Stevenson Brittany Stevenson Ms. Betts ENGL 1102 – C 5 February 2008 The “New” American 1 I pledge allegiance to Paris Hilton, the United States of Nicole Richie and to the republic for Britney Spears, one nation under Lindsay Lohan, indivisible with Hollywood and justice for all. It seems this is the pledge most Americans are singing today, whether they are reading, seeing or hearing about young, hot Hollywood. Apparently almost everyone has forgotten that at one time the biggest celebrities in this country were James Madison, Sam Adams, and George Washington. The meaning of being a true American can mean many different things to everyone in this country. In my opinion, people that are considered to be American today are those who stand in line at the supermarket reading the latest celebrity gossip, while talking loud enough on their newest cell phones for half the store to hear, making plans to pick up the newest “biggie sized” meal with friends before people watching at the mall. I can not help but notice the key word being “new”. Everyone today wants the latest and greatest of everything from cell phones to clothes and they never once stop to realize that the last ten topics to spill out of their mouths have been about the newest celebrity gossip. I feel that Hollywood influences people today so much that to be a “true” American, one almost has to know what is going on in every celebrity‟s life just to be a part of the country‟s pop culture. First, I believe that in order to be a true American, people have to read the latest celebrity gossip. An interest in celebrities has become such an enormous part of culture today, that it is almost becoming dangerous. The paparazzi or “stalk-arazzi” as they are commonly referred to as Stevenson these days, literally stalk celebrities waiting to get the perfect shot that will get printed in all the 2 magazines. This sick obsession people have with celebrities and their personal lives are what sell the tabloids and allow Americans to have a new pass time along with giving them something to do especially standing in line at the grocery store. People are concerned when their favorite celebrities get in an accident caused by the paparazzi, but they never stop to realize that the pictures of the accident they are looking at were taken by other paparazzi that were stalking their favorite celebrity. According to psychologist Lynn McCutcheon from DeVry University in Florida, “A third of people reportedly suffer from Celebrity Worship Syndrome, a fascination in the lives of the rich and famous that can become a dangerous addiction.”(par. 1) This obsession for many people is becoming a daily part of Americans‟ lives and is slowly taking over people‟s daily conversations that they have with all the other celebrity obsessed people they know. Water cooler conversation has moved from the weather to whether the Mandesa or Sanjaya should be voted off “American Idol” that week. All in all, I feel that in today‟s society, to be a true American, one must read all the latest celebrity gossip and know what is happening in their favorite celebrity‟s life. Next, to be a real American, a person must have the latest technology that is available. Cell phones have become a large part of American culture and when the newest phones become available, everyone feels as if they need to have it in order fit in or to be better than the next American citizen that always have the latest technology. For instance, when the Iphone came out, people literally waited outside the store days before the phone was even released. This fascination with the newest technology has become so overwhelming that people are willing to spend thousands of dollars on materialistic items like cell phones and Ipods just to prove that they are successful enough at what they do to afford these pricy items. While these Americans Stevenson 3 are waiting outside the nearest Best Buy, attempting to purchase the newest phone available, they forget that they are already successful in their community because of the job they have now decided to miss a day of for that “special” phone that they do not need. Technology has taken over American culture in recent years to the greatest extent possible. According to Andrea Runyan, “The range of things that „only people‟ can do is getting smaller.” (Runyan 1). Today, there is technology out there that will do almost anything from vacuuming the floor for people to robots that will actually interact with humans on a friend level. As scary as the thought of having a robot as my friend in 20 years might sound, Americans are enjoying the fact that they can sit on the couch watching the “Oprah” show while their technology-friendly vacuum cleans the house for them. As a result, to be a real American, people feel as if they need the latest technology available to fit in to this ever changing society. Finally, what makes the “new” American so new is the motto “Bigger is Better” and being nosey does not hurt either. Everything is not just bigger in Texas anymore, every materialistic item in the country is bigger these days. People today feel as if they are not as good as the next person if they do not have everything their neighbor has. In the 1980s the bigger the hair was, the better; however, in today‟s times, everything is bigger from bank accounts and cars to food. Most people decide to pick up the newest biggie sized meal from the closest fast food restaurant, like McDonald‟s, rather than cook. If they do not have to cook, that gives them more time to “people watch” at the local mall. In today‟s society, being nosey is a part of our culture, and I am not referring only to prying into celebrities lives, but the lives of everyone around us too. While people eat their biggie sized meals, paid by with their flashy new credit card which holds all the money in their big bank account, they tend to eavesdrop on the conversation of the couple next to them. It seems the biggie sized meal has replaced a home cooked meal altogether Stevenson in some peoples lives and they are not doing anything to stop it. I feel this is happening because being an American, people do not think twice about the amount of calories they are putting into their mouths because if they are not busy people watching with their friends and food, they are 4 eating it in their car trying to get to the next stop in their busy day as fast as they can, never once realizing that they just ate a double cheeseburger, extra large fry, and a jumbo sized Coca-Cola. Therefore, the mind set of many Americans today is that every aspect of their lives has to be bigger and better than the person standing next to them in the McDonald‟s line. In conclusion, the view of what a true American is has definitely changed over the course of several years. People have moved from talking about political figures like James Madison to public figure like Paris Hilton. When people hear the word American, I am sure numerous amounts of American citizens think patriotism and loving their country, but to me, the new American is someone who can tell me more about their favorite celebrity‟s life than their own, or a person who has the newest cell phone and other technical logically advanced items available. Another aspect of what I consider to be a true American is someone who has everything biggie sized, and I do not just mean their food. America is changing drastically as the years go on, and I am hanging on for the ride hoping one of those big bank accounts people brag about will bust open and spill into mine. Stevenson 5 Works Cited McCutcheon, Lynn. "Celebrity Worship Addictive." Fairfax Digital (2003). 27 Jan. 2008 <http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/08/14/1060588497208.html>. Runyan, Andrea. "Technology Taking Over Human Functions?" The Stanford Daily (2005). 27 Jan. 2008 <http://daily.stanford.edu/article/2005/4/28/technologyTakingOverHumanFunctions>.