American Culture Is Trash Culture

American Culture Is Trash Culture, [behind paywall], Wesley Morris

It’s not just that trash is what Americans want from movies; it’s who we are. So where did it go?

…Our culture has always been at its most pure when it’s in the gutter, when it’s conflating divine and ugly, beauty and base. Blackface minstrelsy, ragtime, jazz: Somebody was always on hand to cry debasement (not unjustly in minstrelsy’s case). But the crude truth of trash is that we like it — to cry over, to cringe and laugh at — even when we say we don’t. The gutter is where our popular culture began, and the gaminess lurking there is our truest guise.

So really what I mean when I say trash vanished is that it vanished from movies. But trash is a persistent, consumptive force that’ll set up shop in any eager host. And its shamelessness went and found a new home, in American politics…

(read more) [behind paywall]

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