Movies, Pop Culture, the News Media, Oil Prices and the World Economy Are Weapons in the Islam vs. Western Civilization Culture War – by Gary S. Smolker

Updated December 6, 2014

Originally posted November 7, 2014


The challenge presented to you in this post is to answer the following questions.

  1. How do you measure a civilization?  Do you consider how women are looked at in a civilization?  Do you consider the “idea of freedom” in a civilization?  What do you consider, what counts?
  2. Do you believe there is such a thing as “cultural evolution?”  If so: (a) What are the metrics of cultural evolution?  (b) How do propose we should measure cultural evolution?
  3. Is the world experiencing an evolution of “culture” reflected in how people live their lives and/or in what we value as a group and/or as a society?
  4. What is the strongest human drive?  What is your strongest drive?
  5. What is your definition of style?
    • What determines the overall basis of the culture, civilization, and human values in a community/a country/ in the world?
    • Is the world in the midst of a social, cultural and political revolution?
    • What role does the media play in the ongoing social, cultural and political revolutions going on in the world?
    • Do you believe life is all about learning, learning about reality?

“Rockin the Wall”

Last night (November 6, 2014) I went to a program at which a movie called “Rockin the Wall” was shown followed by a panel discussion.

The argument made by the sponsors at the program – before and after the movie was shown – was that western music (pop culture) is a powerful force that was/is responsible for the Berlin Wall being torn down.

[Aside: At 1 a.m.. on August 13, 1961, East Germany sealed off the border between the Soviet-controlled eastern sector of Berlin and the western sectors controlled by the Allies.  Communist leader Walter Ulbricht called it an “anti-fascist protective wall,” though its real purpose was to stop the flood of people leaving East Berlin for the West.  Thousands of people tried to escape by tunneling under, swimming past, climbing or flying over the wall.  During its 28-year existence the Wall served as a symbol for communist oppression.]

The point made by the speakers during a panel discussion after the movie was shown was that pop-culture (music and movies) is/are a powerful force in forming ideas which prompt action.

After the movie was shown, the panel members stated:

  1. Rock-N-Roll is the music of freedom and individuality (the keystone of democracy).
  2. Rock-N-Roll is a uniquely American product.
  3. Rock-N-Roll is the most appealing/popular music in the world; it is the world’s music.
  4. Rock-N-Roll music caused so much unrest in East Germany that the Soviets and the East German government had no choice but to tear down the Berlin Wall.
  5. The Berlin Wall was the first wall built to keep people “in” instead of to keep people (invaders) out.

The movie “Rockin The Wall” contains a large number of interviews in which various people talk about what it was like for them to live in East Berlin and/or in other places under Soviet domination and how highly valued American music (Rock-N-Roll) and Beatles’ music was to them and to other people in their country.

North Korea

In the panel discussion that followed the showing of this film, one panelist told the story of a girl in North Korea who was forced to watch her mother being executed for the crime of possessing an “American movie.”

He explained that in North Korea it is against the law to possess or own foreign-made movies and that the penalty for owning/possessing a foreign-made movie depends upon the country of origin.  The highest penalty (death) is for owning or possessing an American made movie.

According to this panelist, the most highly prized American films in North Korea are love stories such as “Titanic” and “Pretty Woman” because they teach [have as their message] that it is okay to “love” a person other than the regime and/or the supreme leader of North Korea.

This is considered such a dangerous idea by North Korean leaders that the penalty for possessing or watching such a movie is death.

From that point forward the panel discussion focused on the impact of American culture on people in repressive countries.

Is Rock-n-Roll Subversive?

According to the panelists.

  1. Rock-n-Roll is considered to be too subversive by tyrants.
  2. The lyrics in Rock-n-Roll inspire people to do something to improve society.
  3. The high energy and call to action of Rock-n-Roll resonates with the angst and rebelliousness of young people and motivates them to take to the streets to protest against repression and to protest against denial of freedoms in their authoritarian countries.
  4. Music represents freedom.
  5. Singers/songwriters express what they are feeling.
  6. Music is “rebellion” from “A” to “Z”.  This makes music meaningful and “subversive.”
  7. American movies and music being “forbidden” in authoritarian countries makes watching American movies and listening to American music an act of rebellion against authoritarian regimes, which manifests a person’s individuality.
  8. You can’t stop people from enjoying music.
  9. As a result of American/Western music and movies, everyone in the world knows that anything that is “fun” comes from the West.
  10. As a result of watching movies, everyone can compare their (impoverished) life with life in the “West.”
  11. Pop culture (music and movies) is a medium of transmission of information to less free societies from the West.
  12. Movies provide “brain-washed” people a window from which they are able to see the world.
  13. Movies show people living under repressive regimes the impoverishment of their own country/culture.
  14. Movies send messages out into the world.

The Worldwide Culture War

After passionate panelists finished “arguing” that there is an all-encompassing universal yearning for freedom, I asked the panelist to answer the following questions:

  • Who is winning the worldwide culture war: Islam or Democracy?
  • Why is ISIS’s power growing?
  • Why are Islamic enclaves becoming larger and larger, more and more powerful in European countries such as Sweden, Norway, France and Turkey?
  • Having witnessed a remarkable shift from poverty to growing prosperity and power, are most people in China more concerned with their wellbeing than with their freedom or lack of freedom?  Isn’t the most powerful drive of a starving man to get something to eat for himself and/or for his family?

In a private discussion with one of the panelists, I brought up the facts and discussed with him that China has expanded its share of the global gross domestic product from 2 percent in 1995 to 12 percent in 2012.  China’s economic model – communist control of thought and politics but welcoming to most enterprise – has vastly outperformed that of the strongest democracies including the economies of the United States, the European Union, and Japan.

That panelist told me he wished he knew how to speak Chinese.  He told me he would like to work in China.

He also told me the Arab world is spending billions of dollars to become the center of world cinema.

Investments Being Made by Middle Eastern Arab/Muslim Countries and by Mainland Chinese in the Entertainment Industry

We then discussed the investments being made by Middle Eastern Arab/Muslim countries and China in the entertainment industry.

Keep in mind that Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, who owns China’s biggest cinema chain (Dalian Wanda Group which has more than 1,247 screens in 149 Chinese theater) is reportedly (in a front page article in the Tuesday, December 2, 2014 issue of the Los Angeles Times) looking to buy the parent of Lionsgate, the independent studio behind the lucrative “Hunger Games” and “Twilight” franchises.  He also wants to invest in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which produces the James Bond movies.  His cinema chain (Dalian Wanda Group) owns AMC theatres, the No. 2 chain in the U.S.

Wang Jianlin first made a splash in the U.S. news two years ago when his company Dalian Wanda Group acquired AMC Entertainment for $2.6 billion, creating the world’s largest theater chain

China is the world’s second largest film market.  According to that article, China’s box office is expected to reach about $5 billion this year and surpass the U.S. by 2019.  China is currently adding about 10 theaters a day.

Also keep in mind that according to the International Monetary Fund in 2014 China’s economic output ($17.6 trillion) will exceed that of the United States ($17.4 trillion); China now accounts for 16.5% of the world’s economy, the U.S. accounts for 16.3% of the world’s economy.

By the way, also according to that article, Lionsgate has already branched out to the Chinese market.  In July, Lionsgate teamed up with Chinese e-Commerce giant Alibaba to launch a subscription streaming service for mainland China.  The service called Lionsgate Entertainment World, allows users of the platform to watch box-office and television favorites such as “Divergent” and AMC’s “Mad Men” on set-top boxes.

Real Estate Prices and the Price of Oil

The headline to a different article on the front page of the Wednesday, December 3, 2014 issue of the  LOS ANGELES TIMES is ” A REMADE ARCADIA – An influx of money from mainland China is transforming the once sleepy suburb by Pasadena into a ‘Chinese Beverly Hills.'”

In that article it is reported that in the last year, more than 90 houses sold for more than $2.5 million in Arcadia, a city of 56,000 that sits just east of Pasadena at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains.  Prices are up more than 39% from their peak i 2007 before the housing downturn.  The city, now 60% Asian, has become more expensive than Calabasas, the suburban enclave of the Kardashians  It’s become known as the “Chinese Beverly Hills.”

According to that article: For wealthy mainland Chinese, Aracadia remains a bargain.  Prices in Shanghai or Beigjing can approach $2,000 per square foot, still far above the $650 per square foot in southern Arcadia.

Also keep in mind that the price of oil changes.

In 2013, U.S. crude futures averaged $97.28 per barrel.

Oil prices have plunged about 40% since June.  U.S. futures dropped to $66.81 a barrel on December 4, 2014 and Brent futures fell to $69.64.

Saudi officials have said they see oil prices settling at $60 per barrel.

The percipitious fall of the price of crude oil price drop has wrecked havoc on the Russian ruble and may put a lot of more expensive U.S. oil shale plays off and causing a fall of weaker players – the players more highly leveraged.  New oil well permits plunged nearly 40% in the U.S. last month according to data Reuters received from Drilling Info Inc.

U.S. firms and Russia aren’t the only ones feeling the pain.  A survey of Norweigen oil companies found they expect to invest 14% less on oil and gas exploration next year.

Price Matters

By the way, price does matter.

U.S. crude oil reserves recently hit the highest level in nearly 40 years but will probably (?)/might (?) fall back down again as Saudi Arabia continues to lower prices, putting more pressure on U.S. producers.

Here is a quote from an article on the front page of the Monday, December 8, 2014 issue of INVESTORS BUSINESS DAILY:

“More than $150 billion in oil and gas projects worldwide are expected to be cancelled next year as oil prices continue to fall.

“Norwegian consulting firm Rystad Energy expects companies to make final investment decisions on a total of 800 projects valued at $500 billion and totaling nearly 60 billion barrels of oil equivalent, according to Reuters.  But a third of the spending likely won’t get approved.

“Rystad estimates that half of overall volumes are at risk of being shut down if oil futures are at $70 per barrel.

“With prices plunging, more expensive fields could go offline as production becomes unprofitable.”

Additional Culture War Questions:

When the U.S. movie industry (“Hollywood”) looks at worldwide sales and sees the possibility of the worldwide “Muslim market” will this affect their scripts?

When “Hollywood” looks at worldwide sales and sees the reality of film sales in Mainland China today and future film sales in China will this affect the U.S. movie industry’s scripts?

What is the 21st Century going to be called?

Is the 21st century going to be “the Century of the State?”, “the Century of Authoritarian Regimes?”, “the Century of the Individual?” and/or “the Century of Self-Identity?” or by some other name.

Some people claim that the recession of the last decade marked the end of the era of liberal democracies.  Does that claim make sense?

Are the “Culture Wars” or “Culture War” of today just an updated version of the “Cold War”?

My Philosophical Observations

For a world power to succeed it needs to generate respect for its own culture.

The Two Most Important Question to Ask Yourself Are:

  1. Do people in the West have the will to fight for the ideals of Western Civilization?
  2. Do they have the will to die for the ideals of Western Civilization?

Technology makes it possible to make the insignificant significant, i.e. the popularity of reality shows, such as the reality show about the Kardashians and the fact that a nude picture of Kim Kardashian balancing a champagne glass on her rear end was the most talked about topic on the Internet.

Technology also makes it possible for everyone one in the world to see “riots” in Ferguson, Illinois, the use of military vehicles to quell those riots, and mass demonstrations in major cities in the U.S. in protest of the grand jury decision not to indict the policeman who killed Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager.

Information technology, smart phones, the Internet, CNN, the media, etc. have shrunk the world.

Figuratively speaking: everyone can see what is going on everywhere all the time.

The Taboo Topic of Mass Rapes by Militiamen and Soldiers in the On-going Civil War in Syria

Consider the taboo topic of mass rapes by militiamen and soldiers in Syria recently reported in the (Tuesday) November 18, 2014 issue of the Los Angeles Times.

According to the Times’ article females in Syria who are victims of sexual crime live in silence too terrified and ashamed to talk about their ordeal.

Their husbands divorce them.

Syrian cultural norms regard rape as a source of shame and dishonor.

Terrified women and unwilling families are more concerned about not tarnishing family honor than in seeking legal justice.

“Instead, the victims have fled to neighboring nations, divorced or been forced to marry older men, ending up as second or third wives.  In the worse cases, they have been killed by their own relatives, in what the families see as a way of restoring honor.

CONTRAST the taboo story of Syrian cultural norms regarding rape as a source of shame and dishonor with stories recently published in the United States and what is openly currently going on in the United States.

Compare the story of Syrian values and cultural norms with the following stories of life, “culture”, civilization, human values and cultural values in the U.S.

  1. Twenty or so women have come forth and publically stated their claims that celebrity movie star/comic Bill Crosby drugged and raped them.
  2. A picture of Kim Kardashian posing nude has recently appeared on the cover of a magazine.

Take Away:

  • Reporting on cultural customs and practices [human rights violations] is a battleground in the ongoing war over “culture values” in Islamic societies vs. Western societies.
  • Shinning a light on Syrian sexual crime is one action now being taken as a matter of increasing importance in the ongoing culture war.
  • “Rape is the most importation violation to document because its effects last forever.  Torture scars can heal.”
  • Shinning a light on the current state of Freedom of Speech and Assembly in the United States via reporting on how women do not feel ashamed to come forth and accuse a celebrity of raped them after drugging them and reporting social unrest/protest marches, etc. is dealt with in the United States is of great importance.
  • The fact that the President of the United States (Barrack Obama) and the Attorney General of the United States (Eric Holder) are taking immediate personal action to improve the relationships between local community police forces and local communities says a lot about the United States, western values and how democracy works.
  • The fact that TV news shoes and talk shoes and the media are incessently reporting on the accusation that Bill Cosby raped various young women says alot about freedom of the press and women’s self-confidence in the United States.
  • Astute women in the world will are comparing what Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdgon recently said (putting women and men on equal footing is against nature) and Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, a fellow conservative Islamist said (he criticized Turkish women for departing from the religion’s ideal of feminine modesty by smiling in public) fostering an increasingly conservative and authoritarian political culture with what social media and other sources are reporting on what is happening in the United States.



To be continued.

This post will be expanded by being updated in future updates by me.

Feel free to comment on this version and on future updated versions of this post.

For immediate further food for thought on the issues discussed above, read my post entitled “An Artistic, Political and Social Manifesto Regarding Sexually Explicit Movies and Modern Medicine” which was originally posted on October 26, 2014 at and my post entitled “November 2014 Traveler’s Guide to Sex, Politics, Celebrity, Business, Panach, Style, Culture, Individuality, Leadership, Relationships and Personal Chic on A Lonely Planet” first posted on November 17, 2014 on my blog “The Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange Blog” at

Copyright © 2014 Gary S. Smolker

About Gary S. Smolker

PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY: No enterprise can exist for itself alone. Every successful enterprise ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others. Otherwise, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist. Imagination, open mindedness and flexibility are the most important factors in unlocking potential. Those who embrace innovation, improvisation, continuous learning, time management, are action oriented, high energy, passionate, creative, purposeful and intense individuals are best equipped to succeed. We all have ideas and the ability to make progress by sharing information and our ideas and also by changing our ideas when appropriate. We should always be on the lookout for teaching and mentoring moments. We hold time like water in our hands; however tightly we clench our fingers, it drips away. But, if it falls on a seed, a seed may grow to become something that will have a positive social impact. PERSONAL INTERESTS: I have a passion to learn, to innovate, to lead, to mentor and to teach. I seek to write things worth reading and want to do things worth writing about. I enjoy (a) driving a fast car, (b) having intense conversations (c) teaching/mentoring, (d) reading and (e) being involved in productive activity. PERSONAL: I believe in cultivating and backing passionate people, innovation, and old fashioned good ideas. I love making human connections and spreading good ideas. I am strongly motivated to achieve in situations in which independence of thought and action are called for. PERSONAL GOALS: I want to live life vibrantly, to be as sharp as a tack until my last breath and to change the world by being me. My personal goal is to be fully engaged in life, to lead by example, to set high standards and to continue to amass firsthand experience and knowledge in all that interests me. PERSONALITY: I love fun and mischief. I relish absurdity. I have an irreverent, facetious and satiric disposition. I dread boredom. I have spent a lifetime reading. I have no bias against people who have lived successful and/or complicated lives. I write to release tension, to get things off my chest. SOCIAL MEDIA: I post articles on the "Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange" blog at, and "Dude's Guide to Women's Shoes" at I also post images and comments on Instagram @garyspassion. CONTACT INFORMATION: Gary Smolker, Smolker Law Firm, 16055 Ventura Blvd., Ste 525, Encino, California, 91436-2609, USA. Phone 1-818-788-7290, e-mail

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