Home > Movies, Mumbled Culture, Music, Television > The Cultural Food Pyramid

The Cultural Food Pyramid

Originally published on 19 June 2011

I now have a Twitter. (@Berzurcher) I’m not famous, so it seems a little weird and useless.


This discussion has been going on for weeks here on the internet, but if you haven’t thought about it, you should. First, read this article by Dan Kois in the NY Times (if you haven’t reached your precious 20 articles this month – gag).

Is watching Solaris eating your “cultural vegetables”? Sure, if you want to call it that. But what about meat? What about fruit? Can there be cultural vegans? Or cultural cannibals?

Solaris is long, slow, long, and slow. Difficult, for sure – but breathtaking all the same. During a conversation today, one of my friends expressed her distaste for Midnight In Paris and that she wants film to make her “feel something.” I don’t have too much of a problem with that statement, but what about being bored or lonely or stagnant or depressed? Can any of our popular art forms truly invoke loneliness or depression in the time frame we give to them? We give TV shows 20 or 40 minutes to do their thing, movies generally get about 90 minutes, and God forbid a song be longer than 4 minutes.

Just like eating fast food for all of your meals, it isn’t healthy to absorb culture with only convenience in mind. We are all guilty of subconsciously saying, “Damn it, you have 1 minute to entertain me or I will begin thinking about cats.”

So, we have to construct a sort of Culture Pyramid. Except, like nutritionists realized, there isn’t so much hierarchy to it. A truly healthy person will eat some chicken, but not as much as they eat rice. A truly healthy person also realizes that they can’t do without either of them.

This food analogy is fantastic mostly because the experiences of both art and cuisine are heavily influenced by taste. We will always have individual reactions to the same things. “High” or “Low,” pieces of art will continue to delight some and annoy others. All of this works back to the mysterious truth of preference, showing that it is certainly possible to be a cultural vegan or have cultural diabetes. Often, if you follow a hipster around for a day, they will show you how to be simultaneously high-brow and low-brow.

Even if you don’t really like alfalfa or steak, maybe someday someone will come along and cook you a steak covered in alfalfa that will be the most delicious thing you have ever eaten. And someday, you might find that a balanced diet leads to a balanced life. That is why I might drive 8 hours to see Phish for the third time in a week, but I will listen to Bach on the way there and a Joyce audiobook on the way back.

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