Do people think you’re elitist for the TV shows or movies you watch?
Do you defend a “guilty pleasure?”
Then you’re aware of high and low culture.
High or highbrow culture has usually been thought of as being superior and generally elegant. Movies with deep artistry. Novels with excellent atmosphere and exposition. Low or lowbrow has generally been considered junk for idiots. Reality television. Airport novels. Pop music.
But I really liked how Brett McCracken defined high and low culture in his book, Gray Matters.
He defined high culture as “that which reaches for greater heights of transcendence and truth, seeking to reveal–often in pleasurable and entertaining fashion–beauty and good honestly and with excellence.”
That’s powerful, the idea that high culture should seek transcendence, truth and excellence, no matter it’s form. That really splits the definition open, but really goes with the term “high.”
Brett defines low culture as “that which overs closer to the base or surface, incurious and uninterested in truly wrestling with truth or achieving the sublime/transcendent. It is indulgent and undisciplined, more interested in esoteric obfuscation than true discovery.”
This isn’t only about cheap laughs or thrills, but those films, books, TV shows, etc. that try to make things too hard, pridefully spinning around in circles just to appear “good” or “doing something important” or in reality, just trying to fit into what they think is a mold of something, like indie films.
I’ve seen a few movies like this, but honestly I have a hard time remembering them, because they just have the sheen of importance without really ever doing anything.
What do you think about high and low culture?