I read an article the other day where it was criticizing Simon Pegg because he claimed that sci-fi wasn’t as good as it used to be. It then went into some argument that critiquing populist art was elitism. I call bullshit loud and clear. Pegg was making maybe too much of a blanket claim, but criticism is valid.
Art, like people, should never be judged as a group. You don’t want to say hip-hop isn’t valid, but classical music is, or art house movies are valid, but summer blockbusters aren’t, etc. But you can say, “so and so is vapid or such and such has merit”, when it comes to specific pieces. Opinion always plays a role. So does understanding. There have been plenty of times I didn’t get something, only to get it later based on increasing knowledge. Things also work on different levels. Something may be excellent escapism and something might be excellent in making you think. Different pieces for different moods and times.
The door is always left open to screw up in an assessment of something. Rigidity is a mistake. But all that being said, you can sure as shit argue that one thing is more worthy than another.
First of all popularity is no proof of validity. Hitler’s ideas were popular at one point. Especially in the modern world, when marketing plays such a huge roll in getting above the din, popularity just means exposure half the time. This does not mean popular stuff is bad, only that popular is not the equivalent of good.
So whoever wrote that article with Simon Pegg is a clown. You have to try to discern good from the bad. Everything is not equal. The Kardashians are not Macbeth. Life is short. You need to have some kind of measurement of worth so that you don’t spend what little time you have turning your brain into mush. Again, popular entertainment can be fantastic, but just the fact it is popular doesn’t mean anything. Elite can infer stuck up, but it can also infer the best. “They were elite soldiers.” I wish more people would spend a little time asking for the best, and not settling for the banal: Putting on whatever comes on TV or the radio without questioning it, drifting into the American night, lost and unaware, primed to lose.