Best literary put-down ever?

by John Clarke, Stuart Hall, Tony Jefferson and Brian Roberts

“The notion that Youth Culture was shrewd and ‘manipulating’ commercial interests, is captured indelibly by the following quotation from Paul Johnson, probably the least perceptive commentator on Youth, in a field distinctive for its bottomless mediocrity…”

Poor Paul Johnson.

As it’s mediocre at best, I won’t bother typing out what he’s said, you can search it out for yourself on p.19 of Resistance through Rituals (ed. Hall & Jefferson).

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this most startling of put-downs is present in an article with supposedly four authors – I wonder if it is the work of one man who didn’t want to put his name to such a strident view?

Somewhat ironically, most of the book is dedicated to the machinations of the underclasses and subcultures of East End London in the postwar era; when subcultures and their trends (Teddy Boys, Skins etc) were rife and when gang battles were part and parcel of life on those mean streets. So four academics ganging up on one Paul Johnson seems to fit that scene rather neatly, for me.

Actually, Youth Subcultures in post-war Britain is the subtitle of the book so that might explain it.

One more little nugget before I finish this post – in case you thought that the saggy jeans of the urban scene in modern America was an innovation; apparently the Skinheads’ choice of haircut was based on the bravado of having a prison sentence too, decades before the youth of the streets started wearing jeans four sizes to big.

[insert youtube of dumb criminal trying to run away from the scene of the crime in jeans that are falling down to his ankles here]

One response to “Best literary put-down ever?

Gadael Ymateb

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