When I think about globalization I think about K-pop star Taeyang’s song, “Wedding Dress.” I was introduced to this song during my junior year of college when my Pakistani roommates grabbed my Chinese roommate and I and excitedly shared Taeyang’s YouTube video with us. This song, which incorporates both English and Korean lyrics, also incorporates the familiar tune most of us in the US and much of the Western world know as “Here Comes the Bride” or “Wedding March,” which you can hear distinctly at the 3:20 time mark. Interestingly enough, this song is not American as some might think but was actually derived from the “Bridal Chorus” of German composer Richard Wagner’s famous opera Lohengrin, first performed in 1850.
But how did we move from this:
I would argue that the only way to truly understand the evolution of this tune into an iconic part of popular culture and media consumption across the globe is through the concepts and theories of globalization. However, not only can you see globalization at work in the production of Taeyang’s song, but also in making that midnight conversation possible in the first place.
After all, without the movement of people across borders and the technology to enable the transnational transportation of ideas, I would not have been born in America to two immigrants from South Korea and El Salvador and then twenty-some years later have the surreal experience of sitting on my apartment floor with my roommate from Nanjing, China, YouTubing and learning about Korean popular culture from my Pakistani roommates.
Recently, some have argued that globalization is now in a state of retreat, leaving behind problems it has caused but cannot actually effectively resolve. However, though this may be true, my personal experience has led me to conclude that globalization is far from over.
Some may argue that experiences like the aforementioned are only accessible for the global elite – and I would say, for the most part, absolutely. After all international students in the US tend to be from the upper socioeconomic levels of their societies and the DC metropolitan area is host to an incredible amount of financial, educational, technological, and cultural resources that I, myself, have been privileged to be able to access.
There are still others that are still quite concerned with globalization and see it as a threat to their own national cultures. Witness the ongoing conflict between Netflix and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. While concerns over nationalism and identity are certainly understandable, it would be more productive to explore how globalization and its effects can be utilized as an opportunity for public diplomacy and nation branding rather than try to hold back a powerful and seemingly inevitable force.
Better yet, why not explore the ways that globalization can be used for building a more peaceful world? The lighthearted conversations my roommates and I had about K-pop paved the way for more serious conversations about Muslim-Christian relations, ethnic tensions in Pakistan and China, and educational equality and access for women in South Asia and the Middle East.
Globalization may be in retreat but it is far from over. In order to be able to address and explore its resulting challenges and opportunities, practitioners of international communication must continue to strive for a comprehensive understanding of globalization’s underlying theory, current applicability, and future implications.