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Old 03-22-2012, 10:33 PM
Location: Viña del Mar, Chile
16,416 posts, read 25,326,885 times
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I think it is very hard to single out American culture being on the downslide. It is really a worldwide phenomena. There's really not anywhere in the world that isn't materialistic, even the more poor countries.. the people are just as materialistic.. they just simply don't have as much. You better bet your butt that they all still love their nice name brands, follow celebs etc etc.

What makes me wonder though, is if it has always been like this. Think about 200 years ago, were things really that good? Were people really that great and did they really help people out and treat everyone fairly? Look at the old European empires, it is pretty safe to say that they exploited their people just as much. The rich actually owned more and controlled more than they do now. People were almost slaves back in the past and had virtually no way of moving up.

We tend to look back and think everything was so great in the past due to nostalgia, but look at the 50s when everything was supposedly great. Women had almost no rights.. their husbands could divorce them and they had nothing they could do. There are a lot of things that are better, and it doesn't matter the time period, people are always talking about the decline of society. In the 50s, people thought that Elvis was the end of society. In the 60s it was the hippies , 70s you had disco and the list goes on.
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Old 03-23-2012, 02:54 AM
11,702 posts, read 13,174,141 times
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Originally Posted by Rathagos View Post
Talking with some coworkers this Monday morning, and the subject topic came up. Surprisingly (or maybe not so suprisingly) every one of us believe that American culture and society is on a downslide and has been for several decades. What we can't agree on is when it started. ...
I think the changes in American society have been long and complicated, so it's no easy task to pick a single point.

Having said that, I will go right ahead and say that it all came together in the Eighties, and that from the first Reagan presidency on we have seen the full flower of USA II, the sequel to the American I was born and raised in.

I do not, however, think either blame (or praise?) can be heaped on Mr. Reagan as if he were the demon (or creator god) of this aberration. The man is probably at best emblematic of the event.
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Old 03-23-2012, 03:57 AM
Location: Montgomery County, MD
3,241 posts, read 3,165,320 times
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Originally Posted by AuburnAL View Post

This isn't exact, and it is probably off a few years either way. I think the current slide started sometime between the release of Karate Kid II and Karate Kid III. I say this because Karate Kid and Karate Kid II did not have cursing while Karate Kid III did despite being the most juvenile of the first three movies.

I think for much of US history there have been slides followed by climbs or at least stationary periods. For example Roger Ebert reviewed porn movies in the 1970s because at that time "normal" movie theaters in some cities would show porno films. That activity has been unheard of since at least sometime in the 1980s.
It's not really a moral/societal reason that porno theatres declined in the 80's, it was because of the popularity of VCRs; people could watch pornography alone in their house instead of having to go to some disgusting theatre to enjoy yourself.

I think America has gotten a lot more prudish since the 90's/late 2000's. I remember all the really popular stuff like WWF/WCW wrestling, Jerry Springer and insane reality shows like The Swan where a woman gets radical transformative plastic surgery. I remember you'd see naked buttocks on network TV like NYPD Blue but you don't have anything of the kind today. The only kind of thing that is more permissive is seeing more gays on TV. I remember in the 90's how it was a huge national story when Ellen Degeneres came out of the closet on her show (seems hilarious in retrospect) but now they show gay couples with pretty much no commentary on it being shocking.

It's like how in the 1920's how they were showing a lot of sex in the movies and showing actual nudity and profanity. That type of thing got killed with the Hays Code during the Great Depression, I think it might've been some large moral repentance for the excess of the 1920's. I think that same thing happened after Sept 11 where entertainment went way clean for awhile but now its inching back up, like listen to all the stuff they can say on Family Guy now, it would be hugely shocking in the 90s. Nudity on broadcast TV has gotten even more prudish unfortunately, there's practically nothing sexual on network TV.
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Old 03-23-2012, 05:35 AM
Location: Western North Carolina
4,772 posts, read 7,577,980 times
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Originally Posted by dragonborn View Post
I have never seen so much absolute junk and tripe on TV in my entire life either, which is a sad reflection on society in 2012.
I agree. While I don't think this is a large CAUSE of our decline, I certainly do think it is a reflection of it. We are now completely television free in our house because no one has any desire anymore to stomach the absolute filth, vulgarity, violence, idiotic celebrity/reality nonsense, and non-news you are presented with evertime you tune in to try to find something decent or entertaining to watch. And this is true in most movies that are coming out as well.
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Old 03-23-2012, 06:01 AM
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When did it start? I believe it started with Nixon, people really lost faith in government and leadership. Clinton only made it worse. People discovered the media cannot be trusted.

Things were stable until the mid 1990's with Clinton and his drama, this started the pot boiling.

The real decline started with the explosion of cable TV, the 2004 election made the pot boil over.

Now Obama and cable TV made politics more devisive than ever. Major networks and cable TV channels have taken sides, and become political outlets, not news. The progressive media with thier reality shows depict reprehensible behavior as the norm. Devient and immoral conduct is displayed as the norm, offending a center right nation.

And you wonder why we have preppers, walking dead and other end of the world fantasy's.
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Old 03-23-2012, 08:57 AM
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For there to have been a decline, there would have had to have been an "ideal" from which to decline from. I disagree with the whole notion there was ever a truly moral "Golden Age". Everyone talks about the 1950s but the reality is drug use was beginning to skyrocket as was street crime. People still largley embraced a bigoted worldview as well as an incredibly materialist one. The age between the end of the Civil War and the Great Depression was arguably the time in which America did most of the elbow grease to begin it's ascent into superpower status, however, it was a time of massive exploitation, abuse, opium dependancy, crime and lawlessness. Cocaine was a drug of choice among the movers and shakers in the time of the Founding Fathers. And to back even further, don't even get started on the fun and games people liked to have back in the times of Jesus Christ.

People have always been people. The only real change is the overall societal acceptance of certain behaviors and weither society at large gives the individual enough leeway to indulge in said behaviors. As a Christian, sin and debasement emulate from the individual's heart, not his enviorment. People need to take personal responsibilty for their own principals and values and stop looking to outside forces to somehow give them some roadmap to perfection.
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Old 03-23-2012, 11:13 PM
Location: West Egg
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Every generation thinks the culture has gone to Hell since the time when they were young. Not everyone, of course, but it's probably the consensus of each generation.

Why? Change. People just can't handle cultural change, and insist that it was 'better' in 'the good old days'.

This generation does it, the last generation did it, the next generation will do it.
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Old 03-24-2012, 01:31 AM
Location: Biltmore area of Phoenix
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I don't see American culture declining.

I see many families working hard, staying married, raising their children, fighting to get ahead and work for opportunities in this country. The American dream is alive and well for them.

None of them happen to be caucasian baby-boomers, of course. Those folks seem to be set on whining about someone else getting more government benefits than they enjoy. They are also put out that the houses they thought were worth $500K are actually only worth $250k or so. They also don't like the fact that their children with degrees in underwater basket weaving will be living at home until they they are dead and gone.

But otherwise, everything is fine!

Last edited by NotQuiteNative; 03-24-2012 at 01:50 AM..
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Old 03-27-2012, 02:09 PM
Location: Raleigh, NC
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Well, I suspect you could go back 200 years, ask someone over the age of 35 (who would have been an "elder" then), and they would have claimed "the country is going to hell in a handbasket" (or similar). Go back anotehr 200 years, no USA obviuosly, but the same sentiment. It is human nature to think "it was better when I was younger" because people in general have a hard time with societal change.

Anyway--I personally attribute it to technology and shorter attention spans due to being able to get what we want faster and faster. One reason TV has some much crap is that there are so many more TV channels; if we only had 3 (like we did "in my day"), then the limited amount of broadcast time on the 3 networks would cull the crap to some degree. But with more and more specialization of channels, you can have a whole channel devoted to your own personal views and likes, and never have to be exposed to another viewpoint or concept. Radio stations used to have "top 40" which was a mix of all styles, and introduced us to songs we might not have heard or liked otherwise, and of course in the old days of vinyl albums, you would play an album and not like every song, but you'd sit through one you didn't like until your favorite one came on.

I am not suggesting that people were "martyrs" back then, just for the great heartache of listening to a song that wasn't their favorite on an album, but I do think that each new generation beciomes more accustomed to having WHAT THEY WANT, WHEN THEY WANT IT and that is taking a toll on "old fashioned" virtues such as patience, learning to deal with disappointment, endurance, and work ethic. Being denied something can be a good thing (I'm not talking about being denied basic human rights, of course, which is something that was WORSE in the "old days" if you weren't in the prevailing demographic) but I very much believe that the more we are able to compartmentalize our lives to listen ONLY to our very favorite music, see ONLY our very favorite movies and TV shows, hear ONLY a new channel that espouses our political views, have 18 kinds of Crest to pick from instead of just 2, etc gives us all an "entitlement" attitude where we become less and less appreciative of the wonderful things and opportunities we DO have, and instead just gripe about the few times something isn't exactly perfect.

"First World Problems" is a fairly recent saying that has developed out of an ironic observation that we will choose to whine that our internet connection is too slow instead of being awestruck and appreciative that such a thing as Internet access exists in the first place and is available to us pretty much everywhere.I actually remember back in the 90s when email and Internet connectinos were new and exciting, and every new thing was amazing ("Wow, you can email a PHOTO!") while now we presume that high-speed connectivity and video on demand will be there at our fingertips every instant we want it, and we as a soecity throw a temper tantrum if they are not.

Meanwhile, people in many countries would be thrilled beyond words if they just had a ready source of clean drinking water and didn't have to walk 2 miles to a well to get it. I certainly am guilty of getting exasperated over "first world problems", but I do try to stop and remember even a few years ago when the things I take for granted now didn't even exists--and somehow we managed to be happy with our lives then.

What does this have to do with "the decline of culture"? Because when everyone has the attitude that "if I don't get exactly what I want NOW, somebody's going to pay!", we start to see people as competitors, rather than fellow humans/Americans/21st Century dwellers/demographic of choice who should be appreciative of each other. When I was a kid, parents taught their children to share their toys; now Easter Egg hunts are cancelled because the PARENTS are being so greedy and grabbing eggs from other children's hands to give to their own. How did we become so competitive? When did "winning above all, with no lessons learned and no appreciation for second place" become the norm? You could blame it on the "Greed is Good" 80s or the offshoring of so many jobs, that causes everyone to be on edge about not falling behind, or the post-911 world where a "terrorist" could be lurking on every corner, so you'd best keep your kids holed up playing video games instead of letting them chase frogs in the woods...but I still think it all stems from technology and omnipresent information, which flashes so much data at us (accurate and otherwise) at all times, we are aware of incidents that happen (which we previuosly would never have known about) that give us one more thing to worry about, one more thing to "guard" against and mistrust other people about...

TL; DR, but I sometimes wish life were simpler, even as I sit here typing my (rambling, run-on) thoughts to a bunch of strangers on a screen. I do believe the faster and more convenient it is to get what you want (whether it is to reach a person on the phone, have sushi, or watch a movie adaptation that you "didn't have time" to read the book of), a certain "toughening of spirit" and acceptance of human limitations is lost.
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Old 03-27-2012, 03:23 PM
Location: Portland, Oregon
7,091 posts, read 10,523,930 times
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Everybody thinks their society, or humanity as a whole, is in decline. Especially the older you get.

Hell I found a 12th century piece from Japan where some one was lamenting it on The Gutenburg Project.

Same with Europe a few hundred years later, plus complaining how soccer was bringing the devil into their souls.

How many people can throw a dead woodchuck without finding some one like that 800 years later?
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