I don’t know much about Cultcha, but…

by Stephen Tall on January 25, 2011

When it comes to ‘Cultcha’ I generally count myself eclectic. Like most people, I like a mix of high- and low-brow music, books, films etc.

I finished The Finkler Question over Christmas (which I guess counts as high) and am coming to the end of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (which I guess counts as low). Both are enjoyable in very different ways. On Friday night, I watched the Danish Dance Theatre at Oxford’s Playhouse, before checking into The Cellar for the impressive debut gig of the Beat-Seeking Missiles, a ‘garage surf beat punk combo’. And why not?

Arts coverage in the media today reflects this personal taste hotch-potch. It is, I suspect, one of the consequences of the rise of social media: as we all update our Facebook status, or tweet our latest brain-missive, with our off-the-cuff thoughts on what we’re watching or reading, we suddenly realise with a sigh of relief that we’re not the only ones who switch comfortably between high- and low-brow.

The guilt of watching and liking X-Factor is lessened by the knowledge that so do many journalists and celebrities — and, hey, if that’s also their idea of a fun, then perhaps putting your feet up in front of the telly on a Saturday night isn’t so un-cool after all.

It makes a pleasant change from being culture guilt-tripped by broadsheet supplements of ‘Books of the Year’, where authors/slebs/telly-dons et al wankily list hundreds of books we know deep down even if we bought we’d never quite get round to reading.

Of course it’s good to be challenged, to be stimulated and provoked; and it’s generally the case that ‘high-brow’ does that better than ‘low-brow’. But not everything that’s good has to be hard work; and certainly not everything that’s hard work is good.