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somad

Tony Bennett says US is "culturally void"

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http://www.contactmusic.com/news.nsf/artic...%20void_1005988

"I have travelled around the world to Asia and Europe. They show you what they have contributed to the world. The British show you theatre, the Italians show you music and art, the French show you cooking and painting, and the Germans show you science. "The only thing that the United States, which is still a young country, has contributed culturally to the world is jazz - elongated improvisation. It's tragic."

OK... What does everyone think of this? I think Tony is dead wrong. In its short history, the US has produced great literary figures like Mark Twain and Aurthur Miller, pop culture icons that were revered worldwide from Elvis and Marilyn Monroe to Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan, and it has been the most innovative country in the world since its inception. Neo wouldn't have been able to set up urban planet if it hadn't been for the US leading the way in advancing computer technology and the creation of the Internet. And.. just exactly what country saved the world 60 years ago? I wanted to say "give me a break" but John Stossel ruined it for me.

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somad, I must agree with you.

That was an affair portrayal of American culture by Tony Bennett...believe me, I have my problems with certain aspects of American culture too. But all the points somad brought up are so glaringly true.

America has contributed more than it's share of culture, art, music and style to the world:)

oops! "unfair"

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I think Europeans take more chances culturally than we do. Especially In art and architecture. We tend to dumb down things and take the safe way, or get scared off by our puritanical upbringing.

Not that commericals are a fair example, but you need to look no further than nudity in advertising in nearly all European nations. Here a naked body is nothing more than a way to titilate. Further, sex used in American film is so often meant to be viewed as bad and evil. Why else do all the young people who have sex in teen slasher movies always get killed?

While I don't think Tony is completely right, he does have some valid points.

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^ I'm with Miesian on this one. what passes for "culture" in the US is just a samitized, puritanical version of what is going on in thereat of the world. Somad, of your examples, the only two that could pass for "culture" in the sense Tony Bennet is talking about are Mark Twain and Arthur Miller... and how many of today's Americans do you think could name more than two works by these authors? How many Americans would rather go see the latest Adam Sandler movie than go to an art gallery? How many would rather pop in a CD by the latest pop tart than listen to a jazz collection. What passes for culture in this country is too often mindless and unstimulating.

And Americans need to learn history too. The country that "saved the world 60 years ago" was the Soviet Union, which contributed much more to the defeat of the Nazis, both strategically and in national sacrifice. Of course that didn't play very well in Cold-War-era American textbooks, so it went (and still goes) almost unmentioned in our classrooms.

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^ I'm with Miesian on this one. what passes for "culture" in the US is just a samitized, puritanical version of what is going on in thereat of the world. Somad, of your examples, the only two that could pass for "culture" in the sense Tony Bennet is talking about are Mark Twain and Arthur Miller... and how many of today's Americans do you think could name more than two works by these authors? How many Americans would rather go see the latest Adam Sandler movie than go to an art gallery? How many would rather pop in a CD by the latest pop tart than listen to a jazz collection. What passes for culture in this country is too often mindless and unstimulating.

And Americans need to learn history too. The country that "saved the world 60 years ago" was the Soviet Union, which contributed much more to the defeat of the Nazis, both strategically and in national sacrifice. Of course that didn't play very well in Cold-War-era American textbooks, so it went (and still goes) almost unmentioned in our classrooms.

Are America's scientific acheivements that insignificant? Mr Bennett pointed to Germany for having a great culture in regards to their scientific achievements. In terms of elitist culture... how much of what Europe has is a product of recent generations? Regardless of what anyone says... it's our "mindless and unstimulating" culture that is more frequently played and mimiced in other countries (including the ones Mr Bennett mentioned) more than any other.

And, yes, the Soviet Union's losses in WW2 were mentioned in my history books. I'd like to know how many history books failed to mention that... If the US didn't get involved in the war don't you think that the Soviets would have eventually been overmatched by the Axis Powers' superior technology? We beat the Nazis to the Atom bomb, and after the war was over the countries we occupied were eventually freed from our control and have gone on to become major economic powers on the world stage. The territories that Russia "saved"? They were put under Communist rule for decades.

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We're certainly not culturally devoid, although I think it's more regionally concentrated here than in Europe. And, being a young country, I don't think we've had enough time to develop the level of culture that Europeans are so proud of.

We're the melting pot with tons of different cultures here all trying to mingle and meld into one nation. It's still forming. I dare you to find one place in Europe that's as diverse as some places in the US such as the SF Bay Area, Los Angeles, and NYC, not to mention, to a lesser extent, other large areas like Miami and Chicago.

Maybe it's not that we're devoid of culture, we just don't have culture in the old world sense? Maybe we're forging a different path and approach to it? Maybe he's right and it's too superficial?

Just some ramblings and something to think about...not sure I've even formed my own opinion on this yet...

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Are America's scientific acheivements that insignificant? Mr Bennett pointed to Germany for having a great culture in regards to their scientific achievements. In terms of elitist culture... how much of what Europe has is a product of recent generations? Regardless of what anyone says... it's our "mindless and unstimulating" culture that is more frequently played and mimiced in other countries (including the ones Mr Bennett mentioned) more than any other.

Yes, American entertainment is imported into these other countries, but they also have vibrant and active cultures of their own, and attempts to share this with American audiences are largely futile, as Americans have little interest. The fact that these cultural elements weren't entirely invented in the last generation or so is irrelevent. American culture is meant by design to be consumed instantaneously, then forgotten. How many cultural movements of even a generation ago are still popular? In contrast, Europe doesn't cast off generations of accumulated culture as "elitist." That notion is an artificial construct by Americans to help themselves feel better for their lack of anything but the most superficial of culture.

And, yes, the Soviet Union's losses in WW2 were mentioned in my history books. I'd like to know how many history books failed to mention that... If the US didn't get involved in the war don't you think that the Soviets would have eventually been overmatched by the Axis Powers' superior technology? We beat the Nazis to the Atom bomb, and after the war was over the countries we occupied were eventually freed from our control and have gone on to become major economic powers on the world stage. The territories that Russia "saved"? They were put under Communist rule for decades.

The idea that the US single-handedly won the war and that the other Allies were helpless with out us is false, and arrogant. If the Soviets hadn't refused to capitualte despite staggering losses, the Nazis would not have had to divide their forces in a two-front war, and could easily have overrun the Allied forces on the western front. The US was fighting a two-front war itself, and its contribution in Europe, while significant, were little more than a supplement to the forces of the European Allies.

The only reason the US got the bomb first was that the German scientists involved in its development chose to defect here. We got very lucky, and this achievement says little about American virtue. As for the aftermath of the war, the Soviets were hard on their occupied territories, but that does not negate their contributions to winning the war. Given the devastation to their homeland by the Nazis, they felt they needed a buffer zone of foreign territory where the Soviet military could operate freely to head off any future invasions from the west. The Soviets felt that they needed to "fight them there so we don't have to fight them here," so to speak. :whistling:

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Yes it is fair to cast off these people as "elitist". Traditionally, the poorer people of the world have never been a part of "high society". This nation was built mostly on the poorest of the poor coming over. If you want to get a look at that type of culture, there's stuff like "taste of Italy" in most areas, Greek festivals, polka dances, chinatowns, etc. I'm half irish half polish. We eat poor people food made by those ancestors like they're treats. Corned beef, gilobkis, pierogies... Barbeques were an example of poor southerners making the best of terrible meat. Now some are treating it like it's a delicacy. This country does have it's "sophisticated" culture, so what if most people don't participate in it? Most people don't cast off Mark Twain's writings as "elitist". Americans do have a strong culture and do celebrate it.

Do all these wonderful countries in Europe celebrate our cultural icons of the past the way that we do? NO. They're different. We do, however, accept some aspects of foreign culture into everyday society. Mainly British culture... Shakespeare may be known to the idiots as only Romeo & Juliet, but how many of us read or have seen Hamlet, Othello, Richard III, A Midsummer Night's Dream, read his sonnets, etc? How many of us have read "the importance of being earnest"? We don't completely shut ourselves off from foreign culture. I also can't help but add: Is the soccer hooligan a good example of fine European culture? How about their ever so culturally advanced attitudes on immigration, with those Islamists getting along oh so well with their host countries... It seems the America bashers can't help but bring up the dregs of society here while making Europe to be some sort of ideal place.

I see your point about American culture being made to be for the moment, but even this culture (brought upon by motion pictures, mostly, imo) has created lasting celebrities like Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, the 3 Stooges (had to throw them in there), Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Joe Dimaggio, the Babe, Elvis, Michael Jackson, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Oprah, Tiger Woods... There are tons of people who are "icons" of our modern culture.

Yes, many of the scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project may have been German.. but where would the world be if there wasn't this sleeping giant waiting to come out and save it? I am pretty sure I made it clear in my last post that I don't think the USSR's sacrifices weren't needed. I just said that I strongly feel that without the USA Russia would have lost. The Nazis would have built the first nuclear bomb, and the world would have been speaking German. The USSR couldn't have taken on the Axis alone. The rest of Europe was defeated. My grandparents' generation saved the world from fascism.

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Speaking of the Manhattan Project, one of the chemists that worked on the project is from here in Columbia, he was a friend of my dads. He's in his mid 80's now and is still in Columbia.

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I think America contributes in all of those areas, and we are recognized in many achievements. Unfortunately, most Americans actually ignore all the stuff we have to offer! We have the resources, we have the achievements, but our world class institutions don't get a lot of attention by our own citizens.

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