quality without snobbery

"For better or worse, we all have our hard-wired associations--some of us capitulate to them and others rebel against them--but there they are. For a lot of people, the appearance of black & white film alone might signify sophistication. Something about the scratchy, silvery tint, its time-capsuled resistance to contemporary fashions, prompts an automatic sense of reverence, regardless of how many cinematic duds the studios churned out before Technicolor.

Do we do the same for the Written Word? Do we grant it Goldmember status out of respect for its breadth and longevity?

The truth is that, while all delivery systems have particular histories and particular limitations, they are equally capable of delivering meaningful content, just as all cuisine has its delicacies and its slop, its caviar and its gruel, each bound to their own range of flavors and textures. Snobbery, after all, is not measured by a "well-cultivated" palette or a table-pounding demand for "quality," but by a deliberate unwillingness to consider that quality takes many forms and often abides unfamiliar standards.

What kids actually need, what we all need, are higher standards across the board. Not more books but better books; not fewer movies or comics or pop songs, but fewer bad ones. This worthier goal won't be achieved by blandly extolling the virtues of one medium or lambasting another, but by developing a stronger, richer, more vibrant culture all around.

That I'll drink to."

From an excellent article by Alex Rose on the US Institute for the Future of the Book's if:book blog


Popular Posts