As a consumer — and in my rarest of forms, critic — of media, I’ve always struggled with what constitutes “high art” vs. “low art.”
By definition, the two concepts are pretty straightforward: That 3-hour art film with no plot and solely enigmatic female characters is, by society’s standards, “high art.” Conversely, something like, say, “Happy Death Day” — a personal favorite — would be scoffed at by high-brow intellectual elites.
For my last “top 10” list with The Oracle, I’ve decided to flip conventions on their head and present to you: My top 10 acts/pieces/examples of high art.
10) Kermit the Frog on “The Masked Singer” (ALT: “The Masked Singer” in General)
I’ve never seen a full episode of “The Masked Singer,” but oh, do I get it. I think the general concept of this show is ruthless: In a very “Dancing With the Stars” sense, it takes “celebrities” — often washed up, career-less actors/singers/etc. — and once again puts them on the world’s stage. The difference however, with “The Masked Singer,” is that it humiliates its celebrity contestants in a very physical sense. The fact that these people are often in the trenches of their career anyway, and are then forced to dress like a giant pineapple and sing bad karaoke — what else would one call that, besides high-art.
In a more specific sense, I am obsessed with Kermit the Frog’s recent participation in the show. To watch a crowd chant “TAKE! IT! OFF!” at a giant snail, only to reveal Kermit the literal Frog underneath was nothing short of Shakespearean.
9) Gatekeeping Things from Straight Men
I think a funny bit would be placing me at a table of young, straight men and seeing if I could offer even one thing to the conversation. I don’t get them, and when I try to think about what this specific demographic speaks about when enjoying each other’s company, my mind short circuits.
For this reason (and many more) one of my favorite activities — and one that is undeniably high-art — is gatekeeping things from straight men. The fact that I have so much cultural knowledge stored away that would literally sound like gibberish to a straight man brings me nothing short of euphoric joy. Read this sentence to your boyfriend: Tove Lo revolutionized pop music with the three-song stretch of “Lady Wood,” “True Disaster” and “Cool Girl.”
8) “Kill the Lights” by Alex Newell
In a similar sense to my last point, I love this song because its very existence is meant only for gay people, it seems. There’s a lip sync for your life performance of it from season 12 of “Drag Race” that I revisit on a monthly basis. It makes me so glad I’m not straight.
7) Symone’s “Drag Race” Season 13 Run
Speaking of “Drag Race” — I’d be remiss to not memorialize the cultural moment that we are currently living through; That is, of course, the reign of Symone as America’s Next Drag Superstar. In my seven years of “Drag Race” consumption, never have I seen a queen so charming, talented, hilarious … for lack of a better term, she’s a star.
6) Christina Aguilera’s “The Emoji Movie” Press Tour
Back when movies were real, ex-pop star Christina Aguilera lent her voice to “The Emoji Movie,” which was, if nothing else, a real movie. (As much as I would like to gaslight readers into thinking “The Emoji Movie” is high-art, that is not what I am here to do.)
It’s a moment during the press tour that I present to you today. Paraphrasing this quote would be an injustice; here it is in its entirety: “Um, I think we’ve all used emoji, we’ve all received an emoji. If we haven’t even used them, we know what they are. And um, it’s a fun way to … connect with your family, and … um … your friends, and your children. And, uh, so, it unites us all.” She EARNED that check.
5) The Real Housewives as a Franchise
I know I already used the term “Shakespearean” once, but there is simply no other word to describe what has been famously dubbed “The Last Supper” — that is, the iconic climactic scene of the inaugural season of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” during which tables are flipped, expletives are thrown likes knives and the tattered strings that were so loosely holding these women together were completely torn apart.
As a franchise, “The Real Housewives’’ is chock-full of these poetic, dramatic, awe-inspiring moments.
During season 10 of “Orange County,” Meghan Thee King Edmonds spends an entire season uncovering the truth behind a fellow housewife’s boyfriend’s fake cancer diagnosis; “I will continue to ask questions about cancer until there’s a cure,” Meghan says, during a tense conversation. “Then why don’t you become an oncologist and find the cure?” asks Vicki, the liar in question. “Maybe I will,” responds Meghan, with a smirk. Tarantino wishes; Sorkin could never.
4) Squidward Tentacles
A queer icon. I played the clarinet for nearly 10 years of my primary education because of this king.
3) @angelmamii7 on TikTok
As I twote and still it remains, the closest thing this country has had to a female president. I will spend my whole life trying to decipher what her cryptic skits mean; I have to act fast, though, as my one true career goal is directing the angelmamii7 biopic, a Margot Robbie awards vehicle.
2) Missing Out on “Photo Dump” Culture
The kids these days love doing “photo dumps,” read: Instagram posts full of perfectly timed but casually presented shots of them being young and enjoying life with their friends. I have fun so rarely that when I do, I have no choice but to savor the moment. This is not for me.
1) Twitter Reaction Videos
While reaction GIFs ruled Tumblr in the early-to-mid 2010s, reaction videos have claimed the throne on Twitter. I am obsessed with them. I think they are the highest form of art. I love the Twitter accounts that tweet reaction videos with text-heavy descriptions so they are easy to find. (Example: “Lois Griffin dissociating getting in her heard empty in deep thought blinking looking around family guy red headed cartoon character.”)