Sunday, April 24, 2005

Often I hear from people who have been to Europe that the US has no culture. Now that I have spent some time here (albeit, I have not traveled the continent yet), I want to talk about this notion that the US has no culture. I have come to the conclusion that to draw this conclusion you have to give a definition of what "culture" is such that Europe has this and the US does not. What I feel is that as long as you have people then you have culture. People and culture are inseparable. Thus both Europe and the US have a culture but of a different type.

With that out of the way, how does a person define culture such that Europe has it and the US does not? The only way that I can conceive it, such that this is true, is the mass commercialization of US culture relative to that of Europe. From what I have experienced, while there are examples of the commercialization of culture in Europe, for the most part, you can go down to the pub and experience culture without the commercial filter. In the US, it is much harder to experience culture without the commercial filter. For instance, I go to Sandy Bell's and I can see traditional Scottish music for free. These people come and play for free. This is culture unfiltered. Now some of these people go to form bands and make money that way but many of them play just for the fun of playing. In the US, as far as I have seen it, this is not necessarily the case. Commercial interests are never too far away even if you are listening for free. In a sense, everyone in music wants to "make it big." This does not mean that I do not appreciate the music that these people make. It is just a different way of making culture than in Europe.

So for those who would say that the US has no culture when compared to Europe, it really just a matter of degree and difference. In any case, it is not like I walked into a completely different culture here. It is more of a matter of degrees of difference rather than one having something while the other does not.

posted by Chris  #11:36 AM | 0 comments |