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Monday, December 13, 2010

The Dumbing Down Of American Culture

I often wonder what people from other nations think of America in terms of what we have to offer within the landscape of "culture". What do they think of our music, our literature, our art, or even fashion and entertainment. The conclusion I often find myself arriving at is that America, by and large, are a nation populated by "consumers", meaning that we desire things to be prepacked in pretty little containers that come with clever slogans that can be easily memorized, repeated, and processed by those we encounter.

It was this story that reaffirmed my beliefs. Not only is modern American culture being poisoned with laziness and ignorance dressed up to be "sexy", we seem to have lost the ability to recognize greatness in the words from our own people.

Christine O'Donnell's TV ad declaration "I'm not a witch" during her U.S. Senate campaign topped this year's best quotes, according to a Yale University librarian.

O'Donnell's quote is cited by Fred Shapiro, associate librarian at Yale Law School, who released his fifth annual list of the most notable quotations of the year. In the ad, O'Donnell was responding to reports of her revelations that she had dabbled in witchcraft years ago.

Where have all the great minds of America gone? According to Yale, they apparently don't exist any longer. As preposterous as that is - as we all know that there have been more prophetic and intelligent words spoken in America over the last calendar year - here are the list of "notable" quotes.

1. (TIE) "I'm not a witch." Christine O'Donnell, television advertisement, Oct. 4.

1. (TIE) "I'd like my life back." Tony Hayward, comment to reporters, May 30.

3. "If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested." airline passenger John Tyner, remark to Transportation Security Administration worker at San Diego airport, Nov. 13, 2010

4. "Don't retreat. Instead – reload!" Sarah Palin, Tweet, March 23.

5. "Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le! Los mineros de Chile!" Chant at Chilean mine rescue, Oct. 13.

6. "I hope that's not where we're going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies. They're saying: My goodness, what can we do to turn this country around?" Sharron Angle, radio interview in January.

7. "We have to pass the (health care) bill so you can find out what is in it." Nancy Pelosi, speech to National Association of Counties, March 9.

8. "I'm going to take my talents to South Beach." LeBron James, television broadcast, July 8.

9. "You're telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?" Christine O'Donnell, Delaware senatorial debate, Oct. 19. (The Associated Press reported the quote: "So you're telling me that the separation of church and state, the phrase `separation of church and state,' is in the First Amendment?")

10. "They should never have put me with that woman. ... She was just a sort of bigoted woman who said she used to be Labour." Gordon Brown, comments about a voter he met while campaigning for British general election, Apr. 28.

While two of these are from Britans and one from the site where the Chilean miners were rescued, are we to actually accept the fact that the quotes from Americans are representative of where we are now as a culture?

From my point of view, I think this shows that our ideas of what America is and what is important is far too often colored by where we get our information and how we utilize it. To an extent, this poll shows America's ridiculous obsession with the Tea Baggers, and the media that either propped them up as the true and accurate voice of Constitutional integrity or were too afraid to take them to task on their rhetoric.

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