“America” in Andy Warhol’s version

Different from the book “Andy Warhol Images” which focuses on the view of other people, Andy shows his own perspective towards America.

In this book “America”, Andy convey his idea by dividing parts and showing images. At the first part, he compares America in two different period. When the TV had not come out, life was kind of like in the dream because the only thing people could do to know more about America was to imagine; However, it was dramatically changed after the invention of TV, especially when the movie appears. Andy praises this change because people will no longer be wondering about America. “When they show you how to kiss like James Dean or hook like Jane Fanda or win like Rocky, that’s great.”(America, Andy Warhol, P11)

Then he also critiques the modern America about the lack of attention to great ideas. (America, Andy Warhol, P12)That means he thinks America is not as creative as before. Since TV has come out, people are engaging in observing but not imagining. That is the reason why there are a plenty of cases he is complaining about. For example, the idea of three shifts of eight work hours, the unfair trade of weapons and food, and the suggestion of building a huge modern bathhouses for homeless people.(America, Andy Warhol, P12-16) By the way, in another class of mine, my professor told me that I could not use the America to represent the U.S. because it would be an insult to people such as Canadians. Therefore, it does surprise me that Andy has the courage to declare the U.S is America.

As for the pictures, I haven’t got the whole meaning of the images that show in the preview part. All I can find are the people in different shapes and the heart patterns on T-shirts or plates. Andy may be a patriotic guy and that clearly fits his words. Andy loves America, “America is really the beautiful.”(America, Andy Warhol, P2)

In the second part, Andy shows whole pages of window shopping just as the title indicates. He tries to emphasize that everyone is equal when consuming products, and there are various chances for that. Just as he says, “department stores are kind of like museums.”(America, Andy Warhol, P22) He shows the consumption culture and certificates that America is a commercial empire.

In the third part which is about people. Andy gives us images of Mona Lisa, The Victory Tour, and his daily life. He would like to attract attentions on the phenomenon of half-person. Americans are so busy that they can just care about things happening right now.(America, Andy Warhol, P27) As a result, ordinary people see the celebrities as they are born to be. However, Andy holds a different view. He defines the person who is presented on the media as a half-person. What people know about the celebrities is the half-person showing on the media, but what behind the media makes the celebrities famous or fade. The images are closely attached to the idea that Andy is presenting. For example, we just know Mona Lisa as a famous painting but actually we do not know who she is. We see the Victory Tour as a great success but we do not know the Jacksons family got tight after that.

In conclusion, I don’t think the manifesto of Andy is ironic. Andy loves America and his perspective is objective. All he wants to show us is a clearly modern America with its own characteristics.

Discussing Questions:

1. According to the reading, Andy believes consumption can make us equal, do you think it is true? I just think Andy is kind of money worship.

2. Andy shows that Americans are “now” people. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of being a “now” person?



About Richard

AMS 30 Spring 2013, GSP
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6 Responses to “America” in Andy Warhol’s version

  1. juholiveiramartins says:

    I think Warhol critique this way of life that just thinks about the Now, most because it is an idea imposed by the media that try to mold people the way they think is the best. He gives example of how the magazines tries to impose the Now by publishing just things that are new, like new bands, new celebrities, new movies, new products and all these new things makes people focus about the Now because it is the only thing that is around them.
    About the consumption part, I think that it is just an idea that the media and big companies want to implant in peoples mind. I can drink a hundred cokes and I will not feel that I am the same as someone behind the screens. I think Warhol just thought that is interesting how you can make people that are so different pretend they are the same.

  2. rmkwakazono says:

    I think “America is beautiful” is an ironic way of saying that America seems perfect and beautiful but it is just a surface. In his reading, he says that we only see the good images of the U.S on TV and media. For example, American Idol makes us think we could be one of the stars on TV. In fact, there are only a few people who can be like one of them. Thus, I agree with his idea that media shows only fantasy not reality.
    However, I disagree with his idea that consumption makes us equal because we see great deal of stuff in outlet and supermarkets but not everyone can afford to buy them. Therefore, the difference of amount of stuff they have expands the economic disparity more.
    In the respect that America is now people, I think this is true because we see only the things happening right now, at the moment. The reason is everything around us pass quickly and we are busy, so we do not have much time to think about things happened in the past. This can be said that it is related to mass consumption which is the problem in the U.S and other countries. We use many resources and produce more than we need. AS the result, they are becoming less. Therefore, his reading also tells us the negative images of America.

  3. tayjern says:

    I never really thought about this concept that consumption can make us all equal until I heard about it in this class. It makes sense that both you and I could drink a Coca-Cola yet so can the President of the United States, Bill Gates, Halle Berry, and even Michael Jordon. This for some reason makes me think about economics, perhaps because of my major in Managerial Economics. I feel that if the good is an inferior good (meaning the more money you make the less you will buy of a certain good like top ramen) then you can feel connected to the rest of America. I could go to the store and buy a typical food like a box of Kraft Mac n’ Cheese, and this is something that any movie star could eat for dinner if they choose to.
    On the other hand I could also see the flaw in this theory. There are some goods that not everyone has the opportunity to buy. This makes me think that normal goods (goods that you buy more of as your income goes up example: Mac laptop or Louis Vuitton Purse) do not follow this theory. There are certain goods out there that some people will consume on a daily basis, yet not all Americans have the opportunity to consume that same good. For example, if Kim Kardashian goes to buy a new Range Rover, chances are most Americans could not just go out and buy one and therefore can not be connected or equal by consumption.

  4. jpnchudo says:

    The idea that “ consumption can make us equal” is partly true, because, as Andy suggests, we can drink a coke as other famous artists or musician do. Besides, we can buy a highly expensive car as they do if you afford to buy it. In other words, only money can help consumption make us equal. Comparing with other society of communism, the author admires this equality.
    As for the likeness of people in the U.S for “right now”, Andy Warhol think negatively of this trend. He claims that American people likes “right now” better than people in any other countries , the number of the new things happening today on media such as TV and magazines is so numerous that they don’t have enough time and energy to keep in mind the past and predict what will happen in the future. Therefore, they can only think about “now”. When I got this idea of “Now”, I remembered what my professor criticized about this way of thinking. She stated that people in the U.S like “Now” and as a result, they are unlikely to think about the effect that is produced by what they are doing “now”. So, they tend to throw away many things, not thinking about the future landfill. I think this is creating a great deal of problems in the U.S such as over consumption.

  5. soojinsim says:

    I think the reason why Andy Warhol claimed that consumption can make us equal is that if someone drink Coca-Cola, this would make everyone equal in that everyone drink the same Coke. One can be the same person as president or celebrities in that we drink the same brand coke.Therefore, consumption can make people equal, and people can regard consumption as democracy. However, as many of the critiques said, in my opinion, it’s not a complete equation. It’s because, even though the Coca-Cola is pretty cheap but still, there will be someone who can’t even access to drink it and not available to buy one. Even one dollar Coca-Cola isn’t a complete equation, how about other commodities? The general idea that consumption can make us equal can’t be applied to most of commodities. Not everyone can access to buy Mac laptop and Chanel bag. Even though one can drink Coca-Cola as president does, still, it’s unequal in that one can’t buy most of things that president has.
    For the second question about being a now person, Andy Warhol claimed that Americans are “now” person. This means that people in America is always pursue “now” things, they prefer the most recent ones, and always want to updated and upgraded ones. I think the advantage of being a now person is that as people want “now”, they desire to develop things and this leads to an improvements. Therefore, there are many outstanding improvements and fast developments compared to other countries. Then, for the disadvantage of being a now person is that one can ignore the step stone to their improvements and might easier to disregard the importance of past things. Also, there will be too much consumption and all the things that people throw away to be “now” would be hard to get rid of in the future.

  6. I want talk about the second discussion question. Being a “now” person is like a “double-edged sword”. People are chasing the newest things, this contributes to the development of the society , technical products and other things. It is the desire that push forward all the new invention and creation. However, on the other hand, I believe the disadvantage of being a “now” person is more than the advantage of it. First, thinking only about “now” makes us ignore many things, everything is changing in ever single minute, there are too many things and if we only look at the latest one, we would lose the chance to enjoy the process of how things changing. Second, being a “now” person means forgetting the past and not thinking about the future. This is what I cannot image, past the future are as important as now to all of us. We gain experience from past and we make plan for future, if we only focus on now but not consider about the experience from past and what would be the results in the future, the consequence would be terrible. Last, because of the existence of “now” people, new but similar things are producing and selling. I would say this is a waste, new product comes out and improves only a little or even not improve at all and people pay more money on it. In conclusion, the “now” person is a “double-edged sword” and it has both advantages and disadvantages, it contributes to the development but causes much waste.

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