~The Ghost of General George Patton
The staff of the America Fun Fact of the Day is sort of like a cross between Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction and an overzealous stage mom. On one hand, if you cast our kid in your commercial (or, say America is appropriately awesome), we’ll totally sleep with you. On the other hand, if you spurn our advances, we’re going to kill your pet rabbit. What we’re trying to say is, if there’s one thing we hate more than Nature, it’s people who write articles besmirching our fine nation.
Especially when it’s…the enemy!
It’s the face that killed millions, yet would not be out of place behind the counter of a gas station.
While doing our weekly google searches (affotd, America fuck yes, America is awesome, why is America so damn awesome you guys, etc) we stumbled across an article on “Asian Times” called, “What is American Culture?” We’ve been spurned by the Chinese before, so we weren’t necessarily expecting any celebrations about our inventive uses of gravy, but we were not expecting an article flinging more shit at American Culture than the cast and crew of Two Girls One Cup.
In order to do it justice, we brought in an American academic on our staff, who also teaches our “America, fuck yes, an examination of everything great about America” classes. He is a bit more “straight laced” than we like, but if we were in charge of writing up about this article, we’d probably say some pretty hateful shit. Professor Washington will likely say some pretty hateful shit too, but at least he uses bigger words and reads shit like “books.”
America Fun Fact of the Day Responds to Critiques of American Culture While Suppressing the Urge to Vomit or Declare War on China (because, let’s face it, they’d probably win…shit)- a lecture by Professor Washington
This, ahem, article was written back in 2003, but through the internet, it found its way to my desk this morning. I’ve seen nicer write ups in Al Qaeda training manuals. The faux-academia vitriol in this article is so offensive it makes Tourette’s Syndrome sufferers sound like Mr. Rogers. I know that the actual term is “xenophobic” but if America were a singular race of people, this article would be so racist that Ty Cobb’s ghost just sent in an application to work in the mail room of the Asian Times.
Pictured above- China
You might think it’s ironic for AFFotD to accuse another nation’s description of America of having a xenophobic slant, but this is America dammit, at least we don’t work our children to death in the lead mines like those evil Chinese bastards.
Since the writer posts under an alias (“Spengler”? The shit is that?) I can’t focus my hatred on a real figure, so I’ll have to focus it on the historical figure the name is borrowed from. This faceless coward writes under his moniker borrowed from a late 19th century/early 20th century German philosopher trying to validate his assault of American Americadom through shaky academic prose, and I can match him (I can safely say it’s a him, because China hates women. True story) at his own damn game. The fucker.
The article starts in a way that, if I received it in class, I would underline the whole thing in red and ask, “where is the thesis?”
How do Americans look at the world? Is there a characteristic American way of thinking, an American culture? Through what filter does information reach their brain, and by what mechanism do they respond to it?
“Is this image as offensive as we think it is?” Answer a damn question, Spengler!
Already off to a poor start, Spengler seems to think that Americans are some sort of impossible to imagine animal, like unicorns, or Amish Computer Developers. He also decides to bring forth a naïve approach to understanding how us “wacky Americans” think by just asking questions repeatedly. Why does he do this? Is he unaware that just asking questions is a really poor writing style? Does he think it will add weight to his argument if he just asks questions repeatedly? Does he know it is wrong? Who’s gonna get drunk tonight?
He then says, essentially, that he’s going to delve into American culture, “despite the well worn bon mot that American culture is an oxymoron.” Hey, fuck you too, buddy! That’s not what your mom said last night! Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean that, I’m just very upset. Right. I’m going to try to be, erm, academic to this little fucknozzle. Let’s break this down, and discuss every issue I have with this article.
Issue 1: When you try too hard to sound academic, you come off like an idiot and an asshole
To establish his totally-smarter-than-America-China-is-great-if-you-ignore-all-the-human-rights-violations-and-general-evil-tendencies credentials, Spengler chooses to quote T.S. Eliot to set a base point on how to determine what culture is. He uses an entire paragraph that describes British cultural icons and events when he really would have been fine sticking to the one goddamn sentence that says, “It includes all the characteristic activities and interests of a people.” Spengler, while this article ripping your article to pieces is going to be twice as long as your entire original fucking article, even I know enough about editing to realize that you’re just wasting words and trying to sound smart through the use of copy/paste when your quote that you’re relying on to describe American culture includes a lengthy list of, “Beetroot in vinegar, 19th century Gothic churches, and the music of Elgar.”
Here’s a fun fact for you budding intellectuals out there. When someone uses the line from Hamlet, “Brevity is the soul of wit,” there’s a reason why they don’t say, “Since brevity is the soul of wit, and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief. Your noble son is mad.” And what’s that reason? BECAUSE BREVITY IS THE FUCKING SOUL OF WIT! If you want to waste fucking 80 words to spout out a single sentence of relevant information with a paragraph of bullshit, you’re either grasping at straws, or you wanted to stretch your article out because you had a minimum word count you were having a hard time reaching. Either way, that doesn’t bode well for your ability to make a rational, informed, and convincing argument about what American culture is. And again, fuck you for saying American culture is an oxymoron.
Issue 2: As someone writing for “Asia Times,” you should probably realize that you’re not helping dispel racial stereotypes by having a completely incorrect view on how Americans drive.
As Spengler compiles his own list of characteristic features of American culture, he starts it off with, “Driving slowly in the fast lane. Americans consider it a privilege to amble along in the fast (left-hand) lane, while swifter drivers overtake in the near-side lane.” Um… excuse me? Have you ever driven in America? If a car is going anything less than 10 miles over the speed limit in the fast lane, a line of cars will ride their ass so hard they’ll think they’re in a prison shower, and eventually they pull into another lane to a sea of middle fingers. No true American drives slow in the fast lane, and in fact, most times I’ve seen it happen, it’s been Asian drivers. Is that offensive? Probably. But Asians have enough positive stereotypes working for them they can handle the occasional “they’re shitty drivers” stereotype.
Given the fact that, at most, 5% of the population considers it acceptable to drive slowly in the fast lane, you’re talking out of your ass, Spengler. That’s like saying an aspect of American Culture is “Pleasuring yourself while watching Golden Girls reruns.” You know, some people probably do that. But if someone went up to me and casually told us that fact, the only thing preventing me from punching them would be a fear that geriatric fetishes are contagious. And it’s the exact same fear I’d have with someone who drives slow in the fast lane.
How would you like it if I said that a defining thing of Chinese culture would be “Authoritative figures like killing 15 million of their own people. Chinese leaders consider it a privilege to starve their populace to death.” The only difference between the two is that the one I just said is actually kind of true. Asshat.
Issue 3: You seem to think hot, caffeinated beverages are more important to our culture than they really are
If you haven’t figured out by now, Spengler’s list of “American Culture” is about as true to its name as a job applicant listing off his biggest weaknesses. “I work too hard, I put the well being of the company over my own,” you’re saying they’re weaknesses, but you’re just trying to present your strengths. If Spengler had the option to write this article on twitter, he’d probably simply say, “#American Culture. 1-Smelly, 2-stupid, 3-You suck, China rules #AllHailChairmanMao.” So after spending his first point ripping America’s “No-we’re-totally-thinking-about-American-drivers-not-Asian-Drivers” road tendencies, he then devotes the next two points, out of a total 9 points in the article, about how bad American tea and coffee is.
To be more succinct, his next two aspects of American culture are, “Burnt coffee at exorbitant prices” and, “Dishwater masquerading as tea.” Apparently our coffee is so bad, that American culture dictates we douse it in sugar and milk, because we “burn” our beans and ruin the “bittersweet taste” of coffee. He also seems to confuse “Starbucks” with “Voldermort” by referring to it as, “The most popular coffee chain, whose name decent people do not pronounce.” For a Chinaman, he gets really worked up about how we intake our caffeine. The tea thing makes more sense, though he’s got a penchant for the dramatic when he says, “No beverage on earth is more revolting than this.” Really? China, you use bird spit to make soups, and consider it a delicacy.
But more to the point, you’re focusing so much how Americans drink our coffee and tea. That’s not our culture, and we don’t pretend it is. We associate Tea with England, China, and the Boston Harbor. Starbucks gives everything Fritalian names, while other popular chains like Dunkin Donuts serve regular, “Bittersweet” coffee, without any of that milk and shit. Coffee and tea isn’t inherently American, it’s just a way that Americans can get their necessary drug of caffeine into their system. You don’t say that American culture includes using dirty needles to shoot up heroin, but the junkies doing it don’t care, they just want the heroin. That’d be like us saying that Chinese food is Pizza Hut and KFC, since those are incredibly popular over there right now. Read that article I just linked, there is a guy saying, “I have lunch at KFC twice a week because there’s one always close by. And when I’m out on a date and want to impress a girl, I take her to Pizza Hut.”
That’s the most depressing thing we’ve ever heard. So, apparently, Chinese culture is, “Taking your date to Pizza Hut to impress her, a move that, when done in America, won’t even work on a 15 year old girl.” Boom. Face.
Issue 4: Your ideas are informed by foreign stereotypes from the 1970’s, and are often the complete polar opposite of how things actually work
Spengler rambles about how America fucks up wine, failing to realize that “Alcohol+America=better than any Asian liquor,” a famous mathematical proof that was solved in the 19th century. He talks about how American wine makers put wood chips in the vats to give their wine an oaky flavor, and how even the “good” American wines try to taste like oak, totally ruining the complexion of the flavor. Apart from the fact that people who get really into the subtleties of wine are clearly forgetting the fact that wine is just fruit juice that gets you good and drunk, his assertion that “Americans don’t know how to make wine, and don’t appreciate it” is incredibly outdated.
Californian wines were considered “poor quality” and “amateur” and that they “never achieve the quirkiness, eccentricity and character which make European vineyards an enchanted realm.” Yeah, that last one was a direct quote of Spengler. Except that this was the common mindset in the 1970’s when American vineyards began getting foreign investors, and the terrified French held their noses at America’s awful wines. Then in 1976, in the Judgment of Paris, Steve Spurrier, a British wine merchant who refused to sell American wines, decided to prove, through a blind taste test, that American wines were awful. Except American wines won. Every category. And then, thirty years later, the same vintages were used again, to prove that American wines don’t age as well, at least. Except they did. American wines got first through fifth place. So deciding that America’s inability to make fine wine is an important aspect of American Culture is like assuming American Culture still endorses segregation. Oddly enough, America is pretty different now than it was 40 years ago, so get used to it Spengler. Christ.
Issue 5: You clearly have never eaten in an American restaurant, so don’t pretend you know what role food plays in our culture, duckweed
Spengler spends the whole article not-so-subtly implying that America doesn’t have a culture, and just picks and chooses from other nations. This is the same line of thought that led to rampant anti-Semitism in Europe (which we’ll get to later), the continent that Spengler has an odd hard-on for, considering he’s writing for “Asia Times.” So, in his discussion of food, Spengler states, “A consensus national restaurant menu (Mexican-Italian-seafood-podge)…the American melting pot transforms various national cuisines into indistinguishable blobs of grease and dough.” He goes on, “Today, one can count on finding pizza, tacos, fried shrimp, Caesar salads and cheeseburgers in any American restaurant.”
…Really? You’re going with that? Really? I tried plugging those combinations of foods into google, it just redirected me to tubgirl as a way to punish me before making my screensaver goatse. Not to harp on China too much (ha) but that’s just about as offensive as saying that Chinese people only eat dogs. Even if you’re going to assume that fast food is the only American food (ignoring the fact that you can go cheap-but-American with Hot Dogs and Hamburgers for lunch, and then classy with Steakhouse quality Steak for dinner) there’s still no fast food place in the entire country that would combine all those items on the same menu. Seriously, if Americans sat down at a restaurant and saw tacos and pizza on the same menu, they’d just inject themselves with botulism right away and get it over with. America is about diversity, not about mixing shit in a blender and chugging it (when we do that, we stick to one regional variety of cuisine per blender, thank you very much).
Plus, the asshole calls us fat. Which we are, but much like ethnic slurs, it’s only okay for us to call ourselves that, this asshole doesn’t have the right to say, “Americans receive grease and quantity, which helps explain why Americans are so podgy.” I know he’s not the real Spengler, but the AFFotD staff just officially changed our word for “shit” to “Spengler,” and about half the office just walked out to fly to Germany and leave a nice mount of Spengler on that dude’s grave.
Issue 6: You partake in elaborate attempts to illustrate your perceived perspicacity through false verbosity and feigned canonical knowledge
Dude, you sound like an ass when you try to go so damn high brow, basically is what I’m saying. There are times when using the appropriately intelligent vocabulary word might do your writing a service, yet there are other times when you are trying to just flex your intellectual superiority, which if you were confident in either your argument, your ideals, or your intelligence in general you wouldn’t have to do. Instead of backing up his points, he uses philosophical and intellectual terms, hoping that the reader will think, “Oo, shiny words” and ignore the fact that he does nothing to support his argument.
While retardedly saying that Americans drive slow in the fast lane, Spengler highlights this by saying, “This is the sad result of misguided egalitarianism.” Which is why Americans feel they can drive wherever they want on the road, while Europe has a “class system” where the faster, more expensive cars take the fast lanes and the poorer, slower cars, stay to the right. He tries to make you assume he knows what he’s talking about, except for the fact that anyone who drives in America knows he’s full of shit.
He also spends an entire paragraph dismissing American “High Culture,” describing works such as Moby Dick as “confused and overwrought,” again with no explanation, and claims “American scholars who have not heard of the 16th century Lazarillo de Tormes claim that Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a work of originality.” We just had a séance to talk to Ernest Hemingway, and he told us to set this guy’s house on fire. Lazarillo de Tormes was one of the first Picaresque novels, a genre that Huck Finn happens to be in the category of, and Spengler name-drops it like an Indie kid going, “Oh, you like The Strokes? Well, Television’s Marquee Moon came first, poseur.” Spengler forgets that most classic works of high culture are either the same genre as earlier work, or sometimes straight rip offs (like Hamlet). By this logic, there’s only about 10 or so worthwhile examples of literature, because anything else that doesn’t fully create a genre is not original. And Huck Finn is considered original because of the social issues it addresses, as well as it being the first work of literature to feature an American vernacular. And, not to get too technical, but you’re a fucking twit, Spengler, you’re literally a caricature of every pompous asshole in the history of mankind. Which brings me to our final point.
Issue 7: Dude is seriously a bigot. No, seriously
You never thought you’d find the day when AFFotD would get pissed off at someone for being a bigot, but here it is. He spends the entire article dismissing every aspect of American life as “insubstantial,” and his biggest complaint is that we do things differently than Europe does. He doesn’t clarify why the European way is better, he simply says our wine is awful, our food is awful, we can’t drive, we are gullible, we don’t have a culture of our own, and we didn’t spend enough time performing cunnilingus on his mother when we fucked her last night (that last one might be true, but like we told Michael Richard’s mom, we’re not willing to be a generous lover to the mother of a bigot, sorry). If you replaced “Americans” with any race, ethnicity, creed, or, hell, nationality that doesn’t end in “Erican” this would be fuel for a riot. And that doesn’t even address the hidden implications of the whole “America culture is not worthwhile, since America has no culture.”
To take a page from Spengler’s book, the German composer, Richard Wagner, wrote an essay in 1850 called Das Judenthum in der Musik, or Jewishness in Music. In it, he claims that Jews cannot create music, since music is culture, and Jews are not part of any nations culture, and thus cannot add to a nation’s culture. If that sounds incredibly Anti-Semitic, don’t worry, it totally was. Wagner was Hitler’s favorite composer, and you know Hitler if read that article he would have been like, “Yeah, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell them!”
We might make broad generalizations of other nations here at AFFotD (French people smell bad, English people have bad teeth, Moroccans can’t make omelets that use more than 3 eggs) we also say so knowing that generalizations make generals out of izations. Wait, no. What I mean to say is, if I see a French person I might assume he smells. But I’ll never imply that other nations don’t have cultures, or even rich cultures. Their cultures are wrong and stupid, but we as a nation at least give them the benefit of the doubt that they have tradition for a reason.
When Wagner wrote his essay, it was before he had become a successful and famous composer, while his Jewish counterparts were receiving all the acclaim. Jewishness in Music is nothing more than one man complaining that other people are famous and he’s not. It’s bigotry fueled by jealousness. Now, I may be a fat American and unable of an original thought according to Spengler, but doesn’t it seem like that thought process might be paralleled in Spengler’s accusations as well? If you can’t embrace America, yet America is the best country in the world, then just accuse them of having no culture with haughty dialogue and false information as a transparent form of overcompensation. It’s sad, really.
Alright, there’s the bell. Class is dismissed. Your homework tonight is to get, just, silly drunk. Because America knows what America does, and America does nothing half assed.