In fact, it pulls off the odd trick of giving a pretty good sense of the feel of life as an Oxford undergraduate, while at the same time profoundly misrepresenting what the university is really like. The majority of Oxford students are serious, hard-working, hard-drinking, emotionally repressed, distant, very ordinary, and very clever young people almost all situated toward the bottom of the autistic spectrum. Oxford itself institutionally is just weird, like nowhere else on earth. I did my finals in in the same room as David Cameron, and remember meeting Boris Johnson or rather hearing his then-stupefying accent in A quarter of a century later they stand on the brink of running the country.
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In fact, it pulls off the odd trick of giving a pretty good sense of the feel of life as an Oxford undergraduate, while at the same time profoundly misrepresenting what the university is really like.
The majority of Oxford students are serious, hard-working, hard-drinking, emotionally repressed, distant, very ordinary, and very clever young people almost all situated toward the bottom of the autistic spectrum.
Oxford itself institutionally is just weird, like nowhere else on earth. I did my finals in in the same room as David Cameron, and remember meeting Boris Johnson or rather hearing his then-stupefying accent in A quarter of a century later they stand on the brink of running the country. The oddity is, though, that this serial could not possibly be made by British television today; while politically the Flyte tribe is poised for power, culturally it has never been more marginal.
The question is about the relationship between political factors and cultural production. How do films, TV programmes, books etc.
The serial gladly embraces a superannuated poshness: cut-glass accents, campy speech patterns, mincing gait and precious poses, in-references to a tiny and exclusive milieu, and an assumption of immense and unearned privilege.
It was easy to see this in - especially since the source novel is bathed in nostalgia for a lost golden age - as the television embodiment of a Tory desire to return to the days when Britain was "great", whether Victorian or pre-Welfare state. However, the serial could only have been made the way it was in a television landscape that Thatcher hated and set out, ultimately successfully, to dismantle.
Its financing relies on the monopoly position of the BBC and ITV: untold sums of money were thrown at it, enabling it to become, at 11 hours or two minutes per page, proportionately the longest TV adaptation ever made, and saturating every shot with props from Sothebys and famous and expensive actors Gielgud and Olivier in cameos! Various stately homes and Oxford colleges, Venice, Gozo and life aboard the QE2 are all lavishly and lovingly recorded.
Nowadays there would not be ten per cent of the funding for such an adaptation, which would be one third of its length, mostly studio-shot, and cast TV actors unknown outside Britain. Thatcher herself, it turned out, hated the Flyte set as much as any member of the Attlee government had. She had no time at all for the Anthony Blanches of her party, and spent her first few years as Prime Minister sacking them. Thirty years on, Britain is turning back to the Etonians and landed gentry who ran and owned the country in the s, and whom Thatcher ruthlessly sidelined.
Since Thatcher broke the monopoly of the BBC and ITV and opened the TV landscape to market forces and infinite numbers of channels, it no longer has a TV industry financially capable of producing something so opulent and sumptuous as the version of Brideshead Revisited.
But culturally too tastes have shifted. The habits and destinies of the upper-middle-class and aristocracy are no longer assumed to be interesting and valuable in themselves; solemn and tireless fidelity to a source novel even one that is very good, and great in parts and to a vanished historical era is no longer considered by adaptors as a worthwhile goal.
This is a complex pattern of associations. I am now, like Cameron and Johnson, of the age of Charles Ryder at the start of his reminiscences, and also inclined to look back at my time at Oxford, a time which was equally that of the filming of Brideshead Revisited.
As a TV production fetishizing the aristocracy, a literary novel, and cultural production untouched by the market, the serial reflects the values of the interwar years actually overthrown by the dominant politics of its own time. And while the social descendants of the serial wait in the wings to take political control once again of a country they have never ceased to own, so they have been driven off the cultural radar except in their historical guise.
British TV today is cash-oriented and middle-class or below if contemporary; aesthetes and those from higher social positions appear in the distant past, and then with little concern for accuracy.
This all suggests that cultural production reflects political contexts ambiguously and in more complicated ways than we sometimes like to imagine. There is a lesson there for any historical attempt to understand culture. Posted by.
ALAN KIRBY DIGIMODERNISM PDF
The irony was lost on these writers that, in reality, they were using a digimodernist textuality to attack the very notion of a digimodernist work of art. It was as though one sibling told another that while he was beyond reproach, the progeny of her parents were worthless. What is digimodernism? What is this digimodernism? Put simply, it is the impact of computerization on all forms of art, culture and textuality. It is also the dominant cultural force field of the 21st century, the successor to a postmodernism which reigned supreme throughout the s and s but is now widely felt to have had its day. The cultural landscape, it can be argued, is skewed at all times by the gravitational pull of certain ideas, themes, tendencies or individuals.
The Death of Postmodernism and Beyond
Kirby: Digimodernism.. In search of the lost past. Alan Kirby in his book Digimodernism argues that Tolkiens Lord of the Rings trilogy has the same structure. Download PDF..