Monday, 19 January 2015

Blunt Arguments

Too posh or too poor? Contrast James Blunt with The Courteeners. One is pilloried by the media for being the former, the other has a fanbase that is criticised in print for being 'yobbish', media shorthand for working class male. Both are on a blacklist at certain media. It's a funny old world.

When Chris Bryant makes the reasoned observation that entry to the arts is becoming the preserve of a moneyed elite he does us all a service. I have long argued that music, and the wider arts, is becoming the outlet for a certain view of the world, whether in television (see my previous post, that music is too centred on both London and an intern culture that is now so firmly embedded that both music and media outlets are proving self selective in their staff choices and that this self selection is proving a destructive force on musical culture as it disengages the fan of mainstream rock music in particular from the media and vice versa.

Where Chris Bryant went horribly wrong was to start naming names. James Blunt is not responsible for the narrowing of the windows of opportunity for non middle class kids on either the business end or performing end of the recorded music industry. A combination of those internships, the reduction of social welfare allowing musicians time to get their music together, a winner takes all culture and a host of other players are. Somewhat notably, many of these were the work of the very party that Chris Bryant claims membership of in its long run under Blair and Brown. Nor is Eddie Redmayne a destroyer of working class opportunities in film. Given that membership of any of the leading acting job sites racks up to hundreds of pounds per year, rep has been reduced to rubble, drama in schools is now pretty much the sole preserve of dedicated teachers giving up their spare time and deregulation of television has given rise to a host of players devaluing the core culture of television drama and therefore removing art and replacing it with cheap to air reality television (another middle class laugh at the poor trick that persists) it is little surprise that the idealism of the 60's that raised Glenda Jackson has been replaced by a low cost strategy where the only exceptions are driven by star names. Then bear in mind that the vast majority of acting jobs being fought over by far too many actors are unpaid and Eddie Redmayne's part in this reduces to nothingness.

I am glad to see a politician raise the question of culture and put it centre stage. I am not convinced that direct government intervention is the way forward. What is inescapable though is that whatever else he may be guilty of, James Blunt is not the villain of this particular piece.

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