First of all thank you,
secondly, I don’t really know. I’m not even sure why I’m being called ‘pretty pretentious’, there’s very little on this blog I think to mark me as such. Except for belittling a popular band on Sunday and saying I like classical music, I don’t think I’ve posted anything here to really warrant the label.
That said, I do understand that confessing to like classical music is enough to be called pretentious in this society. Of course I also have tastes in literature, film and even cooking that match the sobriquet. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy more lowbrow fare as well, I have many not very guilty pleasures.
The truth is, that it’s reverse snobbery. It’s rejecting anything that seems more difficult, elitist or actually demands your full attention.
Classical music especially is deemed pretentious, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s music by dead white guys for old white people, it’s not performed by a band, but by an orchestra. People (both attending and performing) wear formal clothing, you have to be quiet, you have to know when to applaud. The singing sounds annoying. You can’t dance to it. There is the insufferably twee adoration of certain composers, there is all the fore knowledge you need for understanding it. It takes too long, and most importantly: it’s so damn expensive!
So I can understand why it might turn plenty of people off, especially because classical music has almost completely disappeared from popular culture. It’s hard even to get exposed to it on a regular basis, personally I don’t even remember the last time I heard some classical music on tv or in a film (Very excited about all the Benjamin Britten in the new Wes Anderson film though. Of course saying that just confirms how horribly pretentious I am).
So you have to seek it out, or possibly be lucky enough to have people around you who do enjoy it.
Now of course there are plenty of real snobs, who look down their noses at anyone who isn’t sophisticated enough to sit through 4 nights of German opera, but guess what? You can find people who are snobs for just about every human activity, from road kill cooking to a love of oloroso sherries and from Metallica to Bach, there will always be jerks who think that their intimate understanding of something makes them better human beings than you.
Just because I think there’s more merit in a Jeffrey Eugenides novel than in a book by Dan Brown, that a piece by Mozart has more soul than the caterwauling of some plastic popstar, that Bonnard was a better painter of light than Thomas Kinkade and that Mark Rothko kicked ass, that I would rather eat hand crafted boar salami than a slim jim, and because I think Terry Gilliam made more enjoyable films than Michael Bay, may all be reasons to call me pretentious, but frankly I don’t care.
I am comfortable with the things I like and if you like different things, good for you! I hope you like spirited discussions.
In the end I think it all boil downs to insecurity, whether or not you mind other people not liking the things you like.