Before I begin on the actual topic of this post, I’d like to point out that the term Americentrism (-centric) is horrible, both visually and phonetically. I found that by dropping the A it sounds a little better. Why can’t it just roll off the tongue like its cousin Eurocentric?
But, enough of that.
Sometime in the past week or so, news of a planned building project in Seoul, began circulating both domestically (in Korea) and internationally. It’s making the news because some Americans are upset about it.
I first saw and heard about this project here, and when I saw the picture of it – and even after reading the accompanying post – I had no idea why someone would take offense to it.
Until I read this.
Honestly, the image of New York’s Twin Towers under attack never came to mind. I saw what the architects (MVRDV of the Netherlands) who designed it had envisioned; a cloud suspended between two skyscrapers, and nothing else.
If the architects didn’t see the resemblance to the exploding World Trade Center when they drew the design (as they stated they didn’t, and which I don’t doubt for a second), then why should anyone take offense to this? And why should the rest of the world worry about the complaints of a few knee-jerk Americans?
It’s absolutely true that what happened in New York on that day was terrible, but what gives the people who were affected by that tragedy the right to place their sorrow and anger above the feelings of those who live in other parts of the world and have likely felt some sorrow and anger of their own over some other tragedy? And why should the world media report about those angered over such a trivial thing as the design of a building, while there are certainly thousands of people in Africa, for example, experiencing some horrific tragedy at this very moment?
The answer to these questions, is that this is a case of ethnocentricity in a powerful nation-state. Americans view the world from their perspective only (as do people in other countries as well), and the United States happens to be the most powerful state in the world, which results in the opinions of Americans being overrepresented across all mediums. And as such, world opinion tends to be influenced by American opinion.
I’m sure that the developers of this building project will not proceed with this design now, because their rational decision – choosing an interesting and eye-catching design – has been tainted by the irrational objections of some people who live thousands of kilometers away.
[On a side note, I rather like this design. You can see more of it here. I really like the cubical design of the ‘cloud’, which allows for terraced green spaces outside and an airy, open-level interior. And besides that, any sort of interesting architecture is a welcome addition to the bleak cityscape Seoul is currently plagued with.]