Come on guys, while I agree to say that there is no "American culture" goes a bit too far, there is something to it.
Perhaps we could say that while there IS an "American culture" to speak of, at least as far as any modern nation state has a "culture", that the American culture doesn't have the deep historical roots that many others do. Surely there are fundamental differences between the sort of cultural identities, say, Israelis or Persians (Iranians) have and Americans. How could there not be?
One might think of other things about American culture that separate it from other cultures. We are of course a country of immigrants.
Anyway, I'm sure we can think of substantive things that differentiate American culture from other (western) cultures.
You have Jazz and Rock and Roll and television and Hollywood.
You might not have common traditions and a unifying religion but you seem to be able to substitute a lot of flag waving and militarism for it so basically that also seems to work to build a coherent nation.
I think that if you compare European culture with American culture you run in to the problem that Europe's culture is sort of a best of of centuries work whereas you stand right in your culture of today and notice that a lot of it is garbage (Springer, O Reilly, Olberman and so on). That comparison is unfair though.
The real strength of the American culture though is more Roman than Greek. You build things that work. Like Microsoft and McDonalds and Boeing.
The American "culture" as you put it, is the amalgamation of several different cultures. Or at least, it should be. As a country comprised of mainly immigrants there should be a vast and diverse cultural background to go with it.
That said, people who say America doesn't have any "culture" are usually making a big deal out of nothing.
To the glory of mankind there was, for the first and only time in history, a country of MONEY. And I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America, for this means a country of Reason, Justice, Freedom, Production, Achievement. For the first time, man's mind and money were set free. And there were no fortunes-by-conquest but only fortunes-by-work. And instead of swordsmen and slaves, there appeared the real maker of wealth, the greatest worker, the highest type of human being: the self-made man, the American Industrialist.
If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would say that they invented the phrase: to make money.
It's because we are a a multicultural nation, for sure, but we do have common elements of culture that are quintessentially American, including food, sports, art, the "cult of celebrity" (for better or worse), and much more.
^ this...is what I was trying to get at. Our Diversity is a strength, but can also be a weakness when trying to get a good consensus on issues. The more people have differing cultures and behaviors within one border, the more likely there is to be conflict.
I see your point, but "diversity" isn't our culture. Diversity just means exactly what it says - there are several, or many. "Diversity" doesn't quite capture what our culture is about (i.e., it doesn't explian how much we may have in common), nor does "diversity" automatically mean that the many "sub-cultures" differ all that much.
For example, it's not as if we have a Maori tribesman living down the street from a Russian Jew down the street from a family from Papua New Guineau. We are diverse at the margin, at the trimmings - not so much at the foundation.
Yes, it's a problem to the extent people come here and fail to become integrated and simply remaining isolated, rather than adopting American culture but also bringing their own unique elements and shaping and enriching American culture. Like people who come here and don't learn English and don't interact in any way with anyone except other immigrants from their homeland.
I think "American culture" is built off of two things- ingenuity and a sense of humor.
I thought it was really exemplified in the movie "The Battle of the Bulge" when right before the Germans attack, they show the building the Americans are sleeping in that they took from the Germans; above the door, you see a sign that says, "Under New Management."
That, to me, is American culture. And it's far from lacking.
The American culture is a culture of it being whatever anyone wants it to be for themselves and their family. Case in point is the disagreements on all levels little and large on this very thread. It's a very individual thing to each American.
I don't think so. 100 years ago, "American culture" meant something very different for the black family living in Mississippi then it did for the white Bostonian, and that was very different from what the Irish cop in NY or the Italian in Chicago.
When a country is so mixed and fucked around with like ours is, it's hard to nail something down as "Well, this is definitely American," be it a meal or a movie that everyone likes or a belief system or whatever.
Thus, I think American "traits" emerge as opposed to definitive elements- things like, as I said, ingenuity, drive, determination, etc. They're really the only things that can bind us in a nation like this.