The American Century

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Rick Bruner:

"I mean, am I living with cultural blinders on, nationalistic to the point of myopia, or is it not true that the United States did in fact have disproportionate influence on the way the rest of the world has lived in the past 100 years or so? For example, starting with "The Arts" and "Culture," I’m thinking in terms of jazz music, rock music, hip hop, modern musical theater, modern dance, motion pictures and casual fashion. As for technology and communications, there is, oh, say the telephone, television, the automobile, mass production, air travel, air conditioning, computers and the Internet."

I’ve tried to argue this point with fellow countrymen time and again, but I never really managed to get them to go down from their French high horse. Faced with the same list of American accomplishments, one guy had the guts to tell me Jazz wasn’t American! Meanwhile, his girlfriend had built the impression that Americans were crass illiterates after a year spent at the University of Middle of Cornfield, Nowhere State. Well, guess what, students in third-grade universities this size of the pond show a similar lack of culture, besides they don’t mind being a financial burden to their parents till the age of 28.
Europe, whose greatest innovations since WWII are lousy Nokia phones and Big Brother TV shows (sorry, electronic music comes from the US too), has only herself to blame for crass mass consumerism. We should realize the fumes of high cultural achievements we’re so proud of inhaling (or rather we claim to cherish while we in fact consume American output), emanate from an ever-more distant past. Americans are illiterate because they can’t locate our tiny countries on a map? Well, we can’t do the same for Indian or Chinese provinces that are probably as populated as our whole continent, so let’s start addressing our distorted world perspective and stop thinking Europe is the center of the universe. This ain’t the 18th century anymore.

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