Why It’s Okay to Love America (Even Though It’s Batshit Crazy)
Ladies and gentlemen, I, Mallorie Rosenbluth, have officially made it as a blogger. Please welcome: a guest blog post! Today’s post comes from Mary Milliken. Mary, inspired by my latest anti-America post, created her own post to defend this crazy land we call home. Read and enjoy:
By: Mary Milliken
Ah, America. You are the land of opportunity, which has definitely proven to be more of a curse than a blessing. Justin Bieber was forced to take a paternity test because a twenty-year old has suddenly come forth proclaiming him as the father of her child (statutory rape charges aside). A woman is suing because the movie Drive wasn’t, “fast and furious enough.” “20 TIMES IS A CHARM!” the Duggers exclaim, while Octomom and Kate-minus-John-still-plus-8 will NOT go away. Despite the smart cars, the reusable bags, the locally grown food, and all those goddamn beards, this year holds the record for highest greenhouse gas admissions, and we’re still no closer to finding a solution for our crippling oil dependency. America, you are a hotter mess than Lindsay Lohan. A screaming, helpless, humongous, completely uncontrollable shit-pile that keeps getting bigger, stinkier, and less manageable, much like one of our many landfills. And yet, like all weird, dysfunctional, intense relationships we have in our lives: we just can’t quit you.
At some point it became cool to hate America, probably because there’s nothing “cool” America loves more than accents, Anglophiles and anything French, besides the French. Yeah, Europe (and everyone else) has a lot to say about the U.S., and a lot of those things are critical and negative. Don’t go outside the States expecting to encounter a warm embrace, because unfortunately America has a history of being represented abroad by shit bags, politicians and civilians alike.
But have you ever actually thought about how much you love America? Before you counter with: what is there to looooove? Have you been outside of America? If you’ve only been to a beach resort, or for a week’s holiday to the Mediterranean, or for a three-hour stop on a harbor in St. Croix on a Caribbean Cruise, well then lucky you, but your opinion will be taken with several grains of salt.
Let’s just call this for what it is: America is a guilty pleasure, like a seven-hour session of watching Bravo without even realizing what you’re doing. We love to hate it. America is the place that simultaneously crucified Kim Kardashian for her divorce but tuned into her wedding in the first place. We love America, even though she’s a total ho. Our relationship can basically be summed up by the American rock classic “Stay With Me,” in which Rod Stewart hoarsely tells a woman that he essentially hates her and can’t stand to look at her, but wants her to stay with him (because perhaps, deep down, he loves her?).
If you hate America but haven’t even left to see anywhere else and acquire some perspective, you should really address that, but here are 5 reasons we love this batshit crazy country (cue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqwCko-kzR0):
1.) All that diversity. I’m not talking specifically about cultural diversity, but rather of its results. America is so huge, and so diverse, and so much has happened to it in such a short time, that the result is a smorgasbord of music, food, fashion, art, etc. And you know what’s cool about the diversity? The possibilities are pretty much endless. Where else can you choose any style of music, literally any, and find it somewhere, live and authentic? From hip hop to blue grass, somebody likes it, and someone somewhere right now is performing it. Each part of the U.S. has their own type of music. Detroit gave us Motown. Nashville: Country. New Orleans: Jazz. New York: Hip Hop. Florida: Metal. Texas: Latin. There are even songs written about specific cities, from the obvious ones (Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” Katy Perry’s “California Gurls,” Will Smith’s “Miami”) to oldies referencing small towns (Bob Dylan giving a shout out to Ashtabula, Ohio in “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” and Simon and Garfunkel giving possibly the only reference to Saginaw, Michigan in music before or since). Here’s one written for Cleveland: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZzgAjjuqZM&feature=related. Don’t like the style of music that’s on the radio? That’s okay. This is America. You can start your own band or group, and play whatever the hell you want. No one is going to stop you.
2.) The food. People are always complaining about how the food here is really shitty, but I think they’re forgetting there are two sides to the coin. Yes we have McDonald’s and Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried Cruelty, which by the way, no one is shoving down anyone’s throat, but we also have about, oh, a BILLION OTHER ALTERNATIVES. There are over 85,200 grocery stores in the U.S., and that number does not include the stores that sell gas. If you consider that a great number of them are open 24-hours, the options for food and ingredients are practically unlimited. If you live in a big city? They are unlimited. That means you can go out, pick up literally any ingredient (because seasons do not exist in America’s food industry) and produce a gourmet meal at ANY HOUR OF THE DAY, for a good price. Where the hell else in the world can you do that? Where else can you go in the world and get carnival-style fried dough and fresh sushi in the same hour? Within five minutes, even? Have you ever had a genuine Jamaican patty at 2 AM after downing five pints of Guinness from the neighborhood Irish pub while listening to a Filipino man rap during an open mic night, sitting next to a guy dressed as a chicken? You haven’t lived. And you certainly haven’t lived in America.
3.) The places. The vast emptiness, the wide open spaces, the ever changing, ever constant topography. Quick: what country in the world can you see a desert, an ocean, a great plain, a lake, a mountain, a canyon, a volcano, a forest, a swamp, and within a few hours, end up in Hollywood, or Manhattan, or Disney World (whatever your preference)? You get in your car and drive until your car can’t drive anymore (it’s better with an EZ Pass). You can see millions of creatures, meet billions of people, see thousands of historic landmarks, and never even need a passport. Lewis and Clark risked their lives traversing the supple curves of this country for a reason, and maybe that reason wasn’t exactly for us to build giant plaster dinosaurs off of Route 66, but the fact is they are there now, and it’s part of what gives this place its weirdo charm. Part of the feeling of freedom we have in this country is that we have so much freedom to roam, like the bison of old, hopefully minus the Native Americans herding us off cliffs. There’s a special feeling of traveling thousands of miles and still knowing you’re a citizen of this land, of being in a completely different environment but still having a sense of belonging. And if you do make that trip, extra points for spotting a bald eagle!
4.) The people. These people are crazy. We’re insane. But we know it. We own it. We even love it a little bit. It’s probably why America is so obsessed with Hollywood and social networking. We love hearing about each other and what crazy-ass thing we’re going to do next. It makes us feel better about ourselves. It makes us feel better about people in charge. Yeah, Obama isn’t doing all that he promised in his campaign, but my god, at least he isn’t fucking up as much as he could be! Look at that guy over there! (points to Charlie Sheen) It makes us feel better about each other. We love a good heart-warming story. How about when that couple died holding hands? We shared the shit out of that. It’s because, in this backassward country, we know we have each other, for better or worse, to keep each other company. We all have something in common, whether it be something small, like our skin color, or large, like our hopes, our dreams, our values. The beauty of this country is that we all share something fundamental: none of us, not one of us, originated here. Not really. Even the Native Americans’ ancestors migrated over the land bridge. Isn’t there something really cool about that? Here in this place, together, we’re all just passing through.
5.) Because it’s yours. It’s kind of like having an annoying little brother that you’re constantly making fun of but the second anyone else does you’re ready to punch them out because you’re the only one who’s allowed to say anything bad about him. You are American. Either you were born here, or you hold citizenship, or you consider yourself to be American. There’s no use hating yourself for what you can’t help. Embrace the good things and fight against the shitty things that can be helped. Rock that vote. Don’t bitch about landfills but then throw cigarettes into the ground water. You’re no better than those non-Americans who rail against how shitty America is but then worship American music and clothes. Like Freud and his cigar, sometimes it’s okay to just be who we are, and not search for any deeper meaning. Of course Michele Bachmann is an idiot. Of course we’ve committed atrocities in the Middle East (among other places). Of course some idiot in Europe is going to expect you to answer for this when you layover in Paris next year. Learn the lesson now: do not mistake a foreign accent for [necessarily] intelligence, and kindly tell them that America is a big place, and our political leaders and civilians do not necessarily represent you.
If they still crush your soul with their advanced knowledge of the world, comfort yourself with this tid-bit:
Yeah, you won’t find us producing authentic champagne, but fuck it! We make bourbon! Bottom’s up!
About Mary: Mary Milliken is a painter, writer, and freelance videographer working in New York City. Her current stomping ground is Brooklyn, but she’s always road tripping somewhere. She often gets fixated on food, vintage clothing, creating diverse playlists, photography, the outdoors, traveling impulsively, and interesting people. Mary is known for her relentless sarcasm, speaking almost exclusively in quotes from movies and TV shows no one has seen, and an encyclopedic knowledge of things that would be useless in the event of a zombie apocalypse.
She can be found at http://memilliken.wordpress.com/