Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cultural Snobbery

There is something I don't understand, something that troubles, even annoys me. Why is it that people have to condemn as worthless the things they don't like. By all means, voice your opinion, and justify your view with criticism by why write it off altogether especially when you know full well that somebody else actually likes it.What am I on about? Read on.

I'm reading a book called "A World Without Heroes" written by George Roche. It's a book of philosophy, if you like that sort of thing, from a Christian point of view. I happen to agree with the author's world view for the most part until he comes up with stuff like this;

Talking about modern music, "...the jungle throb and infected themes of rock (music)..." So we know he doesn't like rock music and then this, "The simplest, most accurate statement of our arts is that we no longer have any. Virtually all of our best theatrical repertoire, our art, our music, our ballet, our architecture, our sculpture, our literature, is a century old and often far older...we make no art. We make daubs and junk and boxy buildings and screeches." I don't have time or space to quote more extensively, but how about this to finish, "the ghastly sounds which bombard us in this music starved age."

Let's focus on music. Many people think that the only good music is the music they like. A radio announcer I regularly listen to, always talks about how they don't make music like they used to in the 1960s and 70s. Nobody writes great songs anymore apparently. Some people enjoy listening to opera which is often sung in a foreign language and then bag heavy metal music because they say you can't understand what they are singing about. Other people criticize heavy metal because they say its monotonous but they get off on dance music. Can you tell I'm a heavy metal fan?

Bruce Dickinson is lead singer of the hugely successful heavy metal band, Iron Maiden. Bruce has arguably one of the finest voices in his genre. A classically trained opera singer who according to some cultural snobs probably crossed over to the dark side when he joined Iron Maiden. Some of the world's finest musicians, singers and songwriters have entertained us through heavy metal music.

Anyway, this was not intended to be a defense of heavy metal.

The high culture/low culture divide is an artificial distinction. Why should ballet be considered high culture and breakdancing low. Why should classical music be above rock music? Why should so called literary writing be deemed superior to so called pulp fiction? I do not accept Roche's assertion that good art, in all its forms is no longer being produced. That modern art, music and literature is rubbish. The question of what makes good art, is and always has been entirely subjective, and its not determined by popularity contests either.

Only God knows how much time we have left but I reckon Metallica's song Enter Sandman is a classic and perhaps in the future it will be recognized more widely as such. On par with Beethoven's 5th.

I guess the point of this rambling, disorganized babble is that I believe you don't have to like something to recognize that it is good, (in other words that someone else likes it.)

What is the best music genre?
hip hop/R & B
Heavy Metal
None of the above. It's a matter of opnion.
Free polls from

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