedly due to sponsorship by the New York World Newspaper. In the process, he nails Americans, and the U.S., for its insularity and arrogance, encapsulated he says by the naming of a championship series for an American professional sports league, the MLB, as a “World” championship, when, of course, it is no such thing, although, as he notes, some defenders of the name — inevitably Americans 😉 — sometimes note that the Toronto Blue Jays, a Canada-based team, have played in The World Series. As Corrigan puts it, “The Americans indeed named their inter-country baseball finale “The World Series” due to their insularity and their arrogance.”

2020, Sept. 29. MAGA Ignorance, Insularity Push American Democracy to its Limits. Saltwire Network. Fred Honsberger. Written by a Canadian, this opinion column criticizes the “ignorance” of Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again (MAGA) supporters. Honsberger contends there is a certain circularity vis-a-vis the MAGA mindset such that “ignorance” fuels a lack of knowledge which then fuels more ignorance and arrogance.  The column is a good example of other media coverage and analysis, both American and non-American, that connects MAGA “ignorance” with long-running American cultural insularity and arrogance.

2020, Sept. 12. American Horror Story: How the U.S. Lost its Grip on Pop Culture. The Guardian. Steve Rose. This analysis is one of many in a line that declares the end of American cultural dominance globally and grandly states that that dominance is now over, citing, among other things, the growth of competitor culture, the infiltration of non-American culture into the U.S., a la, for instance, the South Korean film Parasite and its historic win in the Best Picture category at the 92nd Academy awards, etc. Rose turns American insularity and arrogance on themselves and argues because of these things, American culture, globally, is in a major fade. While this may be partially true, it is much more difficult to say that American culture is in a major domestic fade and it is, as I argue elsewhere on this web site, pretty preposterous to contend that Parasite’s exception-to-the-rule-one-in-92-years-best-picture win at the Academy Awards represents massive, core, sudden sea change in American cultural production and distribution within its own borders and in the general tastes of American cultural consumers in the U.S., a country where foreign film has never once in the past 100 years exceeded 5% of the U.S. market share. In short, while American cultural hegemony is eroding some — it is important to note that, generally speaking, no one single country has the same relative dominance that the U.S. has had in global film, TV and pop music  — ACIC is still very much alive within the U.S.

2020, June 7. Exceptionalism is Killing Americans. Foreign Affairs. Jeremy Konyndyk.  This foreign policy analysis hits the United States, and, especially the Trump Administration, hard for its arrogance vis-a-vis the Covid-19 pandemic response, which has seen the U.S. lead the world in numbers of cases and numbers of death, despite having just 4.5% of the world’s population. Konyndyk argues that long-running American Exceptionalism, or the deeply embedded idea that the U.S. and Americans always know “best” and therefore have nothing to learn from the rest of the world, including vis-a-vis the response to the global Covid-19 pandemic, is a primary reason for American failure to stem the Covid-19 pandemic.

2017, April 14. The True Cost of American Insularity. Wharton Magazine. Geoffrey Garrett. This is one of many media pieces and analyses that ground the notion of American insularity in terms of international relations theory and international politics and American foreign policy. This analysis by Geoffrey Garrett contends that although President Donald Trump’s approach might be, on the surface, inward looking — Garrett focuses on the slogan “America First” — that, in fact, Trump’s foreign policy likely won’t be as insular as, Garrett contends early on in Trump’s presidency, many claim or predict. Three years after its publication in 2020, one could argue that Garrett’s analysis seems rather off the mark as Trump’s general tendencies have arguably for American to go it alone and pull back from alliances and multilateralism and do what it/Trump wants.

2013, April 5. A Point of View: The Foibles of Four Countries. BBC. Adam Gopnik. Gopnik uses the naming of American Major League Baseball’s championship as “The World Series” as, he says, the perfect example of American insularity and arrogance. There is, Gopnk notes, nothing “world” or “global” about MLB’s championship series as only American MLB teams compete in “The World Series” and, as he notes in 2013, “until recently” very few of the players on the American-based MLB teams that play in “The World Series” were from outside of the United States. He also notes that the NFL championship Super Bowl champions also regularly refer to themselves as the “world champs” despite the fact that no other countries field teams in the NFL, and therefore not in the Super Bowl that crowns the “world champions” either.

2005, April 29. The Insular American. The Boston Globe. Derrick Z. Jackson. This is an opinion column written by Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson. It quotes Nobel Laureate and Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka extensively on what Soyinka charges is Americans’ lack of knowledge about the rest of the world, a lack of knowledge, he charges that is fueled by American arrogance and ignorance that starts with the political leaders at the very top, in this case, George W. Bush.

2004, Feb. 29. In An Insular State of Mind. Los Angeles Times. Scott Timberg. In this article, L.A. Times writer Scott Timberg highlights various forms of American cultural insularity, especially in terms of Americans’ lack of consumption of foreign film and their tendency to look inward vis-a-vis book publishing and consumption and points to a variety of possible reasons for this insularity: The primary reason he seems to cite, by way of quotes from a couple of academics, is America’s desire to break away from Europe and show the rest of the world that it is different, independent, and “better.”