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Stephen King; High, Low, Or Just Accessible Culture?

2101 words - 8 pages

Stephen King; High, low, or just accessible culture?It is often said that it took The Exorcist to give Stephen King a lucky break in publishing, but nevertheless since then he has become probably the most famous name in the entire horror genre. King's fame is deserved due to his success in writing effectively in a manner that is accessible to both the poorly and the highly educated. Through his yarn-spinning style he has managed to engage young and old, the masses and the academics, claiming that the story is more important than the author's personality which is so often at the centre of critique. But for all his popularity, Stephen King is often criticised by many for his lack of imagination and simplistic grasp of language and style. Almost certainly this criticism is as a direct result of his film audiences rather than the readers of his novels, due to his film adaptations being nowhere nearly as captivating as many of his major novels such as The Shining, the Dead Zone or Carrie. This is also partly due to many of his novels being psychologically based and therefore being largely un-representable on the big screen!Can his supposedly simple work ever be classed as high culture or will it always be just a collection of good stories told in a relatively simple style?In order to answer a question such as this, one must first of all bear in mind what the difference between high and low culture actually is. There are various definitions of the term 'culture'. One of the ways in which it is used most frequently today is to describe a particular grouping of artistic activities, usually presumed to be enjoyed only by a small educated minority. This sense of the word owes its beginnings and perpetuation to scholars such as Arnold and Leavis. Matthew Arnold advanced the theory of culture as an antidote to anarchy: a kind of opiate, which, if the masses could appreciate it, would quel any anarchic tendencies and keep social classes in their rightful places. F.R.Leavis is well- known for his identification of a cultural elite in Mass Civilisation and Minority Culture: "it is upon a very small minority that the discerning appreciation of art and literature depends." Both these critics, along with others such as Richards, are making value judgements about art, culture and literature. Raymond Williams sets out multiple meanings of the word popular, with one such explanation being that it is something liked by many people and another that the subject is an inferior form of work. Another meaning of popular when concerning the arts is that the artist or author has set out to win the favour of the audience, and a final explanation for the word is that it contains work actually made by the people rather than a select few academics.In relation to King's possible nomination for a Lifetime Achievement Award there was both a great deal of support from his fan base, and a great deal of criticism from those who did not rate the horror genre as a whole such as Harold...

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