Evil Bidet of Elitism

Author: joe

Thursday, 30 June, 2005 - 12:11

Where does the idea that some things are not worthy of 'academic' study come from?

Today on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, Jenny Murray ran a feature on an upcoming 4 day conference at the University of Huddersfield on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Her beginning thrust was 'Why does Buffy justify 4 days of academic discussion''

A few months ago at the Guardian, Leo Benedictus wrote a piece about a conference dedicated to Morrisey and The Smiths. The reporter scavenged wildly for someone, anyone, who was prepared to slag it off as unworthy of academic reflection, but failed to do so, even when speaking to sources he expected to provide such an analysis, such as the Oxbridge dons of musical study.

Over the last 30 years there has been an overt movement in academia and, specifically, the study of learning and teaching, which has acknowledged that the biggest barrier to making learning accessible is the disengagement of those with knowledge, their withdrawal to the ivory tower, and frankly, the use of jargon. Such actions lead to a kind of 'us-and-them' relationship between teachers and students.

This has of course run parallel to the 'postmodernisation' of cultural language, where cultural thinkers have cloaked their so-called 'thoughts' in language so obscure that they alone can decipher the true meaninglessness of their writings.

Richard Dawkins brilliantly exposed these quacks in an article, 'Postmodernism Disrobed', reproduced in 'A Devil's Chaplain'. Basically, if someone seems to be talking bollocks, they almost certainly are.

Real communication requires the use of real language - the language that people understand, the language that is accessible to everybody, and that doesn't exclude people simply because they have not been 'indoctrinated' into the jargon, because teaching is about demystification, not initiation, and learning is about creation, not about reproduction.

It may be entirely acceptable to discuss things that are obscure, in order to bring an understanding of them to a wider audience. But surely it is equally acceptable to discuss things that are accessible and easy for everybody to relate to, like Buffy or The Smiths, without our servants in the media telling us to be surprised.

Categories: elitism, media, academia, postmodernism,
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