1950s: Conquered Pacific Theatre Converted into Americana
March 10, 2019
When English nations invade/fight overseas they bring back the spoils and the values. It’s actually part of what makes us great, we recognise what is good and great in other cultures and absorb their ideas and goods and services and even words into our own culture. From India, tea. From South America, tomatoes and the potato. Following conquests, The British got Cleopatra’s Needle and the Elgin Marbles to bring home. What did the USA get after WW2?
Seems the Americans brought back home from their Pacific War a sort of Anglicised culturally appropriated version of Island life. Hence: Surfing, pineapple on pizza, early Elvis movies, James A. Michener books, tiki-themed bars and restaurants and food and pendants. The centre of the American Pacific Mecca during this great post-war fad was their avenged and vindicated Pacific possession: Hawaii*
So all of these things, even the plastic ‘Maori’ tiki, are really Americana appropriations from the Pacific passed back down the line to New Zealand in an easily digestible form. Realising this, the State’s Tourism and Publicity Department, produced all sorts of propaganda and imagery to portray New Zealand’s place in this fad.
- The former Darian estimates 1950s, the later is know to belong to 1963
* Mitchener’s book Tales of the South Pacific was out in 1947, Elvis’s Blue Hawaii was 1961 so we’re talking about a fair spell during which this cultural digestion was taking place and it’s long since assimilated and absorbed into our culture now. I’ve settled on the 1950s because that about covers it.
* No wonder Peter Buck left politics and leadership roles in New Zealand to become an anthropological celebrity in Hawaii during this era