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Who you calling “low?” April 13, 2011

Posted by karinshah in Uncategorized.
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“How low am I, thou painted maypole? Speak. I am not yet so low but that my nails can reach unto thine eyes?”

Hermia to Helena A Midsummer Night’s Dream (3.2.289)

 

While reading Twitter, I came upon a link to a blog and in it, said blogger was ripping apart an actress from a TV show he admires. (Because, you know, cattiness passes as wit these days.)

He went on to say that this actress’s next project was in a superhero movie, so and I quote …”now fans of low culture can see how it feels when she ruins one of their favorite characters too!” End quote.

Low culture?  I sat there for a moment, stunned. First of all, I thought maybe he’s not being derogatory, perhaps this is a term that can be used in a non-pejorative  sense. But after reminding myself of the exact meaning through Wikipedia,

 

( from Wikipedia: “Low culture is a term for some forms of popular culture. Its opposite is high culture. It has been said by culture theorists that both high culture and low culture are subcultures.

Reality television, popular music, escapist fiction, Kitsch, slapstick, camp, toilet humor, yellow journalism, pornography, and exploitation films are often cited examples of low culture.”)

I realized he did intend the term as a slam.And as an author of escapist fiction, I was part of a despised — majority.

I pondered his hypocrisy for a moment. The object of his blog was  a TV show! (Which he considered High culture I presume.)

Next, I thought, High and low culture? How last century! Are we in 2011 still bound by terms as archaic as the class system? I was in high (low?) dudgeon by this point.

And then I remembered  that panderer to the unwashed masses, Shakespeare and decided I am perfectly happy to stand with the low.

What do you think? Should these terms still be in use? Should Mr. Blogger be tarred and feathered?

Karin

 

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Comments»

1. rosemaybud - April 13, 2011

LOL Karin, the first thing I thought of was this entry in Slushpile Hell:

“….While this is a literary novel, I believe it could appeal to low-class readers.”

His response: And all the “low-class readers” will rejoice at your largess, bequeathing such a literary gift to them. I hereby nominate you as Humanitarian of the Year.

http://slushpilehell.tumblr.com/

2. authorguy - April 13, 2011

You say hypocrisy, so I’m guessing that the TV show he was panning was not Masterpeice Theater. While high and low may not be in use much, we do have the ‘literary’ v. ‘commercial’ distinction in fiction, which seems to serve much the same purpose. The snobbishness is not as obvious in the words, perhaps. Perhaps x-axis and y-axis fiction would be better, one dynamic with a limited scope, one static, in a slice-of-life sort of way.

3. karinshah - April 13, 2011

Thanks for commenting. No it wasn’t MT. I like your idea of x v. y. Though one would no doubt come to have a negative connotation. Perhaps it comes down to the need people have to feel superior by putting down others. 😦

Karin

authorguy - April 13, 2011

My thought was simply space v. time. An X-axis book is one which moves in time, but with relatively few characters involved. A Y-axis book doesn’t move or change much in time, but has a wide range of characters and settings, depicted more as a verbal equivalent of a landscape. In this model I guess the Z-axis would be alternate-history short story collections.

4. karinshah - April 13, 2011

Thanks, Saralee! I’ll have to check out slushpile hell sometime. I suspect it will raise my blood pressure though!

Karin

5. Julia Rachel Barrett - April 13, 2011

Perfect post! Yeah, who you callin’ low, buddy?!? My background is literary fiction. I have two degrees, but I write romance. Look how far I’ve fallen! Literary fiction has become so yawn-worthy over the past decade – while the romance genre has exploded with creativity and wit.
I recently had an awful conversation with some very wealthy, upscale people – they love…what is it…American Idol, a show I detest, while I thoroughly enjoyed the short-running Paula Abdul special, Live to Dance – one of the most fun and positive reality shows I’ve seen. I could tell by their responses they thought I was a complete moron – so low class as to be beneath their notice. Oh well, their loss…

6. Karin Shah - April 13, 2011

Thanks for stopping by Julia! I think it’s so interesting how people automatically make things an “us v. Them” situation. I don’t care to read literary fiction, but I view it as a genre like any other. Saying that to lit fic writers is like stabbing them in the gut.

Karin


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