Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Trouble With Classicists

The PopSmarts column continues its mission of yoking together culture both academic and popular, with an installment exploring the intersection of highbrow classics, Stephen King, and The Simpsons Movie. Your English Lit professor would call it a “motif,” kids.

It’s that old semantic versatility again, basically. It’s the Democracy of Ideas. When there’s a good hook or a resonant symbol, everybody wants to play with it, whether or not they have the stamp of approval from the Great English Departments of America.
And the dirty secret is that the academic outsiders — the cartoonists, the pulp hacks, the grindhouse movie makers — might be the ones to find new meanings in the device, simply because they haven’t had the “right” meanings beaten into their heads so many times.
John Cale once sang, channeling Andy Warhol:
I think sometimes it hurts you when you stay too long in school;
I think sometimes it hurts you when you’re afraid to be called a fool.

Truer words. Especially since it’s bound to happen at some point; so why be afraid of it?

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