Kitsch is honestly the best. I am such a huge sucker for kitsch. It’ll get me every time. This morning, I wanted to examine it, this strange fascination of mine. Why am I so drawn to the gaudy and flamboyantly terrible? What exactly is it about poor taste that I find so undeniably attractive?
Several years ago, in the Before Times, Bagel and I visited South Dakota. Of course, we visited Mount Rushmore. Bagel enjoyed seeing how that was built and I do truly marvel at the remarkable feat of engineering that Gutzon Borglum achieved. Genuinely extraordinary, especially with the downright rudimentary tools he had at the time. (Though I suppose you can say that of every generation. One day, I’m sure future human beings will look back on our time now and wonder how on earth Musk launched (and landed) reusable rockets into and from space. It’s inevitable.)
Like I’d mentioned, my interest was much further piqued during the stops we made the following days after visiting Rushmore, at Wall Drug (Wall, South Dakota) and –my favorite!– The Corn Palace (Mitchell, South Dakota). Is it the aesthetic that pleases me? I guess, kinda? That’s certainly part of it. But I think partially why I like kitsch so much owes to the same reason I worship at the altar of Michael Bay and think the man’s the greatest film director ever. (Again, I remind everyone– Bay has not one, but two, movies in The Criterion Collection. Right up there next to Kurosawa where the man belongs!) More fundamentally though, on some level, I’m annoyed with entire hierarchy and dichotomy of “high-brow” vs “low-brow.” Like, it genuinely irritates me that some people are so snobbish and hoity-toity about art. If the entire enterprise is all subjective anyway, then how come a bunch of experts can get together and praise a Van Gough or Rembrandt to high heaven while condemning, I dunno, Penny Arcade or Mega Tokyo? It’s all subjective! Why do people get to be snooty about art and fashion at all?
Thus, I consider it my solemn duty to be a rebel and stick it to the man! I enjoy and celebrate kitsch because, in part, I am philosophically aligned with the principle. Praising kitsch is a reminder to us all that we really shouldn’t take ourselves (or anything, really) too seriously. Life’s a transient journey, lived a quarter-mile at a time. May as well enjoy the ride.