Arts and entertainment in the United States

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U.S. arts
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This article discusses the "culture" of the United States; for customs and way of life, see Culture of the United States.

The development of the arts and entertainment in the United Statesmusic, movies, dance, architecture, literature, poetry and the visual arts—has been marked by a tension between two strong sources of inspiration: European sophistication and domestic originality. Frequently, the best American artists have managed to harness both sources.

American culture has a large influence on the rest of the world, especially the Western world. American music is heard all over the world, and American movies and television shows can be seen almost anywhere. This is in stark contrast to the early days of the American republic, when the country was generally seen as an agricultural backwater with little to offer the culturally advanced world centers of Asia and Europe. Nearing the end of its third century, nearly every major American city offers classical and popular music; historical, scientific and art research centers and museums; dance performances, musicals and plays; outdoor art projects and internationally significant architecture. This development is a result of both contributions by private philanthropists and government funding.

American culture also exhibits a tendency to hybridize pop culture and so-called high culture, and generally questions normative standards for artistic output. This is likely an effect of the country's egalitarian tradition, and the nation's history of constitutionally protected freedom of speech and expression, as enshrined in the First Amendment.

American Popular Culture

American popular culture has expressed itself through nearly every medium, including movies, music and sports. Mickey Mouse, Babe Ruth, screwball comedy, G.I. Joe, jazz, the blues, The Simpsons, Michael Jackson, Gone With the Wind, Michael Jordan, Indiana Jones, Sesame Street, Catch-22--these names, genres, and phrases have joined more tangible American products in spreading across the globes.

It is worth noting, that while America tends to be a net exporter of culture, it absorbs many other cultural traditions with relative ease, for example: origami, soccer, anime, and yoga.

It can be argued that this ability to easily absorb parts of other cultures and other languages is its greatest strength and helps American culture and language spread. Americans in general do not worry about protecting their "indigenous culture"(see below) but instead eagerly create and adopt new things and then change or modify to make them their own.

Exportation of Popular Culture

The United States is an enormous exporter of entertainment, especially television, movies and music. This readily consumable form of culture is widely and cheaply dispersed for entertainment consumers world-wide.

For better or worse, many nations now have two cultures: an indigenous one and globalized/American popular culture. That said, what one society considers entertainment is not necessarily reflective of the "true culture" of its people. More popular syndicated programs cost more, so overseas entertainment purchasers often choose older programs that reflect various, and dated, stages of the United States cultural development. Pop culture also tends to neglect the more mundane and/or complex elements of human life.


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