Bienvenido, Mickey Mouse? Americanism and Anti-Americanism after Franco

Saturday, January 7, 2012: 12:30 PM
Chicago Ballroom A (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Hamilton M. Stapell, State University of New York at New Paltz
Despite the many debates over the analytical framework of Americanization, most scholars agree that American culture has played an extremely important role in the development of Europe in the post-war period.  But what role did it play in Spain?  This paper argues that Spain may be somewhat of an exception to the European norm, at least in the 1980s.  Specifically, Spain did not suffer from the same kind of cultural insecurity and anxieties that plague France and Germany in this period.  For example, there appears to be little fear of American cultural imperialism: there were no ominous phallic missiles in the press, and no menacing Rambos on the verge of destroying Spanish culture.  Another example of this apparent confidence to resist American cultural domination was the persistent attempt to lure Euro Disneyland to the Iberian Peninsula in the mid 1980s.  In this case, certain segments of the population were ready and comfortably willing to adapt American cultural products to serve their own ends, namely economic development.

However, at the same time, there was a certain degree of anti-Americanism in Spain, usually as a result of Cold War politics.  Debates surrounding the NATO referendum and the presence of American military bases, and nuclear weapons in particular, did provoke anti-American sentiment during this period.  America’s continued anti-communist stance made Washington champion the cause of European defense and rearmament, which in turn incited many Spaniards to accuse the United States of warmongering.  While many Spaniards may have had reservations when it came to hosting the American military, they appeared to have no problem accepting American movies and music, Mickey Mouse, and McDonalds restaurants.

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