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Foreigners Abroad.

11 French Tourist Tips For Visiting America. Tips For Russians. Tips For Japanese Visitors.
posted by The Whelk on Mar 6, 2014 - 162 comments

Trusting God

Patrick Henry College has been called "God's Harvard." The tiny, elite school is considered a safe haven for fundamentalist evangelical Christians. It teaches a dominionist "Biblical Worldview" and has a uniquely religious campus culture (pdf) that emphasizes evangelical moral values. Which leaves female students in a particular bind: How do you report sexual assault at a place where authorities seem skeptical that such a thing even exists?
posted by zarq on Feb 18, 2014 - 154 comments

The thrillsville of it all...

Gay Talese's "Frank Sinatra Has A Cold" appeared in Esquire Magazine in April 1966. Sinatra had turned down interview requests from Esquire for years and refused to be interviewed for the profile. Rather than give up, Talese spent the three months following and observing the man and interviewing any members of his entourage who were willing to speak -- and the final story was published without Sinatra's cooperation or blessing. In 2003, editors pronounced it the best article the magazine had ever published. Nieman Storyboard interviewed Talese last month about the piece and has annotated it with his comments. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 8, 2013 - 46 comments

The Big Chill

Why American refrigerators are so huge, and what it says about our culture.
posted by reenum on Oct 6, 2013 - 265 comments

United States of America

Warning! The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased, entry for the United States of America
posted by Blasdelb on Sep 29, 2013 - 49 comments

"Elites preying on the weak, the gullible, the marginal, the poor."

"We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We promise boys they will become men. We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of small-town life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad marriages, lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment. The military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has for generations seduced young Americans working in fast food restaurants or behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die for war profiteers and elites."
-- War is Betrayal. Persistent Myths of Combat, an essay by Chris Hedges of Truthdig. Responses within. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 9, 2013 - 57 comments

Capturing America

In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment. There are location challenges, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 8, 2013 - 16 comments

...never believing the people who think they have you figured out.

"It's his charm. It's his gift. It's his political liability, and it's part of an American conundrum. We beg for authenticity, and then when we get it, oh man, it's hilarious. [Vice President Joe] Biden can be fantastic when he's on his game. At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, his speech got higher Nielsen ratings than either Bill Clinton's or Obama's. He killed the debate against Ryan, pumped air back into a campaign deflated after Obama's miserable first performance against Romney. Watching those performances, it's almost impossible to see him as a person once crippled by speech."
posted by zarq on Jul 18, 2013 - 75 comments

Racial Slur or Honorific?

The Other Redskins. 62 US high schools in 22 states currently use the name "Redskins" for one of their sports teams. 28 high schools in 18 states have dropped the mascot over the last 25 years. As public pressure continues to intensify on the Washington Redskins football team to change their name -- one many consider a racial slur that disparages Native Americans -- similar debates are being waged in towns across the country about their local high school teams.
posted by zarq on Jul 2, 2013 - 183 comments

The Mothership Connection

Minister Faust explains the meaning of George Clinton's Mothership
posted by Artw on May 2, 2013 - 33 comments

The Japanese Version

In the late '80s, documentarians Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker spent six months in Tokyo looking at how symbols and imagery familiar to Americans had been appropriated and given new significance in Japan. Though more than 20 years old, the resulting video remains popular in undergraduate courses across the social sciences and humanities in part because it's so entertaining. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Apr 13, 2013 - 13 comments

"I thought I was the only gay person in the world for a long time."

The county where no one's gay. The 2010 Census of Franklin County Mississippi shows no same sex couples. (pdf). CNN videographer Brandon Ancil and human rights columnist John D. Sutter tried to determine if the census was wrong, and see if they could find gay men and women willing to speak about "what keeps them hidden." Video
posted by zarq on Mar 30, 2013 - 54 comments

"There was no return from apostasy."

Leaving the Witness. "In one of the most restrictive, totalitarian countries in the world, for the first time in my life, I had the freedom to think." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 21, 2013 - 26 comments

On Chicago Public Schools Censoring Persepolis's Images of Torture

Suffice it to say, Persepolis is quite a work. It’s a testament to the power of the graphic novel. The art’s simple linework helps the story feel unpretentious and direct. Persepolis was adapted as a 2007 French animated film, written and directed by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud. Among other honors, it was nominated for an Academy Award. Why would someone want to ban such a book?
posted by Artw on Mar 16, 2013 - 33 comments

"If you account for my access to academic journal subscriptions, my salary is really like half a million dollars."

This past Thursday, Forbes Magazine published a pair of articles: The Most Stressful Jobs of 2013 and The Least Stressful Jobs of 2013, the latter of which began with the sentence: "University professors have a lot less stress than most of us." 300+ outraged comments (and thousands of sarcastic #RealForbesProfessor tweets,) later they've added a retraction, and linked to a blog post that takes A Real Look at Being a Professor in the US. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 5, 2013 - 68 comments

It's the end of the world and they know it

The most-watched show in the history of the National Geographic Channel isn't Wild, Taboo or even the longest-running documentary series on cable tv: Explorer. It's Doomsday Preppers, a show that documents the "lives of otherwise ordinary Americans" as they prepare for the end of the world. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 21, 2012 - 115 comments

Explaining American Culture

It seems strange, 20 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, that ordinary Russians would still be hungry for details about how ordinary Americans eat and pay mortgages. But to Mr. Zlobin’s surprise, his book — published this year and marketed as a guide to Russians considering a move abroad — is already in its fifth print run, and his publisher has commissioned a second volume. - MOSCOW JOURNAL, A Hunger for Tales of Life in the American Cul-de-Sac (SLNYTIMES)
posted by beisny on Dec 11, 2012 - 16 comments

THR & The Blacklist

After 65 Years The Hollywood Reporter addresses its role in the hollywood blacklist, including an apology from W.R. Wilkerson III, son of THR founder Billy Wilkerson whose "A Vote For Joe Stalin" editorial named writers such as Dalton Trumbo, Lester Cole, Howard Koch and John Howard Lawson as communist sympathisers.
posted by Artw on Nov 21, 2012 - 8 comments

"First freedom and then Glory - when that fails, Wealth, vice, corruption - barbarism at last"

Savagery - Arcadia - Consummation - Destruction - Desolation. The five stages of The Course of Empire, a fascinating quintet of paintings by 19th century artist and Hudson River School pioneer Thomas Cole. In it, an imaginary settlement by the sea becomes the stage for all the dreams and nightmares of civilized life, a rural woodland grown in time into a glorious metropolis... only to be ransacked by corruption, war, and a terrible storm, at last reduced to a forgotten ruin. At times deceptively simple, each landscape teems with references to cultural and philosophical markers that dominated the era's debate about the future of America. Interactive analysis of the series on a zoomable canvas is available via the excellent Explore Thomas Cole project, which also offers a guided tour and complete gallery of the dozens of other richly detailed and beautifully luminous works by this master of American landscape art.
posted by Rhaomi on Oct 29, 2012 - 23 comments

"When the lights go out for good, my people will still be here. We have our ancient ways. We will remain."

In the Shadow of Wounded Knee. Along the southwestern border of South Dakota is one of the most poverty-stricken places in the United States—the Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota people. After 150 years of broken promises, they are still nurturing their tribal customs, language and beliefs. Via [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 25, 2012 - 32 comments

Ephemeral New York

Ephemeral New York 'chronicles an ever-changing, constantly reinvented city through photos, newspaper archives, and other scraps and artifacts that have been edged into New York’s collective remainder bin.' [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 11, 2012 - 5 comments

Makers

In February, PBS and AOL launched Makers, a video archive containing personal stories and anecdotes told in the first person by women, many of whom have sparked groundbreaking changes in American culture. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 4, 2012 - 3 comments

Commentary and thoughts on Honey Boo Boo

Don't judge Honey Boo Boo, because the tv show doesn't care what it's saying about American culture.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Aug 31, 2012 - 156 comments

"Jews and Christians should be allies; and allies are equals."

In October 1870, as American Jews were observing the High Holidays, The Atlantic Magazine published an article called "Our Israelitish Bretheren." 'At the time, it served as a sort of crash course about a tiny, mystifying minority. Today, it survives as something quite different: a snapshot of a transitional moment in Jewish history.' Written by American biographer, James Parton -- the founder of American Heritage magazine.
posted by zarq on Sep 29, 2011 - 13 comments

Tell

"I finally said, you know what, I'm going to tell my story. The first American injured in the Iraq war is a gay Marine. He wanted to give his life to this country." ~Eric Alva, 40, former Marine and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom
Tell: An Intimate History of Gay Men in the Military [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 26, 2011 - 29 comments

30 Mosques. 30 States. 30 Days.

30 Mosques in 30 Days, 2011 [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 7, 2011 - 22 comments

America's Next Great Civil Rights Struggle

The New Republic examines what they're calling "America's Next Great Civil Rights Struggle" and asks, "What will it take for America to accept transgender people for who they really are?" [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 29, 2011 - 173 comments

brittle efficiency and shallow triumphalism

Fareed Zakaria: Are America's Best Days Behind Us? - "We have an Electoral College that no one understands and a Senate that doesn't work, with rules and traditions that allow a single Senator to obstruct democracy without even explaining why. We have a crazy-quilt patchwork of towns, municipalities and states with overlapping authority, bureaucracies and resulting waste. We have a political system geared toward ceaseless fundraising and pandering to the interests of the present with no ability to plan, invest or build for the future. And if one mentions any of this, why, one is being unpatriotic, because we have the perfect system of government, handed down to us by demigods who walked the earth in the late 18th century and who serve as models for us today and forever. America's founders would have been profoundly annoyed by this kind of unreflective ancestor worship." [for/against]
posted by kliuless on Apr 17, 2011 - 93 comments

A More Perfect Union

In his project A More Perfect Union, artist R. Luke Dubois aggregated language used in the profiles of 19 million single Americans on 21 dating sites. He then organized the data to create "dozens of insanely detailed city and state maps which tell a wonderfully rich story about who we are, or at least, who we claim to be." A Video about the project. (R. Luke Dubois, previously on MeFi.)
posted by zarq on Mar 31, 2011 - 15 comments

Nah, we straight.

Code-switching is using different languages or language varieties in different contexts. Ta-Nehisi Coates does it. Jay-Z does it. The President does it. But, for African Americans, is code-switching necessary to escape poverty, an element of race as performed or neither?
posted by l33tpolicywonk on Oct 22, 2010 - 63 comments

How Social Science Treats Inner-City Poverty

Anyone who wishes to understand American society must be aware that explanations focusing on the cultural traits of inner-city residents are likely to draw far more attention from policy makers and the general public than structural explanations will. It is an unavoidable fact that Americans tend to de-emphasize the structural origins and social significance of poverty and welfare ... If, in America, you can grow up to be anything you want to be, then any destiny—even poverty—can be viewed through the lens of personal achievement or failure. William Julius Wilson on the political and academic failure to recognize structural causes of inner-city poverty. Wilson interviewed in conjunction with the article. [more inside]
posted by l33tpolicywonk on Aug 5, 2010 - 12 comments

People of the Stony Shore

The Shinnecocks have been a fixture in New York State for centuries — their beads became the wampum Dutch settlers used as money in the colonies — but the US Department of Interior never included them on its official list of Native American tribes. That all changed on June 14th. Almost four centuries since their first contact with Europeans and after a 32-year court battle, the 1,300 member impoverished Shinnecock Native American Nation was formally recognised by the US federal government. The tribe's tiny, 750-acre reservation in the middle of the Hamptons (home and summer playground to some the country's wealthiest Americans,) is now a semi-sovereign nation, allowing them to apply for Federal funding to help them build schools, health centers and to set up their own police force, as well as the right to open a casino. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 11, 2010 - 77 comments

American declinism

The End of Influence - the latest in a long series documenting the US' relative decline (esp wrt China 1 2 3 4 5) Brad DeLong and Stephen Cohen reflect on what has brought us to our past, but now fast-fading glory: "Roosevelt's strategy [entering WW2] was to make Britain broke before American taxpayers' money was committed in any way to the fight against Hitler." Before delving into our present predicament, however, it might also be useful to briefly consider some of the lessons from Bretton Woods and what the wealth of nations is really built upon.
posted by kliuless on Jan 31, 2010 - 39 comments

your favorite literary writer sucks

This is what the cultural elite wants us to believe: if our writers don't make sense, or bore us to tears, that can only mean that we aren't worthy of them. [more inside]
posted by philip-random on Nov 26, 2009 - 143 comments

*Slap!* Sir, I demand satisfaction

Few things in history are as compelling as the duel. Refined and barbaric at the same time, this practice has had a checkered history. The rules of dueling were codified by the Irish in 1777 in the Code Duello (summarized here), which was codified at Clonmel Summer Assizes in 1777. As evidenced by these documents, dueling was in practice prior to the Irish rules being drafted. The procedure and philosophy behind duels is illustrated in this article. Dueling gained some traction in America in the 19th century, culminating in the famous Burr-Hamilton affair. There are many more resources to find out more here. For a list of famous duels, you can check out this list. Lest you think men were the only ones dueling, here are a few short anecdotes of women dueling. Reportedly, dueling is still legal in Paraguay, as long as both parties are registered blood donors.
posted by reenum on Sep 15, 2009 - 17 comments

Dominick Dunne 1925-2009

Dominick Dunne died yesterday at the age of 83. was well known for his chronicling of the follies and crimes of the rich. You can read some of his pieces from Vanity Fair here.
posted by reenum on Aug 27, 2009 - 26 comments

"Greetings from Idiot America"

Charles Pierce, author of the 2005 essay "Greetings from Idiot America" decrying the rise of faith-based anti-intellectualism, has expanded his rant into a full length book: Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free. (via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 12, 2009 - 65 comments

Escape from the Zombie Food Court

The American Hologram We suffer under a mass national hallucination. Americans, regardless of income or social position, now live in a culture entirely perceived inside a self-referential media hologram of a nation and world that does not exist. Our national reality is staged and held together by media, chiefly movie and television images. We live in a “theater state.”
posted by idixon on Apr 23, 2009 - 207 comments

Why Does Hollywood Hate the Suburbs?

In defense of suburbs: "Revolutionary Road," based on Richard Yates's 1961 novel of the same name, is the latest entry in a long stream of art that portrays the American suburbs as the physical correlative to spiritual and mental death.
posted by kliuless on Dec 29, 2008 - 172 comments

The Movement Begins...

Generation WE: How Millennial Youth Are Taking Over America And Changing Our World Forever (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Oct 28, 2008 - 111 comments

A slice of true Americana

The Diner: A true American hallmark, that first appeared on the horizon in the early 70's (the 1870's that is), and has remained a fixture on the American psyche since. If you've never been to one, why not go ahead and have your next meal there? There maybe one right around the corner from where you live. If not, well, like me, you can sit back and look at the glorious images that are available and hope that one day your dream comes true. But until then: remember to adhere to the Ten Commandments, and yeah--if you can--get a copy of Diner (youtube) and watch it. It might not be "strictly" about Diners, but it's fun all the same. [previously]
posted by hadjiboy on Mar 28, 2008 - 69 comments

The Saddam Sessions

Saddam's Confessions - Given Saddam Hussein's central place in the American Consciousness over the last couple decades and particularly in recent years, I found 60 minutes' interview with FBI interrogator George Piro pretty fascinating.
posted by kliuless on Jan 27, 2008 - 24 comments

Can Do But Why Bother?

Lazy-Ass Nation. "Somewhere along the way, we fell in love with the dream of the effort-free existence."
posted by amyms on Sep 19, 2007 - 41 comments

Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot

Knob Creek Gun Range, a former military-munitions test range situated near Fort Knox is home to the "World's Largest Machine Gun Shoot and Military Gun Show". Run by private citizens excercising their second amendment rights (Kentucky has no state-level gun laws) the focus is on Class III firearms - things like assault weapons and anti-tank rifles, but also the occasional high-caliber sniper rifle and cannon. Hold my bourbon and watch this! (more)
posted by phrontist on Jul 26, 2007 - 78 comments

Aptitude Schmaptitude!: innumeracy in America

Aptitude Schmaptitude! While the state of mathematical incompetence in this country has been much lamented, most famously in Paulos's brilliant 1988 book Innumeracy, it is still tacitly accepted . . . Being incompetent in math has become not only acceptable in this widely innumerate culture, it has almost become a matter of pride. No one goes around showing off that he is illiterate, or has no athletic ability, but declarations of innumeracy are constantly made without any embarrassment or shame.
posted by jason's_planet on May 3, 2007 - 140 comments

Are you too loud? Or is it your suit?

Speak softly, don't argue and slow down' The reputation of the "Ugly American" abroad is not..... just some cruel stereotype, but - according to the American government itself - worryingly accurate. Now, the State Department has joined forces with American industry to plan an image make-over by issuing guides for Americans travelling overseas on how to behave.
posted by terrymiles on Apr 16, 2006 - 96 comments

Let your carriage be such as becomes a man grave

"Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience." George Washington's Rules of Civility.
posted by nthdegx on Sep 12, 2005 - 21 comments

Of matrícula accounts and ITIN loans

Embracing Illegals: Companies are getting hooked on the buying power of 11 million undocumented immigrants - The Underground Labor Force Is Rising To The Surface [pdf]
posted by kliuless on Jul 11, 2005 - 30 comments

SAMMY: "That's democracy?"

"I am an American, so that is why I make films about America. America is sitting on our world, I am making films that have to do with America (because) 60% of my life is America. So I am in fact an American, but I can't go there to vote, I can't change anything. We are a nation under influence and under a very bad influence… because Mr. Bush is an asshole and doing very idiotic things."
Lars Von Trier introduces his new film at the Cannes Film Festival: «Manderlay» picks up where «Dogville» left off, with the character originated by Nicole Kidman -- now played by Bryce Dallas Howard -- stumbling onto a plantation that time forgot, where slavery still operates in the 1930s. The film (5 MB .pdf file, official pressbook) ends, as Dogville did, with David Bowie’s Young Americans played over a photomontage of images that range from a Ku Klux Klan meeting to the Rodney King beating, George Bush at prayer and Martin Luther King at his final rest, American soldiers in Vietnam and the Gulf, the Twin Towers. More inside.
posted by matteo on May 16, 2005 - 69 comments

And the food had to be satisfying and taste good too, otherwise, what's the point?

The Challenge: Purchase, prepare and eat healthy, mostly organic meals on a food stamp budget. These are the results.
posted by anastasiav on Jan 4, 2005 - 65 comments

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