What Can I Say?

The Culture of Patriotism and Dissent

Thursday, September 25, 2003

"You want to send a message? Call Western Union," said Sam Goldwyn.

Right now, as "loyalty" and "treason" are being redefined by world events, so are cultural expressions of patriotism and dissent. From "message" pictures in the old Hollywood, to morale-building songs, to satirists' comic visions, politics and mass culture have been inexorably linked.

Click to enlarge. Boondocks strip courtesy of

Through stories from people like comedian Mort Sahl, entertainer Tom Smothers, The Daily Show's Mo Rocca, critic Molly Haskell, writer/producer Larry Gelbart, The New York Times' Frank Rich and many others, this program examines the connections between culture and country, and how the establishment has responded to the pushes against it. We'll hear history, as Frank Sinatra, preaches "tolerance" on radio at the end of World War II, and current events, as Aaron McGruder's comic strip risks being pulled from tomorrow's newspaper.

What Can I Say explores how the messages have been sent, and how they have been received by a nation often hungry for reassurance.

Additional Resources:
  • The Smothers Brothers website concert dates, audio, and info about the Smothers' Winery/Remick Ridge Vineyards
  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
  • Casey Blake Director of American Studies at Columbia University
  • Danny Goldberg articles, recommended reading and Danny’s media blog
  • Paul Buhle read about his book “Radical Hollywood”
  • The Mort Sahl Website

    Producer/Host: Sara Fishko
    Associate Producer: Jocelyn Gonzales
    Technical Director: Ed Haber
    Program Editor: Julie Burstein
  • More in:

    News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
    Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

    Leave a Comment

    Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
    Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
    Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.



    Supported by