What is culture? Culture is a combination of the environment you were raised in including friends and family societal norms, personal values and medial influence. Your place in space, more specifically, what part of the world you are from affects your culture? Different regions of the United States all the way to the smallest community have different, albeit, important cultural values. Culture defines me as an individual.
With all that said, my mass media and society class have been discussing culture and how it affects us, the students. According to a visiting professor, there is “high culture” and “low culture”. The discussion took an irritating turn for me when certain events were classified as “high culture” and “low culture”. You would think in a class of this subject, we could get away from the classical stereotypes, but apparently not.
When asked for examples of these two types of cultural events, it seems like “high culture” relates more to a black tie/formal event, while the “low culture” event takes a redneck description. “Low culture” events would be tractor/truck pulls, rodeos, county fairs…a fellow classmate summed it up best when he stated that “low culture” events would be attended by drunken rednecks. By this point, I am really irritated with this cultural stereotype.
First of all, why are rednecks assumed to be drunk and not very intelligent? I happen to know that the term redneck defines someone who works outside getting his neck red from the sun. Is this a terrible thing…a little outside work? I think not. One redneck that comes to mind is Sam Walton. He wore overalls and drove his old truck all the time when he started his Wal Mart stores….I would imagine that Mr. Walton attended a few county fairs and probably a few black tie affairs. I would think he had the best of both worlds.
I am from a small town. I have attended tractor pulls, sit in the bleachers at a rodeo, and have set in a few hot cattle barns taking care of my cattle. I guess that makes me a redneck, or does it? My cattle showing has given me the opportunity to meet some pretty nice people with some really nice cows. What the “high culture” crowd does not realize is that cows can bring some pretty hefty prices…enough to buy a house or a sports car. I have met people in the industry who are multi-millionaires. You would never know it either. Those people wear jeans and boots just like the rest of us. They are some of the most hospitable people anyone would ever meet.
I also love the outdoors and am lucky enough that I can hunt most game off our farm. I also love to hunt mushrooms. There is nothing better than fresh morel mushrooms in the spring of the year. There is also a lot of fishing that goes on too. This probably falls under the definition of redneck activities. I don’t care. This is my culture. I have a rich Ozarks heritage. My ancestors have raised a lot of crops off of cedar glades which sounds very entrepreneurial to me. There is nothing better than fried fish, mushrooms and cornbread. I have a friend from my hometown who is an internationally acclaimed opera star. When he is home he can’t wait for some fried fish with all the trimmings.
Now, here is the proverbial “kicker.” I have been to “high culture” events and loved them, too. I have seen Paris at night from the top of the Arc de Triumphe. I viewed the city of Paris during the daytime from atop the Eiffel Tower, and I had the most inspirational view of Paris at dusk while at the cathedral Sacre Couer. I toured the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo… I admired the works of Monet, Manet, and Degas. I stood on Omaha Beach in Normandy and toured the American cemetery. I listened to the ocean hitting the same sand where many veterans lost their lives for our freedoms.
While in London at the British Museum, I was actually lucky enough to see the real Rosetta Stone. I visited Westminster Abbey and ate fish and chips.
I have also been to a Broadway Play, a Manhattan Cruise, attended a concert at Carnegie Hall and toured the Metropolitan Museum and the Natural Museum of History.
Gee, I guess you could call me lucky. I have been surrounded with lovely people who have taught me music, art and history. Even my mom plays the piano like none other. I know that I have been given some wonderful opportunities to expand my views on the world. Does this make my culturally elite?
The answer to that question, is no. I am not an elitist. I am an opportunist. I take every opportunity I can to see the world in every way possible. This is what made me so mad with the conversation in my media class. We need to get rid of the “us versus them” mentality. Cultural events are just that. All have their place in our society. If we can get past those stereotypes, then maybe as a nation, we can unite and pull our country back as “One nation under God.”
Keep it real friends,
The Aggie hipster