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Thread: Today's North American Culture--A rant

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    Default Today's North American Culture--A rant

    Okay....how should I start this? Today's north american culture is something that I am very familiar with....I began disliking this culture only 2 months ago, thanks to my realization of the beauty and wonder and heavenly gift known as classical music(from the baroque to the modern era). Today, as I watched the MTV movie awards, I felt even more revolted towards north american culture than iw as before; everything that is popular is overrated; there is no more "quality" behind our entertainment. Rather, what used to be odd, unaccepted, and plain stupid has become popular. Actually, stupidity is how i can define north american culture; blunt, pointless things that degrades our culture slowly, but surely. Let's start with a big example: Fall out Boy. This pop rock (I would not even call it punk) band emerged with a nerd look that made teeny bops mad with their simple, common tunes. Very much like a premature high school student, this band earns attention by looking extremely nerdy, and in turn, receives affection. All of a sudden, the emo nerd look is "in" because nerds are usually the underdogs in highschools, and teens found it cool to give themselves the imagie of the underdog, in order to "separate" themselves from the mainstream and the popular cliques, when really, they're fitting "in" with the mainstream. What also ticks me off is the war rebellion that stills seems to happen eversince the 1960's. Many people began criticizing the government and the authorities when they have no idea what the government controls, how it functions, or the positive things the government has brough us. Everything seems to be pessimistic. Criticism is received with screaming applaus. The meaner comedians are, the more teens love them. Especially comedians who make racist/homosexual/pop culture jokes. Take the MTV video awards for example. The hostess, Sarah Silverman announced Paris hilton will be going to jail shortly, and everybody applauds. Paris Hilton was amongst the audiences and looked infuriated. Silverman then proceeded to make a crack about how her prison bars will probably be painted like male genitals as part of "special treatment". I'm not sure who found that funny, but I did not. Teens today are still trying to differentiate themselves from society by acting rebelious, when really, they're acting like clones because every other pop-culture-obssessed teen wants to be famous, or unique. I'd say us classical music lovers are the biggest rebels. It's sad how theyre are only a handful of us...whenever I listen to some Beethoven, Schubert, Tchaikovsky and Brahms, I feel so grateful for their music, and I pity all of my classmates who do barely recognize the value and magic of classical music. I'd say out of my highschool's population of 1200 students, only 10-20 like classical music.

    The only part of North American culture I DO like, however, is the film/television show industry(Hollywood) and the fashion. Other than those two industries, the rest is trash. I'd like to hear your views on this culture.

    -Luximus

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    Senior Member Frasier's Avatar
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    A Culture will always stimulate a spectrum of views both from the inside and out. I'm not American so am hardly qualified to express a view except that I feel the same about the British culture whose members have (generally) been so dumbed down that they rely on the media to make most of their decisions and hold their hands.

    But I think the music industries in both countries run parallel - the operative word being "industry". We have to remember that music is business - we're all under the influence of the Japanese who run it these days and they are well aware that profits hang on supplying what the public wants. With music it usually means telling it what it should want, in terms subtle and unsubtle. They have discovered the benefits of selling entire lifestyles with music as a major component because its theatre allows the delivery of fashion, attitude, diet, etc and following the scene is the golden road to happiness.

    But all cultures have their high points materially, the Americans as much as anyone. In the 70s and 80s, more contemporary "classical" music came from America than the UK - it was supported by businesses and municipalities like it never was in the UK. Then you have some particularly beautiful domestic architecture (in my view) which at last is being recognised as heritage. On the minus side, again in my view, the Americans suffer this gold-rush mentality that leads them to bleed a vein until it runs dry then move on to the next money-spinner. Bill Gates and his windows and many other IT enterprises rush out to make $ with a basically imperfect product but in the knowledge they can improve it and make more $ later. The European attitude was far more about let's get it right first, then sell it....except to keep up with America we've have to go along the American route a little more.

    So I take your point but I think if you look for the positives in your culture you'll find a few!

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    Mango
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    Although the USA is the UK's best ally, and vice versa, I'm glad there's an ocean separating us.

    I'm not in any way anti-USA, but I definitely wouldn't wish to live in the USA in preference to the UK. There are several reasons.

    On a recent trip to New York State, I was appalled at the evident lack of environmental planning almost everywhere. For example, you might come across a beautiful lake/mountain scene, and then spot some ramshackle habitation spoiling the view, with random add-on structures and heaps of rubbish strewn everywhere. There's also lots of uncontrolled advertising boards virtually everywhere. We have far better control over the environment than they do in the USA. There's no way that UK authorities would allow the many ugly and sloppy-looking infrastructure they tolerate in the USA.

    Then there are these huge gas-guzzling pick-up monstronsities littering the streets of many towns, often with little old ladies driving them in a most precarious manner. There's no style at all. It's pretty vulgar.

    Worst of all, USA TV is positively awful. I have never seen such a load of rubbish as I witnessed on TV in Binghampton, for example. I gather from friends that I gets even worse the further into the Mid-West you travel, with mind-blowing bias in News Channels against all non-USA cultures. Such insularity has to be experienced to be believed. It's no wonder the USA has done nothing, for example, about signing up to any international control of greenhouse gas emmissions. It is reflective of the fact that the majority of folk simply do not care about what the rest of the world thinks about them.

    Give me the UK any day, an over-crowded little country though we are. Our sense of heritage and national identity, although sadly declining with waves of recent immigrants, is vastly better than in the USA, where most people don't seem to know or care about their heritage.

    As for the classical music scene, I haven't a clue about the set-up in the USA. I'm perfectly happy with the situation here in the UK. There's no shortage of concerts, opera, radio, and I doubt that we can learn anything from the USA. I agree, of course, that the music industry, like all international business, is profit-driven. What we get is what the majority wants. I don't sign up to any of these stupid conspiracy theories you sometimes see on Music Boards that what we get is all controlled by rich, fat monopolists. That's rubbish.
    Last edited by Mango; Jun-09-2007 at 11:46.

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    Senior Member Keemun's Avatar
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    Mango,

    I appreciate your assessment of the U.S., however I believe it is important to understand what the U.S. is all about. From the time of its formation as a group of 13 rebellious colonies, through its emergence as a "super power", the U.S. has always been on it own course of independence. You are correct in stating that most Americans do not care what the rest of the world thinks of the U.S. But the majority is often wrong and to judge someone on that basis would be ridiculous. Freedom and independence are the cornerstones upon which the U.S. was founded. Many (but not all) Americans prefer less governmental invasion into their lives and businesses, something that does not exist in much of the world.

    Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.
    - Ludwig van Beethoven

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    Notserp89m
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    Culture ahh, Music is a reflection of culture and is it not sad what we have made our music these days. I have contemplated this problem for countless hours and discussed it with many other people and this is what I’ve basically come up with.

    Problem = Capitalism
    Now just wait a second in not Red or socialist or anything like that but in hindsight the Western Culture is not real culture at all. Any society that has it's entire world revolve around the acquisition of money then will overtime lose out on its culture that it once had and then not be able to regain its culture or identity. EVERYONE is too caught up in getting money. The people who choose what music goes on, choose what they are sure will make money. It is dog eat dog so if you show signs of altruism you will get taken advantage of. This lack of culture is a sad event for everyone who is missing out but is especially sad for classical music lovers because it has taken our love and turned it into something "boring", "uncool", "old". I do not think we will ever see the death of this art but i do believe that the steady decline it is going on now is scary. I am hoping for some kind of social awakening and a search for a culture other than making money among Westerners. Then i believe classical music could make a "real rebirth" and there might be the emergence of new Masters that we might live to see.

    And just to make things clear i do believe that Capitalist Democracy is the most logical form of Government out there but our culture is being diminished. I gave you the problem but have no idea of a solution.

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    Senior Member Mark Harwood's Avatar
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    There is the culture that you don't see so much through the mass media, eg. arts, crafts, literature, folk music; it's a question of looking for the quality stuff rather than letting the garbage on the TV and the radio get you down.
    "Music is a social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is."
    - Malcolm Arnold.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Harwood View Post
    There is the culture that you don't see so much through the mass media, eg. arts, crafts, literature, folk music; it's a question of looking for the quality stuff rather than letting the garbage on the TV and the radio get you down.
    Of course. I'm an avid appreciator of classical music, artwork, and literature. Like many of you have said, it is the Capitalism of America that has revolutionized music, art, and the majority of youth's beliefs. The reason why many youths don't appreciate classical music is because it isn't "flashy" and "popular". I believe we can make a difference. It is my love for music and my will to make people love classical music that drives me to practice my violin everyday.

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    Senior Member Mark Harwood's Avatar
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    Good man. Carry that flame and it'll shed a little light in our sorry world. I'm glad that you appreciate the importance of classical music and other cultural pusuits. Yes, in today's facile, superficial, "entertain me whilst I chew this gum" society you are a rebel!
    "Music is a social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is."
    - Malcolm Arnold.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Harwood View Post
    Good man. Carry that flame and it'll shed a little light in our sorry world. I'm glad that you appreciate the importance of classical music and other cultural pusuits. Yes, in today's facile, superficial, "entertain me whilst I chew this gum" society you are a rebel!
    And...for future reference, I'm a girl

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    Senior Member Mark Harwood's Avatar
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    Oh dear. Open mouth, change feet. I did try to check first!
    This is sounding worse by the sentence. I shut up now.
    "Music is a social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is."
    - Malcolm Arnold.

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    Senior Member zlya's Avatar
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    Interesting that you seem to think culture is in decline. Is greed a new thing? Is commercial music a new thing? Is desire for quick and cheap entertainment a new thing? (panem et circenses anyone?) The masses aren't called the masses for nothing.

    There will never be a grand social awakening, but the greed and self-interest of the masses may eventually be their salvation. You'll never convince an American to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions because of what the rest of the world thinks. You're right, Americans don't care, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. However, you will be able to convince an American to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions if you convince him that these emissions will harm him and his progeny.

    As for a "will to make people love classical music", I'm a bit trepiditious of a will to make someone love something. I tend to dislike evangelism in all its forms.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zlya View Post
    Interesting that you seem to think culture is in decline. Is greed a new thing? Is commercial music a new thing? Is desire for quick and cheap entertainment a new thing? (panem et circenses anyone?) The masses aren't called the masses for nothing.

    There will never be a grand social awakening, but the greed and self-interest of the masses may eventually be their salvation. You'll never convince an American to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions because of what the rest of the world thinks. You're right, Americans don't care, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. However, you will be able to convince an American to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions if you convince him that these emissions will harm him and his progeny.

    As for a "will to make people love classical music", I'm a bit trepiditious of a will to make someone love something. I tend to dislike evangelism in all its forms.
    Perhaps I don't want to forcibly make them love classical music....I simply want to share the music I love so much and even sparking peoples' interest of classical music will make me happy.

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    Senior Member zlya's Avatar
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    Ah, well that's ok then.

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    Member Azathoth's Avatar
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    You can't really blame capitalism for the state of music today. First off, if nobody bought rap. there would be no rap to buy. Classical has a stronger following than I think we sometimes realize -or admit?- or it seems that way to me, because even though it sucks, Virgin does have a classical station, the New York Times has a classical radio station, J&R just expanded their classical section, and the Japanese are supplying us with all our future classical performers.

    That said,I do agree with you, Luximus.

    I think the biggest problem is that we've got this, "Everything is good," mentality. To some extent, yes, beauty is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. If you want to debate Debussy vs Mozart vs Wagner vs Elgar vs Bach vs Shostakovich, it seems to me that that's a matter of individual taste (but the smart people know that Bach's the best :P). However, compare A to B and I don't think that you can really say that both are just as good. Good vaguely meaning compositionally strong, not degrading to the individual or the intellect, and generally pleasing to (or not grating on) the ear.

    However, that's a two-way street. Different music does appeal to different aspects of different people. I'm biased because my main love is classical, but I also like Nirvana and Metallica and some of the White Stripes and Modest Mouse and Unwritten Law. In my mind Nirvana, Metallica and Modest Mouse are all very, very good. They aren't Beethoven, but Shostakovich isn't Bach. Apples and oranges, to an extent.

    I'm not in the mainstream, though, so I don't know how seriously I can be taken. I (have always) live(d) in New York City, around the arty 'counterculture' types, and I'm the minority with most of my views. Since it's human nature to do so, I've surrounded myself with people who mostly agree with me and I don't bother watching MTV, I know I'll just get depressed.

    You have to wonder what counterculture means anymore, though. Forgetting what you think of culture. Everything is marketed to you. Absolutely everything. Ooh, what a rebel, that band was on MTV at 11 AM and you stayed home that morning and saw their video. Oh, you have the T-shirt? Man, it must have been so hard to go to the mall and find a Hot Topic that had one right on the front shelf. You're just so rebellious.

    If I'm not mistaken that started some time after the '60s, when our ideas of what youth is (should be?) changed. Previously, teenage rebellion was dealt with much more firmly and not seen as a, "What can you do," kind of thing. Could just be because I'm seeing the advantages now but I think I'd actually prefer having that openness, even if it means that I have to deal with all the mainstream rebels and their lockstep pseudocreativity.

    Sorry about the maundering nature of my posts. I have a sibling who's angry at me 24/7 to hide this from and getting picked on breaks my train of thought. As does being watched...so this will remain eternally unpolished and unfinished.
    Weep not for little Leonie,
    Abducted by a French marquis!
    Though loss of honor was a wrench
    Just think how it's improved her French.

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    I think what's important is to show our pride in loving classical music. No matter what happens, classical music is there, and i don't think it's possible for anyone to "hate" classical music, for it is the foundation of modern music.

    How do most mainstream artists compose songs? Well, most of them knows how to play the piano, or keyboard, at least. I'm sure they've played at least one Bach/Mozart/Beethoven/Chopin piece to know the keys and become familiar with them. Also, one can almost always expect songwriters from major recording labels such as Geffen, Virgin, and JIVE to have experience in classical music. So, even though today's mainstream culture (hardly considered a counterculture since these kids will grow up to be the adults of the society sooner or later) thinks that classical music is 'boring" and "uncool', if they want to make music, they'll ened to play some classical sooner or later. I'm sure _some_ of today's celebrity pop culture performers enjoy classical music as a guilty pleasure. Three months ago, I was blaring: my chemical romance, franz ferdinand, Fergie, and alot of mainstream music into my ears. However, even as I listened to mainstream music, being a violinist, i never really "hated" classical music....I was simply unaware of the real treasures and jems of classical music, such as the Beethoven symphonies, and the many famous violin concertos(Mendelssohn, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius). Once I actually discovered these pieces, my interest and liking for classical music multiplied, and now I'm ranting about the mainstream culture .

    Quote Originally Posted by Azathoth
    However, that's a two-way street. Different music does appeal to different aspects of different people. I'm biased because my main love is classical, but I also like Nirvana and Metallica and some of the White Stripes and Modest Mouse and Unwritten Law. In my mind Nirvana, Metallica and Modest Mouse are all very, very good. They aren't Beethoven, but Shostakovich isn't Bach. Apples and oranges, to an extent.
    I couldn't agree with you more. I am also very biased right now, after listening to so much(but not enough) classical music. I can still stand rock and some catchy pop songs, but classical music still sounds the best in my mind. Perhaps many youths have the exact opposite opinion as myself, but yes, different music appeals to different people. I hope I didn't make it seem as if i am trying to assimilate people into liking classical music....I'm merely disappointed by the ratio of classical music lovers compared to mainstream music lovers. In my philosophy, i truely believe many people will begin liking classical music if we introduce the good "starter" pieces to them. But, I also believe that the appreciation of classical music comes with maturity. Some of us (such as Mahlerfan) reach this level of maturity much faster compared to others. Thirdly, I also believe that proper musical education will also lead to more people appreciating classical music. The music program at my middle school was even worse than cattle poop. My highschool's music program is alot better, but I'm pretty sure not every highschool pays as much attention to music as our highschool does.


    Quote Originally Posted by Azathoth
    If I'm not mistaken that started some time after the '60s, when our ideas of what youth is (should be?) changed. Previously, teenage rebellion was dealt with much more firmly and not seen as a, "What can you do," kind of thing. Could just be because I'm seeing the advantages now but I think I'd actually prefer having that openness, even if it means that I have to deal with all the mainstream rebels and their lockstep pseudocreativity.
    Well, there's a good and bad side to everything....but of course, "good" and "bad" are merely perceptions. In my opinion, I believe the 60's youth movement was positive in the way that youths were able to gain a higher voice, they were able to make a difference, get attention, and prove that authority does not always present the "common good". However, their protests and rallys eventually became an excuse for teens to experiment with drugs, and become 'popular' by joining the hippies, or protestors. Many people didn't even know what they were protesting for...all they knew was that "war is bad" and "the government is bad" when most of them didn't even do any background research on their cause. I guess what i'm trying to say here is that: it's good to have the freedom to express your own voice, no matter how old or young you are, but use that freedom responsibly. Now, i thin youths are just getting carried away with their opinions and turning it into pure rudeness. Okay, m response is finally over. I'm just a sophomore in highschool but I feel like a ranting granny

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