The Play’s the Thing

A friend recently pointed out a DVD of a new performance of William Shakespeare’s “King Lear” and observed that she generally did not enjoy such “highbrow” entertainment, even though the star of that particular staging was an actor she adored. If Shakespeare could hear such sentiments, I think he would be both flattered and very, very surprised.

There are no hard and fast rules about what is “highbrow” and what isn’t: like pornography, we all generally know it when we see it. Shakespeare, opera, live theater generally, and movies with subtitles are highbrow; professional wrestling, monster truck rallies, the NFL, and fireworks are not. At different times, however, the guidelines have been very different.

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