Like words paroled from the page, free to travel to the inviting face, few actions enrich the soul more than the gentle throwing together of high and low culture. Films and music, novels and television, marked by difference, joined into something new, mated and left pregnant with the unseen and unheard. Take that universally-respected icon of Modernism, sidle up beside it the pornographic must of a '70s sleaze flick, and leave them to intercourse, merge and birth. Miscegenation it might be; a levelling of tiers it is. The erasure of bourgeois elitism. A unique gift of praise words to art adapted to be bereft of such opinion, to be deaf to an enviable avalanche of criticism.
Amalgamation is a nice label. Determined to avoid accusations of pretension, to have spit-laden “artsy bastard balls” invective snorted at your body, let the quick, easy wave of citing low culture assuage the risk. Find yourself writing an essay on Manuel Delanda’s Deleuzian analysis of expressivity? Include a problematising reference to Jeff Fahey’s loss of bodily oneness in Body Parts. Halfway through a delineation of Gogol’s class commentary in Dead Souls and despairing of the dry, academic tone permeating it? Figure out a method whereby Hellraiser VII: Deader becomes the main focus, perhaps hypothesise a situation in which Kari Wuhrer is condemned to life as a serf, freed from the confines of a truly awful film.
Sure it’s contrived. It maintains, to an extent, the original hierarchy. By recognising the layers of difference, whether or not situated in perception, we perpetuate the separation of high and low culture. Such a division lives in our treatment, in the mindsets through which all is dredged. But all action has potential to be realised, all is kinetic energy in the limbs, and a new cultural edifice can be born. By blindness to past categories can we transcend a narrow and simplistic compartmentalisation that sees Persona and Evil Dead defined so far from each other as to be constituents in two completely different worlds.
Labels of quality force the issue. Moulded preconceptions make the actions of cultural hierarchy important. Preordained good and preordained bad, these are effects by which we forget about the quality of Con Air, or From Beyond, or Gunmen. Discrimination elsewhere is being weeded out (as it should be), yet the music of Municipal Waste is automatically perceived as inferior to, say, Vivaldi. The fact that Vivaldi’s ‘Summer’ is essentially heavy metal is deemed unimportant. Necrophagist’s winding musical compositions, because of distinctions laid culturally far and wide, fed into by a saturated media landscape, is victim to the needless rancour brought with it by the descriptive term ‘death metal’.