Take a road trip across the United States. Notice all the different clothing, hear the different languages, eat the different foods at the varying restaurants, dance to the different music everyone is playing, see how people walk, sit, or wave. These characteristics all contribute to culture. Traditions, celebrated holidays, religion, symbols, norms and values, jokes, and more are also part of what makes culture. However, they are all difficult to notice unless you are part of a specific culture within America.
Culture, specifically American culture, is something that everyone has a different opinion on. Whether it be because of age difference, gender, location, family, and so on. Because of this, there is no correct answer to the question: What is American culture?
The United States’ has a history of growing the population through immigration which is one reason why there are many cultures in America and why there are unlimited possibilities that define American culture.
“I think American Culture has three major characteristics: One, its ability to merge and absorb other cultures. Two, infatuation with fame and movie stars and our short attention spans. Three, its fascination with the idea of the individual, and that individual’s consumption and materialism,” said one of San Marcos’ ethnic studies teachers, Steven Tragarz. “When traveling across American you will run into widely different people, with wildly different backgrounds, religions, beliefs, and customs, and yet we can still be American. Very few countries in the world have this and I think it’s both beautiful but also being forgotten in America.”
It is easy to get lost in what others are doing and forget many things, especially our own cultures. As the day goes on, we all get more melted together, trying to be more like each other.
“We are so enamored with YouTubers and tik-tokers that we copy their accents, dance moves, and catchphrases,” Mr. Tragarz added.
In America, to try to be trendy or popular, we look at celebrities and copy what they are doing. Most of the time it is the clothes they wear or the products they use. It is the reason YouTubers and TikTokers are called ‘influencers’. We learn from and copy them, which is a substantial part of American culture.
This leads to the concept of duality, or rather being of two cultures. In my ethinic studies class, we read an article about teenagers in Mexican-American families struggling with living in America. Their families wanted them to be more “American” and fit in at school. Then at home, the parents wanted them to speak Spanish with the relatives and keep up traditional Mexican customs. American culture, while it has its pros and cons, needs to have more unity. Not meaning all the different cultures blend together, but that everyone accepts them with an open mind.
To go further, some people say the well-known tv show, “The Simpsons” depicts American culture best. As a satire, it uses exaggeration of stereotypical American culture to really show how hard it is to define. A large factor they incorporated was the food they eat.
“Food and tradition wise, because of the diversity there aren’t many things that are particularly American cuisine other than the typical hot dog, hamburger, and fried chicken,” said freshman, Laura Spieler.
So, while there are typical American foods, there are actually more diverse ethnic foods in America that everyone enjoys.
“ETC Wallpaper – Simpsons” by EthereumClassic is marked with CC0 1.0
Overall, it is clear American culture is not easy to define because we generally think of culture as something people share in common. This may be true for others, but for us, American culture is unique with all of its diverse cultures. The idea of duality and that people can have more than one culture in America whereas in other countries you may not be as welcome to be of two or more cultures. So, from food to influencers, American culture is a bunch of cultures, ranging from all over the world.
I recommend checking out these two videos as well: The Tea (feat. Alli Fitz)- song using slang words we use and the Old 1970’s Chevrolet Ad (Baseball, Hotdogs, Apple Pie, and Chevrolet)