Saturday, 21 March 2009

Let's get 'serious'

Sad news this week about Natasha Richardson, who had an accident on a learners' ski slope and died hours later in hospital. The news was reported on BBC Breakfast this week, and a theatre critic from The Telegraph was wheeled in to eulogise the late actress.

As you'd expect from a theatre critic, he focused primarily on Richardson's board-treading career, with a couple of obligatory references to her film appearances in Gothic and the remake of The Parent Trap. He also made an embarassing faux pas when talking about Richardson's husband Liam Neeson, saying that it's commonplace for American film actors to be intimidated by well-respected British theatre actors. No-one bothered to point out that Liam Neeson is actually Irish.

But still, he bumbled on (and on and on) repeatedly pointing out that Richardson was a serious actress. She appeared in films, but mostly uncommercial ones. Which means that they went largely unseen. And although she did appear in a couple of 'popular' films, she remained at heart a serious actress. He must have mentioned Natasha's 'seriousness' about five times. And it all became rather annoying. Because what he was really saying (and given that this was a Telegraph critic we should hardly be surprised) is that anything that gives enjoyment or finds an audience is ultimately unworthy of respect. And should not be taken 'seriously.'

OK, so nothing here is rocking any boats, but I felt it needed saying. After all, the whole point of this blog is to talk about popular culture. Art doesn't have to be po-faced and serious. And popular culture doesn't have to be empty vacuous bullshit. Quality comes in all shapes and sizes, and you limit your opportunities for enjoyment if you close your mind to the variety on offer. Seriously.

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