Getting Culture

“Cultured” is a word used to describe a person with refined manners, taste, and a good education. This means culture ought to be something anyone can acquire. However, when people talk about, “getting culture,” or, “being cultured,” what they really mean is participating in things you have to pay for. Being cultured is a status symbol, and money is status, even if you pretend like it isn’t.

The more expensive the event, the more cultural prestige is attached to it. Spending a small fortune on expensive concert beats seeing a band at a local bar. Stealing music for free off the Internet provides no cultural prestige.

Another example. Going to see a play is at the pinnacle of cultural prestige. The more the tickets cost, the better. Going to see a movie in the theatre is considerably less prestigious, but is still a cultural activity. Since TV is free for many people, staying at home and watching it is not culturally prestigious at all. Even if you are watching PBS. Unless you called in during their fund-drive, it simply doesn’t count.

Going to see a free event, like a play or concert, is quaint or fun or rustic or many other positive things. But if you want to be cultured, you’re gonna need to spend some cash.