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Please show more tolerance for 'vulgar culture'

(People's Daily Online)

08:33, November 23, 2012

You are "out" if you do not know about "Oppan Gangnam style." It is the refrain of South Korean rapper PSY's global hit single "Gangnam Style." Even famous tennis player Novak Djokovic celebrated his recent China Open title by performing the distinctive horse-riding dance in the song's music video. "Gangnam Style" hit the number one spot in many countries such as Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, and Finland, and broke the world record for "most liked" YouTube video. The song is also extremely popular in China, and various parodies made by Chinese high school and university students have mushroomed on the Internet

However, there are some criticisms of the incredibly popular K-pop single. The other day, a Chinese artist complained that most people could not appreciate the beauty of such elegant art forms as Peking Opera and Kunqu Opera, but admires a vulgar song by a foreign singer. He just cannot understand it, and there must be lots of people who think the same.

It is not bad for a song and dance to enjoy great popularity as long as they do not violate the law. After all, works of art need audiences, in addition to conveying artists' feelings. There are vulgar and elegant art forms according to different tastes, but there is no such thing as bad art. Furthermore, it is one's freedom to like any art form, and other people cannot judge him or her according to their own preferences. Restricting all "vulgar" art forms is not only unreasonable, but also harmful to the development of cultural and arts development.

The relations between so-called vulgar and elegant art forms are not as simple as many believe. Vulgarity and elegance are relative concepts. Ci, a popular poetic form during the Song dynasty, was "vulgar" compared with Tang poetry, but "elegant" compared with Yuan dynasty drama, a popular poetic form during the Yuan dynasty. Ci and Tang poetry were "elegant" compared with novels written in the Ming and Qing dynasties, while folk songs are always "vulgar." There have been some particularly vulgar folk songs during all dynasties, but that does not affect the vitality of folk songs as a whole.

At present, novels are almost "elegant" compared with movies, television series, and Internet videos. Peking Opera and all art forms of Quyi used to be considered extremely "vulgar," but have become elegant art that needs to be rescued. Movies were an artistic symbol of the modern industrial society's popular culture when they first appeared, but are now often considered "elegant" compared with television series. Vulgarity and elegance can totally coexist. There is Madonna and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the United States, which has high levels of both "vulgar" and "elegant" cultures.

However, tolerance of "vulgar culture" does not equate with advocacy of coarseness and low tastes. Even "vulgarity" has different levels. Jin Yong and Gu Long are masters of "vulgar culture" and art geniuses. There are too much coarseness and too many low tastes in domestic cultural circles mainly because of the lack of true singers, actors, writers, and artists.

People should neither blindly praise nor deeply grieve over the great popularity of "vulgar culture." If an artist was once greatly admired for his "elegant" works, he or she should not envy or hate others for their popular "vulgar" works, denounce the public for ignoring elegant art, or even go as far as saying that national culture is on the edge of a cliff.

Cultures, particularly aesthetic cultures and art forms, have their own beauty and values. As an old saying goes, "One man's meat is another man's poison." Just because you like spicy Sichuan food and Peking Opera does not mean others have to like the same things. If all people think the same and have the same preferences, the cultural ecosystem of mankind will die sooner or later.

Source:Worker's Daily, author: Xiao Han.

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Leave your comment3 comments

  1. Name

WH at 2012-11-2431.209.106.*
The trouble with this article is that it "opines", philosophy begins when one trying to think like a scientist about what good and bad culture is. So the article should begin by describing some models, and then analyse the problem at hand by referencing them. Now liberal arts type people generally do that by listing some examples of bad things, and then comparing them with the material at hand. Eg we could say if elvis is bad, this guy is bad. But if we want to get more abstract we can start by talking about vision. That"s the idea of asking "what would Jesus think?". Eg we try and picture in our minds eye the perfect utopia of China, and then we ask ourselves if the people in that utopia would like this material. If that"s too bright for our eyes, we can think about a more lunar approach, we can try and get a sense of the emotions the material evokes. For example, does it make you feel sexual, if sexual is it romantic or beastly etc? The visionary path is about honour, the earthy parth shame. Once we have come to some kind of judgement about the material then we can start judging the people who enjoy it. Are they blind, are they wanton? How bad is the sickness? For example, the worst possible case occurs when the individual is totally without honor or shame, and in that case they are a pestilance to society and need to be exterminated. All other cases require treatment, and then we can start very advanced conversation about what to do. Of course the simplest approach is simple to ban the material, but what we really want to do is adjust our cultural forces in such a way that society will be repelled by the material, that"s a real cure.I hope this helps, remember think like a sciensitst of human nature. Always look for models of right and wrong etc. Don"t just opine like one of these kids out of journalist school who just makes it up as he goes along.
romanov at 2012-11-2480.94.16.*
2012-11-23.All right but culture create establishment artistic"s.Today gover"s massive culture to be call pop to influence to all society or nation"s.Critic idol"s for their attitude towards society not worthy.Be it incident"s on which people look a tolerances to know artist.See head od state says nonsense support all a propaganda Question what"s he create? Wait become pop star a activity as politic-rule.Remain a such style promotion nonsense many many years to West.Head"s-horse common thiefs bribe-taker and sexuals deviant-real vulgar culture depraves all society.Leader"s nations western belevie they years-the ends shows falls angels.After a such shows nations have a moral hangover.They become allow? therefore not society.Western law become a propaganda a idea.Actress to play well part-politics scounded everything damage.Culture not to start wars and all bad only politician.Big word-politician.
Harald at 2012-11-2362.2.162.*
I like cultural tolerance, but what I like most about China, is that they put limits to what is allowed. Western songs mostly are about sex, and it"s very boring and annoying. Movies with nudity sell well. Selling well shouldn"t be the criteria for supporting something. China used to have socialist values. I would hope China can push these back to the surface again. Gangam Style is as anti-socialist as it gets, because it advertises total waste by the rich, without caring for the poor.

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