Archive for February 13th, 2012

February 13, 2012

Middlebrow

The term middlebrow describes both a certain type of easily accessible art, often literature, as well as the population that uses art to acquire culture and class that is usually unattainable. First used by the British satire magazine ‘Punch’ in 1925, middlebrow is derived as the intermediary between highbrow and lowbrow, terms derived from phrenology.

Middlebrow has famously gained notoriety from derisive attacks by Dwight Macdonald, Virginia Woolf, and to a certain extent, Russell Lynes. It has been classified as a forced and ineffective attempt at cultural and intellectual achievement, as well as characterizing literature that emphasizes emotional and sentimental connections rather than literary quality and innovation.

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February 13, 2012

Popular Culture Studies

Popular culture studies is the academic discipline studying popular culture from a critical theory perspective. It is generally considered as a combination of communication studies and cultural studies. Following the work of the Frankfurt School, popular culture has come to be taken more seriously as a terrain of academic inquiry and has also helped to change the outlooks of more established disciplines. Conceptual barriers between so-called high and low culture have broken down, accompanying an explosion in scholarly interest in popular culture, which encompasses such diverse media as comic books, television, and the Internet. Reevaluation of mass culture in the 1970s and 1980s has revealed significant problems with the traditional view of mass culture as degraded and elite culture as uplifting. Divisions between high and low culture have been increasingly seen as political distinctions rather than defensible aesthetic or intellectual ones.

February 13, 2012

Poshlost

Poshlost is a Russian word that has been defined as ‘petty evil or self-satisfied vulgarity,’ however there is no single English translation.

At more length, ‘Poshlost’ is the Russian version of banality, with a characteristic national flavoring of metaphysics and high morality, and a peculiar conjunction of the sexual and the spiritual. This one word encompasses triviality, vulgarity, sexual promiscuity, and a lack of spirituality. The war against poshlost’ was a cultural obsession of the Russian and Soviet intelligentsia from the 1860s to 1960s.’

February 13, 2012

Culture Industry

Culture industry is a term coined by critical theorists Theodor Adorno (1903–1969) and Max Horkheimer (1895–1973), who argued in the chapter of their book ‘Dialectic of Enlightenment, ‘The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception,’ that popular culture is akin to a factory producing standardized cultural goods – through film, radio and magazines – to manipulate the masses into passivity; the easy pleasures available through consumption of popular culture make people docile and content, no matter how difficult their economic circumstances.

Adorno and Horkheimer saw this mass-produced culture as a danger to the more difficult high arts. Culture industries may cultivate false needs; that is, needs created and satisfied by capitalism. True needs, in contrast, are freedom, creativity, or genuine happiness. This was reference to an earlier demarcation in needs by Herbert Marcuse.

February 13, 2012

Bathos

Bathos [bey-thos] (Greek: ‘depth’) is an abrupt transition in style from the exalted to the commonplace, producing a ludicrous effect. While often unintended, bathos may be used deliberately to produce a humorous effect. If bathos is overt, it may be described as Burlesque or mock-heroic.

As used in English bathos originally referred to a particular type of bad poetry, but it is now used more broadly to cover any seemingly ridiculous artwork or bad performance. It should not be confused with pathos, a mode of persuasion within the discipline of rhetoric, intended to arouse emotions of sympathy and pity.

February 13, 2012

Camp

plastic flamingo

kitsch

Camp is an aesthetic sensibility that regards something as appealing or humorous because of its deliberate ridiculousness. The concept is closely related to kitsch, and things with camp appeal may also be described as being ‘cheesy.’

When the usage appeared, in 1909, it denoted: ostentatious, exaggerated, affected, theatrical, and effeminate behaviour, and, by the middle of the 1970s, the definition comprised: banality, artifice, mediocrity, and ostentation so extreme as to have perversely sophisticated appeal. American writer Susan Sontag’s essay ‘Notes on ‘Camp” (1964) emphasised its key elements as: artifice, frivolity, naïve middle-class pretentiousness, and ‘shocking’ excess. Camp as an aesthetic has been popular from the 1960s to the present.

February 13, 2012

Kitsch

porcelain deer

garden gnome

Kitsch [kich] (loanword from German) is a form of art that is considered an inferior, tasteless copy of an extant style of art or a worthless imitation of art of recognized value. The concept is associated with the deliberate use of elements that may be thought of as cultural icons while making cheap mass-produced objects that are unoriginal.

Kitsch also refers to the types of art that are aesthetically deficient (whether or not being sentimental, glamorous, theatrical, or creative) and that make creative gestures which merely imitate the superficial appearances of art through repeated conventions and formulae. Excessive sentimentality often is associated with the term.

February 13, 2012

Tiny Sturgess

Paul Sturgess is an English-born basketball player for the Harlem Globetrotters. At 7 ft 7.82 in (2.3322 m) and 320 lb (150 kg), Sturgess was the tallest ever college basketball player in the US, is the tallest professional basketball player in the world, and is taller than any basketballer ever to play for the NBA. He joined the team in 2011 with fellow rookie, Jonte ‘Too Tall’ Hall, who at 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m) is the shortest ever player and is 2.5 ft (77 cm) shorter than Sturgess.

Sturgess wears a size 21 shoe. Examinations as a teenager revealed that his growth is healthy and not the result of disorder, rather he possesses familial tall stature, that is to say his height is genetic. His biological father is 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) and there are other tall members in his family although his mother is 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m) and his younger sister is 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m). Sturgess was always tall but a growth spurt between the ages of 16-17 resulted in a foot (30 cm) of height added within a single year. Sturgess enjoys playing many other sports and before concentrating on basketball also played golf and soccer.

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