+ May 16, 2003
I’m finishing up a fascinating book called Nobrow from John Seabrook. The number one Google result for John Seabrook is his nearly 10-year-old “home page” which he seems to have created for his book “Home on the Net”, but now appears to be abandoned. (Is it a home if no one lives there?)
Nobrow examines the intersection of culture and marketing and the new (single) road that they have both merged to become. My understanding of his theory is roughly that, in today’s consumer society, culture is defined by commodities, and the resulting definitions exist outside the scope of high-brow and low-brow because so little creative purity remains. I might have botched that explanation a bit…
More interesting than the theory are Seabrooks examples. He interviews George Lucas, and David Geffen, hangs around MTV, and writes for the New Yorker. He listens to gangster rap while contemplating his desire to appear in Ralph Lauren advertisements at the Princeton boat house. Thus his book perfectly employs the popularity technique that he writes about: cashing in on buzz by scraping off a little piece for oneself. Seabrook might not be a household name, but MTV, the New Yorker, Lucas, Geffen, et al. are certainly worth reading about. He keeps your interest by taking from mass media, the force that binds U.S. Americans together, the official religion of the United States.