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Thursday 11 December 2003


I posted this as a comment in vince's blog:

Ah, the role of high art in pop culture. in american movies of the 50's, when people go to see the symphony or opera, it's used as a kind of a backdrop. the symphony itself is rarely shown. often a conductor (who really is obviously not conducting) in tux waving his arms around provides the only cues that the symphony is there. the symphony atendees are wealthy. they sit up properly and siltently in straight back chairs as if they are at church. Opera and high art is not to be enjoyed, it is a duty of their class to attend.

In soviet symphony, as a contrast, high art was considered culturally valuable to the masses. They symphony would be shown in movies playing along with their real-life conductor. the views were (obviously) not wealthy and were shown enjoying the music. For music deemed "romantic" (not the era, the mood), such as one of chopin's themes, that i can't recall the name of, couples in the audience might look at each other and smile, and perhaps snuggle into each other or males might but their arms around females. the soviet movie audience is thus encouraged to enjoy the symphony, rather than see it as an eltist (and boring) symbol of the upper class.

the idea of an eltitist nature of high art in the us is a persistent one. It can show up in carol's experiences in gifted and talented programs, so that Opera is considered soemthing that an elite group would be suited to enjoy, wheras a regular group would not. Or it can show up in the anti-art rhetoric of republican senators, vowing to destroy the NEA.

the anti-high art movement has commercial roots. It's been encouraged extensively by hollywood. Radio stations, such as the mormon-owned KDFC, portray calssical music as something to fall asleep by. Miami currently has no classical music radio whatsoever. thus corporate-owned radio has no desire to broadcast lively and current high art, or in some cases, no desire to broadcast high art at all.

the reasons for this are beyond the scope of this procrastination. however, the consistent mediocrity of pop culture may be a factor. Pop culture is insipid. It is not thought-provoking. It is easier to control than a complicated and thoughtful piece of art.

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