Hey Hipsters – here is a post by one of my students, Jacob Tanner.
The Three World description of the global community typically refers to the economic development of a country. Not surprisingly, this description carries negative implications. By positing a country as First World, it is the implication that the country is more developed, thus better, than a Third World one. While this may be true from an economic point of view, it unconsciously unifies all Third World countries as one, despite having little in common. For example, Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, yet their development has been delayed by forces outside of their own control. In the early-1800s, they were the only colony to successfully revolt against their colonizers, which later led to France coming back to ask for an absurd sum of money for the supposed loss of revenue from the colony. This was upheld, and Haiti spent over a century trying to repay at the cost of any sort of development. While this is an incredibly brief history lesson, it is the attempt to show how different Haiti is from any other country in the world. It does not only Haiti, but everyone, a disservice to silence that history by unifying them through a label.
But, this is an issue that we have seen over and over in this course. Pierre Bourdieu says about taste, “The ideology of natural taste owes its plausibility and its efficacy to the fact that, like all the ideological strategies generated in the everyday class struggle, it naturalizes real differences, converting differences in the mode of acquisition of culture into differences of nature,” (Bourdieu 68). In short, our concept of taste is grounded in our ideas of class, but it feels as if it is natural taste. One of the most common declarations I have heard is that, “rap/hip-hop is not music!” The reasoning is usually that they do not even play instruments. This assertion is odd, mostly because it would refer to the fact that someone knows what music really is. In other words, a canon has been previously established that denotes what music is, and all other artists are then forced to follow that canon for fear of being dismissed.
The examples are seemingly endless of the condemnation of “low culture.” There is nothing wrong with the distinction between high and low culture, but it becomes problematic when someone unifies all of “low culture” and denounces it. I also see this type of behaviour crop up with the term, “guilty pleasures,” which is a way of saying “I am consciously aware of the fact that I am too intelligent to enjoy this, so I feel guilty for stooping so low.” I mean, the term is ridiculous when you think of it. One of my favourite songs last year was LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem”, but by calling it a guilty pleasure, I would not only seem pretentious, but I would be positing myself as superior to what I think is the typical LMFAO fan (as a side note, a few of my other favourite songs from 2011 was tUnE-yArDs “Gangsta,” EMA’s “California,” and Fleet Foxes’ “The Shrine/An Argument,” so I am keeping my hipster-cred).
So, you may be thinking, what does taste have to do with the Third World? They are both making a value judgment. However, while you may be thinking that this is another stereotypical leftist argument that equates to relativism, or that everything should be the same, this is not the case. It is a message of tolerance and equality, where one person’s beliefs or stature is not discriminated against, and where you are not positing yourself as the interpellator.
Bourdieu, Pierre. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Trans. Richard Nice. Harvard University Press, 1984. Print.