Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America

Robert Hughes, Author Oxford University Press Inc $35 (224p) ISBN 978-0-19-507676-9
Euphemism, evasion and propaganda are woven into the fabric of American public discourse, declares Time art critic Hughes. In a withering, salubrious jeremiad, he lashes our ``culture of complaint'' in which seemingly everyone claims victim status and a ``cult of the abused Inner Child'' flourishes. Hughes rebukes anti-abortionists, unmasks Reaganism as a sham, and scores as regressive the politics of Patrick Buchanan and Pat Robertson. He also ridicules ``political correctness,'' pokes fun at nonsexist language and attacks the academic left for its infatuation with jargon and marginal issues and its clinging to Marxist tenets. Multiculturalism, Hughes charges, has turned into a worthless symbolic program that tends toward cultural separatism and reverse racism. He blasts Afrocentrists for their ``propagandistic'' rewriting of history. Turning to the arts, Hughes argues that the controversy over Robert Mapplethorpe's work indicates the bankruptcy of the view that art should be morally and spiritually uplifting. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/19/1993
Release date: 04/01/1993
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