My English South African ex-husband once said to me while playing Trivial Pursuits, “You Americans can boil everything down to a 70s TV show. It’s all trash and guesswork with you people” And you know, he’s right. Not being a modern-day TV watcher myself, I sometimes feel out of it in social situations because I haven’t a clue what “Deadwood” is about. I feel kind of lonely sometimes when I want to talk about ancient history, the cultural impact of the Romanian Gypsies, or why anyone ever thought New Coke was good idea.
Today, on this first day of our own special 4th of July Weekend, I was thinking about what makes America so special. Because frankly, in spite of all the greed, trashiness, superficiality, and attention to a lot of shit that doesn’t matter, there is something very special about our culture and we keep coming back for more. Sure, we’ve got some cool TV, great fashions, interesting musicians (loved Cake at the Independent last night), Facebook, and all that jazz. But just when I’d submitted to the fact that maybe pop culture is all we really have, I ran into this little prose by Jeremy Davids on Timothy McSweeney’s site comparing great moments in American and Brady Bunch history.
Now that’s something I can relate to. Tying the social nuances of the Brady Bunch to epic events in our culture makes total sense. It seems kind of esoteric at first but then the correlations strike. Wow! Everything important really can be boiled down to an episode of the Brady Bunch. What a relief. I can stop trying so hard to be deep.
But the truth that hit me more is that this country keeps producing some really witty, multidimensional, off-the-wall thinkers. So, if we can keep doing that, we’re succeeding and maybe, just maybe, we’ll fix a few things in the process.
Long live the American Dream!