Motifs in American culture

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As you know, I’m in San Francisco which is the hub of the far left. There’s a segment of the far left that is quite anti-America, quite anti-patriotism, and for globalization without rules. This segment goes as far as saying that America has no culture of its own and only gets culture from immigrants. I call bullshit!

American culture has its motifs because American culture has been around longer than most current countries on this planet have been countries. We’ve adapted these motifs into our national identity. Let’s explore the most common of these motifs as you’ll immediately recognize them.

Motifs in American culture in chronological order

The Native American. We all know about the Native Americans in American history. First we had an encounter, then we demonized them, and as their numbers dwindled, we romanticized them, and currently, we’re searching for the truth. Therefore, we’ve come full circle in history. I won’t go into detail here, but most of us agree it’s one of our more painful lessons in American history with scars that still haven’t healed.

The Pirate. We romanticize the pirate because much of the writing about piracy was long after it ended. Plus, pirates make for wonderful stories.

Capture of Blackbeard by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris.  Pirates are a huge part of American culture
Capture of Blackbeard (painting by American painter Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1920)

Let’s not forget that a lot of the pirates touched base on what later became the United States of America. Blackbeard lost his life in what later became North Carolina. In Disneyland, Pirates of the Caribbean is in the New Orleans Square and that’s no accident.

The Witches of Salem. Like the Native Americans, we’ve come full circle with the Witches of Salem. First, the events occurred. Then, we demonized them. Then we romanticized them. Currently, we’re trying to figure out what really happened. A common belief among historians is that it was a conspiracy to inherit the land from old female relatives who just won’t die, so they brainwashed kids to make up the whole witch thing.

The Revolutionary. A very common motif among more libertarian minded Americans. These folks glorify the Founding Fathers because their minds, their ideals, and their writings are what makes America great. We have unarguably the most intelligent founding fathers in the history of any nation. Jefferson, Franklin, and Madison were not just geniuses, they were polymaths. No other nation can say the same about its founding fathers.

So of course they’re romanticized. We all know about the sacrifices they endured so we can be free today. Some of it is complete bullshit, like George Washington chopping down a cherry tree. It makes for a good story though.

Post-Revolutionary motifs

Slavery and the anti-slavery heroes. Slavery and the slave trade is the second stain in our past that still causes problems today. We have our slave holders, the bad guys, and the anti-slavery heroes like Harriet Tubman. In leftist circles, John Brown is considered a hero despite the fact he killed people. The Republican Party loves to list President Lincoln as the man who freed the slaves despite the Emancipation Proclamation not immediately freeing anyone. Future historians will attempt to be more accurate without politics thrown in there to cloud things up.

The Cowboy. Ah, the Wild Wild West, a part of history that is mostly fictional. Sure, the Wild West happened, but it was way shorter than people think. And most of it was an exaggeration by East Coast pulp fiction authors. If you want to know the truth, it’s way more boring than you were taught. However, it makes for wonderful stories that still get written today.

The Bluesman. This motif appears more in cultural arenas more than books. What is the Blues? You’ll know it when you hear it. It’s pain and suffering, and loss, and as American as you can possibly get. I myself have stolen so much from the Blues that I don’t even know who I’ve stole from. The Blues is the basis of most American music. Jazz, R&B, Rock and Roll, and even Country all came from the Blues. Musicians love to brag that they were directly influenced by those Blues guys from the 1920s. I call bullshit on most of them as most of us stole from people who stole from people who stole from people who stole from the Bluesmen.

The Gangster and the Jazz Age. The Roaring Twenties, otherwise called the Jazz Age. You know the story. Alcohol’s illegal so the Gangster gives the people what they want. Of course, things get out of hand and violence ensues. Two of the best movies ever made, Godfather I and Godfather II, both had their beginnings with this motif and carried it out into modern times.

Modern motifs

History doesn’t end. It keeps going. Several recent events (recent in historical terms, not necessarily in terms of yours and my life) are turning into American historical motifs. We have everything from the hippie to the 80s child to the 90s gangsta who are being romanticized as we speak. Which one of these will be around one hundred years from now? You tell me.

Now, this by no means is an exclusive list. These are the ones that came off the top of my head. I know I’m forgetting a lot.

Off the top of my head, let’s not forget Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, World War II, the rock star, the stoner, the professional fighter, and the Cold War.

I made this list to prove a point – American culture is very strong. This post makes sense when you’re in San Francisco where you actually have people who hate America and loudly proclaim American culture doesn’t exist. I won’t mince words – I fucking hate those people. But instead of stooping to their level and denying their existence, I’ll counter their argument.

So here you have it. Genuine American motifs. If you’re American, you know all of them because they’re deeply ingrained in American culture.

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