Comments on Culture

Tasty disclaimers

August 26, 2009
Leave a Comment

It’s something we hear about a lot, in the news, movies, and while we travel. Americans are perceived by the rest of the world in certain romanticized or despised ways. United States citizens are aware of this very general idea, but we don’t talk about it much.

I asked an Anthropology professor a long time ago if one could specialize in American culture. She replied that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AMERICAN CULTURE, only American cultureS. We are too varied and diverse a people to all fall under one “American culture.” Interestingly, though, every non-academic person I’ve told this to says, “Huh? Of course there’s an American culture.”

I wondered, why are the pro’s missing what the laypeople see? Why is the discipline whose job it is to identify patterns of behavior—values and norms shared by groups of people—missing this seemingly obvious group? Why don’t anthropologists study American culture? (more…)

Advertisements

Warming up the amp

August 26, 2009
1 Comment

“CNN is supposed to be the best. But, I’m not buying the crap they’re selling lately.”

Now, these two young adults don’t seem to be crackpots. They’re not inadvertently flaunting teenage pot use and think they sound, like really smart, man, when they talk about media conspiracies. No, these are your average college students, people who would be your friends or coworkers or children. People I would talk to. But I don’t; today I’m just eavesdropping.

If they think the crap that the news tells them is either a half-truth or just some fluff line about something they don’t care about… What do they consider truth, to be valuable? What would they want to hear the international voice of America to say?

The individual—that forever targeted consumer, that internationally disdained representative of America, that constituent—what does that person really think? (more…)