Friday, June 20, 2008

On the Degeneration of the American Culture

What sounds more exciting and interesting:

1.) A group of students slacks off in class, never listens to the teacher, spits gum and skateboards in all the places there are signs saying "No Skateboards" and "No Gum." They don't study for tests, shoplift in their spare time, are straight F students, bring concealed knives to class, and, after getting expelled in the tenth grade and forcibly reenrolled by their parents, they drop out of school and become violent thieves.

2.) A group of students behaves perfectly in class, always listen carefully to the teacher, take notes, and don't even dream of bringing skateboards or gum to class. They have shelves full of books on how to study right and always manage to memorize every single thing on the test. School is more important than shopping, they're straight A students, and, after graduating with honors from an Ivy League college, get high-paying jobs like accountants, insurance agents, and university deans.

I don't know, but I bet that at least some of you are going to choose the first one as the most exciting. (Let's hope that your own plans for the future are a different story.) Our present American culture seems to be such that the first would be glorified. Quite a few of the idolized rappers I've heard of have felonies or at least misdemeanors under their belt (and speaking of belt, I think that their pants are far too baggy too).

Please allow me to change the subject abruptly to sports. I have nothing against sports--except when it interrupts normal news broadcasts that I like watching. I was particularly displeased when NBC showed hockey instead of Nightly News with Brian Williams. Why can't they just make a hockey channel instead of halting the news? I don't know about you, but I see more stories about sports victories and murders than I do about someone who works hard at school and manages to accomplish their dreams.

Oh--and another sign of the degeneration of our culture? Watch the children's cartoons and shows on stations like Disney and Nickelodeon. In the good "olden days"--or at least during World War II, I believe--kids watched newsreels. They didn't waste the daylight hours watching far-too-brightly colored animated characters speaking gibberish in shrill high-pitched voices or phony acting.

This article may sound a bit conservative. I took a poll some time ago for fun. It was a poll on how old you acted. And guess what I got? 58-72.


  1. Anonymous3:57 PM


    You are absolutely right about how American (and European) culture has degenerated. The influence of Gangsta rap is only one of the more of obvious aspects and you have been too polite in your description of it.

    But what about the reasons for it - none of the politicians seem to have a straight answer. Control of offensive weapons is something but it does nothing to change the nature of people who carry these things around.

    Anyway - what about you? Are you still being home-schooled? If so are you going to continue like this right up to university?

    Also, have you got any more YouTube videos planned? And how old are you now?



    email :

  2. Adora,
    I completely agree on what you said about "The Degeneration of the American Culture". It's very true. But though teachers these days try to do a similar type of lecture with their students, it doesn't have much of an impact on them if an adult says it-they just think the adult's being bossy or whatever gangster-type people think of adults/teachers. On the other hand, if people read this from a kid's point of view, it's a lot more meaningful.

    I really think you've done a great job in explaining to the public (and to those people out there who don't really know about it) what schools dominated by gangsters are like. It's certainly going to make people look a lot differently at the world. Since you've got all the publicity, I'm sure people around the world will notice this terrible "degeneration", as you put it, of our culture. Perhaps this will result in a stricter system in American schools and schools around the world, just to prevent this from happening.

    I must say that I also agree on your comment about Nickelodeon, Disney, and cartoons of the like. I personally believe it's all brainwash, but it could be put to a bit of good use. If companies printed these cartoon characters on healthy foods, it would inspire children to eat healthy instead of feeding on junk food all day. I remember a year or two back, on the news, they were discussing this option. The news people interviewed a little boy and asked, "Would you rather eat an apple or a rock with SpongeBob painted on it?" and the little boy answered that he would much prefer the rock. Therefore people have to realize the impact of showing children these cartoons and totally brainwashing them.
    In the case of hockey vs. news, I know many people would rather prefer hockey. To just name a few reasons...
    1. Some people think the news is far too scary and it will show them reality, which they don't think they're ready to face. They much prefer hockey, which is less "scary".
    2. For most people, hockey is much more entertaining than listening "to a guy drone out some non-fiction stuff".
    But I personally believe that news is much more useful than hockey. When you become sixty or seventy, you're not going to be playing hockey, you're going to be sitting at home, watching the news!

    Lastly, I can tell why you got the age poll result as 58-72. I was rereading "Flying Fingers" for the bazillionth time (our copy of the book is all in tatters, literally: the spine is almost about to break in two, so it's all taped down, the book itself is in two pieces and there are several loose pages, and the spine and some parts inside the book are smothered with tape to hold it together), and I'm admitting that I was very impressed that you'd written it, Adora, when you were seven. Yeah, I've read the book so many times, but I never really digested the fact that you were SEVEN when you wrote this. To some of you out there, this is going to sound like "Duh! She just noticed it NOW?" but yeah, I did just notice it now. For a second I thought I was reading an adult's book. Also, your knowledge of the world, the news, and politics is WAY bigger than that of an average 10-year-old (like me!) and thus it's not surprising that you've been deemed 58-72 years of age. Personally, I think it should be higher, but nevertheless, that's impressive.

    Keep writing, Adora--we love it!


  3. Anonymous11:06 PM

    I couldn't agree with you more about the cartoon stuff. There are so many bad TV shows that are meant for smaller kids (say... High School Musical) that are really giving kids bad messages. This is more of a liberal side of the argument, but a lot of these shows have stick thin actors and that's telling kids that they have to weigh a certain ammount. Just today, my little brother (he's a sixth grader) came home from school proclaiming that these two girls in his class were uber fat. I saw them, and they seemed normal. But WHAT HAS THIS COUNTRY/WORLD/WHATEVER THAT WE LIVE IN COME TO?

    And the second description of student sounds like a carbon copy of me.

  4. Anonymous7:06 AM

    I certainly don't dispute the fact that for a person your age you display incredible maturity and indeed perceptiveness, however, I do have to point out that in your attempts to dissect the psyche of American teenagers you have made a slightly misjudged assumption. The apparent glorification of guns and violence by rappers notwithstanding, I have to disagree with your suggestion that most teenagers would choose option 1) as the more interesting- as a teenager myself I must say that I find it quite disheartening when countless newspaper articles are published on a virtually daily basis arguing a view concurrent to yours: that all teenagers buy into the "gun culture" of today and other supposed "cults" simply because some talentless media figures glamorize violence.

    Also, how do you plan to approach issues such as these once you become a teenager? I have to say that it's quite likely that one day you may be friends with the types of people you've condemned as brainless, insignificant individuals that represent the disintegration of American culture.

    In addition to various other pseudo-intellectualisms in your piece, I also find it quite strange that you assume the teenagers of the "olden days" were more considerate and far-sighted than those of today. Effectively, all your essay boils down to is another vaguely nihilistic examination of the way in which America has "lost her innocence".

    I suggest you look into some of the writing of Jonathan Franzen who questions how America could have lost its supposed innocence when it never had any to start with. The 50s and 60s had major deviations from the norm- student movements and protest and of course the frequently exaggerated hippie culture. Are you suggesting that the American Culture of today is far worse than one in which teenagers had to protest against issues such as extreme racism and they were in the minority? I'd find your argument more convincing if you could tell me perhaps what the American culture of today has degenerated from. Call me over-critical but a brief discussion of the changing viewing habits of the youth of America (incidentally, how long do you think Disney cartoons have been watched by young children? Brightly-coloured cartoons certainly aren't new, and aren't always as negative as you make them seem) does not have me convinced that the USA has fallen from a paragon of virtuosity and integrity into complete disrepute.


    JM (14 year old from South England)

  5. Anonymous5:28 PM

    Sorry Adora, but I just don't agree with a single thing you said there.

    I think there was a test done once to determine if people had any preference towards the past or the present. Who-ever was testing found that there was a strong preference for the past, even if it was really rubbish, which it almost invariably is. You obviously read up on a lot of history, but I do wonder if you were making your own judgements with that comment.
    And with the music and cartoons: culture does not automatically make piece of music or a story good or bad, it's about the content. I'm surprised that a mind like yours wouldn't want to look at both sides of the story before making such a decisive judgement on rap (that said, you'd still hate it). And that you already decide to shun all things Nickelodeon! Seriously though, the brilliance of Spongebob Squarepants just has to be seen to be believed! =). I'd recommend Whinnie the Pooh too, to you and all adults. (the A. A. Milne books, NOT Disney!)
    I know I'm just lecturing now, but it does sound like you're shutting things out just because they don't at first glance seem very impressive on an intellectual level. You'll miss out on all the best stuff that way! (and also probably get full up on a load of misguiding nonsense cunningly disguised as academia)

    ps. just watched a documentary you were in, and, well, Microsoft? You LIKE their computers? You have read about these Mac things right?


  6. Anonymous11:36 AM

    I agree. Perhaps your generation will change that. My daughter is your age. I hope your rising generation can recover some intellectual freedom our mass media-dominated culture.

    Anyway, I like the fact that you are thinking for yourself.