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Scholar, Writer, Mother, Dreamer. Editor of Luminarium, an online library for English Literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Gilding the Globe


Every year during the awards season I feel defensive about my desire to watch the award shows. The arrival of the stars, who is wearing what as they twirl down the red carpet, who gets the awards, and what they say in their acceptance speeches, is all entertaining and fascinating to me. I'm transported back to the 5th grade, when I had a movie star scrapbook and dreamt one day of being there amidst all that glitter and hubbub.

Yet, it has become a guilty pleasure, the sort of thing one doesn't mention for fear of derision in the smarter circles. But I often feel that those who are very black and white in their classifications of high brow and low brow, what is acceptable to the intelligentsia and what deplorable -- opera yes, poetry, symphonies, the Rose Society, all good, popcorn movies, award shows, most sitcoms, a no-no -- are narrowmindedly not only excluding the 'lesser folk with baser tastes' from their society, but are shutting themselves from the richness and variety of input available to us as humans.

I remember one of my professors, a lovely, brilliant young man who has since gone far in academia, as well he should have, asking me how I reconciled my love of the great works of the Renaissance with the 'chick-lit' novel I was reading. Then, as now, I had a hard time comprehending that someone could not reconcile the two. Appreciation and love of high-culture, to me, does not have to be to the exclusion of popular culture. I can love Puccini's arias and next day listen to Green Day's "American Idiot".  I can be moved by Branagh's 'Henry V' one day, and cry at 'King Kong' the next.  I can read Greenblatt's Shakesbiography "Will in the World" and Fielding's "Diary of Bridget Jones" in the same evening, and derive equal pleasure, albeit to different nodes in my brain.

Why did Shakespeare include farcical sequences in his works alongside scenes of 'great pith and moment?' Not just to pander to the rude masses, as some still posit, I assure you. Queen Elizabeth herself often 'laughed heartily' at these sequences and so enjoyed Falstaff, for example, that she commanded another play with him in it - the main reason "Merry Wives" ever came to be written. This same woman who could answer the Polish ambassador extempore in Latin, and who could 'englysshe' French and Latin texts with great success, the woman who took a kingdom divided and on the brink of bankruptcy and turned it into the richest and most powerful country in the world at her death, recognized the importance of a full experience, and enjoyed it all, from crass bear-baitings and cock-fights to Spenser's Faerie Queene.

So, I am decided. I am coming out. Let the academics despise me, for I care not. This slip of a girl, whom the Encyclopaedia Britannica has dubbed a Renaissance scholar, likes award shows, enjoys them, loves them even! So there. I've often explained it to people who like football (a love which I can understand, although it holds little interest to me) thus: To me, the Golden Globe Awards are the play-offs, and the Oscars are my Super Bowl.

I'll go back to transcribing Drayton's sonnets and writing a biography of John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, soon enough. But for now, I am going to eat my popcorn, drink my horrifically strong coffee, and ogle the glitterati. Try and stop me.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Ici said...

There you go!

January 18, 2006 3:26 AM  
Blogger Anniina said...

Heh, thanks for the cheer :)

January 18, 2006 4:41 AM  

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