This Hit a Nerve

It’s not entirely crazy to suspect, as Orwell did, that this has something to do with money.  Specifically, you sneer at the customs of the people you might be mistaken for.  For aside from a few very stuffy conservatives, no white people I know sneer at hip-hop music, telenovelas, Tyler Perry films, or any of the other things often consumed by people of modest incomes who don’t look like them.  They save it for Thomas Kinkade paintings, “Cozy cottage” style home decoration, collectibles, child beauty pageants, large pickup trucks***, and so forth. 

Look, I’m a geek. I would have to look to do serious investigation to find out if folks in my “social strata” did the kind of stuff mentioned or not… but I have noticed bloggers sneering at Kinkade, or being derisive against other “common” things.

Yes, I’m moving away from giving citations of source or author in the post body when I do small quotes; source and author drive folks away, in any case that I’m doing a tiny post.


10 thoughts on “This Hit a Nerve”

  1. For the record, child beauty pageants are abhorrent. And while I never cared much for Kinkade, I'm a philistine who doesn't appreciate van Gogh either. Most of the criticism I've seen leveled against Kinkade has been pretty vague, but I did think Simcha Fisher had a pretty solid critique of his paintings.

    I suppose the larger point is true, but I think there's more at work than just class distinctions and snobbery.

  2. There's more to beer snobbery than just being snooty, too, but that doesn't mean that no beer snobs are more interested in signaling their superiority than drinking good beer.

    I'm familiar with the complaints about how light behaves in his paintings. That's just complaining about the style.

  3. I'll confess to having never even heard of Thomas Kinkade, so I checked out Mr. Lamming's link to Simcha Fisher's article.

    My feeling to elitist snots who seem compelled to sneer at what others may like (especially when that like doesn't harm anyone that I can see) is “GROW UP!!!”.

    If something looks beautiful (as did the examples I saw inn that article), I'm not going to worry too much about the engineering and physics of it.

    Coming from an obsessive picture-straightener like myself, that's saying something.


  4. I love Kinkade's stuff; it took some of those critiques for me to pin down why:
    there's so much that's artificially dark that seeing something that's utterly drenched in light is different; the bright colors and the way it reminds me of that odd point you sometimes get at sunset, where things seem to glow.

  5. It's the whole “handpainted copy” thing I find most troubling. But I guess people have a right to patronize artist sweatshops as long as they actually pay the sweat-ers decently.

    Other than that, I pretty much never think of the man's existence.
    Similarly, rap is sort of part of the background of society; and of course, there is some darned good poetry in among it.

    Of course, I'm so busy freaking out about obscure things I feel are untrue or unhealthy or unwise, that I never really have time to join the great horror herds. :)

  6. De gustibus non est disputandum, I suppose. Like I said, I'm a philistine. I never cared for Jimmy Hendrix or The Beatles or The Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan either, although I'm assured by just about everyone I know that they're fantastic. That many people can't be wrong, so I assume there's just something missing in me that is needed to appreciate them.

    And I hear what you're saying about beer snobbery, but I still wouldn't call Simcha's Kinkade-bashing snobbery. Her criticism and your defense of his paintings both make sense. I don't know which of you is right, objectively speaking; all I know is I wouldn't hang it on my wall either way.

    My feeling about snobbery is that it's an attitude that keeps you from appreciating something good – not because it doesn't naturally appeal to you or because there's something worth criticizing, but because you don't want to be thought of as someone who likes [NASCAR or Bud Light or Precious Moments or what-have-you]. While I can't read her mind, I don't think that's Simcha's problem.

  7. I'm going to have to steal that Latin for next time– it's a much shorter version of part of my point!

    I'm not so big on a lot of things I'm supposed to adore, I just get annoyed when folks dislike a chocolate cookie for not being caramel.
    There's a lot of room for, jumping back to beer as metaphor, pointing out the flaws or strengths of an IPA relative to another IPA, but deciding if an Irish Red is flawed simply for not being an IPA is a matter of taste.

    That said, this part is snobbery:
    Kinkade isn’t content with shying away from ugliness: He sees nothing beautiful in the world the way it is. He thinks it needs polishing. He loves the world in the same way that a pageant mom thinks her child is just adorable—or will be, after she loses ten pounds, dyes and curls her hair, gets implants, and makes herself almost unrecognizable with a thick layer of make-up. Normal people recoil from such extreme artifice—not because they hate beauty, but because they love it.

    *sarc* But painting a glowing baby is totally representational of how light acts! /snark

    That is straight up bashing of a style that he happens to not like; rolling it into an attack on all that's good and holy is just head-bangingly bad.

    If you assume that Kinkade was trying to paint a normal scene, then the technical part of the critique is great. Just part of the problem of knowing a lot is that folks tend to mistake their own taste for something as solid as what they know….

  8. Heh. I like my beer sweet, so I'm partial to amber and red ales, and even the best IPAs are wasted on me.

    But I think Simcha's objection wasn't just that the style was unappealing to her; her objection is that the style sacrifices realism for no good reason, that it is neither realistic nor emphasizing something important. Perhaps what you take umbrage to is the fact that she is attributing motives to Kinkade. That may not be very nice, but I don't know that I'd call it snobbery.

  9. her objection is that the style sacrifices realism for no good reason, that it is neither realistic nor emphasizing something important

    That's a stylistic objection; it only makes sense if you assume, as a starting point, that he was trying to be “realistic.” It's like you and I objecting to IPA because the hops drowns everything else out, replacing the delicate, sweet flavors with the bitter despair of the hops. Worse, the overwhelming hoppyness is never enough! (…k, not going to spent a half hour writing a parody that replaces light with hops…)

  10. I'll gladly take a Killian's Irish Red at about a buck a bottle over any of the IPAs, even when I'm assured they're worth the $5/bottle. I just know that it's a matter of taste and don't try to make more of it. ^.^

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