Book Pitch

Okay so I’m working on all my big ideas and sh*t to try and transition from random culture bottom-feeder to media-sanctioned trend analyst and culture commentator. Yeah I didn’t do grad school at Harvard, Yale or Columbia but, hey, whatevs. Pay me to work on a book and, bitch, I’ll deliver.

Anyway – the big idea I’m exploring right now is the “trickle down theory” of culture. People often talk about trickle-up – how mainstream culture co-opts street culture or how high-art integrates pop culture to attempt to remain relevant; but I haven’t really seen anybone talking about how trickle-down works. Maybe because that’s a given. I don’t know. Pay me to do the research. Damn it.

But seriously – the ideas that are explored in high art, and the people that make high art, are usually coming from academia. The universities educate the kids, those kids go to Hollywood and make crappy movies where they name-check Nietzche and make misguided attempts at pop-culture existentialism, etc. But still – there’s a trickle down thing happening.  Sure, political correctness is a joke now, it is a rallying cry and the target of scornful disdain from the Right (and the left, and any one of the growing army of people who fancy themselves “mavericks”. Yet, the idea that language means something, that one can re-contextualize communication and interpersonal transactions, de-construct them to reveal cultural bias, is now a given.

I suppose that “trickle down” culture is the whole point of having institutions of higher learning, avant-garde art, etc. Its just that I don’t think that, necessarily, the cause and effect are as directly correlated as they appear. I’d be curious to trace just a few Big Ideas from Academia and the Avant-Garde into the popular vernacular and see how the ideas change and adapt and what the implications are for strategically applied cultural initiatives.

Okay. So I had a couple of beers. Whatevs. I’m still ready for my Gladwell Moment.

Comments
One Response to “Book Pitch”
  1. Abby Browde says:

    One other way of thinking about this:
    Possibly there is less vertical system of operation here (trickle-down, or trickle-up) but more horizontal; the avant-garde and the street culture somehow at opposing left/right poles, both moving towards the center (aka mainstream).

    I understand how the avant-garde comes from a ‘high art’ and street culture comes from, well, the street. And yes, i think you’re spot on that there is not just a ground-up system here of cultural appropriation, but also a trickle-down. (One theatrical example i can think of is the Viewpoints – which is mostly, i think, about how something began as a philosophy or vocabulary, and then became an purely visual aesthetic.)

    But looking at it horizontally makes me think that there is some sort of mutual agreement between the extreme high and the extreme low. Or at least some sort of symbiotic thing going on. (This makes me think of keith harring collaborating with graffiti street kids… but of course there was this article about Little Angel, Harring’s collaborator who is now “struggling with obscurity”, while the Harring foundation sells millions in mugs http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/06/arts/design/06hari.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=keith%20harring&st=cse&oref=slogin)

    Wish I could offer you that book deal. Don’t worry, your days as a bottom-feeder are numbered.

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