Film Theory: Middle-Brow Taste, Class Distinctions (Bourdieu)

Research in progress, Oct 16, 2022

Film Theory: Middle-Brow Taste, Class Distinctions

Middle-brow is not a distinct or coherent social fragment.

Middlebrow is inherently complex and multi-identity

Bourdieu wrote as if  his categorizations were uniformed, unitary, discrete social reifications

But in actuality the categories (distinctions) are not fully self-c0ontained taste-systems, with no contact with each other.

It’s oversimplified hierarchy.

The complications of race in the U.S., or regions or class in France.

The shuttling is not a sign of muddiness or confusion, but a variety of specificity.

The defining characteristics of middlebrow is its ability to shift, slide between various taste positions at different moments of experience.

There is almost free access (in theory) to all brows, to the potential experience of all aspects of the cultural spectrum.

The very rise of lowbrow is made possible, and is a consequence, of mass culture.

Middlebrow’s upward mobility through cultural attainment and conflicted affect vis-a-vis high culture.

High-culture and highbrow is also capable of an amalgam of sentiments.

The notion of communion, to be celebrated only with certain people who are capable of enjoying it in the same way (restaurants, wine)

Middlebrow embodies more than any taste-fragment te full ramifications of cultural experience in a postmodern, polyculture, media-saturated society.

Exposure to a manifold of cultural experiences is widely available and accessible.

The middle-class American middle-brow shuttles between  various symbolic expressions of class positions over the course of a single day.

Breakfast at McDonald, or at home, while watching Good Morning America

Driving BMW (or Porsche) to work, while listening to Rock, or classical music (Mozart)

Driving back home in the Hollywood Hills, listening to different kinds of music

Eating Steak or Hamburger, while drinking Vodka Martini or expensive red wine

Watching soap, sitcom (Friends) or foreign language film (or both)

Read in bed one chapter of Dostoevsky, Chekhov, or Tom Wolfe, or trashy novel, or gossipy magazines