April 24, 2004

Gutterlectuals unite, down with middlebrow!

'Music makes the bourgeoisie and the rebels [come together].' - Zizek

'I am convinced of my proper grasp of some Lacanian concept only when I can translate it successfully into the inherent imbecility of popular culture.' - Madonna

Well, this is too amusing to get annoyed about, really, isn't it. Simon's right: what the piece reveals about Petridis'/ the Guardian's middlebrow orientation is very telling. I guess what excited us about Pop writing back in the day was precisely what Petridis finds laughably unthinkable now: the audacity, but the intrinsic rightness, of running theory through pop. It's another example of what I was talking about yesterday re:C4, though much more explicit in its unashamed assumption of a rigid demarcation between high and low culture, between middle class and proletariat. This is perhaps all the more surprising given Petridis' championing of art rock; although perhaps not. What was great about art rock in its original form was precisely the promiscuous intermixing of elite and popular culture, of white and black. In parallel with the music press in its pomp, art schools were the places in which the proletariat - from John Lennon through to Bryan Ferry and John Foxx - got access to the resources of high culture. The new art rock, however, is resolutely white, resolutely middle-class: a reassertion of old cultural hierarchies, not a celebration of their disentangling. It's laughable that Petridis attacks Britpop for its 'conservatism' by comparison with the 'radical' (hah!) Scissor Sisters and Franz Ferdinand. I'd be the last person to defend Britpop, but simply moving forward what you're reviving by a decade or so doesn't constitute radicalism in my book.

'Lolita and Guernica/ Did the Strand.'

Posted by mark at April 24, 2004 12:23 PM | TrackBack

Rather like Franz Ferdinand although they're doing nothing new -- they remind me particularly of That Petrol Emotion back in the early 80s, confident, unapologetic, slightly quirky white rock. It's not their fault a nozzle like Petridis has championed them.

And Petridis could've at least done a bit of research. Records as "texts"? That's so 80s. Humes and Kant? Who mentions them? They haven't updated for years....

Posted by: amblongus at April 24, 2004 06:45 PM

Petridis was trolling! It worked too - he's got the blogging skills down pat (except that tricky content bit), he'd get big hits if he ever started one...

Posted by: Tom at April 26, 2004 10:32 AM

Thank you Mr. amblongus for simply mentioning That Petrol Emotion. I've had Hey Venus (remix) runnin' around my head for a month or more and a large gaping black hole were the Name of the Band was supposed to be. Just seeing the words in print sent the synapses firing in that particular fold in my gray matter that had been long dark. Now all I have to do is track down a copy of the remix (I think still have an old tape copy of Chemicrazy that may play). Greatly Appreciated.

Posted by: Swinging Dick at April 26, 2004 07:01 PM

People from less well-off backgrounds went to art school with the sole intention of forming bands. That can’t be done these days when, like any other HE institution, art colleges are grant-free debt-generators.
Virtually every successful ‘rock’ band these days was born middle-class, serves the middle class and ends middle class, confirming the fact that these acts are just mere entertainment products with an endless list of reference points, as endless as their record collections. Anybody with intent to talk loud and say something still finds there is far more mileage in ‘dance’ or ‘hip-hop’ than the rock pigeonhole. Oh, and Franz Ferdinand’s Matinee riff edges dangerously close to Ocean Colour Scene. The bassist’s crap as well…

Posted by: Murray at April 27, 2004 02:11 PM

Murray, couldn't agree more...
someone on ILM compared FF to [smirk] Shed Seven... that's what's most irksome about them, they're not really art rock at all, just crap indie....
And what's with this being interviewed by Terry Wogan on BBC2 thing on the new single? Since when has Wogan had a chatshow on BBC2? Perhaps I'm being too literal....

Posted by: mark k-p at April 27, 2004 03:27 PM

I don't think it's about being exposed to 'high culture'. It's about being in a Middle Class environment where nobody struggles, it's about the luxury of choice. What you find out about all of the art movements, is that they were exclusively dreamed up by the bad sheep of the ruling classes...

Posted by: loaf at April 29, 2004 08:49 PM