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The death of subtlety?

Post 1

clzoomer- a bit woobly

Or perhaps the general absence of wit in entertainment and culture. Too much democracy in culture and the absence of a kind of regency or reward for intelligent comedy or drama or entertainment. A dumbing down if you will, the lowest common denominator that must be obvious and provable. Almost a scientific or statistical approach to culture, something that runs with II, III and IV versions of something that worked once instead of original ideas that resonate with those who have to think about it. What makes me like Tom Lehrer? The fact that every line has meaning and is relevant years after it was written, or that he was a mathematician who revealed the ridiculousness of the culture of his time with wit and subtlety both?

Oscar Levant said that those with wit only need to make a handful of pithy remarks to be remembered. I agree, so where is this generation's crop of those who have wit and subtlety?

The death of subtlety?

Post 2


I think there has to be originality in there. I mean I can think of a few who I think make remarkably good points, but they ain't original and they are repackaging older sayings for a new mass market.

One I would mention would be Chris Morris - all not seen his latest 4 lions which is apparently more slapstick that biting satire. He's a bit spikier than the likes of Lehrer though. But then, comedy, wit, observation is all of its time. There'll be those with the requisite properties - but maybe society is currently such that they simply don't get the exposure they might have had in another time?

p.s. was listening to some Flanders and Swan the other month, and unsurprisingly many of their political points are still as valid and current now as then.

The death of subtlety?

Post 3

clzoomer- a bit woobly

Flanders and Swan! There's a good example. I think the only song that doesn't age well is the De Gaulle one... smiley - snork

Comedians can qualify, certainly but I miss the kind of Algonquin Round Table, multi-faceted, bon mot individual that is quoted at work the next day. Not the writer-backed character of a sit com.

I hadn't heard of Chris Morris, thanks for that! I do enjoy C.K. Lewis now and then along with Demitri Martin but their humour isn't all that biting or political, just fairly clever. Clever enough but not really all that relevant. I believe the public is missing people like Levant or Dorothy Parker, if the ratings of Bill Mahr and Jon Stewart are any indication, but then Mahr and Stewart are strictly at it for those ratings and laughs. Maybe not Mahr...
smiley - laugh

The death of subtlety?

Post 4

There is only one thing worse than being Gosho, and that is not being Gosho

The thing about originality is that it's always existed, at least in popular culture, I'd say, among a sea of mundanity.

For every Monty Python, Brass Eye, Til Death Us Do Part, League of Gentlemen, Royle Family, there's been an ocean of On The Buses, As Time Goes By, Terry and June, To the Manor Born, Hi De Hi, Love Thy Neighbour, Oh No It's Selwyn Froggit.

Originality, by its very nature, is rare. It's not possible for more than a small handful of writers, comedians, musicians, artists to come up with something completely new, and it seems to me that the same thing repackaged in a different setting is often just what people want. Take a sitcom or a drama series or a whodunnit, set it in a different era or town, and with different characters, as long as the writing and production values are good people will enjoy it and love it. One Foot in the Grave, Porridge and Open All Hours would be average sitcoms but for the characterisations by Richard Wilson and Ronnie Barker. Yes Minister would be an average sitcom if not for the clever writing. The Royle Family would be an average sitcom if not for the post-on portrayal of the setting. I Didn't Know You Cared would be an average sitcom if not for Linda Preston smiley - bigeyes

Sorry smiley - blush

But you get my point, I hope. Unoriginality can still be something special even with just one small nugget of originality in there.

The death of subtlety?

Post 5

clzoomer- a bit woobly

I do get your point, well said.

Originality is key with out a doubt, but of the six or so of your list that I remember seeing (sorry, CBC, BBC Canada and PBS don't serve the Colonies all that well!) very few are subtle. It's the kind of *did he/she just say what I think they did??* humour I miss. Double entendres, puns, most of all irony but with a sophisticated edge.

The death of subtlety?

Post 6


I wonder if there is anything in the change of medium, I mean, the characters one might think of from the past were, in their way, authority figures. Maths geniuses, political or literary experts. Very intelligent people with a sideways take on life. And that dry, subtle form of delivery just gets drowned out in the dross and the shouting of bigger enterprises. Rants seem to be message delivery vehicle of choice for the more discerning commenter.

I'm thinking Charlie Brooker here, as an example. Quite a perceptive chap with more than a few biting remarks to make - but very little in the way of subtlety. Not that I don't like him/his stuff - I do.

Ian Hislop can be quite good at times in the bon mot mode, as can Paul Merton (and that's outside their panel show personas).

I guess I associate the sort of comment with intellectuals (although not necessarily classical ones) and even there, the rant is more popular.

The death of subtlety?

Post 7


This seems to be trying for the sort of thing you speak of clzoomer. Still too obvious though, the use of CAPS excludes it I think, but at least he is trying!

The death of subtlety?

Post 8


although this is rather more successful (sorry, I just happened to spot it, not obsessively searching for such now!)

Start of 5th para is:

"Among the worthies, Glasgow boy turned Harvard professor Niall Ferguson, a man not displeased by what he sees in the mirror, ..."

I think i get what he means smiley - biggrin

The death of subtlety?

Post 9

clzoomer- a bit woobly

Nicely said! smiley - winkeye

The death of subtlety?

Post 10


No, no it's not dead, it's restin'!

smiley - silly

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