David Brooks spent his most recent column discussing the sad degeneration of American culture, thanks to an upsurge in self-aggrandizing behavior in recent years.
[T]here is some evidence to suggest that Americans have taken self-approval up a notch over the past few decades. Start with the anecdotal evidence. It would have been unthinkable for a baseball player to celebrate himself in the batter’s box after a home-run swing. Now it’s not unusual. A few decades ago, pop singers didn’t compose anthems to their own prowess; now those songs dominate the charts.
A few decades, you say. Here’s a brief timeline of some American cultural milestones, reaching back more than a few decades, to the era of self-effacing athletes and humble pop singers:
1932: Babe Ruth, taunting the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, points at the outfield and hits a home run.
1956: Chuck Berry releases “Roll Over Beethoven.”
1961: David Brooks is born.
1963: Jimmy Piersall runs the bases backward to celebrate his 100th home run.
1963: Dick Dale releases “King of the Surf Guitar.”
1964: Cassius Clay defeats Sonny Liston and shouts “I’m the greatest” in the ring.
1969: Frank Sinatra releases “My Way.”
1969: Joe Namath predicts victory in Super Bowl III.
1970: James Brown releases “Super Bad.”