Dwight McDonald: Masscult & Midcult

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In this sister episode to last week's discussion of "Avant Garde and Kitsch,"  Joe & Josh continue their less-than-plausible attempt to present themselves as highbrow snobs by tackling Dwight MacDonald's "Masscult and Midcult." While the tech-driven atomization of American culture has largely destroyed the homogenous commercial machine MacDonald, writing in 1960, called "mass culture," many of his arguments are still bracing today, especially his condemnation of declining artistic standards in the face of relentless consumerism. But is it possible to have a truly democratic political culture without surrendering art to popular tastes? MacDonald, an idiosyncratic leftist, wanted both, and thought they were not just compatible but complementary. At a time when an army of deprofessionalized, largely unpaid online "critics" treat every half-decent Netflix series like it's goddamn Middlemarch, MacDonald is worth listening to again. Read it here: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~drbr/macdonald.pdf

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