Carey: Out! Snooty Arts

“What Good Are the Arts?” is an intensely argued polemic against the intellectually supercilious, the snooty rich and the worship of high culture as a secular religion for the spiritually refined and socially heartless. Modern art,” writes James Carey, “has become synonymous with money, fashion, celebrity and sensationalism, at any rate in the mind of the man on the Clapham omnibus.” Contemporary painting, opera, ballet, most poetry and theater are all removed from the life of ordinary people, being part of a cult available largely to the wealthy and mandarin, where only the elect may worship. Meanwhile, “mass art” — daytime drama, pop music, Hollywood filmmaking — is commonly dismissed as mere entertainment for shallow and stupid proles.