Accessibility links

Breaking News

AMERICAN MOSAIC - June 7, 2002: Who Is Uncle Sam / Digital Movies / Country Music Awards - 2002-06-06


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.


This is Doug Johnson. On our program today we:

Play some songs that won awards from the Academy of Country Music ...

Answer a question about Uncle Sam ...

And report about a new way to make movies.

Digital Movies


Most people who enjoy movies do not really care how they are made. They want to enjoy a good story. Movie producer and director George Lucas wants people to see the best made movie possible. So, his latest Star Wars movie was made without using film. Shep O'Neal explains.


“Star Wars: Attack of the Clones” was made using digital cameras. A digital camera does not use traditional film. It captures an image on videotape. The images recorded on videotape are then placed in a computer.

George Lucas says that using digital cameras permits him to have much more control over the final product. For example, the image can be changed after it is placed in a computer. An expert can change color, add or take out objects, add people or beings who are not real.

Much of what is seen in the new Stars Wars movie is not real. Huge buildings, spacecraft and alien beings from other worlds were produced in a computer. The effects then were added to each part of the movie.

Movie experts say digital technology is the real future of the motion picture industry. A theater will no longer have to wait days or weeks to show a new movie. Theaters will be able receive copies of new movies by linking computers. Or they will use small computer disks to get a copy of the movie.

When the new Star Wars movie was released last month, only ninety-four theaters around the world had the digital equipment needed to show it. So Mister Lucas’ company produced about six-thousand copies of the new digital movie on traditional film for release in most theaters. However, most people who have seen the movie say these film copies are a much better quality than other filmed movies.

Critics say the new digital technology is very costly. Many theater owners will not buy the new technology…yet.

Many of the people who worked on the new Star Wars movie say they would not like to work with film again. They said using digital equipment was faster, and videotape is much less costly than film. One cameraman said the director of a movie can immediately see what was just recorded, something impossible to do with film.

Those who have worked with the new digital method of making movies say the new Star Wars movie is only the beginning. They say movies may quickly become all digital.

Uncle Sam


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Indonesia. Franky Tan asks why the imaginary man called Uncle Sam is linked with the United States.

Uncle Sam is a fun name for the United States government. The drawing of a man called Uncle Sam is used to represent the federal government on large signs called posters. His name, Uncle Sam, uses the same first letters as the words United States—a “U” and an “S”.

History experts are not really sure how Uncle Sam was created or how he was named. However, some say the name was first used on supply containers during the War of Eighteen-Twelve.

People in the northeastern city of Troy, New York think they know the true story. They say that Uncle Sam was a person named Samuel Wilson. Many people in Troy believe that Mister Wilson is linked to the first use of the term “Uncle Sam” to represent the United States.

This is their story:

Samuel Wilson worked as a meat packer in Troy during the War of Eighteen-Twelve. He often was called Uncle Sam because he was so friendly and fair. Mister Wilson supplied large amounts of meat to the Army. The meat was sent to the troops in rounded wooden containers. The barrels were marked with the letters “U S” to show they were meant for the government. Someone suggested that the letters represented “Uncle Sam” Wilson. The idea that the meat came from “Uncle Sam” led to the idea that Uncle Sam represented the federal government.

Samuel Wilson did not look like the drawing of Uncle Sam. The most famous drawings show him dressed in clothes showing stars and stripes. They appeared in political cartoons. Famous newspaper cartoonist Thomas Nast produced many of the earliest drawings of Uncle Sam in the eighteen thirties.

In the twentieth century, Uncle Sam was shown with a short white beard, high hat and long-tailed coat. The single most famous picture of him is a large sign painted by James Montgomery Flagg in about nineteen-seventeen. Its aim was to influence young American young men to go into the army during World War One. It shows Uncle Sam pointing his finger. Above him are written the words “I Want You.”

Congress approved Uncle Sam as an official representation of the United States in nineteen-sixty-one.

Country Music Awards


The Academy of Country Music presented its awards last week. It is the thirty-seventh year the Academy has honored people who create country music. Mary Tillotson tells us about some of the winners.


The awards presented at the ceremony included Entertainer of the Year, Top New Male Singer, Top New Female Singer and Top Country Video.

One singer-songwriter won three awards -- top male singer, song of the year and single record of the year. The artist is Alan Jackson. He was honored with the three awards for a special song he wrote following the terrorist attacks on the United States in September. It is called “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?”


The Academy of Country Music named a movie soundtrack as the Album of the Year. It is “O Brother Where Art Thou?” from the movie of the same name. One song from that album won the Top Vocal Event of the Year award. We leave you now with that song, “I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow.” The Soggy Bottom Boys sing it.



This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. And I hope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

Remember to write us with your questions about American life. We will try to answer them on future programs. Listeners whose questions are chosen will receive a Random House Webster’s College Dictionary.

Send your questions to American Mosaic, Special English, Voice of America, Washington, D.C. two-zero-two-three-seven, USA. Or use a computer to e-mail your question to Please include your name and postal address. This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by Nancy Steinbach and Paul Thompson. And our producer was Caty Weaver.