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Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Houston Lacks Culture

Perhaps it’s the comparison to nearby New Orleans that does it, or the fact other Texas cities have more obvious and iconic histories, but Houston stuffers from a stereotype that it has no culture. Despite being the fourth largest city in the country, Houston doesn’t get the respect the other major metropolises do. No one would dare accuse New York or Chicago or even LA of not having a culture. Yet, Houston is constantly being dragged down as not having the culture to stand up with the big cities.

This is partly, of course, because Houston is new to the big city club. Until the 1960s, it wasn’t even in the top ten largest cities in the country. Like other cities in the Sun Belt, it has enjoyed steady growth over the last several decades as people flee their big, cold northern cities for sun and better economic opportunities.

This has left Houston without the long, storied history that comes with having been a major metropolis for more than a century. Compare Houston to Detroit, which is quickly tumbling down the list of US cities as the population flees. There are fewer than a third of the people in Detroit that there are in Houston, and yet, because of its history, no one would say that city lacked a culture.

At the same time, Houston has lacked a big venue to prove itself to the country as a place of culture. How many movies or TV shows get made in Houston? Very few. How many songs are recorded in Houston or are about Houston? Few if any. Houston simply doesn’t get the positive depictions nationwide that other cities do.

Despite all the reasons listed above, Houston deserves a better reputation. There’s plenty going on in this city to deserve a better representation. We have artists, great musicians, and tons of interesting people doing great, creative things with our city. We have hair stylists trying new ideas out. Really, there is plenty going on in Houston that could prove the city is a place of culture, and culture that is uniquely Houstonian.

The question shouldn’t be whether we have culture, it should be how do we show it off. The answer, I think, is to get more of those positive depictions given to other cities to take place here. Dallas, after all, has had a big TV show. Why not Houston? We should encourage TV and filmmakers to shoot films here by offering generous incentives. The more our fellow Americans see our skyline on TV and in film, the more they’ll consider it as iconic as the other big cities. The same should be done for the music industry. Why is Nashville the center of all things country? Houston is a bigger venue, surely some musicians would want to come down here and cut a record or two. Or, better yet, we should work to get some of our homegrown musicians played more often on the radio. And we should encourage those who come from our city to speak up more about it, to tell people all there is to love about Houston.

This is a city with as much culture as anywhere else. We just need the chance to show it off.

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