Friday, 28 February 2014

Am I Cultured?

The Sunday Times is a huge British newspaper that is published every Sunday (obviously) and takes approximately a month to read. You need to have worked out at the gym for months to be able to carry the bloody thing home.

And when you get home you open it up and it consists of section upon section of news, business, sport, money, fashion and many other subjects.

One of those magazines is a newspaper in its own right called “Culture”.

I always try to read this magazine – mainly because it has details of what is on TV over the coming week. However, there is a lot more to it than just TV listings.

The “Culture” magazine has articles on the latest books, music, movies, art, ballet, opera – you name it, “Culture” probably covers it.

Nevertheless, the subjects are genuinely more high-brow – or “cultured” if you like.

Take the movie reviews, for example. You may have read my last post about movies, in which I sang the praises of superhero films, comedy films and action thrillers. Such movies barely get a mention in the Sunday Times; the reviewers opt to cover more cultured movies – for example Lincoln, a film I absolutely slated in my previous post.

And this leads me to ask the question – am I cultured? Or am I just a boorish philistine with shallow views who scoffs at profound and deep meaning in books, music and entertainment in general.

You might agree, if you are a regular reader. I have insulted opera, Shakespeare and modern art in this blog and I can imagine that a “cultured” individual, who loves opera and cries whenever he sees a rousing Shakespearean speech while appreciating a vomit stain on the walls of the Tate Gallery, might roll his eyes, shake his head and dismiss my, in his eyes, shallow views on such erudite art forms.

As far as films are concerned, I know what I like and to be honest I don’t really care whether people think I am a philistine for preferring movies that don’t bore me to sleep.

The same goes for books and music. Many years ago I was intrigued by the fact that Salman Rushdie had had to go into hiding because of a book he wrote. Somebody offered me the chance to read one of his novels, some years after that. It wasn’t The Satanic Verses, the book that got him into so much trouble. I can’t recall which one it was – I think I have blocked it from my memory.

Why? Because it was awful.

Now I am sure that people regard the books of Mr Rushdie as cultured but I hated my one and only foray into his imagination. The same can be said about other books that are meant to be magnificent works of art and “must reads”. I have tried a few and been completely bored with them.

Does this mean I am a philistine? Does the fact that I would rather read a Stephen King novel make me an uncultured barbarian when it comes to literary (so-called) masterpieces?

As regular readers know, I despise and detest contemporary art and the insipid pseudo-intellectual arguments like “it is breaking new ground” or “it’s not been done before” to justify an absolutely horrific load of shit masquerading as art hanging on the walls of a modern art museum. So-called cultured people fawn over these pieces of excrement describing them in the most colourful words and phrases that in reality mean absolutely nothing.

The fact that I do not believe the words they are using to try to describe what the artist was trying to achieve makes me, in their eyes, an uncivilized savage compared to them.

And what about music?

Such people love the fact that I listen to rock music and sing its praises because it confirms my standing as an uncouth monster that lacks any intelligence or taste.

Except I don’t lack intelligence at all and I love to prove this to pseudo-intellectuals whenever I get the opportunity.

In my view, progressive rock is the new classical music. Such music is technically brilliant and comes from the minds of geniuses. The instrumentation is perfect and the songs are mini symphonies. Take another genre I am currently enthralled by: symphonic rock. Artists such as Nightwish prove that orchestral music and heavy metal can be made to complement each other.

Here is an example which proves that what is essentially a heavy metal band can produce a wide range of musical styles, in this case an instrumental orchestral piece. Even if you hate heavy metal please press play – because this will surprise you and hopefully amaze you:

So am I cultured?

If being cultured means being a pseudo-intellectual making up bullshit about a pile of bricks in the middle of a room – then no!

If being cultured means buying and reading a book by an author who is vastly overrated and only gets reviews in the Sunday Times – then no!

If being cultured means pretending that I like a film like Lincoln because it won Oscars – then no!

If being cultured means not buying the music I love because “heavy metal” is the music of thugs and savages – then no!

If being cultured means raving about Shakespearean actors performing Hamlet in Stratford-upon-Avon – then no!

If being cultured means sipping an expensive wine instead of my favourite pint of bitter – then no!

I hate modern art; I prefer Stephen King novels to boring Sunday Times bestsellers; I love my no-brainer action movies and not boring Oscar winning nonsense; I buy the music I love whether it be heavy metal, pop music, progressive rock or classical symphonies;

And Shakespeare is STILL rubbish!

I personally think that culture is an individual quality. If you are happy with your opera, Shakespeare, Rushdie or even framed vomit-stains on a wall in a museum full of junk masquerading as art – then that’s fine by me. Just as long as you don't pretend to love them just to appear cultured.

I regard myself as cultured – and you are too (unless you are a pseudo-intellectual in which case you are a pretentious arse).

Do you agree, dear reader? 

Do you think I cultured or am I a philistine?

Do you think you are cultured? 

If not, why not?


jeremy north said...

Excellent question PM.

I agree with your summation, that liking all that middle class crap doesn't constitute 'Culture'

I love classical music, including opera. I think it enriches my existence, but I love also rock music. I don't think that prig is the new classical though. Just adding some keyboards is not enough.

I was talking to a friend today about something similar. We concluded that if art has to be explained, then it has failed. Shakespeare may have been funny in its day but now it either needs to be translated into modern english or left in a museum.
Similarly with films or other art forms. Lincoln for example seems to me to be lacking in substance but over wordy. I hate it when people analyse films for sub text and come out with all those psycho babble words like the 'narrative arc' etc. Kermode is a pretentious twit. Actors are just people pretending to be some one else yet they bleat on about how draining it is.
Poetry, don't get me started...

I think being cultured has to be how you treat other people. Many who consider themselves cultured, look down on others, just as the Pharisees saw themselves as superior.

I always laugh that some feel superior because they can speak french, yet go to a scummy suburb of a french city and you'll find three year olds who can speak it much better.
Most 'culture' is just an affectation.

More to follow ...

Drb said...

No, Mr PM, if you are not a a tub of yoghurt, you are not cultured.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Jeremy,

Excellent comment, if you don't mind me saying so.

Personally, I hate opera - I think it ruins classical music - BUT that is my opinion and I respect the fact that you love it.

That's an excellent point about "art having to be explained". If you go to the Tate then you will undoubtedly spot somebody trying to do just that. Art, to me, is personal. If you like, you like it. If you don't you don't . Same with music - same with books.

Poetry? Please start, Jeremy - please!!!!




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi DrB,

I am most definitely NOT a tub of yoghurt (though some people may consider me such).




River said...

Culture is over rated. I certainly don't want to read books where I need a dictionary or thesaurus to understand every second word, nor do I wish to listen to music where the notes shatter light bulbs and the words cannot be understood. High brow movies? Meh, give me a good action thriller anytime. Give me real people who don't look down their noses at me because I don't buy a complete new wardrobe every season.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

We are kindred spirits. I totally agree with your comment.




Jackie K said...

No, you are not a philistine, although you are wrong about much of Shakespeare, sorry. (Some of it is not great - he was too prolific to be great all the time).
We like what we like - we can't all like the same stuff, no bearing on intelligence at all.
I have always loved books and art, but the older I get funnily enough the less patience I have with some of the "culture" you're talking about, and I find these days I often discard that part of the paper without reading it, which my younger self would be quite surprised at.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Jackie,

I don't mind people liking Shakespeare, I just don't like his work myself. To be fair it is the realm of pseudo intellectuals to look down on people because of what they like. Most normal people don't care.




Chris X. said...

Dear PM,

I consider myself terribly cultured.

I am well read and educated.

I hate Shakespeare (sooo overrated).

I hate Jazz (a syncopated cacophony of dissonant chaos)

I love metal.

And so on...

In my observation being considered "cultured" and/or "intellectual" is a case of the King's new clothing. Essentially, if you don't meet the criteria you are, of course, a plebeian and can attach to oneself any number of similar class-ridden pejorative adjectives.

The definition of "culture", "cultured" and "intellectual" is defined by a small group of elitist, privileged, inadequate and insecure people who would like to keep the great unwashed and uneducated masses (i.e. you) out of their controlling pseudo-aristocratic pretentious diminutive club.

...and I said all that without resorting to very colourful and sexually explicit metaphor. WOW!

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Chris,

Don't get me started on Jazz!

We, too, are kindred spirits.