In a stunningly original essay in today’s Australian, Stephen Matchett assails ” Elitist dismissal of mass entertainment as intellectual ‘prole food'”, when it is in fact, “recognisably subversive”. He’s quoting one Alan McKee, who turns out to be a fellow Brisvegan and (via Google) a colleague of mine at UQ. Reading between the lines, I suspect McKee has more to contribute than this hackneyed point (he makes a valid observation about omnivorousness and cultural capital later on), but he’s not well served by this piece.
No doubt there are people out there who still adhere to the idea of a fundamental and unbridgeable gap between art and mass culture, but I’ve followed debates on this and related topics around the blogosphere for a few years now without running into them (probably, they’re waiting for this Internet fad to pass before they get a computer). The real problem now is to articulate some sort of criteria from distinguishing good from bad that does not rely on the failed assumptions of high art.
fn1. I see this point being made all the time in cult-stud writing. No doubt it explains why the recent collapse of capitalism, in the face of withering postmodernist critiques, began in the United States, the home of mass culture.