Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Tony Bennett can...

Bite Me...

They have a term for people like Tony Bennett in France. They would call him the Caviar Left. (If his comments can be so classified). But sadly, Mr. Bennett, whose music I quite enjoy, seems to think America is a cultural wasteland that's contributed nothing, save jazz to the world.
I beg to disagree.

Along with Jazz, America has helped shape the world music scene as the polygot cultures in our country rub up against each other and intermix. Country music, bluegrass, rock and roll, hip-hop, the blues, gospel, and pop music are all American inventions. And Art? I'd put Wyeth, Warhol, Whistler, and up with any from the old world. Literature? Hemingway, Steinbeck, Morrison, Twain, Whitman, Woolf? And in the world ranking of Noble prizes for literature, the U.S. is a close 2nd only to France (12 vs. 13 awards). They must be just copy cats.

And science? Hmmm, how about effective treatments for AIDS, polio, small box, malaria, yellow fever? Or perhaps sending men to the moon(You'd think with a song like "Fly me to the moon" he'd get that one), robots to 8 of the 9 planets, wide spread electric generation, the assembly line, maglev trains, nuclear power, the telephone, computers, television, or RECORDED MUSIC?!

I hear the term, "American Cultural Imperialism" tossed about by elites like Mr. Bennett. I've never quite known what that is supposed to mean. American "cultural" products are popular around the world, not because we force them into other markets, but because we offer an array of goods (be it music, literature, movies, art, television, food) that people enjoy. Perhaps they are popular world-wide because they spring from a heterogeneous culture rather than on homogeneous one? American culture is world culture because to look our citizens is to look at the world.

There are many legitimate criticisms that can be laid at the feet of the United States, but cultural wasteland isn't one of them. It is ironic, that someone who had profited as an artist, would, in essence, be blaming himself and his customers for this wasteland he alleges. What's worse it that it gets play because we are so quick to agree with such uninformed criticism.

Perhaps Mr. Bennett is troubled by the debut of K-Fed earlier this week or the pending Paris Hilton Album? If so I share his concerns. But even the quickest reflection on the cultural and scientific contributions of the United States to the world at large shows the ignorance of such a statement.

Most of us are not the types to get all worked up into a nationalistic frenzy..."U-S-A, U-S-A..." But that certainly doesn't mean we should let statements like Mr. Bennett's lie without challenge.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?