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Monday, February 15, 2010

In Defense of the Monoculture Future

Monoculture (n): a culture dominated by a single element : a prevailing culture marked by homogeneity

According to Topless Robot the Monocultural Alien ranks #5 on the worst sci-fi cliches.

I've been thinking about this, and you know what, the people at Topless Robot don't get out much. Don't believe me? Count the number of dominant species on Earth: One. Two, if you include the cats. And the news worldwide is the same news, just different names.

Still don't buy it?

Let's take a stroll through today's local headlines:

1. Canberra Times of Australia: drought, sporting event, boy stabbed, car wreck ruins lives, Valentine's giveaway(running a bit late), and and op-ed pieces about the internet and money

2. The Gazetta de Modena of Italy: fatal car wreck, sporting events, op-ed piece on computers, messy murder, messy murder of wife, oped piece on saving money

3. Red Star Russian Military News or Russia:
PM wants new industrial complex, op-ed on money (I sense a theme), sporting events (looks like Olympics rather than soccer this time), dashing young tank commander at home with his parents, poll about what the gov't priorties should be this year (internal improvements, economy, stopping corruption, standard of living for the civilians)

4. Irish Times of Ireland: Rugby, Belgium train crash, mortgage lending down, man dead, op-ed on money, article on speed dating, lots of politics

5. The Japan Times Online of Japan: Sports, winter Olympics, tax reform debates, new Valentine's confections (also running a bit behind), movie reviews, sci-tech article on internet, art reviews, gang problems, river survey with aresenic... murder saved for later pages

6. The Copenhagen Post of Denmark: building demolished, avoiding taxes, fake cancer, drug bust, problems with the school system, car wreck, politics, negotiations, and money... stabbings and suicides (faked!) on later pages

Let's recap.

In a quick glance of world headlines we have issues about money, sports, violent crimes, and politics. Oh, and a lot of op-eds about the internet and how to use it because it's only been around for about five seconds and we all need a tutorial... >.<


I can see why sci-fi writers are using mono-cultures. We are a mono-culture. The news in the United States of America isn't much different than the news in Haiti, Australia, Zimbabwe, or Russia.

Money is a major concern. There is either too much water or too little. Politicians annoy journalists. And soccer, football, ruby, and the winter Olympics are all Big Deals.

The dialect changes, but we're all communicating in slightly modified Human.

Maybe 1000 years ago cultures really were different, but our current world culture is international. Clothes worn in the Americas are also sold in Europe and Asia. Half of them are made in Europe or Asia. Fashion isn't dictated at a local level. Neither is information.

Give up, Topless Robot. We are a monoculture.

Next week... Against the Grain, and the Monoculture.

Alien cat courtesy of and copyright to here.
Snowboarding photo courtesy of and copyright to Pinto/Getty published originally in the NYDailyNews. Used under non-profit fair use laws.


  1. I love that list (Topless Robot)<:

    As far as monoculture -

    If you have a WORLD SUPREME LEADER as most of these Scifi planets have, a dominant culture, plus the ability to communicate worldwide, then it would make sense that there would be monoculture aliens.

    The reason why we have as much ethnic diversity here on earth that we do is simply because so many cultures were isolated from each other because of distance, natural barriers, or social barriers.

    I imagine within a thousand years or so, large portions of planet earth might be a bit more monoculture.

  2. OK, you had me laughing at Topless Robot. Love the picture.

  3. Love the pic, too!

    With regard to monoculture, I think we're getting closer to it at an extremely rapid rate. Things like: exploration, Hellenization, and international business had already gotten that ball rolling, but the Internet has raced down the hill to give it a mighty push.

  4. Just thinking about it and I should mention that I'm actually very much against monoculture. The fact that I could buy a Big Mac in Beijing really bothers me.

    I don't see the homogenization of our world as a good thing, even though I think that's the direction we are definitely heading.

  5. Catherine - It irks people, but it does make sense.

    T. Anne - :o) I love the alien kitty! I'd try with my dogs, but I can't find a watermelon big enough.

    J.M. - Agreed, and that's why next week there will be an alternate view point on this. I think we are a monoculture in many respects, and a sci-fi monoculture makes sense. But that doesn't mean it's good for us, or for writing.

    I'll go over more next week!

  6. I'm wondering if you aren't ignoring the difference between a Macro-Monoculture and a Micro-Monoculture. It's one thing for there to be a big picture in which everyone is forced to work, and another for everyone in that picture to be in complete lock-step with its tenents.

  7. Good food for thought...but I found myself distracted by pissed off kitty. Ha, great pic!

  8. Edwin - Good point! I'll address that next week.

    Angela - Glad you liked :O)