Cut.com, popularly known for their humorous YouTube videos of “Grandmas Smoking Weed” and “Parents Explain[ing] the Birds and the Bees”, gets serious in a recent series of videos released around the time of Thanksgiving. Interviewers ask participants of Native American descent to play a word association game in which they are asked to respond to the words: “Thanksgiving”, “reservation”, “Christopher Columbus”, and “redskin”. In particular, I found the video of the responses to Christopher Columbus most interesting. As many young Americans recall, in grade school we were taught that “in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Aside from being accredited for the discovery of America, we were not taught much else about this American explorer. As per this video, and Patricia Limerick’s Something in the Soil, we discover that this is not the reality of how the discovery of our nation had occurred. As we are aware, the “founding” of America by Christopher Columbus involved pushing Native Americans out of their homeland which, in turn, lead to mass genocide. In her work, Limerick asks, “what good can knowledge of this miserable story do?” and “what exactly does knowledge of this event add to American self-understanding and well-being?” (Limerick 35). With Limerick’s questions and the responses given by the people in this video in mind, how do you think children should be taught about the discovery of our nation?
After listening to one of Professor Szu’s first lectures on “sounding like America”, I couldn’t help but question the current sounds of America. Popular music is now brimming with innuendo to sex, drugs, and the degradation of women. For the past few weeks The Hills by The Weeknd has remained in the top spot on Billboard Top 100. Not only has it remained the number one song in America for several weeks, but it has also remained in the top 100 for twenty weeks. Although its appeal may be purely due to its catchy tune, this song alludes to a sexual affair, influenced by drugs, that must be kept hidden from the public eye/ “the hills”. Music is said to reflect and/or relate to people’s ideas or experiences within a culture. Through this song alone we see both interest in keeping up public appearances (also portrayed in the “Lawn People” reading), and the the appeal of drugs and sex through influence of the media. What does this song, and others alike, say about American culture today?