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  1. #1
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Default American Culture

    I'm curious about what people would define as uniquely "American" culture, independently of any particular region.

    When I look at it and average out anything unusual between different regions and eras, the picture that appears is rather bland. I mostly see 18th century European enlightenment ideals modified by Protestantism, along with a mildly localized form of British traditions from that period. And lots of modern technology and "new age" ideas that seem to be permeating the globe thrown on top of it all. The flavor seems very generic, mostly all that you can tell is that we're a Western culture with a hint of diluted British and Protestant flavor.

    One thing a lot of people cite is the idea of valuing the individual, freedom, equality, and democracy, but many of those things are from as far back as Greece or the Enlightenment. You might say that "Well, they were biased because they didn't apply those ideals to women and blacks," but to be honest, America didn't either at first. So clearly, this sort of thing is not uniquely an example of American culture, but is part of our shared heritage with the Western world at large.

    So far, the only uniquely American idea I've found is the idea that we're a "melting pot," and not any kind of single, homogeneous group.

    So, what else would you say applies to American culture as a whole, that isn't related to a specific region, and isn't shared with Western/European/English civilization as a whole? I find myself having trouble thinking of such qualities, except perhaps for the strong Protestant influence.

    It's possible that I'm too close to the problem. Maybe people from outside the U.S. could help us note a few?

  2. #2
    That chalkboard guy Matthew_Z's Avatar
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    You're going to apply a single culture to a country that is 3rd/4th largest in land area, 3rd largest in population, and is arguably renowned for having immigrants from almost every region on Earth?

    If you were going for culture, you'd take the fact that the United States started out as a largely agrarian society and has since developed from that stage. American English is very distinct from the other parts of the Anglophone world. There's a reason for that. Compared English culture(from which American culture arguably descended), American culture is less formal.
    If a deaf INFP falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

  3. #3
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew_Z View Post
    You're going to apply a single culture to a country that is 3rd/4th largest in land area, 3rd largest in population, and is arguably renowned for having immigrants from almost every region on Earth?
    Yes, that was going to be my next thought. I was going to say that I think America as a whole is too big for us to apply a single culture, and wonder if anyone else thought so. I can see regional cultures in America, but I don't really see us having a single culture (for the most part) that can be generalized about the way European nations are. Then again, we are talking about a much larger nation.
    If you were going for culture, you'd take the fact that the United States started out as a largely agrarian society and has since developed from that stage. American English is very distinct from the other parts of the Anglophone world. There's a reason for that. Compared English culture(from which American culture arguably descended), American culture is less formal.
    Ugh. That actually annoys me. I find the informality around me very annoying, and tend to think in a very formal way. So I've probably unconsciously filtered out and dismissed much of American culture as simple backwardness or rawness that needs to be civilized and refined out of us.

    Perhaps I've missed a lot of it because I tend only to deal with and contemplate the more refined side of things.

  4. #4
    Sugar Hiccup OrangeAppled's Avatar
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    The southwest is not very influenced by Britain at all. I suppose the Latin influence is still partly European, but it's mixed so much with the Native American cultures that it's something very different.
    Often a star was waiting for you to notice it. A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past, or as you walked under an open window, a violin yielded itself to your hearing. All this was mission. But could you accomplish it? (Rilke)

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  5. #5
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athenian200 View Post
    So far, the only uniquely American idea I've found is the idea that we're a "melting pot," and not any kind of single, homogeneous group.
    We're not a melting pot, though. We're a cultural mosaic. There are lots of little pieces that are still distinct making up the whole, and being able to make it all make a somewhat coherent picture without coherent development is impressive for such a large area.
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

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    resonance entropie's Avatar
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    American humor, ideals and tolerance is unique to this world. And if you think I am wrong about tolerance then come visit me .

    Besides that you got Burgers, Pizza hut, McDonalds, I wouldnt know what to do without them in my daily life.

    But basically its the 3 words I said above; for sure you got a lot of idiots in your country, but who doesnt ? I'ld like to miss you no more, without the American Culture my own country would have never become what it is today.

    The democratic ideal send out from the American Culture throughout the world, is a thing unmatched in history. And its what your culture is.

    And besides that you got him, he stands for all that ideals in one person:

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovLS9mEA7IM"][/YOUTUBE]

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n6spcwUfYk"]xDD[/YOUTUBE]
    [URL]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEBvftJUwDw&t=0s[/URL]

  7. #7
    Sugar Hiccup OrangeAppled's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by entropie View Post
    Besides that you got Burgers, Pizza hut, McDonalds
    :yim_rolling_on_the_

    Fast food: our great contribution to the world!
    Often a star was waiting for you to notice it. A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past, or as you walked under an open window, a violin yielded itself to your hearing. All this was mission. But could you accomplish it? (Rilke)

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  8. #8
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    The southwest is not very influenced by Britain at all. I suppose the Latin influence is still partly European, but it's mixed so much with the Native American cultures that it's something very different.
    Well, yes, but the government structures, the "official" ways of doing things aren't really influenced by this except that people are being encouraged to learn Spanish. Maybe the informal side is, but I wouldn't know. I tend not to pay much attention to anything that isn't "official."

    Also, the southwest is a region. I was asking about the nation as a whole, but I'll take it that you agree that that perspective is too large.

    Quote Originally Posted by Haphazard
    We're not a melting pot, though. We're a cultural mosaic. There are lots of little pieces that are still distinct making up the whole, and being able to make it all make a somewhat coherent picture without coherent development is impressive for such a large area.
    I suppose that's correct. They do all tend to remain distinct rather than blending well, now that I think about it... hmm.

    Quote Originally Posted by entropie
    American humor, ideals and tolerance is unique to this world.
    Could you please elaborate? That's rather vague. What kind of humor? Which ideals? What kind of tolerance? Religious tolerance?

    Anyway, I suppose I'll concede that McDonalds and Disney are symbols of American culture. They're pretty good, I think.

    I wonder if Starbucks would count, too?

  9. #9
    resonance entropie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    :yim_rolling_on_the_

    Fast food: our great contribution to the world!
    You can think if you want about sausages and beer as fast food and drugs aswell.

    I really hate you for being so hard on yourself, but maybe that's exactly the thing I can learn from you. Not being arrogant
    [URL]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEBvftJUwDw&t=0s[/URL]

  10. #10
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by entropie View Post
    You can think if you want about sausages and beer as fast food and drugs aswell.
    Dude, that was you guys, we just watered it down and made it cheap.
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

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