chapter  10
14 Pages

Masscult Menace: Popular Culture

BySteven Starker

Debate about popular culture was concerned with the impact of multiple mass media forms on contemporary life and values. The bestial, brutal, sensual aspect of the lower-class nature had tainted the clarity and beauty of knowledge and culture. Masscult and/or Midcult were everywhere. The "evil influence" view of the mass media had been born, and marketplace-oriented mass culture had become a matter of great concern to the intellectual/artistic establishment. Mass culture in the twentieth century has had the distinction of being attacked by both ends of the political spectrum, conservatives and socialists. For the new elite, the stakes of the conflict between mass culture and high culture were considerable; civilization itself was deemed at risk. More immediately, however, the power and status of the intellectual establishment were on the line. Dwight Macdonald's attack was focused on the impersonality of Masscult and its lack of standards.