|Ok, but why is pop culture suddenly the measurement of cultural values at large? Actually, I don't think we're even talking about pop culture so much as "celebrity" culture, er, rather what's on certain tv programs in this reality tv phase. It's a fad.
Okay, let's define our terms.
Is America anti-intellectual? well first we define what we mean by America - entire population? Majority? Then "anti-intellectual". And then we define what measurements we are going to use.
Because we are looking for some overarching trend, subgroups should be discounted. yes, Asian-American culture tends to be more academics focused, and African-Americans less so (for a myriad of complex reasons we are not going to be able to get into), but those two groups make up a miniority (for now) of the total demographics.
So if we are looking for overarching, mainstream cultural memes, we need to look for sources where those memes are repeated - and then count/measure/catagorize those memes into classifications of "anti-intellectual", "pro-intellectual" or "neutral".
we also have to define what can be classified as pro or anti. I would be conservative and say that "anti" is only statements or behaviors which disparage:
* engaging in actions which require intelligence
* engaging in actions which challenge intelligence.
* individuals who pride intellectual achievement
* individuals who show interest in intellectual actions.
And the opposite for "pro" also needs to be defined.
then we need to determine our research sources. I personally think taking the most popular media - some TV, some newspapers, some magazines, and some internet - sources - based on demographics. So USA Today may be included, also People Magazine, American Idol, Gray's Anatomy, Hanna Montana, etc.
Then we try to measure the messages - we can do this by using a similar structure that the PTC used for its "TV supports extra-marital sexual activity" study - take each sentence written or stated in a period of time and dividing them into three catagories.
That would reveal some interesting results.
I do believe that it would show that in general, the assumptions for what "normal" people do are anti-intellectual. While statements about intellectuals may be supported, such a study may reveal that it is assumed "most people" find intellectual pursuits boring, weird, or effeminate.
Please be aware that these assumptions of what is "normal" are more insidious and long-reaching than any direct statements for or against anything. It is like how breastfeeding is "supported" but not really. If you were to only look on the surface at public service announcements or count up the "breast is best" posters at your doctor's office, you'd come away with "wow, breastfeeding is really supported!"
But as soon as you are actually faced with the need for support, BAM, you get the underlying REAL message, which is "well, breast is best, but really, formula/bottles is the normal way to feed babies, and it is a lot easier, and breastfeeding will just be a huge hassle and a lot of work and kind of squicky, anyway, and here is your free samples of formula, didja know you get coupons at the grocery store!"
Do not confuse lip service to something we know we are *supposed* to value, with ACTUAL valuing. Valuing something means that people will support it even in the face of competing priorities. In the stadium example (and to use opera vs sports as a proxy for intellectual vs not-intellectual - which is not a very good proxy, I do admit), why aren't opera houses considered "good investments" by state and local governments, so that they will sell $600 million in bonds to fund one? Because they know they will never make their money back, like they would for a sports stadium.