Thursday, June 12, 2014

HighBrow? or Lowbrow?

One of the funnest... most fun?  okay, most giddy! joys of being a theater designer is getting to play riffs on the "class" game.  For any show where you determine the look of a character's environment, you get to peg them into their little round or square hole in society's Game of Class.

(America class-less?  Hardly.)

Choosing just the right detail or set dressing to illustrate the character's situation and aspirations is fun.

So today's little internet gem (thanks BoingBoing) is a 1949 chart from Life magazine that spreadsheets and illustrates the differences in taste between High-Brow, Upper and Lower Middle-brow, and Low-Brow.  See it big n' beautiful HERE.

1942 Life magazine chart of  The Good Life, by social/intellectual status level

Hilarious.  And, as far as I can judge, pretty darn accurate.  I know that in the 1920s the U.S. Census Bureau had a similar sort of checklist that helped workers peg families into their status-holes - so many points for books in the parlor, more points for a piano, a rug, etc.  My favorite book to discuss these matters - from the 1980s - is Home Psych, by Joan Kron.  (Read an excerpt, "The Semiotics of Home Decor" HERE.)

So what would today's status/class markers be?

Things - objects - are easier come by nowadays than in the past, but I'm pretty sure owning  "real" art would still  be one marker of high-brow-ness...  So would be reading high-toned literature.  What else?

No comments:

Post a Comment