Lake Oswego

Friday October 15, 2004 @ 01:48 PM (UTC)

Lake Oswego is a beautiful, affluent community on the outskirts of Portland, centered around a man-made lake and bedecked with community improvements like thriving flower-baskets and pedestrian plazas. It is, without a doubt, a gorgeous place.

Chance brought me there once again on Wednesday and I putted down the avenues, admiring Mt. Hood, who seems to be in austere mourning for her sister peak‘s current distress, so dark are her flanks in the summer melt. I ducked into a Starbucks looking for an easy WiFi fix (note to fellow laptop users: Starbucks WiFi Big Pain. Lake Oswego Public Libary reportedly free wireless mecca) and found myself surrounded by the very contradictions that make me uncomfortable with Lake Oswego even as I enjoy its beauty, comfort, and artistic offerings. On the patio was a woman, under 30, who without a doubt was actually attempting to look like Paris Hilton, in her current overwhelmingly pink phase. She had the supercilious pinched look, the exact cloying shade on, the clothes, and several hair extensions to make herself look even more fake. Why is Paris Hilton a role model? Because she was born into money? If arbitrary accidents of birth confer idol status, maybe they should be lining up to emulate my corduroy and denim wardrobe—after all, I was born the day after Paris Hilton! That’s as good an accident of birth as any! I stifled a giggle as the woman sipped a Frappuccino in affected boredom, and went inside.

Inside, it was one of the nicest Starbuckses I’ve ever seen. The music was classical and unobtrusive, they had far more than the normal ratio of comfy to hard chairs, and the selection of pastries was almost dizzying. I sat down with my treats and started wrestling with the WiFi question, and was treated to two carefully chic teenagers filling out job applications. “Our parents WON’T BUY US OUR FIRST CAR,” they explained in great distress to the teen already employed by our caffeine-vending overlords. “They say we have to get a JOB.”

I sat typing away on my little Puckster, trying to suppress a smile as I listened to them seriously assure themselves their answers dovetailed to questions about which coins to give customers in change and other basic arithmetic.

I really like Lake Oswego, but Lake Oswegans scare me… perhaps this is what America looks like to less wealthy countries—children of privilege in a parade of folly and vanity….


...that is not the way Europeans, at least, view Americans, no.

Sadly, many young Europeans look to America for cultural input. This mainly in the form of music, TV series and movies. I’m not attempting to belittle Hollywood or TV production companies, but they are what they are, good and bad, as we all know. What I find worrisome is the perception that American culture is hip, and as a result, European culture is not renewed on it’s own accord. Rather, it is polluted by American ‘shock-and-awe’ media influence. Unfortunately it isn’t the best of American media, which is presented to the European audience, since European media companies lean toward the type that’s ‘most bang for your buck’ – no content, but lots of effects, psychological and otherwise. Instead of nurturing the more traditional, more refined, intellectual programming, designed to make people more perceptive and grow as aware and thinking citizens, they are fed some of the worst pap that serves only one purpose: attracting advertisement money.

In many ways, the U.S. is viewed, at least by the adult Europeans, as coarse and extreme. It is probably the stark contrasts embedded in the American society, which lends it the power and dynamics, which has traditionally kept the wheels turning and the big bucks flowing. However, in a society where things are more well-balanced, if I may use such a snobbish term, the media blast may result in an effect bearing more resemblance to an elefant in a china store.

The above image may even reflect the views of quite a few Europeans – and probably, to a much higher extent, people from other parts of the world – when it comes to the United States on the global arena. As long as it’s somebody else’s china store, it’s not so bad. However, you wouldn’t want such a beast in your own shop.

New comment

required, won't be displayed (but may be used for Gravatar)


Don't type anything here unless you're an evil robot:

And especially don't type anything here:

Basic HTML (including links) is allowed, just don't try anything fishy. Your comment will be auto-formatted unless you use your own <p> tags for formatting. You're also welcome to use Textile.

Copyright © 2017 Felicity Shoulders. All rights reserved.
Powered by Thoth.