Thursday, October 2, 2008
We Ain't Got No Culture
If you're one of those motherfuckers that needs to visit a foreign country to really "live" then listen up, this one's for you. I'm tired of hearing all this bullshit about "America has no culture" or "oh, you just need to go to Italy once." I think you dumb fucks need a little schooling on what culture actually is.
You're comparing an extremely young nation to nations that are thousands of years old. If you think just seeing old shit is what makes your life worth living, then you need to fix some serious shit. The United States cannot have thousand year old castles or churches or ancient documents buried in rubble chronicling the doings of some mullet-sporting savior. Just do the math.
At work the other day I was having a conversation with our resident Spaniard. He started at our company about six months ago barely being able to speak English, but finally he's watched enough American movies to where we can finally hold a meaningful discussion. This guy actually stayed out late on work nights with friends just to learn English better, to absorb everything he could just to try to fit in more. If only the rest of this state's spanish-speaking residents would have the same fucking decency and respect. But that in itself is another post. I'm always interested in getting the point of view of a foreigner in regards to how America is perceived. Now he could just be an outlier, but he told me that all Europeans don't perceive Americans as the arrogant bastards we think everyone perceives us as. I generally think that everyone hates the guy on top becauase everyone else wants to be the guy on top. I'm not trying to justify the global actions of the United States--I am an extreme citic of them at times--but to try an illustrate the point that while our government may be twisted fucks at times, that doesn't make the rest of us that way.
ANYWAY....our conversation led us to "culture." A lot of people define culture as gernerous contribution to art, history, music and possiblty science. If you really think about it, our country has been a huge contributor to such things. Just look at writers like Hemingway, Steinbeck, Twain, or artists like Warhol, O'Keefe, and Rockwell. I won't even go into our contributions musically because it is pretty apparent in pop culture the effect we've had on that. Or film for that matter. And while this may not be considered "high culture," you can't deny our brand impact on the world, from Mickey Mouse to McDonald's to Coca-Cola. Now you may not say that these are more glamorous facets of culture, they still are, by the definition of the word, culture. They have global impact and are some of the most recognizable symbols or brands in the world.
The thing is, culture is evolving. You can't expect musical or artistic culture to be like what was produced during the height of the Renaissance, it is a different time, society has evolved. Who knows, maybe in two thousand years everyone will look at Mickey Mouse as they look at the Mona Lisa. It is just difficult to see the impact imagery has in historically when it is viewed in the period it was created.
And for all of you out there who are saying I've never been anywhere or seen anything you are partly correct. I've never been to Europe and walked the halls of the Louvre or looked out from the wall of an ancienct castle, but I have set foot on the great wall of China. And guess what, it's a pile of piss-smelling bricks. I didn't feel any sort of enlightenment or hightened sense of awareness. It was a big brick wall, with grafitti in places and a fucking hand installed hand rail. Sure it was interesting, but I could have very easily seen the same sights on the Discovery Channel.
I'm not telling you to not travel to foreign countries or to not enjoy other cultures, but I am telling you to stop being a pretentious and ignorant fuck and look around you. You'll find culture everywhere and it's more than a four-hundred year old painting or a pile of old stones.