Are Your Tastes Considered "Middlebrow?"


Here’s a GQ story about a new way other people are judging you: For having taste in the utterly vapid. According to them, it’s socially acceptable to enjoy high-brow things and the lowbrow, albeit ironically. But if you appreciate The Gap, NPR, Wes Anderson films, Shakespeare, and the movie Inception, you apparently fall into the dreaded middlebrow.

Click on the venn diagram above to expand and read the full list of items. Still confused? GQ’s Devin Friedman explains his disdain in detail:

Saying you like Feist is like not having an opinion, the greatest offense in certain Internetty precincts of our contemporary culture. You might as well say you like chocolate or potato chips. It says nothing about you. It’s not curated. It doesn’t say what we most want our music to say about us: I used to read until it got lame. You can’t like Feist, in other words, because it’s middlebrow. And loving the middlebrow is an unforgivable crime against taste. Loving something terrible makes you interesting—in some ways the lowbrow is actually higher-brow than highbrow. Watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta or being into shitty peasant sandals from Vietnam or low-res porn—that you can sing from the rooftops. But if you like Feist, it’s like you might as well tell people you’re having a wonderful sexual affair with your mother. Because you know who likes the middlebrow? The unacceptable. Boring people. The easily manipulated.

A few items on the list are questionable: Alec Baldwin? Friday Night Lights? The BBC? Sometimes we like these things! Also weird: Zach Galifianakis is highbrow, while Zach Galifianakis’s Beard is lowbrow. And PBR appears in both the highbrow and lowbrow quadrants. But really, we understand the point Freidman is trying drive home here: Care about stuff. Be more discerning. Yes, some people are totally and completely boring, and yes, they often like the most boring er, middlebrow things. Look, I’ve listened to my fair share of Feist albums in my day, but I probably feel the same amount of embarrassment about that fact as I feel about secretly loving Beyoncé’s latest single. Is there really that much shame in enjoying something everyone else already loves? Isn’t ironically loving the lowbrow kind of the same as being embarrassed about enjoying the middlebrow? We think that if you love something, you shouldn’t give two shits about what anyone else has to say about it, middlebrow or not. End of story.

Middlebrow: The Taste That Dare Not Speak Its Name [GQ]

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