The shameful cultural admissions list started over at Scott Pack's blog spread like wild-fire eventually finding it's way to the Guardian's Comment is Free page. Everyone and their dog had a pop at their own list including my very own, humble offering a few posts below.
On a recent post of his Scott was musing on the whole brief phenomenon,
'I don't think we can declare any lessons learned from the whole experience, but it has been great fun. Hope you enjoyed it.'
Here's what I found myself thinking. Amusement, Interest, Amazement, Confusion, Dismay, Depression and Annoyance. In that order.
The thing is it didn't take very long before some genuine spleen and bile gurgled it's way out. I HATE Shakespeare. I LOATHE Ballet. I REFUSE to ever see an Opera. I'd NEVER read Proust EVER.
It pretty soon became one big infantile, self-justifying, self-serving circle jerk of people who suddenly felt emboldened by the surging of the mob to cut loose and get their own back on all the 'cultural elites' who had spent years putting them down. It was like everyone is patting themselves on the back for sitting back with what they know and turning their noses up at anything 'difficult' or 'unpalatable', like babies and toddlers with 'yucky' food.
Particularly depressing are the comments like, 'I saw an opera in 1953 and I never want to sit through that again' and 'I did Twelfth Night at school and was so bored that it put me off for ever'. This is NOT alright. It's NOT ok to be unembarrassed about this. You CANNOT pat yourself on the back just because there are people out there like you.
Take opera. I've seen some real turds in my time. The Handmaid's Tale at the ENO for one but then I saw Tristan and Isolde at the same venue and was amazed. Janacek at the ROH blew me away too.
I've sat through some very ropey plays, particularly Shakespeare - Twelfth Night in Bath 19 years ago sticks in the mind. But then I've yet to see a bad production at the National Theatre - Measure for Measure being a real stand-out.
I've tried difficult books. Occasionally I'll admit defeat but only in the battle not the war. I'll always give something another crack, even Cormac Mccarthy! (Who knows, in my dotage I might start to appreciate his punctuationless prose) But occasionally I'll try difficult writing and perservere and it WILL pay off. A few years ago I had to read a short essay by Heidegger. First time, didn't understand a word. Second time, nope, still nothing. Third time, mmm, that was an interesting bit. I must have read that bastard essay 30 or 40 times and eventually, slowly, almost painfully, an image and an idea of such startling beauty and clarity was revealed that I can still picture vividly. I would not give up that revelation for the world. And it was bloody hard work.
So, it's not ok to say NO, NEVER, WON'T, WOULDN'T. There is such a thing as exellence and there are good reasons why these things survive. Ok, it may be a little tricky or not 'fun' or 'enjoyable' (whatever they mean - a bit like gourmet food being not as 'tasty' as crisps or Mcdonalds). No, the only NEVER allowed is that you should NEVER GIVE UP!
Here endeth the rant.