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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

February 25, 2008

Written by C.N.

Another Example of East-West Convergence

I’ve written before about how many aspects of traditional Asian culture are increasingly becoming incorporated into mainstream American culture, with some of the most recent examples being manga, food and cuisine, and meditation. As the Associated Press/Salon.com report, we can now add feng shui in fast food restaurants to that list:

The only familiar signs at the McDonald’s in this large Asian community are the golden arches, the drive-through and the menu. Gone are the plastic furniture, Ronald McDonald and the red and yellow palette that has defined the world’s largest hamburger chain. Leather seats, earth tones, bamboo plants and water trickling down glass panels have taken their place.

The makeover elements are meant to help diners achieve happiness and fortune — whether they realize it or not. That’s because the restaurant was redesigned using the principles of feng shui, the ancient Chinese practice of arranging objects and numbers to promote health, harmony and prosperity. . . .

The McDonald’s in this Los Angeles suburb boasts wood ceiling, silver-coated chairs, plus red accents throughout the dining area to symbolize fire and “good luck, laughter and prosperity,” said Brenda Clifford, who designed the dining area.

The textured walls patterned after ocean waves symbolize “life and relaxation — the balanced things that you want in your life,” she said. . . . Two workers at the nearby post office said they’ve been taking more lunch breaks at the remodeled McDonald’s, which opened in late December. . . .

Nevermind that this is the same McDonald’s that’s been vilified by critics over its artery-clogging Big Macs and fries.

Can capitalism and natural harmony coexist, or as the last line that I quoted above suggests, is it simply akin to putting lipstick on a pig? At this point, you can judge for yourself.

My main observation for now is that while it is nice that the “mainstreamization” of traditional Asian cultural elements such as feng shui are mostly positive and hopefully symbolize the larger acceptance of Asians and Asian Americans into the fundamental fabric of American society, it would also be nice if the cultural acceptance of things like feng shui were also accompanied by larger institutional changes such as more political power, fewer hate crimes, more opportunities for corporate advancement, etc.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Another Example of East-West Convergence" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2008/02/another-example-of-east-west-convergence/> ().

Short URL: http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/?p=561