Don’t let it fool you, America has a distinct culture. One of the oldest put downs of the good ole US of A is that it doesn’t really have a culture. According to this old and tired critique, American culture is just an amalgam or derivative product of other people’s culture. Kind of like the leftover ‘cheese’ made when processed cheese is created: it doesn’t smell as bad as real cheese, doesn’t taste as good, and can survive on the shelf without refrigeration. American culture strikes many as bland and is more of an attitude rather than a real culture. Whatever truth these criticisms may have, one thing is true: they say more about the critics’ values than America itself. For the record, I know for a fact that America has its own distinct culture. Anyone who has ever eaten pepperoni, worn an afro, listened to jazz, or eaten a burrito would know how authentic American culture is. The truth is American culture takes old inputs and turns it into something new and exciting. That’s what makes the US awesome: it is a land of second and third chances. Still, no discussion of culture would be complete without analyzing why culture is so important to many of America’s critics. It just so happens that many of them are Europeans. So why the big deal about culture in Europe?
For many Americans, the European fixation with culture might seem outdated-if not outright quaint. Even though Europe might even have more modern technology in some places. A test done by PCMAG showed that overall Western Europeans have faster computers as Americans, don’t worry though, you can speed up your computer for free easily with various free tools on the internet(even with good free tips like on http://www.speed-up-pc.org). All silliness aside, you have to understand that culture is the lifeblood of Europe. Whereas in America, culture is intertwined with a political and legal framework, culture is closer to home in Europe. It defines a person. You have to remember that for such a small geographic space, Europe contains dozens of languages and dialects. In fact, there are so many cultural groups in small areas, it is no wonder we got the word ‘Balkanization’ from Europe. Culture defines people. It sets them apart from each other. It also impacts their expectations of other cultural groups. It sets boundaries. For Americans, culture is always a work in progress. Instead of a celebration in the past, its main value is that you can celebrate it now as it evolves and grows into something bigger and different. To Americans, culture is all about self-reinvention. To Europeans, culture is about remembering and celebrating. Instead of providing a roughly outlined bass line which a jazz band improvises around, the European view of culture is a solid template in the past that provides guidelines and boundaries. To Americans, the guidelines and boundaries are temporary and be reinvented by the next beat or bass line. This can come in helpful in modern day times, where stuff like finding ways how to lose weight quickly has become more important as enjoying a nice meal with your family. To each his own.