I almost want to skip this subject because it seems like I cannot defend American culture properly. On my latest post about Anime I seemed to have ruffled some feathers, and in particular the feathers of someone that I actually like and consider a good friend. I had to take a step back and talk to a couple of people about the subject before I could really formulate an opinion and I ended up more confused than I even started.
Asian cultures have been interesting to me since before I moved to the U.S. The Japanese tea ceremony was probably one of of the ones that shocked me the most. At school at a very young age we were taught about cultures and their differences. I was then made aware of how different we ate from other cultures. It almost felt impossible to put that much effort into serving tea just the perfect way, but that was their culture. Also how it was ok for some cultures to pick up food with their hands and not for others.
I think I am a pretty culturally diverse person, not because I like Japanese cartoons or practiced a Korean (Tae Kwon Do) and Chinese (Kung Fu). I think it has a lot more to do with my willingness to accept and learn about differences. I can tell the difference between someone from Thailand or the Philippines, as well as know that calling a Korean, Chinese or Japanese is as wrong as when someone calls me a Mexican. Don’t get me wrong, it took time and effort on my part. I used to think everyone in China and India spoke the same language.
When looking at cultures we have to be able to understand the role that ethics play. The concepts of right and wrong, good and evil make up the set of rules that a society lives by. That is probably one of the cornerstones of what makes up a culture. The way we look at sexuality its a big part of a culture. I believe it is very important to know where the set of rules is coming from.
I realized that a lot of the morality infused in American culture has a lot to do with religion. I have always felt that your morals can come partly from religion, but it should not be the sole source. What troubles me even more is that maybe ethics in the American society come only from religion. Morality being that part of ethics that refers to the concept of right and wrong. I think it is very important to know where our morals come from and not just accept what we are being told. I feel that American culture is dictated more by a preset set or rules than by discussion and people coming up with their own conclusions.
I have heard the argument again and again about sex on TV. I think that there are a lot more immoral things on TV than a pair of breasts. This almost declared marshal law after one breast was exposed in the Superbowl. Everyone`s argument was that kids were watching, and so what? Are kids going to be more emotionally affected by an exposed breast than the dry humping on soap operas or the suggestiveness in beer commercials?
I don’t believe that American is more puritanical than any other culture. It is very subjective. For example hair in private places is not something that is allowed to be shown in all cultures. Does that mean that because sexual entertainment in the US includes showing private hair it makes us more progressive?
I made the statement that Japanese culture is “richer” than US culture and I was wrong. While it is a culture with more history it does not make it “richer”. Since it is subjective, ever changing and unquantifiable the concept of culture richness is almost a mute point. I think all cultures have something to offer and unfortunately they all carry a certain stigma. I guess the secret is in not judging a book by its cover and being able to open up to new experiences. I know I am a lot happier of a person for having tried Ja Jang Myon.