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23 March 2011

Marketing the Bizarre

I just watched Julie & Julia--a delightful, pleasant, heart-warming little film. It was extremely enjoyable, especially for me, since I love marriage, cooking, blogging, and books. But it did, really, on the whole, annoy me a lot when Julie’s blog became wildly popular, with hundreds of comments, followers, etc., and then when dozens of agents, publishers, and journalists called her after at NY Times article. I mean, why is the quirky so much more popular than the serious? Sure, what Julie Powell did—cooking through Julia Child’s cookbook in a year, AND writing about it—is amazing, but I don’t think it was popular because it was an achievement so much as because it was weird. We like the strange, the bizarre, the out-of-the-ordinary. Serious, thoughtful cultural critique doesn’t generate that kind of following. And that’s a shame. What do you think? Do you agree that the popular is more often the weird than the brilliant?

3 comments:

scruffy said...

It may be cynical and elitist, in fact, i'm sure it is, but i think even this short little post of yours exceeds the American attention span by three or four sentences. Shock and titillation are almost necessary spices to keep a wider audience consuming what's good for them. i feel your pain.

Annelise Holwerda said...

I don't think that serious things are without trouble either, as they can hide a different set of faults in their audience. Especially with our European heritage, it's not hard to displace the serious, academic and cultural fields with facade and cultural narrowness.

We need both the Hobbit-song and Ent-speech, to take good archetypes, but not one or the other only!

Most people do engage in thoughtful spheres, according to their interests, at different times; it's hard to generalise a trend, and different interests are a valid thing of temperament. I agree entirely though with your thought that a lot is lost when we absorb creative media more out of boredom or amusement than anything else. The mainstream culture at my uni is fairly Indie, which contains brilliant creativity at points... But also an attitude of adoring things that are 'random', peculiar etc. Being cynical about traditional or everyday things is almost a core virtue. It's a bit hollow, sometimes.

In speech as well, it can be so much easier to be flippant than to be upbuilding! Yet to turn this around doesn't mean to be boring or inaccessible. It's even more about what is there than what's not, so as to make room for quality things.

cinda-cite said...

thank you for the good work here. i liked the interview with mr. overstreet...and was made glad by him, surprised.