Sunday, July 04, 2021

About bad art

I assumed at first that the One Britain One Nation project was meant to form part of this weird culture war we’re currently embroiled in; a bear trap for bien-pensant liberals who instinctively giggle at any ostentatious expression of patriotism and are then immediately tarred as sneering quinoa-munching metropolitans, out of touch with the stout yeomen of Albion, yada yada yada...

If that’s the case, though, the whole thing seems to have backfired. Not (just) because of a general revulsion against drilling young minds into ostentatious demonstrations of sentimental patriotism – a practice with which even arch-Imperialists such as Kipling were uneasy – but because ultimately, it was a bad song, a banal dirge with vapid lyrics. Those who might stand by the sentiments will flinch at singing along with something so cruddy. “Tear him for his bad verses,” as the luckless Cinna’s assassins yelled.

And similarly, we can side-step another cultural skirmish, about whether or not a hereditary monarchy is more trouble than it’s worth in the 21st century, when we consider the merits of otherwise of the new statue of Diana, Princess of Wales. As Jonathan Jones puts it, “Perhaps not even for Diana’s sincerest believers, for the statue group’s emotive symbolism is undermined by its aesthetic awfulness.” It’s dreadful. That is all.

That said, of course, since we have a governing class that seems intent on sidelining what we’re supposed to call the creative industries (less a war between cultures, more like a war on culture in general), maybe simply expressing any kind of critical/aesthetic evaluation is just as subversive and dangerous as mocking patriotism or the monarchy...

1 comment:

Roger Allen said...

Confirmation that - as Ambrose Bierce pointed out - Samuel Johnson was mistaken.
Patriotism is the first resort of the scoundrel.