Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Silly willy

In the past, I've been accused of a certain level of intellectual snobbery for suggesting, among other things, that people who buy Jade Goody's autobiography and then don't finish it might not be the sharpest shuriken in the banned ninja movie.

But it cuts both ways, of course. (Do you see what I did there?) Through the wonders of Radio 4's 'listen again' function, I was listening to the none-more-bourgeois music quiz Counterpoint this morning. If you haven't encountered this narcotically cosy show, it's aimed at the sort of people whose blood pressure is only raised by an argument over whether Asger Svendsen might be a better bassoonist than Per Hannevold. However, some functionary in Broadcasting House has clearly decided that a quiz all about classical music might not be inclusive or accessible enough for a 21st-century media operation, so the remit has been expanded to encompass occasional nods to jazz, rock and other dangerously populist genres.

Accordingly, in among the Mahler and Monteverdi, we were graced with a clip of 'Always On My Mind'. The task was to identify the performer. Now, I can accept that someone who gets turned on by fat mezzos might not be able to identify the sandblasted tones of Willie Nelson, and the contestant did admit that he was offering a pretty approximate stab in the dark when he offered his answer. But Robbie Williams?

Now, I suppose a grudging nod of respect should go to someone so deliriously out of touch that he thinks the world's most famous Port Vale fan might sound like a septuagenarian outlaw country legend. But it does raise a question - if we snicker at people's ignorance of high art, should our laughter be louder or softer when someone shows such comprehensive dimness when it comes to the lowbrow end of the spectrum?

14 comments:

Robert Swipe said...

"...the sort of people whose blood pressure is only raised by an argument over whether Asger Svendsen might be a better bassoonist than Per Hannevold."

Well, which is it Tim - Per or Asger???

L.U.V. on ya,

Bob

Murph said...

Who's going to take over the role of posh smart-arse uncle when Ned Sherrin and Robert Robinson move on? Counterpoint contestants were the scrubbed up children from "Ask the Family".

Geoff said...

"every aspect of music from Mozart to Madonna"?

I knew I'd heard that before in Neil Young's From Hank To Hendrix:-

From Mozart to Madonna
I always loved your smile
Now were headed for the big divorce
California-style.

This is the whole gamut of music? Why not "From Beethoven to Beefheart"? "From Strauss to Stigers"? "From Vaughan Williams to Robbie Williams"?

Anonymous said...

I heard that programme, I think it is a particularly humorless programme, it was washing over my ears, nothing going in until I heard the Mahler clip, then I just got cross and promised myself not to listen to it ever again, not because of Mahler, I love Mahler, because it is such a po-faced programme.

patroclus said...

That picture is really freaking me out.

Anonymous said...

AND I went into the house, turned on the radio and guess what? they played Mahler's No.1!
I haven't listened to or mentioned Mahler for months.

Annie Rhiannon said...

Um, it was the Pet Shop Boys.

Billy said...

I like Ned Sherrin.

And bassoons are the finest instrument ever. People get excited about football for God's sake but never bassoons.

orange anubis said...

I do find myself a bit suspicious of people who have no knowledge of pop culture AT ALL. Especially when they're on quiz shows. That's the point when I start willing them to lose. But then I'm rubbish with sport questions and would be similarly laughed at when it came up.

Tim Footman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim Footman said...

Bob: The debate will be the subject of a later post, and I'll be holding a vote.

I quite agree, Murph. At least Dick and Dom haven't taken over Brain of Britain. Yet.

Geoff: From Britten and Pears to Britney Spears.

Anon: Yes, why can't they have a round of Mahler-related limericks?

Patroclus: You're freaked out? Imagine how Mr Nelson feels?

That's right, Annie, and 'Seasons in the Sun' was Westlife.

I want Ned Sherrin to come round to Billy's house and play the bassoon in his kitchen.

Anubis: That's what Counterpoint needs. A sports round. Did you know that Rimsky-Korsakov was the Moscow under-19 badminton champion?

Marsha Klein said...

What a good question. I am irritated by people who wear their ignorance of popular culture as a badge of honour, especially when you consider how much "high" art was poorly regarded in its own day. Laugh loud and laugh hearty I say!

wv: mztof=a reluctantly given, Hebrew "good luck"

pj said...

Or as some great egalitarian once said: Everyone is ignorant, but about different things..."

First Nations said...

..looks more like osama bin laden with a kind of a ABBA thing happening.

i'm so sorry; thats unholy isnt it.