How did mass culture contribute to American global dominance?
One of the most significant and visible features of America's expanding global presence has been the spread of American mass culture around the world. Beginning in the 1950s, when American consumer goods flooded postwar Europe, American culture has been ubiquitous around the world. One observer in the late 1990s commented that
...[I]mages of America are so pervasive in this global village that it is almost as if instead of the world immigrating to America, America has emigrated to the world, allowing people to aspire to be Americans even in distant countries.
This process has been largely due to the power and reach of American corporations, which became "multinational" in the late twentieth century. McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and other corporations have expanded their reach to the far corners of the globe. Not just American goods, but film, music, fashion, and other aspects of American mass culture have flooded the world as well. American movies enjoy runs in European and Asian theaters, teenagers around the world wear American fashions, and people everywhere listen to American pop stars. This process has never been completely hegemonic, and it has always flowed in both directions—the emergence of football (soccer) as a popular pastime in the United States is one prominent example—but there is no doubt that, for better or for worse, American mass culture has exerted a profound influence around the world.