Debate Magazine

Class and Media

Posted on the 23 January 2015 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

From the BBC
Singer James Blunt has clashed with Labour politician Chris Bryant about diversity in the arts after the MP said the singer was part of a public school educated elite "dominating" culture.

The singer, who was educated at Harrow, said the politician was a narrow-minded "classist gimp" who was motivated by the "politics of jealousy".

Politicians, he said, should celebrate success wherever it came from.

First of all, I think Chris Bryant is talking nonsense when he says that a public school educated elite is "dominating" culture. Even looking narrowly at the top of the charts, 8 of the top 10 albums were made by people who went to comprehensive schools (Coldplay and Pink Floyd are the exceptions). Citing Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne as Oscar nominees ignores the fact that the Oscars only pick British films featuring posh people and that neither film bothered the Top 20 grossing films last year, which starred people like Martin Freeman (comp), the Inbetweeners (mostly comp), Gary Oldman (comp), Hugh Bonneville (private), James McAvoy (comp), Sir Ian McKellen (comp), Sir Patrick Stewart (comp) and Andrew Garfield (private).
Outside of that, there's so much else that people can choose to see. In terms of music, TV and film, we have enormous choice. I watched an Indonesian martial arts film at my local multiplex that was the 136th highest grossing film last year. It's not like there's a tiny number of choices for me (and honestly, historical biopics rarely appeal, posh boys or otherwise).
There is clearly a bias towards private school educated. But I've not seen much evidence of doors being opened for people due to those connections (unlike say, politics).
It may just be that the posh kids can stick it out for longer before getting a real job. Acting isn't really a very sensible career path to follow. It might look rich on the surface, but that's only because we see the winners and not the losers. In most cases, people trying to be successful are burning through money and most never make it. So, posh people doing more of it is a good thing. Maybe they get lucky and get a role and we get some entertainment. But if they don't get the role, they destroy the family fortune, which is also fine.

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