Just finished Bad or the Dumbing of America by Paul Fussell. Whew, is he scathing. He says:
Actual American life as experienced by most people is so boring, uniform or devoid of significant soul, so isolated from traditions of the past and the resonances of European culture, that it demands to be raised and misinterpreted as something wonderful. For example, if a town has no restaurant worth entering, it is some comfort to cooperate with the restauranter in the game -- taking seriously the pompous illiterate menu, the fraudulent French, the balletic wine service, all the clumsy imitations of the real thing.
If a town has no beauty, distinction or charm, and is really popluated only by money-grubbers, philistines and self-satisfied provincials, it is a comfort to cooperate with the pretensions of the local 'art gallery'-cum-gift shop and to acquire its hidous mass-produced sub-sculptures as if they were 'works of art.'