What piece of culture best explains America?
I first came across this question–and 17 answers–in the New York Times, but I also asked our family how they would respond.
Penny mentioned the show, Hamilton, mostly because it literally depicts the founding of America, but as William pointed out, it also comments on who we are right now as we struggle to become the ideals articulated hundreds of years ago.
Marilee suggested The Circle, a reality show in which contestants only interact with each other online and vote one another off the show one by one. She said it speaks to the way we are physically more and more disconnected from one another and yet still trying to find community.
I nominated the Taylor Swift Eras Tour, with its dazzling and puzzling combination of glitzy, over-the-top, excessive and spectacular everything. It speaks to some of the worst of America—the way we idolize everything bright and shiny and new, the way we spend money (SO MUCH MONEY) on satisfying ourselves, and the way we turn away from the slow and quiet and simple for the glamorous. And it speaks to some of the best of America—people coming together to dance and sing and celebrate and honestly, be really kind to one another (we were the direct beneficiaries of such kindness).
What cultural product would you nominate as a representation of American life right now, and why?
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