An Insight to American Culture
In Woody Allen's "Annie Hall”, the cynical protagonist, Alvy Singer, takes a trip from his beloved Manhattan to the somewhat equally smoggy Los Angeles for a comedy show and a series of social gatherings with friends. Throughout his stay, Singer doesn’t hesitate when vocalizing his bitterness toward the lifestyle cultivated in what many consider to be a superficial, cultureless city. Thus, in his attempts to emphasize Los Angeles' society and its faults, Alvy Singer goes on to say one of my favorite lines in the film: "I don't want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light."
Not saying that traffic laws serve as the only perk of the town, but it does have something to say about the city’s underwhelming cultural appeal. However, spending two weeks in West Hollywood, I focused on the brighter side of the city, which many find comfort in and love. With that being said, I was under speculation as to why those who come in search of their dreams stay longer once the fantasy has been shattered. I realized there’s more culture than we would and/or should ever know.
Throughout my stay in Los Angeles, I went through a series of questions concerning the motives of those who reside here from all over the country. As you know, LA is a transit city, so it is only natural to assume that each and every one of its inhabitants are living, working and breathing with a bigger dream. However, through all the scene-ster run-ins and Freudian couch sessions with mediocre actors and pompous screenwriters, I could only see that the potential of many has been weakened by social networking or lack there of.
So, I got to wondering…
Are people blinded from their potential because of their close proximity to the spot light? If so, would this make them feel that they shouldn’t work as hard? Why do people strive for something out of reach from themselves? Should it be an example of how we should all be? Are they really happy with their limitations?
Maybe this city is more of a rude awakening to American culture. It’s that image we all subconsciously aspire to reach; that pivotal moment of individual success, where money secures family and its happiness. However, when truly faced with the lifestyle fortune and social status brings upon one's life, there seems to be feelings of bitterness in the midst of it all. Whether or not one believes they are affected by society's ideals of money and status, it is America's means to live. Freedom is for those who take the initiative and work. Freedom is for those who collect welfare from the government in order to secure a roof over their heads. If they're motivation ends there, something should still be said about mankind’s contribution to material things. Everyone is a part of it and once they live in a city that glorifies it, then somehow we are turned off by its superficiality and lack of culture. Don't get me wrong, I find no great culture in this city, just like I find no great culture in many parts of the United States. But, what much of Los Angeles represents is the influx of our country's number one fans. The people who embrace our society's materialistic constructs by purchasing high-end clothing, mingling with well-known industry types, and maintaining a below-average weight to enhance their above average facial features.
Of course, not all of the United States focuses its money and time on materialism and the ideals of perfection. However, America is a consumer society, harvested by corporate mentalities telling us what we should have and want in order to achieve success, happiness and status. I discovered the only reason some of us hate this place is because of everything it represents. It's like looking at your body naked. Some embrace it, running around and adapting to the shape, size and color they were given, while others can only stand it for so long before having to confine their parts with clothing. This clothing is the world we place ourselves in to secure the heat. Maybe there are only a few nudists who can see their way to the top while the rest stay content standing on the sections of the stepping stool, fully clothed. Until we figure out who we are and where our contributions lie in America, we will continue to live our lives as cultureless dreamers searching for an easy way out.