America is the best at drinking games. I say this not because some slapdick fratboy is currently sinking the last cup on a triple-overtime game of beerpong, nor am I saying it because we lead the world in butt-chug related hospitalizations, I say it loud because our nation has mastered the greatest drinking game of all: cultural appropriation.
It’s worth noting that don’t say that word “appropriation” with the same venomous anger as others for a couple reasons:
1: I don’t believe there’s a finite amount of culture, as if it’s mined out of the core of the earth and stealing it ensures the original owner can never get it back
2: Lots of art forms, word meanings, and ideas get butchered before our very eyes. Some slowly, some over time. That is a fact of life. Just look at most memes, or the definition of the word “literally”
3: I’m white, so you can ignore the rest of this article if you like
This nation of ours is often heralded as a “melting pot”, a place where cultures can come together and blend into something homogenous and full of trans fats. Granted, I’ve never witnessed a melting pot where the ingredients involved murder each other and drive one another out of the pot in search of more landholdings, but metaphors are hard. However, this forced interaction between cultures has given us orange chicken, cronuts, the fusion taco, fortune cookies, and our greatest drinking holidays. This is because America is a nation of immigrants, and these immigrants came here with their traditions intact, allowing us to experience them. And when America discovered these traditions, it looked lovingly at its new citizens and gently yelled “WELCOME! OH, WHAT’S THAT YOU HAVE THERE? A REVERENT HOLIDAY THAT’S IMPORTANT TO YOU? NOT ANYMORE, MOTHERFUCKER! I FIXED IT WITH NACHO CHEESE.”
And that right there is how culture gets done here in the red, white, and blue. We use it as an excuse to drink until we forget which hand is our dominant hand. Now let’s take a look at a few holidays that college freshman have no understanding of but celebrate anyways.
Did some English-born member of the clergy bring religion to those heathen Irish? More than an adequate excuse to drink thick beer and molest other members of society based on the color wheel. I’m almost impressed at how our culture had taken a venerated symbol of Irish piety and turned his Catholic feast day into a day that in no way visibly represents a virtue. Is Patrick the patron Saint of broken phones, rolled ankles, or green vomit? Forgive me father, for I remembreth not.
Allow me to give you a mental image from just last year that might help to personify the supreme moral one-eighty this holiday has taken. There I sat, wobbling, spitting dip into an empty whiskey ginger whilst watching two husky women in naught but short skirts and pasties lick frosting off each others’ necks. There were eight people in that bar.
Also, both Bailey’s and Guinness are owned by a British company.
Ah yes, the glorious day that Mexico shirked off Spanish rule like Carlos Mencia shirks off accusations of joke theft from George Lopez. What a day for the whole nation of Mexico. Certainly not just the people in Puebla, at one battle, over not paying foreign debts, where they fought the French. Wait, what the fuck? Exactly the fuck. The actual day the whole of Mexico celebrates its independence is September 16th, but “el dieciseis de septiembre” is significantly harder to slur through a Jell-o shooter.
With the exception of people involved in the Californian Chicano movement, nobody even knew what the hell this holidays was for a long time. In fact, the holiday chiefly owes its popularity to beer companies in the 1980’s United States using a vaguely Latino day of celebration to shill more Mexican beer. And, in an underdog story so trashy I could cry tears of joy, people started giving a shit about it once it was tethered to booze.
Ah yes, the French tradition based on a religious tradition based around period of self-denial. The perfect way to set a good Catholic up for the Lenten season. Nothing says “hey, rail that stripper” like remembering a suffering Jesus in the desert for forty days and forty nights. I realize that Mardi Gras is chiefly an item in New Orleans, but its worthy of note mostly because of how far it misses the mark. The concept is to live it up a little, not single handedly fund the Sinaloa cartel for a month. It’s the sin equivalent of getting a sleeve tattoo to remind yourself not to get any more tattoos.
At least our butchering of Cinco has to common decency to be based off a bloody and disgusting display of human greed. But hey, anything that inadvertently celebrates the importance of female mammaries in the sustaining of human life is okay by me. The colorful beads represent respect.
I could trounce through Wikipedia for a few more paragraphs here, but I think you get the point. We as a nation will look for any excuse to vomit up an American booze labeled as another country’s booze before the sun even reaches its highest point in the sky.
And I can understand why somebody of a certain culture or faith might be a tad bit perturbed to watch something they cherish get twisted into a glitter soaked costume party of varying racism. It must be nauseating, especially because during some of these holidays people do what they do during the Olympics or the world cup. That is to say people will invariably give a five minute speech about how, somewhere deep in their bloodline, they have a relation to your home country. “My great grandfather was a pilot and he flew planes near the border. So I, like, get the Mexicans, you know?” Even I think that’s asinine. But then, here in America we always handle holidays with the same sense of delicacy as a toddler petting a bunny to death.
We welcome the colored folk into our country, bring their unique holidays to light, then monetize the living shit out of them. It’s what we do. And if that’s offensive, it’s fine, because that’s not a fate only reserved for the traditions of others. We can violently shake the reverence out of just about anything here, especially our own holidays.
Have you ever been waist deep in a pool, alcoholic beverage in hand, on a Monday afternoon and wondered, “wait, why do I have this three day weekend again?” If you have, you may begin to see what I’m getting at here. It could be Memorial Day, President’s Day, or Labor Day and it really doesn’t matter because during any of these extended weekends you’re going to have car deals, hotel deals, and meat counter deals rammed into your eyeholes while an American flag waves in the background. No exceptions.
And if you think I’m the only dimwit who could possibly get these three mixed up, consider this: A couple of years ago I posted a Facebook status that said something along the lines of “This labor day is an excellent opportunity for those who work hard during the year to get a well-deserved rest. Their livers, unfortunately, will be working triple over time.” 13 people liked my post. But 13 people also liked the comment on my post that essentially said “Except for the fact that it’s Memorial day, you dumbass.” And I did feel like an asshole, but just as many people had forgotten the difference between our special three day weekends as remembered what they were for. And that’s my point.
This might be because in modern times a three day weekend, be it for the Memorial Day, President’s day, or Labor day is marked less by “remembrance” or “respect” and more with “flip cup” or “poon tang”. If you’re a family man, get cheap hot dogs n’ buns for the kids! If you’re a hard worker check out the deals on these GMC’s! And if you’re a young adult look at all the shit we got going on in Havasu! Because I’m most certain that George Washington and his brethren would have wanted to be remembered not by their tireless hours of argumentation and deliberation in the creation of our country, but by the screamin’ deal you got on that Vegas hotel room that you’re currently snorting blow off a hooker in. After all, why would Benjamin franklin invent the “Party With Sluts” tank if he didn’t want it to be worn to Tiesto at Wet Republic? Try to explain that one away, historians.
I’m not saying that any of this can’t be construed as a way of honoring these holidays. The presidents have consistently tried to forward the progress of this country so that we may purchase thirty six beers for twenty American dollars. The Veterans fought and died abroad so that we could maintain the freedom to witness a man in a “Back to back world war champs” hat projectile vomit said beers over the length of a beer pong table. The labor movements made it so that an inebriated woman can, if she so choses, werk her ass up and down that man twenty minutes later. But hopefully you see the steady pattern here. Both with the loss of ceremony and with the vomiting.
After all of the above you may be led to believe that I find this nation’s habitual mistreatment of holidays appalling. Not so. I’m not saying what we’ve done to these holidays is deplorable, I’m saying that, if anything, what we’ve done to these holidays represents the true American spirit. That to be misused and traded for cash is the greatest form of acceptance you can ever hope to accomplish in this great nation. That drinking to things you don’t understand is giving them the warm inebriated hug they deserve.
So it is your civic duty to go out there and embrace the world with your heart, your mind, and most importantly, your liver. Now go do your part.