What IS American Culture? We Used To See It On TV

Funny how spending a generation not teaching what America is about will produce a generation that…has no real idea what America is all about.

We shared the Jay Leno “Jaywalking” segment from the Fourth of July that exhibits multi-generational ignorance of American history. Leno had to ask Grandpa the history questions in order to illicit correct answers after bombing out with the middle-aged parents and school age child.

If the fundamental principles upon which our country was founded are not part of the popular culture, even periodically, considering our size and our immigrant heritage, what kind of culture do we have? A “multi-cultural” Balkans?

In addition to teaching the basics of American history in schools, the heritage of the country was once considered proper subject matter for TV, even in prime time.

Barney Fife tries to recite the Preamble to the Constitution:

http://www.youtube.com/v/oBuPQgV8yBM?fs=1&hl=en_US

Captain Kirk informs who the Constitution was written for:

http://www.youtube.com/v/3b56e0u0EgQ?fs=1&hl=en_US

By the late 70′s, the subject was largely relegated to the School House Rock series aired during the Saturday morning cartoon line up.

http://www.schooltube.com/v/03f9c858260a4da9b582

In his Farewell Address, Ronald Reagan warned about the problem. He noted that although over the course of his time in office, there was a reinvigorated optimism and sense of patriotism in America, it had not been institutionalized, especially in popular culture. The warning begins at 4:04 of the address, which can be viewed here.

President Reagan’s concerns about a loss of understanding the essence of America were valid. The question is: how do we solve the problem of a great void in our popular culture?

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