Monday, September 23, 2013

Talk about Globalization

This is a poster up in UCD right now, promoting an Irish language coffee morning.

There is nothing immoral in going to Starbucks, but I do detect a certain irony in supporting the Irish language (which is a language in need of revival and preservation), while also using the iconography of (and giving free advertising to!) a franchise that has become a byword for globalization and homogenization-- the very forces that are, arguably, squeezing out national traditions and character everywhere.

Again-- there is nothing immoral in going to Starbucks, nor do I have anything against anyone who works there or goes there. Indeed, I've been to Starbucks a few times. It was in America. The service was excellent, the atmosphere was excellent, the iced frappé was lovely. I even love their logo. But I don't want every café to be a Starbucks. I want some cafés to have rickety tables and hard scones and two flavours of sandwich and a person's name over the door. I want some cafés to be unique to that street, that town.

The members of the Irish language society could justly say to me-- "What are you doing to preserve national traditions? We're the ones speaking Irish."

And they'd be right. I'm not criticizing them. I just think it's a rather symbolic and telling image.

1 comment:

  1. It's a pretty good point though. On the one hand you're right and it's a bit funny, but I suppose they're at least doing something. UCD does seem to be quite the place for the Irish language. I think I read in a newspaper once something about Enda Kenny's daughter being a student in UCD and she was also the head of the Irish Society there. I don't know if many colleges do that, but I'm sure mine didn't.