New essay: The Strange Undeath of Middlebrow

Why do we still talk as though there were highbrow, lowbrow, and middlebrow art? I blame capitalism, quelle surprise, but I tried to do it in a fun way in this Hedgehog Review essay.

One response to “New essay: The Strange Undeath of Middlebrow

  1. Hi Philip,
    Could not track down an email for you, so I am going to leave my ramblings here.
    Things that came to mind in no particular order:
    – The lack or death of critics like Edmund Wilson, who was criticized for cratering to the middle class. I believe the last such critic to grace our presence was Roger Ebert. Not only was he an expert when it came to cinema, he was also very well read (his overall erudition was noteworthy). The platitude is now true that everyone is a critic, and that being the case, few stand out. The closest thing I have come across to “At the Movies” is the very popular YouTube channel “RedLetterMedia”. The channel features a few different varieties of shows where two or more men sit around and critique current cinema and films of the past. Most of the personalities the show features are film school grads and/or have some experience in the film industry. But one the big differences between the critiques one gets from RLM as compared to those that came from ATMs, is one of a more narrow, insular perspective. They critics of RLM are never able to talk about much else beyond the movie they are critiquing, unless it is part of some current Twitter controversy. There have been many times when I have watched them review a film, based on a book, and both reviewers are quick to admit not only have they never read the book, but were not even familiar with the fact that the book existed. Maybe that is no big surprise, but there are many times where they admit to not have seen movies one would expect a movie reviewer to have etched into their brains. These are not young twenty year-olds. These are men in their forties and fifties.

    On the flip side, I was recently reminded of that piece of garbage “Dead Poets Society.” I was listening to a podcast and the two hosts were wrongly going on about what a great movie it was. As I was gagging, I remembered Roger Ebert’s poo pooing of the film, so I Googled the review. The review ends with a quote by Thoreau from “Walden”.

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