Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

The Online Debate Between American Muscle Car Culture and Japanese Car Culture in the Motor City

The Online Debate Between American Muscle Car Culture and Japanese Car Culture in the Motor City

Alicia Shiff

Detroit, also known as the Motor City, has been at the heart of the American muscle car scene for decades and has roots in car manufacturing from its beginning. This paper presents a discourse analysis of the online debates between Japanese and American muscle car communities. The American muscle car community focuses on vehicles mostly owned by older individuals and tend to be more status quo with heavier designs and less efficient, as opposed to the counterculture Japanese car community, which tends to be more nimble and reserved. American muscle cars are more culturally accepted in America and fuel the ‘made in America’ side of the debate which deepens the divide between communities. In both design and demeanor, American muscle cars and Japanese cars reflect the cultures of their origins. This paper examines the conflict and reasons behind the lack of conflict resolution of disagreements in Youtube comments and gain insight into how these debates take place. For this paper I focus on the American muscle car community and Japanese car communities, including the Japanese Domestic Import (JDM) car communities. Cars act as a form of self-expression and because there are big differences in ways people express themselves through cars, significant amounts of discourse have arisen between these two communities online. The debate surrounding these vastly different communities is supported through literature review and discourse analysis, focusing on the use of profanity, slurs, derogatory terms and name calling. This type of discourse flourishes online, and due to the nature of computer mediated communication and anonymity provided by it, frequently remains unresolved. When people have a vehicle of self-expression, it is often followed by strong feelings and opinions on this form of expression. This discourse is particularly relevant between JDM and muscle car communities, in an arena where conflict and debate is the norm and where resolution is the rarity.

April 20, 2022 - Posted by | abstract


  1. this paper looks interesting. I love cars and would be interesting in learning more about the Japanese car culture. I wonder how the cultures of both American and Japanese car culture has changed through the change of car design.

    Comment by Lily | April 21, 2022 | Reply

  2. Are there derogatory terms for both groups that you are examining? I am aware of a few that are attributed to Japanese cars and foreign cars in general, but I cannot think of any that apply to American muscle cars.

    Comment by Casey Carter | April 28, 2022 | Reply

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