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What is “American culture”?

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What is “American culture”?

Old 03-19-21, 01:03 PM
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What is “American culture”?

zyzzle inspired me with this post in the “unpopular opinions” thread. Mods, this may need moved to Politics, but I’m going to try it out here first to get more eyeballs on it. Thank you for your patience and understanding, but feel free to move it if it needs to go.

Originally Posted by zyzzle View Post
Maoris have had tatoos as an integral, encompassing part of their culture and cultural heritage for centuries. It's not a fad to them. So ingrained are tatoos (and body art) in their culture that they couldn't be called "Maori" without that cultural context firmly in mind.

Comparing their tatoos to the recent fad and "coolness" our American culture seems to have imparted to tatoos during the last generation is not apples and oranges, it's apples and three-headed hydras, so different and inappropriate is the comparison! Note that I use the term "American culture" *very* loosely, as we lost any semblance of culture decades ago, and collectivism is now complete anethema to us. Individuality and "being an outlier" is encouraged, exhalted, sublime, and sacrosanct, in the direct opposition of cultural togetherness. Sad...
So ... what was/is “American culture”? What should it be?

I admit I grew up sheltered in Hole-in-the-Wall, Nowhere and that I have not traveled or experienced the world like I desire. Given that, I feel I have a reasonable worldly view and like to step back to see the bigger picture.

I wish for a country and society that actually is a melting pot that embraces and leverages our differences, not one that holds them up to create divisions. Yet, it feels to me like that is where we are at as a society. Nobody wants to be a part of a better whole, we all want to be special and the way to get there is by acting stupid on social platforms or pointing out how different and unique we are and shitting on everybody else.

Don’t read that as “I want a hive mind and you should agree with me!” I think that is even more destructive, but it feels like what many people are pushing for. I want to learn about differences and experience other cultures. I want to have deep, honest, and frank conversations about controversial or emotionally-charged topics, but it seems near impossible because people are stuck on “I am right, you are wrong. I have to defend my point of view and unequivocally reject yours without actually listening to it.”

Freedoms and rights are not strengthened or enhanced by depriving other people of theirs. I want a society (and government) that stops trying to openly declare war on the people in it, but that doesn’t seem to be where we are. One where we are striving for and achieving opportunity equality, not the “get mine” mentality that is prevalent today.

Take this in whatever direction you want ... maybe I went too deep and your answer is as simple as backyard barbecues and baseball games!
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Old 03-19-21, 04:23 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

IMHO American culture, if there is such a thing, is much like many countries' cultures especially our British parent and her other children like Canada and Australia. Because we're a melting pot, one can find elements from many other societies we have absorbed over the years as well.

Perhaps we can break out key elements in our quest to see if anything makes America unique.

You mention backyard barbecues and baseball games. I would recommend that we genericise these to "(recreational) communal cooking and eating" and "sport". In so doing, we immediately recognize that neither is uniquely American rather simply things our native, slave, and immigrant ancestors contributed to us and many other nations over time.
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Old 03-19-21, 05:27 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

  • America is the porn capital of the world, it puts Cardi-B on television, it allows homosexuals to marry, it has no-fault divorce, and it has legal abortion.
  • Americans drive giant trucks as a matter of course, live in 3000 sq ft houses, and commute 60 miles each way. Liter cars and 350cc motorcycles fail in the marketplace because they aren't powerful enough.
  • Americans created the blue jeans and T-shirt look, and the American Business Suit look, which have forced out local fashions all over the world.
  • Americans are willing to spend a fortune on their military. All of the nuclear powered aircraft carriers in the world are American. But the American public gets angry if even a thousand soldiers die in battle. Americans like the idea of going to war, but not of anyone getting hurt.
  • Americans used to be so optimistic that it was perceived as arrogance. Americans once believed that they could deal with any problem. Put a man on the moon, fix the ozone hole, out-compete foreign industries -- we can do it. That has changed, and Donald Trump was able to tap into that anger and pessimism.
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Old 03-19-21, 05:29 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

Originally Posted by Nick Danger View Post
  • America is the porn capital of the world, it puts Cardi-B on television, it allows homosexuals to marry, it has no-fault divorce, and it has legal abortion.
  • Americans drive giant trucks as a matter of course, live in 3000 sq ft houses, and commute 60 miles each way. Liter cars and 350cc motorcycles fail in the marketplace because they aren't powerful enough.
  • Americans created the blue jeans and T-shirt look, and the American Business Suit look, which have forced out local fashions all over the world.
  • Americans are willing to spend a fortune on their military. All of the nuclear powered aircraft carriers in the world are American. But the American public gets angry if even a thousand soldiers die in battle. Americans like the idea of going to war, but not of anyone getting hurt.
  • Americans used to be so optimistic that it was perceived as arrogance. Americans once believed that they could deal with any problem. Put a man on the moon, fix the ozone hole, out-compete foreign industries -- we can do it. That has changed, and Donald Trump was able to tap into that anger and pessimism.
There are large swaths of America that would vehemently disagree with a bunch of this, especially your first bullet point, though.

And I still think the vast majority of America believes that we are an exceptional people that deserve a special place in the world, even if we don't admit it out loud. Also that Capitalism trumps everything else: people recognize that maybe it's not perfect but don't believe we can learn anything at all from the alternatives (communism, socialism, etc.) And again, that's because we're exceptional, why would you want everyone to be average?
Old 03-19-21, 05:31 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

Originally Posted by Nick Danger View Post
All of the nuclear powered aircraft carriers in the world are American.
Temporarily. China has one in the works.
Old 03-19-21, 05:55 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
There are large swaths of America that would vehemently disagree with a bunch of this, especially your first bullet point, though.
Do they disagree that it's American culture, or are they unhappy that it is American culture? Pat Robertson preaches all the time against the widespread sexual immorality in this country.

I don't like it that Americans use more energy per capita than any other country, but I'm not going to say that it's not true.
Old 03-19-21, 06:17 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

Ibtimtpar

ETA: in before the inevitable move to politics and religion
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Old 03-19-21, 06:18 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

Nick, I can't figure out your first bullet point. Only one of those things really outrages me, and it is the least important one on there but says the most about us.
Old 03-19-21, 06:19 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

This should probably be moved as there is no way to respond to Nick without Obama coming up and comparing administrations.

And we are exceptional and I will never apologize for that and if that is arrogance tough hop.

Old 03-19-21, 06:20 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

Basic question I tap danced around in my initial post ...

Do we even have "an" American culture anymore? Or are we too fragmented?
Old 03-19-21, 06:32 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

I’m not sure why a discussion about culture needs to be moved to politics. Politics is only one piece in a big puzzle.
My foreign friends view America as people who work too much, love guns, eat too much, everything is big, treat too many things as temporary, have little respect for other cultures, make great movies, and it makes them both nervous and jealous.
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Old 03-19-21, 07:14 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

Fast Food Muscle cars Hollywood

I think those are things other countries admire or like about America and try to copy.
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Old 03-19-21, 07:25 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

Originally Posted by JeffTheAlpaca View Post
Fast Food Muscle cars Hollywood

I think those are things other countries admire or like about America and try to copy.
A friend I have in Germany sighted an episode of “The Grand Tour” where Jeremy, Richard, and James go to Detroit, and drive American muscle cars as - the most American thing he’s seen. He compared the cars to Americans - big, loud, fast, scary, guzzlers, but a lot of fun. Haha
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Old 03-19-21, 07:38 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

Originally Posted by Abob Teff View Post
Basic question I tap danced around in my initial post ...

Do we even have "an" American culture anymore? Or are we too fragmented?

Do you mean is there a unified white heterosexual working/middle-class culture anymore?
Old 03-19-21, 07:47 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

Fuck you, pay me.
Old 03-19-21, 07:54 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

Originally Posted by Abob Teff View Post
Nick, I can't figure out your first bullet point. Only one of those things really outrages me, and it is the least important one on there but says the most about us.
The things in the first bullet point don't outrage me either. Osama Bin Laden was infuriated by them, but he was a religious conservative terrorist. I'm listing characteristics of American culture, good and bad.

(I also think that it's a good thing that most Americans value its soldiers' lives more than money. Other cultures would think that cowardly.)
Old 03-19-21, 09:09 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

Well, I'm old enough to remember a sort of American Culture existed at one time. It was geared toward the Judeo-Christian work ethic, social norms, treating others as you would like to be treated, working hard, but also playing hard on occassion. We were much, much more "narrowly" defined, at least it was where I grew up in the typical WASPy SoCal neighborhoods of the '60s and early '70s which don't exist any longer. The wife was as housewife, she had two or three kids running about, who all attended the local public schools, and the neighborhood was the kids' playground. The neighbors were *kind*, giving, and all in the spirit of helping others out. The Dad worked long hours, with the goal firmly set that he was living the American Dream and doing well for himself, and providing well for his nuclear family. Picnics, bike riding, hiking, all the "normal" heathy pursuits, the really simple things were all we had. Things were so much less complicated that an abstract function like "culture" could still be looked upon as existing in the microcosm of these types of neighborhoods.

We've lost all that now. I won't ennumerate the ways -- you who are parents perhaps know them all too well. The neighbor's kids can't be trusted as babysitters any longer (they're not "good" enough, certainly not at 50 cents an hour that kids were paid back in those days to babysit my brother and I). People have grown impatient, distrusting, and insular -- to the total destruction of "culture".

We're so, so much more uptight. We worry about little things, peccadillos. Icons of 'culture' like tatoos, cancel culture, social media, gender identity, online worlds substituting for real llife (virtual reality?) have all subsumed the things that used to be important like family values, togetherness, and propriety. Maybe they still exist, but it is in competition to all of those other (I think, pretty negative) things. And we're becoming more and more greedy and it doesn't help the the Middle Class is shrinking very quickly. That used to encompass the very gist of people who used to define "American Culture". So, of course it is dead.
Old 03-19-21, 10:11 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

The celebration of excess
Old 03-19-21, 10:12 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

Originally Posted by Count Dooku View Post
The celebration of excess
... and the worship of money and power!
Old 03-20-21, 09:46 AM
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Re: What is “American culture”?


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Old 03-20-21, 10:39 AM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

If you want "collectivism" or "cultural togetherness", move to a social democracy because core values of "individual freedoms and liberties" will never do much for you in that regard.
Old 03-20-21, 11:29 AM
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Re: What is “American culture”?


Old 03-20-21, 11:36 AM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

Originally Posted by Abob Teff View Post
Do we even have "an" American culture anymore? Or are we too fragmented?
I would argue that we never had a unified American culture. The 13 colonies all had very different ways of life, the only thing that "united" them was the hatred of British rule. And less than 100 years after the countries founding, it split in two and there was a civil war.
Old 03-20-21, 12:18 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

Originally Posted by Why So Blu? View Post
Fuck you, pay me.
I’m not sure that’s solely American. I had a French waiter say pretty much the same thing to me when I was in Paris.
Old 03-20-21, 01:56 PM
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Re: What is “American culture”?

Originally Posted by Why So Blu? View Post
Fuck you, give me.
Fixed that for you...
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