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March 19, 2009

Snobbery Lives!

In my professional lifetime, the rigid old walls between high art and popular culture have crumbled, to the grim triumphalist satisfaction or aggrieved horror of those on either side of the divide.

But the wall lives! The New York Post's Page Six (which for those of you lamentably detached from the Post's own brand of popular culture is a gossip sheet that never appears on page 6) had an item the other day about girls clustering around the classroom doors at Columbia University in the hopes of waylaying the actor James Franco, who is attempting to obtain an MFA in writing, whether at the School of Journalism or in the English Department I know not.

When quizzed by the Post, "a Columbia rep" declined to provide any information about the situation or whether the school was "posting extra security outside his classes." Quoth the rep: "We don't comment on matters of pop culture."

Not "on student affairs" or "on obvious plants by actors' public-relations hustlers" or "on nosy inquiries from sensation-mongers." No, pop culture gets whacked once again by academic elitists. The shame.

March 19, 2009 3:12 PM | | Comments (1)


On the subject of elitist/narrow definitions of "the arts" and "popular cculture", you might also want to point to the blog of Judith H. Dobrzynski, who is commenting on the selections within the current Davos Youg Global Leader Honorees 2009.
She says "I thought it would be interesting to see who from the arts made the 2009 list, which was announced last month. It has 230 names; from the arts come... seven out of 230 from the arts."

Now that's a really odd number -- by my count there are at least 16 luminary leaders from the arts among this list.
Judith Dobrzynski lists:
1. Shen Wei, founder of Shen Wei Dance Arts, China
2. Zhang Ziyi, actress, China
3. Huei Min Lee, violinist, Singapore
4. Chris Martin, Lead singer/guitarist, Coldplay, UK
5. Gustavo Dudamel, Music Director, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Venezuela
6. Jonathan Harris, Artist/Storyteller,, USA
7. Brent Stirton, senior photographer, Getty Images, USA

She leaves out:
8. Adrian Suar - Argentinian actor/writer/producer of film and TV and founder/director of Pol-ka Productions
9. Nia diNata - Film Director, screenwriter, Indonesia
10. Kazutoshi Sakurai - leading Japanaese pop composer/musician- several bands, own record label etc etc
11. 5. Frida Giannini - designer, Gucci - Italy
12. Jens Martin Skibstead - designer, Puma - Denmark
13. Kelly Chen - superstar Cantopop singer and actress, Hong Kong
14. Roberto Bolle - former premier danseur, La Scala, Milan, now international guest ballet dancer, and model - Italy
15. Leila Lalami - author, Morocco
16. Natalia Allen - designer, USA

When I communicated with her about this, Ms Dobrzynski said that her definition of the arts was simply narrower than mine. I reckon there's more to it than that. She counts a classical violinist but not the genius Japanese pop musician/cpmposer nor the superstar Asian pop singer/actress; ignores film makers, a ballet dancer, writers and designers. Clearly "pop culture" lies beyond her definitiion of "the arts"

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