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Does the chart mean no one actually likes PBR unironically?
June 27, 2011 4:22 PM   Subscribe

Middlebrow: The Taste That Dare Not Speak Its Name. GQ comes to terms with liking things that are popular.
posted by revgeorge (183 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
So the article is, I am happy that I like things that are popular?

Also middle-brow does not exactly mean popular, it has a real definition.
posted by The Whelk at 4:23 PM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


so now we're not supposed to like Feist? And nobody told me? Thanks, assholes.
posted by Auden at 4:24 PM on June 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also that chart makes me think I'm so far outside GQ's worldview I might as well be from Mars.

Aside from making NPR the dead middle of the middle market cause NPR is always the dead middle of everything.
posted by The Whelk at 4:26 PM on June 27, 2011 [13 favorites]


what the fuck is feist?
posted by The Whelk at 4:27 PM on June 27, 2011 [19 favorites]


PBR has an interesting location in that chart.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:28 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Preaching to the choir, in that you have to read GQ to even see the article in the first place.
posted by Eideteker at 4:28 PM on June 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, Real Housewives shows are definitely not middle-brow, according to anything resembling the actual definition of the word. Real Housewives shows and The Hangover II are enthusiastically low-brow.

Oprah's Book Club and Oscar bait are sort of definitionally what middle-brow is like, barring exceptions here and there.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:29 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


That he categorized PBR as "highbrow" is a strong indicator to me that he doesn't actually know anything about brows at all.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:29 PM on June 27, 2011 [17 favorites]


"what the fuck is feist?"

Fantasy Author. Friend of mine in HS was waaaay into his work.
posted by Eideteker at 4:30 PM on June 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


AskMetafilter is middlebrow.

Sorry, but it's true.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:30 PM on June 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


Shocked not to find Coldplay on this list.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 4:30 PM on June 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


PBR is seen two times on the chart.

BTW this chart is Middlebrow
posted by stbalbach at 4:30 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll go ahead and call this very article middlebrow, since apparently words no longer hold their meanings.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:30 PM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


is Café Bustelo highbrow, middlebrow or lowbrow?
posted by Auden at 4:31 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wish I could get paid to felliate my magazine's advertisers.

Hands up, who was aware GQ still existed?
posted by The Whelk at 4:32 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


So, GQ has nothing.
posted by 2N2222 at 4:32 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Last time I read GQ, they did an interview with Republican dirty trickster and all-around shit Roger Stone asking for his sartorial tips. This was sometime in the late 80s and even though I was still a Republican back then, I knew it was such a blow-job of an article that I put down the magazine and never looked back. Because seriously, fuck that guy.
posted by darkstar at 4:32 PM on June 27, 2011


Note to self -- When writing essay with the thesis "No one likes things that are popular", rethink thesis before submitting for publication.
posted by kyrademon at 4:32 PM on June 27, 2011 [11 favorites]


Well, that was completely incoherent.
posted by RogerB at 4:33 PM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


They put PBR in high brow to be ironic.
posted by wondermouse at 4:33 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


This chart is clearly an attempt to move the Overton Windbrow.
posted by speicus at 4:34 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


And arch, middle brow has wreak meaning, assertional, informative entry into things. Middle Brow is the voice saying you can get a speedy overview of difficult or complex subjects so you don't come off as uneducated.
posted by The Whelk at 4:34 PM on June 27, 2011


what the fuck is feist?


An elusive creature native to Canada and prized for its melodious voice, it was hunted to near extinction after appearing in an advertisement for the iPod Nano.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:34 PM on June 27, 2011 [23 favorites]


By the way, I live in Wisconsin, and yes, people like PBR unironically.
posted by escabeche at 4:34 PM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Aren't NPR and PBR Socialist stations run with taxpayer's money to indoctrinate people?
posted by Postroad at 4:34 PM on June 27, 2011


Everyone likes things are aren't popular.
posted by The Whelk at 4:34 PM on June 27, 2011


What is with this contemporary obsession with being ashamed of liking stuff? The Hipter (and subsequent hipster backlash) movement, sites like Stuff White People Like, etc.

I don't understand anymore.
posted by hellojed at 4:34 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Er middle brow has a real definition, it doesn't just mean Things Lots Of Peoople Like.
posted by The Whelk at 4:35 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I prefer to combine the highbrow and the lowbrow to create a unibrow.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:36 PM on June 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


That he categorized PBR as "highbrow" is a strong indicator to me that he doesn't actually know anything about brows at all.

I came here to say exactly that. Although, it's probably intended to be ironic which, apparently, means that hipsters are highbrow.
posted by asnider at 4:36 PM on June 27, 2011


I'm sitting here imagining the sort of person who would be reading that article, and looking at that Venn diagram, and nodding. "Yes, this all makes perfect sense. I have read the one book that is shown on there, because GQ - or was it Esquire? - told me to. But I also enjoy Cracker Barrel, and like to TiVo Friday Night Lights. And that Galifianakis guy sure is hip! Truly I am today's Everyman."
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:36 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would so much rather see that Middlebrow Continuum as a web app created by a MeFite and on which MeFites could vote things high-, middle- or low-.

Because, I thought many of the middle- items were decidedly low-. TGIFriday's? Low-. PBR? Middle-, and approaching low- again. Facebook? Obviously low. Anything that 500 million people are consuming is lowbrow by default.

So. Will someone get on that? I think we could have a high time.

So to speak.
posted by pineapple at 4:37 PM on June 27, 2011


is Café Bustelo highbrow, middlebrow or lowbrow?

Definitely lowbrow.
posted by josher71 at 4:37 PM on June 27, 2011


Learning about social stratification through GQ is terribly lowbrow. Haven't you read any Pierre Boudieu?
posted by peripathetic at 4:37 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Er middle brow has a real definition, it doesn't just mean Things Lots Of Peoople Like.

Given that the real definitely of Middlebrow essentially refers to "easily accessible art," I'd say that Things Lots of People Like is a pretty spot-on definition.
posted by asnider at 4:38 PM on June 27, 2011


My formula for all this is simple: I like the things that I like. Has served me well for years.
posted by jbickers at 4:38 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Coen brothers are middlebrow but Sting is highbrow? This chart is under protestbrow.
posted by theredpen at 4:39 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


There was a cafe in Brooklyn where the walls were lined in Cafe Bustelo ads. It gets to be high brow through the cultural appropriation causeway.
posted by The Whelk at 4:39 PM on June 27, 2011


God I love it when people take the time out to defend things that make millions of dollars. They really need it.
posted by lumpenprole at 4:40 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Damn it. I obviously need to proofread my posts better. That last comment should obviously say "real definition" rather than "real definitely."
posted by asnider at 4:40 PM on June 27, 2011


I neglected to add this to the FPP, but they also have a list of 50 Most Middlebrow Things. #1 is NPR.
posted by revgeorge at 4:41 PM on June 27, 2011


Or you could say the existence of this article makes it's author and imaginary readers, cause no one reads GQ, a perfectly example of middle browness because the primary quality of middle brow work is the anxiety that you will be judged on your consumption and a fear you will be outed as not as educated or worldly as you should be.
posted by The Whelk at 4:41 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I want to believe this chart was created entirely tongue-in-cheek. Otherwise if this isn't some kind of joke that GQ is trying to pull one over in some kind of "cool hunter" mimicking hoax, I think GQ is confusing high and middle brow with poshlost. In fact, the inclusion of Odd Future in the high-brow section only confirms it.
posted by kkokkodalk at 4:42 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can I just say that I like various stuff and leave it at that? No brows necessary, right?
posted by brundlefly at 4:43 PM on June 27, 2011


That diagram is all wrong. Middlebrow is not the intersection of highbrow and lowbrow, as Virginia Woolf took pains to explain way back when.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:43 PM on June 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


.......not a lot of time to read or etc., always pretty tired.....


Slouching towards fascism, one tired consumer at a time!
posted by lalochezia at 4:44 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


they also have a list of 50 Most Middlebrow Things.

Do they have it in actual list form? Clicking through 50 pictures of things that are boring is beneath all the brows I possess.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:45 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Relaxen
und
watchen

der mittelbrau
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:45 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I feel like being friends with me is a middlebrow experience.
posted by josher71 at 4:46 PM on June 27, 2011


Come on people, give us some Lowbrow Sting. For closure.
posted by chavenet at 4:47 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, thank you, middle brow is not the middle bit between high and low, it is the promise of highbrow made easy, the idea that Education and Emotion are always Good Things. It is a real word with a real definition and to hell with this lazy link bait shit.
posted by The Whelk at 4:47 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I find this information deeply confusing on all levels. Even the most basic. Like, why a Venn diagram? Shouldn't it just be an axis? Or a series of boxes?
posted by furiousthought at 4:48 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I hate this kind of article. When it comes to this kind of thing (beer, media of choice, pop culture whateveritis) like what you like. Don't like what you don't like. Who cares?

Life is short enough without worrying about what other people think about your taste in beer or books.
posted by never used baby shoes at 4:49 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


they also have a list of 50 Most Middlebrow Things.

CB2 is "middle brow" and it describes Ikea as something "for savages". Who are these people? why are they so insecure?

and then
#13 Nutella Like peanut butter, but for fatties.

Okay, gloves are off GQ
posted by hellojed at 4:51 PM on June 27, 2011 [17 favorites]


I'm fairly certain I read this article in a magazine article from the 50s.

Ah yes, here it is, in the April 1949 issue of Life, right down to the upper/lower middle-brow distinction. Yeah, I'm not sure how I came across that.
posted by topynate at 4:51 PM on June 27, 2011 [55 favorites]


Also these kind of ...things are complicit in the You Are What You Buy media narrative.

Vicious cycle, that.
posted by The Whelk at 4:52 PM on June 27, 2011


Oh, and it's in the GQ article too. Nevermind.
posted by topynate at 4:52 PM on June 27, 2011


Why has everyone heard of Café Bustelo? My parents have been drinking that since before it was cool. Does that make them septuagenarian hipsters?
posted by jewzilla at 4:53 PM on June 27, 2011


It is the strongest cheapest coffee you can buy at C-Town and Everywhere.
posted by The Whelk at 4:55 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


But, see, the graphic in the Life magazine article makes sense! Is coherent!
posted by furiousthought at 4:55 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's got a blunt, acidy charm if you're into that.
posted by The Whelk at 4:55 PM on June 27, 2011


Don't see how having two moms can be construed a highbrow choice, like reading books; by definition you do not get to choose your parents, whatever sexuality/gender permutation they are.
posted by bad grammar at 4:56 PM on June 27, 2011


Basically, this is a bad article by a bad person in a bad magazine so let's just never invite them to our parties.
posted by The Whelk at 4:57 PM on June 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


The Life magazine chart is wonderful. What do your salad choices say about you?
posted by betweenthebars at 5:01 PM on June 27, 2011


...and if you do invite him, don't let him pick the beer.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:02 PM on June 27, 2011


Everything on the highbrow list seems middlebrow to me. Not saying bad, just middlebrow. Hangover II is definitely lowbrow.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 5:02 PM on June 27, 2011


So glad we're even concerned with this nonsense.
posted by gcbv at 5:06 PM on June 27, 2011


Forget fiest -- what the fuck is PBR?

Seriously. I googled it and the first thing I saw was the link to Professional Bull Riders, Inc. and thought, Oh, is Rodeo the new thing now? Also, I'm not much of a drinker.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:06 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is the strongest cheapest coffee you can buy at C-Town and Everywhere.
posted by The Whelk


If you can find it, and at *real* lowbrow stores you can, El Pilon is even better and often cheaper.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:07 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


betweenthebars- yeah that upper-middle brow salad sounds great. Also, The Highbrow only eat greeens from unwashed salad bowls, wtf.
posted by kittensofthenight at 5:07 PM on June 27, 2011


Needs more dorkbrow and nerdbrow.
posted by unSane at 5:07 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


#13 Nutella Like peanut butter, but for fatties.

Okay, gloves are off GQ


Seriously. Sacrilege. Now you're just asking for it, GQ.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:08 PM on June 27, 2011


Apparently the GQ article is about brands I'd have to live in New York City to give a shit about.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:09 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, a reference to the fact that the terms "middle-brow," "low-brow," and "high-brow" were drawn from the completely discredited science of phrenology will make me seem high-brow.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 5:09 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Pilon is bullshit. Bustelo is king.
posted by josher71 at 5:11 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Life article is interesting because I think everything there is considered highbrow now. Lowbrow + time = highbrow?
posted by speicus at 5:12 PM on June 27, 2011


Like stuff. Don't like stuff. I don't give a fuck.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:12 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Note to self -- When writing essay with the thesis "No one likes things that are popular", rethink thesis before submitting for publication.

Because Yogi Berra said it first, and best: "Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded." (see also: Whole Foods parking lot meme)
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:13 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Odd Future is highbrow? Seriously? No wait. It's GQ.
posted by dortmunder at 5:13 PM on June 27, 2011


What is with this contemporary obsession with being ashamed of liking stuff?

This post from a couple of days ago almost answers that question. I think the heart of the matter is that some people think that appearing aloof and dismissive will indicate a world weariness, superior education and refinement of taste that other people will notice and admire. The impression that I actually get from people like that is usually that they don't have any truly interesting life experiences or passions that they're comfortable sharing, and that they're patching over their own uncertainty with sarcasm.

I totally love people who are excited about things they love (even if I totally don't get those things), but I guess there's a certain vulnerability in sharing the things you love with people who might not get it. Taking a dismissive attitude is a way of avoiding that vulnerability by laughing at other people for loving something.
posted by byanyothername at 5:13 PM on June 27, 2011 [28 favorites]


I was finally getting the "feel" of the "GQ middlebrow 50" while clicking through the pages and I thought: I wonder who Malcolm Gladwell blew to keep himself off this list (until I hit #5 and discovered that Malcolm had blown no one, at all).
posted by Auden at 5:14 PM on June 27, 2011


Ow, My Balls! = highbrow
posted by speicus at 5:15 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


worth it for the PBR joke
posted by NoraReed at 5:16 PM on June 27, 2011


Stop saying "Sting" when you really mean "the Police." There were three of them, and they were very good together. You're getting my angry-brow, now.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 5:17 PM on June 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


Apparently "The Larry Sanders Show" and Cabernet Sauvignon are "middlebrow".
posted by KokuRyu at 5:21 PM on June 27, 2011


what the fuck is feist?

I like a bit of feist fucking myself.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:26 PM on June 27, 2011


Hey GQ, Christian Lander called. He wants his Stuff White People Like back.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:26 PM on June 27, 2011


Devin Friedman makes a big deal out of telling me to not let other people tell me what to like, but what he's really doing, and not even secretly or subtly, is telling me what to like. There's nothing inherenlt wrong with that; he's an author, I'm a reader. Plus, he's even got handy diagrams for easy reference. Now that I've seen them, I'll never be able to think about PBR or Feist or vintage Volvos again in my own way without recalling his words and pictures. In a way, I'm tainted by his writing about culture the same way I'm tainted by culture, and on the same levels.

The only winning move is to avoid confusing what you like with what you are, which is, face it, a medium-falutin' and very middlebrow ideal.
posted by SteelyDuran at 5:27 PM on June 27, 2011


(Chipotle is more polarizing, I don't know why)

Chipotle is polarizing because it's one of the better burritos you'll find in places that don't have good Mexican food, however some of us live in places that have good Mexican food.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:27 PM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Holy hell that was a mess. Author obviously high prole at best.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:31 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you think you need permission from some group of people to like a thing whether it's popular or not, you have a much bigger problem than whether the thing is popular or not.

There really is no paradox here, because it's not that "nobody likes popular things," it's that "nobody worthwhile likes popular things." Except that, when get down where the short hairs grow, the worthwhile people are just as subject to trends and fashions in their acceptable practices as the plebes. The difference is that the plebes don't get all angsty about it because they're not trying to distance themselves from, you know, the plebes.
posted by localroger at 5:32 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


OK, people keep saying that middlebrow has a real definition WITHOUT TELLING IT TO ME.

Also - muddlebrow, spittlebrow and shittybrow - I need definitions for these too.
posted by GuyZero at 5:35 PM on June 27, 2011


What is with this contemporary obsession with being ashamed of liking stuff?

It's kind of an annoying personality aspect that seems particularly prominent in my generation.

To say "I like X" isn't merely descriptive. You're not just listing yourself as an object with properties, one of which happens to be an appreciation for X. To my generation, 'liking' something is a discrete act. You are choosing to like it. And you need to have an opinion, not only about X, but how you feel about your act of liking X. In fact, your opinion about liking X is as important as (if not more than) your choice to like X to begin with. This is what we shape our identity from. Liking things.

I'm pretty sure this has always been with us, but I think maybe it was associated with a certain class or personality type. I think the popularization of online dating, and then later social networks democratized the whole thing. Because it used to be that you had to have a conversation with someone to figure out what they liked. Now we wear it on our profiles, which is essentially our public personas. We drop little shibboleth breadcrumbs, letting people know what we 'like.' And even if you don't use any of these sites, you're affected socially by those who do.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:39 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


The trouble with liking stuff is that everything is about tribalism these days. I can't just "like tea". Now I'm a "tea drinker". I've cast my lot in with them. I can't just "like" the Tragically Hip. I have to either ally myself with every other Hip fan out there or be against them. That's why I can't like anything. It's just too polarizing.
posted by GuyZero at 5:42 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


PBR
More like middlebrau, amirite?
posted by emelenjr at 5:44 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


The thing that's always struck me about GQ is how shockingly different their definition of "Gentleman" must be from mine.
posted by Decani at 5:48 PM on June 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


Chipotle is more polarizing, I don't know why

It really is, and why is really a mystery. It's just a burrito, one made with local and natural ingredients even, but not liking Chipotle is an important signifier to some people. I just haven't figured out what this is supposed to signify.

All I know is I can get 2 pounds of food for under $7 in under 5mins. It's called lunch.
posted by elwoodwiles at 5:49 PM on June 27, 2011


Remember the standing rule that discussing what is a hipster automatically makes you a hipster.

...oh, goddammit.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:52 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


YOU JUST LOST THE GAME.
posted by mkb at 5:53 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The author is actually trying to make a claim for being hipper and more interesting than everyone else.

Read this paragraph:

Loving something terrible makes you interesting—in some ways the lowbrow is actually higher-brow than highbrow. Watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta or being into shitty peasant sandals from Vietnam or low-res porn—that you can sing from the rooftops. But if you like Feist, it's like you might as well tell people you're having a wonderful sexual affair with your mother. Because you know who likes the middlebrow? The unacceptable. Boring people.

Now here's why my head starts hurting: the "loving something terrible makes you interesting" is actually what this entire article is trying to do: loving the middlebrow and being proud of it (as opposed to hating the middlebrow, or loving the middlebrow and not thinking it's middlebrow). The author's right that a certain kind of obnoxious hipster is scared above all of being uninteresting, of having uninteresting opinions, of having no angle, so will have an interesting opinion even if there's no substance or feeling to it. That's why the author is obnoxious here: his main goal is to just have an interesting opinion. He doesn't even believe anything he's saying. He's pretty much trash-talking the things he professes to love. Feist is "edgeless", Vampire Weekend and Franzen are spending inordinate amounts of energy trying to appear like something they're not. This isn't the way people describe the things they like.

To reiterate, and again, making my head hurt: liking the highbrow is lowbrow. Hating the middlebrow is highbrow, which is actually lowbrow. Liking the middlebrow but thinking it's the highbrow is "high middlebrow", or the new middlebrow. Liking the middlebrow and being proud of it is the new highbrow. Did you get all that?

tl;dr: fuck off GQ dude
posted by naju at 5:59 PM on June 27, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'm just going to pretend this is really bad satire.
posted by hellojed at 6:01 PM on June 27, 2011


OK, people keep saying that middlebrow has a real definition WITHOUT TELLING IT TO ME.

it depends on who you're talking to and what era you live in but the basic idea is that Middle-Brow is a kind of education for the masses about things that are Culturally Important and Worthwhile but presented in an easy to understand and streamlined format. Middle brow is the how-to guide to understanding 15th century painting in three easy lessons or a single afternoon lesson in history and food or a handy-dandy handbook to etiquette.

More or less. It's the promise of erudition and culture (and a guaranteeing you wont be called out for lacking it) presented as an economic transaction.
posted by The Whelk at 6:04 PM on June 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Middlebrow: arguing the toss over the definition of 'middlebrow'.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:05 PM on June 27, 2011




GQ author is not allowed to have ANY more coke and he needs to stop following Anya around seriously. Creep.
posted by The Whelk at 6:05 PM on June 27, 2011


Naju: Bravo for even trying to unwrap that shit-sandwich of an article.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:05 PM on June 27, 2011


Middlebrow: arguing the toss over the definition of 'middlebrow'.

The middle class is not fueled by greed or desire or power, but by complete and utter self-loathing.
posted by The Whelk at 6:06 PM on June 27, 2011


I like that "Alec Baldwin, the actor" is middlebrow.
posted by Beardman at 6:08 PM on June 27, 2011


The middle class is not fueled by greed or desire or power, but by complete and utter self-loathing.

I wouldn't know. I skipped middle class.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:11 PM on June 27, 2011


The Whelk's comments make up about 20% of this 100+ comments thread. Is someone feeling extra procrastinatey tonight?
posted by hermitosis at 6:12 PM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have a cold, Tom.
posted by The Whelk at 6:13 PM on June 27, 2011


The local easy listening FM radio station in Lansing, MI used to advertise itself as "Music For The Middlebrow".

I also wondered by what definition krautrock was middlebrow, having read Feist as Faust !
posted by rfs at 6:14 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought the chart was funnier when suck.com did it more than a decade ago.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:14 PM on June 27, 2011


Feist isn't middlebrow. Feist is for hipsters, or hipster wannabes.

People tend to hate the middlebrow because of its embarrassingly earnest desire to be liked, its scientific and successful approach to hitting people's pleasure buttons. It points out the obvious fact that you're not as much an individual as you'd like to think, that human beings are designed to like chocolate and potato chips and Jack Purcells.


Exactly. I've come to terms about my love for boring, middle of the road rock and roll. I ain't proud of it, but it's there. I'm going to spend money on Meat Loaf. If you sound anything like Springsteen, I will follow you around the country. I will probably watch Marvel movies. Sure, I'll still go to your noise night and check out the latest David Lynch. But sometimes when the world gets too annoying or hectic you need to go home, put on some classic rock, and play some Gears of War.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:19 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Pretty much Ubu, I mean I like talking about class issues cause I find them interesting but this article is just SO BAD and SO WRONG about SO MANY things that it's a perfect example of ...wll everything wrong with the modern media landscape, the laziness, the brand-fucking the sloppy reasoning the graphs the slideshows the misuse of the word middle-brow (which AGAIN is a real term and does not mean "popular", I don't think it's totally useful in modern US sense however) and just the audience it assumes it a perfect storm of badness.

Like the Atlantic article about "indulgent parents" I think it's more telling who the audience for this kind thing is, it's not young couples or parents, it's thier parents, and the article exists to pat them on the back and say yes yes you are cool for liking things that are popular yes kids today ARE coddles shhh yes yes.
posted by The Whelk at 6:20 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shakespeare is middlebrow?!?

WTF?
posted by tuesdayschild at 6:21 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


PBR is highbrow? Wonder where Löwenbräu fits.
posted by smcameron at 6:22 PM on June 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Can someone copy and paste hippybear's most recent U2 defense? It seems like it belongs here too.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:22 PM on June 27, 2011


Feist isn't middlebrow. Feist is for hipsters, or hipster wannabes.

Is anything more middlebrow than hipsterdom?
posted by ixohoxi at 6:24 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also the traditional definition of middle =brow is conflated with Sentiment and having Proper Emotional Experiences.
posted by The Whelk at 6:27 PM on June 27, 2011


Also the traditional definition of middle =brow is conflated with Sentiment and having Proper Emotional Experiences.

That's the problem. Did the New Sincerity ever take off? It should have.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:31 PM on June 27, 2011


Wait, so are aerosolized pork brains low brow or high brow (presumably via "irony")?
posted by infinitywaltz at 6:32 PM on June 27, 2011


taste and aesthetics devolved into half-assed marketing
posted by pyramid termite at 6:41 PM on June 27, 2011


I mean I like talking
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:46 PM on June 27, 2011


A lot of people like talking.
posted by Max Power at 6:52 PM on June 27, 2011


it beats dance and odor for communication.
posted by The Whelk at 6:53 PM on June 27, 2011


I'm with Whelk on this one - GQ? It still exists? That's truly a sad thing. You put that mag in a time capsule or a space launch and it's interstellar war, people.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:55 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


GQ? It still exists? That's truly a sad thing.

It's still better than Esquire, which contains a monthly list of words that "real men" shouldn't use.
posted by asnider at 6:59 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I drink Bustelo because my father has for the last few years and he turned me on to it. He drinks it because he's cheap and likes a good cup of coffee, both things he inherited from his father. My grandfather was born in Cuba. (So was my father, actually.) All this talk of what brow Bustelo is is for los americanos.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:01 PM on June 27, 2011


it beats dance and odor for communication.

That really depends what you're trying to communicate.
posted by unSane at 7:01 PM on June 27, 2011


hellojed, it didn't occur to me until I read this comment thread that the article was anything but bad satire.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 7:01 PM on June 27, 2011


At least near where I live, they have some fairly despicable labor practices. Underperforming store? Security guards show up on Wednesday afternoon to escort the entire staff off of the premises, with an entire new complement of workers directly behind them.

In the DC/MD/VA area, they were under scrutiny for hiring illegal workers, and used this same tactic, firing almost every single worker in the region, after which they turned to the befuddled INS agents and said "We're 100% sure that we've fired all of the undocumented workers working at our stores. It's not racial profiling, because we fired all of our white workers too."

So, there's one reason to dislike Chipotle. As far as actual food content goes, I guess it's a step up from the dreck that's permeated the market for decades... still not horribly healthy, but more fresh ingredients (and unquestionably better than "Bad' Mexican food; as a chain, they've certainly raised the bar for what is passable as Mexican food. Taco Bell's continued existence is an anomaly.)
posted by schmod at 7:04 PM on June 27, 2011


I am delighted to learn from the diagram given that books, all of them, are highbrow. I won't bother shelving my ratty old YA paperbacks and cheesy Daw press seventies science fiction in the crappy bookcase anymore.
posted by Frowner at 7:05 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


*Sorry. That comment above was in reference to the meta-thread about why some people dislike Chipotle. That's my reason.

Otherwise, whatever. Fuck it all. I like what I like, and if you like it too; the more the merrier! As long as you make an effort to keep an open mind, and occasionally try and discover new things, you're OK in my book.
posted by schmod at 7:05 PM on June 27, 2011


This is why I don't tell anyone what I like. That way they don't judge me for it. I like to think it makes me seem mysterious but it probably just makes me seem boring.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:05 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


This was also a SPY article about 25 years ago. If I weren't reading MeFi on my phone right now, I would go dig it up on Google Books.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:08 PM on June 27, 2011


The middle class is not fueled by greed or desire or power, but by complete and utter self-loathing.

The middle class is fueled by precarity. That's the whole point; the working class doesn't have much too lose; the aristocracy always, as a whole, falls upstairs. Only the middle class really needs to worry about status and money and so on.

If the middle class had power, there wouldn't be any real question about who set trends and what good taste was.
posted by Frowner at 7:09 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


"to lose" as some folks say
posted by Frowner at 7:09 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is a wonderful argument that the reason you need to encourage a large, powerful, middle class is because it's the only broad class that is interested in charge.
posted by The Whelk at 7:13 PM on June 27, 2011


Do you like Rings?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:15 PM on June 27, 2011


Now that I've read the top fifty (and holy mackerel, what a lot of ads to sit through)...well, this is basically you-liberal-pansies-are-all-middlebrow. There's some obvious political intent involved. You can't really take any list on which organ donation is "middlebrow" as anything but a weird, sloppy, vaguely right-wing attack on social values.

Ah, GQ, didn't you used to run good fashion editorials in, like, the seventies?
posted by Frowner at 7:23 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, The Highbrow only eat greeens from unwashed salad bowls, wtf.

I think this is from when salad bowls were all made of wood and one was to wipe it out rather than wash it with soap, much like a cast-iron pan, in order to maintain the seasoning.
posted by pineapple at 8:17 PM on June 27, 2011


After skimming this thread I suddenly understand hoe the Whelk got to 10,000 comments so quickly. Pause for breath, dude.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 8:28 PM on June 27, 2011


It's not even a real Venn diagram, the overlap is supposed to show relationships within sets. This whatever-the-hell-it-is is just dressed in Venn drag.
posted by Scoo at 8:33 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, this chaps my hide: "Ultimately, adoption, like all forms of parentage, is about narcissism." Fuck you GQ, I'm sterile, should I have just gotten a dog?
posted by Scoo at 8:36 PM on June 27, 2011


God damn every time I try to snark I am betrayed by virtual keyboards and predictive text correction.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 8:36 PM on June 27, 2011


Feist isn't middlebrow. Feist is for hipsters, or hipster wannabes.

Actually, we donated her to middlebrow science after the second listen of The Reminder.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 8:39 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Decani: "The thing that's always struck me about GQ is how shockingly different their definition of "Gentleman" must be from mine."

Their definition of "quarterly" is a bit odd, as well.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:44 PM on June 27, 2011


"Nothing is more bourgeois than to be afraid to look bourgeois" -Andy Warhol
posted by aspo at 9:03 PM on June 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


You can have any color you like, so long as it's black.
posted by The Whelk at 9:13 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's nothing offensive about wanting to create a better world for a child. It's also not as noble as it seems. Ultimately, adoption, like all forms of parentage, is about narcissism. Stop being a human hoarder.

What a load of hateful tripe.

Too low to own a car, too high to rent, Zipcar is the cool kid compromise, made simple but mildly extravagant by the "membership" quality. But don't fool yourself, it's still a car rental service.

Okay, now they’re just stretching.

Anyone who gets all excited anytime the OED adds a new word—OMG, they just added OMG!—probably doesn't have their priorities in order. LOL.



I just clicked through this whole thing and gave GQ another $0.10 in ad revenue. Sonofabitch.
posted by spitefulcrow at 9:15 PM on June 27, 2011


Where do Ed Hardy t-shirts - that is, lowbrow accoutrements dressed in highbrow pricetags - fit into this schema?
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:15 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Whelk, can I have you around to provide commentary on everything in my life? I don’t have enough favorites to give you.
posted by spitefulcrow at 9:17 PM on June 27, 2011


Class, by Paul Fussell, remains the definitive authority on these matters.
posted by Kwine at 9:30 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't believe I read as far into the article as I did. Seriously, I like what I like and I care very little for being categorized. This reminds me of the old Slate.com article about why Billy Joel sucks. A bunch of people wrote in saying he can't suck that bad because he is so popular. The counterarguement was that mass appeal proves suckage. Why should we be so bound up in whether everyone approves of our lifestyles? I guess it's the search for the authentic self. Ironically, the less of a shit you give, the more authentic you actually seem.
posted by Knowyournuts at 9:31 PM on June 27, 2011


The hate is funny, since MeFites are usually so afraid of being too lowbrow or middlebrow.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:50 PM on June 27, 2011


infinitywaltz: "Wait, so are aerosolized pork brains low brow or high brow (presumably via "irony")"

Highbrow at El Bulli, middlebrow at Alex.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:50 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Highbrow
Reddit: Middlebrow
Digg: Lowbrow

Did I get it right?
posted by NoraReed at 9:55 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The hate is funny, since MeFites are usually so afraid of being too lowbrow or middlebrow.

*fart noise*
posted by shakespeherian at 9:59 PM on June 27, 2011



Here's why everyone knows Cafe Bustelo. It was a concerted effort on the part of (founder's grandson) J.P. Souto.

Here in Key West, Café Bustello is mother's milk. I mean, around every corner there are little mini-bodegasthat sell "cheese toast" (Cuban bread mashed flat on a heated plancha, with margarine and cheese), guava cake (or some such), and bucci, con leche, and colada café. And as if by law, the café is made with Café Bustelo.

Because Key West is a mash-up of tastes, there are upscale coffee shops now that do not sell bucci, con leche or colada and especially do not sell Café Bustelo. (These would be mid-to-high-brow places.)

On the other hand, there are the legendary spots such as M&M Laundry on White, the new true-to-culture Cuban Coffee Queen, and of course Five Brothers where Café Bustelo is why people come.

It's a blue collar thing. People from Key West are called "conchs", and Cafe Bustelo is called conch crack. It is an ongoing source of entertainment to launch guests to the island by introducing you all to our indigenous café culture with a couple of buccis drawn off a single colada. Buccis are little plastic thimbles of refined sugar and very dark hot café. Two of these to the uninitiated and the show begins. BTW in Miami "bucci" is nickname for "speed".

Anyhow most of us start drinking it young. Our grandparents give it to us on Sundays and holidays. Our fathers and "bubbas" (neighbors; literally brothers, close friends) feed it to us before going out early to catch some fish. Always with loads of sugar. It's a thing.

Back on subject, I remember when the Bustelo grandson came down to Key West a few years back to explain to some important locals his plan to take Bustelo to a new younger audience by marketing it to club crowds and at special events. So when it started turning up in pop culture references, I wasn't surprised except that he actually pulled it off. And apparently bigger than anyone ever expected, as the company just sold for $360 million to Smucker.

Lastly, so it's a blue collar thing picked up by enthusiasts looking for an authentic experience. So be it. Meaning middle-brow sounds just about right. But of all the treats and vices I have enjoyed in my lifetime, none of them comes even close to the demon I (and about 90% of our small island) do battle with everyday that is the clarion call of addiction service to of bucci, con leche or colada made at the corner with Café Bustelo. And a cheese toast, bubba.
posted by Mike Mongo at 10:04 PM on June 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


For years we have been taught not to like things. Finally somebody said it was OK to like things. This was a great relief. It was getting hard to go around not liking everything.
— David Byrne
posted by WhackyparseThis at 11:51 PM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also that chart makes me think I'm so far outside GQ's worldview I might as well be from Mars.

IAMAMARTIAN.

U2WHELK?
posted by hal_c_on at 12:27 AM on June 28, 2011


I'm wearing a Walmart shirt and ninja shoes, drinking Nescafe, listening to drum and bass, and wearing ninja shoes. I drive an aluminum folding bike and use out-of-the-box Ubuntu. I'll probably drink Rogue Dead Guy while I yell at an indie director tonight. I carry my 2nd-hand offbrand netbook in a Crumpler bag. Oh, and I read metafilter.

I'm just obviously not even on GQ's radar. I will proceed to heartily ignore this.
posted by saysthis at 12:56 AM on June 28, 2011


Cool story, brow.

I was in Le Pain Quotidien the other day (middlebrowest chain in New York!)

The ultimate in middlebrow jokes. Unfunny but dressed up to make you feel smart for spotting it.

Shakespeare is middlebrow?!?

I like him better when he was Marlowe, before he sold out and his label made him change the name.

Where do Ed Hardy t-shirts - that is, lowbrow accoutrements dressed in highbrow pricetags - fit into this schema?

Lowbrow. The kind of thing worn by the sons of used car dealers.
posted by atrazine at 2:18 AM on June 28, 2011


What I got from this:

Potato chips.
Chocolate.

Mmmmmm...
posted by Splunge at 3:40 AM on June 28, 2011


Shakespeare is middlebrow?!?

Well Britain, as a whole, is middlebrow. I'm guessing Will just got grandfathered in.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:44 AM on June 28, 2011


Also: is it middlebrow to point out that their depiction of "Britain" showed the United Kingdom, which isn't quite the same thing?
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:44 AM on June 28, 2011


I'd put that whole (wrongly used) venn diagram as a continuum of the lowbrow...
posted by palbo at 5:01 AM on June 28, 2011


I found nothing on that chart I like, so I'm either nobrow or postbrow. Or kidding myself.
posted by tommasz at 5:02 AM on June 28, 2011


The chart is ridiculous. But then so is that article. Everything there is easy to digest, therefore popular. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Here's the real point about highbrow - it's not for daily consumption. It's too rich. There's a reason the Greeks staged plays for one festival a year. THey couldn't handle any more than that. Take a gander at Medea and you'll understand why.

(Potters off to google Feist.)
posted by IndigoJones at 5:38 AM on June 28, 2011


Enough about PBR--how does Löwenbräu fare?
posted by hell toupee at 6:02 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Whelk: " what the fuck is feist? "

They're small treeing hunting dogs but I had no idea they were popular enough outside the South for GQ to notice them.
posted by workerant at 7:50 AM on June 28, 2011


It is the strongest cheapest coffee you can buy at C-Town and Everywhere.
posted by The Whelk

If you can find it, and at *real* lowbrow stores you can, El Pilon is even better and often cheaper. posted by fourcheesemac

CTown should have El Pilon and also El Coqui and El Morro and Cafe Caribe and several other choices. At least MY CTown does. Bustello is so middlebrow anyway.
posted by Obscure Reference at 9:24 AM on June 28, 2011


I like Paul Fussell.
posted by box at 9:26 AM on June 28, 2011


Feist isn't middlebrow. Feist is for hipsters, or hipster wannabes.

I would argue that Feist is middle-brow. You hear her music in grocery stores and on lite rock stations next to the likes of Sade. You could buy her cd at starbucks at one point.
Of course this is just my experience in Canada. Ymmv
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:43 AM on June 28, 2011


Remember the standing rule that discussing what is a hipster automatically makes you a hipster.

...oh, goddammit.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:52 PM on June 27 [2 favorites +] [!]


It's okay, you're not discussing them, you're just discussing the discussion. You're just being metaaAAAARRRGHGGGHHHHHH MY BRAIN
posted by FatherDagon at 12:33 PM on June 28, 2011


Pilon is bullshit. Bustelo is king.
posted by josher71


I have gone so far as to blind taste test (with others present) all the vacuum sealed Latino bodega coffee brands. As someone who once worked in the fine wine business, I know how to do that right. I am confident in my choice of Pilon. It has a richer flavor, with lower acidity, that Bustelo, which I also like fine. Consequently you can brew it extremely strong to get maximum caffeine dosage without it tasting like eating an ashtray. I'm talking drip brew, not espresso. Cafe Caribe can be quite good too. I look for the one that's currently $3-4 a brick. But Pilon, sir, is not "bullshit." I challenge you to put them head to head.

They all come from the same roasters anyway. God knows what the bodega coffee business is really a front for.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:38 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


They all come from the same roasters anyway.

I believe I heard somewhere that they're actually all the same but the different brands continue to exist to take advantage of brand loyalty. Supposedly people from X like Bustelo, and people from Y like Pilon, etc., and people from place X hate people from Y so they wouldn't drink Pilon.

(This story would be better if I remembered what X and Y were.)
posted by madcaptenor at 7:57 PM on June 28, 2011


So, they care enough to codify what "middlebrow" is?

Indeed.
posted by droplet at 8:24 PM on June 28, 2011


I believe I heard somewhere that they're actually all the same

No, that is not true. I am sitting in my kitchen drinking Bustelo right now. 11 scoops for 10 cups in my drip maker. Bustelo because it was on sale ($3.99) at Associated on 14th St. But I can so tell the difference when I switch back to Pilon.

I'm a coffee nut. I drink 6-10 cups a day. My tastes are fairly refined. I am telling y'all that if you have not tried Pilon, you don't know. It's the gem of the genre. I don't know why. It's a darker roast than Bustelo, for sure, but less acidic.

On the other hand, I find (to get all NYC) Oren's coffee to be grossly over-roasted, worse even than Starbucks.

For NYC folks, I will here reveal my favorite cup of coffee: Samad's deli, in the Columbia neighborhood, on Broadway at 111th st., run by Lebanese folks who have been there forever adn are super nice and super into coffee (they have a wonderful display of whole beans in bins). Their basic 99 cent large cup of coffee is a mix of Guatemalan Antigua and something else I can't identify, with a touch of cinnamon, just enough to suggest cappuccino. For 99 cents. There is an Oren's across the street. I don't know why anyone goes there.

Plus they have a bench out front, dedicated to the memory of their very long-time store cat.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:36 AM on June 29, 2011


(See, that's highbrow: preferring the cheap deli coffee made perfectly by Lebanese guys over the over-priced over-roasted specialty store across the street. Middlebrow would be the Starbucks one block up.)
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:39 AM on June 29, 2011


Needs more Fussell.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:42 AM on June 29, 2011


Lovecraft In Brooklyn: "Feist isn't middlebrow. Feist is for hipsters, or hipster wannabes. "

The reason I know who Feist is is her appearance on a Colbert Report Christmas special. She's not exactly obscure.
posted by brundlefly at 10:33 AM on June 29, 2011


That diagram is all wrong. Middlebrow is not the intersection of highbrow and lowbrow, as Virginia Woolf took pains to explain way back when.

The delicious part is that Woolf's definition of middlebrow -- people who are preoccupied with taste and liking only the "correct" things -- essentially defines GQ.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:55 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


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