The United States of America is a nation with a proud history. A proud history, that is, of kicking ass in sports and shoving our own peculiar brand of pop culture down the throats of every other country on the planet. But since a certain Texan took office in 2000, it has been our ass that has been kicked on playing fields around the globe and our throats that have been choked by the cultures of other nations.
| Songs about America sucking |
“AMERICA IS NOT THE WORLD” | Morrissey
“LET'S IMPEACH THE PRESIDENT” | Neil Young
“AMERICAN HEARTS” | Piebald
“US Blues” | Grateful Dead
“AMERICAN SQUIRM” | Nick Lowe
“HELP SAVE THE YOUTH OF AMERICA” | Billy Bragg
“MIDDLE AMERICA” | Trachtenberg Family Slideshow Players
“I FELT LIKE A GRINGO” | Minutemen
“THE AMERICAN RUSE” | MC5
“WELCOME TO THE UNITED STATES” | Frank Zappa and the Ensemble Modern “HARD-ON FOR WAR” | Mudhoney
“A BRIEF HISTORY OF AMERIKKKA” | Iggy Pop
Coincidence? Consider the events of just the past few weeks. The NBA finals pit a team led by an American player — the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron “King James” James, much hyped as the next Michael Jordan — against the San Antonio Spurs, a team featuring a bunch of foreign guys. The foreign guys blew out the team with the American superstar, and the MVP of the series was Tony Parker, who was born in France. Yes, France.
Not that this is anything new for the NBA these days. A few weeks earlier, the league announced the winner of its MVP award: Dirk Nowitzki, a German. His victory breaks a two-year stranglehold on the trophy held by Steve Nash, a Canadian.
Two weeks ago, golf’s US Open was captured by Angel Cabrera, an Argentinean. Cabrera’s win meant that, as those with scorecards at home already know, this most prestigious of all golf tourneys hasn’t been won by an American for four years.
This past week, 2008’s presumed Democratic presidential front-runner, Hillary Clinton, after much ballyhoo, finally chose a campaign song. Her quest for the presidency — that’s president of America — will take Celine Dion’s “You & I” as its soundtrack. It’s a mawkish tune which a) sucks, and b) was originally written for an Air Canada commercial and is sung by a chanteuse from Charlemagne, Quebec, which, I’m pretty sure is north of the 49th parallel.
And in May, the nation — as it now does every year — came to a halt to watch the finale of American Idol, a show that crowns a young American under-thirtysomething as the cream of our national singing crop. What can be more American than that, you ask? Hmm. Perhaps a show less Simon-ized. Idol was created by Simon Fuller (a Brit), developed by Simon Jones (a Brit), and has as its de facto figurehead and true star Simon Cowell (a Brit). Co-executive producer, along with Fuller, is Nigel Lythgoe (a Brit). Happy Fourth of July.
Some of my best friends are foreign …
Mind you, we’re not outraged by the impressive achievements of French basketball players and Canadian songstresses. We’re not xenophobic Fox News watchers. We don’t have posters of Lou Dobbs over our beds and assault rifles under them. We love people with funny names and with peculiar-smelling cuisines. And we fully buy into the fact that America is a big ol’ melting pot, and we totally want to hold hands and buy the world a Coke.
It’s just that, in the past, no matter what was wrong with this country — and where do we start with that one? — there have always been mitigating factors, such as the fact that no one could make classic movies, music, and TV shows as well as the creative minds of this once-great land. (You think another member of the United Nations could have made Caddyshack? Go ahead and try, Luxembourg.)
This is about pride of place and rational patriotism, about focus and determination, and about not having the USA plummet into a dystopic nightmare straight out of Idiocracy.
It’s not just the awful fucking war we’ve started and are stuck with. It’s not our hubristic, fascistic government of cretins and creeps. It isn’t our broken health-care system — which Michael Moore’s latest flick, Sicko, compares unfavorably with that of Cuba’s — or the fact that the Canadian “looney” is about as strong as the dollar these days, or that China and India are a tag team poised and ready to spank our beleaguered economic butt. Or even that more Americans believe in creationism than in evolution. (Including, if you believe one poll, 70 percent of Republicans!) Although all of that is true.