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What’s wrong with Brownie? Brownie is delicious as well. Then, why this common sweet is less classy than a fluffy soufflé? The boundary between refined and popular tastes somehow suggests that there is a line is drawn between the vulgar and the elegant by popularity. The mainstream cultures are enjoyed by the majority but are not regarded as superior. It’s actually, otherwise.

From cultural perspective, it might involve the skills and knowledge systems on which the upper class had monopoly in the past. Education and skill training that is inaccessible to the public, and visions broadened by wealth and influence, with these investments, the upper-class will naturally have higher achievement than the ordinary people without resources. As a result, the class developed the élite culture.

Hence, the upper class has a better taste? Or, this is just the idea influenced by the class’s dominant position in the society.

What people look forward to is their economic and social status, not purely to their intellectual cultivation and tasteful. That is to say, what elegant might not exactly be elegant in an aesthetic point of view. In this case, whether it is refined or not depends on its audience and performer, not on the work itself.

What comes next is the purpose. The opera is made to please the audience sitting in the opera house to admire the art. Nursery rhymes and lullaby are to appease the baby or to tell the story. The fishermen’s sea songs are designed to relieve the hardships of the voyage, and the war songs of the indigenous are meant to invigorate the spirit for battle or hunting. These folk songs, made by the so-called uncultured and layperson, are not recorded and not made for art, but should their artistic merit be lower than music demonstrating superb skills and exquisiteness?

Thanks to the massive and swift exchange of information in modern society, Bach and the Beatles can be heard on the Internet at the same time. However, people still tend to think that the former is more cultured and more artistic.

It seems that it is no longer about barriers of accessing and appreciating these arts but more about regarding the ancient higher than the present, dominant cultural hegemony and hierarchy. How should we define what is refine taste and popular taste and their value in aesthetic and cultural domain?

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