Sunday, 19 December 2010

New Year's Resolution - I Vow To Join The Philistines

‘I’m sick of other people’s opinions’ - so I thought to meself as I read more on the internet the other day. You know what I mean, all the ‘comments’ after a newspaper article.
   Do you remember a time when the only other opinions on culture you heard were those of experts on the telly? Not that I recall much cultural criticism on the box in the old days, apart from Barry Norman’s verdict on the latest films. I believe there was a time when there was serious cultural discussion on TV. I say this based purely on parodies by the Monty Python team. If I saw one of those now it would probably make me yearn for a time when men smoking pipes discussed Kenneth Clarke’s ‘Civilisation’, or debated the length of teenage boys’ hair with a studio audience (cue David Jones speaking up on behalf of Youth).
   Yes, I know there’s the review show on BBC2, but I can never be bothered to stay up and watch it. Sometimes I just can’t be bothered with culture at all. Sometimes I imagine myself being the kind of bloke who goes to work every day, then home to watch telly, then to bed (not to read). And he does not write, or listen to anything but popular music.
   Actually, to go the whole hog, as they say, I imagine selling all my music, books and DVDs, and just absorbing culture via TV...watching lots of football or something. But everyone has their own cultural life, and here I am throwing the word around as if the definition was obvious. There is culture, then there is the ‘cultured’ person, as they might to be called. The cultured person reads serious books, understands classical music, and appreciates subtitled films, presumably.
   Is it any big deal nowadays to watch a subtitled film? Does it signify anything? Not as far as I’m concerned. But there are, no doubt, people who have never watched a film that they would also have to read. It’s a philistine’s nightmare when you think about it, having to read the thoughts of depressed Swedes...or philosophical French people...or stylish Italians. And just in case you think I know nothing about European cinema, I’m fully aware of the fact that there may also be films about philosophical Italians and depressed French people...but probably not stylish Swedes.
   Perhaps I could reinvent myself as the type who doesn’t watch foreign films or listen to ‘weird’ music. This could be my New Year’s resolution. After all, who would care or notice? Perhaps LJ would wonder why I put ‘The Expendables’ on our LoveFilm rental list and started reading Andy McNab books. But the thing is, I’d no longer get wound up by popular culture, would I? I’d start taking an interest in who a professional footballer is shagging, and thrill to the sight of a female celebrity showing her knickers whilst getting into a cab, courtesy of The Daily Star.
   Yes, that’s it, I will become a different person. In a reversal of the Tony Hancock scenario in which he is trying to improve himself by reading Bertrand Russell I shall lie in bed with a book by Jeremy Clarkson and a copy of Autocar magazine for reference. I’ll eagerly await the new Paul Weller album, and collect Jack Vettriano prints.
   So be warned, reader. Things are gonna change around here. I might lose you but I’ll gain a lot more hits, I reckon. After all, by default, popular subjects will be more popular, won’t they?

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