07w51:2 Mourning the Myth of the Cultural Elite

by timothy. 0 Comments

An ode to snobs, and a rehashing of the PR of the previous GR:

The death of the cultural elite | Stephen Moss

// Comment: Consider the demographic of people who will read and care about this peice: a self-selecting group who are interested in the High Arts to begin with. And these from the comment thread:

gingerjon Comment No. 841691 December 20 15:5 London/gbr

“Have you ever read The Good Soldier?”


It’s not as good as Seinfeld.


Alarming Comment No. 841856 December 20 17:14 Manchester/gbr

This article would have merit if those who actually created art weren’t influenced by “low” art or vice versa. There’s no barriers except in the eyes of inveterate snobs. I can only assume there’s an episode of “Grumpy Old Men take on Culture” in the offing and the writer is making his bid to be included.

Stephen Moss ends his piece with this: ‘The great majority of popular culture in the UK is worthless, moronic, meretricious, self-serving, anti-democratic, sclerotic garbage: it’s the enemy of thought and change: it should be ignored, marginalised, trashed. There I’ve said it.’

All of those epithets work for me except the ‘anti-democratic’ one. We should distinguish between ‘popular culture’ and ‘broadcast culture’, since the examples of the article come from television, and much of what’s on television (especially those abysmal reality-shows) lives up to those insults. But not ‘anti-democratic’. In fact, they are especially democratic in that they appeal to a wide audience, and the dance and song shows actually encourage people to vote with their cell phones. If anything they represent attempts at cultural democracy. If they fail aesthetically, that may just be because snobs like the author, and other self-identifying elites who are more interested in consuming the pop culture of the previous century (I mean, isn’t Beethoven the Led Zepplin of the 1810s?) have refused to participate in it and bring to it their knowledge and influence it with their taste. What you have instead is the mess of a culture being formed from scratch by people without ‘culture and taste’, making it up as they go along, and over-producing a garbage to be later sifted through an evolutionary selection; what works will survive to become the next century’s classics, while the rest will be lost as it should be.

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