i Editor's Letter: What constitutes good taste in 2012?


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The Independent Online


I have some sympathy for Danny Boyle. He was on a hiding to nothing no matter what he came up with for the Olympics Opening Ceremony, such is the vitriol surrounding the event. Too bland? Too safe? Too lowbrow? Too ... clichéd? Take your pick. One person's good taste is another's tyranny of beige. So let's give the man a break, and not judge until we see his English country idyll.

"Taste" is one of the greyer areas in contemporary life. It's always been so, it's just that our frames of reference are so different to those before the 1960s. Until then, we knew our place. The Establishment set the parameters of taste and vulgarity: the Church (when it had clout); the government, when voters were less cynical; the law, via policemen who had universal respect, and judges, then a byword for conservatism. Plus, a media dominated by both the Reithian BBC and a pre page 3-era tabloid press. (Though there was always the disreputable News of the World). If you were out of step with their taste, you were "vulgar".

No need to rehash here the story of the revolution: Lady Chatterley to Sgt Pepper; Look Back in Anger to Andy Warhol; Howl, Oz and the rest. Today, there's nothing new apart from the bored response to attempts to shock us: Madonna pulling a nipple out on stage; Harvey Nicks' ads featuring models who are so excited about the sale that they have wet themselves - literally. And Geordie Shore, TOWIE and Big Brother. Yawn! Whatever...

But what constitutes good taste in 2012? What is the new Establishment? Who will tut that we have "gone too far"? The Daily Mail? John Lewis? Radio 4? Ikea? Apple? Answers on cream wove Smythson notepaper please!