Kitsch City, U.S.A.
Travel Blog • Sophia Dembling • 06.05.09 | 10:32 AM ET
I certainly understand why some readers took exception to my assertion in a recent post that Las Vegas is among the must-see sights for Americans. Vegas is, indeed, a very silly place. But that silliness is what makes me love it—I have a very deep affection for all things kitschy, and Vegas is an entire kitsch city.
Webster’s defines kitsch as “something that appeals to popular or lowbrow taste and is often of poor quality”—as if that’s a bad thing.
Kitsch brings me great joy. It makes me laugh and buy snow globes and refrigerator magnets that I treasure forever (specifically, a snow globe from Weeki Wachee Springs and a Liberace refrigerator magnet.). And Flyover America is a veritable gold mine of kitsch, from the large (Las Vegas, Mount Rushmore) to the pocket-sized (jackalope postcards).
I have visited Graceland three times. I’ve been to the Tupperware Museum of Historic Food Containers (R.I.P., although there is still a Tupperware store at the company’s Orlando, Fla. headquarters). I’ve had my photo taken as the nose for an enormous replica of Buddy Holly’s glasses in Lubbock, Texas (although that might actually be too cool to be bona fide kitsch), alongside a sculpture of a giant peanut in Durant, Okla., and with a roadside cautionary Smokey Bear.
I will drive miles out of my way to pay respects to good kitsch, as this photograph of me worshiping the Man of Steel in Metropolis, Ill. attests. This photo op required a rather long detour on a road trip from Dallas to Chicago. But really, who could resist?
Are you a kitschaholic too? What’s your favorite Flyover America kitsch? I’ll go out of my way to see it.