Leading article: Kylie, Kate and culture

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The Independent Online

It is no surprise that the V&A's decision to devote an exhibition to the singer Kylie Minogue, complete with items of clothing from her iconic soap Neighbours, has drawn hostile complaints from certain quarters to the effect that the perky balladeer hardly merits a show of her own in such a hallowed setting. The exhibition of Kate Moss's career in the National Portrait Gallery could well draw a similar reaction.

One unkind critic has gone so far as to suggest that Kylie's relics deserve rather to be exhibited in a "Chamber of Horrors". Many who don't go that far and don't see themselves as cultural elitists will nevertheless question the appropriateness of covering the walls of institutions bound up with the past with images of two women who are very much of the present. It is not as if their lives, loves, illnesses, in short, their "pain", are not chronicled daily and in minute detail in the tabloids.

But the museum and the gallery have a point. Kylie and Kate have had a pretty big impact on British popular culture over the years and this deserves to be noted even if not necessarily, to use a hackneyed word, "celebrated". Indeed, at a time when sociologists worry about the marginalisation of the white working class, Kylie's immortal song "Better the devil you know!" belted out in that familiar ear-piercing style, might be worth analysing as a kind of hymn to working-class stoicism.

Kylie - the bard of "forgotten" Britain? That may be pushing it. But if exhibitions of this type succeed in luring in the kind of people who never normally walk through the impressive portals of these institutions, we are all for it.

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