The cultural elite — the one that supposedly deems anything less than opera to be so much pop junk — does not exist, say British researchers. Call them cultural “omnivores,” instead. Not quite as satisfying an insult, though.
Ana Kothe in Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture makes a case for Jon Stewart as a fake news anchor still providing real news (“By donning the fool’s cap, by playing the clown, Stewart as a fake news anchor is able to proclaim nonofficial truths.”). One problem with her general argument: When discussing the current state of the news media, she makes the same mistake many academics (and admittedly, many ordinary viewers) do. She refers to Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly as “serious news reporters,” as if they’re Brian Williams or a Wall Street Journal correspondent. They’re not; they’re commentators; just as the liberal Al Franken and Keith Olbermann are.
A century later, and we’re still arguing about it: Whatever happened to Cubism?
Two thousand years later, and we’re still arguing about it. What, exactly, was Greek love? According to James Davidson’s new book, The Greeks and Greek Love, it wasn’t about molesting young boys. Greek laws forbade underage sex just as much as ours do.
Twenty years later, Russell Jacoby, author of The Last Intellectuals: American Culture in the Age of Academe, returns to the scene of the crime. Mostly, he sees confirmation of his argument. Public intellectuals are gone or mostly unheard. They prefer talking to each other in academia. And on blogs? Who reads them?
But now, there’s Big Think. It’s supposed to be the “YouTube for Ideas.”
And there’s still Stanley Fish, justifying the humanities in the face of people who write that “when a poet creates a vaccine or a tangible good that can be produced by a Fortune 500 company,” then he’ll deserve attention from the New York State Commission on Higher Education, not before.