In an interview in The Observer, the art critic Robert Hughes defines and justifies his elitism thus: "I prefer the good to the bad, the articulate to the mumbling, the aesthetically developed to the merely primitive, and full to partial consciousness."
Which sounds pretty convincing, until you realise that he's probably never enjoyed that sinus-clearing rush you get from dancing badly to some gloriously stupid punk record. There is a place for creative stupidity in the aesthetic universe. But how do we define it? Are some stupidities (the Ramones?) better than others (Crazy Frog?) and, if so, why?
And while we're on the subject of pop music that Australian art critics in their late 60s probably wouldn't like: shortly before Christmas, at a party thrown by my dear friends Bui and Simon, I met a very smart and articulate young man who'd just that day graduated from USC. We got talking about music (duh) and he confirmed something that I'd suspected for some time.
"I've never heard any Joy Division," he said, "but I hear all these bands that apparently sound like them, so I think I know what they sound like."
If anybody, despite my incessant, tedious harangues, still hasn't got the hang of Baudrillard's notion of the simulacrum, that's a pretty cogent example of it.
Coming Soon: The Chasms of the Earth